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The Shagohod (Russian: Шагоход, Shagokhod, "Walker") was a hybrid screw propelled vehicle designed by Nikolai Stepanovich Sokolov to serve as a mobile nuclear ballistic missile system.

Technical data[]

The forward module contained the driver's cab, main propulsion systems, and most of the Shagohod's weapons. It was a completely autonomous vehicle that could function without the rear module attached, though in this configuration the rocket boosters were lost and the module had no nuclear launch capacity. The main means of propulsion was a pair of augers (or screws) fixed to runners mounted on hydraulic-actuated arms, sometimes incorrectly referred to as treads. At high speeds, these were locked in line with the rear and used to pull the Shagohod along. The arms could also be brought down diagonally and used to drag the rear section; it was presumably the latter movement mode that gave the Shagohod its name, though the vehicle crawled rather than walked.

Unlike Metal Gear, the Shagohod was not a bipedal tank; while it could "walk" in a limited fashion on the tips of the runners carrying the two augers, it mainly drove with them flat. The complete Shagohod prototype was articulated, consisting of a front module with the engine, drive systems, driver's cab as well as most of the armament, and a rear module, which formed the bulk of the vehicle, carrying not only the ballistic missile but also the rocket engines. The rear module was an air cushion vehicle towed by the front section and could be jettisoned from the front module if required.

The Shagohod1

Front view of the Shagohod.

The rear module carried the missile launch tube on its right upper surface, with a large fire-control radar on the left and the rocket booster units mounted on the sides; the rear sloped surface consisted mostly of a large grille, probably the air inlet for the engines and air cushion. In speculation, much of the internal space was taken up by fuel for the boosters and whatever systems were used to produce the air cushion the rear body runs on. However, it's unknown if it provided any additional support to the front module in terms of fuel or power generation. Despite this, the augers were notably more susceptible to damage when the front module was jettisoned from the rear than in any other situation; being immobilized rather than slowed, suggesting the rear module was indeed linked to the forward module's drive systems. The rear module did not appear autonomous; it lacked any visible control station or method of steering.

The vehicle weaponry included two 12.7 mm DShKM heavy machine guns (300 rounds) and one additional turret mount for anti-aircraft work with 360 rounds. In addition, it mounted six 9K112 Kobra surface-to-air guided missiles, a 100 barrel volley gun, and a single SS-20 "Sabre" IRBM (Intermediate-Range Ballistic Missile).

The Shagohod2

Side view of the Shagohod.

Though the Shagohod appeared to be a precursor to the Metal Gear line, the development of Shagohod was in fact distinctly separate from the development of the initial Metal Gear design. Both were developed independently of one another at approximately the same time, with the simpler Shagohod design reaching fruition before the more complex and technologically advanced Metal Gear.

When complete, the Shagohod weighed 152.5 tons, was 75 feet (22.8 meters) long by 27 feet (8.2 meters) high by 21 feet (6.4 meters) wide, had a maximum road speed (without the rocket engines being activated) of 50 miles per hour (80 kilometers per hour) and a range of 400 miles (650 kilometers). The rocket fuel used was highly volatile unsymmetrical dimethylhydrazine (UDMH). A crew complement of two was usual, though one could drive it if necessary.



Though the Shagohod had similar capabilities to the Metal Gear series of mecha, it was not a precursor but a parallel development; it was developed by Dr. Sokolov at a secret base located three miles west of Tselinoyarsk under Nikita Khrushchev's orders. His peer and self-proclaimed rival Director Granin conceived the Metal Gear concept at approximately the same time, but Colonel Volgin found himself forced to favor Sokolov's design despite Sokolov being on Khrushchev's side over Granin's after the latter idea failed to produce immediate results,[2] and secretly planned to steal the prototype as well as capture Sokolov. This is possibly due to the fact that, though a walker like Metal Gear would ultimately prove to be a far more versatile system, the Shagohod was only an unusual combination of technologies that already existed at the time (tanks, ground effect craft, IRBMs, and booster rockets), as opposed to an unrealized idea requiring years or even decades of research (as well as large amounts of money) to produce.

