Federal Republic of Nigeria/United Arab Emirates/Libya (2012-Present)
Armored Personnel Carrier – 19-34 Built + 1 Prototype
The Igirigi was supposed to be the first armored personnel carrier to have been developed and built in Nigeria for the army, being introduced in 2012. Despite the initiative, the further serial production of a significantly different vehicle was subcontracted to the foreign commercial armored vehicles manufacturer, Streit Group. Initially, ten of these were delivered to Nigeria, but more were built, a number of which found their way to the Libyan National Army in 2016. However, details about their specifications and use are largely unknown, due to the lack of transparency from the Nigerian military authorities.
Apart from some armored vehicles built during the Nigerian Civil War in the 1970s, no armored vehicles had been produced in Nigeria. This began to change in 2008, when the company Proforce was established with a focus on armored vehicle solutions. Mobile Truck Technology was another company that built an APC in 2009, albeit somewhat rudimentary. In what was apparently a separate development from Proforce’s commercial venture, the Nigerian government and Army began to explore the idea to take a domestically developed and built armored vehicle into service.
Goodluck Jonathan, president of Nigeria from 2010 to 2015, was a strong proponent of increasing Nigeria’s defense industry, especially promoting the role and enhancing the capabilities of Defence Industries Corporation of Nigeria [DICON]. While there may have been a genuine desire for this in the government, his presidency was notoriously marked by corruption, with as much as $2 billion vanishing from military funds. It appears the Igirigi also got entangled in this corruption and this ultimately may have been one of the primary causes of its failure.
Development of the Igirigi
Development of the Igirigi was carried out by the Nigerian Army Electrical and Mechanical Engineers [NAEME], who also built the vehicle, presumably at the Special Vehicle Plant of DICON in Kaduna, where Nigerian armored vehicles were already being overhauled, such as the Scorpion light tank. A major step in the development was the contracting of Chronos Studeos to model, texture, render, and animate the vehicle in 3D while significantly refining the NAEME design, which was originally restricted to tabletop models.
On 29th June 2012, the new vehicle was announced and promised to be officially unveiled during the 2012 Nigeria Army Day celebrations (NADCEL), which had started that day and would last until 6th July. According to the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt.-Gen. Azubuike Ihejirika, the local production had reduced the cost by 30% compared to foreign options. The vehicle was later unveiled by President Jonathan who came to inspect it at the Command and Staff College in Jaji, Kaduna, on 2nd July.
The specific reason why the name Igirigi was chosen is unknown. It is the Igbo word for “dew”. Igbo is one of the national languages of Nigeria, with some 42 million speakers. As of 2023, Nigeria had a population of over 220 million people.
The Igirigi was based upon a 12th generation Ford F-Series chassis. The specific model is unknown, but it could not have been a model bigger than the F-350. No official specifications on the vehicle have ever been published, except for the gradient, which was 30°.
The design of the Igirigi was rather unique, with heavily sloped armor, most notably the roof. The radiator was protected by louvers with six slats and the engine could be reached through a large hatch on top of the engine compartment. Maintaining the layout of the Ford chassis, the driver sat on the left with a co-driver to his right, who also acted as the gunner of the weapon station that was placed directly above his seat on the roof. The troop compartment behind them housed an unknown number of troops, with an estimation of four to six mounts, based on similar vehicles.
The driver and co-driver entered the vehicle through side doors, while the troop compartment could only be entered through a door in the rear. From inside, they had outside visuals through three windows, one on each side and one in the rear door, but the vehicle lacked any firing ports.
There is no evidence that the machine gun-armed weapon station on the roof could be rotated, and even if it could, the sloped roof would have made it difficult.
Further Development with Streit
In early 2013, the Minister of Defence announced that DICON was in the process of finalizing a Public Private Partnership [PPP] with a private organization for the production of armored personnel carriers. This almost certainly involved talks with the Streit Group about the production of the Igirigi, on the basis of the Streit Spartan armored vehicle.
Between 19th September 2013 and 11th September 2014, the Nigerian Army awarded the Defence Industries Corporation of Nigeria [DICON] several contracts for the delivery of Streit Spartan and Igirigi APCs, as well as their armament, for N4,329,985,000 [circa $9.8 million]. The delivery of 40 NSVT heavy machine guns was subcontracted to Kennedy Logistics Ltd for $1,597,500 and the 10 Igirigi’s to Streit Group FZE for $1,850,000. However, the contracts awarded to DICON were much higher, at $2,237,000 and $3,450,000 respectively. The surplus money, $2,381,000, simply vanished into the endless void of corruption.
The exact reason why it was decided to order the Igirigi’s from Streit is somewhat unclear, as the latter had to make the new design specifically for Nigeria, based upon the earlier Nigerian prototype. It would have been more effective to order ten more Spartan APCs, which were not only very similar in capabilities, but arguably better, as they were battle-tested.
The foreign production by Streit was kept relatively secret for propaganda purposes, to pursue the idea that the Igirigi was completely a domestically developed and produced vehicle. Additionally, claims were made that it was one of the best armored personnel carriers to be deployed by Nigeria and that large numbers were going to be put into service, neither of which were particularly true.
Beegeagle’s Blog, a social media account focussing on Nigerian defense matters, has mentioned they had reliable reports that up to 25 Igirigis were received in 2014. Although hard to independently verify, it is likely given the available photographs.
Design of the Streit Igirigi
The Igirigi design that was produced by Streit was vastly different and improved compared to NAEME’s design. It was developed from the Spartan APC which was based on the heavy-duty Ford F-550 and powered by a 330 hp 6.7L Power Stroke V8 Turbo Diesel engine. Presuming other specifications remained similar to the Spartan, the Igirigi was likely fitted with a 6-speed automatic gearbox, granting a maximum speed of over 100 km/h. Weight must have been in the 8 to 9 tonne range.
The crew consisted of a driver and codriver/commander, as well as at least six soldiers in the troop compartment. One of them most likely operated the weapon station on the roof. This weapon station was supposed to be armed with a NSVT 12.7 mm heavy machine gun, but they were also seen fitted with 12.7 mm M2 Browning heavy machine guns.
Externally, the Streit Igirigi carried over several design elements from the Igirigi prototype, such as the slope on the side armor and to a lesser extent the design of the front. Between the production vehicles, there were several design differences as well, possibly indicating different batches. The main externally visual difference is the diagonal line on the sides. With one version, it is steeper, ending below the front wheel fender. With the other version, it meets the fender and continues to the front of the vehicle.
The NAEME Igirigi prototype was seen in public for the last time at the 2013 Nigerian Army Day celebrations. It is unknown if it ever saw active service with the army.
The Nigerian Army had the intention to deploy the new vehicles in the North East operations against Boko Haram. Around early 2014, Streit delivered the first ten Igirigis to Nigeria, but the technical inspection report indicated that they were quite unsuitable for use in the northeastern conflict. This flaw was dismissed and they were sent nonetheless. Shortly thereafter, one Igirigi was destroyed by an RPG, killing all occupants, including a colonel.
Well within two years, by 13th May 2016, all but one of the ten Igirigis deployed in the north were not serviceable anymore. Due to a suspicious lack of further photographic records, it seems that they were mostly not repaired or put back into service, at least for active operations.
The vehicle regained some interest in February 2018, when two were found at a captured Boko Haram camp in the Sambisa Forest during Operation Lafiya Dole, a part of the larger Operation Deep Punch II. Their fate after recovery is unknown.
On 10th September 2019, ISIS terrorists ambushed a Nigerian convoy near Lake Chad, while they were heading towards the town of Gudumbali in Borno state. Among other vehicles, an Igirigi armed with a double-barreled ZPU-2 or KPV gun, was captured. The vehicle was operated by the Nigerian Army Special Forces Command. It is unknown if more Igirigis were rearmed with this gun, but the modification was already seen in 2015.
In addition to the Nigerian batches, Streit built at least nine more vehicles in the UAE. In late 2015, these were listed on an inventory stock list of the company Global LAV, a known mediator between Streit and its customers, which sold quite a few Spartan and Cougar models for Streit. All nine vehicles were painted black and marked “APC NIGERIA IGIRIGI”.
Also in late 2015, the Libyan National Army [LNA] ordered a large number of wheeled armored vehicles in the UAE. A shipment of 134 vehicles arrived in Libya in early January 2016, including Cougars, Spartans, and Igirigis. At the time, the Igirigis were still painted black. Because of the propaganda calling the Igirigi a Nigerian-built vehicle, it was widely assumed that Nigeria was now actively producing and even exporting the Igirigi, while in fact, it concerned surplus vehicles that were stocked in Dubai since 2014.
Chassis registrations stocked in 2015 by Global LAV
Ford F-550 6.7L D/A
Ford F-550 6.7L D/A
Ford F-550 6.7L D/A
Ford F-550 6.7L D/A
Ford F-550 6.7L D/A
Ford F-550 6.7L D/A
Ford F-550 6.7L D/A
Ford F-550 6.7L D/A
Ford F-550 6.7L D/A
In Libyan Service
Little is known about their service in the Libyan National Army. In 2019, a photograph showed one vehicle in use with the 106th Brigade with a distinctive Libyan-African camouflage pattern. Details about their deployment and fate are unfortunately not available.
The Igirigi is a somewhat confusing vehicle. Due to a lack of information, many uncertainties remain regarding the number of vehicles produced and their technical specifications. With the original prototype being a purely Nigerian product, the serially produced vehicle was ultimately a foreign commercial solution, disregarding the idea of domestic Nigerian military production. This, possibly coupled with the effects of corruption, eventually led to the end of the venture after only a few vehicles were produced. In addition, it did not perform well in actual military operations, but if this was caused by the tactical situation on the ground, or the technical capabilities of the vehicles themselves, is unclear.
Specifications NAEME Igirigi
2+6* [driver, codriver/commander, six troops]
light machine gun
Ford 12th Generation F-150/F-250/F-350
Specifications Streit Igirigi
2+6* [driver, codriver/commander, six troops]
12.7 mm heavy machine gun M2 Browning or NSVT or double-barreled ZPU-2/KPV
United Kingdom/Republic of Singapore/State of Kuwait/Republic of Indonesia/Argentina/Republic of Ghana/Republic of Mauritius/Kingdom of Norway/Kingdom of Saudi Arabia/Ukraine (1988-Present)
Armored Personnel Carrier/Internal Security Vehicle – Approximately 340-354 Built + Prototypes
The Tactica, consecutively produced by Glover Webb, GKN Defence, Alvis plc, and BAE Systems, is an armored personnel carrier designed for internal security duties that was introduced in the late 1980s. It saw a considerable production run and has been adopted by nine countries. Two main versions were produced, an armored patrol vehicle with a bonneted design, and an armored personnel carrier with a cab-over-engine design. The latter has seen the most production in various configurations. Notoriously, the Tactica has been in the center of several heated weapon export policy debates. Two of the customers, Indonesia and Saudi Arabia, have been widely accused of having used the vehicles in human rights abuse. Simultaneously, the Tactica has also been used in three separate UN missions to good effect.
Glover Webb & Development
The Tactica started off as a private development by the company Glover Webb from Hamble, Hampshire (United Kingdom). The company used its privately developed semi-monocoque frame as a basis on which the new armored body was developed. Two main versions were built, one vehicle with a cab-over-engine [abbr. COE] design, and one version with a conventional bonnet. Furthermore, specialist variants were developed using the COE design as a base. In 1988, the vehicle was officially introduced to the commercial market and had its first customer at the end of 1989, when several were sold to Singapore. In early 1993, a series was sold to the British Army, which used them mainly in Northern Ireland in specialized roles. Additionally, Patrol Tacticas were sold to Kuwait.
GKN Defence & Alvis plc & BAE Systems
At the end of 1994, Glover Webb was taken over by GKN Defence, but remained in service as a subsidiary until it was closed down in late 1997. The business and production of the Tactica series was relocated to GKN’s main facility in Telford, Shropshire (United Kingdom). It was marketed under GKN’s name for just a very short time, as GKN Defence merged with Alvis-Vickers in 1998. Just before all this happened, in mid-1997, a new order was secured from Argentina, for use with the UN mission on Cyprus. Furthermore, GKN showed off their two models at the British Equipment Exhibition of 1997, held at Farnborough Airfield, Hampshire. The APV version was shown in mock-up MOD police markings, while the APC stood next to the GKN Simba.
In addition to Singapore, the UK, Kuwait, and Argentina, further deals were consecutively concluded with Ghana, Indonesia, Mauritius, and Norway. In 2004, Alvis was taken over by BAE Systems. Under their management, the largest Tactica deal was signed, concerning an additional 200 vehicles for Saudi Arabia. As of October 2021, the Tactica is still listed as a product on the BAE Systems website, but the official sale brochure was taken offline before 2017 and the Tactica is no longer on offer.
The forward-control vehicle with the COE configuration was introduced as the basic vehicle in 1988. It had its engine mounted centrally between the driver and commander, who were seated at the front. Depending on the customer, the driving position was either on the left- or right-hand side. Their compartment was separated with half a bulkhead from the troop compartment that extended to the rear of the vehicle. There was enough space for at least ten men, but there were other configurations available for fourteen, sixteen, or eighteen men.
Although the first prototype was based on a commercially available Gomba Stonefield P5000 4×4 truck chassis, later, a new chassis was developed in-house. This new semi-monocoque hull was made with certified high-hardness armor, providing protection against 7.62 mm AP rounds. Reportedly, the actual thickness used to achieve this was around 25 mm. The vision blocks were purported to offer equal protection, while the belly also protected against fire bombs and IEDs. The armored glass of the windscreen and windows was 50 mm thick, with a 6 mm thick anti-spall liner. The vision blocks were 73 mm thick. The armor was supplied by Sleeman Engineering and the glass by Romag. The wheels were standard equipped with AL1-DCSR high-speed shoot-through tire systems.
For propulsion, a range of diesel engines were provided, depending on the customer’s needs. Gearboxes were also choosable, with either automatic or manual options. When equipped with the Mercedes-Benz OM 906LA diesel, the Tactica could reach a speed of 120 km/h with a range of 650 km. Another known engine option was the Perkins 180Ti.
Other standard features of the Tactica were powered steering and a permanent 4×4 drive with selectable ratios and three lockable differentials. The driver’s compartment could be reached through a door on either side, and the troop compartment through four doors, one in each side and a double door at the rear.
The regular APC version featured ten firing ports, while additional armament could be deployed on the roof. A small machine gun-armed turret was also optional, but only sold to Ghana. The turret could be armed with either a 7.62 mm machine gun or a heavier 12.7 mm [.50 cal] M2 HB machine gun.
The Armored Patrol Vehicle
In essence, the Patrol vehicle was identical to the forward-control vehicle, although having a completely different hull, with less room inside and a less aggressive appearance. The Patrol also has eight firing ports, instead of ten.
APC with ten-, fourteen-, sixteen-, or eighteen-man configuration
Armored Command Vehicle with a higher roof
Armored Ambulance with a three-man crew and four stretchers
Armored EOD vehicle
Armored Water Cannon
Armored Patrol, high-speed, ten-man crew
Armored Patrol, APC, ten-man crew
Armored Assault, five- or ten-man crew
Some twelve years after its first introduction, an improved version of the Tactica was presented, which featured a more powerful Mercedes-Benz 906 series diesel engine, coupled to a new ZF Ecomat automatic transmission. In addition, the axles and suspension were upgraded, increasing the maximum vehicle weight significantly. The Tactica 2000 was bought by Saudi Arabia and Norway. The Saudi vehicles were based upon chassis developed by the Belgian/Flemish company Mol.
The Tactica as an ISV
As far as classifications go, internal security vehicles can broadly be separated into four categories, based upon the level of protection [Fulvio Bianchi, 2003]. The first class has very limited protection, not more than the addition of bulletproof glass, bars, and add-on armor plates no thicker than 2.5 mm. Often, these are converted vans or light trucks. The second class provides enough protection against small arms fire with ball rounds. To achieve this, a new body has to be built, but use is still made of vans and the like. The third class are considered to be protected against 7.62 mm fire and even small explosions. This level of protection is pursued by most police forces, as it offers a good balance in weight, protection, and agility. Examples for this class are the Shorland S600 and the RG-12.
