Ukraine has seen a plethora of militarized vehicles under the current geopolitical scenario, but none have gained as much attention as the Volga sedans. Lets take a look inside a Ukrainian ‘monster garage’ where Volga sedans turn into battle wagons.
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Alexander Darushin’s involvement with the War Zone started with a Volga sedan. The demonstration video that went viral earlier this month included a model of a GAZ-24-10 Volga from the Soviet era with a remote-controlled KPVT 14.5 mm heavy machine gun mounted to its back, so this was not just any Volga sedan.
The weird technology, which you can read more about in our original piece here, was developed especially for Ukrainian military as they protect their nation against Russian attackers and resembles something out of the Mad Max universe.
Both the Volga and the KPVT machine gun were developed in the Soviet Union, which provides Ukrainians with a sense of poetic justice because units are now employing them to fend off Russian attacks. The vehicle-mounted KPVT machine gun is a variation of the original KPV machine gun, which was first developed in the 1940s.
Although several of these weapons’ designs naturally lend themselves to mounting machine guns on the backs of vehicles, doing so with a Volga is unquestionably unusual.
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To support the KPVT’s armament, the Volga, which debuted in 1985, also underwent a significant overhaul. As a result, the sedan’s chassis received a new set of off-road tires, a suspension that was dramatically raised, and a bull bar that was mounted up front. Unquestionably inventive, and The War Zone leaped at the chance to show it out.
The War Zone was approached by Darushin through email a day after the piece went online, and he revealed that the gun-toting vintage car was the creation of a company called SteelTec Group. Darushin then revealed that he and his coworkers are metalworkers, mechanics, engineers, and welders who have now joined forces to construct Ukraine’s wartime body shop under the direction of Dmitriy Albul, who established SteelTec Group as part of his American company Advanced Metal Structures (AMS).
According to the company’s website mission statement, AMS appears to be primarily focused on creating more aesthetically pleasing metal products for civilian environments, such as fences and gates, and leaves SteelTec Group to handle the majority of the improvisatory strategic development for Ukrainian forces.
However, it does not seem like SteelTec has an official website. As an alternative, Darushin sent us a link to an Instagram account, with the bio “Ukrainian engineering and construction company that provides design and production of metal structures for every taste!” as the first line.
One of SteelTec Group’s most recent projects, a Fiat Brava, can be seen in one of the photos posted to the account, which also includes a lot of development shots of the Volga’s transformation into a reinforced battle buggy.
This is the third vehicle provided by supporters and converted for use by the Ukrainian Army, according to the caption, and if it resembles the Volga in any way, it will undoubtedly pack a punch. While crowdsourced and technical materials have undoubtedly been widely used during the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, SteelTec Group is undoubtedly establishing a name for itself by fusing the two.
Darushin offered to address some of our questions regarding SteelTec Group and what he and his colleagues are working on to support Ukrainian ground forces after exchanging a few initial emails. The queries The War Zone posed and Darushin’s emails responses are included below.
Emma: Could you explain who you are and your role in the conflict with Russia?
Alexander: Before the invasion of the troops of the Russian Federation into Ukraine, we were engaged in engineering, fabrication of building structures for civil and industrial use, sports equipment, decor, etc.
But on February 24, 2022, everything changed, we decided to keep the workshop working and switched to fabrication of products needed for military units, territorial defense, police, and volunteer organizations. These were anti-tank hedgehogs, spikes and thorns against tires, helped to produce a batch of plates for bulletproof vests, as well as various gratings, fortifications, and so on.
Emma: What’s your official title? Who do you work for, and what do yout think your future will hold?
Alexander: Dmitriy Albul is the founder and CEO of those companies, I oversee operations. In process were involved our shop crews – the head of production, welders, mechanics, a painter, and a machining treatment specialist, as well as a team of mechanical engineers.
Emma: Do you have any way to verify your identity?
Alexander: Our Chief Crew recorded a short video. Let me know if this is sufficient or if other confirmations are required.
Watch the video below:
Emma: Why did the team decide to use the Volga? Is it out of necessity or preference?
Alexander: The situation at the front is rapidly changing, our assistance must meet current needs, so, quite spontaneously, this project began. In collaboration with the local administration, the military, and volunteers, we have found some parts for future projects.
From the available, our mechanics chose the Volga. Literally the next day they fired it up and we decided to use this base for a pilot project. This decision was dictated by the quick availability of spare parts, compatibility between models of this era, and, most importantly, speed of implementation.
Emma: What other vehicles have you or your colleagues turned or planned to turn into technicals?
Alexander: Ukrainian defenders need transport, it must be reliable, passable, and easy to maintain. We can work with any base; we have several cars in the works that were given to us by volunteers.
Here is one of the interesting vehicles we obtained recently. A GAZ-67B.
Also, our engineers proposed to manufacture a light military vehicle based on a welded frame using factory parts in terms of chassis and transmission.
- Maximum power – 90 horsepower
- Rear Driving Axle
- Number of seats – 2
- Length/width/height in mm – 3800/1900/1540
- Base – 2700 mm
- Front/rear wheel track in mm – 1530/1510
- Ground clearance (clearance) – 350 mm
- Suspension travel – 280 mm
- Curb weight – 600 kg
- Tire size – R15 65/195
Emma: Do you make these technicals for a specific unit of Ukrainian forces? In other words, where do they go once you and your team are done with them?
Alexander: This Volga is intended for a certain military unit. Also, other military and volunteers have already shown interest.
Emma: My colleagues and I are really curious about the remote-controlled aspect of the Volga technical’s gun, could you explain how you pulled that off and what the technology is behind it?
Alexander: Currently this car is passing firing tests and we will share more details once everything is set up. But this can be done with a 12v hydraulic power pack, 3 valves, hydraulic cylinder, hydraulic motor (or large gear pump), preferably gear and chain drive. Easy to do but too much experimenting.
Emma: What is in high demand for engineers and welders during this time?
Alexander: We will be grateful for any help. For the implementation of this and future projects, we will gladly accept donations in a convenient currency or metal, engines, chassis parts, wheels, or consumables and tools. Dmitriy has a Private Charitable Foundation, any donations made to it will be tax-deductible. Also, you can contact us if anyone would like to help somehow.
Emma: What do you and your team need?
Alexander: Peaceful sky above our heads and the opportunity to continue doing what we love.