Engesa Cascavel EE-9 M3 - the fat rattlesnake

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Engesa Cascavel EE-9 M3



The EE-9 Cascavel originated in the 1970s when the Brazilian Army contemplated arming its new wheeled reconnaissance vehicle with a 90 mm gun in1972. The intention was to enhance the Cascavel’s combat capabilities during reconnaissance missions and make it more attractive for export.However, debates about the armament persisted throughout the decade, and it was the infl uence of foreign countries that ultimately led to the creationof a 90 mm-armed version of the Cascavel.

During trials in Portugal in 1973, the EE-9 platform impressed, but dissatisfaction with the existing 37 mm cannon prompted the Portuguese topropose rearming the vehicle with the 90 mm gun and turret from the French Panhard AML-90, known as the H-90 turret. Engesa complied, building a90 mm-armed version, and after further trials in early 1974, the legendary EE-9 Cascavel armed with a 90 mm gun was born. This decision not only metthe needs of the Brazilian Army but also propelled Engesa’s most successful armored fighting vehicle onto the international stage of wheeledreconnaissance vehicles.

EE-9 Cascavel’s Designations:


The EE-9 Cascavel’s designations underwent changes, and its nomenclature evolved over time. Here’s a brief overview:

  • CRR (Carro de Reconhecimento e Resgate):
    Initially designated as CRR, it was later renamed EE-9, with “EE” standing for Engenheiros Especializados (Specialized Engineers), and “9” representing its weight in tonnes. This transition likely occurred between 1972 and 1973. The “9” referred to the 37 mm version, although practically every exported Cascavel by Engesa weighed more than 10 tonnes empty.

  • CRM (Carro de Reconhecimento Médio):
    After the completion of the pre-production batch, the CRR was redesignated as CRM, translating to Medium Reconnaissance Car. This designation is more of a classification than a specific name, aligning with the EE-9 nomenclature. The prototype CRR, pre-production CRM, and production vehicles were all known and sold as EE-9s.

  • Skipping M1 Designation:
    Engesa seems to have skipped designating an M1 Cascavel, immediately proceeding with M2 hulls after the CRM. The 37mm Cascavels might have been unofficially considered as early production versions but were labeled as M2s through hull classification.

  • Modelo System:
    The EE-9 Cascavel underwent upgrades and design changes over its 18-year development period. A Modelo or Model system was employed to track these changes. Different guns or turrets did not determine a distinct Cascavel model. Changes to the hull, especially transmissions, were pivotal in classifying Cascavels as a certain model. Modelos were further subdivided into production batches or Séries, with even minor differences like bolts or tire nozzles affecting classification. The Cascavel’s development was an evolutionary process, with specific manuals tailored to certain series of a particular model.

Model Characteristics Date Number Sold by Engesa
CRM Pre-production EE-9, manual Clark 280V transmission, 37 mm gun 1971 8
EE-9 M2 First with 90 mm main armament, redesigned hull, manual Clark 280V Transmission 1974 Brazil: 157, Bolivia: 24, Chile: 83, Libya: 200 (at least 9 originally armed with 37 mm)
EE-9 M3 M2 with automatic MT-540 transmission, first with EC-90 gun 1975 Libya: 200
EE-9 M4 Designed with Detroit Diesel 6V53 engine, strengthened components, MT-643 transmission 1979 Brazil (CFN): 6, Colombia: 128, Cyprus: 124, Iraq: 364
EE-9 M5 Cheaper version of M4, AT-540 or AT-545 transmission, OM-352A engine 1981 Bovington Tank Museum: 1, Gabon: 14, Uruguay: 15
EE-9 M6 Automotive enhancements, AT-545 transmission, OM-352A engine 1982 Brazil: 37
EE-9 M7 Similar to M6, MT643 transmission, versatile engine options 1983 Brazil: 215, Ecuador: 32, Paraguay: 28, Suriname: 6, Zimbabwe: 90
Total - - around 1,742 sold and less than 1,800 produced

EE-9 Specifications:

  • Weight: 10 tonnes empty, 11 tonnes combat-loaded (11 and 12.1 US tons respectively).
  • Dimensions: Length of 6.22m (20.4 feet) with the gun, 5.19m (17 feet) without, width of 2.59m (8.5 feet), height of about 2.3m (7.55 feet) with HS-90 turret.
  • Crew: Commander/loader (turret left), gunner (turret right), and driver in the middle front hull.

