Soviet trucks ZIS-5 Truck (1934)

Light 4x4 Utility Truck (1933-48), 532,311 built*

The proverbial Soviet light Truck

Two trucks really made the bread and butter of motorized units on the eastern front during WW2: The ZIS-5 and GAZ AA/AAA/MM. Together they represented a total of 1,400 000 light utility trucks. They still could tow a small artillery piece, machine gun, trailer, and carry troops and supplies to the battlefield. Many were also converted as half-tracks to operate in winter and autumn (with the terrible "rasputitsa"). They represented together about 50% of the trucks produced in USSR and used by Soviet troops. The ZIS-5 and its wartime simplified version ZIS-5V were the second most common do-it-all trucks in USSR, long-derived from a simple and reliable 1919 FIAT F15 truck.

Author's illustration of the ZiS-5, click for the HD

About ZIS trucks

The ZIS-5 was the first large scale production of the the company ZIS (now ZIL). The factory was founded in 1916 as Avtomobilnoïe Moskovskoye Obshchestvo (AMO), part of a government program to create a domestic automobile industry in Russia (this was 1915), planning six new automobile factories in Russia. An international call for tenders was launched for six specialized vehicles, and on six one was retained for the construction of trucks. The contract was awarded to FIAT on March 7, 1917 with a license to produce a standard, universal 1.5 tonne payload truck. This model was the Fiat 15, for which a factory was dedicated, built on the model of Fiat-Turin. However the factory was only completed by 1919 but the truck was consideraby improved meanwhile in Italy. By the time it was ready to roll, the 15Ter version was chosen for production, but political events soon thwarted those projects.

Although the new government after the 1917 revolution proceeded with the construction of the plant, the civil war hampered the launch of a production. Originally, the plant was a private venture, property of the brothers Sergey and Stepan Riabouchinski. They had to accept the forcible nationalization, renamed Factory AMO P. Ferrero in April 1923 in homage to the Italian trade unionist Pietro Ferrero (1892-1922). The AMO F-15 rolled of the line in 1924, and was manufactured to 1931 to a mere 6,084 vehicles. In 1930, the AMO-2 followed with a more powerful engine Hercules-WXB (1,715) and the AMO-3 from 1931, with a factory engine, and also first mass-produced model of the company. In 1933 the factory was renamed ZIS (Zavod Imeni Stalina, in homage to Stalin) producing both civilian and military trucks.

The next model was the ZIS-5, produced from 1933 to WW2 and beyond. In 1941 the last of these rugged and dependable beast of burdens rolled of the factory line. They never were really replaced. In 1942, however, the war production needs urged the simplification of the model, which ended wit the ZIS-5V. A 4x6 model was also mass-produced, the ZIS-6, but it never met the success of the ZIS-5. The ZIS-10 to 14 were also produced alongside in smaller series in the late 1930s and until 1941, when all where terminated by order of Stalin to concentrate on the ZIS-5 alone. Only the planned replacement for the now argely obsolete ZIS-5 was the ZIS-21 (1938) which production was maintained and ramped up until 1941, with a total of 15,445 vehicles. Others models were half-tracks or convertibles* like the ZIS-22, ZIS-32, ZIS-33 also knew small series, and the wartime ZIS-42, ZIS-42M and ZIS-44 were produced in small quantities. These were half-track variants of earlier models (future separate articles).
*A convertible stores spare tracks that can be fitted on the rear drivetrain in winter.


*According to Soviet registers, the most produced trucks in USSR ever was the GAZ MM (419,812), a derivative of the Ford built in USSR. Some sources goes as far as one million ZIS-5 but it's not corroborated by official sources and more probably the addition of the ZIS-5, 5V and 6 and all the other ZIS models. The factory records for production in 1933-41 (ZIS-5), 1942-48 (ZIS-5V) and 1933-41 (ZIS-6) shows respectively 325,051, 207,260 and 21,239 vehicles, so 533,550 vehicles. This is slighlty less than the famous ww2 GMC family (353, 352 and variants). They still were the most produced ZIS trucks, after the early interwar AMO-3 (34,969 produced), which stays on top. The latter was produced from 1931 to 1933, and derived from the AMO-2 (1930) and AMO-F15 (1924).

