The legendary truck Praga V3S (military 3 tons special) is known perhaps to everybody and there does not exist an czech army corp where it would not
apply it's extraordinary riding qualities in the terrain. The saying: " Where the V3S does not get through, not even a tank will get through" is not far from truth.
In August 1951 the constructors of the Vysocany Praga plant were entrusted with the development of a new terrain vehicle because Praga RN did not
fulfill the riding qualities in the terrain and the attempt to relieve the Tatra T-111 towards the type T-128 4x4 did not go out the best, because the vehicle was still too
heavy for riding in a required terrain. The first prototype was finished already on 19th February 1952 and on 2nd April 1953 started the serial production which
was immediately introduced into the armament of the CSLA units. The vehicle is driven by the air-cooled six-cylinder engine Tatra 912 derivated from famous
twelve-cylinder of Tatra T-111. At present the service life of this vehicle is approaching it's end and it's replacing in the service of the CSLA is being prepared, but
neverthelass it is still serving.
The army used and is still using many modifications of this car from the most common platform car serving for transporting men and loads, to towing
lighter guns from 57 mm AT ZIS -3 to 122 mm howitzer D-30. The house body versions included staff cars, various types of radio bodies, workshop versions, a
mobile bandage room, broadcast car, and very common was the version of fuel tank. Sapper units used dumpers, autocranes, recovery vehicles. Praga V3S also
served for transporting lighter pontoon units. The chemical units introduced u special spraying car ARS 12-Dc.
Since 1961 Praga V3S is produced in the plant Avia Letnany, later in the repair workshops for agricultural machines in Praha-Vynor. In 1978 it went though
modernisation to the type V3S M1 including the raising of movement dynamics and small adjustments. The second part of modernisation since 1982 on version M2
was more complex, but in no way principal. This modernisation ran in BAZ Bratislava to the March 31st of 1991, when the production line have been closed.
For quicker recognition of the more modern version M2 serves the location of the main reflectors in the bumper. At present the Czech Army still has about 2000
vehicles P-V3S of all types and modifications.
From foreign armies it is known that a certain number of cargo vehicles was delivered, in the time of the Vietnam war, to the army of the Communist
North. Syria and Hungary purchased this version in the sixties.
As means of fight, on the undercarriage P-V3S, the CSLA introduced the rocket launcher 32x130mm vz.51 (originally transported on the vehicle Tatra
T-128 which did not prove good). On a standard platform was placed a case witch 66 reserve rockets and on it was situated the proper multiple rocket launcher.
The crew of the rocket launcher sat on the seat behind the cab with their backs in the direction ride. It was interesting that under the canvas it was impossible to
recognize the rocket launcher from a common cargo truck.
The war conflicts on the Middle East tested this means of war perfectly on the side of Syria and Libya as well as, and mainly, on the side of Egypt. It is a
curiosity that these rocket launchers, in 1967, became a prey, undamaged, by the Israeli army on the Sinai. They were sorted to Israeli army and used anew against
their original owner (Egypt) in 1973 in the Yom-Kippur war. The Cuban army was another owner of these rocket launchers. As a matter of interest we add that it
was also the Australian army that acquire 18 pieces of this rocket launcher superstructure. The Austrian army placed it on their own cars STEYR 680 M3. The
Romanian army also used this weapon, but they placed it on other truck, namely ZIL-151.
Another means of fight making use of Praga V3S is the 30mm self-propelled AA twin-cannon vz. 53/59. On this anti-aircraft one was used the standard
driving unit and the serial carriage on which was seated an armour platform protecting the engine and the service cabin against light arms and shell fragments. The
30mm twin-cannon whose gunner sat in an armoured tank can be put down easily and placed in the shooting position without the vehicle. The CSLA introduced the
means in 1959 and for the whole years it served as the main means of the antiaircraft defense of the tank and motorized rifle units. And our army was the only one in
the Warsaw pact which didnot used the Soviet 23 mm ZSU-23-4 "Shilka". Last pieces of the already obsolete cannon served as deposited stores of the
antiaircraft defence of the aircraft bases and have been deactivated from Czech army at the end of 2003 year.
Certain quantity of this vehicle is still in use in Slovak army at present days. Also our southern neighbour Austria used doublecannon vz. 53/59 at the beginning of
civil war in Yugoslavia for defend strengthen of border passages with Slovenia in 1991 .
A great amount of these means was exported for the army of Yugoslavia where, in the following ethnic conflict they served in all the local armies. But there the cannon
was not mostly used for shooting at air targets, but was applied for direct firing in small villages and in the forested parts of the front where the effect of the 30 mm
munition was considerable. Nowadays the twin-cannons 53/59 are still in the armament of Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia and Bosnia-Hercegovina. In the conditions of
deserts these vehicles were tested in the hands of the army of Libya and Iraq.