Home » Oldest Vehicle Still In Production Becomes Key To Russia’s War Effort

Oldest Vehicle Still In Production Becomes Key To Russia’s War Effort

Battle Loaf Uaz452
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As the Russian invasion of Ukraine rolls on, the toll of war continues to mount on both sides. Two long years of combat have seen Russia’s ground forces lose thousands upon thousands of trucks and armored vehicles. Manufacturing capacity to replace those losses is limited, and new military-spec vehicles don’t come cheap. The dire situation of Russian logistics has thus led to an unexpected turn.

Enter the Bukhanka, which roughly translates to “loaf” in English. It’s the colloquial Russian term used to refer to the UAZ-452 for its resemblance to a loaf of bread. It’s also known as the “Scooby Doo Van” to some commentators. The humble four-wheel-drive van has a distinguished position as one of the oldest vehicle designs still in production today. It first debuted in 1965, four years before NASA landed men on the moon. It shares its title with the Beijing BJ212, which also entered production the same year.

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Russia was once thought to have one of the most formidable land armies on the planet. Two years of war have brought that into question, as has the use of unarmored vehicles for logistical purposes.

Originally designed for military use, the UAZ-452 originally shipped with a 75 horsepower 2.4-liter engine capable of running on terrible gasoline with as little as 72 octane. A 1985 upgrade saw the model adopt a 99-horsepower engine. Today, UAZ ships the van with a 2.7-liter engine good for 112-horsepower. It expects higher-quality 92-octane fuel, however.

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The bread-like van still retains the same loaf-like body style that stretches all the way back to its birth in 1965. It’s one of those cases where the manufacturer hasn’t seen fit to ain’t-fix what ain’t-broken. The current sales brochure indicates several bodystyles are available, including a cab-chassis, trayback, and truck versions. It also goes by the name UAZ Classic. While it was designed for military users, it was as a utility vehicle, not a combat vehicle.

Screenshot 2024 06 07 125014
Multiple body styles are available. Bukhanka (loaf) most specifically refers to the van version, also known under designation UAZ-3741.
Uaz 452v 2206 1985 Photos 1
As this photo from 1985 indicates, the model has changed little over the years.
Screenshot 2024 06 07 124954
A contemporary model in the “Expedition” trim. Bright orange is not recommended for military users.
73c55265 43e9 4012 8231 16fee101de0a
Interior appointments are basic but have been modernized over the years.

Ultimately, the Bukhanka had the basics down pat from the start. It has a regular four-wheel-drive system with a low-range transfer case and diff locks available for when the going gets tough. Approach and departure angles are solid if not exceptional, at 30 degrees and 27 degrees apiece. It’s also rated to ford depths up to 1.6 feet. It’s a simple formula and one that makes few concessions to ride comfort or NVH. Regardless, it works. The Bukhanka gets where it needs to go, and it remains easy to maintain and repair when necessary.


The Bukhanka is a simple, rugged off-roader, but that’s not enough to survive on a modern battlefield. As covered by DanielR on Twitter, the increasing use of the ancient UAZ platform is proving problematic for Russian forces. Thin steel panels do nothing to protect against strikes even from the lightest quadcopters employed by Ukrainian forces. The UAZ is also not fast, nor particularly stable or maneuverable at speed. That makes it incredibly difficult for a crew traveling in a Bukhanka to evade or escape attack from incoming high-speed FPV drones.

The design of the fuel tanks doesn’t help, either. They’re mounted under the vehicle on each flank, where they can easily be punctured or ignited by enemy fire. And like the rest of the vehicle, the fuel tanks are completely unarmored. Aiming for the broadside of a Bukhanka is a surefire way to take it out of action.

This wouldn’t be such a problem for logistical use in rear areas far from active combat, but these vehicles have increasingly been pressed into delivery duties near the front lines, hauling ammo, soldiers, and supplies. As a result, burnt-out Bukhankas are becoming an increasingly common sight in Ukraine. Typically, they’re taken out by small drones flown by Ukrainian forces. In turn, the Bukhankas have adopted cage armor as a basic form of defense, though how effective it is remains an open question.

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Screenshot 2024 06 07 115552
New examples can be had cheap.

