Thyssen Henschel UR-416
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Salvadoran Army Thyssen Henschel UR-416
|Type||Armoured Personnel Carrier|
|Place of origin||West Germany|
|Height||2.52 m (with turret), 2.25 m (hull top)|
|Armor||9 mm welded steel|
|1 7.62 mm machine gun|
|Engine||Daimler-Benz OM352 turbo diesel
|Suspension||wheels, 4 x 4|
|600 to 700 km|
Overseas, there were many UNIMOG customers and many of them would welcome a version with an armoured ruggedized chassis. So in 1965 this form was designed based on a Unimog 4x4 chassis. The UR-416 was produced from 1969 only for export. The hull is welded steel up to 9mm thick, the driving position is in front, where there is also that of vehicle commander.
The UR-416 was developed as a private venture by Rheinstahl Maschinenbau (which later became Thyssen Maschinenbau and now is Henschel Wehrtechnik GmbH). The first prototype was completed in 1965 and production started in 1969 and 1,030 were built, mostly for the export market. The UR-416 series is no longer being marketed and has been replaced by the TM 170, also now no longer being marketed. The UR-416 has been designed primarily for internal security operations but can also be used for a wide variety of other roles such as command and communications, reconnaissance and field workshop.
The UR-416 is essentially the chassis of a Mercedes-Benz Unimog cross-country vehicle fitted with an armoured body. Spare automotive parts are identical to those used in the truck and are therefore available from commercial sources. Eight infantry can be transported in the back, while the engine is the middle. There is one medium sized door on each side but not a rear. The high mobility is enhanced by the suspension of the typical project, high travel time to be affiliated to surface. Generally only light machine guns are fitted as armament, but other weapons can be arranged, for example, water cannons, as well as from 20mm gun turrets. There are versions as media workshop, ambulance vehicle, command vehicle.
Among the options there are a 5-ton winch, a night vision system, passive or active, shovel for removing obstacles, communication to the public through megaphones, and so forth. There are two weapons slits on each side.
Over 1,000 vehicles were exported to African, Middle East, and Europe. Often the medium is used for patrolling of sensitive targets such as airports, or to tasks of public policy. Rarely is it used for tasks of armed force as a vehicle to transport standard for the army, not in Europe, where they are needed most modern vehicles.
Overall it is very similar to the vehicle the ACMAT TPK 4.2 PSF, both are derived from the trucks of military success with a load capacity is used for the metal shell. Both methods are low cost, limited performance, but with a high efficiency and compatibility with the line of trucks logistics, and similar vehicles are often the only alternative for armies poorly resourced Financial or air forces or paramilitaries.
Ambulance - Carries eight sitting, or four sitting and two stretcher patients plus a crew of two.
Command and Communications - May be fitted with additional communications equipment and map boards.
Internal Security - The internal security model can be fitted with an obstacle-clearing blade at the front of the hull. The lower half of the blade is made of welded steel with web stiffening, and the upper half consists of a pipe framework with a robust wire grille which gives the driver and commander forward observation. The height of the blade can be adjusted hydraulically from the driver's seat and it can also be removed for transport when it is usually stowed at the rear of the hull. The vehicle can be fitted with the same turrets as the reconnaissance model but one cupola has been specifically developed for the internal security role. This cupola can be rotated through 360° and is infinitely lockable in any required position. At the front of the cupola above each other are two vision blocks with bulletproof glass and ball mounts. The cupola hatch opens to the rear and can be locked at 180°. Two vision blocks with ball mounts and a further 10 vision blocks (in double rows) give improved observation. To the right of the two ball mounts is a flap which is opened to hold a tear gas nozzle. Tear gas mixture is provided from tanks which hold a maximum of 500 litres.
Reconnaissance - This could be fitted with many types of weapons turrets.
Maintenance/Repair Workshop - This has a full range of tools, work benches, a vice and cutting equipment, and an A-frame can be erected at the front of the hull to enable the vehicle to change engines and other components. When the A-frame is in use, two stabilisers are lowered at the front of the hull.
Police - The vehicle can be equipped as a police vehicle with (e.g. Mine-sweeping shield, search headlight) or more militarily (e.g. Tire pressure adjustment system, NBC protection facility, night-vision devices) additional devices to be modular equipped, and with turrets with machine guns or a 20mm-cannon can be used.
In the late 1970s the UR-416 begun to be copied by some countries subjected to arms embargoes and guerrilla organizations which were unable to acquire it legally.
The Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) guerrilla factions based in Lebanon assembled at their workshops in the refugee camps of West Beirut some eight armoured cars and differed little from the original UR-416 design. Minor details could be found in the positioning of the headlights, which were bolted to the side of the engine compartment and protected by a box-shaped brush guard, instead of being mounted on top as per in the West German model. They were first displayed publicly at a PLO parade held at Beirut in April 1981, some of them fitted with roof-top Sagger or ENTAC anti-tank rocket systems though period photos show that they were more often armed with a single Browning M1919A4 .30 caliber (7.62mm) or M2HB .50 Browning (12.7 x 99mm) heavy machine guns mounted in the roof.