The fourth class features protection to a military level and are less common to encounter, as it is easier and cheaper to adapt an already existing military vehicle to the police role, than to have to develop a dedicated ISV, although this can cause some drawbacks, like the potential lack of internal space. The Tactica was one of the few vehicles built in this class, offering protection similar to the German Thyssen TM-170, for example.
Confirmed Sales Overview
1994, 1995, 1996
1994, 1995, 1997
* It is unclear if the three vehicles of the British Atomic Weapons Establishment were included in the official government figure of 35 owned vehicles.
After the Tactica was introduced in 1988, Singapore was the first customer and placed an order for an unspecified number for the police. They were delivered in 1989, which made Singapore the first operator of the Tactica. A basic police version was acquired, painted in a typical British police style; dark blue with a blue-white checkerboard pattern stripe running along the sides.
The vehicles are rarely seen and appear to be last photographed around 2013 or early 2014 during riot control training with the Special Operations Command [SOC] and the Gurkha Contingent. The police mainly relies on locally-built tactical vehicles, which are painted red and therefore known as “Ang Chia” [Eng: Red Vehicle]. The current  status of the Tacticas is unknown. They are either in storage, only to be used during a major emergency, or have already been disposed of.
Kuwait received Tacticas for use by the Special Forces, under the Ministry of Interior [MOI]. According to Jane’s, 20 Patrol Tacticas were delivered after an order from 1993, but any details on their use, including photographs, are unknown. It is known that they were serviced by the company Ali Alghanim & Sons Automotive Co.w.l.l. which also services the other armored vehicles of the MOI, such as the Condor, TM-170, and Soframe.
United Kingdom 
In early 1993, the United Kingdom took its first deliveries of Tactica vehicles. They were acquired in specialized roles to be deployed in Northern Ireland, especially in the EOD configuration. Others were delivered to security services of the Ministry of Defence [Ministry of Defence Police, abbr. MDP or MOD Police]. In 1997, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence, John Spellar, confirmed that a total 35 Tacticas had been acquired.
Little is known about the MDP vehicles. They did not serve very long either, as they were replaced in 2010 by MacNeillie Protected Escort Vehicles. The EOD vehicles were used in Northern Ireland, in light of the unrest and threats posed by the Provisional Irish Republican Army. However, after a ceasefire in 1997 and an official dissolution in 2005, stability mostly returned and the EOD Tactica’s became redundant. They have since then been disposed of. Most if not all of the decommissioned Tacticas have been sold on the civilian market, with vehicles finding their way into private collections or museums. Several have been sold abroad too, with at least two going to the USA, and another two to the Netherlands.
Atomic Weapons Establishment
In 1996, the British Atomic Weapons Establishment [AWE] based in Aldermaston and Burghfield, Berkshire (United Kingdom), placed an order for three Patrol vehicles. These were intended to provide terrorist attack intervention and high speed convoy support, in which case they would have carried eight armed personnel to protect nuclear warheads and nuclear fission material during transport in the United Kingdom.
These three vehicles were built in a unique configuration, with a dual 12 and 24 volt electrical system, two-wheel drive instead of the regular four-wheel drive to allow for higher speeds and road tractability. The chosen engine was a high pressure turbocharged 6-l Perkins engine, coupled to an Allison automatic 5-speed transmission.
One vehicle, with registration ‘HI 90 AA’ passed to the collection of the RAF Hack Green Nuclear complex in 2010. The status of the other two is unknown.
In 1994, Indonesia placed an order for three water cannon vehicles, which was approved by the British government. A second order for six water cannons was also approved next year. On 9th December 1996, it was announced that new export licenses were granted for a large number of vehicles, including two Tactica Patrols, two APCs, five EOD vehicles, seven water cannons, and eight command and communication vehicles, totalling 24 Tacticas. The license was granted in advance of the contract, which was signed later. All were delivered before the end of 1997. The company Procurement Services International Ltd acted as a mediator between the Indonesian government and Glover Webb.
Tactica Deliveries to Indonesia
3x Water Cannon
6x Water Cannon
2x 4-seater Patrol, 2x 10-seater APC, 5x EOD, 7x Water Cannon, 8x Command & Communication
The deal was not without controversy. At the time, older British armored vehicles were already used against protesters and, in one notorious incident, three students were killed in South Sulawesi in April 1996. This fueled larger protests in June, in which the new Tacticas were used in Bandung. Eye witnesses stated that the water was mixed with teargas. These matters led to outrage among the British public and human rights activists when the new export license was granted in December 1996. It also led to questions in the House of Commons and, on 21st January 1997, a motion was signed by 75 members calling for the licenses to be revoked. However, the British government stated that they found the evidence inconclusive so the licenses remained effective.
In May 1997, the factory’s security was breached by a group of eleven protesters who heavily opposed the sale to Indonesia. At the site, twenty unfinished armored vehicles were decorated with the slogan: “not for export to Indonesia”. The protestors were later detained by the police.
Once delivered, the Tacticas were taken into use by the Korps Brigade Mobil [English: Mobile Brigade Corps, abbr. BRIMOB], which is the combined tactical, paramilitary, and special forces unit of the Indonesian National Police [abbr. POLRI]. The BRIMOB consists of two branches, Gegana, which is responsible for more specific operations, such as EOD, counter terrorism, and intelligence, and Pelopor, with tasks like riot control, SAR, and guerrilla operations.
The new Tacticas were extensively used to quell any anti-government protests, of which the June 1996 deployment in Bandung is a prime example. In early August 2005, two Tacticas, normally stationed in Aceh, were transferred to Jayapura, the capital of West Papua. This was done in light of heightened tensions between the government and Papuans. The police were instructed to prevent people from participating in public protests and actions. The Tacticas were deployed on a number of occasions, for example, against a large demonstration on 12th August and another one on 31st October, which was a protest against the establishment of the Papuan People’s Assembly. Instead of pure water, the Indonesian police added a mixture of salt or liquid soap to achieve the same effect as teargas. In other instances, a color was added to the water, enabling protesters to be identified later, and consecutively arrested or even tortured.
On 14th April 2010, a riot broke out in Koja, Tanjung Priok, Northern Jakarta, over a land ownership issue. In the heavy clashes between the mob and the police, three members of the municipal police were killed. Some 130 to 231 people, including police, sustained light to heavy injuries. Many police vehicles were destroyed, but it was the first time an armored vehicle was set on fire too, namely a Tactica water cannon.
In the summer of 1997, it was disclosed that nine vehicles were under production for the Argentine United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus [UNFICYP]. In late 1997, these were finished and directly delivered to Cyprus and attached to the United Nations island Mobile Force Reserve [MFR]. The MFR was a multinational infantry company of five officers and a hundred soldiers. The vehicles were stationed at Airfield Camp to the west of Nicosia, but small sections were sometimes sent to other patrol bases in the west [Sector 1] or east [Sector 4].
After twenty years of service, Argentina decided to pull the vehicles out of Cyprus in 2018. On 21st June 2018, the vehicles arrived in the harbor of Buenos Aires. They were then overhauled and repainted by the Batallón de Arsenales 601 [Eng. Arsenal Battalion 601] and attached to the Compañía de Comandos 603 [Eng. Commando Company 603]. The new registrations range between ‘EA 437330’ to ‘EA 337338’.
In 2000, a Ghanese contingent was active in Sierra Leone with UNAMSIL [United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone]. To reinforce this contingent, the UK government agreed to sell 17 Tacticas, divided over 12 APC 14-seaters, armed with a 12.7 mm machine gun; 3 APC 10-seaters armed with a 7.62 mm machine gun; 1 Command APC; and 1 Ambulance. The vehicles were planned to be shipped in four batches to the Sierra Leone capital of Freetown. On 9th July 2000, the first shipment left for Freetown, while the others were planned to leave in September 2000, April 2001, and October 2001. In addition to these 17 vehicles, another 3 Tacticas were shipped to Ghana itself, where they arrived around 13th March 2002 in the city of Tema. These three were all 10-seaters with turrets, but where two had a day/day sight, the third had a day/night sight.
Reportedly, the whole deal was worth GBP£9 million. It is unknown if any of the vehicles were damaged during the deployment in Sierra Leone. Presumably, all returned with the Ghanese contingent to Ghana after the mission was concluded. The Tacticas remain in service with the Ghanese Army, but any details about their distribution among the troops are lacking.
Sometime in the early 2000s, the government of Mauritius placed an order for a small number of Tacticas of both variants, which were delivered in 2003. The specific number is unclear, as various sources give numbers ranging from seven up to twelve or even fourteen vehicles. Based upon the vehicle registrations, which are known thanks to the various photographs, at least nine Tactica’s have been identified, including four APCs and five Patrol vehicles.
In November 2002, the Norwegian Ministry of Defense placed an order for 12 Tactica 2000s in the Explosive Ordnance Disposal [EOD] configuration. They were to be used by the Air Force’s air base security units, with each air base receiving one vehicle. Final assembly, modifications, and training were undertaken by Alvis’s subsidiary in Norway, Alvis Moelv [which existed between 1989-2004].
The local final assembly and various specific requirements gave the Norwegian Tacticas some unique features. The lights were differently designed and placed, additional rear-view mirrors were installed, the number and the size of the windows was changed, and a winch was mounted on the front, below the grille. The ‘Tactica’ nameplate was not mounted on the bonnet, but above the front window.
All vehicles were delivered throughout 2003. In December 2002, the Norwegian Defense Logistics Organization/Land had signed a contract with Kongsberg for the delivery of weapon control systems for armored vehicles. Eight of these new weapon stations, known as RWS-N, were to be installed on Tacticas. The systems would be used for the destruction of mines and other explosives from a distance, by firing on them.
The fact that eight weapon stations were bought for twelve vehicles is explained by the reforms undertaken by the Norwegian Air Force at the time. The total number of air bases was reduced, so only eight vehicles were required. Of the remaining four vehicles, at least three were reconfigured into armored ambulance versions. The other eight were stationed at the air bases. However, soon after, the demining groups of the air base security units were reassigned to wartime groups, meaning they would be inactive during neutral periods. Since then, the Tacticas have been reassigned from active duty to mobile assets and subsequently stored in military depots, in Romerike in the south, and in Bjerkvik in the north. Therefore, the vehicles are rarely spotted and remain some of the obscurest vehicles in use by the Norwegian Air Force. The vehicles received registration numbers ranging from ‘89001’ to ‘89012’.
Norse Tacticas In Chad With MINURCAT
Three of the vehicles that were converted into ambulances saw more use, as they were deployed to Chad with the Norwegian contingent participating in the UN MINURCAT [United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad] mission between 2009 and 2010. The mission was established in September 2007 as an EU-led operation consisting of military and police forces that were meant to protect civilians, refugees, and provide a safer environment in Chad and the Central African Republic, countries which had been destabilized following the civil war in neighboring Sudan. The mission lasted until 31st December 2010.
From the spring of 2009 until May 2010, Norway contributed a field hospital and a well-drilling team to the mission, totalling some 400 people. The field hospital was set up in Abéché in Chad and was staffed by roughly 150 people, as well as additional Serbian personnel. Among the used materiel were the three armored ambulances which allowed safe travel for wounded and sick people. In Chad, the vehicles received special UN registration numbers. The only two observed numbers are ‘UN 01023’ and ‘UN 01024’. Presumably, the third registration number ended with either ‘22’ or ‘25’. It is unknown which original Norwegian registration corresponded to which UN registration.
After the Norwegian contingent returned home, an ambulance with the Norwegian registration ‘89011’ was put on display at the Armed Forces Museum in Oslo. The others have remained in service after deployment, but their status, as of May 2022, is unclear.
Saudi Arabia 
During the late 1990s, Saudi Arabia wanted to acquire many new armored vehicles, mainly for use to protect facilities near Islamic holy sites, such as Mecca and Medina. They were to be operated by the National Guard, also known as the White Army, which consists of active-duty soldiers, but is not attached to the regular army. Its main task is the protection of the Royal Family from internal rebellion or military coups. The initial demand was broadly set for 60 up to 700 vehicles, but potentially up to a 1,000. Comparative tests between the Tactica and the Tenix Shorland S600 in September 1998 had resulted in the decision to acquire Tactica vehicles. According to both companies, their vehicles had been chosen as they offered a versatile chassis that was and could be adapted to many roles. Due to a lack of information, it is unknown if any vehicles were actually delivered. It is likely that, due to financial problems caused by long-term low oil prices, the order was canceled completely.
Since tensions with Iran and the threat of terrorist attacks kept rising, the National Guard of Saudi Arabia announced a new competition in 2005 regarding a large amount of military equipment worth US$900 million. Four companies were invited: General Dynamics Land Systems, Australian Defence Industries [Bushmaster], Steyr-Puch [armored Pinzgauer], and BAE Systems. The original requirement called for 144 armored personnel carriers, 52 armored command & control vehicles, 36 platoon command vehicles, 17 ambulance and evacuation vehicles, and 12 water cannon vehicles, totalling 261 vehicles.
A year later, in 2006, BAE Systems won the tender, although the number of vehicles was reduced to 200, including 108 APCs, 39 command & control vehicles, 27 platoon command vehicles, 17 ambulances, and 9 water cannon vehicles when the final contract was signed in 2007.
To fulfill this order, BAE largely relied on the Flemish company Mol Cy for production and assembly. The Flemish export license, worth €56 million, was granted in December 2007, and production could commence on 116 armored vehicles and 84 assembly kits. A few vehicles were almost completely assembled, but most were only partially assembled, with the chassis receiving components such as axles, engines, brakes, and similar equipment. After this, they were shipped to the United Kingdom for assembly of the armor.
Delivery to Saudi Arabia began in 2009, and in 2010, 157 vehicles had already been delivered and accepted into service. The other 43 were expected to be delivered in the first quarter of 2011, but it appears the last vehicles were only accepted into service in 2012. In Saudi Arabia, the vehicles first went to the Aircraft Accessories and Components Company Ltd. [AACC], where final testing and quality control took place.
In 2010 training was provided by a Short Term Training Team of the Training Wing of the King’s Royal Hussars. For three weeks, personnel of the 1st Crowd Control Battalion received training in Riyadh, and the 2nd CCB received two weeks training after that in Jeddah. The 2nd CCB is involved in the security of the yearly Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina and proved more experienced than the 1st CCB.
Deployment to Bahrain
The export of armored vehicles to Saudi Arabia quickly turned into a sensitive and highly criticized sale, both in the United Kingdom and Belgium, mainly because they were not solely used for domestic law enforcement and protection. In March 2011, in light of the Arab Spring, protests broke out in the small state of Bahrain, in the Arabian Gulf. The Bahraini police forces were quickly overwhelmed, and help was called in from the Gulf Cooperation Council. In response, the United Arab Emirates sent some 500 police, while Saudi Arabia sent some 150 armored vehicles, including a large quantity of Tacticas, on 14th March. The next day, a state of emergency was declared and the armored vehicles saw use in the brutal quashing of the protests. Over two months later, on 1st June, the state of emergency was lifted, but the Saudi National Guard maintained a presence in Bahrain.
Following the 2022 invasion of Ukraine by Russia, Ukraine received large amounts of military equipment through its allies and special organizations. Since several former-British Alvis Tacticas were available on the market, it was just a question of time when the first of this type would be sent to Ukraine. Indeed, one former MDP vehicle, registered ‘170 HYP’, was outfitted with a stretcher to serve as a medevac vehicle. It arrived in Ukraine around September 2022.
Furthermore, in January 2023, the “Together to the Future UA” charity organized a fundraiser to acquire multiple Alvis Tacticas from a Dutch company called Ex US Army Auction. They were intended as protected ammunition carriers for an artillery unit of ВЧ А4100. It is unclear if the fundraiser reached it goals, but the Tactica(s) was sold. Given its appearance, it was likely one of three Tacticas, earlier offered by a Dutch company called D. van Dam. Therefore, it is possible that these three Tacticas have since gone to Ukraine.
Since the late 1970s, the Belgian Gendarmerie [NL: Rijkswacht, a paramilitary police force] had been operating 80 BDX armored vehicles. After the Gendarmerie became a civilian police organization in 1992, the number was drastically scaled-down and, near the end of the 1990s, it became clear a replacement was needed. After evaluating a variety of options, the Alvis Tactica, Vickers OMC RG-12, and the Shorland S600 were selected as potential successors, with the S600 eventually winning.