In 1933, the AMO factory was created in Moscow, named Factory No. 2 Zavod Imeni Stalina, and the first model manufactured here was the ZiS-5. In the fall of 1941, the production line of the Moscow plant was shut down, as German troops were close. The main ZiS plant was moved to Ulyanovsk, on the Volga and another was built in Miass, Chelyabinsk Oblast in the Ural. The Production in Ulyanovsk adopted the brand UASZIS and ran from February 1942 to 1944, and UralZiS Ulyanovsk really started on July 1944 and both contrentrated on the ZIS-5V. The Moscow plant relaunched its production from April 1942 until 1948 and concentrated on the remorotized ZiS-50. In 1955, UralZiS heavily modified the ZiS-5 with new engines, designated UralZiS-355 (ZiS-355).



The ZIS-5 was not based on the previous AMO-3 designed two years previously, but on the American Autocar Model CA, faithfully copied under licence. Studies were launched in 1933, for a vehicle that can carry a heavier payload, from 2,500 to 3,000 kgs. It rested on a more powerful engine, ZIS-5, with an increased capacity, larger cylinders (101.6 vs. 95.25 mm), slightly better compression ratio, 5555 cm3 capacity and 73 hp, instead of 60, as well as a greater torque. The speed was also better at 60 kph instead of 52, and a large fuel tank to compensate the higher consumption. The chassis was also larger at 6060 mm versus 5,950 mm, and wider of 95 mm, but on the same wheelbase since the AMO-2. The gearbox was also essentially the same. The simplified 5V version differed on some points (see below). The longer and heavier 6x4 ZIS-6 was however a 1934 copy of the American Morris 2 10-CWT, not just a ZiS-5 with a rear twin axle.

Characteristics (*ZIS 5V)

  • Wheels arrangement: 4x2
  • Carrying capacity: 3 tons
  • Length: 6060mm, 6100mm*
  • Width: 2235mm, 2250mm*
  • Height: 2160mm
  • Wheelbase: 3810mm
  • Front wheel track: 1525mm
  • Rear wheel track: 1675mm
  • Full (Net) weight (kg): 3100 kgs
  • Engine: ZIS-5/5M*, 6 cyl. 101.6 mm stroke 114.3mm
  • Compression ratio/ Capacity: 4.6, 4.6/5.3*, 5555cm³
  • Output (hp.): 73hp, 76hp*
  • Max engine revolutions (r.p.min-1): 2400
  • Max Torque: 28.5
  • Gearbox type; 4-step
  • Final Drive Ratio: 6.41
  • Tires: 34x7 inches
  • Max speed: 60 kph
  • Fuel tank capacity: 60 liters
  • Fuel consumption: 33 l/100km, 36 l/100km*

Simplified Mass-production: ZIS-5V

At the end of 1941, shortages in raw materials forced changes in manufacture all across the board, and this also naturally impacted the ZiS-5. Changes focused on simplification in construction, les parts and simplified ones: The most recoignisable were the stamped round fenders replaced by simple flat sheets, while both the cabin and running boards were in wood, and front axle brakes were removed as the right headlight and bumpers. The ZiS-5V ("V" standing for "simplified"), was produced from May 1942 in Ulyanovsk, and later in Miass and ultimately in Moskow as well. This helped reaching a large production in shorter time for a total of 83,000 ZiS-5 and ZiS-5V during wartime, in 1941-45.

