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Main technical of the Soviet-Afghan war. The Simurgh

Most of those who are interested in Soviet campaign in Afghanistan or Afghanistan in general, knows that SUVs is one of the main mechanical transports used there. But digging into what vehicles exactly were used in the 1980s reveled quite some secrets.

An unexpected find

While looking through the Soviet-Afghan war images, I happened to come upon a special picture that was taken in Afghanistan. A car of an unknown make caught my eye; it had a radiator lining similar to that of a GAZ-24 Volga. I began to wonder: what precisely is this car?


As I worked to solve the puzzle, I discovered a further, little-known historical dimension connected to the history of the famed automaker's car migration. Initially, I believed that the pickup truck in the image was a purebred American, brought to this wild, God-forsaken land by a tragic fate.

However, an additional image displayed the rear of the pickup vehicle, with a sizable inscription in Latin characters, Simorgh, repeated in Farsi, on the tailgate. There was a stamp in the middle next to it that I could not identify and it had nothing to do with the emblems of US automakers.

I reasoned that the tailgate was probably constructed at a nearby body shop and wasn't original. However, in an attempt to atone for my transgression, I chose to seek the word Simorgh on the Internet. To my astonishment, when Google provided me with a link to an article, the first thing I noticed was a blue version of the pickup truck I had taken in my photo.


Further research on Simurgh technical

Taking my time, I read the entire text and realized that the author was telling the story of a little-known Iranian automobile company that in the mid-70s of the last century produced cars based on the Honcho model, produced by Kaiser-Jeep, part of the American Motors Corporation. And he cites photos of pages of some catalog and other photographs, it is not clear how they got to him. But the text itself was composed somewhat uniquely; it was immediately clear that it was written by an American.

In the author's text there was uncertainty, some doubts and obvious understatement. And some of his sayings made me laugh a lot, for example: “I don’t understand why in Iran, where the heat is so terrible, they install a cabin heater in the car?” And then the author, following the good old tradition established in ancient times by foreigners studying the history of a country unknown to them from photographs, got everything wrong and incorrectly indicated the name of the company.

technical afghanistan

And this is no longer good. In short, the topic of the unknown pickup truck was not explored deeply enough. But nevertheless, it must be recognized that the information presented by the author is simply unique and cannot be found anywhere else. And then I realized that I had found a diamond, but I still had to work hard to make a diamond out of it. In short, the work had to be completed, simultaneously correcting other people’s mistakes. And this is what happened in the end.


What does Sherkat-Sahami mean?

What does Sherkat-Sahami mean? The author writes that the Iranian company was called Sherkat-Sahami. What does this name mean? The word Sherkat means "company" in Farsi, and Sahami is similar to a surname. Therefore, the name can be translated as "Sahami Company". Apparently, I thought, there lived a certain Sakhami who opened a car manufacturing company and started producing these pickup trucks. But I soon discovered that in Iran there are many companies that have these two words in their names, and the companies were very diverse, including those not related to technology.

technical afghanistan

I had already decided to abandon the whole matter, but suddenly I came across a certain document in English, and after studying it I came to the conclusion that the name Sherkat-Sahami is not a proper name and, according to Iranian law, denotes the form of a legal entity, literally: “joint stock company". For example, a company that currently produces cars in Iran has the full name Pars Khodro Company Pjsc (Sherkat Sahami Khas Khodro). Thus, the author, whose material I studied, somewhere “lost” the proper name of the company that produces the cars, and gave only its legal form.

Speaking in Russian, he said something like this: “These cars were produced by an Iranian company called Joint Stock Company.” It's a shame, but there's nothing to be done - he's an American, what kind of demand can he have? I immediately remembered how foreign historians wrote in the 18th century: “In Russia there are three breeds of horses: horse, mare and nag.” So what was the name of the company that produced these machines?


So it was Jeep all along?

