The Tatra T138 was a truck produced in Czechoslovakia by the Tatra company. The immediate successor to the Tatra T111, the model introduced a number of new features while continuing the evolution of Tatra concept. The truck was produced from 1959 to 1971.


The decision to replace the Tatra T111 was made in 1952 as part of a central state planning economy, where Tatra Kopřivnice was to produce 7-10 ton utility trucks. In 1956 at II. Czechoslovak Machinery Expo in Brno, Tatra exhibited 2 new models, the T137 and T138. Both vehicles had up to 70% of parts in common across the range. New design features were introduced, such as improvement in driver environment and usability e.g. hydraulic power steering, a compressed air assisted clutch and electro-pneumatic auxiliary gearbox gear selection.

Design and technology

The design was of central backbone tube construction with modular power train concept in 4x4, 4x2, 6x6, 6x4 and 6x2 configuration. Version 4x2, 6x4 and 6x2 were produced in very low quantity. The main advantages of central load carrying backbone tube are in its high torsion and bend strength protecting truck body against load stresses. The secondary advantage is that it houses all important parts of the drive train. In addition, it enables a concept of modular construction where designers and customers can specify 4, 6, wheel drive and various length and wheelbase combinations.


The engine was located ahead of the front axle. It featured an Aircooled V8 75° with dry sump design and a new featured thermostat controlled cooling fan by engine oil temperature via hydraulic clutch drive to reduce noise and fuel consumption. The engine was also used in the OT-64 APC.


Central backbone tube, front and rear axles with independent swing half axles. The front suspension by torque arms (torsion bars) and hydraulic shock absorbers. The rear suspension by longitudinal half elliptic leaf springs. Front axle drive selectable on demand, differential locks electro-pneumatically controlled via dash switches.

  • Front track = 1,930 mm (76.0 in)
  • Rear track = 1,752 mm (69.0 in)
  • Wheelbase = model specific
  • Tatra T138 6x6 PP2, P3, PP6 = 4,260 mm (167.7 in)+1,320 mm (52.0 in)
    • Tatra T138 6x6 PR14, PPR S3, PR S1, P19 = 3,690 mm (145.3 in)+1,320 mm (52.0 in)
      • Tatra T138 4x4 = 4,550 mm (179.1 in)
  • Ground clearance = 290 mm (11.4 in)


  • Main gearbox - 5+1 (2-5 gear synchronized)
    • Auxiliary gearbox - 2 speed (half split electro-pneumatic control)
  • Clutch - 2x plate dry


  • Main wheel brakes ----> dual circuit full air drum brakes
    • Park brake ----> mechanical via output shaft at the back of the gearbox
      • Supplementary brake ----> exhaust brake electro-pneumatically controlled


All  steel cab construction with various body builder equipment such as tippers, flatbeds, concrete mixers, tankers, cranes, excavators and firefighting. The vehicle had a top speed of 72 km/h, capable of water crossing depth 800 mm (31 in), with maximum payload of 12,000 kg (26,500 lb) and could tow trailers up to 15,000 kg (33,100 lb) GCM.


Total production exceeded 45,900. The Tatra T138 was exported to the USSR, Bulgaria, Romania, Poland, France, Austria, Yugoslavia and the Netherlands.

    • Primary variants:
  • T138 S1 - one-way tipper
  • T138 S3 - three-way tipper
  • T138 V,VN - civilian and military flatbed
  • T138 P1V - military special
  • T138 CAS - firefighting unit
  • T138 PP6V - excavator
  • T138 PP5, PP4V, PP7 - tanker
  • T138 P3, P11, P18, PP2, PP5, PP6, PP7, PP8V - crane
  • T138 PP7 - concrete mixer