ZiS-5V blueprint


  • ZIS-6: Standard three-axle version. (1934-1941)
  • ZIS-8: Road version based on the ZiS-11 (1934-1938)
  • ZIS-10: Tractor version for semi-trailer (1938-1941)
  • ZIS-11: Extra long wheelbase version (1934-1936)
  • ZIS-12: Long wheelbase version (1934-1938)
  • ZIS-13: Gasifier version based on ZiS-11 (1936-1939)
  • ZIS-14: long wheelbase version (1934)/li>
  • ZIS-15: Prototype replacement (1939)
  • ZIS-16: Bus version (1938-1941)
  • ZIS-17: Prototype bus (based ZiS-15, 1939)
  • ZIS-18: Gasifier ZiS-15
  • ZIS-19: Dump truck version (1939-1949)
  • ZIS-20: Prototype dump truck version.
  • ZIS-21: Main Gasifier version (1939-1941)
  • ZIS-22: Early halftrack version (1940-1941)
  • ZIS-23: Three-axle ZiS-15.
  • ZIS-24: Four-wheel drive ZiS-15
  • ZIS-25: Improved Gasifier ZiS-15
  • ZIS-26: Tractor semi-trailer ZiS-15
  • ZIS-28: Engine test prototype ZiS-15
  • ZIS-30: Multifuel version (1940-1941)
  • ZIS-31: Gasifier version of ZiS-21 with NATI-G23 coal unit
  • ZIS-32: Four-wheel drive version (1941)
  • ZIS-33: semi-tracked version (1940)
  • ZIS-35Sh: Semi-tracked version
  • ZIS-36: 6x6 Prototype version (1941)
  • ZIS-41: Gasifier version (1940-1944)
  • ZIS-42: Semi-tracked version (1942-1944)
  • ZIS-44: ZiS-5V Ambulance version
  • ZIS-50: ZiS-5 with ZiS-150 engine (1947-1948)
  • ZIS-S1: Dump truck version (1947-1949)
  • LET: Experimental electric vehicle (1935)
  • ZIS-LTA: Halftrack logging truck prototype (1949)

The ZIS-5 in action

During wartime, the ZiS-5 was used on all fronts and highly regarded for being of reliable construction. it carried all sorts of payloads as well as troops, 25 seated on banks. It was also used as a light artillery tractor, notably carrying the interwar standard antitank gun, ans its platform could accomodate fuel or water tanks or a field workshop, or sever as an ambulance. The ZiS-5 glory time was on the "life road", only access route to the Besieged Leningrad on the frozen surface of Lake Ladoga. It was repeated in the winters of 1941-42, 42-43 and 43-44. The ZiS-5 was also exported prewar, 100 sold to Turkey in 1934, but after the war surplus trucks were purchased by Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Spain, China, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Mongolia and Romania.

The Finns captured many during the Russo-Finnish War (1939-1940) as the Germans, which renamed them, possibly "Beutelastwagen ZiS-5(r)". Numbers are unknown, most of them from large pockets of soviet troops during the late summer 1941, probably in the order of magnitude of 3,000 vehicles. They were often camouflaged, both with paint and foliage. Variants were used, like the boat carrier, refueller, ambulance, etc. They were also passed onto other axis powers like Romania (photos). A swatiska flag was often also placed on the hood to avoid friendly fire from the Luftwaffe as shown in photos.

Since the production was maintained until 1948, and given their longevity, ZiS-5s were still around in the late 1960s in second line and reserve, as much more modern models replaced them. Outside exports, the remainder were either scrapped or found a new life in the civilian market. Simple to maintain, they are still used in remote parts of Siberia or Afghanistan and other places.


I. Moshchansky, "Shturm Karel'skogo vala", Vyborsko-Petrozavodskaya strategicheskaya nastupatel'naya operatsiya 10 ijyunia - 9 avgusta 1944 goda", Voyennaya Letopis'/Military Chronicle, 5/2005
A. Galushko, M. Kolomiets. "Boi za Kharkov v Mae 1942 goda", Frontovaya Illyustratsia/Frontline Illustration, 6/2000 (2nd ed.)
"ZIS-5, ZIS-5V" part 1, Muzei Tekhniki No. 6, Moscow, ~2000.
I. Moshchansky, A. Savin, "Bor'ba za Krym. Sentyabr' 1941 - Iyul 1942.", Voyennaya Letopis', No.1, 2002
T. Abashidze,. I.Moshchansky, "Okruzheniye Yugo-Zapadnogo Fronta. Kievsjaya strategicheskaya oboronitelnaya operatsia. 7 Ijulia-26 Sentiabrya 1941 goda. Chast'. 2". Moscow, Voyennaya Letopis/Military Chronicle, 4/2003
T. Abashidze, I. Moschansky, "Kievskaya Strategicheskaya Oboronitelnaya operatsia. Part 1. Tragedia pod Umanju" , 2003