Another country to produce clandestine copies of the UR-416 in the 1970s was Rhodesia. In October 1976 the Rhodesian Army’s special counterinsurgency unit, the Selous Scouts, decided to build two armoured vehicles of this type for their cross-border covert raids (‘externals’) on guerrilla bases in neighbouring Mozambique. Plans were drawn by the Rhodesian Corps of Engineers’(RhEME) drawing office from a commercial brochure and the vehicles were assembled in just 3 weeks at the Army Workshops of Inkomo Garrison by a team of skilled Scouts using South African Iscor 6mm ballistic steel plates. Unlike other Rhodesian armoured vehicles however, they were not protected against landmines. Nicknamed the ‘Pig’, the first vehicle was an exact copy of the original design, having an all-welded body with a fully enclosed troop compartment. The second ‘Pig’ differed slightly, having a raised roof over the driver and commander seats, a rear door and an open-top troop compartment at the back, which allowed provision for three FN MAG 58 7.62 x 51mm NATO light machine guns to be installed on pivot mounts mounted on the vehicle’s inner side walls. For additional firepower, the vehicles were often armed with twin M2 .50 Browning (12.7 x 99mm) heavy machine guns or modified Mk5 20mm Hispano-Suiza autocannons taken from old Rhodesian Air Force de Havilland Vampire Mk9 single-seater fighter jets and mounted on a pintle fitted with a gun shield to protect the gunner.
The design of the UR-416 provided the basis which inspired the Rhodesians to develop the more advanced and highly successful Mine Protected Combat Vehicle - MPCV in 1978-79.
At least one PLO UR-416 was captured in West Beirut by the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) in the wake of the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in June 1982 and it is now in display at the Batey ha-Osef museum, Tel Aviv, Israel. The pro-Israeli Christian Lebanese Forces (LF) militia also managed to salvage another such vehicle in early 1983, which one of their ‘Commando’ units employed at the Sidon bridgehead in 1985 against the locally-based Popular Nasserite Organization (PNO) militia. This particular vehicle was later captured from the LF by the PNO who quickly pressed it into service, remaining in their hands until the end of the Lebanese Civil War in October 1990. The fate of the remaining 6 vehicles is unknown, with various sources stating that they were left uncompleted in their West Beirut workshops and were later destroyed in the violent clashes that ravaged the Lebanese Capital in the 1980s.
The Rhodesian ‘Pigs’ were successfully tested in combat by a Selous Scouts’ flying mini-column that raided two ZANLA camps on the Mapai area of southern Mozambique in late 1976 (Operation “Mardon”), though their lack of mine-protection was found to be a major drawback. Despite its flaws, the vehicles served well the Selous Scouts in their operations and even after the disbandment of the unit in 1980 they remained at the service of the new Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) for several more years.
Current user countries of the UR-416 are:
- El Salvador, 8 in service with the Salvadoran Army
- Germany, with Alert Police
- Pakistan, 46 in service with the Pakistan Army. 
- Saudi Arabia,
- Spain, Spanish Police
- Venezuela, with the Venezuelan National Guard.
- Greece, Police
- Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), 2 in service with the Selous Scouts passed on to successor state.
- Palestine, 8 in service with the Palestinian Liberation Organization in Lebanon.
- Lebanon, one ex-PLO vehicle in service with the Lebanese Forces and later the Popular Nasserite Organization.
The UR-416 made few appearances in film or pop culture. Its only major film appearance was in the 1984 movie Sheena, wherein one was used by the Colonel Jorgensen (John Forgeham) and his small army of soldier mercenaries, the Black Berets.
- Locke & Cooke, Fighting Vehicles and Weapons of Rhodesia 1965-80 (1995), p. 93
- Katz, Battleground Lebanon (1990), p. 38.
- Zaloga, Tank battles of the Mid-East Wars (2003), p. 56.
- Stiff, Selous Scouts Top Secret War (1983), p. 425.
- John Pike. "Pakistan Army Equipment". Globalsecurity.org.
- Christopher F. Foss, Jane's Tank and Combat Vehicle Recognition Guide, HarperCollins Publishers, London 2002. ISBN 0-00-712759-6
- Peter Gerard Locke & Peter David Farquharson Cooke, Fighting Vehicles and Weapons of Rhodesia 1965-80, P&P Publishing, Wellington 1995. ISSN 0-473-02413-6
- Peter Stiff, Selous Scouts Top Secret War, Galago Publishing (Pty) Ltd., 1983.
- Samuel M. Katz and Ron Volstad, Battleground Lebanon, Concord Publications, Hong Kong 1990. ISBN 962-361-003-3
- Steven J. Zaloga, Tank battles of the Mid-East Wars (2): The wars of 1973 to the present, Concord Publications, Hong Kong 2003. ISBN 962-361-613-9
- UR-416 description
- Selous Scouts UR-416 vehicles
- Rhodesian UR-416 Pig artwork by Derrick Stitt 1984 with information and photos
- Photos of Rhodesian UR-416 Pigs on operations