Hull Details:

  • Manufactured from welded bimetal steel plates.
  • Upper front plate angled at 60º.
  • Protection against .50 machine gun fire and 7.62mm AP rounds.
  • External features: headlights, periscopes, ventilation inlets, siren, foldable windshield, and rear light.

Interior and Controls:

  • Driver’s station with adjustable hydraulic-powered steering wheel, 3 pedals, and gear shift stick.
  • Control panel for lights, siren, windshield, and interior lighting.
  • Dashboard with speedometer, ignition switch, fuel meter, and temperature meter.


  • Used OM352 and OM352A engines (turbocharged).
  • Top speed of 95-100 km/h (59 mph), operational range of 750 km (466 miles).
  • Climbing capabilities, fording depth of 1 m (3.3 feet), and various terrain-crossing features.
  • Manual Clark 280V transmission (M2) and AT-540 automatic transmission (M3).
  • Engesa 2-speed transfer case for reduced and high gear.

Boomerang Suspension:

  • Innovative design for optimal traction on challenging terrains.
  • 6 x 6 driven, with the rear 4 wheels part of the Boomerang suspension.
  • Leaf springs for dampening, hydro-pneumatic drum brakes, and hydraulic steering.
  • Central Tyre Inflation System (CTIS) optional.

ET-90 I Turret:



  • Manufactured by Engesa from welded bimetal steel plates.
  • Armored with 16 mm thick plates all around, except for an 8 mm thick plate on the top.
  • Two-man crew: commander/loader on the left, gunner on the right.
  • Commander’s position with dome-shaped cupola; both crew members with rear-opening hatches.
  • Simplified copy of the HS-90 turret but superior; wider turret profile for simplicity.
  • Cannon aimed with a direct line-of-sight telescope with 6x magnification.
  • 4 sights with 1x magnification for commander and gunner.
  • Storage for 24 rounds of 90 mm ammunition and 2,000 rounds for the 7.62 mm coaxial machine gun.
  • Gun depression of -8° and elevation of +15°.
  • Mechanical and electrical systems operating on 24 V.
  • 6 smoke launchers (3 on each rear side).
  • Optional equipment: turret top-mounted 7.62 mm anti-aircraft machine gun, active/passive night vision sights, and laser rangefinder.


  • Officially mounted the ET-90 I turret with the EC-90 gun.

Additional Information:

  • Brazilian EE-9s operated with 7.62 mm machine guns, carrying 2,000 rounds divided into 10 cases.
  • Total of 44 rounds for the main gun, with 20 stored in the hull and 24 in the turret.
  • Optional hull ammunition storage racks installed between the front wheel and the turret ring.
  • Contradicting information about the use of night sights, with some sources claiming only day sights are used.
  • Limited use of laser rangefinders; traverse and elevation systems are manual, not electric.

The Cockerill Gun and Engesa’s Solution:

  • Engesa sought a solution in Belgium, acquiring the license for the low-pressure 90 mm Cockerill 90 Mark 3 gun in 1975 for US$3 million.
  • The gun was designated EC-90 (Engesa Cannon 90 mm).
  • The license deal allowed Engesa to manufacture their own guns and design their own turrets.
  • Engesa incorporated bimetal steel into their turrets, surpassing the French HS-90 turrets.

Financial Context:

  • The license deal cost US$3 million in 1975 (equivalent to US$15.5 million in 2021).


  • The Cockerill gun and the license deal were crucial for Engesa, providing independence in gun production and opening avenues for turret design.
  • Bimetal steel integration on turrets enhanced their quality.


  • The adoption of the Cockerill gun and the license deal marked a strategic move by Engesa to overcome challenges posed by rising turret prices and to establish autonomy in gun production and turret design.









Engesa EE-9 Cascavel 40 anos de combates 1977-2017 – Expedito Carlos Stephani Bastos

Blindados no Brasil – Expedito Carlos Stephani Bastos

EE-9 M2 and M3 Cascavel - Tank Encyclopedia


Another fine addition to the LatAm collection! +1

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