Main utility trucks


ZIS-5 4x4, base version 1940


ZIS-5 of the 51th Soviet Army in Crimea, April 1942

ZIS-5 of the 51th Soviet Army in Crimea, April 1942

No. B-0-56-29 and its driver Tchaika

ZIS-5V Reg. No. B-0-56-29 and its driver Tchaika, 3rd Byelorussian Front, Dec. 23, 1944. Note the washed up light green paint.

ZiS-5 in sand camouflage, Ukraine summer 1941

ZIS-5 carrying a 37mm 1K antitank gun and ammo supplies

ZiS-5V in winter camouflage, Siege of Leningrad 1941-42

A rare multi-colored pattern, summer 1941. Paint stocks were by then plentiful.

Another rare pattern

Same here

A more classic "checkered" winter pattern, winter, Moskow 1941-42

Specialized variants

Ambulance version

BM-8 Katiusha variant

BM-13 Katiusha variant

Fire truck

Izhorsk AC-1 Armoured Car


German ww2 Allied ww2 Vehicles

British ww2 British Vehicles

-AEC Armoured Command Vehicle (415)
-AEC Matador
-Albion WD.CX24 Tank Transporter
-Austin K2/Y Ambulance
-Austin K3
-Austin K4
-Austin K4 Dropside
-Austin K5
-Austin K6 GS
-Austin K6 Gantry
-Bedford MW.
-Bedford OXA Armoured
-Bedford OXC Semi-trailer
-Bedford OXD GS
-Bedford OYC Tanker
-Bedford OYD GS
-Bedford QLB Bofors.
-Bedford QLD GS.
-Bedford QLR/QLC Radio/com
-Bedford QLT Troop carrier
-Crossley Q-Type.
-Guy Ant
-Guy Lizard ACV
-Humber FWD.
-Karrier K6.
-Leyland Hippo Mk II
-Morris 15cwt
-Morris ML Ambulance
-Morris C8 GS
-Morris Commercial CD series.
-Morris Commercial CS8
-Morris GS Terrapin
-Scammell Pioneer SV1S/SV2S (~500)

French ww2 French Vehicles

-Berliet DGRA, GDC, GDM, VDCA, 30
-Bernard fuel carriers.
-Citroën Kégresse P14, P17, P19, T23, 32U, 45
-Delahaye ?
-ELMAG (Alsace) ?
-Ford France ?
-Hotchkiss PKW Typ680, 686, 686 PNA.
-Isobloc buses, W843M medical bus
-Laffly V15R, S15R, S20TL, W15T.
-Latil TAR H2
-Lorraine 37L and 38L tractors
-Matford (Alsace) F917
-Panhard & Levassor ?
-Peugeot 202, 402, DMA, DK, DK5
-Saurer type 3CT
-Simca 5, 8
-Somua MCL, MCG
-Talbot ?
-Unic TU1, P107
-Trippel (Alsace) SG6
-Willeme DU10

Soviet ww2 Soviet Trucks

-GAZ AA M1927 M1932 M1941
-GAZ AAA M1937
-GAZ AAA M1940
-Ford Marmon HH6 Katiusha
-SU C-6
-Yag-10 SPG
-ZIS-5 armored
-ZIS-33 HT
-ZIS 41 HT
-FN-Kégresse T3

Soviet ww2 Soviet Artillery Tractors

-Komsomolets (4,041 pre-war)
-STZ-3 (3,658 pre-war)
-STZ-5 (7,170 pre-war)
-Komintern (1,017 pre-war)
-Voroshilovets (228 pre-war)
-Kommunar (504 pre-war)
-YA-12 (1,666)

