This determined tractor looks like it’s dead in the water at first glance. The river the driver is fording looks to be a good 6 feet deep, maybe more. Thick black smoke billows out of the exhaust pipe as the tractor tries to gain traction. You may be reminded of “The Little Engine that Could” story when you watch; but in this case, both man and machine refuse to give up. The man is a determined Russian driver, and the machine is the well-known Kirovets tractor. Is it enough willpower and machine power to get out of this jam?
Russian Transportation Vehicles
Russian truck drivers have a reputation of being crazy, crossing deep fast-flowing rivers and plowing through deep mud and snow with reckless abandon. But with parts of Russia lacking developed roads, they often have to be this way to get to their destination. Although there are about 700,000 miles of developed roads in Russia, it’s still not enough for this huge country. And life as a Russian truck driver is dangerous, not only because of the roads but because of crime as well. It would be nice to have a bridge over every river, but they just don’t have that luxury sometimes. So all they can do in a situation like the one shown here is never give up and have faith that they’ll eventually come out on the other side.
The Kirovets K-700 has been around since 1962. It’s a heavy-duty, 4WD tractor used for plowing fields and performing other farming tasks. The K-700 actually steers by hydraulics where the front and rear frame of the vehicle connect. The ones made from 1962 to 1975 were equipped with V8 turbo-diesel engines with 215 horsepower. The K-700A model would come out in 1975, and it featured larger tires and fuel tanks. The model you’ll see below is a K-701. This was an upgrade to the 700A’s engine to a 12-cylinder, 300-horsepower engine. Later models would see more industrial modifications so they could be used for tasks like bulldozing, loading, and scraping. As far as other measurements, the K-701:
- Weighs 13.4 tonnes
- Is about 24 feet long, 13 feet tall, and 9 feet wide
- Has a track width of about 7 feet
- Has a minimum turning radius of 23.6 feet
- Can go up to 21 mph
The Kirov Plant
Though the Kirovets K-700 has been around since 1962, it’s manufacturer has been around much longer. The Kirov Plant began way back in 1789 as a machine-building plant, and shortly after that would start producing cannonballs. Like many other factories around the world, it boomed in the 1890s. Most of its business came from the Russian government. In addition to railway products and artillery, the plant went on to produce tanks in World War II, as well as the first Russian tractors. Located in St. Petersburg, the plant serves the Coast Gulf of Finland area. More recently, they are known for producing escalators, equipment for power companies, and steel products as well as tractors.
The New K-Series Tractors and Loader Models
The Kirov Plant stopped producing K-700 models in 2000. The models produced today look similar to the K-700, but offer more features and variations. The current model is the K-744R, and there are 6 versions of it ranging from 300 to 420 horsepower. The plant also produces 15 types of special-purpose vehicles based on the K-744R. The next generation of tractors they are currently working on are the K-9000 industrial tractor, which is based on the K-708’s design, and the K-3060 and K-3080 loaders.
Better than Ours?
Some people are of the opinion that Kirovets tractors are better than the ones being produced here in America, and it’s hard to argue that based on how they are able to make it through rivers. It would be interesting to see if a heavy-duty American tractor would be able to navigate through these Russian rivers and landscapes to find out. American tractors certainly aren’t lacking in the power department though. The biggest John Deere tractors have an amazing 620 horsepower. Even though they can be more powerful, it could be that Kirovets tractors are actually designed to travel through water more effectively.
I Think He Can
You’ll be rooting for this monster to make it out of the river bed like I was. This is obviously an older tractor, but do you think the Russians make them better than we do?