The Soviet Army adjusted their battlefield doctrine following their experiences in World War 2 (1939-1945) against the Axis powers - in particular Germany. The Soviet advances proved effective on the whole but at high cost to infantry which were intended to defend its fast-moving fleet of tanks from enemy infantry ambushes. This provided a logistical challenge to Soviet warplanners who had to rely on a collection of local solutions and foreign-born implements like the American M3 half-track via Lend-Lease and captured German half-tracks of similar form and function. The solution to this challenge in the post-war years led to the development of a infantry-mover with good mechanized capabilities designed to keep up with Soviet Army tanks - the BTR-152 of 1950.
The "BTR" designation stems from the word "Bronetransporter" which translates to "Armored Transporter".
Utilizing the half-tracks as their starting point, Soviet engineers realized a similar vehicle form based on the local ZiS-151 series 6x6 wheeled truck. This led to the natural and highly conventional arrangement of a front-mounted engine, central driver's compartment, and a passenger cabin fitted over the rear section of the chassis. The fully suspended, six-wheeled arrangement would allow for the necessary cross-country travel while speeds would keep up with the fast-moving Soviet armored vehicles. Drive power was through a 6-cylinder, gasoline-fueled engine which allowed for a maximum road speed of 45 miles per hour to be reached with operational road ranges peaking at 400 miles. Powered, closable slats at the front of the vehicle were intended to protect the engine in a combat environment. A spare road wheel was held along the rear face of the hull superstructure which also showcased a door arrangement for embarking/disembarking troops.
The open-topped rear crew compartment lessened the vehicle's weight and allowed for the crew to engage enemy forces as well as disembark the vehicle at speed if required (over the sides). Engagement of outside foes was also aided by the available firing ports presented. Lacking a roof, occupants were at the mercy of the elements and general battlefield dangers so a tarp was offered for some coverage. The superstructure itself was well-angled for ballistics protection and made up of welded steel plates managing up to 15mm thickness along the frontal facings. As designed, the standard operating crew was two (driver and commander) with seating for up to eighteen infantry and their base fighting gear. The operating crew's positions were accessed through hinged, automobile-style doors along the sides of the hull. Armored visors with built-in vision slots were fitted where the natural truck's windscreen would have been. When "buttoned-up", the crew were allowed use of periscopes for situational awareness.
Primary armament centered on a 7.62mm general purpose, anti-infantry machine gun. This could be substituted with a 12.7mm DShK 1938/46 heavy machine gun to counter low-flying aerial threats and light-armored vehicles and up to two additional 7.62mm machine guns could be fitted atop trainable pintle mounts for added suppression firepower. Ammunition stowed aboard depended largely on the armament installed but typically numbered 500 x 12.7mm cartridges or 1,250 x 7.62mm cartridges in boxes.
The BTR-152 debuted in March of 1950 and was showcased to Soviet citizens (and Western observers) through the 1951 Moscow military parade soon after. In practice, the vehicles were serviceable but not wholly sound battlefield additions. Their armor protection was too light to allow the BTR-152 to be a realistic battlefield presence - protected simply from small arms fire and artillery spray. The open-topped nature of the passenger area was an obvious point of weakness and forced the future development of a hard top version. The road wheels could be punctured by any normal operational way which did not lend itself well to the dangers of wartime terrains. The suspension system proved a nonviable cross-country solution primarily due to its ZiS-151 truck origins. The closeable engine armor slats - while a concept sound in its thinking - actually raised the engine's operational temperatures which led to overheating issues.
In these ways, the BTR-152 proved itself a severely limited machine that saw only about 15,000 units produced in all. These served as frontline systems until the 1960s before seeing replacement by the more effective, fully-enclosed, 8x8-wheeled BTR-60 model line. However, many remaining BTR-152s managed extended service careers in second-line roles such as mover vehicles, equipment haulers, and general non-combat transports for the Soviet Army.
Despite its shortcomings, the BTR-152 was exported to many Soviet allies and states during its production run - from Afghanistan and Albania to Yugoslavia and Zimbabwe. Captured Egyptian and Syrian vehicles were reconstituted by the Israeli Army as transports or modified weapons carriers while others were taken on by local security. The Chinese Army designated the BTR-152 as the "Type 56" while East German forms were known under the "SPW-152" designation. While many BTR-152s have fallen out of circulation with military forces today, examples still show up in the inventories of second-rate armies of the world.
The Soviets took on a number of BTR-152 variants beyond the transport model of 1950. The BTR-152A was a self-propelled AA (Anti-Aircraft) platform and the BTR-152B a communications platform. A model of 1955 introduced night vision equipment support and a tire pressure regulation system while the BTR-152I became an artillery command/spotting vehicle. The BTR-152K was a battlefield ambulance and the BTR-152U introduced an armored roof over the passenger compartment. The BTR-152V3 featured a bow-mounted winch system.
