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G6-45 Rhino  

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G6-45 Rhino


The G6 Rhino is named after the indigenous African Rhinoceros, an animal which is massive in size and extremely powerful stationary and even more so when charging a threat. Armed with a long protruding horn on its snout, a rhino can devastate any attacker. Unlike its animal namesake, the G6 Rhino is agile for its bulk.  As with many indigenous South African military vehicles, the G6 Rhino was designed and produced when South Africa was under strict international embargo because of its segregation policies, known as the “apartheid". The G6 was planned at the height of the Cold War by South Africa to replace its aging WW2 artillery pieces to counter Eastern Bloc supplied artillery used by Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) and People`s Armed Forces for the Liberation of Angola (FAPLA). The Rhino G6 is a three-axle, six-wheeled self-propelled howitzer vehicle which forms the backbone of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) artillery arm who can field 43 vehicles. The G6-45 sports a low-silhouetted hull fitted to a 6×6 wheeled romp designed and optimized for the distances and terrain it would operate in, which can be described as some of the most hostile in the world. The G6-45 is characterized by its six massive 21.00 x 25 MPT wheels, fast setup time, bush breaking ability and versatility as a howitzer platform. In skilled hands, during the South African Border War, the G6-45 proved itself more than capable of inflicting heavy losses and dictating enemy strategy. The G5 was designed with a secondary self-defensive direct anti-tank role in mind. It is thought that it could defeat any composite armoured MBT of the time. Conversely the same is true for the G6-45. It came as a nasty surprise to FAPLA, as it dominated the battle space by outshooting, outranging and outmaneuvering enemy artillery.




The G6-45`s primary armament is a 155mm-L/45 main gun while the G6-52 uses a longer 155mm-L/52 main gun. Much of the early long distance shooting success of the G6-45 was due to its blast chamber having a volume of 23 litres, as compared to the international 21 litres. The G6-52 also features a 23-litre blast chamber. The G6-45`s 155mm gun uses a single-baffle muzzle brake and an upgraded hydro-pneumatic recoil system and rammer which grants it three rounds a minute rate of fire. The elevation is maxed at +75 and -5 degrees with a traverse of maximum 40 degrees either left or right horizontally from the center. The G6-45 carries a total of 39 rounds (155 mm), 50 charges, 60 primers and 39 fuses (plus 18 backup fuses) are carried (as standard) in racks located at the interior rear of the chassis. The 19 rounds carried inside the turret are for emergency use only, while the 8 rounds stored in the nose of the vehicle and the 12 rounds stored in the outside fighting compartment of the turret in special blast out magazines (for the charges) are used first when in a stationary firing position. All ammunition used by the G6-45 was developed in South Africa and supplied by Rheinmetall Denel Munitions. The G6-45 can fire all standard NATO 155mm ammunition as well as the M1 series Extended Range Full Bore (ERFB) and Extended Range Full Bore-Base Bleed (ERF-BB) ammunition. The G6-45 and 52 make use of the M64 Modular Charge System (MCS), the latter achieving a velocity of 909 m/s (HEBB) or 911 m/s (HE). Of note is the M9703 Velocity-Enhanced Long-range Artillery Projectile (V-Lap) which combines base-bleed and rocket motor technology developed under the Assegai project. The G6-52 Extended Range (ER) has achieved a range of 76.2 km by combining the M64 MCS and V-Lap.




The fire control system of the G6 is indirect in nature, as targeting data originates from forward observers, who pass it on through the Artillery Target Engagement System (ATES) to a fire control post before finally being transmitted to the individual G6 Launcher Management System (LMS) via frequency-hopping Very High Frequency (VHF) radio. The G6-45 layer can only aim the ordinance via a telescopic sight for direct-fire missions while the G6-52 makes use of an automatic gun-laying system.  Although the G6 is capable of firing from a wheeled stance, it is equipped with four hydraulically operated stabiliser legs two of which are located between the first and second wheel pairs and two located behind the rear wheels. These can be deployed for optimal stability. The G6-45 can deploy to fire in under one minute and can be mobile again in the same time which allows for a quick ‘shoot and scoot’ tactics, making it difficult to locate, target, and hit for example with a counter-battery fire. The G6-45 features an all welded steel alloy armor which provides protection from small arms fire, ballistic fragments (shrapnel) and explosive concussion across the whole chassis. The frontal arc of the vehicle and turret offers protection from 23mm armor piercing rounds at 1000 m, while the sides and rear are vulnerable. As with most South African produced military vehicles, the chassis is mine protected, with the floor of the vehicle being double layered for improved protection. This allows the G6-45 to withstand three TM46 anti-tank landmine explosions. The G6-45 incorporates an overpressure biological and chemical protection system while the G6-52 offers full nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) protection system.