Since the war began in 2022, open source intelligence tells us that Russian forces have lost tanks, trucks, and infantry fighting vehicles in their thousands. And yet, despite its weaknesses, the Bukhanka remains present on the battlefield. Why? Because it’s cheap, and it’s available. Russian forces are scrambling for every vehicle they can get, and new Bukhankas cost less than 1.5 million rubles ($16,800 USD).  In wartime, that’s sometimes all that matters. For similar reasons, Russian forces have also been making significant use of Chinese-sourced “golf carts” as reported by Forbes.

Ultimately, it’s hard to imagine an equivalent in Western terms, but let’s take a shot anyway. Imagine if the US Army was resupplying troops from 1965 Ford Econolines. It’d be an odd look for modern warfare. the Econoline isn’t really in the same class as the Bukhanka, but it’s eerie how reminiscent the Russian van is of the 1960s Ford design.

1963 Ford Econoline
The UAZ design is not so dissimilar from the Ford Econoline of old.

Social media today is full of explicit videos from the front lines of the Russian invasion. Discretion is advised before one goes researching in this area.

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By no means is The Autopian a war news outlet. Regardless, it’s newsworthy that one of the oldest vehicles currently in production has become a staple of a “superpower” in a major conflict. In much the same way as the Toyota Hilux became infamous as a “technical” (a civilian vehicle converted for battlefield use), the Bukhanka is making a name for itself in the turmoil of this European battlefield. Unless there is some grand change in Russian industry or the status of the war, expect Bukhankas to keep winding the roads behind the front lines, where they will remain easy targets. For a strained Russian logistics effort, better options appear hard to come by.

Image credits: UAZ, Ford

 

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Alex Rockey
Alex Rockey
10 days ago

Do you think the body design was inspired by the rare Jeep FC vans?
138085465.jpg (1920×1281) (motortrend.com)

Vee
Vee
13 days ago

These, the turtle tanks, the motorcycle sleds, and the zombie-like re-emergence of that one T-55 are all amusing to look at because it resembles more like what Zambia fielded in the Rhodesian Bush War rather than the former second largest military power in the world.

That said, with the number of Soviet stockpiles sold off to south central Asia and central Africa between 1975 and 1990 it’s no wonder that Russia has run out of stuff to field. Their oligarchy has been heavily focused on financial manipulation of eastern Europe by controlling titanium and methane exports as a soft power exploit rather than maintaining or even reconstructing their military as a hard power pressure. That lack of hardware kicked them in the dick with Chechnya, but they covered it up well enough that mostly only historians know nowadays. The only way they managed to occupy Georgia was through a series of suckerpunches hidden behind the backs of the Ossetians. And during the 2014 invasion of Ukraine they rushed hard enough and destroyed enough local sources of information that the wider international information outlets didn’t find out about the Black Sea fleet’s garbage equipment and operational fuckup until 2022.

Russia’s known for a while that without increased production capabilites they couldn’t go for a long term entrenched conflict and so they got really good at covering it up. Just like any sleight of hand trick however, eventually the illusion failed.

Mechjaz
Mechjaz
13 days ago
Reply to  Vee

Dick Chechnya for Vice Dictator!

Root
Root
13 days ago

The article says the latest engine in these is expecting 92 octane fuel, which sounds high to my American ears (most stations where I live max out at 91 octane). I’m assuming that must be some different scale for octane rating than what we’re used to in the USA? I have a vague memory that there are (at least) two numerical systems for rating the octane content in gasoline – anyone know the story there?

Sensual Bugling Elk
Sensual Bugling Elk
13 days ago
Reply to  Root

It’s almost certainly 92 RON (Research Octane Number; the standard measurement in most of the world). There’s another measurement method called MON, which is typically about 10 points lower than RON. American gas pumps display the AKI number, which is the average of MON and RON (so typically 5ish points lower than RON).

So 92 RON is basic 87-octane.

MrLM002
MrLM002
13 days ago
Reply to  Root

Pretty sure the originals could run 49 octane.

Andy Individual
Andy Individual
13 days ago
Reply to  Root

Don’t overthink that. The Russians aren’t that refined.

Goblin
Goblin
13 days ago
Reply to  Root

US octane ratings are basically -6 compared to the rest of the world (ballpark).
93 octane US is equivalent to about 97 octane most elsewhere. There is 100 and 102 octane in Europe that is equivalent pretty much to good Premium in the US.
The US 100 octane (racing) is 110-ish in Europe.