Sokolov referred to the Shagohod as the "Treading Behemoth," though a more accurate translation of the name is "Step Walker" or "Great Step." It was originally built as a nuclear-equipped tank that could launch nuclear missiles from any type of terrain. However, a major problem developed when it became apparent that the Soviet Union's ICBMs during the 1960s were too big for the Shagohod to carry. The Soviet military didn't wish to hear of it, as they wanted a weapon that could launch an ICBM directly into the American homeland. Sokolov was the one who came up with the idea for it to utilize his Vostok cluster rocket design to accelerate the Shagohod enough to launch an IRBM to launch at the same speed as an ICBM, dubbed "Phase 2."

Though it was originally intended to be a theatre- to intermediate-range nuclear weapons platform, operable from any type of terrain, the final "Phase 2" design of the Shagohod used rocket boosters to propel the behemoth to a speed of over 300 miles per hour (480 kilometers per hour) before launching its nuclear missile, essentially acting as an additional stage, increasing the range to ICBM levels. Upon launching a nuclear missile, it would then release three parachutes as a means of braking the Shagohod.[3] The main disadvantage was that the Shagohod required 3 miles (4.8 kilometres) of flat, even land, such as a long road or runway, to get up to speed and decelerate safely.

The perceived advantage of Shagohod over traditional silos was its mobility and thus relative stealth. As a mobile weapon, it was also suited to more aggressive posturing, leading to the threat of a nuclear first strike with the new system. Nuclear submarines carrying ballistic missiles represent almost the same capability; the reason the Shagohod was considered such a threat was that it represented an ability that the U.S. did not have. Its armor was also thick and strong enough to withstand even the blast of an RPG-7's round without a scratch.[4]

According to Sokolov, the Shagohod could not be detected by spy planes or satellites; this presumably was in comparison to large ICBM silo complexes, as the Shagohod could potentially be housed in any suitable hangar any time it was not engaged in launch activities. It could be transported over long distances via helicopter.[3]

The Shagohod did have weaknesses; its augers were susceptible to damage by explosives which slowed down the assembled vehicle or immobilize the disconnected front module. In addition, if the rear module ended up being forcibly ejected or removed, the rear armor of the front module was damaged due to the forceful disconnection of the rear module to the point that it was vulnerable to RPG fire. The volley gun, directly before and after firing (before it closed), also provided a "hole" in the Shagohod's armor.

Sokolov eventually became fearful of its development, and attempted to defect to the United States with his family, knowing that his absence would force the Shagohod project to be discontinued. However, around the time of his attempted defection, the Cuban Missile Crisis happened, which nearly resulted in nuclear war. Because of the high importance of the Shagohod project, Khrushchev was willing to even forego development of a missile silo at Cuba as long as the West at least allowed him to have Sokolov back. America agreed, not knowing about the Shagohod development at the time and not willing to risk a nuclear war. Nearly two years later, enough details of the Shagohod's development were later leaked to have the West realize that the reason Khrushchev wanted Sokolov back related to the development of a secret weapon, although not much was known other than it involving missile technology.

Operation Snake Eater[]

See also: Virtuous Mission and Operation Snake Eater

Shagohod mountain

The Shagohod conducts Phase 1 test at Tselinoyarsk.

By the time of the Virtuous Mission, Colonel Volgin of GRU used the Philosophers' Legacy to help complete the Shagohod prototype that he had stolen from the Sokolov Design Bureau. Sokolov's Shagohod was chosen for development because Aleksandr Leonovitch Granin's Metal Gear concept was considered (at the time) to be impractical. He planned to mass-produce the Shagohod and deploy them all over the Soviet Union and throughout all the countries of the Eastern Bloc. He also intended to use the Shagohod as bait to foment armed uprisings against dictators, ethnic insurgents, and revolutionary groups throughout the Third World.

A week later during Operation Snake Eater, Naked Snake used C3 in Groznyj Grad in a failed attempt to destroy the Shagohod. Although the weapon itself was unharmed, all the research data was lost, preventing its mass-production. According to Major Zero, the Shagohod would have been used solely as a deterrent by the Soviet Union, had its data been delivered to Khrushchev. However, the prototype survived the explosion due to the base's EOD personnel having removed the fuel from the tanks. Volgin personally piloted the Shagohod, using the rocket tank to pursue Snake and EVA on their motorcycle, laying waste to his own fortress in the process; he managed to destroy two aircraft (a WiG and a Hind), killed several of his own soldiers, almost injuring Ocelot in the backwash from the Shagohod's rocket boosters, as the chase proceeded onto Groznyj Grad's runway.

