BA-64B Light Armored Car

In the summer of 1942, work began at GAZ on an improved version of the GAZ-64 light vehicle, which had several mechanical improvements and a wider wheel track. The replacement model was designated GAZ-67. Consequently, the BA-64 was modified to accommodate the new chassis and several other design changes were also incorporated in the new BA-64 model, which received the designation BA-64B. As with the original BA- 64, the new BA-64B was also developed by senior designer V. A. Grachev with modification and development under the direct control of A. A. Lipgart. The new BA- 64B, on its new GAZ-67 chassis, was field trialed under the designation GAZ-64-125B or BA-64-125B. The trials were successful and were followed by full factory tests which commenced on 24th November 1942. The new vehicle was given its first major trials at the GABTU proving grounds at Kubinka near Moscow over the week of 2-8 March 1943, covering 400km. The BA-64B finally entered series production on 1st September 1943, with chassis number 7336 being the first vehicle produced.

The BA-64B was based on the new GAZ-67B chassis with its wider 1.446m track. This seemingly minor design change was a major improvement for the high BA-64, which had been known for instability on slopes due to its narrow track; the wider track increasing side slope angle to 25°. Other major automotive improvements included the provision of a new K-23 carburetor which gave better performance on low-grade fuel.

Some of the first BA-64Bs produced on the GAZ- 67B chassis were mated to the early production Vyksinskiy BA-64 armored hull, without vision ports. However, a modified hull had begun to be produced at Vyksinskiy simultaneously with the replacement of the GAZ-64 by the GAZ-67 series in production at GAZ. The later armored hulls supplied by Vyksinskiy and assembled at GAZ were provided with pistol ports, which were fitted on all hulls supplied to GAZ from early 1943. The firing ports introduced on the front faceted hull plates were the primary distinguishing feature of the BA-64B, though the last of the GAZ-64-based BA-64s also had this feature due to production changeover at both plants. The mix of hulls may have been due to the stockpiling at GAZ of hulls delivered by Vykska. Many BA-64 vehicles were also significantly reworked in the field.

All small details such as lights were taken from the GAZ-67B, though some BA-64s were fitted with headlights taken from the ZiS-5. A 12RP radio station was mounted in some vehicles. The BA-64B became the definitive model of the BA-64 series. It was produced from September 1943 until 1946 and saw extensive use with the Russian Army in Europe, Hungary, Austria, Romania, and Germany. The BA-64 took part in the victory parades in Berlin and Moscow.

The Polish Army had eighty-one BA-64Bs in service, which were ex-Russian Army vehicles delivered to Poland after repair by Remontzavod N°2 (Repair Factory N°2) in Moscow. Of the eighty-one issued to the Polish Army, sixty remained in service in 1944 with fifty-three surviving until the end of the war. Czechoslovakia also had ten BA-64 series armored cars in service.

The BA-64B was a particularly reliable vehicle, achieving an average 6,000-7,000km of combat service between capital repairs or major breakdowns. Further polygon reliability tests conducted in 1944 achieved a figure of 15,000km without major repair or rebuild being required.

From the start of BA-64B series production on 1st September 1943 to 31st December 1943, 405 BA-64Bs were produced, 214 of which were fitted with radio. In 1944, production was increased again to 250 vehicles a month, with 2,950 BA-64Bs produced in that year, of which 1,404 were fitted with radio. By comparison, a total of 1,824 BA-64 and BA-64Bs had been produced in 1943, due to several German bombing raids on the GAZ plant in Gorkiy during that year. From January 1945 to the end of April 1945, another 868 vehicles were produced (420 being fitted with radio) with 1,742 BA-64Bs being completed to the end of the year.

During the wartime period, 8,174 BA-64 and BA-64Bs were manufactured (3,390 being fitted with radio) of which 3,314 remained in service in 1945, mainly the BA-64B model. Production was severely reduced after May 1945, and by 1946 the Russian Army no longer had a need for such large numbers of BA-64s, the last batch of sixty-two BA-64Bs being produced slowly during 1946.

When production ceased in 1946, a total of 9,110 BA-64s of all types had been manufactured during the period 1942-46, of which 5,209 were of the later BA-64B model and 3,901 of the earlier BA-64. GAZ Factory records state 5,160 BA-64Bs were built, which may not include prototypes and evaluation vehicles which were not produced on the main assembly lines.

