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UAZ (УАЗ), Ulyanovsky Avtomobilny Zavod (Ульяновский Автомобильный Завод) is an automobile manufacturer based in Ulyanovsk, Russia which manufactures off-road vehicles, buses and trucks. It is best known for its Model 469 jeep, which has seen wide use as a military vehicle in Russia and around the world. The UAZ factory started production in 1941 as part of the Soviet war effort.



War and Post-War

The Ulyanovsk Automobile Plant was founded in 1941 as a direct result of the German invasion of the Soviet Union. The rapidly advancing Germans threatened to capture the bulk of Soviet industry, concentrated in the Western parts of the country, and thereby undercut the ability of the USSR to supply its troops. In response to this threat the government of Joseph Stalin ordered the evacuation of strategically crucial industrial centers to the East. By the October of 1941, the rapid German drive to Moscow, triggered the decision to relocate the Moscow automotive manufacturer ZIS to the Volga town of Ulyanovsk. The town, already a nascent industrial centre with a sufficently developed infrastructure and a good supply of skilled workers, would be an ideal location for the reconstituted factory. It was also safely out of reach of the German army. At that time of its founding, the plant was considered a subsidiary of ZIS. By 1942, the plant began production of artillery shells and automobiles. The first automoblie produced at the plant was the ZIS-5 three-ton truck.

In 1943, when the prospect of a German victory had become far less likely, it was decided that the relocated plant would remain in Ulyanovsk and be separated administratively from ZIS, which would be rebuilt in Moscow from scratch. This was in line with the Soviet post-war policy regarding various relocated industrial operations. It was considered more efficient to leave the newly built plants as is, while the original plants, provided they survived the war were outfitted anew, frequently with captured German machinery. At the end of 1944, the production of the ZIS-5 was transfered to The Ural Automotive Plant in Miass, while the Ulyanovsk plant began producing the smaller GAZ-AA. In 1954 production was expanded to include the GAZ-69 jeep. Two years later, the factory wasn't just assembling the jeeps from parts delivered elsewhere, but manufacturing the automobiles in their entirety.

The Golden Age

In 1958, UAZ began production of its first independently designed automobile, the UAZ-450 - a family of trucks and vans. In 1966, the UAZ-452D a further development of the 450, was put into production. The 452 would go on to become a workhorse of soviet agriculture and police.

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