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Nicknamed shishiga (шишига) shehsherik (шешерик) trueman (in Siberia), the Gaz 66 was made at the Gorki Automobile plant which was set up as a co-operation between the Ford Motor Company and the Soviet Union in 1929.

At the end of WW2 the US car makers Ford and GM had supplied the Soviet union with trucks under a lend lease agreement and the US designs were taken and modified to produce purely Russian trucks like the Zil 157 and Gaz 33. From then on the USSR started to design their own vehicles based on the US principals but designed for the harsh environments found in their own continent. Toughness, off-road ability, simplicity, reliability and ease of maintenance were all major design factors.

The Gaz 66 had a production run from 1966 to 1999.

The Soviet Military Truck Industry

Soviet civilian and military trucks are produced in the same plants and have extensive interchangeability of parts and components. For example, the ZIL-131 was the main 31/2-ton 6x6 Soviet military truck used in Vietnam and Afghanistan and is produced also in a civilian 4 x 2 version as the ZIL-130. Over 60 percent of the parts in the ZIL-131 military truck are common to the ZIL-130 civilian truck.
All Soviet truck technology and a large part of Soviet truck-manufacturing equipment has come from the West, mainly from the United States. While some elementary transfers-lines and individual machines for vehicle production are made in the Soviet Union, these are copies of Western machines and always obsolete in design.

Many major American companies have been prominent in building up the Soviet truck industry. The Ford Motor Company, the A. J. Brandt Company, the Austin Company, General Electric, Swindell-Dressier, and others supplied the technical assistance, design work, and equipment of the original giant plants.
This Soviet military-civilian truck industry originally comprised two main groups of plants, plus five newer giant plants. The first group used models, technical assistance, and parts and components from the Ford-built Gorki automobile plant (GAZ is the model designation). The second group of production plants used models, parts, and components from the A. J. Brandt-rebuilt ZIL plant in Moscow (Zavod imeni Likhachev, formerly the AMO and later the Stalin plant). Consequently this plant was called the BBH-ZIL plant after the three companies involved in its reconstruction and expansion in the 1930s: A. J. Brandt, Budd, and Hamilton Foundry.

There is a fundamental difference between the Ford and Brandt companies. Brandt had only one contract in the USSR, to rebuild the old AMO plant in 1929. AMO in 1930 had a production of 30,000 trucks per year, compared to the Gorki plant, designed from scratch by Ford for an output of 140,000 vehicles per year. Ford is still interested in Russian business. Brandt is not interested and has not been since 1930.

The Ford-Gorki group of assembly plants includes the plants at Ulyanovsk (model designation UAZ), Odessa (model designation OAZ), and Pavlovo (model designation PAZ). The BBH-ZIL group includes the truck plants at Mytischiy (MMZ model designation), Miass (or URAL Zis), Dnepropetrovsk (model designation DAZ), Kutaisi (KAZ model), and Lvov (LAZ model). Besides these main groups there are also five independent plants. The Minsk truck plant (MAZ) was built with German assistance. The Hercules-Yaroslavl truck plant (YaAz) was built by the Hercules Motor Company. The MZMA plant in Moscow, which manufactures small automobiles, was also built by Ford Motor Company.
In the late 1960s came the so-called Fiat-Togliatti auto plant. Three-quarters of this equipment came from the United States. Then in 1972 the U.S. government issued $1 billion in licenses to export equipment and technical assistance for the Kama truck plant. Planned as the largest truck plant in the world, it covers 36 square miles and produces more heavy trucks, including military trucks, than the output of all U.S. heavy truck manufacturers combined. (Togliatti and Kama are described in Chapter Three below.)

This comprises the complete Soviet vehicle manufacturing industry — all built with Western, primarily American, technical assistance and technology. Military models are produced in these plants utilizing the same components as the civilian models. The two main vehicle production centers, Gorki and ZIL, manufacture more than two-thirds of all Soviet civilian vehicles (excluding the new Togliatti and Kama plants) and almost all current military vehicles.

The Ford Gorki "Automobile" Plant

In May 1929 the Soviets signed an agreement with the Ford Motor Company of Detroit. The Soviets agreed to purchase $13 million worth of automobiles and parts and Ford agreed to give technical assistance until 1938 to construct an integrated automobile-manufacturing plant at Nizhni-Novgorod. Construction was completed in 1933 by the Austin Company for production of the Ford Model-A passenger car and light truck. Today this plant is known as Gorki. With its original equipment supplemented by imports and domestic copies of imported equipment, Gorki produces the GAZ range of automobiles, trucks, and military vehicles. All Soviet vehicles with the model prefix GAZ (Gorki Avtomobilnyi Zavod) are from Gorki, and models with prefixes UAX, OdAZ, and PAZ are made from Gorki components.