In May 1995, a temporary export license was granted to deliver Tacticas to Türkiye. However, the vehicle, or possibly vehicles, were returned within approximately three months, suggesting an unsatisfactory trial. A second license was granted in October 1996, but appears to not have been used, suggesting Türkiye eventually did not buy any Tacticas.
Notable Former UK Vehicles in Private Hands
The Tactica was a successful armored vehicle, both regarding its potential in the internal security role, and as a commercial venture, with approximately 350 vehicles sold to nine countries. During its production run, the Tactica changed producers four times, a feat not achieved by many, but this did not hinder its production. As one of the first recipients, the United Kingdom was also the first to retire all their Tacticas from service, but all the other users retain nearly all in service and will likely remain to do so in the foreseeable future.
Specifications (BAE Systems Tactica 2000 APC variant)
5.9 x 2.4 [2.6 including wing mirrors] x 3.0 m
2+12 (driver, commander + personnel)
Angle of approach
Angle of departure
50 cm [max. angle of entry 19º]
Mercedes OM 906 LA turbo-charged intercooled diesel, 6,370 cc, 180 kW @ 2,200 rpm, 900 Nm torque @ 1,200 rpm.
120 km/h on-road
ZF HP 502 automatic 6 forward and 1 reverse speeds
Fully air powered with 4-way protection valve and split system
Independent inter axle and cross axle differential lock capability
German Empire (1916-1918)
Tracked Supply Vehicle – 10 Built
Few dates in the history of the tank are as important as 15th September 1916, the day that the new weapon was unleashed on the muddy battlefields in France. Usually purporting to be at the forefront of military innovations, the German Army now saw itself confronted with a new and powerful weapon. Understanding the tactical importance and potential of these new landships, German military circles demanded the development of a similar vehicle. In the ensuing tank program, the Dür-Wagen was one of the proposed, but ultimately unsuccessful, solutions.
In an attempt to find a good solution, the German War Ministry commissioned several firms to develop a new tank. One of these was the automotive manufacturer Dürkopp-Werke of Bielefeld, North Rhine-Westphalia.
This firm was co-founded in 1867 by Heinrich Dürkopp and Carl Schmidt and originally known simply as Dürkopp und Schmidt, with Schmidt being dropped from the name in 1876, after he left the firm. It began by manufacturing sewing machines and other household items, but later expanded production with the introduction of shoemaking machines and bicycles. In 1896, Dürkopp also entered the new and lucrative automobile market.
In 1914, after a brief hiatus, the entire production line was dedicated to fulfilling military orders. Motorcycles, ambulances, and trucks were among the produced vehicles. In 1916, wheeled artillery tractors were designed in multiple variants, powered by 4-cylinder engines of 80 and 100 hp, which were put into service in 1917.
In this context, the firm was approached by the War Ministry with a contract to design and build a tracked armored vehicle. While having no experience with designing and building this kind of vehicle, the order was further complicated by the demand that the new vehicle had to be used both as an armored fighting vehicle and as an off-road supply vehicle.
This new vehicle was called the Dür-Wagen, Dür being short for the manufacturer, Dürkopp.
Based on appearance, the design team took a hefty dose of inspiration from the Holt caterpillar tractor, in similar fashion to the A7V tank. The reliance on a proven principle is understandable, given the time constraints, as a working prototype was expected in just a few months. The tight deadline was met, however, with the chassis prototype ready for its first tests on 30th January 1917, just four and a half months after the first British tanks were encountered.
During testing, the engineers found that the chassis was too weak to support the mounting of an armored superstructure, thus the idea to build it into a tank was abandoned. Additionally, the vehicle had no specific advantages over the A7V project, so no effort was made to improve the chassis for that purpose. Therefore, it is unknown how the Dür-Wagen would have looked like as a tank, but given the layout, it would have been similar to the A7V.
On 14th May 1917, a demonstration was held in which the Sturmpanzerwagen A7V wooden mock-up, the Orion-Wagen, the Dür-Wagen, and the Treffas-Wagen took part. After these trials, the Oberste Heeres Leitung (Eng. Supreme Army Command, abbr. to OHL) decisively chose the A7V, rejecting the others, including the Dür-wagen.
Also being developed from the Holt design, the layout of the Dür-Wagen was very similar to that of the A7V, except for the engine placement. However, it is unclear what was perceived to be the front or rear of the Dür-Wagen, as the central driver’s position was arranged to allow driving to either side. For simplicity’s sake, this article will consider the engine to be at the front, as this is the same as on the Dürkopp wheeled artillery tractors, and a tow hook was installed on the other side.
The Dür-Wagen was powered by two Dürkopp 80 hp 4-cylinder engines, each powering one track unit, which significantly simplified the steering system. The track unit consisted of a rear-mounted chain-driven sprocket with ten notches to grip to the tracks, a front-mounted idler, a suspension beam with ten road wheels, and a return beam with six return rollers. The tracklinks were very similar to those used on the Holt Caterpillar and the A7V. The vehicle reached a top speed of 14 km/h.
The driver’s position was centered in front of the engine. A bench was placed on either side of the driving controls, to better allow driving to either side. The position was also raised higher than strictly necessary, to allow a better view of the surroundings.
Despite the rejection in the tank program, the design apparently had enough merit to warrant the order of ten Dür-Wagens, but as off-road supply vehicles, known as Dür-Geländelastkraftwagen (Eng. Terrain Truck). The suspension was somewhat redesigned to improve its characteristics. Storage space was available to one side of the central driver’s cabin, and on the other side alongside the engine compartment. The sides of the flatbed were outfitted with wooden panels and the driver’s cabin was protected from the weather with an open canopy.
Dürkopp completed all ten ordered vehicles before the end of the war in November 1918 and they saw limited service with the Army, but it is unknown to what extent. After the war, all vehicles were ordered to be scrapped by the Allied Control Commission in 1919-1920, completely erasing this piece of technical history.
Dürkopp did not develop any other caterpillar tractors during the war. However, in 1924, its Berlin-based daughter company, Comfräsch A.G., introduced a new agricultural tractor, known simply as the Dürkopp-Comfräsch or Comfräsch-Raupe. It featured an engine-powered mechanical lift that could attach a cultivator or plow. The tractor weighed 2,800 kg and was powered by a Dürkopp four-cylinder engine with 50 hp at 800 rpm. Apparently, only two prototypes were ever built and based on the design, it is unlikely that the older Dür-Wagen was its inspiration.
Little is known about the Dür-Wagen, whose design is a small chapter in the very early German tank development of late 1916 and early 1917. With a weak chassis, the vehicle was only suited as an off-road supply vehicle. The A7V program, on the other hand, was more promising and versatile. Nevertheless, the Dür-Wagen was one of only few tracked vehicles built in the German Empire before 1918.
Austro-Hungarian Empire (1915-1921)
Armored Car – 5-7 Built
The Junovicz was the most-widely produced armored car in the Austro-Hungarian Empire during the First World War, although this does not imply much, as just seven (or five) were built. The vehicle was named after its designer, Lieutenant Junovicz, who explored the idea of a universal armored body that had the potential to be fitted to any truck available. Therefore, the vehicles that were built were of an improvised nature, as the chassis remained unchanged and the armored superstructure was of relatively simple construction. Some saw limited use during the war, but in general, details around their deployment are rather obscure.
During 1914 and 1915, the Austro-Hungarian Army Command and Ministry of War received various proposals for armored vehicles to be built, all with varying degrees of potential. Eventually, a design proposed by 1st Lieutenant Engineer Rudolf Junovicz (also written as Junovitz, or Wladimir Junovitz) was approved to be built.
Before the war, Lieutenant Junovicz was an officer with the 70th Infantry Regiment, based in Zagreb (present day capital of Croatia). Thanks to his expertise in automotive technology, he was soon appointed Automotive Officer of the 13th Corps. After the outbreak of war in 1914, he was attached to the workshops of the Hungarian State Railway in Resiczabánya [present day Reșița, Romania], also known as Resicai Állami Vas és Gépgyárban [Eng. Reșița State Iron and Machinery Factory], and placed in command of the repair department. They were tasked to repair both damaged and captured vehicles.
Junovicz’s armored car proposal tied in with his work, in the sense that the armored body was to be able to be fitted on any chassis that could be made available through refurbishment. It is actually unclear when the design plans were ready and proposed. However, given that the Junovicz was a state-approved vehicle, the plans must have been accepted only after the Romfell armored car was inspected in August 1915, as before, the Army was firmly against the concept of armored vehicles which were seen as a waste of perfectly capable trucks. The available sources either give 1915 or 1916 as the date of actual construction, but it is known that production was already underway in the summer of 1915.
The Name Junovicz
Apart from Junovicz or Junovitz, the vehicle is often referred to as P.A.1, which is short for Panzerauto 1 in German or Pancél Auto 1 in Hungarian. This assertion is based on a well-known photograph, where P.A.1 is written on the front of a vehicle. However, the number did not refer to the name of the vehicle, but was rather a tactical number, unique to each vehicle. Every new Junovicz would receive a new number, for example P.A.4, and because of this, it would be incorrect to refer to the Junovicz as P.A.1 as it would only refer to one of the vehicles built.
Due to this misconception, the Romfell is sometimes referred to as P.A.2, which is wrong on several levels, as the Romfell actually preceded the Junovicz, and the entire idea of P.A.1 referring to the Junovicz design is fundamentally flawed. Only the P.A. designation would be correct.
Design Of The Junovicz On Austro-FIAT Chassis
The design of the Junovicz was of an improvised nature, meaning no changes were made to the chassis, engine, or transmission. The armor itself consisted of simple flat plates. The lower half of the armored body was made out of plates, protecting the chassis and drivetrain. The upper half protected the engine and the crew compartment. The armor, of riveted construction, measured 7 mm thick at the front and 5 mm on the rest of the vehicle, providing enough protection against small-arms fire such as rifles fire from a distance.
The radiator in the front was protected by a single armored plate that could be lifted up by a wire from the inside of the vehicle. When not engaged in combat, this plate would be lifted fully upwards, assuring sufficient engine cooling and thus improve engine performance. A small armored plate below the radiator protected the front axle and the steering mechanism. An engine crank was installed just above this plate to manually start the engine. For operations in bad visibility, the vehicle was outfitted with a single headlight, centrally mounted on the front of the bonnet.
Crew and Layout
The driver sat to the front right of the vehicle. His only view to the outside was provided through a small hatch in front of him that folded upwards. When closed, he could only see through a small slit. Presumably the commander sat next to him, who either operated a machine gun through the front firing port, or used that port for observation purposes. In total, the vehicle had six of these firing ports, two on each side, and one on the front and rear. These firing ports could be closed from the inside by sliding down a small armored plate. To the driver and commander’s rear, the compartment housed three gunners, ammunition, the crew’s personal belongings, supplies, and two to four machine guns.
Compared to other armored cars of the time, the Junovicz was generously provided with several crew access hatches with one door in the rear, measuring 115 cm by 65 cm, entry hatches on each side, measuring 60 cm by 75 cm, and on top of that, two hatches located in the roof.
Since the chassis were not modified, the flatbeds of the original trucks were retained, functioning as the floor of the new crew compartment. The standing room was limited to roughly 1.6 m to 1.7 m. Since the flatbed was already high above the ground, roughly 0.8 m, the vehicle reached a total height of about 2.5 m to 2.6 m. The armored body on top of the flatbed was trapezoid-shaped and inclined inwards, creating quite a distinctive shape.
Chassis and Drivetrain
The first three vehicles were based upon the Austro-FIAT 2TV 40 CV, which were produced by ÖAF. These vehicles had a 40 hp engine and delivered power via a differential and chain drive to the rear wheels. These rear wheels, with a diameter of 97.5 cm, were spoked, suspended by a full leaf spring, and protected by an armored plate that could be hinged upwards to provide access for maintenance. The front steering wheels were unprotected, had disc plating to avoid the wheels getting stuck in mud, were suspended by half a leaf spring, and had a diameter of 82.5 cm. All four wheels were shod with solid rubber tires.
The Junovicz Type II or B
Because of the differences in design with later models, the Austro-FIAT-based Junovicz have sometimes been referred to as Type I or A, with the other vehicles referred to as Type II or B.
The Type II’s design was very similar, but looked even less refined than the Type I, featuring even more poorly aligned armored plate lining and curved lower armored plates on the sides. The use of a different chassis also had its effect on the general dimensions.
According to Dr. Heigl in the ‘Militärwissenschaftliche Mitteilungen’ magazine of 1930, one Junovicz was built in 1915 and completed in July, later followed by another two, totaling three vehicles by 1918.
In Austro-German historiography, mainly led by the late Walter J. Spielberger and the late Peter Jung, a total of five were built. However, Hungarian historiography seems to point to seven vehicles being completed, with another two planned but never finished.
The most reliable report appears to come from the Hungarian author Bíró Ádám. He mentions a list of vehicles that were used for the conversions, from which it appears that all vehicles that were used came from the Italian Front. By 1916, the first three vehicles were built upon Austro-FIAT 40 hp chassis, equipped with 16B-18B 4-cylinder engines. One of those had the registration number BII 889 and P.A.1 written on the front. In 1917, a further two vehicles were converted on a Büssing III.A 36 hp and a Saurer 34 hp chassis. In 1918, another four trucks were delivered for conversion, one Berna-Perl 35 hp and a Rába-V 50 hp, which were completed, and two Laurin-Klement 1914Ms, but the latter ones were not assembled.
It seems like Austrian and German historians were aware that two Junovicz were not completed, but not aware that these concerned vehicles to be built on the Laurin-Klement chassis. Instead, they assumed both uncompleted vehicles were the ones based upon the Berna-Perl and the Rába-V, thus reducing the number of seven completed vehicles to five. Based upon this hypothesis, there were indeed seven Junovicz built with two more planned, but due to lack of conclusive evidence, the option of five vehicles built has to remain in consideration.
Year of Production
Austro-FIAT 40 hp
3 [2 quickly scrapped]
Büssing III.A 36 hp
Saurer 34 hp
Berna-Perl 35 hp
Rába-V 50 hp
2 [neither completed]
7 + 2 incomplete
* Primarily according to Bíró Ádám.
Action of P.A.1
After completion in 1915, Junovicz P.A.1 was deployed to Serbia, and later to the Isonzo Front in modern day Italy/Slovenia. At the end of June 1916, it was assigned to the 1st Army and relocated to the northern section of the Eastern Front. Battle reports are scarce, but it was used, as indicated by an October 1916 report that records its use in three patrols, although without encountering any enemy. Overall, the high firepower and provided armored protection were appreciated, but the two-wheel drive and narrow tires made the vehicles unsuitable for soft terrain. It remained on the front until 1st March 1918, when it was transferred to the 6th Army and had to relocate to Udine, in Italy.
This relocation came after the Army High Command ordered the creation of a Panzerautozug 1 [English: Armored Car Platoon 1] on the Italian Front in March 1918. On 1st June, it was officially formed and Landsturm-Lieutenant Robert v. Dirr-Valberg was placed in command. On 10th June, the Junovicz was attached to this platoon, which counted five armored cars by August, including the Junovicz, the Romfell, a captured Russian Austin 3rd Series, a Lancia 1ZM 1st Series, and an Isotta-Fraschini captured from Italy.
Sometime in September or early October 1918, the Lancia was sent away to take part in a training course in Vienna, reducing the platoon’s size to just four armored cars. In light of the deteriorating situation of the front, it is believed the platoon saw no operational use. After the truce, the Romfell and Austin went with Austrian troops to Carinthia. The fates of the Isotta-Fraschini and Junovicz are unknown. They may have been captured by the advancing Entente powers, or were taken to other parts of the former empire.
Action of the Others
A report from 10th August 1915, mentions that two additional armored cars were under construction on a FIAT chassis. In 1916, these two and the P.A.1 were reported to be in the possession of the 12 Etappen-Gruppen-Kommando. However, the extent of their use is unknown and they were dismantled already in September 1916.
In a similar fashion, nothing is known about the two vehicles completed in 1918 on the Berna-Perl and Rába-V chassis. They may have been still in Reșița when the war came to an end. In case these were used, the operator must have been the nascent Hungarian Communist Army. After the defeat of the Hungarian Soviet Government in 1919, they were most likely scrapped by Romania.
