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Soviet Combat Snowmobiles

Written by Валерий Потапов
Published on Saturday, 01 October 2005 01:53
Last Updated on
Read 18763 times

RF-8-GAZ-98 Snowmobile


The RF-8-GAZ-98 aerosled was designed to run on four skis, two of which were steered. The hull was semi-enclosed, two-place, with a front-rear positioning of the crew's seats. For ease in conducting fire from the machine gun and for enlarging the horizontal firing fan, the gunner sat in the forward seat and the driver in the rear of the cabin. The engine was mounted on a special pylon behind the driver's compartment, and inside the hull was a fuel tank with a capacity of 80 litres and also a storage battery.

The hull was made of wood and consisted of 15 transverse ribs with longitudinal stringers that formed the skeleton, with a plywood covering. The floor in the cabin was made of thin plywood. An automobile light was mounted in the nose portion of the aerosled for night illumination.

Steering of the aerosled was accomplished by turning the front skis. The steering system was controlled by cables. To reduce the effort required to turn the vehicle, polyspast was attached to the steering wheel. A transverse bar ensured that the two front skis rotated at the required angle synchronously in the direction of the steering wheel's rotation.

The gas pedal, brake pedal, and also the «jump» pedal were positioned on the floor of the driver's compartment. The «jump» pedal had a special function. It was used to dislodge the aerosled from position. When parked, especially on loose and wet snow, the ski edges froze to the snow. When this occurred, the effort of the propeller alone was insufficient to dislodge the aerosled from place. In order to break the thin icy layer that formed on the edges of the skis, it was necessary to move the skis slightly to the side. The «jump» pedal was connected to the right suspension mounting by cable. By pressing on the pedal, the driver compressed the suspension spring and thus leaned the vehicle to the right. Several pumps were sufficient to «jump» the vehicle, at which time it shifted laterally and the skis broke free from the icy grasp.

A serially-produced liquid-cooled automobile engine with 50 h.p. (at 2800 rpm) was mounted in the aerosled. The M-11 Engine coupled with the aircraft propeller with blades 2.35 metres in length could deliver thrust of 205–215 kg. The designers managed to mount the engine low in the chassis and in so doing lowered the vehicle's center of gravity. This made it highly stable; especially when it was being driven on a side incline.

A simplified ring mount for a machine gun was mounted on the upper portion of the hull. This machine gun rotated freely through a horizontal arc of 300° and could be elevated 14°. Ten magazines with cartridges for the machine gun and F-1 grenades were carried in a purpose-built storage compartment under the nose portion of the body for use in close combat.

The RF-8-GAZ-98 aerosled was modified in 1942–43 by military engineers, brothers Ivan and Aleksey Beskurnikov. The GAZ-98K used the M-11 aviation engine with 110 h.p. in place of the automobile engine, which gave the vehicle more dynamic performance. A staff variant with a closed cabin and lacking armament was created on the base of the GAZ-98K.

Translated by: James F. Gebhardt
Sources: «Rewiew of the Combat Employment of Snowmobile Units», Voenizdat, 1944;
«Modelist-Konstruktor», #12, 1985;
«Modelist-Konstruktor», #3, 1983;
«Modelist-Konstruktor», #2,3 1979.

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