In 1930 Gorki produced the Ford Model-A (known as GAZ-A) and the Ford light truck (called GAZ-AA). Both these Ford models were immediately adopted for military use. By the late 1930s production at Gorki was 80,000-90,000 "Russian Ford" vehicles per year.
The engine production facilities at Gorki were designed under a technical assistance agreement with the Brown Lipe Gear Company for gear-cutting technology and Timken-Detroit Axle Company for rear and front axles.

Furthermore, U.S. equipment has been shipped in substantial quantifies to Gorki and subsidiary plants since the 1930s — indeed some shipments were made from the United States in 1968 during the Vietnamese War.

As soon as Ford's engineers left Gorki in 1930 the Soviets began production of military vehicles. The Soviet BA armored car of the 1930s was the GAZ-A (Ford Model-A) chassis, intended for passenger cars, but converted to an armored car with the addition of a DT machine gun. The BA was followed by the BA-10 — the Ford Model-A truck chassis with a mount containing either a 37-millimeter gun or a 12.7-millimeter heavy machine gun. A Red Army staff car was also based on the Ford Model-A in the pre-war period.
During World War II Gorki produced the GAZ-60 — a hybrid half-track personnel carrier that combined the GAZ-63 chassis. In the late 1940s the plant switched to production of an amphibious carrier — The GAZ-46. This was a standard GAZ-69 chassis with a U.S. quarter-ton amphibious body.

In the mid-1950s Gorki produced the GAZ-47 armored amphibious cargo carrier with space for nine men. Its engine was the GAZ-61, a 74-horsepower Ford-type 6-cylinder in-line gasoline engine — the basic Gorki engine.
In the 1960s and 1970s production continued with an improved version of the BAZ-47 armored cargo carrier, using a GAZ-53 V-8 type engine developing 115 horsepower.

In brief, the Ford-Gorki plant has a continuous history of production of armored cars and wheeled vehicles for Soviet army use: those used against the United States in Korea and Vietnam.

In addition to armored cars, the Ford-Gorki factory manufactures a range of truck-mounted weapons. This series began in the early thirties with a 76.2-millimeter field howitzer mounted on the Ford-GAZ Model-A truck. Two similar weapons from Gorki before World War II were a twin 25-millimeter antiaircraft machine gun and a quad 7.62-millimeter Maxim antiaircraft machine gun — also mounted on the Ford-GAZ truck chassis.

During World War II Gorki produced several rocket-launchers mounted on trucks. First the 12-rail, 300-millimeter launcher; then, from 1944 onwards, the M-8, M-13, and M-31 rocket-launchers mounted on GAZ-63 trucks. (The GAZ-63 is an obvious direct copy of the U.S. Army's 21/2-ton truck.) Also during World War II Gorki produced the GAZ-203, 85-horsepower engine for the SU-76 self-propelled gun produced at Uralmashzavod. (Uralmash was designed and equipped by American and German companies.)
After World War II Gorki production of rocket-launchers continued with the BM-31, which had twelve 300-millimeter tubes mounted on a GAZ-63 truck chassis. In the late 1950s another model was produced with twelve 140-millimeter tubes on a GAZ-63 truck chassis. In the 1960s yet another model with eight 140-millimeter tube was produced on a GAZ-63 chassis.

Finally, in 1964 Gorki produced the first Soviet wire-guided missile antitank system. This consisted of four rocket-launchers mounted on a GAZ-69 chassis. These weapons turned up in Israel in the late 1960s. The GAZ-69 chassis produced at Gorki is also widely used in the Soviet Army as a command vehicle and scout car. Soviet airborne troops use it as a tow for the 57-millimeter antitank gun and the 14.5-millimeter double-barrelled antiaircraft gun. Other Gorki vehicles used by the Soviet military include the GAZ-69 truck, used for towing the 107-millimeter recoilless rifle (RP-107), the GAZ-46, or Soviet jeep, and the GAZ-54, a 1 1/2-ton military cargo truck.
In brief, the Gorki plant, built by the Ford Motor Company the Austin Company and modernized by numerous other U.S. companies under the policy of "peaceful trade," is today a major producer of Soviet army vehicles and weapons carriers.

From "The Best Enemy Money can Buy"  by Antony C. Sutton - LINK


Further reading:

An article by Robert Kim about the Gaz 66