A little more is known about the post-war whereabouts of both Junovicz vehicles built in 1917. Around 1919, both were stored at the Kraftfahrzeugdepot Wien Arsenal, where the Lancia 1ZM also was stored. The Lancia was in such poor condition that the armored body was transferred to a Berna-Perl 3t chassis and it had the registration ‘31 851’. The Saurer-based Junovicz had the registration ‘31 850’ and the Büssing-based Junovicz had ‘31 852’.
As stated in the Treaty of Saint-Germain, the Austrian Army was forbidden to develop, build, or use any armored vehicle per 1st October 1920. This was enforced by the Allied Control Commission who ordered at the end of May 1921 that the remaining three armored cars were to be handed over. At the time of this decision, both Junovicz cars were present at the Army Driving School, but were moved back to the depot shortly thereafter.
On 13th June 1921, a French delegation arrived at the depot to confiscate one of the Junovicz. However, they only found the old and dilapidated Berna-Perl Lancia 1ZM and both the Junovicz cars were missing. The French, suspicious about the different location and the lack of a functional armored vehicle, and seemingly unaware of the Lancia’s existence, suspected the Austrians had secretly swapped the functional Junovicz for an old wreck in an attempt to fool them. A technical inspection that followed on 16th June seemed to prove their suspicion as it was determined the Lancia was not a Junovicz.
To mediate between the Austrians and furious French, the British requested the Austrian War Ministry to provide an explanation and a functional vehicle, to which Austria replied on 23rd June that they had already handed over two of their armored cars, while the third had been inspected by the French. Without any more armored vehicles, provision of another functional vehicle would be impossible.
It was eventually revealed that on 4th June, just nine days before the French visited the depot, the depot was already visited by the Italian delegation who had taken both Junovicz cars away, leaving just the Lancia for the French. This settled the French claims, but no Allied delegation was keen to take away the broken Lancia as it would remain in storage until 25th April 1924. After Italy took away both Junovicz in early June, they were most likely disassembled shortly thereafter.
Despite the number of vehicles that were built, the Junovicz saw little reported action with the Austro-Hungarian forces during the First World War. The improvised nature of the design, as well as the bad off-road performance, made the Junovicz a relatively unimportant asset within the army, although the firepower of the vehicle, as well as the provided protection, were appreciated. It appears that all Junovicz were scrapped after the war by Italy and Romania. An unglamorous fate for an unglamorous, but potent vehicle.
Specifications (Junovicz Austro-FIAT):
Dimensions (L x W x H)
5.69 x 1.9 x 2.5-2.6 m
FIAT 4-cylinder, petrol, water-cooled, 40 hp
5 (commander, driver, 3 gunners)
ca. 3 tonnes
2 (up to 3 or 4) machine guns, either Vickers or Schwarzlose M7/12 8 mm
100 Jahre Panzerwaffe im österreichischen Heer, Rolf M. Urrisk, Herbert Weishaupt Verlag, 2006, p.27, 30. Haditechnika, Volume 45, No.4, A Junovitz páncélgépkocsi. Magyar páncélos járművek az osztrák–magyar hadseregben I. rész, Bíró Ádám, 2011, p.73-75. Haditechnika, Volume 45, No.5, A Junovitz páncélgépkocsi. Magyar páncélos járművek az osztrák–magyar hadseregben II. rész, Bíró Ádám, 2011, p.62-64. Kraftfahrzeuge und Panzer des österreichischen Heeres 1896 bis heute, Walter J. Spielberger, Motorbuch Verlag, 1976, p.328-341.
Magyar Warriors: The History of the Royal Hungarian Armed Forces 1919-1945, Volume 1, Dénes Bernád and Charles K. Kliment, Helion and Company, 2015, p.298. Militärwissenschaftliche Mitteilungen, Volume 61, Panzerfahrzeuge 1930, Major a. D. Dr. Heigl, 1930, p.709-712. Panzerfahrzeuge des Österreichischen Heeres, Franz Felberbauer, Motorbuch Verlag, 2018, p.13. Samochody pancerne I wojny Światowej, Witold J. Ławrynowicz and Albert Rokosz, Tetragon, 2020, p.244-247. Stahl und Eisen im Feuer – Panzerzüge und Panzerautos des K.u.K. Heeres 1914-1918, Rudolf Hauptner & Peter Jung, 2003, p.85-93.
The Austro-Hungarian Forces in World War I (part 2) 1916-1918, Men-at-Arms 367, Peter Jung, Osprey Publishing, 2003, p.24, 33.
In 2012, Peru achieved the dubious honor of becoming the largest cocaine-producing country in the world. Most production is concentrated in the Valley of the Apurimac, Ene, and Mantaro Rivers, commonly shortened to VRAEM. The region also houses the last remnants of a Maoist group that fought the Peruvian state between 1980 and 2000, known as the Shining Path. The region is extremely poor, the main motivation that started the lucrative coca production. This gave rise to narco-terrorists groups, which destabilized the region. Only from 2006 onwards did Peru start to pay attention to its poorest region, and initiated the fight against narco-terrorism. This led to the requirement for armored vehicles in 2019, for which the A200 was selected, built by the German company Aurum Security GmbH.
The Peruvian Armed Forces Purchasing Agency (Spanish: Agencia de Compras de las Fuerzas Armadas, ACFFAA) placed an international tender in the first half of 2019 for eight 4×4 armored vehicles for use in the VRAEM region. The deadline was set on 15th July, with the assigning promised to be shortly thereafter. The initial requirements were the following:
Dimensions: not longer than 5.8 m, width between 1.9 and 2.1 m, without turret not higher than 2.5 m.
Accessibility: two side doors, one rear door, two firing ports on each side, one in the rear.
Weight: maximum 6 tonnes, with 950 kg payload.
Crew: one driver and a troop of seven.
Propulsion: at least a 190 hp diesel engine, road speed of 100 km/h, range of 700 km.
Performance: a slope of 60°, lateral gradient 40°, fording depth 65 cm, hydraulic steering, run-flat tires, turret with 7.62×51 mm machine gun mount.
Armor: resistance against 7.62x54R mm API bullets.
Experience: The company must have manufactured and supplied at least a hundred vehicles, similar or more advanced than the set-out requirements, and must support and supply the product.
Delivery time: between the signing of the final contract and delivery should not be more time than three months.
Contenders in Alphabetical Order
The companies that responded to the tender before 15th July 2019 were:
Aurum Security (Germany)
Centigon Colombia S.A. (Colombia)
Centigon México S.A. de C.V. (Mexico)
FNSS Savunna Sistemieri (Turkey)
General Dynamics Land Systems (USA)
Inkas Armored Vehicle Manufacturing (Canada)
International Armored Group (USA)
Katmerciler A.S. (Turkey)
Lenco Industries (USA)
The Armored Group LLC (USA)
Uro Vehículos Especiales (Spain)
Aurum Security Secures the Contract
All the contenders had some form of experience with the construction of military-grade armored vehicles, apart from one: Aurum Security. So, naturally, Aurum was awarded the contract. Aurum had been in business since 2012, but only had experience with the production of armored civilian vehicles. Around 2014, a military armored vehicle, the APC 79, was added to their catalog, but a prototype was never built. When Peru placed the tender, Aurum Security was quick to offer a new concept that had yet to be worked out. This should have been a problem, as Aurum had not already built more than a hundred vehicles, nor had it enough time to finish the design within three months, let alone build eight vehicles. However, for ‘unknown reasons’, the delivery period was extended to nine months, and the requirement for building experience was eliminated from the list of requirements sometime between 2nd April and 5th June 2019. Thus, Aurum’s offer conformed to the requirements that were still standing, and on 1st August, the contract was awarded. The final contract was signed in September.
The original contract, valued at 2,190,000 USD, with each individual vehicle costing 273,750 USD, was for 8 vehicles (2 vehicles to be stationed in Pichari, the center of military activity in the VRAEM, and 6 for general use in the VRAEM). An option was later pursued for 2 extra vehicles. Assuming the price for each vehicle remained roughly the same, the value of the contract would have gone up to 2,737,500 USD. The relatively high cost, together with the questionable circumstances surrounding the contract, caused some controversy in Peru.
Until 2019, the only venture of Aurum Security concerning military vehicles was the APC 79, a conceptual design of an APC on a Toyota Land Cruiser 79 series chassis. It was introduced around 2014 and featured modular armor with protection levels ranging from VPAM 7 to VPAM 10, depending on the needs. It had space inside for ten people, including the driver. A prototype of this vehicle was never built, nor has there been much interest in the design, at least publicly. However, several design elements have been taken over by the A200.
Confusion with the Stark Motors Storm
The three news agencies that reported the most about the A200, with online publications, were Defensa, Info Defensa, and Expreso. Defensa was the first to post an image of the Qatari Stark Motors Storm APC, alongside a news report about the upcoming A200 from 6th August 2019. Expreso followed on 10th August. Info Defensa accompanied their first report from 12th August with a render of the Aurum APC 79 design but began using images of the Storm as well, starting from a news report from 15th August. The first published Storm image included the logo of Aurum in the top-right corner. It is unknown if Defensa made an image themselves, using the Storm as an example of what the future A200 may look like, or if the image was supplied to them by either Aurum Security or the Peruvian Army. Either way, imagery of the Storm was erroneously used when referring to the A200 well into 2021.
Officially, the Stark Motors Storm has no relation to the project by Aurum Security whatsoever, but a close comparison between the two vehicles shows some similarities, such as the general shape and placement of the roof and windows but these similarities are close to unavoidable when considering both share a Toyota chassis.
The A200 is based upon a Toyota Land Cruiser 200 chassis, but with a reinforced structure and improved brakes. The use of a commercially available chassis limits the vehicle to a conventional layout with generic design elements. The vehicle is powered by a 4.5-liter turbo diesel engine (1VD-FTV), with 8 cylinders and 32 valves, displacing 4,461 cc. It has a maximum output of 232 hp at 3,200 rpm. Power is transferred via a six-speed automatic transmission to all four wheels, giving the vehicle, weighing in at 5.6 tonnes, a maximum speed of 110-120 km/h. The vehicle can tow up to 1.2 tonnes.
The suspension consists of reinforced springs and shock absorbers. The wheels are fitted with Goodrich Mud-Terrain T/A KM3 285/75 R16 run-flat tires, allowing for a drive of 50 km after the wheels have been penetrated by shrapnel or bullets.
The crew consists of a driver, sat front-left, and a troop of seven, including the commander. The troop is seated on chairs running down the sides, three on each side, while the commander is seated next to the driver. They enter the vehicle through two side doors and one rear door. Three firing ports have been installed on each side below the windows, as well as one in the rear, totaling seven firing ports. The vehicle is also equipped with an air conditioning and heating system.
Armament and Protection
The A200 features a weapon station on the roof, mounting a 7.62 mm Dillon M-134D/H machine gun. With a rate of fire of 4,000 to 6,000 rounds per minute, it has a range of more than a kilometer. The turret is 38 cm tall, 145 cm wide, and 165 cm long.
The armor can resist explosions of DM51 grenades under the floor and on the roof, as well as explosions of DM31 anti-personnel mines under the floor. It also protects against 7.62 mm x 54R B 32 Armor Piercing Incendiary (API), Full Metal Jacket (FMJ), Pointed Bullet (PB), and Soft Core Bullets. This gives the vehicle a ballistic protection rating of VPAM 10, identical to STANAG 4569 level 1.
The signed contract required delivery in 269 days, close to nine months. However, possibly due to problems created by the Covid-19 pandemic, or problems at Aurum Security, the vehicles were only ready by March 2021, while they should have been finished by August 2020.
Firing tests performed by IABG (Industrieanlagen-Betriebsgesellschaft mbH) subjected the vehicle to six detonations, 550 bullet impacts on potential weak points, and dummies were placed inside the test vehicle to assess if anything would hurt them during firing. All tests were passed successfully.
From 22nd to 26th March 2021, the technical acceptance tests were held at the factory, attended by a technical delegation from the Peruvian Army. The first phase involved checking if all specifications, used materials, and finishes were up to the requirements and of quality. Furthermore, the engine, weight and load capacity, and the electrical system were tested, along with several improvements that had been carried out by Aurum. The second phase involved performance testing on the road and in the field. This included testing of fording depth, obstacle crossing, speed, stability, agility, and robustness, among similar tests.
The final phase included the testing of the armor by Ballistic Material Control Prüflabor (BMC), an independent agency. One door, randomly chosen from one of the vehicles, was subjected to live firing trials. The results were satisfactory, as none of the 7.62 x 54R API bullets penetrated either the metal or glass. It has to be noted in this context that the narco-terrorists, the vehicles were intended to be deployed against, mostly make use of this type of ammunition, fired from PKM guns.
After the testing, the vehicles were prepared for shipping and loaded upon the vessel Resolve, a vehicle carrier. On 7th July, the vehicles were unloaded at the port of Callao. After customs clearance, they were received by Batallón de Material de Guerra de Vehículos No.511 (Eng: War Vehicles Materiel Battalion No.511) and transported to the Headquarters of the II División (Eng: 2nd Division) in Rímac, a city district in Lima. There, they were ceremonially incorporated within the Army on 15th July. The ceremony was also attended by the Minister of Defense and the Executive Commander of the Peruvian Army. After an operation and maintenance course for the future crews, they were to be handed over to the 4th Division. Five of the vehicles were seen during the Peruvian National Holidays on 28th July, during a military parade.
The original plans stipulated that, ten days after their arrival in Lima, they would be sent through to the VRAEM if they passed the tests successfully. Luckily for Aurum, the tests revealed no issues. If a major fault had emerged, they would have been obligated to deliver a replacement vehicle within 30 days at their own expense. Furthermore, if any hidden faults would emerge during their upcoming deployment, for a period of 740 days after their acceptance, Aurum has been obligated to deliver a replacement vehicle within 90 days.
One example, featuring registration EP-52106, was shown by Peru on the military exhibition Sitdef 2021, held from 28th to 31st October 2021 in Lima
In addition to the ten vehicles for Peru, an eleventh company demonstrator was built which was used for further testing and demonstrations. It is unknown if there has been any further interest in the design, either by Peru or other potential customers. On the company’s website, the vehicle is designated as the ‘A-Series’, indicating a variety of chassis can be used in the future. Interestingly, the APC 79 concept is still marketed as a separate vehicle.
Despite the controversy surrounding the contract, Aurum Security seems to have delivered a decent vehicle. The armor proved well-made during testing and protects against the main threats in the VRAEM region. Furthermore, the vehicle conformed and exceeded many of the set-out requirements, meaning the end product was better than required, but also relatively expensive. It was the first order of Aurum Security for a military vehicle, on which they capitalized by building a company demonstrator, to garner future sales.
Aurum Security A200 Specifications
5.15 x 2.05 x 2.32 m
8 (1 driver + troop of 7)
Toyota Land Cruiser 200
1VD-FTV, 4.5-liter, turbo, diesel, 8-cylinder, 232 hp @ 3200 rpm
United Kingdom/Kingdom of Denmark (1932-1937)
Light Tank – 3 Built
The Carden-Loyd Mk.VI tankette was a huge commercial success. Many countries were eager to buy a small armored vehicle that was tracked, armored, and armed, providing the perfect cheap alternative to the expensive tank. In reality, the Mk.VI was far from perfect. Its mobility was inadequate, its armament had limited effectiveness, and its protection was far from adequate. In essence, the Light Patrol Car was to solve all these problems by providing a slightly improved suspension, armament in a fully traversable turret, and a fully armored roof. However, this made it more expensive, which was one of the main reasons just two of them were ever sold.
The Carden-Loyd Mk.VI
The fashion of cheap armored fighting vehicles was initiated by Lieutenant-Colonel and engineer Giffard Le Quesne Martel when he built a one-man tank that was accepted for official trials in December 1925. The publicity that surrounded this vehicle sparked the interest of engineer John Valentine Carden, who had a joint business with Vivian Loyd. In March 1926, they delivered a tankette prototype for official tests, which began the development process that brought forth a large number of prototypes, culminating in the Mark VI in 1928. As Carden-Loyd anticipated large orders, for which the company was too small to fulfill, it was taken over by Vickers-Armstrongs, under which the Carden-Loyd Tractors Ltd. trade brand was retained.
