Челябинский тракторный завод (ЧТЗ) or phonetic “Chelyabinskiy traktornyy zavod” (ChTZ), is the full name of the tractor plant in Chelyabinsk.
It was founded on 1 June 1933 and it started out solemnly as a tractor factory, American engineers helped to construct the plant.
The first tractor type they created was the Сталинец-60 or Stalinets-60, which was a petrol powered vehicle. As base design stood the American Caterpillar tractor 60.
From 1937 on the plant produced it’s first diesel powered tractor the Сталинец-65 (Stalinets-65). The S-65 won the Grand Prix award on the World exhibition in May 1937. From 1939 on they produced the C2, a 105 HP artillery tractor. On the 30th of march in 1940 the factory produced the 100,000th tractor.
After the beginning of Operation Barbarossa and the blitzkrieg that followed, Stalin ordered whole factories with employees to be relocated behind the Ural mountains. Seven industrial entities, including the Kharkiv factory from the Ukraine and most of the Kirov plant from Leningrad with 15.000 employees, were moved to Chelyabinsk.
The huge factory was now named the Chelyabinsk Kirov factory, even better known as “Танкоград”, Tankograd.
During World War Two the workforce increased from 25.000 employees up to 60.000 employees.
From 1941 on the plant produced 18.000 tanks, 48.500 armoured vehicles and 17,7 million pieces of ammunition. Among these number are 13 new types of tanks and self propelled guns and six different types of tank diesel engines. They were also the first to place the construction of a heavy tank on a assembly line.
During and after the second World War the factory received 33 awards like the order of Lenin, order of Kutuzov 1st class, and the order of the Red Star.
The production of tanks and self propelled gun included;
1941 – the KV-1
1942 – the T34 tank
1943 – the KV-85, mechanised artillery ISU-152 and the IS-2 tanks (Joseph Stalin tanks)
1944 – the improved T34-85, self propelled gun SU-85 tank destroyer
1945 – the IS-3 tank
The KV-85 looks like a KV-1 tank with a T34-85 turret.
From 1939 on I. Gvay led a design team in Chelyabinsk which build several prototypes of the Katyusha rocket launchers on trucks.
Today (2014) the plant has over 13.000 employees (20.000 in 2009) and has an area of 1,5 million square meters.
The welcome was warm, although they had to put on the lights first in the small museum. Not many people visit the museum nowadays. The charming museum director made me and my Russian friend Maxim from Chelyabinsk at home from the start. She guided us through the museum and told all about it, she gave life to the photos and objects in the rooms.
The tour ended with a nice movie about the tractor plant.
Although the museum is not well visited it is a cosy museum.
One word of advice though, If you can’t understand Russian then you have a challenge over here. Everything is in Russian even the private tour.
A visit will take you an hour and a half maybe two.