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ZIL-157/157K Variants in Detail

ZIL-157/157K Variants in Detail Book Review

By Cookie Sewell

Date of Review November 2004 Title ZIL-157/157K Variants in Detail
Author Frantisek Koran and Jan Martinec Publisher Wings and Wheels Publications
Published 2004 ISBN 80-86416-36-4
Format 120 pages, softbound MSRP (USD) $30.50


The Soviet Union was a pretty forward thinking place in regard to tanks and SP guns, but woefully backward in the area of trucks and transportation in general. When they received the first series of US trucks under Lend Lease in 1942, they were amazed at both the sophistication of American trucks and their reliability and ruggedness. Their own standard medium truck, the ZIS-5, was a 4 x 2 design with brakes only on the rear wheels and noted for only limited off-road capability. The GMC CCKW and Studebaker US6 with their 6 x 6 configurations and reliable drivelines and brakes were a shock.

After the war, the Soviet truck industry built its own version of the two American trucks as the ZIS-151. This truck remained in production from 1948 to 1957 (changing names from ZIS - "Stalin" Factory - to ZIL - "Likhachev" Factory - after 1953) when the ZIL-157 took its place. This truck was an improved version, with its main distinction being the large, single tires in place of the smaller, narrower ones that were paired on the rear drive axles of the ZIL-151. These also had adjustable tire pressure to both overcome flats as well as increase flotation in soft terrain. Later, an automatic control was provided that did this automatically. The ZIL-157 was in production from 1958 to 1961; the improved K model from 1961 to 1964, various other improved models later taking its place. The last variant, the ZIL-157KD, was in production from 1976 to 1982. Most of these were export models (the USSR having changed over to the ZIL-131 in the meantime.)

The ZIL-157 was basically a 3 metric ton cargo truck meaning it had a cross-country cargo rating of 3,000 kilograms or about 6,615 lbs. On paved roads this could surge to as much as 7,500 kilograms plus a trailer, but for the most part the vehicle was not strained that heavily. It had a crew of two and could carry a normal load of 12-16 soldiers in the rear cargo body thanks to folding seats. The vehicle was provided with a self-recovery winch.

Numerous variants were built, the most common being the so-called "BBV" (Box Body Vehicle) versions and the ZIL-157V model tractor for use with a semi trailer.

WWP produces great photo studies of former Soviet equipment that was used or was present in Czechoslovakia, and this book is no exception. It provides the following detailed coverage: 36 pages on the base model ZIL-157/ZIL-157K; 9 pages on the ZIL-157V tractor; 18 pages on the PR-11B missile transporter semi trailer; 26 pages on the V-750 (SA-2) missile and its launcher; 8 pages on a BBV variant; 6 pages on the P-15 (FLAT FACE) radar variant; 6 pages on a BBV used as a simulator for 9M14 (AT-3) training; and two pages on a locally built snowplow variant. As with all books of this sort, the pictures are large, crisp, and in color, with "sort of" English text (grammar can get, um, interesting.) But the authors differentiate between detail differences and make the books eminently worthwhile, especially if modeling the subject.

The section on the SA-2 is not too useful for the missile and the various versions, but it has great shots of the launcher, including open access hatches showing the internal parts of the launcher and how the layout of the components works out. If anyone wanted to make a dynamite model of the Trumpeter kit, this is a must for reference.

Likewise the other major kit, the semi trailer transporter. Although the book does not show the loading process (the missile on its transporter rail is swiveled so it can slide rear end first onto an empty launcher rail) there is a good deal of coverage of the turntable and the various bits and fittings that should permit an average modeler to show one being loaded with little trouble.

Overall, these books are good value and in many cases very much provide what is the only reference for modelers of a specific subject.