Octane ratings being measured on RON or MON ratings, US octane number is (RON+MON)/2, Europe is RON

http://www.pencilgeek.org/2009/05/octane-rating-conversions.html

The 72 octane cited above is equivalent to about 65 US octane, and was/is a Soviet-only monstruosity, which was the main gas available in the USSR once you leave the big cities (where one could sometimes find the equivalent of the US Regular as the highest octane rating available.

Andrea Petersen
Andrea Petersen
13 days ago

Ukrainians are making a whole lot of toast!

D-dub
D-dub
13 days ago

These things get turned into breadcrumbs.

Andy Individual
Andy Individual
13 days ago
Reply to  D-dub

Or croutons!

D-dub
D-dub
13 days ago

They’re even running out of Scooby Doo vans now. Lately they’ve been resorting to motorcycles and Chinese side-by-side ATVs for troop transport.

Last edited 13 days ago by D-dub
Chronometric
Chronometric
13 days ago
Reply to  D-dub

If it weren’t for those meddling Ukrainian kids.

Last edited 13 days ago by Chronometric
Rabob Rabob
Rabob Rabob
13 days ago
Reply to  D-dub

1940 with drones

horses are next I assume

Jalop Gold
Jalop Gold
11 days ago
Reply to  D-dub

Next up, battle Changli?

Cool Dave
Cool Dave
13 days ago

Do they order these individually or in bakers dozens?

Chartreuse Bison
Chartreuse Bison
12 days ago
Reply to  Cool Dave

It’s a soviet vehicle, they have to wait in a bread line to get them

DysLexus
DysLexus
13 days ago

This article gives a whole new meaning to “pinching a loaf”. I’m sure there are lots of euphemisms for excrement in Ukraine right now.

Andy Individual
Andy Individual
13 days ago

Even the radio is a period correct Krasnyytochka.

EmotionalSupportBMW
EmotionalSupportBMW
13 days ago

Just the set of wheels you need to operate a unprotected line in Ariel Parity. Going anywhere that even smelled like combat zone in one of those would be a bottom 3 job for me. You would have a longer lifespan Calvary charging a trench with a broadsword.

Data
Data
13 days ago

Just loafing around on a lazy Friday morning.

Andy Individual
Andy Individual
13 days ago
Reply to  Data

Dude. I’m so baked.

ProfessorOfUselessFacts
ProfessorOfUselessFacts
13 days ago

Having ridden in one as a taxi in St. Petersburg, they are cheap, reliable, and have about the same creature comforts of a power wheels kids toy

Fuzz
Fuzz
13 days ago

That last one is a crusty loaf.

Balloondoggle
Balloondoggle
13 days ago

Bright orange is not recommended for military users.

“LT, we need a diversion! Someone to draw fire!”

“PVT Snuffy, get the loaf and head west!”

Sklooner
Sklooner
13 days ago
Reply to  Balloondoggle

The new guy in the red uniform, Pvt Expendable

Jacob Rippey
Jacob Rippey
13 days ago

Live. Laugh. Loaf.

Cayde-6
Cayde-6
13 days ago
Reply to  Jacob Rippey

Apparently, Loaves are not very compatible with laughing. Or living, for that matter

Last edited 13 days ago by Cayde-6
Jacob Rippey
Jacob Rippey
13 days ago
Reply to  Cayde-6

***Live(d), Laugh(ed), Loaf(ed)?

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
13 days ago
Reply to  Jacob Rippey

Loafed: lunched(but good)

Mechjaz
Mechjaz
13 days ago
Reply to  Jacob Rippey

Lef(t)

Jim Stock
Jim Stock
13 days ago

I so want one of those orange expedition models with an engine swap. I do not think that my wife would let me spend the money. My kid liked riding in one in Mongolia a few years back.

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
13 days ago

Where else but “the breadbasket of the world” would you most expect to find a loaf?

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
13 days ago

Another old design still holding out is the Kia KM450 used by South Korea, which debuted way back in 1962 as the Jeep (S)J-Series

MrLM002
MrLM002
13 days ago

I love the Loaf, I saw my first one in person in Norway several years back.

It is a little unit!

