M41B 90mm - Modernization of M41 in Brazil

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M41B 90mm

In the 70s, with the high price of fuel and the lack of 76mm ammunition for the M41, the Brazilian army planned a modernization with the help of Bernardini and other companies, giving Brazilian and Uruguayan armored vehicles a chance to survive.

Modernization of M41 in Brazil:

  1. 1960s: Acquisition of M-41
  • Brazil acquires a significant quantity of the M-41 Combat Tank throughout the 1960s, becoming the standard tank and gradually replacing models from World War II.
  1. Early 1970s: Challenges
  • Difficulties arise due to supply issues and the use of a high-octane gasoline engine, which proves to be easily flammable and has high fuel consumption.
  1. January 1976: Establishment of the Modernization Project
  • The Army General Staff initiates the project “Update of the M41 Combat Tank” in response to the challenges, designated as 01.09 in the Research and Development Plan.
  1. March 1976: Feasibility Study
  • Feasibility study begins for the nationalization of the engine, considering the use of the Scania DS-14 diesel engine. The study is considered viable.
  1. 1978: Start of Modernization Work
  • IPD and CPDB start modernization work on M41 EB 11-070, replacing the gasoline engine with a turbocharged Scania DS-14 diesel engine with 350HP.
  1. 1982: Development of Engine Kits
  • The first generation of engine kits is developed by Motopeças Transmissões S/A in Sorocaba, SP. Bernardini produces 14 units as a pre-series for evaluation.
  1. Enhancements and Transfer to Private Industry
  • Improvements in the cooling system, torque converter matching, and transfer of assembly to Bernardini S/A in Cotia, SP.
  • Bernardini S/A consolidates all M-41 models as M41-C, mainly with the long barrel Br2 cannon.
  1. International Interest and Offer of Modern Equipment
  • International suppliers offer modern equipment such as laser sights, night vision, and automatic fire-fighting systems.
  • Bernardini becomes capable of producing more than 50 repowered or modernized units per year.
  1. Advancements in Weaponry and Control Systems
  • Advancements in weaponry, including the transformation of the 76mm cannon to a 90mm caliber.
  • Advancements in turret control systems with solid-state electrical technology.
  1. Formation of Specialized Personnel and Industry Adaptation
  • Importance of personnel training in dealing with daily challenges.
  • Industry adapts to a production scale, stimulating various companies to contribute to the production of components.
  1. Challenges and Solutions
  • Challenges include economic instability, daily economic adjustments, and legal constraints on multi-year contracts.
  • Solutions include collaborations with established partners for certain developments.
  1. Foreign Interest and Initial Hurdles
  • Foreign companies express interest in the project, but initial attempts do not succeed.
  1. Evolution of the Project
  • Initial difficulties in obtaining a suitable tank for the project.
  • Parallel efforts by private organization Prensas Schuler S/A to install a German MTU engine on M41.
  1. Choice of Scania DS-14 Engine
  • Choice of Scania DS-14 engine for M41 modernization, overcoming challenges such as height adjustments and cooling system installation.
  1. Creation of Engine Kits and Industry Transition
  • Creation of the first generation of engine kits with hydraulic motor-driven fans.
  • Transition of modernization work to Bernardini S/A, producing 14 units for evaluation.
  1. Integration of 90mm Cannon and Model Standardization
  • Integration of a 90mm cannon in M41, tested with French and Belgian models.
  • Standardization of models as M41-C with the long barrel Br2 cannon, with some retaining the short barrel Br1.
  1. Tests and Operationalization
  • Field tests and operationalization of M41-C after the engine replacement, showcasing improved performance.
  1. Documentation and Further Developments
  • Documentation of the modernization process in reports.
  • Mention of ongoing studies for the modernization of M-113.
  1. Bernardini’s Contribution and Offer of Solutions
  • Bernardini’s role in the project, offering cost-effective solutions.
  • Mention of the possibility of changing calibers and the development of solutions for weaponry and control systems.
  1. Finalization and Operationalization
  • Finalization of the project, with the operationalization of M41-B.
  • Display of M41-B alongside XI A2 Carcará, showcasing the successful modernization.

