The Ural Wagon Plant was built in the early 1930s to make freight wagons for the railways.
It was initially called the Dzerzhinsky plant, after the infamous revolutionary who established the Soviet secret police force.
When Hitler invaded in 1941, Stalin ordered many factories in Ukraine and Central Russia to be relocated to the Urals, further away from the front. The Kharkov Locomotive Factory was disassembled and transported from Ukraine and moved to Nizhny Tagil. It was merged with Ural Wagon Plant. They were re-tasked to make tanks.
During these few years of the war, UWP became the largest manufacturer of tanks in the world. After the war part of the Kharkov factory was returned to Ukraine. Iconic tanks like the T34 were made here. Later various models were designed and manufactured, including T64, T72, T90 and now the Armada. Tank production is now down to 30% of total manufacture – the rest is mainly civilian like railway wagons, tools, agricultural equipment and consumer goods.
The factory is obviously closed to foreigner, however we are allowed into the museum. The museum is compact, however there is a rare opportunity to climb onto and into several of the tanks.