Czech TATRA 8 x 8 Pushed to its Limits
The TATRA 8 x 8 is often considered the European answer to the question, “how are we going to get X over the mountains and through the woods?” Developed with industry and defense in mind, this multi-wheeled rig has long claimed the European spotlight for heavy transport through less than savory conditions. Here get to see one TATRA working its way through the sort of harsh landscape obstacles that would bottom out the average 4 x 4. This Czech company has been building durable, long lasting diesel fueled trucks since the 1950s. Europe, despite its many innovations and scenic roadways, is hardly built on a flat surface. And as such, trucks like the TATRA have been used for everything from flood recovery to defensive convoy operations in Afghanistan.
What’s the TATRA Working With Under the Hood?
It’s certainly no push-over, that’s for sure. With a 1500 lb ft of torque and 400 horsepower at 1000 rpm. That’s an incredible amount of power ready at a moment’s notice. Coming standard with an eight cylinder turbo-charged diesel engine with charge-aircooling direct injection – the basic chassis comes ready to be integrated for everything from moving troops to armored vehicle recovery.
It’s not, however, built for speed. With a max performance speed of 115 km/hr (~71 mph), it’s not made to win races. However, if you need to back out from a steep 30° incline with a pool of murky water beneath – this is the truck to do just that. Or if you need to cut through three feet of pure mud through a treacherous mountain pass, the TATRA can do that as well. So, no kudos at Howie’s Mud Bog Run for hyper fast speeds but certainly it can throw mud up in the air with the best of them.
What makes the TATRA such a long standing name isn’t simply that they can make one variant well â it’s that they offer multiple different platforms that have all withstoo
Unique 8 x 8 Independent Suspension
What makes the TATRA such a long standing name isn’t simply that they can make one variant well – it’s that they offer multiple different platforms that have all withstood the test of time. Everything from big rigs like the T 158 (an 8 x 8 chassis cab for tractor trailer operations) to the T 815 (Universal Carrier) all rely upon the same basic engine structures but become increasingly diverse when it comes to the suspension. A truly unique feature is the independent wheel suspension. Each wheel has its own axle differential locks and front drive disconnection features. It also has wheel hub reductions to keep those differentials alive long enough to get to where you need to go. That independent drive suspension and low gear exchange means it can produce enough tug to go head to head with the John Deere 9630 – a veritable military tank thinly disguised as a farm tractor. Additionally, it’s been able to fight the famous Claas to a standstill on more than one occasion.
How Does the TATRA Stack Up to American Manufacturers?
That’s a loaded question. That’s also why we asked – because in all honesty, how does this European truck manufacturer stack up when compared to say Oshkosh’s HEMETT A3 variant? Oshkosh, which we all thought just produced children’s clothing, turns out to have a second heavy (deep) hand in defense contracting for the military. They, in fact, are the main contractor for their long range resupply rigs. Vehicles such as the HEMTT (MTT for short) first saw widespread action in logistic convoy operations in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan). What this truck had going for it was a gross tonnage of 70,000 lbs and a 470 hp diesel engine with independent TAK-4® suspension. However, looking at the axle set, the MTT only has a 2 speed axle gearing with planetary wheel endings. Capable of fording into over 48 inches of water, however, it was more than up to the task of crossing river beds and bridging nearly impassable road obstacles. When comparing the TATRA to the MTT, on the surface they look almost identical. The MTT, however, has a slower max speed (65 mph vs TATRA’s 72 mph). It’s able to take up to a 15° slope and 30° – also very similar. Really, what it comes down to is publicity and availability. TATRA makes no qualms about demonstrating its vehicles capabilities and limitations in videos and images. When a truck fails, it’s there to see. However, Oshkosh is a defense contractor and thus not required to show any more proof of burden other than its spec sheet. And can you blame them? Their vehicles have already been used in active combat operations spanning the globe to a reasonable degree of success.
In the end, the TATRA is anything but a freak accident of engineering. They’ve consistently built reliable 4 x 4 to 10 x 10s for seventy years and with the global demand only growing – you’re sure to be seeing new clips of mud trials soon enough.