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During WWII under the terms of the Lend-Lease agreement, apart from thousands of the well-known 'Studebakers', a limited number of Diamond and White heavy ballast tractors appeared in the USSR. These trucks made a great impression on the Soviet military, because the ZIS-5 and GAZ-AA, which Soviet industry had been producing since the pre-war period, could not compare with the American vehicles, which were able to haul a trailer loaded even with heavy tanks.
Immediately after the end of the war the Yaroslavl motor works, which had previously produced YAG-6 trucks in very small quantities, received an order to develop a new truck. So in 1947 appeared the YAZ-200, the first Soviet truck with a fourteen-cylinder diesel engine, and a year later, the YAZ-210 with a more powerful six-cylinder YAZ-206 diesel. These trucks began to figure in the inventory of the Soviet Army; however, the Army had need of a truck with much better characteristics, especially taking into consideration cross country ability.
So, in 1951 appeared the YAZ-214, a 6x6 truck which could carry 7 tonnes, and unusual single wheels '15,00-20' in diameter. The truck differed from its predecessors in featuring a new style of cabin, which clearly showed the influence of the designs of the American motor industry of the 1940's. Nevertheless this truck very quickly became irreplaceable in the Soviet Army, and the YAZ-214's entire production run of 1,265 went straight into military service.
In 1959, under the development plan for the motor industry, the government of the USSR decided to transfer equipment for truck manufacture from Yaroslavl to Minsk (biaxial trucks) and to the Ukrainian city of Kremenchug (triaxial trucks), where on the foundations of a small former agricultural machinery plant, a giant new factory was built to produce large trucks. So, the Russian YAZ gained a new Ukrainian identity. The trucks were initially given the name of 'Dnepr' (obviously, to denote the new locality of production), however this name did not last for long, and in 1964 all trucks from Kremenchug were designated 'KrAZ', in order not to stand out from the other streams of the Soviet motor industry.
The KrAZ showed few visible differences from its predecessor, except in the replacement of the stylized Yaroslavl bear cub on the hood by a nameplate in red and blue colors on the front radiator grille, which symbolized the flag of the Ukrainian SSR. In this form the truck was produced until 1963, when it was upgraded to the KrAZ-214B with an improved electrical system and a stronger hanger bracket. The production of this model lasted almost 5 years more, and in 1967 the KrAZ-214 was replaced on the assembly line by the next generation truck, the KrAZ-255. Overall, between 1959 and 1967 over 32,000 of the KrAZ-214 were produced in Kremenchug.
While the YAZ-214 was used only as a flat sided truck (except for the 2P5 Transporter-Erector-Launcher), its successor the KrAZ-214 had much more widespread usage in different versions. On the chassis as supplied from the plant in Kremenchug, various installations were assembled in different munitions factories. The most common were engineering trucks - the PMP pontoon truck, the TMM bridge layer, the E-305 power-shovel, and the FM truck-mounted crane (dual action firing mechanism). Various containers could be fitted to the KrAZ-214 for transportation of fuel for the rocket troops, including caustic rocket propellant.
Apart from the USSR, the KrAZ-214 was widely exported to other socialist countries - East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Hungary, Romania, Vietnam, and also to Egypt and Algeria, where they were used by the armies of all those countries. Some KrAZ-214 trucks are around 50 years old, and they are still operated in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Bulgaria and Germany.
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