I carefully looked through the materials again and drew attention to this page: Apparently, this is the main page of the catalog, where the model range of manufactured cars is presented. It has the company emblem (a stylized compass rose) and its name is clearly written: Sherkat-Sahami Jeep. Simply put, the company was called Jeep and was registered in Iran in accordance with the requirements of local legislation. Below is an address in Tehran and a telephone number, apparently for the company's office.

The version that this is an Iranian company can also be supported by the original manufacturer's emblem and original model names. In my photograph, this emblem is clearly visible, attached to the “grill” near the left (in the direction of travel) headlight, and also stamped on the back side of the pickup truck.

technical afghanistan
Modern days

The origin of the Simurgh name

There is information that automobile production was founded by Iranian Jafar Akhavan in 1956, who established the licensed production of various models of the American concern Kaiser Jeep. And the Simurg pickup truck has been produced since 1967. After that, I decided to try to guess what the name of the pickup truck means? Symorgh According to ancient Persian legends, Simurgh (simur, simurgh, senmurv), the king of all birds, is a huge bird with the head of a dog, lion claws and fish scales (which symbolized its dominance on earth, in water and in the air), capable of peering into the past with one eye , and for others to look to the future.

technical afghanistan
Caravan destroyed by the Soviet forces

She lived for many millennia and saw how the world on our planet collapsed three times. The bird has colossal knowledge, collected over thousands of years, and extraordinary wisdom. She is also credited with the ability to heal people from severe illnesses. Lives high in the mountains, near springs, where mountain rivers originate. After the accession of the Safavid dynasty, the image of the Simurgh became the emblem of Iran along with its state emblem.

In my opinion, the chosen name suits the car best.


Use in Iranian army

A large square cabin, with a good-natured “grill” grin and cropped mirror ears - like the head of a Central Asian shepherd dog, and massive wheels with protruding lug claws are so similar to the paws of a lion! At the same time, the overall silhouette of the pickup truck looks light, like a bird.

“Simurghs” were used in the Iranian army, then this strong machine entered Pakistan and Afghanistan, where it became an indispensable participant in numerous local wars that do not stop in this corner of the Middle East.


technical afghanistan GRU
GRU fighters with a captured vehicle

In Afghanistan, “Simurg” often took part in hostilities, fighting “on two fronts.” The spirits adapted them for transporting soldiers, weapons and ammunition, and sometimes large-caliber machine guns were installed on them.


Captured technicals used by the GRU

In turn, the GRU special forces also used captured Simurgs as vehicles or made combat vehicles based on them, installing a machine gun above the cab.

Sometimes Soviet soldiers in Afghanistan called “Simurgi” Toyotas (or vice versa), but this is incorrect - this Iranian car had nothing to do with the products of the famous Japanese concern, and was larger in size than the largest Toyota (its carrying capacity was about 1.5 t).


technical afghanistan
chinese DShK install in a hull

The convenience of using captured pickup trucks by the Special Forces of the GRU General Staff was that in the event of a serious breakdown during a combat mission, they could be abandoned immediately without getting too upset. But in such cases, “regular” vehicles had to be delivered to the FOB, which disrupted the completion of the combat mission, and even entailed the risk of losses during the evacuation.

In addition, the use of spiritual vehicles was an additional element to ensure the secrecy of the detachments' actions (when the scouts dressed in Afghan clothes), since pickup trucks usually did not arouse suspicion among Mujahideen observers.

It was also a warrior - an army pickup truck Kaiser Jeep M715 Military Truck 1967-1969.

There was also a civilian version of this car, called “Honcho” or “Macho”.

technical afghanistan
GRU soldiers in a captured vehicle

This pickup truck turned out to be so good in terms of its consumer qualities that the M-715 model served in the US Army right up to 1985. And licenses for the production of the basic model, in addition to the Iranian company Jeep, were acquired by the South Korean KIA (where it was also produced for the army under the symbol KM450) and the Indian TATA.

In conclusion, it should be noted that during combat operations, pickup trucks are a very convenient and multifunctional vehicle, which is why today they are widely used both by special forces of state armies and militants in the Middle East and African countries.

And there is no sign of a replacement for them in the near future.

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