The G6-45’s 6×6 wheeled configuration is designed for the African battle space and characterized by its flexibility and cross-country ability. The large distances in Southern Africa and low force density necessitated a vehicle that could operate on its own power. The wheeled configuration subsequently grants the G6-45 strategic mobility, as it does not require heavy transport or trains to reach its destination. This was in line with SADF doctrine that called for mobile warfare. The vehicle makes use of a central tire-inflation system which controls the six-run flat (designed to resist the effects of deflation when punctured) radial tire configuration. Tracked vehicles are much more susceptible to landmines which detracts and immobilizes them whereas a wheeled configuration can be repaired more easily. The G6-45 can lose a rear or middle wheel and still remain maneuverable over rough terrain. The G6-45 makes use of a German manufactured Magirus Deutz BF12L513 FC V12 air-cooled diesel engine which produces 550 hp. This allows the vehicle to accelerate from 0-30 km/h in 12 seconds. The turret bustle contains a two-cylinder air-cooled four-stroke Deutz F2L511 22 hp engine Auxiliary Power Unit (APU) with which the batteries are recharged and air-conditioning units are powered for crew compartment. The driver’s compartment air-conditioning is power by the main engine. The G6-45 makes use of a BAE Land Systems OMC automatic gearbox (RENK family of gearboxes) with six forward and one reverse gear ratios. The gearbox can be manually overridden if the need arises. The vehicle features a permanent 6×6 drive configuration with selectable longitudinal and differential lock. The steering is hydraulically assisted. Torsion bar suspension units with hydraulic shock dampers and bump stops are located on all six wheels. Its 6×6 wheeled configuration offers great operational and tactical mobility. Despite its size, the G6-45 has an operational range of 700 km via road and 350 km over rough terrain, allowing flexible force movement in conjunction with mechanised formations. Although the G6-45 can reach road speeds of up to 100 km/h, its cruising speed is 85 km/h while off-road speeds of between 30 – 60 km/h can be maintained depending on the terrain.




The G6-45 is manned by a crew of six consisting of a commander, layer, breech operator, loader, ammunition handler, and driver. During engagement, the ammunition handler and driver prepare and load the ammo from the outside rear to the loader inside the turret. The driver’s compartment is located at the front-center of the vehicle between the two front wheel wells.  The driver has day/night viewing capabilities and an excellent 180-degree field-of-view through three large bullet-resistant windows. During a battle, the driver can activate an armored shield which pops-up and covers the front window for extra protection. When the armored shield is activated, the driver uses a day periscope with a view of the front to drive. Located behind the driver is the gearbox and engine (power pack). The driver can only enter and exit the vehicle through a roof hatch located above his seat. The driver’s station contains a comprehensive engine monitoring system. The turret is mounted at the rear of the vehicle hull, above the two rear axles and is manned by the commander, layer, breech operator and loader. It features several viewing ports, Gyro laying sight for indirect fire and telescope for direct firing. The commander and breech operator are located on the right side of the ordinance while the layer and loader are seated on the left. The commander’s station has basic driving controls from where he can switch off the engine and apply an emergency brake to stop the vehicle. He also has access to a cupola which offers 360-degree viewing as well as roof hatch. A pintle-mounted 7.62mm or 12.7 mm machine gun can be mounted on the left-hand side roof hatch. The machine gun’s primary function is to engage low flying enemy aircraft, lightly skinned armored vehicles and suppress enemy infantry. Up to 2000 rounds of 7.62 or 1000 rounds of 12.7 mm ammunition can be carried aboard. The rear-right of the turret features a hatch for crew access. A dedicated hatch for ammunition loading is located at the rear-center of the turret, near the floor. Two banks of four 81mm electrically operated grenade launchers (smoke) are located on either side of the front of the turret.


Rhino G6-45 specifications


Total weight, battle ready: 46 tons

Crew: 6

Propulsion: Magirus Deutz BF12L513 FC V12 air-cooled diesel Engine 550 hp 

Suspension: A torsion bar suspension with hydraulic shock dampers and bump stops

Speed (road)/(off-road): (85 km/h) / (30km/h)

Armament: 155mm G6 L/45 howitzer, 7.62mm co-axial Browning MG or 12.7 MG

Armour: 40 mm (frontal arc estimate), 7-12 mm (all other arcs)



Photos taken at South African National Museum of Military History by Griffin7028 (1 August 2021)














G6-45 Rhino firing range, shooting HE around at Sherman tank.




G6-45 Rhino Diagram


G6 Rhino, Self-Propelled Gun, 155mm – Mick Bell Plans



Additional photos taken at South African National Museum of Military History by Griffin7028 (1 August 2021): https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/16fWRZZzoQxBFshIb9l3b74uC3hfsvsQu?usp=sharing

Additional photos of the G6-45 Rhino: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/16i-oyYfxrj55Na9BRuExIztRaSiEXoQN?usp=sharing


Army Technology, n.d. G6 155mm Self-Propelled Howitzer. [Online]
Available at: https://www.army-technology.com/projects/g6/
[Accessed 24 November 2021].

Heitman, S. C. a. H. R., 2014. Surviving the Ride. 1st ed. Pinetown: 30 Degree South Publishers.

Venter, D., 2017. Tank encyclopedia. [Online]
Available at: https://tanks-encyclopedia.com/coldwar/south_africa/rhino
[Accessed 24 November 2021].

Venter, D. D., 2020. South African Armoured Vehicles. 1st ed. Warwick: Helion & Compnay Limited.

WeaponSystems.Net, n.d. WeaponSystems.Net. [Online]
Available at: https://weaponsystems.net/system/157-G6+Rhino
[Accessed 24 November 2021].




Edited by Griffin7028
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If you are reading this and haven't seen the damage that 155 HE did to the Sherman in the photo above, go look. 


The round hit the upper center left side of the hull, punched a hole through which exited the opposite side of the Sherman, blowing away the bogey wheels and the tanks soul. 


The overpressure that must have caused is mind-blowing. Bear in mind that South Africa manufactures its own 155 HE rounds which carry 25% more explosive charge than standard NATO rounds of the same caliber. 


It can also be fitted with a 12.7 mm AA gun on the turret making it less vulnerable to aircraft. 


This vehicle will be hard to kill and devastating to any medium vehicle on the receiving end of its main armament. 

Edited by Cpt_Blackjack
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