Buffel (M40)

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From 1973 onward the use of landmines become more prominent between the borders of Southwest Africa (Namibia) and Angola, and at the time the SADF (South Africa Defence Force) did not have a dedicated MPV/APC which could protect the crew against anti-tank mines. At the time the SADF only had Mercedes-Benz Unimog trucks which it acquired during the 1960’s. Given the threat of lands mines, the DRU was tasked by the SADF to improve the survivability of the Unimog’s. This would ultimately lead to the development of the Buffel APC, which made use of the Unimog’s chassis and had the standard seating section at the rear replaced by V-shaped armoured tub for the crew. The driver would also receive its own enclosed armoured compartment along with a bush guard fitted to the front of the vehicle. The Buffel would also feature a new Atlas 6-cylinder diesel engine, as well as receiving new disk brakes, replacing the older drum brakes. The first of these Buffel’s were first deployed operationally in 1978 and over a span of 17 years, 2 985 Buffel’s were build. The different variants of the Buffel include an APC (armoured personnel carrier), Ambulance variant and a Cargo Carrier. For this forum post we will focus on the Buffel Cargo Carriers equipped with a 106mm M40 recoilless rifle. The Cargo Carrier is based on the Buffel Mk1B and was produced in the early 1980’s with a total of 57 being produced. This version of the Buffel replaced the V-shaped tub with an open load flat bed, used for caring supplies. However, as the South African Border War went on, enemy armoured vehicles became more prominent which led to some of the Reaksie Mag (Reaction Force) or Romeo Mike teams to equip their Cargo Carriers with M40 recoilless rifles, which allowed them to engage heavier armoured threats and be more mobile when repositioning.




Armament: one 106mm M40 recoilless rifle

Ammunition: HEAT, HEP

Secondary armament: one 12.7mm M80

Crew: 3 (driver, commander, gunner)

Engine: Atlas 352, 6-cylinder diesel engine

Horsepower: 125hp

Top Speed: 96km/h

Gearbox: 8 forward, 4 reverse

Transmission: 4x4



Primary Sources:

Surviving the Ride written by Steve Camp and Helmoed Rommer Heitman (page 30-35)

South African Armoured Vehicles written by Dr Dewald Venter (page 12-19)

Secondary Sources:

Tank encyclopaedia (Buffel): Buffel APC/MPV - Tank Encyclopedia

DefenceWeb (M40A1 recoilless rifle): Fact file: M40A1 recoilless rifle | defenceWeb

WeaponSystems.net (106mm M40): 106mm M40 | Weaponsystems.net