The Mark VI was exported to at least seventeen countries and copies were made in six countries. In 1929, Lieutenant-Colonel Andersen-Høyer of the Danish Army Technical Corps (Danish: Hærens tekniske Korps, shortened to HtK) made a trip to the United Kingdom to study these new military developments. After having observed the Carden-Loyd tankette from Vickers, he was promised the loan of a light tank by the company. The costs for this, £200, were to be refunded if tanks were bought after the loan.
It is unclear if the idea of a tankette with a turret was already discussed in 1929 with the Danish delegation. According to David Fletcher, the idea of a turret came later from the desire to have overhead protection, which was not a standard feature on the regular Mk.VI, although various export versions had overhead covers. It is known that the first prototype was not finished earlier than 1932. It is safe to assume that the decision to design the Patrol Car was Vickers’ own initiative and did not come from a special Danish request.
Design of the Light Patrol Car
The Patrol Car immediately shows its Carden-Loyd lineage, with the characteristic design of the suspension and chassis. Each track system consisted of 129 links, a front-mounted sprocket with 32 teeth, a rear-mounted idler with a tensioner, a return roller which was identical to a regular road wheel, and two pairs of bogies with two road wheels each. The pairs were suspended with flat leaf springs. The bogies were mounted to the suspension beam, which itself was attached to the lower hull with two heavy duty brackets. The leaf spring bogies were soon replaced by new bogies, featuring a new coil spring suspension. This type of suspension was further developed into the Horstmann suspension by John Carden and Sidney Horstmann in 1934.
The widely available Ford Model A engine was chosen for the propulsion. This was a 3.3 l straight-four engine which had a maximum output of 40 hp at 2,200 rpm. The same engine was also used by the Ford AA, hence the engine is sometimes referred to as Model AA as well. It was mounted on the right side of the rear compartment and coupled to the transmission in front of it. As seen on other Carden-Loyd designs, the differential bulged out of the frontal armor and was protected by a removable armored cover. The transmission could be accessed through a hatch. The exhaust protruded out of the transmission compartment just behind this hatch, and ran further down alongside the right side of the rear compartment.
Although data on the dimensions and weight of the vehicle is conflicting between sources, the Danish version seems to have weighed 2.1 tonnes. A figure of 1.93 tonnes is also given, but this may concern a later variant which was changed to make it cheaper. As indicated by the weight, the vehicle was very small for an armored tracked vehicle, with a length of just 2.9 m [figures of 2.59 and 2.75 m are also given], a width of 1.75 m, and a height of 1.65 m.
According to factory specifications, it was able to reach a speed of 45 km/h, but due to bad performance, it is unlikely it ever reached this speed in practical use. With a 45.5 l fuel tank, an operational range of 150 km was achieved. As evidenced by various photographs, it could climb slopes up to 25° [47%].
The left side of the rear compartment was reserved for the crew. The driver sat at the front and was provided with a single vision slit in the frontal plate, which provided just a limited view. The size of the slit could be changed by sliding an external armored cover up or down. If the driver needed a better view, his only way was to slide the top hatch open and stick his head out, blocking the firing arc of the turret and making himself vulnerable to enemy fire.
The commander, who also acted as the loader and gunner of the machine gun, was seated in the turret behind the driver. The turret itself was the most basic version of a design also seen on the commercial light and amphibious tanks. It was round with a square and offset extrusion to the front that housed the gun mount. It was turned by the commander with a manual traverse. An entry hatch was mounted on the turret’s roof and folded forwards.
Armament and Protection
In terms of armament, the Patrol Car was standard issued with a Vickers-Berthier light machine gun, but the eventual fitted gun was up to the choice of the customer. The Danish Army for example, as the sole customer, decided upon the locally manufactured and used Madsen 8 mm. This came at the cost that the regular gun mount was replaced by just two simple vertical slits. One was used to put the gun through and the other to aim through.
Most of the vehicle was protected by 6 mm thick armor plates, with the exceptions of the floor and roof plates, which were just 4 mm thick. The layout of the offset transmission and engine, in combination with the specific suspension, was also utilized by the Carden-Loyd B11E10 three-man carrier, which was delivered to the British testing agency in 1933. Apart from this layout, both vehicles were quite different from each other.
Danish Interest in the Light Patrol Car
In 1928, Denmark bought its first tank, an Italian FIAT 3000, for testing purposes. It went through a large testing program, but unsure what to further do with it, it was removed from service in 1929. Around the same time, several business trips were made abroad to study new military and armored developments and, in 1930, the War Ministry gave the greenlight to begin new armored car trials in 1931. The vehicles tested in this program were known as a Forsøgspanservogn [English: Experimental Armored Vehicles]. The first two armored cars were built locally to keep costs down. A special testing unit was established and existed between July and October 1931.
In May 1932, the unit was reinstated and re-equipped with the two armored cars, which by this time had been modified. Additionally, other cheap armored vehicle solutions were sought and found in the L-210 armored motorcycle from Swedish Landsverk, designated FP3, and the earlier offer from Vickers to test one of their vehicles. In the first half of 1932, Vickers was working on the first Light Patrol Car prototype which was to be sent to Denmark. After some delays, it was finally ready in the summer and arrived in Denmark in August. It came accompanied with a special tracked trailer.
Trials in Denmark
After being temporarily designated FP4 [Forsøgspanservogn 4], it was put to the test over the course of six weeks, but the results were disappointing, to put it mildly. Off-road performance was very poor, the tracks tended to throw themselves off, while steering on roads was practically impossible. However, these technical deficiencies were put aside, motivated by the optimistic idea that the vehicle had not yet been able to show its full capabilities in just six weeks of testing. Furthermore, the Landsverk armored motorcycle had yielded very little results too, so the Patrol Car was still favored over it.
Most importantly, though, was the financial side. Due to political decisions, the Danish Army had little money to spend. The cost for one vehicle was estimated somewhere around 20,000 kroner [circa £1,080] and operating costs were estimated at just 1 krone per kilometer driven, which were both very low for a tracked armored vehicle with a turret-mounted armament. In relative value, this would be roughly US$444,000 in today’s value, and US$22 per kilometer.
An Order for Two
Without another cheap alternative, and hoping new vehicles were better than its first appearance had shown, an order for two was placed at Vickers. These differed in several ways to the tested prototype. The entire layout was changed, with the turret now offset to the right and the transmission and engine moved to the left. This was the most important change, but other differences included new fenders with less steep supports and a curvature to each end, a different gunmount in the turret and additional vision slits for the commander, an added handle on the right side of the hull, and two towing hooks mounted on the rear plate.
These two vehicles arrived in August 1933 and were assigned the registrations FP4 and FP5 and equipped with a single 8 mm Madsen M1924 light machine gun, chambered to fire the Danish standard issue 8×58 mmR cartridges. Another addition were two ramps, carried on either side of the vehicle, which could be manually deployed to overcome trenches or similar obstacles.
It was quickly found that they were in very poor mechanical condition, even up to the point that the Danes began to consider this as a breach of contract. Engineers from Vickers had to travel to Copenhagen several times to fix errors and various teething problems. The main problems occurred with the suspension, the cooling system of the engine, and the exhaust. The training department found the vehicle’s performance hugely disappointing and doubted their usability. The HTK agreed with this, but pointed out that the army was in need of a cheap armored vehicle and for the price, the Patrol Car did its job well as a training vehicle until better alternatives would become available.
During exercises, it was also found that the four-wheeled transport trailers which were delivered together with the vehicles had a problematic performance. An additional problem, although not directly related to the vehicle itself, were the Ford trucks assigned to pull the vehicles, which turned out not to be powerful enough. Trials with International and Fordson trucks resulted in the latter being chosen as a replacement for the Ford.
The Light Patrol Car in Army Service
From the delivery in August 1933, the Patrol Cars remained in service as training vehicles until 1937, when they were stored and designated as beredskabskøretøjer [English: Emergency Vehicles], only to be reactivated in case of special need. This never occurred and FP4 eventually disappeared, presumably to be scrapped. Remarkably, FP5 survived and is on display in the Danish National Military Museum in Copenhagen.
There is a rather amusing anecdote in which the Patrol Car was involved. During training, a conscripted hornblower from the reserves was assigned to the tank unit for communications, as these were not fitted with radios. He sat on top of one of the vehicles and was ordered to blow a signal if a bridge was found intact. Suddenly and out of nowhere, a bag filled with a chalk-water mixture landed next to the tank, giving the hornblower a proper whitewash. Bewildered, he looked up, only to spot a two-decker flying by with the sound of the loud laughter of the flight crew protruding from it, as the engine had been turned off to secretly approach the tank. The poor hornblower reportedly spent the rest of the exercise cleaning his uniform while the vehicle was ‘put out of action’ by the bomb.
Besides Denmark, the Light Patrol Car attracted no further commercial interest, especially since its cost exceeded a £1,000, which was still relatively cheap, but more expensive than the regular Mk.VI tankettes. Therefore, the decision was made in 1933 to offer a cheaper version with thinner armor and the older and cheaper leaf-spring suspension. By this, cost was brought down to £700, while an optional cupola with bullet-proof glass visors was offered for £50 extra. Despite an advertisement campaign, showing a drawing with a dramatic deployment of a patrol car during a protest, none were ever sold.
It is sometimes suggested that Finland, Sweden, and Portugal also bought a prototype each, bringing the built number up from three to six vehicles, but this appears to be false information. Indeed, Finland bought three Vickers-Carden-Loyd tanks in 1933, but these concerned the Commercial Light Tank M1933, the Light Amphibious Tank M1931, and the Mk. VIB tankette. Similarly, Portugal acquired six Mk.VI tankettes in 1931 and Sweden two Mk.VIs in the early 1930s, including a unique variant, but neither bought the Patrol Car.
Poland is sometimes suggested as being yet another evaluator of the Patrol Car. Notably, the comparable TKW was developed there, but it appears that its development coincided, or even predated the Patrol Car and there is no supporting evidence that the Patrol Car was ever tested by Polish authorities.
A Political Scandal
In 1932, a small-scale scandal erupted when Vickers-Armstrongs placed a page-sized advertisement for the Patrol Car in the German military magazine Militär-Wochenblatt. This was considered as a direct advertisement for Germany which was prohibited to own any tanks under the Versailles Treaty. After questioning in the House of Commons, the government had to clarify that no British arms were exported to Germany, while the Militär-Wochenblatt stated that the advertisement was aimed at foreign readers of their magazine.
On 28th March 1934, the issue was further discussed at the annual meeting of Vickers Ltd. when the Chairman of Vickers, Sir Herbert Lawrence was challenged on it. He defended the accusations by stating that Vickers would do nothing without the explicit sanctioning and approval of the British government. Upon further questioning by Dame Rachel Crowdy, he replied: “I regret that the advertisement ever was placed in a German newspaper, but the reason for it was that the newspaper in question was the only one with a circulation in South America, where we were very anxious to establish contacts; and it also had a circulation in Northern European countries. But it had no reference to supplying Germany with arms themselves.”
When Dame Crowdy asked whether Germany ever showed interest in the vehicle, the simple answer was no.
In the end, the Light Patrol Car was just one of many options developed by Vickers-Carden-Loyd and put up for sale in their ever growing commercial catalog of armored vehicles. While it seemed to deliver a promising upgrade over the original Carden-Loyd Mk.VI on paper, it turned out to be a technical failure in reality. For a turret-equipped tracked vehicle, it was cheap, but the more expensive light tank series was favored over it by many customers, which was certainly a better option. This was experienced by Denmark, whose two vehicles performed subpar and were considered useless in any tactical deployment. Nevertheless, their importance in the Danish Army should not be understated, as they provided good training experience. Unfortunately, they would never use this experience, as the Danish government capitulated almost immediately when they were invaded by Germany in April 1940.
Light Patrol Car specifications
2.9 (or 2.59) x 1.75 (1.96 with boards) x 1.65 m
Total Weight, Battle Ready
1930 kg or 2100 kg
2 (commander/gunner, driver)
Ford Model A engine, water-cooled, 40 hp
45 km/h [30 mph]
45.5 l [10 gal]
1x Vickers-Berthier MG or 8 mm Madsen M1924
front, side, and rear 6 mm; roof and floor 4 mm
Drostrup, Ole. Panser i Danmark. Træk af vort panservåbens historie 1918-1978, Lindhart og Ringhof, 1980 (2021 eBook version), ISBN: 978-8726582529.
Finsted, Per. Carden-Loyd kampvognen i Danmark, chakoten.dk.
Finsted, Per. “Om dansk rytteri 1932-1940, Del 1-4.”
Fletcher, David. Mechanised Force: British Tanks Between the Wars, The Stationary Office, 1991.
Foss, Christopher & Peter McKenzie. The Vickers Tanks: From Landships to Challenger, Haynes Publishing Group, 1988, ISBN: 978-1852601416.
Greve Sponneck, W. “Rytteriets Panservognskompanier.” In Danmarks Hær”, edited by Hektor Boeck, S.E. Johnstad-Møller, and C.V. Hjalf, 228-230. Copenhagen: Selskabet til Udgivelse af Kulturskrifter, 1934.
Seldes, George. Iron, Blood and Profits: an Exposure of the World-Wide Munitions Racket, Harper & Brothers, 1934. http://armyvehicles.dk/cardenloyd.htm http://historicalstatistics.org/ used to convert currency.
German Empire/United States of Mexico (1913-1914)
Armored Car – 2 Built
Before World War 1, armored vehicles had not yet come into fashion. Still early in their development, they could not yet prove their technical and tactical capabilities, but this did not prevent individuals and companies from building new vehicles. One of the companies that decided to build armored vehicles before the war was the German car manufacturer Protos Automobile GmbH based in Nonnendamm and subsidiary of Siemens-Schuckertwerke. At least two vehicles were built and sold to Mexico, the first German armored cars to be exported and see active, albeit limited service.
An Unknown Start
Nothing is known about the development of the Protos Panzerauto, but it presumably came to light as a private initiative, like many other armored vehicles before World War 1. The possibility that it was originally ordered by the German military is incredibly slim, as the armored car concept had been rejected some years earlier. When trials were held in 1909 with three armored cars, a German Daimler model and two French CGV 1906s, as well as one unarmored car, the German high command decided against their adoption. The armor was considered an unnecessary burden to the mobility of a vehicle, without providing sufficient protection. The lack of off-road capabilities and high maintenance costs were also decisive factors.
The Manufacturer Protos
The Motorenfabrik Protos was founded in 1899 by Dr. Alfred Sternberg. Initially, vehicles with small 1-cylinder engines were produced, but Sternberg started the development of larger and more powerful engines. Soon after, he introduced a 2-cylinder engine and in 1904, a 30 hp 4-cylinder engine. An improved model of this engine came out later and was able to produce 42 hp. This engine was used in E1 model cars. It seems that production of these models started in 1906 when the workshop moved to Reinickendorf, Berlin. In the summer of 1908, Oberleutnant Koeppen used a Protos E1 to win an automobile race around the world, leading Protos to become a renowned brand.
In October 1908, Protos was bought by the Siemens-Schuckertwerke [SSW] and became a division of that company. Manufacturing moved from Reinickendorf to SSW in Nonnendamm, Berlin. SSW had already been producing electrical vehicles and now, with the acquisition of Protos, also got a strong petrol car construction branch.
Design of the Panzerauto
The design of the vehicle was quite simple and, in some ways, everything that is to be expected of an early armored car. It was based on a regular commercial chassis, a Protos 18/42 Typ E1 that was first introduced in 1906. The 4 cylinder, 4.56 l petrol engine produced 42 hp and was placed at the front, protected by armor. It could be accessed via hatches from either side, which hinged upwards. The armored louvers on the front could be closed from within the crew compartment by a special bar placed over the engine compartment. Two large headlamps were mounted on the front of the vehicle, while two smaller ones were fixed just behind the engine, on the crew compartment.
The headlamps were of the acetylene type, known as ‘carbide lamps’. They worked by putting a piece of calcium carbide on the bottom while water was placed in the top part. This would drip down on the carbide and the chemical reaction that follows would form acetylene gas, which was lit, producing the light.
The crew compartment was located behind the engine. The driver sat on the right and could see through two large hatches in the front and a small closable hatch on his right hand side. No vision slits were made in the front hatches, so they could not be fully closed during driving. To the left of the driver, there was space for another crew-member, likely a commander or observer, but he would have blocked the sole entry point of the vehicle.