Managing to stay ahead of the pursuing Shagohod, Snake and EVA lured Volgin onto a C3-laden bridge, which was detonated as the tank attempted to cross. However, the Shagohod narrowly avoided destruction, though its main rear module was lost in the explosion. Exploiting the weakened armor, the tank was severely damaged by Snake's RPG-7, which was used to great effect thanks to EVA's motorcycle skills. Volgin then utilized his own powers of electricity to power up the damaged Shagohod and proceeded to chase EVA on her bike, while Snake opened fire on him from the ground while he was distracted. After Volgin was defeated, he attempted to again use his powers, only to be struck by a bolt of lightning during a sudden thunderstorm, destroying the Shagohod and eliminating Volgin.

Following the Shagohod's destruction, EVA gave the weapons's missile launch data to her true employers of the People's Liberation Army, so that the Chinese government would have the chance to develop its own nuclear weapons technology later that year.


Overall, the Soviet Union decided to abandon further development of the Shagohod, due to both EVA's theft of the Shagohod data during her mission to Tselinoyarsk and because the miniaturization of their ICBMs made the concept of the Shagohod redundant anyhow. However, the concept itself lived on as the Pupa AI weapon of the Peace Walker Project during the Peace Walker Incident bore heavy similarities to the Shagohod. During one of the briefing files, Huey Emmerich said that he based Pupa on designs specs for the Shagohod that Granin acquired himself and planned to submit to Huey with some of his commentary before it ended up intercepted by Ocelot for the CIA.

Behind the scenes[]

Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater[]

During the development of Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater (MGS3), several ideas were proposed for the Shagohod's second phase of development, one being that it would utilize a transformer-type combination with a WIG, from which it would then launch its nuke. The idea of accelerating its speed with rocket boosters and hovercraft technology was decided mid-production.[5] During the rail bridge cutscene, the Shagohod's front half was also to have fallen from the destroyed structure, but it was replaced with scenes of it leaping from the bridge instead. Similarly, the Shagohod was to have adopted a smaller, more agile form by ejecting its legs, after receiving damage in the fight with Snake and EVA, but was instead replaced with Volgin connecting himself to the Shagohod's wiring and reanimating it.[6]

Shagohod E3 1

Shagohod Cardboard mockup model at E3 2004.

When MGS3 was first announced at E3 2004, a cardboard mockup of the Shagohod was present. The model included actual treads, indicating that it was originally to have possessed these instead of augers. Official PlayStation Magazine, when covering the upcoming E3 announcement of MGS3, noted that, while the Shagohod was certainly big and carried "every weapon known to modern man," the Shagohod model was not Hideo Kojima's planned surprise for the event. Although this rendition was never used in the final version of the game, the design nonetheless made a cameo appearance in the game itself as blueprints during Granin's explanation of the Philosophers' Legacy.[7] On a similar note, Volgin's yelling "the treads!" when the Shagohod is shot in the augers suggests that changing the Shagohod's usage of treads to augers occurred relatively late in development.

In the limited edition Premium Package bundle for the first Japanese release of MGS3, a 1/144 scale painted model of the Shagohod as well as a booklet dedicated to the Shagohod was included.

An early design for the Shagohod, illustrated by Yoji Shinkawa, can be seen in first person view in Dr. Granin's office. According to Kojima, this is not Sokolov's Shagohod, but the technology Granin leaks that eventually becomes the link to Metal Gear.[8] A briefing tape in the sequel Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker mentions that, in addition to sending his friend Huey Emmerich the blueprints and research notes for Metal Gear, Granin also sent those of Sokolov's Shagohod, with his own negative commentary marked upon them.

In real life, the Shagohod's Phase 2 as a concept would not be feasible, as firing a missile from a Shagohod-like launcher would have negligible impact on the overall velocity of the missile. The guidance of ballistic missiles is inertial, based on a known starting location, and launching it at speed and at a non-vertical angle could not be done. In addition, rockets in general are meant to be fired from a standstill, and firing them while moving makes them uncontrollable.[9] The Shagohod's use of the SS-20 "Sabre" IRBM is also anachronistic, as it was first deployed in 1976. The SS-20 appears to have been chosen by the developers because the equivalent period missiles, SS-4 Sandal and SS-5 Skean, used gantry launchers and liquid-fuel, which may have been undesirable for the Shagohod's design.

