HERE A CLIMATE IS OTHER
The natural conditions of the Antarctic are not even similar to those familiar from Alaska or Yakutia. Snow has a different structure: snowflakes do not freeze, but only interlock with each other. The cover, the so-called firn - with minimal bearing capacity. But it easily forms snow bridges over cracks in the glacier, the depth of which is sometimes several kilometers. In width, the gulfs closed by the treacherous snow cover reach several meters. In general, moving around Antarctica is akin to playing Russian roulette.
At one time, dog teams and even Manchu ponies harnessed to sleds were tried here. But these "vehicles" froze or fell into ice traps.
For the American expedition, Admiral Byrd in 1940 built an unprecedented car - all-wheel drive "Antarctic Snow Cruiser." The giant all-terrain vehicle had tires with a diameter of 3, and the length of the body (rather, after all, the body) was 17 meters! According to the designers, it should not have fallen even into five-meter faults, and a flat ski-like bottom would not allow the car to plunge into loose snow. Two diesel generators of 200 liters. with. supplied current to the motor-wheel, the fuel reserve provided a range of 8000 km.
Alas, the Antarctic premiere of the cruiser failed miserably: the designers did not take into account the mountainous terrain of Antarctica. The car had to climb steep ice rocks - zastrugi. But the overhangs of the body were … 5 meters! And the engine power was not enough to ride on loose snow. No, the Antarctic needed a different transport!
Soviet combat tracked vehicles have long been considered the best in the world. A similar assessment was received by the Soviet "Kharkivchanka", created in 1959 for long-distance expeditions around Antarctica. The main decisions and units were borrowed from the AT-T artillery tractor and the T-54 tank. The chassis of the “404C product” (as the car was officially called at the Kharkov plant) was lengthened, the width of the tracks was increased to a meter. A diesel engine with a supercharger developed almost 1000 liters. with. at an altitude of 3000 m. 2.5 tons of diesel fuel, which was enough for 1500 km, splashed in giant tanks. The cabin with an area of one-room apartment - 28 m2 had a height of 2.1 m. The microclimate was provided by eight layers of nylon wool and heaters, which supply up to 200 m3 of hot air per hour. We repaired the engine directly from the cab.
A 35-ton monster could drag a 70-ton trailer, climb a 30-degree (not 30-percent!) Climb, and swim in ice water. In 1967, these machines conquered the Pole of relative inaccessibility. Then no one climbed here. "Kharkiv women" were exploited until the end of the 90s of the last century.
"SNAKE" IN THE NAME OF "VITYAZ"
With all the advantages, the Kharkiv women were too short not to be afraid of cracks masked by snow. Therefore, they adapted another product of the military-industrial complex for the Antarctic - the Vityaz transporter. It was developed in the mid-sixties and is produced at the Ishimbay plant of transport engineering. In fact, the machines are a kind of two-three-link “snake”, which, like a cobra, can lift up its “head”, overcoming zastrugi. This ability of the DT series conveyors is due to the hinge connecting the links. With the help of hydraulics, it can be forcibly rotated in three planes or fixed for rectilinear movement. In the latter case, Vityaz is a monolithic tractor with a length of more than 14 meters (and the DT-30P-18P three-link is even more!). Such an “anaconda” cracks up to five meters and vertical steps of 1.5 m - nothing! Like the Kharkiv women, the “knights” install a comfortable residential unit on the second, leading or third - passive link.
The first two “knights” hit Antarctica in 1989. The ship could not get close to the shore, and the transporters in front of the shocked foreign journalists simply went down into the water, sailed 12 km and, with their heads raised, calmly climbed out onto the ice. Today, the “heroes” serve stations in Australia, Argentina, France and South Africa. By the way, at the last - their service center.
IN THE SHADOW OF GIANTS
As Antarctica settled in, it became clear: long trips are not the only task of scientists. More time consumes routine work near stations, clearing and ramming runways, trips along beaten paths. In addition, today the harsh mainland has become a favorite destination for tourists. There is no need for giants to solve these problems. The main thing is cross-country ability and frost resistance.