The whole crew had to enter through a door on the front left side of the hull. Central in the crew compartment, on a raised platform, stood a water cooled 7.92 mm MG 08 machine gun on a pedestal which could also be used against elevated targets, such as potential aerial targets. When standing on the platform, the gunners and crewmembers would largely be exposed to enemy fire, but the machine gun was equipped with a gun shield to provide at least some protection. Furthermore, on both sides of the vehicle, two small closable hatches were located, which could be used by the crew to see through, or potentially to fire through with handheld weapons. Apart from the driver and commander/observer, there was room for at least six more men, including the gunners.
It is unknown what the rear looked like, since there are no photographs or descriptions of it, but photographs from the side and top seem to suggest that it was a flat vertical panel.
The wheels were shod with, what appear to be, regular pneumatic tires and suspended by leaf springs. The vehicles had common wooden spoked wheels, which were possible to be protected with an armored disk as seen on one photograph.
In terms of armor, a figure of 3-4 mm is given. If this is true, this would have been inadequate to effectively act as armor, as many projectiles would be able to penetrate it. Without being able to provide proper protection, the weight of the armor would only act as a disadvantage for the vehicle, making it unnecessarily heavy. That said, a variety of early armored vehicles were very thinly armored, like the Austro-Daimler Panzerautomobil with just 4 mm and the Ehrhardt BAK with just 3 mm, to name a few.
In case the given figure is wrong, one expects at least 6 mm of armor, the minimal thickness required to expect decent protection against bullets, at least when high quality steel is used, like a chrome-nickel alloy. Most armored cars that were built since 1914, although not all of them, featured at least 6 mm of armor plating.
In 1910, a revolution broke out in Mexico. Armed forces, led by Francisco Madero, Pascual Orozco, and Pancho Villa, engaged with government troops to contest the regime of President Porfirio Díaz following rigged Presidential elections. Díaz was forced to resign in May 1911 and went into exile. New elections in October made Madero the new president of Mexico. His presidency was tumultuous and, as former President Díaz put it, Madero had unleashed a revolutionary force he was not able to control.
During the Ten Tragic Days in February 1913, Madero and his Vice President were forced to resign and were assassinated after a military coup led by General Victoriano Huerta, supported both by the United States (until March) and the German Empire. In this context, at least two Protos Panzerautos were ordered by Huerta in early 1914. They were shipped to the port city of Veracruz, where they arrived either in July or early August.
However, on 15th July, Huerta was forced out of office by a coalition of several revolutionary forces that included the Constitutionalist Army of Venustiano Carranza, the Zapatistas of Emiliano Zapata, and the Villista of Pancho Villa. The Federal Army was officially dissolved on 13th August. Therefore, the Protos never saw any service with the Federal Army of Huerta. When the vehicles were transported from Veracruz to Mexico City, where they were unloaded at the Buenavista Railway Station, they fell into the hands of the Constitutionalist Army of Venustiano Carranza, which had entered Mexico City on 20th August. On 16th September, a Protos was used during a parade through the streets of Mexico City.
Shortly after the defeat of Huerta, the revolutionary coalition was dissolved and the Constitutionalist Army of Carranza saw itself fighting against the Conventional Army of Pancho Villa and Zapata. Based on photographic records, the Protos did not see much fighting. Instead, one seems to have broken down as, in one image, attempts can be seen to tow it away, while in another image, the rear axle is visibly broken. This was probably because the chassis was overloaded by the combined weight of the armor, machine gun, and the crew. Eventually, the vehicle was stripped of its accessories, including the headlamps and the armament. In this sorry state, it was likely captured by the Conventional Army when they entered Mexico City in December 1914. The vehicle disappeared afterwards and was probably scrapped. If the second armored car saw any service beyond 1914 is unfortunately unknown.
The Protos and Other Armored Vehicles in Mexico
The role of armored vehicles during the Mexican Revolution is very obscure and unfortunately ill-documented. It is for sure that by 1913, at least one armored train was used and that by 1914, three armored cars were in use, including two Protos in Mexico City and another armored vehicle in Northern Mexico that was used by the Brigada Zaragoza. This particular vehicle was also capable of traveling by rail. Later, the Salinas tank was built in 1917 by TNCA. Furthermore, around 1920, at least two other armored car designs were produced, and several features of these show a striking resemblance to the Protos. Both Protos vehicles, like most of these other armored vehicles, seem to not have been used extensively, probably due to the early breakdown of one.
A German Vehicle?
For a while, it was thought that a third Protos Panzerauto was built and used by Germany against the Russian Empire in the First World War. A wartime Russian publication called The Mirror published two photographs of a Protos, reportedly after capture. There is, however, no further evidence to support this claim, and these appear to be pre-war photographs. The photographs appear to show a unique Protos, with protective discs put over the spoked wheels and armor that extends over the rear wheels. However, this could well be explained by the notions that the discs were easily demountable, while the rear armor was maybe an earlier or later design iteration proposed by Protos, but never adopted. Provided the relatively poor quality of the pictures, contemporary manipulation of the photographs should be taken into consideration as well.
There is clear evidence for at least one armored vehicle that was present in East Prussia in the early days of the First World War, namely an armored truck of the Benz-Werke Gaggenau. The Protos joins the list of two French Charron Girardot Voigt 1905 models which were possibly still available as well, but there is no further evidence to purporter either claim.
The current knowledge on the Protos Panzerauto mainly stems from the available photographs, once again highlighting the importance of imagery for our understanding of the past. Long forgotten, the vehicle was rediscovered relatively recently and is gradually receiving more attention. The vehicle was a typical early armored vehicle, with some design issues, including an overly exposed armament. It was the only armored car designed by Protos, one of the first armored vehicles deployed during the Mexican Civil War but, just like the others, still shrouded in mystery.
Approximate Dimensions [LxWxH]
4,5 x 1,8 x 2 m [14.8 x 5.9 x 6.6 ft]
4-7? (driver, commander, 2-5 gunners)
Protos 18/42 PS, 4-cylinder, 4.56 l, petrol, 42 hp
3-4 mm [0.12-0.16 in]
1x 7.92 mm MG 08 machine gun
Mexican Protos Armored Car – National Army (Ejército Nacional). México, 1914, José Luis Castillo, 13 December 2011, armoredcars-ww-one.blogspot.com. Panzerauto Protos (German Armored Car) M1913, José Luis Castillo, 22 January 2015, armoredcars-ww-one.blogspot.com. Panzerkampfwagen: im Ersten Weltkrieg, Typenkompass, Wolfgang Fleischer, 2017, Motorbuch Verlag. Panzer-Kraftwagen: Armoured Cars of the German Army and Freikorps, Tankograd 1007, Rainer Strasheim, 2013, Verlag Jochen Vollert. Siemens Zeitschrift Juli 1925: Die Geschichte des Protoswagens, Dipl.-Ing. M. Preuß, Automobilwerk der SSW, Siemens Automobilmotoren, bungartz.nl. “Autos aus Berlin: Protos und NAG” von Hans-Otto Neubauer, Verlag W. Kohlhammer GmbH, Stuttgart 1982, Protos Motoren Vorgänger der Siemens-Motoren, bungartz.nl.
The Protos: Siemens as an automobile producer, Siemens Historical Institute 2018, pdf.
Republic of India (2012)
Armored Anti-Terrorist Vehicle – 1 Prototype Built
Few armored vehicles are as unique or captivating as the Mini Bullet Proof Vehicle [MBPV] announced by the Indian automotive manufacturer Tata in 2012. Described as an anti-terrorist vehicle fit for indoor use, the Tata MBPV formed a unique class in the ever growing field of commercial armored vehicles. Just a quick glance at the vehicle can leave one wondering whether this kind of vehicle has any potential of operational success, or if it is not more than a joke. However, a more detailed understanding of the vehicle makes it clear that it came about as a thoughtful solution to a genuine threat. Indeed, the broader Indian Anti-Terrorist Vehicle [ATV] program, in which the MBVP was developed, eventually introduced a similar, but larger and tracked vehicle into service with Indian security forces.
The 26/11 Mumbai Attacks
On 26th November 2008, India was shook by a brutal terrorist attacks in Mumbai performed by ten Pakistani members of the Lashkar-e-Tayyiba terrorist group. They had infiltrated the city first by hijacking a fishing boat, killing the crew, and separated into groups utilizing hijacked cars. After multiple attacks at public places, the terrorists attacked and infiltrated a Jewish community center, and two hotels. The following siege of these places lasted three to four days. The aftermath of the attacks was devastating. In total, 166 people were killed, including 20 security force personnel and 26 foreign nationals. Of the ten gunmen, nine were killed as well, while the other was later sentenced to death. More than 300 people were wounded.
The 26/11 attacks immediately led to a significant increase in tensions between India and Pakistan, while the Indian government set a series of safety measurements into motion. Furthermore, the Indian government and security forces began to analyze the unfolded events and identify mistakes, also seeking improvements not only in training and tactics, but in equipment too. One asset which the Indian special forces strongly desired was a mobile protective solution that could assist in indoor combat against insurgents. At the time, nothing like this was available, either from the military or the international commercial market.
The ATV Program
To meet the new requirement, an Anti-Terrorist Vehicle [ATV] development program was set up by the Vehicles Research Development Establishment of the Defense Research and Development Organization [VRDE-DRDO]. The VRDE was assisted by several commercial companies. Three designs were pursued, namely the ATV Tracked, the ATV Wheeled, and the ATV Wheeled Electrical. The latter was developed in cooperation with Tata Motors Defense, which referred to the vehicle as Mini Bullet Proof Vehicle [MBVP].
The vehicles had to be as small as possible in order to allow operations inside buildings with narrow corridors and gullies. They had to be able to take stairs, and provide protection to two or three occupants. This was formulated as follows:
Terrorist strikes in Urban areas have brought a new challenge before security forces. The aftermath of 26/11/2008 terrorist attack on Taj hotel and other places in Mumbai, dictated the need for an agile, compact weight and dimensional profile, highly maneuverable armored envelope adequately protected to carry 2/3 persons in hostile environments, especially in the corridors of buildings, small gullies, constrained spaces of hideouts, etc. for Anti-Terrorist operations.
In cooperation with commercial Indian manufacturers, three vehicles were designed and built, separated into a tracked, a wheeled, and an electrical wheeled vehicle, the latter in cooperation with Tata. Outside this official program, the Indian company Metaltech Motor Bodies Pvt Ltd launched the A-TAC, the Anti-Terrorist Assault Cart, in 2010. It was very similar to the requirements laid out in the ATV program, but seems to have been developed on private initiative and was not adopted.
In 2012, Tata was ready to show its prototype.
Thanks to its small size, the design was kept very simple. Essentially, it was not more than an armored cabin on four independently suspended wheels. Each wheel, shod with pneumatic tires, was sprung by a coil spring, mounted to brackets extruding from the side armor. This type of suspension also allowed the vehicle to drive up stairs. To ensure a small turning circle, all four wheels were steered, which is quite essential in confined spaces with tight corners. However, as a drawback, the vehicle became relatively wide.
This was all powered by a small electrical engine, which gave the vehicle the slow maximum speed of 20 km/h, but this was sufficient for the intended use. An important feature was that an electrical engine is much quieter than a conventional combustion engine, which could enhance its tactical operations. The engine was coupled to lithium-ion batteries, enabling intermittent use of 6 hours. These batteries could be charged via a connector mounted in the frontal armor plate, next to a ventilation grille.
The vehicle was just big enough to accommodate two people, a driver seated at the front and a gunner seated or standing behind the driver. The entry point was a large door in the rear. Steering was done with a single joystick, centrally mounted at the front. It was complemented by a small control panel on the right. For vision, a large bulletproof window was installed in the front, two smaller ones on each side, and another small one in the rear door. Despite this, the driver still had some major blind spots to either side.
A hatch was installed on the roof, which could serve several purposes, such as a fighting position, an observation post, or potentially even to throw grenades out of.
Firepower and Protection
Although without any fixed armament or weapon station, the MBPV had six firing ports, two in each side, one below the front window, and one in the rear entry door. They had external round covers that could be swiveled open from the inside. The occupants could fire through these with any of their light personal weapons.
The armored plates were bolted to an internal structure and partially welded together. A thickness was never specified, but the plates were claimed to be bulletproof against small arms fire and small blasts. This was a realistic approach, as the vehicle would likely not face any terrorists with larger weapons. To slightly increase the effectiveness, the plates were angled, while the angle on the roof assured no explosives would keep laying there when thrown on top of it. The floor plates were also slightly angled in order to deflect the blast from an explosion underneath.
Introduced to the World
The vehicle was presented to India and the world at DefExpo 2012, a biannual defense exhibition held in New Delhi. At the event, the managing director of the India Operations of Tata Motors, mr. P.M. Telang, stated:
The launch of our new combat and tactical vehicles and equipment, leveraged from our strength in design and development of a wide range of commercial vehicles, now enables us to cover the entire defense mobility spectrum. Tata Motors Defense Solutions already covers the complete range of logistics and armored vehicles that have also been popular in supporting the police and paramilitary forces in counter insurgency operations.
Unfortunately for Tata, the MBPV was not chosen for the ATV program, and India’s Security Forces opted for the tracked variant instead. What happened to the MBPV prototype is unknown. The likely option is that it was scrapped since the design was never publicly offered commercially by Tata, but chances are it may have survived in a storage depot.
The entire vehicle concept, as well as the vehicle in itself, have been doubted by many for having little to no merit. To an optimist, this kind of vehicle would form a valuable asset in anti-terrorist units, thanks to the added operational protection in confined spaces, such as shopping malls or train stations. To a pessimist, this vehicle is absolutely useless, providing little more additional protection than, for example, a simple bulletproof vest or shield. Either way, the vehicle was certainly great for the average armor humorist, and it has been the subject of scrutiny, jokes, and sarcasm.
As a concept, the Anti-Terrorist Vehicle certainly has merit. Against lightly armed terrorists, lightly armored vehicles provide needed protection for security forces. This cannot be delivered by conventional armored vehicles, which would not be able to operate indoors or in public spaces, which are just the places where terrorists are to be expected. However, although sounding good in concept, such a vehicle has many drawbacks in practice, and several of these can be applied to the MBPV too.
Within a confined space, it is key to properly be able to see and analyze the surroundings. For the crew of the MBPV, this must have been difficult, as the windows left some major blindspots. This problem would be less significant if the vehicle was supported by special forces advancing behind the vehicle, using it as an armored shield. But this raises the question of whether a simple and much cheaper movable armored shield would suffice too.
Anyone familiar with the British TV-series of Top Gear will probably recall the time that one of the former hosts, Jeremy Clarkson, built and drove the smallest legal car possible. While it worked and was legal to go on the road, it could barely be considered a functional vehicle. To all intents and purposes, the MBPV gives off a similar sentiment. It conforms to the request and may be somewhat useful in specific instances, but is hugely outplayed in other instances, while even in areas it would be useful in, it could easily be replaced by a cheaper or more versatile solution.
For example, a somewhat similar vehicle is The Rook, made by the US Company Ring Power Tactical Solutions. In essence, this is an armored Bobcat, which can be adapted to a large variety of protected emergency roles with mission-specific attachments. Another option would be a remotely controlled vehicle. By 2012, these were already wide in development.
The 26/11 attacks shook India, possibly as much as 9/11 shook the United States. The ATV program was one of many new developments that directly originated from the gruesome experience gained in the attacks. The MBPV was one of the three submissions to this program, as the wheeled electrical variant, but the tracked variant was favored over it. Whether this decision was made on the basis that the MBPV performed badly, or if the tracked version was simply better, is unknown. However, Tata never added the vehicle to their catalog, suggesting the vehicle itself was a failure. Indeed, without taking the ATV program into account at all, the whole vehicle is quite useless, and even within the set boundaries, the MBPVs effectiveness was limited. Although it probably is not worth all the scrutiny it has received, the MBPV cannot be considered a successful vehicle in any regards.
Kingdom of the Netherlands (1945-1972)
Armored Car – 300 Acquired, Circa 120 Operated
With the end of the Second World War, large amounts of worn out Allied materiel were amassed into dumps in Europe. Some of these dumps were located in the Netherlands and mainly consisted of former British and Canadian materiel and vehicles. As the Dutch Army had to be completely rebuilt, it was considered a good start to acquire the surplus materiel from the dumps. This way, the Dutch laid their hands on some 300 Otters, although a much smaller number was actually taken into service with the Royal Marechaussee (Dutch gendarmerie force with both military and civil duties), while others were used for training. Some were also sent to Indonesia in 1949 and Suriname in 1960.
