All of the Allied powers of World War 2 enjoyed success with the American-designed Bantam/Willys "JEEP" - a 4x4, multi-role utility vehicle that proved as vital to the war effort as any tank, aircraft or battleship. The Soviet Union received some 20,000 units under Lend-Lease and copied this design as the "GAZ-67" through the storied Gorky Automobile Plant and production of this vehicle numbered a massive 92,843 examples spanning from 1943 into 1953. By the end of the war, the vehicle proved as important to the Soviet Army effort as the JEEP did for the Allies. With such available numbers, the GAZ-67 served on into the post-war years - fielded in the Korean War and the Indochina War.
Externally, the GAZ-67 exhibited a design look not unlike that of the competing Willys though showcasing lines more akin to a 1930s-era automobile in some respects. The driver sat at the front left behind a steering column-with-wheel in a conventional arrangement with passenger seating to his right and immediately aft. The wheels were set at the extreme corners of the chassis to promote better handling on turns and uneven terrain. The engine was held under a covered compartment at the front of the vehicle in the usual way and behind a vertically-slotted grille. Headlamps protruded some from the front fenders and were of circular shape giving the vehicle a distinct appearance on approach. The two-pane windscreen could be folded down over the engine hood or removed altogether. A spare roadwheel was affixed to the rear panel (offset right) of the hull superstructure. The hull sat high atop the chassis to promote excellent ground clearances. Power was served through a Model A (Ford) 4-cylinder, 3.3 liter, water-cooled, gasoline-fueled engine outputting at 50 horsepower and the gearbox arrangement drove all four wheels through a conventional 4x4 configuration. Maximum road speed was 56 miles per hour. Dimensions included a length of 3.3 meters with a width and height of 1.7 meters. Curb weight was listed at 1,320kg (2,900lbs). Interestingly, the vehicle's fuel tank was installed under the instrument panel. The wheels and suspension equipment (quarter-elliptic spring set) were based on other GAZ automobile designs. Seating was for four personnel including the driver though more could be carried under the stresses of wartime. Doors and a fabric roof covering were optional, the roof supported through an erected thin tube frame.
Gorky began production of the GAZ-67 in September 1943 by which time the Eastern Front had turned into a bloody affair against the might of the Axis powers led by Hitler's Germany. In practice, and in comparison to the American JEEP, the GAZ-67 proved a slow responder with its 50 horsepower arrangement. The vehicle line was then slightly improved by the arrival of the "GAZ-67B" model series which came with some refinements including a lengthened wheelbase of 1.85 meters and more powerful 54 horsepower engine. The B-model appeared in January 1944 and became the definitive production form.
The GAZ-67 and GAZ-67B were taken over by the arrival of the GAZ-69A beginning in 1953.
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