Boris Lvovich Shapashnik
a (Jewish) Belarusian automobile designer, first director of MAZ car
factory, a long time head of military special vehicle design bureau of
MAZ (later MZKT). Boris Lvovich Shapashnik was born into a Jewish
family in Belarusian town of Pinsk. Boris graduated from MVTU (Moscow
Higher Technical School), Russia's leading technical University in
1929 with a diploma in engineering. In the summer of 1928 Boris was
accepted to the Moscow plant AMO (Moscow Auto Works) and later to the
new ZIS (Stalin Auto Works) plant where he become a designer and a
division head. He designed the ZIS-32 truck and in 1939 he became the
chief designer of the plant. War did not give him a chance to develop
accumulated experience and he was occupied by the completely prosaic
matter - the modernization of ZIS-5v trucks for mass production. From
1942 he was chief designer of UAZ (Ulyanovsk Auto Works), where ZIS
was relocated during the war. In 1949 Shapashnik was appointed the
chief of the design bureau at newly built MAZ Auto Works in Minsk,
where he headed the design of career dump trucks MAZ-525 and MAZ-530.
After this Shapashnik headed MAZ Special Design Bureau (Military) with
the mission of creating self-propelled chassis for rockets. He began
to work on a multi-wheel formula with independent suspension of all
wheels. Shapashnik developed the ideas and placed them into chassis
(MAZ-535, MAZ-537 and others) that were put in production and received
high evaluations by the military. Their chief designer received high
evaluation, too. In 1968 the State Prize was awarded to B.L.Shapashnik
for the creation of the tractor-trailer family.
But meanwhile the caliber, length, and mass of rockets grew and
machines of increased load capacity were required for them: not
tractors, but carriers. Thus the family of four-axis MAZ-543 with two
parallel cabs came into existence. It is possible to consider this as
one of the bureau's greatest successes. Shaposhnik received the order
and the title of Hero of Socialist Labor in 1973 and in 1976 was
awarded the Lenin Prize.
In the picture above you can see MAZ-543 with SKAD rocket. These
systems went into production in the mid-1960's and they still are in
good working condition because of their highest quality
Shapashnik-designed trucks. Below are pictures of Belarusian stamps,
depicting (left) MAZ-543m with "Rubezh" system and (right) MAZ-543m
with "Smerch" system.
Further designs created by Shapashnik were constructed on the modular
principle. Thus appeared the machines of the 547 series with six and
seven axes, as customers required. Further developments of the concept
were placed into the MAZ-543. His merit was in the fact that such
self-propelled chassis were produced in series and that heavy weapons
were mounted on them. At Shapashnik's design bureau were born the most
interesting experimental machines, such as MAZ-7907 with the 1200
horsepower gas turbo engine and electro-transmission with 24
Many of his designs and the present work of his design bureau found
use in peaceful applications as well. You may see it on the two stamps
below. On the left is MAZ-74131 70-ton trailer and on the right is
MAZ-8007 chassis with excavator EO-4540.
Barys L. Shapashnik article in JewishGen Newsletter by Vitaly Charny.
All of the above information was digested from this thorough and
MZKT - Minski Zavod Kaliosnyh Tiahachou (Minsk Wheeled Tractor Works)
- a special military division of MAZ headed many years by B.L.
Shapashnik. When one of MZKT tractors was photographed in 1997 by US
satellite in China a scandal broke out. I've heard that Chinese have
actually reverse engineered MZKT tractor. Only after that they have
presented MZKT guys with a choice - either earn money and assist in
construction of the plant in China or stay completely away, while
Chinese would manufacture MZKT clone anyway. From what I understand
reading the news later on - MZKT decided to assist China in
construction of the plant, that would manufacture the tracks similar
MAZ - Minski Autamabil'ny Zavod (Minsk Auto Works) - the proud of
Belarusians, which was headed by B.L. Shapashnik.