The Canadian GM Otter
By 1941, the British and Commonwealth Forces were in need of light armored reconnaissance cars. To meet the demand, a new production line for this type of vehicle was set up in Canada. The design principles of the British Humber Mk.III LRC were taken and modified to fit on the Canadian-built Chevrolet C15 Canadian Military Pattern (CMP) trucks. Compared to the Humber, the Otter was a bit longer, higher, and a ton heavier. Although powered by a 104 bhp General Motors petrol engine, it performed worse than the Humber, but to a certain extent still satisfactorily. During the war, the Otter was deployed by British, Greek, and Commonwealth Forces, like South-Africa, New-Zealand, and Canada, in the Mediterranean and Europe. Production started in 1942 and a total of 1,761 were built, although fewer than 1,000 actually left Canada to see combat.
The Otter featured a crew of three, with a driver in the front right, a commander to his left, and a gunner manning the centrally mounted turret. By default, a Bren machine gun was mounted in the turret, while a Boys anti-tank rifle was fitted through a hatch in the front armor plate. Otters in Dutch service never featured the Boys rifle. In terms of armor, the Otter was protected by plates between 8 and 12 mm thick.
On 4th December 1944, the Centrale Intendance- en Cantine Dienst (Eng: Central Intendance and Canteen Service, abbreviated to CICD) was established. This new branch of the Dutch Army became responsible for the various tasks related to equipping and maintaining the Dutch Army. However, the Allies still largely supplied the Dutch Army until 1st November 1945. By then, the CIDC became fully responsible and took over all supply tasks. Consequently, the name was changed to Dienst van de Kwartiermeester Generaal (Eng: Service of the Quartermaster General, abbreviated to DKMG or KMG). The tasks of the KMG were described as “managing, distributing, and repairing materiel that was needed for the Army”.
In the Netherlands, large war materiel dumps and storage depots were located near the cities Deelen, Enschede, Grave, Alverna, and Nistelrode. British and Canadian materiel was stored here, although vehicles were only stored in Deelen and Enschede. Initially, it was the KMG that placed individual orders with the Canadian government to buy material from these dumps, including roughly 100 Otters. But, on 2nd January 1946, a special commission, known as the Bijzondere Aankoop Commissie (Eng: Special Purchase Commission, abbreviated to BAC) was established, which was specifically tasked with ordering and taking over materiel bought from the Canadian Department of Reconstruction & Supply. Earlier acquisitions by the KMG were also handled by the BAC. Most of the materiel that was bought by BAC came from the dumps in the Netherlands, but also the United Kingdom and Belgium, among other places. The order for 100 Otters was also further handled by the BAC.
In May 1946, the Dutch and Canadian governments concluded a so-called ‘Overall Deal’. Among other things, this deal agreed that the vehicle dumps of Deelen and Enschede would be fully taken over by the Dutch government. The transfer took place on 23rd May, and the Dutch became the owners of roughly 34,000 demobbed vehicles from the Deelen dump and another 3400 from the Enschede dump. Some 300 Otters were located at the Deelen dump, including the 100 that had already been ordered earlier.
In total, the Dutch Army and Police took over some 12,000 of these vehicles. All the armored vehicles, tracked vehicles, and artillery vehicles were transferred to a new vehicle pool in the city of Stroe, initially known in English as the 2nd Netherlands Vehicle Pool. It was later renamed in Dutch to 2e Voertuigenpark, meaning the same.
Rebuilding the Dutch Army and its Cavalry Branch
With the defeat of the Dutch Army in May 1940, the government went into exile in Britain. During the war, plans were drafted for the rebuilding of the Army once the Netherlands was liberated. Generally, it was thought to reform the Cavalry into a reconnaissance force. The actual rebuilding of the Cavalry and equipping it with armored vehicles can mainly be credited to Major J.J.G. Beelaerts van Blokland. He had been a commanding officer in the Princess Irene Brigade, a small Dutch unit that played a small part in the Allied war effort.
After some fruitless efforts to establish a new armor school in 1945, Beelaerts was offered space at the Cort Heyligers Barracks, an infantry depot, in the city of Bergen op Zoom. The establishment was approved by the Bevelhebber Binnenlandse Strijdkrachten (Eng: Commander of Domestic Forces) and officially founded on 18th June 1945. On 25th June, the first officers assembled. With help from Prince Bernhard, who had good relations with Beelaerts, the first armored vehicles were loaned from the British/Canadian Army. This included three Staghounds, three Humber LRCs, six Universal Carriers, four motorcycles, and two trucks. More vehicles were acquired in the following months. In December 1945, the Armor School relocated to the Willem III Barracks in the city of Amersfoort. Here, they would also go on to acquire Otters for training from the Deelen dump. In May 1946, the school used 61 Otters, while another 24 were present but out of use. The Otters that were used by the Cavalry Armor School came from the Koninklijke Marechaussee (Eng: Royal Marechaussee, shortened to KMar) reserves.
Use by the Dutch Army
The initial order of 100 vehicles was placed in the interests of the KMar. In January 1946, these Otters became available, although they were lacking part of their ancillary equipment, such as headlights and toolboxes. Near the end of 1946, another twenty followed. They were acquired to equip eight squadrons, including three for the Mobile Brigade of the KMar. The Royal Marechaussee was responsible for providing support to the regular police forces in case of national unrest, which was expected by the Dutch government in the immediate postwar era. One such squadron consisted of a Command Group with two Otters, four platoons with three Otters each, one storm platoon with four GM C15TA armored trucks, and a supply train with two trucks. With three of these squadrons, there would have been 42 Otters in operation. The remainder was placed in reserve and used for training.
In May 1948, the Dutch Army had 356 light armored cars of the Humber Mk.III LRC, Standard Beaverette Mk.IV LRC, and GM Otter Mk.I types. In 1949, 21 Otters were shipped to Indonesia. By April 1951, the total number of all vehicles combined had been reduced to 105 vehicles, including 1 Humber, 11 Beaverettes, and 93 Otters, while the single Humber was planned to be scrapped that same year. In November 1954, the total number of Otters had been reduced to just 60.
Shortly after 1948, the Mobile Brigade was disbanded and the Otters were reformed into eight platoons which were then divided over the various divisions. Another platoon was added later and in 1955, there were nine platoons, numbered from 951 to 959. Such a platoon consisted of two motorcycles, one C15TA armored truck used as a command vehicle, six Otters, and a Dodge 3-tonne truck. In total, 54 Otters were operational. In 1958, the platoons were renumbered from 461 to 469, but apart from that, nothing changed. However, two years later in 1960, five platoons, namely 462, 463, 467, 468, and 469, were disbanded. This reduced the total number of operational Otters to 24. Of the other 30, 7-8 were sent to Suriname, while the remainder were cannibalized for spare parts. At least two hulls are known to have ended up as military range targets.
In 1966, the Dutch government placed an order for 266 new tracked M113 C&R vehicles (known as M113 C&V in the Netherlands). Sixteen of these were transferred to the Royal Marechaussee, allowing the Otter to be gradually taken out of service. In 1971, the last ones retired, marking the end of 25 years of service with the Marechaussee.
Security, Strikes, and Protests
In April 1946, the Otters were deployed for the first time by the Marechaussee. On 14th April, a conference was held in hunting lodge ‘Hubertus’ between the Dutch and an Indonesian delegation regarding the conflict in Indonesia. The conference was guarded by the Marechaussee and Otters were deployed. Directly thereafter, the Otters were redirected to the city of Rotterdam. Near the end of April, sailors had gone on strike in Rotterdam and Amsterdam because one of their labor unions was not involved in new collective agreement negotiations. Dockworkers joined the strike, up to a point when just 10% of them were still going to work. The severity of the strike caused such problems that the Mayor of Rotterdam asked volunteers to assist in the unloading and loading of ships. To protect those volunteers, help from the Marechaussee was called in by the Mayor. These protected the volunteers by patrolling with Otters and also enforcing gathering restrictions. This duty would linger on for two months.
On 26th September 1961, four Otters were deployed to clear a road barricaded by the farmer and politician Hendrik Koekoek and his followers, so-called ‘Free Farmers’. He refused to pay overdue levies to the Landbouwschap (Eng: Agricultural Authority), causing the Authority to sell part of Koekoek’s land. In protest, Koekoek barricaded a major road between the cities of Vaassen and Epe. The barricade was successfully removed, partially thanks to the deployment of the Otters that were attached to the 3rd Division Royal Marechaussee. The Otters blocked several roads, locking down many farmers. The police managed to force the farmers away.
In the post-war period, the Dutch border guards were troubled by smugglers. Especially on the Belgian border, smugglers made extensive use of armored vehicles taken from Allied Army dumps. The border guards had little means to stop these vehicles, which were often modified M3A1 White Scout Cars that could easily break through barricades. To counter these smugglers, Dutch customs called in the help of the Royal Marechaussee with their armored cars. In February 1948, one Otter was stationed at the Belgian-Dutch border near the city of Moergestel. After several nights of fruitless waiting, the guards finally heard a vehicle approaching on the night of the 24th, which was heading to the Belgian border. Without any other means to stop the smugglers, the Otter accelerated and rammed the M3A1 of the smugglers. Baffled by the sudden collision and unable to get out of the distorted armored compartment, the smugglers were apprehended. The cargo, this time consisting of seven living cows, was confiscated.
During the Indonesian Independence War (1945-1949), Dutch forces made extensive use of armored vehicles, including many C15TA ¾ tonners. There was a great demand for these armored trucks by the infantry, but by 1948 and 1949, many were lost due to mines and IEDs. To compensate for their losses, an attempt was made to repurpose pre-WW2 Overvalwagen hulls that were still available in a decent quantity, spread over various dumps in Java. One old hull was placed upon a 3-tonner truck by the Centrale Werkplaats LTD 90 (Eng: Central Workshop) but, although successful, the idea was not further pursued.
In 1949, Deputy Commander of the Dutch General Staff in Indonesia, Colonel A.A.J.J. Thompson, visited the Netherlands. He established contact with the Dienst Kwartiermeester Generaal of the Koninklijke Landmacht (KMG/KL). This branch was willing to help out with the bad situation in Indonesia. Further contact was established between the KMG/KL and the KMG/Indië (the KMG responsible for the equipment of the Dutch Army and Colonial Army in Indonesia) and for this occasion, Lieutenant-Colonel J. Hoytema van Konijnenburg was dispatched to the Netherlands. As it turned out, the needed spare parts to repair C15TAs were not available, but some scrap vehicles could be sent to Indonesia to provide some spare parts for the short term.
More promising was the offer to supply 21 completely refurbished Otters. Since they were easy to operate and maintain, like the C15TA, the offer was accepted and they were shipped to Indonesia near the end of 1949. However, they came too late to ever see active service with Dutch troops, as they only arrived after sovereignty was transferred on 27th December 1949. The vehicles, presumably all of them, were therefore handed over to the Indonesian Army. Any Indonesian records about their use appear to be non-existent. At least one of the Otters survived in Indonesia as a monument in Cimahi, a city in the Bandung metropolitan area, at the Pusdikpom Kodiklatad military school.
Until its independence in 1975, Suriname was part of the Dutch Kingdom. It was defended by the Troepenmacht in Suriname (English: Force in Surinam, abbr. TRIS), a special unit of the Dutch Royal Army. In terms of armor, Surinam had received 73 Marmon-Herrington tanks in 1942. They were of dubious quality and, by 1954, only ten were still operational. This number dropped to two in 1956, causing them to be retired in 1957. The TRIS was now left without any armored vehicles. This situation was rectified in 1960, when seven to eight Otters were shipped from the Netherlands.
The Otters were used for patrolling and parading. For instance, when the neighboring British colony of British Guiana became independent in 1966, unrest along the border with Suriname caused two Otters to be dispatched to the region of Nickerie.
Near the end of the 1960s, it became increasingly difficult to maintain the Otters. By 1971, just five were still in service and reportedly only seen during parades. Their combat value was also very low, due to their age of more than 25 years. When it was realized that the Otters had become useless, five DAF YP408 APCs were sent in January 1972 to replace the Otters. No attempts were made to ship the Otters back because that would be too expensive. Instead, one ended up on display at Fort New Amsterdam in Paramaribo, while the others were discarded. Two wrecks were eventually recovered in the 2000s by members of the TRIS museum in the Netherlands and shipped back. Both appear to still be in the museum’s collection. It is unknown if the other four to five vehicles remain as wrecks in Suriname or if they have been scrapped completely.
Known registrations are: KN-50-01; KN-50-10; KN-50-17; KN-50-23; KN-50-91; KN-50-93; KN-50-99.
Surviving Otters In The Netherlands
Compared to other types of armored vehicles, quite a large number of Otters still survive in the Netherlands, although some of them are not former Dutch vehicles, while actual former Dutch vehicles have been sold abroad. Of all Otters that have survived worldwide, roughly half of them are former Dutch vehicles.
* Two wrecks, recovered in 2006 from Suriname, are located at the TRIS museum in Zwijndrecht. By 2019, one was restored to running condition. The other has been fitted with new wheels and axles. Former TRIS vehicles.
* Otter ‘37208’, located at the Cavalry Museum in Amersfoort. It is in drivable condition and painted in regular Army colors. Former Dutch vehicle.
* Otter ‘290435’, former gate guard at the Willem III Barracks in Amersfoort, currently located inside the Marechaussee Museum in Denekamp. Former Dutch vehicle.
* Otter ‘57062’, located at the National Military Museum in Soesterberg. Although painted in Dutch colors, it was not used by the Dutch. Provenance unknown.
* Otter ‘CF150626’, Overloon War Museum, World War 2 markings, provenance unknown.
* Otter ‘F210158’, formerly owned by the late private collector Dirk Leegwater, was sold to a private collector around 2009. Painted in Canadian Army markings, no turret. Provenance unknown.
Surviving Dutch Otters Outside The Netherlands
* Otter ‘CZ4288021’, restored for the Belgian Dieffenbach Collection, sold to Wheels of Liberation, Pennsylvania, in 2019. Former Dutch vehicle.
* Otter ‘CM4647296’. Stored for a long time in the Netherlands and sold to the Czech reenactment group Ocelová pěst (Hand of Steel) in 2015. Resold to the Canadian RHLI museum in 2019. Former Dutch vehicle.
* Otter ‘KN-50-99’, located at Fort Nieuw Amsterdam, Paramaribo, Suriname. Former TRIS vehicle.
* Otter, located at Pusdikpom Kodiklatad military school in Cimahi, Indonesia. Former Dutch vehicle.
In Dutch use, the Otters were initially registered with a five-digit number. Based on the few known registrations, these numbers generally started with 12, 31, 33, 36, 37, 56, or 57. Around 1960, the vehicles were renumbered and fitted with proper registration plates. These consisted of two letters, followed by two sets of two numbers. Generally, the number plates of the Otters started with KN-40 and KN-50, followed by a unique two-digit number.
The GM Otter was a valuable asset for the Dutch Army, especially in the immediate post-war period. It was extensively used by the Royal Marechaussee, and also for training cavalry units. It was generally well-liked by its users, thanks to its ease of operation, maintenance, and its simplicity, although visibility was considered rather poor. Compared to other armored vehicles of World War 2 vintage that were taken over by the Dutch Army, the Otters remained in service for a long time, since most of the others were already taken out of service and replaced in the 1950s.
GM Otter Mk.I specifications
4.496 x 2.134 x 2.438 m
Total Weight, Battle Ready
3 (Driver, Commander, Gunner)
GMC model 270, 4-stroke, 6-cylinder petrol engine with 91.5 hp at 2750 rpm, 106 hp at 3000 rpm
12 mm front and roof, 10 mm rear, 8 mm sides and turret
Kingdom of Belgium/France (2008)
Light Armored Personnel Carrier – Approximately 100 Built
Lightly armored personnel carriers on commercial chassis are widely produced, since they offer relatively cheap solutions for police and peacekeeping roles, or for main roles with armies with a low budget. Because of their popularity and demand, a large variety of companies around the world have decided to design and produce this kind of vehicle, as did the Carat Defense Group, headquartered in Belgium. They launched the Black Scorpion in 2008, a generic 4×4 APC based on a Toyota chassis, which has proven to be a solid base for armored vehicles. Despite, or maybe due to the sheer amount of models that are designed in this way, they generally receive only scant attention in the field of recent armored historiography, even while they play an important role in many armed conflicts, especially in Africa. The Black Scorpion, alternatively known as the Citadel or Puma, is no exception.
