By MSW Add a Comment 7 Min Read
KrAZ 255B

In the mid-1960s the Kremenchug automobile plant
manufactured the KrAZ-214B truck in large quantities, playing a very important
role in the structure of the motorized forces of the Soviet Army. This truck
was assigned the role of a transporter of various auxiliary engineering
installations, as well as of fuel, missile systems, etc. Considering the
operating conditions of the KrAZ-214B in the territory of the USSR where normal
paved roads are absent by definition in most areas (and especially where its
secret military units were dispersed and as a rule they didn’t exist at all),
the military authorities demanded improvement in the cross-country ability of
the vehicle. For this purpose the Bureau SKB-1 designers developed a new type
of wheel in 1966, the VI-3. Unlike the narrow wheels of all other types then
existing for Soviet vehicles, the VI-3 had a wide profile, and also could be
pumped up with air while moving – thus changing the pressure in the tire which
offered crucial advantages in altering the area of surface contact of the
truck’s wheels. The centralized tire pressure control system, managed by the
driver, also had one more essential advantage in a military vehicle – in case
of gunfire holing a tire, the driver could strengthen the wheel’s air pressure
and, thus, the truck could drive on notwithstanding a degree of damage.

The KrAZ with its new wheels looked like a bear – the car
became visually more massive although externally, except for the wheels, and
also its headlights and a new form of fuel tank, it didn’t differ greatly from
its predecessor. However another essential difference of the new truck,
designated the KrAZ-255B, was hidden inside, under the hood. The KrAZ-255
received a new, more powerful ‘heart’ – the powerful V8 YaMZ-238 engine. Its
capacity increased to 240 horsepower which significantly affected the dynamics
and traction of the truck. In comparison with the KrAZ-214 the top speed of the
KrAZ-255 increased from 55 km/h to 70 km/h, and loading capacity from 7 to 7.5

The first production trucks rolled off the assembly lines in
1967. The machine justified the wildest hopes of the military, so orders for
the KrAZ-255 was enormous. Outside the USSR, the KrAZ-255 was delivered to the
armies of ‘brotherly countries’ of the Warsaw Pact, and it was also widely
exported around the continents of the world, to where at that time many
countries were determining their choice of the socialist way of development.
The KrAZ-255B went to Cuba, to many countries in Africa (Angola, Ghana, Egypt,
etc.) and the Middle East (Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, etc.), and to several
countries of Latin America (Peru, Uruguay, Venezuela, Bolivia). Later, as a
result of local conflicts, and also after the mass sale of the remains of the
former armies of the Warsaw Pact, individual KrAZ-255’s even found their way to
the USA, Canada, England, and the Netherlands – generally into private
collections and museums of military equipment.

In the Soviet Army the KrAZ-255, like its predecessor the
KrAZ-214, found a vast range of uses. Engineering units received the PMP
pontoon truck, the TMM mechanized bridge layer, the FM truck-mounted crane, the

5T99 crane, and the E-305BV and EOV-4421 excavators. For the
Strategic Rocket forces the TC-8 and AKTs-4 fuel carriers were provided; while
logistic support units received water tanker and desalination vehicles; and the
air defense army, the PRV-16 radar on the KrAZ-255 chassis.

The KrAZ-255 was used not only by the military, but
extensively in civilian life as well. Mastery of the infinite spaces of the
USSR, construction of the BAM railroad, and the gas pipelines from Siberia to
the western border of the country, are all closely associated with this great
truck. More than 29,000 KrAZ-255L timber carrying trucks were made, and a considerable
number of them were rebuilt as transporters of wide diameter pipes. For
exploration parties, drilling machines and equipment for wells were constructed
and special logging buses.

In 1993, 25 years after the beginning of series
construction, when the Soviet Union had ceased to exist, the last KrAZ-255B
came off the production line of the automobile plant in Kremenchug. However,
orders for the vehicle still continued to arrive: at that time more than 195,000
of all variants of the KrAZ-255 had been built. It seemed that time had not
diminished this majestic mastodon whose roots lay in the era of the post-war
years. But in 1993, despite all the complexity of the economic conditions of
the first few years of Ukraine’s independence, the plant finally started
production of the KrAZ-260 trucks which, although differing externally with a
new type of cabin, in fact structurally remained a descendant of the KrAZ-255.

The KrAZ-255 displays healthy vigor in its old age and to
this day remains in the ranks of armies of Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, the
countries of the former Yugoslavia, and Cuba. Civilian vehicles, still
frequently seen on city roads, always attract the eye – potent with the
elegance and massiveness of this machine, reminding us that a former huge
nation may have gone, but its automotive industry continues to achieve success.


Length 86450mm

Width 2750mm

Height with an empty cover 2940mm

Track 2160mm

Base 5300mm

Base bogie 1400mm

Ground clearance 360mm

Wheel 6×6

Engine YMZ-238

Volume 14866cc

Power 240hp

Empty weight 11700kg

Payload 7000kg

Maximum speed 70km/h

The KrAZ-255B Truck Celebrates its 50th Anniversary!

Forschungsmitarbeiter Mitch Williamson is a technical writer with an interest in military and naval affairs. He has published articles in Cross & Cockade International and Wartime magazines. He was research associate for the Bio-history Cross in the Sky, a book about Charles ‘Moth’ Eaton’s career, in collaboration with the flier’s son, Dr Charles S. Eaton. He also assisted in picture research for John Burton’s Fortnight of Infamy. Mitch is now publishing on the WWW various specialist websites combined with custom website design work. He enjoys working and supporting his local C3 Church. “Curate and Compile“
Leave a comment

Leave a Reply Cancel reply

Exit mobile version