The UAZ is one of the world’s most popular and wide spread off-road 4×4 vehicles. The UAZ-469 was the only Russian car able to compete with renowned western products in its class, like the US Jeep and the British Land Rover and has found the place in the history of 4×4 cars. The UAZ (Ulyanovskiy Avtomobilnyi Zavod – The Ulyanovsk Car Factory) was founded in the 1941 when the famous ZIS was evacuated from Moscow facing: German assault. The first product of the factory were the ZIS-5 trucks. When the ZIS returned to the Soviet capital, the Ulyanovsk plant was renamed and was known as U1ZIS and produced cars designed in Moscow and Gorkyi, including: “Soviet Jeep” – GAZ-69. In the early sixties of the last century the project of a new lightweight 4×4 as the replacement of the ageing: GAZ-69 was launched. After ten years of trials and tests, in the 1972, the first UAZ-469 left the assembly line. It became the standard light vehicle of Russian and most War-Pac forces, as well as almost all former or current socialist states around the world. In addition, it was widely sold as a civilian offroad vehicle. It is rather a simple vehicle, of conventional layout: seven-seat, four/five-door. The rear area may be open or covered by a canvas tilt; hard-bodied versions are also available. There may be a weapon mount behind the front seats. The engine of the „469” is a 2500 cc. 72 hp UMZ-451M. The UAZ-469B is a version of the standard UAZ-469 with simplified suspension and lower ground clearance, which reduces its cost. The suspension based on longitudinal half elliptical leaf springs with shock absorber, which replaced the leaf springs of the older model.
A lot of specialized variants was developed in Soviet Union, other were introduced by end users. There were command vehicles, mobile radio-stations, field ambulances, NBC scout cars and even weapon carriers among them. Heavy machine guns and recoilless rifles of various types were installed and used with a considerable success.
The UAZ-469 was also a base for Chinese 4×4 car, produced by the Beijing Car Corporation as the BJ-212. Its external shape is different, but the construction is almost identical. The Beijing 212, like the UAZ-469, was unveiled in late sixties, and produced since mid seventies of the last century. The engine is a unlicensed copy of UMZ-451 (some 2500 cc., four cylinders), but even simpler than its Soviet counterpart – until the early nineties the gearbox had only three speeds. UAZ-469 still serves in many countries around the world: the states of the former Warsaw Pact, Finland, Croatia, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Egypt, Yemen, Afghanistan, Vietnam, Laos, Mongolia, Korea, Ethiopia, Angola, Mozambique, Cuba, Nicaragua, Cambodia etc.
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