Company History and Overview
The Centigon Security Group came to be thanks to various international takeovers, which coincide with the development and production of the Black Scorpion. The core of the company can be traced back to 1876, with the founding of carriage-maker Sayers & Scovill in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA. In 1906, the first motorcar body was built. During World War 2, the company produced trailers for the military while, in 1942, the company was renamed Hess & Eisenhardt. In 1950, the first armored car was delivered, namely an armored Lincoln Cosmo for US President Truman. After this, the company armored many cars for prominent figures, a business continuing after the armoring division of the company was taken over by O’Gara Brothers, renaming the business to O’Gara-Hess Eisenhardt. Under their leadership, business would expand, the largest of which was the armoring of the HMMWV, known as the M1114 from 1994 onwards.
The expansion also led to the establishment of (temporary) manufacturing subsidiaries abroad during the 1990s and 2000s, namely in Bahrain, Brazil, Colombia, France, Germany, Mexico, the Philippines, Russia, and Venezuela. In 2001, O’Gara-Hess & Eisenhardt was taken over by Armor Holdings and renamed Centigon. In 2007, Armor Holdings was taken over by BAE Systems Inc., but little interest was shown in the Centigon division. Therefore, Centigon was sold to the Belgian Carat Duchatelet Holdings in February 2008. Under Carat, a military division was established in Bahrain.
Carat Duchatelet Holdings was reformed in March 2010. The umbrella brand Carat Security Group was created, with the divisions Carat Duchatelet, Carat Defense, and Centigon. Near the end of 2014, Centigon was sold again, this time to the Chinese companies Dongfeng Design Institute Co Ltd. (20%) and Red Star Macalline (80%). Around this time, the subsidiaries in Bahrain and Brazil were closed down, leaving factories in Colombia, France, Venezuela, and two in Mexico. In 2016, the company was renamed to Centigon Security Group. Late 2020, the Chinese shareholders announced they were interested in selling the Centigon Security Group.
Development of the new vehicle was initiated in the late 2000s, possibly after the takeover by Carat in February 2008, in concert with governmental agencies. Although unspecified, these agencies were likely the Mexican Federal Police and the Army of Bahrain, both countries which housed a Centigon subsidiary at the time and were the first recipients of the new vehicle. Later, batches were acquired by the African countries of Chad, Nigeria, Rwanda, and Burkina Faso, while Colombia, also home to a Centigon Factory, tested an example in 2018. Further users or evaluators are unknown. Undoubtedly, the vehicle has been internationally offered to other agencies and militaries, especially since the vehicle has been featured in various defense and military exhibitions. In 2017, it was displayed at the Milipol show in Paris and in 2018 at the EUROSATORY Defense and Security International Exhibition.
Until 2014, the vehicle was known as the Carat Black Scorpion. After Centigon was sold by Carat, the vehicle was marketed as the Centigon Citadel. Meanwhile, Mexico named the vehicle Puma. Centigon also slightly modified the design when it changed the name to Citadel. The most notable difference was the addition of a door on the left side of the troop compartment.
*Note to reader: this article will use the different names interchangeably depending on the context. Mexican vehicles will be referred to as Puma; Bahraini, Chadian, and Rwandan vehicles will be referred to as Black Scorpion; and post-2014 developments by Centigon will be referred to as Citadel.
The use of the Toyota Land Cruiser HZJ79 chassis limits the vehicle to a conventional design, but assures ease of maintenance and availability of spare parts. Power comes from a Toyota 4.5 l diesel, liquid-cooled, in-inline, six-cylinder engine with direct injection and turbocharging. At 3,600 rpm, it delivers 187 hp (138 kW) and has a torque of 365 Nm at 2,250 rpm. Power is transferred via a five-speed manual gearbox to all four wheels. The stiff front axle is suspended by coil springs and the rigid rear axle by longitudinal leaf springs. All four wheels are equipped with breaks, ventilated disc brakes at the front, and regular disc brakes at the rear.
The driver is sat on the front left, with a co-driver/commander to the right. Behind the driver’s position, the troop compartment slightly expands, both in width and height, to provide enough room for an additional troop of six. They are seated on light foldable seats consisting of an aluminium frame with attached canvas, which run along the sides of the compartment. Seatbelts are provided as well. The troop enters the compartment through a double rear door.
On each side of the compartment, two bulletproof glass windows are installed, and another two in the double rear door.
The base vehicle features eight firing ports, one in each of the four side and rear doors, and two on each side. Another option, as seen on a prototype and some Nigerian vehicles, has two additional firing ports, one on each side of the vehicle, in addition to two extra windows.
The vehicle can optionally be fitted with a firing port in the front right windscreen that can be equipped with a light machine gun operated by the co-driver. This option has been adopted by Chadian, Rwandan, and possibly some Bahraini vehicles.
A weapon station is installed on the roof, which has been offered in various configurations by Centigon. The most basic configuration is used by Mexican vehicles, which have no weapon mount at all, being used for police duties, although machine guns are often deployed on a tripod placed on the roof. The singular round hatch folds backwards. Bahraini and some Nigerian vehicles use another configuration, with a mounting for a weapon and a two-part hatch which folds to the sides.
Rwandan vehicles have a frontal armored shield with a mounting for a light machine gun and a hatch that folds backwards, providing the gunner with both front and rear protection. Chad uses two types of configurations, one being similar to the Rwandan, with the same gunshield but a different hatch layout. The second configuration consists of the mounting for a heavy DShK machine gun and a much smaller armored shield placed mostly behind this gun.
Apart from the fully enclosed APC version, Centigon also offers an open-bed version of the Black Scorpion. From the front to the driver’s cabin, this version is identical to the regular vehicle, apart from the two front windows that gained the ability to be opened up completely. The closed troop compartment has been lowered and significantly shortened, although maintaining a weapon station on the roof. The rear of the vehicle has been opened up, and two machine gun mounts have been placed on each rear corner, providing more firepower to the vehicle, but less protection to its occupants.
Around 2008, the Mexican Federal Police placed an order for a number of Pumas, as well as Wolverines. The Wolverine was another armored personnel carrier developed by Carat/Centigon. It is unknown how many Pumas were ordered, however, each vehicle received a unique registration and based upon photographic evidence, at least fourteen registrations have been identified with numbers ranging from ‘14178’ to ‘14229’. Assuming all Pumas were consecutively numbered, this could mean the Federal Police acquired at least 51 vehicles, possibly more.
The vehicles were acquired with funds provided by the USA through the Mérida Initiative, alternatively known as Plan Mexico, which was drafted in 2007 and signed in 2008. This initiative aimed at combating organized crime, money laundering, and drug trafficking. Due to the wide deployment in Mexico, the vehicles regularly crossed Mexico on their own power. This led the vehicles to wear down relatively quickly, with a Mexican police official stating that, due to their extensive use, they were theoretically not fit to be used longer than three years.
After delivery of the first Pumas in 2008/2009, they were used in many internal security missions. For example, in March 2015, they were successfully deployed in the vicinity of Central de Abasto de Emiliano Zapata (a warehouse in Morelos) in an attempt to reduce the crime that plagued the local merchants. In May 2019, a column of 21 Federal Police vehicles, including Pumas, arrived in Tuxtepec, Oaxaca, as part of a National Guard mission to fight organized crime in the region.
On 1st October 2019, the Federal Police was officially dissolved and integrated into the National Guard. At least 500 vehicles, including a number of Pumas, were transferred to the National Guard, most of them stored at Centro de Mando (Command Center) in Iztapalapa. Reportedly, many of these were in a bad mechanical condition and had been stored in the open for a while already. After the transfer, the vehicles were planned to undergo repairs. It is unknown how many Pumas were taken over by the National Guard and remain in service.
Known registrations are: 14178, 14180, 14181, 14198, 14202, 14207, 14209, 14215, 14219, 14220, 14222, 14224, 14228, and 14229.
Simultaneously with Mexico, around 2008-2009, Bahrain placed an order for twenty vehicles, which were assembled in Bahrain itself. Very little is known about the vehicles which, according to SIPRI, were delivered in 2011-2012. Shortly after delivery, the Bahrain branch of Centigon closed down. It seems services were taken over by the company Manzomat Al Riyadh, based in Saudi-Arabia, which lists the Black Scorpion among their delivered products. Before the branch closed down, however, Carat Defense also developed and delivered an armor package for the Bahraini M113s.
The Black Scorpions arrived in the turmoil that was the Bahraini Uprising (14th February – 18th March 2011, with occasional unrest lasting until 3rd March 2014), one of the many episodes of the Arab Spring. It is unknown how, or even if the Black Scorpions played a role during the suppression of the uprising.
Already since 2012, the vehicle has sometimes been referred to as the Faisal. If this is an official name is unknown, especially since a new armored vehicle developed in Bahrain in 2019 was also named Faisal.
The Black Scorpion in Chad
Around 2011, the Chadian Army procured a number of Black Scorpions (said to be ten, but most probably more), which appear to have been produced by the Mexican subsidiary. Since Chad heavily relies upon J79 Toyota Land Cruisers in its Army, this was a straightforward decision, especially from a logistical perspective. The vehicles were likely acquired in light of the 2008 rebel attack on the capital, which unsuccessfully attempted to depose President Idriss Déby Itno.
In January 2013, Chad announced it would join the French Operation Serval against islamic insurgents in Mali and entered the country through Niger. It deployed a large number of vehicles, including technicals, BMP-1s, Eland-90s, and its new Black Scorpions. Chad’s Forces proved to be highly effective in the familiar desert terrain and became a key ally to the French forces. However, on 15th April, the Chadian Parliament voted for the withdrawal of all 2,000 troops, motivated by the death of 36 Chadian soldiers, with the first soldiers returning to Chad on 13th May.
During the short, but intensive deployment that lasted three months, at least one Black Scorpion was lost when it drove on a landmine. Some of its occupants were wounded, but all survived.
Exactly two years after the Chadian intervention in Mali, on 16th January 2015, the Chadian Army was authorised to advance into Nigeria and Cameroon to assist their respective governments, as well as Niger, in the fight against the jihadist group Boko Haram. Around 2,000 troops were deployed with some 400 vehicles, again including the Black Scorpions. During the initial push, these were relatively often photographed and filmed, partially for propaganda purposes, but over time, they were seen less in the media. Given the chances that some vehicles would be lost to IEDs and mines, it is certainly possible that a number of the Black Scorpions have been lost, especially since Chad has acquired several batches of other new armored vehicles after 2015.
Different registrations that have been observed are 7535, 7537, 7539, 7543, 7544, 8596, 8599, ??62, ?763, and 8934. Since the chances that each unique registration has been photographed is quite slim, Chad probably acquired more than just ten vehicles, but how many remains unknown.
Between 2009 and 2012, the Lagos State Government donated thirty armored personnel carriers to the Nigerian Police Forces, including an undisclosed number of Black Scorpions. Although the Nigerian Police is organized on a federal level, it has grown customary for state governments to donate hardware to the police to increase their capabilities in their respective states. This way, the Rapid Response Squad (RSS) of the Lagos State Police Command got hold on these vehicles which were delivered in various configurations, including the regular APC version with no weapon station, three windows on each side, and a side door, but also a version with the extended weapon station mount.
The Black Scorpions form a small part of the ever growing fleet of Nigerian armored police vehicles, which also include large quantities of imported Streit, and locally-built Proforce vehicles, among others. Interestingly, the design of the Black Scorpion, both the APC and the Open-Bed version, were roughly copied by Proforce and built under the name PF3 Leopard.
Just a meager amount of information is known about the vehicles that are operated by the police of Rwanda. At least four have been deployed to the Central African Republic with the UN mission MINUSCA (Mission multidimensionnelle intégrée des Nations unies pour la stabilisation en Centrafrique, Eng. United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic) since 2014. They are painted in classic UN-white and each has a unique UN registration, including ‘UN19026’, ‘UN19029’, and ‘UN37001’. As of 2022, all four remain in service. The Rwandan vehicles are the only ones to feature mesh frames over the windows, providing further protection against large objects.
It is unknown if the police or army of Rwanda operate any more Black Scorpions, either in the CAR or in Rwanda itself. However, it is known that MINUSCA has only a limited number of armored vehicles available, marking the former unlikely. Furthermore, the vehicles seem to have been specifically acquired for the UN mission, marking the latter as unlikely as well.
The MINUSCA mission was established on 10th April 2014 in the impoverished Central African Republic (CAR) after the republic experienced intense violence since December 2012, caused by a rebel coalition attacking governmental troops. After a year, the situation deteriorated even further, eventually leading into the UN mission (until 2016 known as MISCA). The first UN mandate allowed for 10,000 soldiers and 1,820 policemen to be deployed. Since 2014, Rwanda has been one of the top three contributing countries, providing both military and police forces. The Black Scorpions are in use with the police force in the capital Bangui.
In the first two weeks of October 2018, the Army of Colombia tested the Centigon Citadel. Earlier that year, Colombia had already shown interest in a similar vehicle, the Jankel Hunter PPV, while the Hunter TR-12, another similar vehicle built in Colombia, had been bought in very limited numbers. The Citadel was probably chosen to be tested because Centigon also houses a subsidiary in Colombia, although the tests were arranged through the Mexican subsidiary. After the tests, Colombia showed no further interest in the Citadel.
The latest recipient of the Citadel was Burkina Faso. Sometime before April 2019, at least two units were received for the Unités d’Intervention Polyvalente de la Police Nationale (Eng. National Police Multipurpose Intervention Units, abbr. UIP-PN).
On 25th February 2021, a ceremony was held in the capital, Ouagadougou, where the Gendarmerie of Burkina Faso took delivery of an additional two Citadels, as well eight Toyota Land Cruiser pick-ups, two trucks, two Toyota ambulances, eighty motorcycles, and additional equipment. This materiel, worth roughly 1 billion CFA Francs (ca. 1.5 million euros), was donated by the European Union through the Stabilization of Eastern Burkina Faso project (STABEST), arranged by the Belgian Development Agency ENABEL. The complete program had a budget of 4.7 million euros The equipment was intended to be used in Eastern Burkina Faso by the 34e Escadron de Groupement Mobile de la Gendarmerie Nationale (Eng. 34th Squadron of the Mobile Group of the National Gendarmerie) and the Compagnie Républicaine de Sécurité de Fada N’Gourma (Eng. Republic Protection Force of Fada N’Gourma). The personnel was also trained through the support program. It is unknown to what extent and with what results the vehicles have been, or are in use.
As of February 2022, both design iterations remain on offer by the Centigon Security Group. They also seem to be offered by the UAE-based company Dynamic Defence Solutions. It is unknown in what way this company is connected to Centigon, or if they are even allowed to market this vehicle under their brand. Chances that Centigon will secure a new deal are slim, due to the oversaturation of the market combined with the aging design.
The Chadian, Mexican, and Rwandan vehicles have all seen intensive use since their adaptation, which will possibly lead to a relatively early retirement of the model, something indirectly admitted by a Mexican police official as well. However, in their respective environments, lightly armored vehicles form a valuable asset in (border) patrol and internal security operations, so attempts will be made to keep them as long in service as possible, which is eased by the widely available Toyota spare parts.
The Black Scorpion is a capable armored vehicle and a typical example of the range of armored personnel carriers that are based on commercial chassis. The Toyota chassis assures relatively easy operation and maintenance and the reason why the Black Scorpion is among the more than 25 similar Toyota-based APCs that are offered on the international military market as of 2021. However, most of the vehicles are used very intensively, making a long service life uncertain.
5.560 x 2.136 x 2.190 m
8 (1 driver + 7 troops including commander and gunner)
Toyota HZJ 79
Diesel, liquid-cooled in-line six-cylinder (R6), 4164 ccm, direct injection, turbocharging, 138 kW (187 hp) at 3600 rpm, torque 365 Nm at 2250 rpm
Bore / Stroke
94 / 100 mm
120 km/h (75 mph)
mechanical five-speed transmission
1.515 / 1.555 m
Optional light weapon station up to 12.7 mm, optional front-facing firing port, 8 firing ports
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