Tractor Building

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Tractor Building


a sector of machine building that produces tractors, tractor and harvester engines, and standardized assemblies, units, and spare parts. Tractor building has existed as an industrial sector since 1917, when mass production of tractors began at the Ford plants in the USA. In Europe, tractors were first mass-produced in the 1920’s in Germany and Italy, and later in Great Britain and France.

Tractor building originated in the USSR in 1923, when the first Fordzon-Putilovets tractors were produced at the Krasnyi Putilovets Plant (now the Kirovskii Zavod Association in Leningrad). The first specialized tractor plants were the Stalingrad (now Volgograd) Tractor Works and the Kharkov Tractor Works, which produced STZ-KhTZ wheel-type tractors. The production of S-60 heavy crawler tractors at the Cheliabinsk Works began in 1933. In 1936, the Cheliabinsk Works began producing S-65 diesel crawler tractors. In 1937 the Stalingrad and Kharkov plants were shifted over to the production of the SKhTZ-NATI crawler tractors; by 1948, this had brought the USSR to first place in the output of crawler tractors. In the first five-year plan (1929–32), 100,400 tractors were produced, and in the second (1933–37), 444,100. In the period 1942–44, during the Great Patriotic War (1941–45), the Altai Tractor Plant, the Vladimir Tractor Works, and the Lipetsk Tractor Plant were built and put into operation, and in 1945 the Stalingrad and Kharkov plants destroyed during the war resumed production. During the postwar years, the Kharkov Tractor Assembly Plant began operation in 1950, the Minsk Tractor Works in 1951, and the Onega and Uzbek (now Tashkent) tractor plants in 1956.

Particular attention was devoted to increasing the production of powerful general-purpose farm tractors. Production of the K-700 tractor at the Kirov Plant began in 1964, and production of the DT-75M began at the Pavlodar Tractor Plant (opened 1967) in 1968. In 1962, production of crawler row-crop tractors began at the Kishinev Tractor Plant, which had been rebuilt and modernized in 1961; these tractors were standardized with the MTZ tractors.

The transition to the production of diesel tractors was completed in the late 1960’s. The standardization of tractor models is under way. Broad standardization of the assemblies, units, and parts of the tractors and engines has fostered the establishment of specialized production. For example, plants specializing in engines are located in Volgograd, Minsk, Barnaul, and Kharkov; other plants specialize in fuel equipment, tractor transmissions, hydraulic units, gears, pistons, and piston rings.

In the ninth five-year plan (1971–75), the reequipping of tractor plants and the replacement of the base models were begun, as was construction of the Cheboksary Industrial Tractor Plant and the Kharkov Tractor Engine Plant. In the period 1966–75, labor productivity rose by a factor of more than 2. Annual tractor output in the USSR is shown in Table 1. In the period 1957–75, tractor output showed an annual average increase of about 6 percent; in 1960 the USSR reached first place in tractor production (238,500 units). In 1975, 2.2 tractors were produced per 1,000 population.

The technical level of tractors has been improving. Their power-to-weight ratio has increased, consumption of materials has declined, the working conditions of the operators have improved, and flexibility, quality, and reliability have risen. Work on the automation of the control of equipment and the operation of tractor units is under way. Such new tractor models as the K-701, T-150, T-150K, and MTZ-80/82, put into production in the ninth five-year plan, are equipped with highly economical diesel engines, multispeed transmissions (including those that permit shifting while in motion), and cabs with air purification, heating, and cooling and with sprung seats.

Table 1. Tractor production in the USSR
YearProductionTotal engine power (hp)1
11 hp = 0.736 kW

Highly productive automated and automatic flow lines, automatic multihead lathes, and other modern equipment are used in tractor production. Electronic computers and automatic control systems are being used to solve technical problems in the design of machines and in the organization and management of production. Methods of accelerated bench and field testing are used in developing the designs of new tractors and engines. On the basis of advanced foreign and Soviet experience, during the ninth five-year plan a quality-control system for the development, production, and operation stages was worked out and introduced at the Minsk and Vladimir tractor plants. The output is certified by quality categories, and the superior quality category and the State Mark of Quality are awarded. Over the period 1971–75, tractor exports to member countries of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (COMECON) increased by 60 percent, and those to 39 capitalist countries increased by 52 percent.

Table 2. Tractor production in selected socialist countries, excluding garden tractors (units)
German Democratic Republic9,00016,0004,000

In other socialist countries, tractor building developed at a particularly rapid rate in the postwar years (see Table 2).

The decline in tractor production in Hungary and the German Democratic Republic is in line with the program approved by the COMECON member countries for socialist integration. The program envisages specialization of countries in the production of tractors and various agricultural equipment, with the aim of ensuring economically efficient outputs.

In the developed capitalist countries, large-scale tractor building is found in the USA, Great Britain, the Federal Republic of Germany, Japan, Italy, and France (see Table 3).

Table 3. Tractor production in selected capitalist countries, excluding garden tractors (units)
Great Britain186,000163,000120,000
Federal Republic of Germany121,000105,000116,000

A high degree of monopolization is characteristic of the capitalist countries. The largest tractor-building firms are Deere and Company in the USA, Massey-Ferguson in Great Britain, Regie Nationale des Usines Renault in France, X. Fend und Co. in the Federal Republic of Germany, FIAT S.p.A. in Italy, and Komatsu Ltd. in Japan.

In the 1970’s, a merger of capital by a number of tractor-producing firms in the USA and Western Europe has taken place. In connection with the saturation of the tractor market in the developed capitalist countries and the sharp increase in tractor prices, demand has continuously declined, and production has correspondingly dropped.


Trepenenkov, I. I. Razvitie Sovetskoi traktornoi tekhniki. Moscow, 1953.
Gurevich, A. M. Kratkaia istoriia otechestvennogo traktorostroeniia. Stalingrad, 1954.
Smirnov, A. I. Tsenoi gromadnoi tekhnicheskoi evoliutsii. Moscow, 1971.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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