Comparison between M41 and M41B:

Observed Aspect CC M-41 B CC M-41 A3
Time to reach 40 Km/h on flat terrain 12.5 seconds 13.5 seconds
Time to cover the first km on flat terrain 77 seconds 79 seconds
Speed on a 10% slope 45 Km/h 45 Km/h
Maximum speed on flat terrain 65 Km/h 72 Km/h

Homologation of M-41B Repowered:

  1. February 19, 1979: The final report on the M-41 Combat Vehicle repowering kit was presented. The prototype, named M-41B, resulted from collaborative work between IPD and Bernardini S/A of São Paulo, with assistance from SAAB-Scania do Brasil SIA.
  • Key Information:
    • Approval for use in other vehicles operated by the Army.
    • Prototype created for testing by various Military Organizations.
    • Repowering kit description included a Saab-Scania Diesel engine, model DS-14, turbocharged, with 350 HP at 2300 rpm.
  1. Homologation Report Details:
  • Saab-Scania DS-14 engine with eight cylinders in a “V” shape, water-cooled, 350 HP.
  • Hydraulic system for cooling with two fans at the rear of the vehicle.
  • Fuel tanks with a total capacity of 550 liters.
  • Electrical system with two 12V batteries and four 60A alternators.
  • Air intake system with two parallel air filters.
  • Instrument panel with various indicators for engine and vehicle status.
  • Additional armor at the rear for fan housing, requiring a change in the cannon’s negative position limit.
  1. Test Results and Observations:
  • Operational characteristics, fuel consumption, and autonomy were tested.
  • The vehicle demonstrated excellent obstacle-crossing capability and agility.
  • Comparative tests with M-41A3 showed equivalent performance, with slight differences in agility.
  • Tests in Pirassununga indicated the vehicle’s ability to operate at temperatures up to 50°C.
  1. Considerations and Modifications:
  • Positive aspects included performance, fuel efficiency, extended range, and enhanced safety with the diesel engine.
  • The M-41B featured additional rear armor for fan housing and a redesigned motor chamber.
  • Limitation in the cannon’s negative position due to modifications, addressed with a limiting kit on the turret.
  • The Saab-Scania DS-14 engine underwent modifications for installation, including a special oil cooler and hydraulic cooling system.image
  1. Final Homologation:
  • The homologation was completed through an Audit Report on November 19, 1985, by SFIEQ/CTEx.
  • The M-41B was eventually transformed into M-41C, with Bernardini S/A handling the project, including engine replacement, cannon repowering, and comprehensive component revisions.
  1. Additional Improvements:
  • The CTEx introduced a battery charger for M-41C and M-113B, facilitating recharging without battery removal.
  • Unfortunately, this improvement was later abandoned, reverting to the traditional method of battery removal for recharging.
  1. Production and Transformation:
  • A total of 91 M-41Bs were produced and later transformed into M-41Cs by Bernardini S/A, involving motor replacement, cannon repowering, and extensive component overhauls.
  • The transformation process included the installation of modern equipment such as night vision, laser rangefinders, and stabilization.

More power (350hp for 400hp):


Lacombe Indústria e Comércio de Tubos Ltda, offered to work on the engine aiming to increase power at the same time as creating a dry Carter, reducing its height. The work and increase in power was no greater than that offered by Scania itself from 350 to 400 HP

such as the development of a dry sump for a Scania DSI-14 engine, achieving a reduction of 170mm in height, and in the Scania DSI-11 engine which began to work inclined at 60 degrees, reducing the height by 350mm, lowering the center of gravity in applications amphibians.

M41B with side skirts, package called armor add-on

M41B Engesa/Cockerill 90mm cannon:


It should be noted that two vehicles were armed with a 90mm cannon, one being a 90mm Cokerill/Engesa. This could have been the ideal solution to solve the cannon problem once and for all, but the final costs made it unviable and it was abandoned.