The beginning of relatively small cars was laid by the Snow Cat of the American Emmitt Tucker. Initially, the car was intended for Canada and Alaska, but thanks to outstanding off-road qualities (for example, specific ground pressure of only 0.045 kgf / cm2), “snow cats” went on an Antarctic expedition in 1957–1959. The company received an order for eight "snow cats", which with a mass of 3600 kg loaded less snow than a tall skier. Somewhat scary in appearance, the "cat" walked confidently at a speed of 25 km / h, until a crack appeared on the way. Caterpillar carts could rotate almost 90 ° in a vertical plane, this allowed cat-like climbing on icy circles.
Today, Snow Kets are equipped with Cummins diesels with a capacity of 170 liters or more. with. and automatic transmission "Allison". They carry passengers or pull sled trailers weighing up to 8 tons. Caterpillar carts, similar to those that Tucker had once developed, also took root on Ford pickup trucks, where they are installed instead of wheels.
Distributed at the polar stations are the floating transporters of the Swedish company Hagglund, on the basis of which they also created tourist versions with increased - up to equipping seat belts and … air conditioning - comfort. A fifteen-minute walk along Antarctica at a speed of 55 km / h is an exciting attraction worth only $ 12 per person! Maybe that's why cars dubbed the "Uncle Dollar" here. But nevertheless, the main work of the Hagglund is long-distance transportation and search and rescue operations.
From the Alpine ski slopes came to the Antarctic multi-purpose German trucks "Pisten Bulli". A rather heavy vehicle on wide tracks is extremely stable. The Mercedes-Benz OM 457 LA engine drives a powerful hydraulic pump that feeds the hydraulic motors of the leading sprockets. No driveshafts, gears, gearboxes. Speed up to 25 km / h, and the brakes, in the usual sense, "Pisten Bulli" is not needed - it brakes "engines". Gradeability - fantastic 45 °. Passenger (up to 20 seats), cargo and special versions have taken root in Antarctica. The on-board computer monitors the operation of all systems, it even recognizes the breakage of individual winch cable strands. And the cable, by the way, is 1050 m long! Typically, a tractor pulls a toboggan train of two or three trailers with a load of up to 20 tons. The route travels between the German stations Neumeier and Konen at 757 km depending on the weather in 9-14 days, but only between December and February, that is, in summer. Previously, proven safe fairways were lined with towers, now satellite navigators help to maintain the course accurately.
Antarctica has areas with different climatic and "off-road" conditions. In some places, ordinary cars that have undergone Arctic training work, such as Niva and Toyota. Bigfoots are popular - tires of extra-large dimension with low pressure on snow. Almost always on the machines are starting heaters. In severe frosts, diesel engines are converted to aviation kerosene, it does not freeze even at very low temperatures …
Someone has mastered here, perhaps, the most exotic vehicle for Antarctica. Morning exercise can be done on … a mountain bike! However, it is possible that ordinary cars will soon drive around the Antarctic, but they will definitely need studded tires.
The Americans are already building the first transantarctic ice highway 1, 600 km long from McMurdo coastal base to Amundsen-Scott base at the South Pole.
The "snow cruiser" reached the Antarctic snows, and disappeared into them.
The main "battleship" of Antarctica for decades was the Soviet "Kharkivchanka".
Vityaz two-three-link tractors are all-terrain vehicles unique in their capabilities.
“Snow cats” are powerless against hidden cracks and work “on local lines”.
Caterpillar engines are placed on ordinary all-terrain vehicles, for example, Ford.
The most common all-terrain vehicle of the Antarctic is the Pisten Bulli.
The Swedish Hagglund is similar to the smaller Knight, however it does not have a controlled joint in the articulation of the links.
From the living area to the runway, you can comfortably get to Delta with ultra-low pressure tires.