The Space Race was an incredible time. Not only were the two world Superpowers spending millions on things to blow one another up and poison the earth for a hundred-thousand years, they were also spending millions sending things into space. Probably so they could use it to blow one another up and poison the earth for a hundred-thousand years, but still – it was pretty cool.
It was the U.S. that got to the moon first (and is still the only nation to have done so)*, but it was actually the Soviet Union that won pretty much every other race, sending the first satellite into space, the first man, the first woman, and conducting the first EVA (extra-vehicular activity); or spacewalk to us non-astronaut types.
Of course getting there was only half the battle, as getting home again (unless you were a Soviet dog) was just as tricky. To that end the Soviets developed this in the 1970s; the remarkable Zil 4906. They may have won the Race for Space but the Americans had a much better Naming Department.
The ZIL 4906’s boring title hid its remarkable ability, being a 6×6 amphibious off-road crane designed to fit aboard a transport plane and recover the Soyuz astronaut capsules from the vast Russian wilderness.
Powered by a standard Zil 150bhp V8 the 4906’s weren’t fast, but they could go literally anywhere, with six-wheel-drive, four-wheel-steering, and two propellors with rudders for water recoveries.
This amazing Technic recreation of one of the Soviet Union’s coolest designs comes from previous bloggee Samolot, who has replicated the 4906’s incredible drivetrain brilliantly in Lego form. Two Control+ XL Motors power all six wheels, with a separate driveshaft for each side. This allows a gearbox to transfer power to the propellors when in water, whilst the L Motor that steers the front and rear axles also turns the two rudders.
A second L Motor controls the differential locks, whilst a fourth powers a compressor that builds pressure for the pneumatic crane, which the real Zil 4906 used to fish the Soyuz capsules from watery landings. A LEGO Education WeDo motor winds the crane winches and all of the above is controlled via bluetooth courtesy of LEGO’s new Powered Up Control+ system.
It’s a remarkable build and one that is definitely worth a closer look, which you can do at Eurobricks – where full build details are available, Bricksafe – which houses a complete image gallery of both Samolot’s Technic Zil 4906 and the real deal, and via the excellent video below.
*Unless you believe it was filmed in a studio, the Earth is flat, and that climate change is a hoax invented by Al Gore. In which case go back to school.