A revolutionary all-terrain vehicle with the code name “product 404 ° C” was created not accidentally. The government order for a vehicle for movement under polar conditions was initiated by the Institute of the Arctic.
In the first Antarctic expedition in 1955 tractors ChTZ and heavy artillery tractors AT-T were used, which later were equipped with more powerful motors and special tracks.
But as a result, it became clear that the available vehicles can not cope with the tasks assigned, and the plant of the transport engineering industry named after M.Kh. VA Malyshev together with the Kharkov aircraft factory. The aircraft factory had to design the body, and the machine builders – the platform for which it will be delivered.
The basis was taken by the same AT-T tractor built on the T-54 tank units. Caterpillars made longer by two rollers and wider to reduce the specific pressure on the surface.
The car of the wagon type made of duralumin received an eight-layer thermal insulation. In the space of 28 square meters and a height of more than 2 meters, the driver’s and navigator’s positions, 8 berths, a bathroom and a galley, a heater and a radio station were located. The peculiarity of the design was that access to the engine was carried out from the cabin, so that repairs and maintenance could be done without leaving the warm room.
Subsequently, this seemingly successful decision proved not to be on the best side – it was not possible to completely isolate the cabin, the crew was constantly forced to breathe exhaust fumes.
All-terrain vehicles were created in just three months, as expected by order. The name “Kharkovchanka” they received at the location of the enterprises-developers. Five all-terrain vehicles went to Kaliningrad, they were loaded aboard a sea-going ship, which went to the starting point of the expedition.
The movement “Kharkovchanka” is powered by a 520-horsepower diesel engine, which allows you to drag your own 35 tons and a trailer weighing up to 70 tons. Towing heavy objects is extremely necessary in the Arctic campaign, when all the fuel stock has to be carried.
February 10, 1959, the expedition started from Mirny station to the South Pole. The route with a length of 2,700 kilometers was successfully overcome in a month and a half.
In 1974, a new order came from the polar explorers, and five more all-terrain vehicles were made, which underwent a major upgrade. They were called “Kharkovchanka-2”. The main changes were the residential module – the cabin became separate, access to the motor from the residential compartment was eliminated. This allowed to get rid of exhaust gases in the “living room” and significantly improve the thermal insulation – the temperature in the residential block in the total absence of heating fell only one or two degrees per day. Cross-country vehicles of both the first and second generation still serve from the polar explorers.
In the 1980s, the Kharkovchanka-3 project started, implying a new improvement in all-terrain vehicles, but with the collapse of the Union it was closed.