TATRA, a. s.

Type of activity:
Auxiliary Vehicles
Contact: Jan Vala, Director for Special Projects

Stefanikova 1163
742 21

Phone: +420 556 49 11 11
Fax: +420 556 49 44 81



Established in 1850 as a workshop producing horse carriages and coaches, TATRA, a.s., has been manufacturing motor vehicles, cars and trucks, since 1897. Military vehicles have always played an important role in the production range of the company. Starting in 1908 with an AWD military prime mover "R4 - JAGUAR", the production went on with "T" and "U" models of army passenger cars, and with "TL-2" and "TL-4" - two- and four-ton military trucks during WWI.

In 1923 TATRA launched full-scale production of vehicles based on a chassis design that later on became known as the TATRA-concept - a backbone-frame type of chassis. This type of chassis consisted of a central "backbone" tube, extending along the whole length of the vehicle and covering all parts of the driveline, and of independent swing half-axles, coming out of the "backbone" tube and swinging around the backbone tube center line. Air-cooled TATRA engines were used along with this type of chassis.

Many different types of military trucks were developed and produced between the wars but in 1942, when the TATRA company was under German war industry supervision, a special 6x6 truck was developed, whose task was to operate in the most difficult terrain covered with snow and under temperatures deep below freezing point. For this purpose the TATRA-concept chassis with its rigid backbone tube and independent swing half-axles, as well as the air-cooled V 12 engine were further developed. The vehicle, designated as TATRA T-111, was never used in WW II but for its outstanding performance and driving qualities it formed a basis for later exports of commercial off-road TATRA trucks to the USSR in the late 40's and early 50's. TATRA T-111 was also used as a standard military truck for the Czechoslovak Army and many other armies of the former Warsaw Pact.

Later successors of this distinguished truck further developed the design features of the TATRA-concept, making all the off-road vehicles particularly suitable for military use.

In 1982 a new T-815 model family of both commercial, and military trucks was launched. This family of trucks, still based on the same TATRA-concept principles, has over time been developed into the commercial TERRNo1 family, and military ARMAX and FORCE families, the latter two distinguished by their proximity to standard production commercial models:

ARMAX family - trucks or chassis based on production commercial models, meeting European emission, noise, and axle load standards, and

FORCE family - special truck or chassis models, military or commercial, using several different makes of water-cooled engines over 300 kW, special or automatic transmissions, and other high-performance design features enhancing the outstanding off-road mobility of the TATRA-concept chassis.

Both ARMAX, and FORCE families of trucks or chassis use the latest results of TATRA suspension development - the so-called combination suspension, using a commercial name KING FRAME®.

Since WW II, more than 360,000 trucks and chassis using the TATRA-concept have been produced. Out of this number ca 135,000 units belonged to the TATRA T-815 and TERRNo1 families.

More than 8,700 units of TATRA T- 815 family military trucks and various types of chassis (4x4, 6x6, 8x8) were delivered to the Czechoslovak and, later on, Czech Army, as well as to many armies worldwide.



  • rigid central "backbone" tube:

no torsion or bending of the chassis and superstructure, therefore:

safe and trouble-free transport of sensitive loads, special bodies or superstructures

high ride comfort

faster drive off-road

long life of the chassis

driveline shafts and other components are covered and protected inside the "backbone" tube

the chassis can operate "frameless", which makes it possible to fix certain bodies directly to the chassis crossmembers

  • independent swing half-axles:

each wheel moves up and down independently, therefore:

remarkably higher speed on rough roads

quick pass over obstacles

exceptional off-road and cross-country mobility

excellent absorption of shocks and vibrations caused by rugged road surface

swing half-axles are extremely resistant against impacts and shocks

  • "modular" design:

high degree of commonality for commercial and military models

AWD 4x4, 6x6, 8x8, and 10x10 versions in production

different wheelbase alternatives available for each version

suitable as cargo or troop carriers, and particularly as chassis for different kinds of special superstructures

lockable side- and inter-axle differentials



The latest development of the TATRA suspension system is available in two versions:

  • the "light" version, using combination of coil springs incorporated inside the airbags, which are located above the "backbone" tube, and

  • the "heavy" version, which uses a combination of leaf springs and airbags, located again above the "backbone" tube and in this way protected against any impact or damage

The principal effect of this design consists in eliminating the wheel camber, which used to be an inherent feature of unloaded TATRA trucks using the original TATRA suspension leaf-spring technology. With the "heavy" version, the combination suspension also features with a substantial increase in permissible axle load. Air pressure in the airbags, changing in relation to the load, keeps the position of the frame in a constant height, i.e. the position of a cargo body, platform, fifth wheel, etc., is always in the same height.


  • exceptional performance in difficult terrain and environment conditions

  • invented and first used in a passenger car in 1923

  • used in full production of all-wheel drive TATRA trucks since 1942

  • in operation from Siberia to the Middle East and Africa

  • over 360,000 TATRA trucks using this concept produced and sold world wide since WW II

MATMMV KBV-12 Patriot (Mine protected carrier)
RM-70 (Multiple rocket launcher)
T815 (Truck)
T816 (Truck)
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