Soviet ww2 Soviet staff cars cars

Soviet ww2 Amphibious armoured cars


US ww2 US Trucks

-Ford B3000 S
-Ford V3000S
-Ford V3000A,
-Ford BB
-Ford V8-51
-Ford m1931
-Ford V8 M1937
-T1E1(M1) half-track
-T5 half-track
-T7 half-track
-T9 half-track
-G8T 2-1/2 ton 4x2 Truck
-International B2
-International model 1937
-Chevrolet m1931
-Chevrolet m1936
-Chevrolet G-506 ​1 1⁄2-ton 4x4
-Chevrolet G-7107 4-1/2 ton 4x4
-Chevrolet 3116 1-1/2 ton 4x2
-Studebaker US6x4 U7
-Studebaker US6x4 U-6
-Studebaker US6x6 U-5 6x4
-Studebaker US6 U4 bz35S 2-1/2 ton 6x6 truck
-Dodge m1931, WC series light trucks
-Dodge m1931
-Dodge truck M6 portee OK
-Dodge T203B
-Dodge WF-32
-Dodge WC51 OK
-Dodge WC52
-Dodge WC-53 4x4 carryall
-Dodge WC55 OK
-Dodge WC-63
-Harley-Davidson WLA motorcycle
-Willys MB light truck
-GMC CCKW Cargo Truck
-GMC 1939 ACKWX 353 3 ton 6x6 truck
-GMC AFWX-353 3 ton 6x4 truck
-GMC DUKW 353 2-1/2 ton 6x6 truck
-Diamond T Model 980/981 12-ton 6x4 trucks (G159)
-Diamond T Model 968 4-ton 6x6 truck (G509)
-Diamond T Model 967
-Diamond T Model 970
-Diamond T Model 972
-Diamond M26 Dragon Wagon
-Diamond M19 Tank Transporter
-Diamond T Model 980
-Diamond T 4-ton 6x6 truck
-Autocar U8144T 5/6-ton 4x4 truck
-Brockway/LaFrance 6-ton 6x6 truck, G512, 514, 547, 569
-White/Corbitt 6 ton 6x6 Prime Mover
-Brockway ?
-Ward LaFrance
-Four Wheel Drive Auto Company (FWD) SU-COE 5-6 ton 4x4
-White Motor Company
-Inl KR-11 5 ton 4x2 dump truck
-Inl M5-6 318 2-1/2 ton 6x6 swb
-Mack NR15 10-ton 6x4
-Reo 28 XS 10-ton 6x4

Axis ww2 Axis Trucks

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Sd.Kfz 2, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11 were half-tracks designed just before the war as prime movers, to carry supplies, ammunition, personal, and tow artillery. Many were also converted during the war as armored versions carrying AA FLAK guns (Flakvierling, 37 mm, or the legendary 88 mm Rheinmetall als used as tank hunters), or were converted as nebelwerfer (rocket launching armored vehicles). They were built by Hanomag, Steyr, Mercedes-Benz, Bussing and many other manufacturers until 1945, over 20,000 half-tracks.

German ww2 German Military trucks

Opel Blitz
Opel Maultier
Mercedes-Benz L3000
Magirus A3000
Krupp Protze Kfz.19
Krupp Protze Kfz.21
Krupp Protze Kfz.68
Krupp Protze Kfz.69
Krupp Protze Kfz.70
Krupp Protze Kfz.81
Krupp Protze Kfz.21
Krupp Protze Kfz.83
Borgward B 3000
Ford B3000S, V3000S, V3000A series
Ford model BB
Ford model V8-51
Tatra 111
Skoda Rad Schlepper
Ost RSO Porsche 175
Steyr Type 2000A
Einheits Lkw Kfz.62
Krupp LKW L3
Bussing-Nag 4500
Opel Blitz Omnibus
Bussing-Nag L
Mercedes-Benz L1500
Horch 81
Horch 108
Beute Studebaker
Krupp L3H
Hanomag SS-100
Beute Ford B3000 S, V3000S, V3000A
Beute Ford model BB
Beute Ford model V8-51
Beute Tatra 111
Soviet ww2 Italian Military trucks