Michael Beranek
Michael Beranek
13 days ago

It’s a cool little vehicle- for civilian use. But sending people into combat situations inside one of these is just plain military malpractice.
We’re a long way from the slick, sleek, too-advanced-to-believe Red Oktober and Firefox.

MrLM002
MrLM002
13 days ago

Same could be said of Humvees in frontline combat and for COIN operations.

On both sides of the conflict everyone is getting drafted, they don’t give enough of a shit to get people to willingly join, how much of a shit do you think they have to give about their soldier’s wellbeing?

Michael Beranek
Michael Beranek
13 days ago
Reply to  MrLM002

I would rather drive through a combat zone in a HumVee- even an old, 80’s one- than I would in a tin can, which is what the Loaf really is.

MrLM002
MrLM002
13 days ago

Just hope it’s not an urban combat zone, if you ever had to pull off a U-turn in a Humvee your enemies would have enough time to have a smoke before you get turned around, then RPG your ass.

Michael Beranek
Michael Beranek
13 days ago
Reply to  MrLM002

Good point. But most of this war has been fought in the fields- I think RU is afraid of urban combat.

BeemerBob
BeemerBob
13 days ago

The translation from theposting n Russian above, per Google:
Yuri Mezinov writes about two seriously wounded of our fighters, who took people out of Ocheretino.

Here are photos of the loaf where the guys evacuated the locals. Fpv drone. The city is mercilessly ironed with khokhls of all types of weapons, while there are still more than 50 civilians who need to be taken out.

Over the past two weeks, Yura hit a mine on his armored car (minus Patriot), another Uaz from their transport group got into a serious accident and now this is the situation.

One of my subscribers transfers another loaf at the disposal of Yura (and therefore the evacuation team) right now. I will give to Yura’s disposal 500 thousand rubles from the NZ, which I formed from the donations of my friends, other trustees will add more – Yura needs an armored car.

Cars on the front are a consumable.

If you want to help, you know:

Sber

Urban Runabout
Urban Runabout
13 days ago

Forgive me if I don’t feel bad for Putin’s invading army – except for the fact that most of the individuals who make up those forces are not doing so voluntarily and are losing their lives 100% unnecessarily.

MATTinMKE
MATTinMKE
13 days ago
Reply to  Urban Runabout

So much this. Putin did this, and he can stop it.

MrLM002
MrLM002
13 days ago
Reply to  Urban Runabout

That’s quite the conundrum, not feeling bad for X army when you do feel bad for the majority of the individuals that make up X army.

I do feel bad, for both sides, it doesn’t mean there are not corrupt assholes in charge on both sides, rather I believe that innocent people shouldn’t be forced to kill and or die for a conflict ran by corrupt assholes.

R Rr
R Rr
13 days ago
Reply to  MrLM002

Wait, are you “both-sides”-ing the clear-cut issue of one country invading its peaceful neighbor??

Just like the D-day celebrations, remembering a conflict with good people on both sides LOL

Sure, there’s the convicted felon, but Biden is old!! Yeah, they both have issues

These MAGA idiots, I swear..

Last edited 13 days ago by R Rr
MrLM002
MrLM002
13 days ago
Reply to  R Rr

One country ruled by corrupt assholes, invading another country ruled by corrupt assholes, and both countries forcing innocent people to kill and or die for this conflict between two groups of corrupt assholes.

Russia is in the wrong. That doesn’t mean it’s suddenly a great thing to kill Russian conscripts. We were wrong to Invade Vietnam, that doesn’t mean it was suddenly a great thing to kill US draftees.

Ukraine is a horribly corrupt country, same with Russia, that doesn’t mean your average person is corrupt, just that more likely than not the people that wield power over your average person are corrupt, and sadly it’s you’re average person who suffers the most because of it.

Watch enough people die in war and you’ll lose your blind support for any side of a conflict. Unless you’re a warmonger.

FG
FG
11 days ago
Reply to  MrLM002

What in G-d’s arse does Ukrainian corruption have to do with Russian invasion? Back when Trumpty Dumpty was in the White House handing out pardons and deals to his cronies, you could say the American government was plenty corrupt – would you have been OK with Trudeau marching his mounties down to DC to take him down?

I swear, some people…

MrLM002
MrLM002
10 days ago
Reply to  FG

That innocent people are having to kill and or die for it against their will.

