Barys Shapashnik 
(1902-1985 ) 

a Belarusian automobile designer, first director of MAZ car factory, a long time head of military special vehicle design bureau of MAZ (later MZKT). Boris L'vovich 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 motor-wheels! 

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 extensive article
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 to MZKT. 
MAZ - Minski Autamabil'ny Zavod (Minsk Auto Works) - the proud of Belarusians, which was headed by B.L. Shapashnik. 

Other Relevant Pages of the Virtual Guide to Belarus

Belarusian Castles and Knighthood
Historic Belarusian Battles
Belarusian Statehood 
History of Belarus

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