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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

NKL-26 Snowmobile

The NKL-26 aerosled was intended for the transport of a crew of two persons- the vehicle commander who simultaneously fulfilled the function of gunner in a combat environment, and the mechanic-driver.

The hull of this aerosled was made of wood and fully enclosed. It had four independently suspended controllable skis. The frame was assembled from transverse ribs and longitudinal stringers covered in plywood. The forward compartment of the hull had the appearance of a trapeze. An armored shield attached at a 60° angle to the vertical protected its front section. At the level of the driver's head was an observation hatch with folding shutter, in which was cut a narrow slit. In front of the driver was an instrument panel.

The only door was positioned on the left side, parallel to the driver's seat. Each side of the vehicle had two small windows for lateral observation.

In the aerosled commander's compartment, in the roof of the hull, was a circular opening that was weakly reinforced with edging. A circular base was attached to the edging, on which was mounted a pedestal for a 7.62mm DT machine-gun. The pedestal had an armored shield with notch for the machine gun. The rotating mechanism ensured a horizontal zone of fire up to 300° (the remaining 60° belonged to the zone of rotation of the aero propeller and was dead space to the machine gun).

The fuel cell was mounted in the vehicle's rear, behind the commander's compartment. The aerosled's suspension system consisted of four identical in size skis of T-shaped cross-section, half-axles, and suspension mounts.

The front portion of the skis was broader than the rear, which permitted reduced lateral vibration during movement through loose snow. They were made of wood, the bottoms of 10mm plywood, and the longitudinal rib of pine board.

Steering of the aerosled was accomplished with the aid of a steering wheel, mounted in the driver's compartment. Through a system of levers and ropes the steering effort was imparted to all four skis, which rotated in pairs in opposite directions. This greatly increased the aerosled's maneuverability.

The power train of the NKL-26 aerosled was the same type as and interchangeable with that in the NKL-16 aerosled. The M-11 engine was a single-bank, five-cylinder, air-cooled radial aviation engine. It had an electric starter and generator for starting. In addition, for improving engine performance at low ambient temperatures, it had a pre-heater at the carburetor mouth. This prevented icing of the fuel mixture and freezing of the fuel lines and carburetor. The heater was a plenum attached to the carburetor by a flange. Exhaust pipes from the two lower cylinders of the engine passed through the plenum. At ambient temperatures below −20° C°, an additional warming tarpaulin was added to the plenum. Two gasoline tanks, the main and the reserve, fed the engine.

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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