Spares for the BA-64 series were manufactured until 1953, the last year in which the BA-64 was in operational service with the post-war Soviet Army. The BA-64 series was stockpiled for many years after 1953.

Post-war Poland continued to use its Soviet-supplied BA-64Bs, while the vehicle was also supplied to East Germany (which developed its own SK-1 on the basis of the BA-64B), Bulgaria, Romania, Albania, and China (post 1949). It also saw extensive service with the Korean Army during the 1950-53 Korean War and at least one of these vehicles was captured by U. S. Forces and returned to the United States. Many BA-64s were reworked by the BTRZ-121 repair plant before export.

Variants

    BA-64: Standard production model from 1942 to 1943, built on the chassis of a GAZ-64 jeep. Armed with a single 7.62mm Degtyaryov machine gun in an open-topped turret.

    BA-64B: Standard production model from 1943 to 1946, built on the chassis of a GAZ-67 jeep and incorporating a new carburetor, air intakes, and firing ports. Armed with a single 7.62mm Degtyaryov machine gun in an open-topped turret.

    BA-64D: Fire support variant of the BA-64B armed with a single 12.7mm DShK heavy machine gun in an enlarged, open-topped turret.

    BA-64-126: Turretless staff car variant, did not progress beyond the concept phase. Seated a driver and two passengers. A very similar vehicle was created independently by the Red Army; this modification entailed removing not only the turret but part of the hull roofline. Fitted with windshields salvaged from captured Volkswagen Schwimmwagens.

    BA-64ZhD: Railroad patrol vehicles with their wheels either replaced by flanged rail wheels or supplemented by miniature auxiliary rail wheels. Two prototypes were built. A very similar vehicle was created independently by the Red Army through field modifications, incorporating the flanged wheels and used for escorting armoured trains.

    BA-64 PTRS: Anti-tank variant of the BA-64 armed with a frame mount for a PTRS-41 anti-tank rifle in place of its turret.

    BA-64Sh: Command variant of the BA-64 with a raised superstructure and increased hull roofline. It was rejected for service because it could not accommodate the radio equipment necessary for a command vehicle.

    BA-64Z: Half-track variant of the BA-64 with skis in the front and a rear track assembly for navigating deep snow. Rejected for service due to its high fuel consumption and slow speed. Also known as the BA-64SKh.

    BA-64B SG-43: Variant of the BA-64B which replaced the Degtyaryov light machine gun with an SG-43 Goryunov medium machine gun in the same turret.

    BA-64E: Turretless armoured personnel carrier variant of the BA-64, capable of accommodating six passengers who debarked through a rear door. Nine prototypes were built in 1943 and later pressed into combat service.

        BA-64KA: Turretless armoured personnel carrier variant of the BA-64, derived from the BA-64E. This was designed as a lightweight transporter for paratroops and featured a raised hull very similar to the BA-64Sh.

        BA-64E-37: Anti-tank and fire support variant of the BA-64E. It carried a 37mm anti-tank gun and was designed as a complement for the BA-64KA in the airborne role. Only one prototype was built.

        BASh-64B: Command variant of the BA-64E, which resolved the previous issues with the BA-64Sh by having sufficient room in the hull for the installation of a radio transmitter.

    BA-69: BA-64 built on the chassis of a GAZ-69 jeep. Only one mock-up was created before the project was cancelled.

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2 thoughts on “BA-64B Light Armored Car

  1. Why are all the images and graphics reduced in size now? I liked the older format with the maps and photos as a background.

    But not to be a negative reader I indeed enjoyed this story and the Blog overall. The in-depth study of Soviet era military weapons is still and ongoing project. The Cold War affected most of us growing up in the 1960’s thru to the end of the Cold War in 1990.
    The study of how, when and why of the massive Soviet military industrial complex I find very interesting when comparing it to our own military industrial complex.

    Good Job Mitch

    Like

    • I thought that the automatic resizing had been taken out of editor. I will make an effort to make the Maps the size I want, otherwise they are useless. Sorry, let me know if there is some pic/map you require…Mitch

      Like

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