Classic corner: Is this ‘crusty’ Kirovets the real ‘beast from the east’?

Amazone recently invited over 6,000 guests from around the world to its base at Hasbergan-Gaste in the west of Germany.

All of its new machinery was there to be seen; some of it would hardly pass through the average farm-gate in Ireland – let alone have the space to unfold and get up to working speed.

Naturally, there was also an impressive display of all that is good and huge by way of modern tractors. These were gainfully employed pulling cultivators and drills. There was one exception to the barrage of new tractors; that exception (pictured below) stole the show.

The tractor in question was a Kirovets K-700A – a proper ‘beast from the east’ that was designed to haul either a 10m-wide cultivator or a chunky piece of Cold War artillery across the steppes of Russia.

These are not machines to be meddled with. They loom large – spanning 7.4m in length, 2.9m in width and are nearly 4m tall.

Should you get in the way of one, you might find yourself underneath 12t of metal and rubber; they don’t stop for much.

The original Kirovets K-700 was introduced in 1962. It was powered by a 14.9L V8 diesel engine that drove the wheels through a 16F 8R transmission. In normal driving mode it was just the front wheels that were engaged; switching to 4WD brought the rear axle into play.

Despite the size of engine, it only produced 203hp. Yet it was good for 40kph (25mph) in top gear.

The original tyres were 23in wide (although 28in tyres were later fitted, to alleviate soil damage).

Several other changes were made, alongside the wider tyres. These included an increase in engine output to 220hp and an expansion of fuel-carrying capacity to 640L. The improvements were brought about in 1975; the updated model was known as the K-700A.

At the same time, an even larger variant was introduced. This was the K-701 which was blessed with a 22.3L V12 motor – shoving out 300hp (later up-rated to 330hp).

It should come as little surprise to learn that the company making these tractors has long been involved in manufacturing military equipment. Although it can trace it roots right back to 1801 it wasn’t until an engineer by the name of N I Putilov bought the entity in 1868 that it really enjoyed significant success.

Railway wagons and battleship gun turrets were quickly added to the product line-up. Perhaps it’s fair to say that this legacy is still evident in the K-700 models!

Along the way the tractor division copied the early Fordson models – producing over 50,000 units in 1932 alone. Although American personnel were involved in the ‘reverse engineering’ of the product, the grade of steel could not be duplicated – causing some reliability problems.

During the Second World War much of the production was hurriedly moved out to the east. However, the factory in St. Petersburg (Leningrad at the time) still remained operational and, besides the death and destruction caused by military action, it is believed that around 2,500 workers died of starvation.

The K-700A was produced between 1975 and 2002. Altogether, over 400,000 examples of the K-700 and its variants were built; many were exported to East Germany (where there are a good few still in regular use).

Although the history of this particular example (pictured) is not known, it was fitted with the latest Amazone control interface and was happily pulling a Citan 12001-C drill. This is an implement that Amazone recommends should have at least 231hp in front of it.

Nobody, it seems, told the Kirovets!