Additionally, the US and Soviet Union in real life had systems exactly like what the Shagohod is meant to represent already, respectively the Polaris and SS-N-5 SLBMs, which had been around since 1960 and 1963. Ballistic missile submarines do not need runways, can hide in about 70% of the Earth's surface and are much harder to detect. They fit into a role of nuclear deterrence called assured second strike, the principle that even if the enemy manages a first strike, they will not be able to prevent a large-scale nuclear retaliation. Shagohod would only be dangerous if nobody knew what they were looking for, and would really only be good for one launch, period, before it was relegated to the second strike role.

One point of realism, is that the Shagohod's development (as a mobile land launch system) in 1964 is in line with period Soviet missile doctrine: the R-9 missile (one of two ICBMs identified as SS-8 Sasin) was originally intended to be a mobile system to thwart a first strike against Soviet silo complexes by NATO, albeit with wheeled launcher trucks. This was later changed to a dual project developing silo-launched and mobile versions, but the mobile version never achieved the desired mobility and that part of the project was ultimately scrapped.

In the Secret Theater film DieHard, the Shagohod chase is re-enacted, although this time the tank was exaggeratedly weaker than in the actual plot, which results in it flipping end-over-end after hitting the WIG on the runway.

Defeating the Shagohod in the HD Edition will unlock the "Shagadelic" achievement/trophy, a reference to the action-comedy film series Austin Powers, which frequently parody spy flicks such as the James Bond franchise.

Other appearances[]

The Shagohod appears as both a sticker and trophy in Super Smash Bros. Brawl. The Shagohod sticker lessens any dizzy side effects on a player by 150.

"A massive, nuclear-capable tank developed by the Soviet weapons specialist Nikolai Sokolov. In parallel development with the Metal Gear, the Shagohod is selected for military deployment over its rival. The body is made up of two front and two rear sections. The front uses a pair of drills on hydraulic legs to pull the bulky rear section which houses its ballistic missile."
―Shagohod trophy description in Super Smash Bros. Brawl

The Shagohod also appeared in Versus Battle, where it competed for votes against the Pupa.

Big, Fast, Naughty, & Nuclear
Runway Room Required to Nuke
Rough, rapid, & ready, Shagohod is a Volgin favorite that powers through harsh terrain via augers and blazes on to 300mph via rockets
―Shagohod on Versus Battle

The player can build Shagohods as their Metal Gears in the Mother Base game on the Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes app for Android/iOS. It is unlocked by completing at least 15 missions, while the game and app are connected.

Metal Gear Survive[]

The Shagohod appears as both a collectible nameplate during "The Encounter: Begin 1964 Event" episode on April 10-24, 2018, as well as a summonable ally during the Event Co-Op missions.[10]


Notes and references[]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k METAL GEAR SOLID 3 SNAKE EATER. Konami Digital Entertainment (2004). Archived from the original on April 10, 2016.
  2. ^ Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, Konami Computer Entertainment Japan (2004)
    Yevgeny Borisovitch Volgin: But that worthless fool Granin failed to produce results [for Metal Gear] and I was forced to turn to Khrushchev's dog Sokolov and his invention - the Shagohod.
  3. ^ a b Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, Konami Computer Entertainment Japan (2004).
  4. ^ Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, Konami Computer Entertainment Japan (2004).
    Naked Snake: The RPG can't put a dent in that armor.
  5. ^ MGS3 CINEMA KOJIMA COMMENTARY Groznyj Grad ~ The Sorrow Battle. Muni Shinobu. Retrieved on 2016-09-03.
  6. ^ MGS3 CINEMA KOJIMA COMMENTARY Tikhogornyj ~ Groznyj Grad. Muni Shinobu. Retrieved on 2016-09-03.
  7. ^
  8. ^ MGS3 CINEMA KOJIMA COMMENTARY Ocelot Battle ~ The Fear Battle. Muni Shinobu. Retrieved on 2016-09-03.
  9. ^
  10. ^


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