If your country is so great and so worth fighting for you don’t need a draft, the draft is there because you can’t make the case for enough people to fight for your cause so you have to threaten them with throwing them in a cage and or death to get them to risk their lives.

How do you think the war would look if they had no draftees? Russia’s strategy is built on sending in hardly trained conscripts as “feelers” to get killed so that the next wave of slightly more experienced conscript soldiers has a better understanding of the layout of the battlefield, then when they get get killed they send in the next experienced conscripts, all to gather the most intel so when they send in their special forces that they lose as few of them as possible.

Misappropriation of aid funds by corrupt Ukrainian politicians has led to defenses not being built up which has led to the Russians advancing in spite of the sorry state of their military and their equipment.

The Ukrainians are better armed, better funded, better equipped, etc. so why haven’t they kicked the Russians out already? Has that question not popped into your mind?

Without conscripts the Russians would have massive losses of their better trained more experienced fighters, which would horribly limit their ability to advance.

Without conscripts the Ukrainians would actually have to make it worth it for people to join their military, who want’s to fight and die for a bunch of corrupt assholes?

FG
FG
10 days ago
Reply to  MrLM002

Russia invaded Ukraine under false pretenses. No Russian invasion = Ukraine can deal with their own corruption as they see fit (or not).

>>>Misappropriation of aid funds by corrupt Ukrainian politicians 

Pretty sure I know what news channel you subscribe to. Also, pretty sure you will not provide any proof of this misappropriation short of the bullshit Tucker spews.

>>>Without conscripts the Ukrainians would actually have to make it worth it for people to join their military, who want’s to fight and die for a bunch of corrupt assholes?

A good percentage of Ukrainian soldiers are volunteers. But Fox News won’t tell you that.

Last edited 10 days ago by FG
MrLM002
MrLM002
10 days ago
Reply to  FG

I don’t own a TV, nor do I even really watch TV. Your assumption that I do tells me about where you get your “news” from

BBC, NYT, etc. not good enough for you?

Yep, and a good amount of “military aged” males are being forced into vans by military personnel on both sides. Both armies should be entirely filled with people who have voluntarily joined, not people forced against their will to do so.

Col Lingus
Col Lingus
12 days ago
Reply to  R Rr

But Capt. Orange sez he can stop that war in a couple of days.

Right. Just like he made Covid go away. WTF?

God help us and the Union…

StillNotATony
StillNotATony
13 days ago
Reply to  Urban Runabout

I would propose an alternative…

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0102800/

Hangover Grenade
Hangover Grenade
13 days ago
Reply to  Urban Runabout

I do feel bad for them. Their army is full of people who’ve been fed nothing but propaganda, then pushed into service.

I guess that goes for all armies, but that’s another topic altogether.

Black Peter
Black Peter
13 days ago

Yes, but also no? Propaganda is twisting or misrepresenting the truth to align with a political ideology. I think the Russians are being fed 100% grass fed bull$h!t

FG
FG
11 days ago

It’s really easy to feed those who open their mouths willingly. 95% of the Russian “conscripts” don’t deserve your pity.

Rob Schneider
Rob Schneider
13 days ago
Reply to  Urban Runabout

As the famous saying goes, the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. They’ve let Putin rule the roost for what, two decades now? I feel bad for them individually, but collectively this is the reality they (and their parents) brought upon themselves.

In the interest of keeping our Autopian wonderland apolitical, I’ll avoid any analysis of the goings on in any other country in the world.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
13 days ago
Reply to  Rob Schneider

“They’ve let Putin rule the roost for what, two decades now?”

Well if the guy you don’t like gets rid of his most threatening critics by having them killed I’m pretty sure you’d “let” him rule too.

FG
FG
11 days ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

Not if you’re an army of 140 million.

Putin has overwhelming support of the majority of Russians. Don’t let the stolen election and murdered opposition leaders fool you.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
11 days ago
Reply to  FG

An ARMY of 140 million? Does Ukraine know this?

FG
FG
10 days ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

Don’t be dense. If Russians wanted Putin out, they’d have him out.

Last edited 10 days ago by FG
Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
10 days ago
Reply to  FG

You don’t know your Russian history do you?

FG
FG
8 days ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

I can assure you I know it a lot better than you do.

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