L. Trucks (Autocarro Leggere)

-ОМ-32 Autocarretta da Montagna
-Camioneta SPA TL.37
-Camioneta AS.43
-Fiat 618

Soviet ww2 Med. Trucks (Autocarro Medio)

-Alfa Romeo 430RE
-Alfa Romeo 800RE
-Breda Dovunque-41
-Bianchi Miles
-FIAT-626 NM
-Isotta Fraschini D65
-Isotta Fraschini D80
-SPA Dovunque-35
-SPA Dovunque-41
-SPA AS.37
-Autocarro Dovunque SPA 41/42

Soviet ww2 H. Trucks (Autocarro Gigante)

-Fiat 661
-Lancia Ro
-Lancia 3Ro
-Lancia EsaRo
-ОМ Taurus
-ОМ Titano
-Autocarreta Mod.35
-Autocarri Unificati Ursus

Soviet ww2 Staff Cars

-Alfa Romeo 6С2500 Coloniale
-Fiat 508M/CM Ballila
-Fiat 1100 (1937) (Balilla-1100 Coloniale)
-Lancia Aprilia Coloniale
-Bianchi VM 6C
-Fiat 2800 CMC

Soviet ww2 Artillery tractors

-L.3 trattore leggero (hypothetical) for da. 47/32
-Pavesi Р4.31 (L140)
-Fiat 727 - half-track artillery tractor
-SPA TM40 - wheeled artillery tractor
-Semicingolato Breda Tipo 61 (SdKfz-7 under licence)

Soviet ww2 Motorcycles

-Benelli 500 M36/VLM
-Bianchi Supermil 500
-Gilera 500 LTE
-Moto Guzzi Alce/Trialce
-Volugrafo Aermoto 125

Soviet ww2 IJN ww2 vehicles

-Toyota 4x4 Su-Ki (Amphibious truck)
-Isuzu Type 94 truck
-Type 94 6-Wheeled Truck
-Type 95 Mini-truck
-Type 97 4-Wheeled Truck
-Type 1 6-Wheeled Truck
-Type 2 Heavy Truck
-Toyota KB/KC Truck
-Nissan 80 Truck
-Nissan 180 Truck
-Amphibious Truck "Su-Ki"

Soviet ww2 Tractors

-Type 92 5 t Prime Mover "I-Ke"
-Type 98 6 t Prime Mover "Ro-Ke"
-Type 92 8 t Prime Mover "Ni-Ku"
-Type 95 13 t Prime Mover "Ho-Fu"
-Type 94 4 t Prime Mover "Yo-Ke"
-Type 98 4 t Prime Mover "Shi-Ke"
-Type 96 AA Gun Prime Mover
-Type 98 20 mm AA Machine Cannon Carrier
-Type 98 Half-tracked Prime Mover "Ko-Hi"
-Type 98 20 mm AA Half-Track Vehicle
-Experimental Heavy Gun Tractor Chi-Ke
-Experimental Crawler Truck
-T G Experimental Crawler Truck
-Fordson Prime Mover
-Pavessi Gun Tractor
-50 hp Gun Tractor
-Komatsu 3 ton Tractor
-Light Prime Mover
-Clarton Prime Mover
-Holt 30

Soviet ww2 Staff cars

-Toyota AA/AB/AC
-Type 93 6/4-Wheeled Passenger Car
-Type 95 Passenger Car "Kurogane"
-Type 98 Passenger Car
-Model 97 Nissan Staff Car, Nissan 70

Soviet ww2 Motorcycles

-Rikuo Motorcycle
-Rikuo Type 97 Motorcycle
-Rikuo Type 93 side car

Soviet ww2 Misc.

-Type 94 Ambulance
-Type 94 Repair Vehicle

Cold War

(Section pending completion, listing and distribution)
UAZ-469 Staff car * MAZ-543 TEL * ZIL-135 TEL * S125/S75 TEL * Mercedes Standard 4.5L * Unimog 2.5 standard * Land-Rover * * * * * Bedford RL * Nissan 2.5 Truck * * * * * * * * * * * * *
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