Manufacturing ZiL Truck Plant - Soviet Union
Production 15,000 Units
Afghanistan; Albania; Algeria; Angola; Bulgaria; Cambodia; China; Cuba; Cyprus; East Germany; Egypt; Equatorial Guinea; Estonia; Ethiopia; Georgia; Germany; Guinea; Guinea-Bissau; Hungary; Indonesia; India; Iran; Iraq; Israel; Laos; Lebanon; Mali; Mongolia; Mozambique; Nicaragua; North Korea; North Vietnam; Palestinian Liberation Organization; Poland; Republic of the Congo; Romania; Russia; Somaliland; Soviet Union; Seychelles; Sri Lanka; Sudan; Syria; Tanzania; Uganda; Vietnam; Yemen; Yugoslavia; Zimbabwe
(Showcased structural values pertain to the BTR-152 production model)
1 x ZIL-127K 6-cylinder inline water-cooled gasoline-fueled engine delivering 110 horsepower at 3,000rpm driving conventional wheeled arrangement.
(Showcased powerplant information pertains to the BTR-152 production model)
47 mph (75 kph)
404 miles (650 km)
(Showcased performance values pertain to the BTR-152 production model; Compare this entry against any other in our database)
1 x 7.62mm SGMB Light Machine Gun (LMG).
1 x 12.7mm SDhK 1938/46 Heavy Machine Gun (HMG) in lieu of 7.62mm type.
1 OR 2 x 7.62mm SGMB LMGs on trainable pintle mounts for additional suppression firepower.
Ammunition: 1,250 x 7.62mm ammunition per SGMB fitting.
500 x 12.7mm ammunition.
(Showcased armament details pertain to the BTR-152 production model)
BTR-152 - Base Series Designation.
BTR-152A - Model of 1951; mobile Self-Propelled Anti-Aircraft Gun (SPAAG) variant; 2 OR 4 x 14.5mm HMG arrangement; manually-operated, full-traverse turret with elevation span.
BTR-152B - Model of 1952; Artillery Command Vehicle with front winch system; tire pressure regulation system.
BTR-152B1 - Model of 1958; BTR-152V2 variant with front winch; internal tire pressure regulation system; night vision support (TBH-2 series, driver only).
BTR-152C - Battlefield communications vehicle with additional comms equipment installed.
BTR-152D - Model of 1955; based in the BTR-152V with armament scheme of BTR-152A model.
BTR-152D(2) - BTR-152V2 chassis.
BTR-152E - BTR-152V1 chassis with BTR-152A armament scheme.
BTR-152U - Command vehicle with BTR-152V1 chassis; raised hull roof line; additional comms equipment for the role; internal or external tire pressure regulation system depending on subvariant.
BTR-152V - Model of 1955; ZiL-157 truck chassis; front winch system; tire pressure regulation system; night vision support.
BTR-152V1 - Model of 1957; night-vision capable; front winch system; open-air hull; tire pressure regulation system.
BTR-152V2 - BTR-152V2 sans winch system; internal tire pressure regulation system.
BTR-152V3 - BTR-152V chassis; front winch; open-air hull; IR driving light system as standard; internal tire pressure regulation system.
BTR-152I - Artillery Command Vehicle based in the BTR-152V variant.
BTR-152K - Model of 1959; enclosed hull roof; ventilation system; tire pressure regulation system; reduced passenger-carrying capability; three hatches over hull roof.
BTR-152K (AMB) - Armored battlefield ambulance variant based in the BTR-152K model.
BTR-152S - Command and Communications (C2) vehicle (infantry-level); raised hull roof line; additional comms equipment fitted.
BTR-152 (MINE) - Mine-laying vehicle.
BTR-E152V - Developmental model of 1957; center wheel axle relocated closer to midships for modified balance.
Type 56 - Chinese Military Designation.
BTR-152(E) - Egyptian Army model; SPAAG variant; 4 x 12.7mm DShK 1938/46 Heavy Machine Gun (HMG) arrangement on trainable mounting.
SPW-152 - East German Army designation.
SPW-152 (AMB) - East German armored ambulance variant.
SPW-152U - East German command vehicle/variant.
BTR-152(I) - Captured Syrian/Egyptian BTR-152 examples reconstituted for service by Israeli Army.
BTR-152 TCM-20 - Captured Syrian/Egyptian BTR-152 examples reconstituted for service by Israeli Army for air defense role; 2 x 20mm autocannons on TCM-20 mounting unit (powered).
BTR-152(L) - Lebanese militia variant; 1 x 23mm ZU-23-2 AA gun mounting (trainable).
BTR-152(L2) - South Lebanese Army variant; lowered hull roof line.
BTR-152(P-CP) - Polish Army model; Command Post form.
BTR-152(P-E) - Polish Army model; engineering vehicle.
BTR-152(P-ATR) - Polish Army modle; artillery tractor form.
The "Military Factory" name and MilitaryFactory.com logo are registered ® U.S. trademarks protected by all applicable domestic and international intellectual property laws. All written content, illustrations, and photography are unique to this website (unless where indicated) and not for reuse/reproduction in any form. Material presented throughout this website is for historical and entertainment value only and should not to be construed as usable for hardware restoration, maintenance, or general operation. We do not sell any of the items showcased on this site. Please direct all other inquiries to militaryfactory AT gmail.com.
Part of a network of sites that includes GlobalFirepower, a data-driven property used in ranking the top military powers of the world and WDMMA.org, the World Directory of Modern Military Aircraft.