Belarus is a series of four-wheeled tractors produced since 1950 at the Minsk Tractor Plant, MTZ in Minsk, Belarus.
These tractors are very well known throughout the former Soviet Union, and have been exported to the Eastern Bloc, as well as other countries (even to the United States). At the end of World War II, agricultural infrastructure in the Soviet Union (USSR) was in a poor state, production of agricultural machinery having been non existent during the later years of the War. Those tractors and machinery still working on the Large Collective Farms were tired from heavy use and also dated, most having been produced in the early 1930s or earlier. At best these tractors were unreliable and were poorly maintained. The Communist state ordered new tractors to be made at several locations within the USSR, the main assembly plant for MTZ being in Minsk, Belarus, with smaller tractors being produced in other locations, while other factories produced high-horsepower articulated and tracked tractors. All these tractors were exported under the name “Belarus” but were of a different design to each other. Within the Eastern bloc the tractors had no paint scheme, They were simply painted the same colour all over, red, green and blue being the most common. In the late 1980s Belarus tractors gained a paint livery of cream/white, cream wheels, with a red chassis, this remained until the late 1990s when it changed to red with a black chassis and cream wheels (later silver). A green alternative to the red was available for some markets during the 2000s (decade). While blue with a black chassis is currently the livery for the more basic 2wd cabless models.
Up to the 1950s MTZ had not produced wheeled tractors, tracked crawler tractors being more common. These early tractors were essentially re-claimed tanks, with the gun turret removed and a flatbed, winch, crane or dozer blade added, the tractors seeing more use on land reclamation and forestry applicaions rather than agriculture. This was largely due to the tanks being unsuitable for large scale culitivation as their engine, transmission and track reliability was poor due to them not being designed for pulling loads for long periods as required in agriculture. New designs were put into production during 1950 and the new MTZ wheeled tractor was born. These tractors were built to the three main concepts of Soviet engineering- reliability, simplicity and value for money.
During the cold war, Belarus Tractors, sold in western markets were infamous for their low quality compared to western manufacturers. The Soviets inability to build tractors came to symbolize the failure of Communism in the 1980s and after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Often the tractor factories could not obtain quality materials and made-do with inferior components. The quality of rubber seals, gaskets and paint was particularly poor in the early 1990s. The Belarus name suffered much during this time, but with more investment in the late 1990s-2000s (decade) the name has bounced back, and now offer a high quality product that meets European standards.
Some 3 million tractors have been built in the Minsk tractor works since 1948