M41B with engesa/Cockerill 90mm Cannon

M41B with engesa/Cockerill 90mm Cannon

M41B with engesa/Cockerill 90mm Cannon

M41B with engesa/Cockerill 90mm Cannon



The M41B was armed with EC-90 III (Engesa’s licence produced Cockerill 90 mm low pressure cannon) with a recoil stroke of 500 mm and a gun depression of 8 degrees and elevation of 17 degrees, as secondary armament, it had a .30 coaxial machine gun (with 2,500 rounds) and a fixed roof-mounted for a .50 (with 750 rounds) located in the left side of the turret in front of the commander’s cupola.




Tests around the world:

  1. Tests in Denmark (1987-1988):
  • An M-41B was sent for tests in Denmark in a partnership involving Bernardini and Krauss-Maffei, aiming to replace the original gasoline engine with the Scania diesel DS 14 A04 EXI.
  • The vehicle underwent a series of tests in Alborg for 45 days, demonstrating the project’s viability.
  • The vehicle had an accident during tests, colliding with an obstacle and damaging the suspension, but was towed by a Leopard IA4 and later recovered by Bernardini personnel, continuing its demonstration.
  • After the tests, the vehicle was brought back to Brazil as it belonged to the Army, not the company.
  1. Tests in Thailand and Taiwan:
  • An M-41 with the Brazilian kit was sent to Thailand and tested for three months at the Korat base.
  • Another vehicle was sent to Taiwan, where it was assembled at the Taichung base, competing with versions from other international competitors.
  • Taiwan had 1,200 M-41s at the time, representing a significant potential market.
  • A modernization kit was sent from Brazil to Singapore, painted in Caterpillar yellow to avoid appearing as a military item.
  • After the tests, there was no contractual agreement, and the countries ended up acquiring M-60s from the United States.
  1. Modernization in Uruguay (1988):
  • Bernardini partnered with ITC, and in collaboration with the Servicio de Material y Armamento of the Armored Cavalry Regiments 2 and Mechanized 4 of Uruguay, they replaced the engines of 22 M-41 AI U with the Scania DS14 A04 EXI version.
  • The Uruguayan M-41s were then designated M-41 AI UR (Uruguay Repowered).
  • All work was carried out in Uruguay.
  1. Export of Technology and Project Closure:
  • The idea of exporting the technology developed for M-41 repowering as a kit did not succeed due to competition from more modern combat vehicles at extremely low prices.
  • Most countries using M-41 gradually phased out these vehicles, making the repowering project unfeasible.
  • Brazil and Uruguay were the main countries that chose repowering during this period.
  • Bernardini modernized more than 350 M-41 combat vehicles, conducted tests in Brazil, Thailand, and Taiwan, gaining insights into the program and competing internationally.
  1. Development of the “Standard Tank” and Contribution to the Brazilian Industry:
  • Participation in international competitions generated ideas and suggestions incorporated into the national project.
  • The “Standard Tank” emerged as the final version of the M-41 modernized in Brazil, with lessons learned, errors, and successes.
  • Bernardini’s involvement in repowering projects contributed to the development of the Brazilian defense industry.
  • This unprecedented process in the country demonstrated the feasibility of maintaining, repowering, and creating new armored vehicles, positively impacting the national defense sector.

Engine Images:




Carro de Combate Leve M-41 WALKER BULLDOG no Exército Brasileiro 1960 - 2001 - DefesaNet


ecsbdefesa.com.br – 100 ANOS DE BLINDADOS NO EXÉRCITO BRASILEIRO 1921 – 2021 – PARTE 2



Off The Mark: US Revamp: M41UR

EXPEDITO BASTOS - Aplicabilidade do Emprego do Canhão de 90 mm em Veículos Militares no Brasil - DefesaNet



A more mobile M41 with a bigger gun? Hell yeah! +1 for LatAm.