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For other uses, see Buffel (disambiguation).
Buffel armoured personnel carrier (9673155629).jpg
Decommissioned Buffel in Port Elizabeth.
Place of origin South Africa
Weight 6.14 t
Length 5.1 m (16.73 ft)
Width 2.05 m (6.73 ft)
Height 2.95 m (9.68 ft)
Crew 1+10

Optional M1919A4 / FN MAG 7.62 mm MG
Engine Mercedes-Benz OM352 6-cylinder or Atlantis Diesel Engines 352 6-cylinder diesel[1]
Suspension 4×4 wheeled
1000 km (620 mi)
Speed Road 96 km/h (60 mph)
Off-road 30 km/h (19 mph)

The Buffel (English: Buffalo) is a mine-protected infantry mobility vehicle used by the South African Army during the South African Border War. The Buffel was also used as an armoured fighting vehicle and proved itself in this role. It was replaced by the Mamba from 1995 in South Africa,[1] but remains in use elsewhere, notably Sri Lanka.

Production history[edit]

The Buffel was the first truly effective landmine-protected armored personnel carrier to enter service anywhere. The South African Army began deploying it in the operational area from 1978. The Buffel was an improvement over the Bosvark which offered little protection to the driver. In 1974, 54 Mercedes-Benz Unimog 416-162 chassis had hastily converted into Bosvark by 61 Base Workshops in Pretoria. Bosvark offered limited landmine protection to the crew, but compensated for this with good off-road mobility.[1][2] It is estimated that around 2,400 Buffel were delivered before production stopped. Sri-Lanka purchased a number of Buffels in the 1980s, and in the early 1990s the vehicle was exported to Uganda.[1]

The Buffel (Afrikaans for Buffalo) was not a wholly South African built vehicle, but made use of the chassis, engine and some other components of the Mercedes-Benz U416-162 Unimog,[1] which were married to the armoured driver's cab and separate armoured troop compartment. The driver's cab was situated on the left with the engine compartment on the right. Later models replaced the original Mercedes-Benz OM352 engine[1] with copies built under license by Atlantis Diesel Engines factory near Cape Town.

Land mine protection was provided by the V-shaped hull underneath these compartments, which quite effectively deflected the blast. The troop compartment contained two plastic tanks in the vee beneath the floor, a 200-litre diesel tank and a 100-litre water tank. The water tank provided drinking water to the occupants by means of a tap at the rear of the vehicle. It was a commonly held misconception amongst the troops that the weight of the water added to the blast protection.

In order to help dissipate the energy from hitting a mine, the large tires were usually filled with water, adding, as was told, about 500 kg per wheel to the vehicle weight.


Rhino (left) and Bulldog (right) of the South African military, Swartkop Air Force Base.
  • Buffel - original
  • Buffel Mk 1 - Improved engine and bushguard/bumper
  • Buffel Mk 1B - Disc brakes replaced drum brakes[1]
  • Log Buffel - Logistic/Cargo version, a standard Buffel with the seat assembly removed from the troop compartment
  • Moffel - See Buffel Mk IIA below.[1]
  • Unicorn - Sri Lankan produced version of the Buffel original.
  • Unibuffel - Sri Lankan produced version of the Mk 1 with a Tata engine.
  • Buffel Mk IIA - Essentially a rebuild of earlier Mk 1s with an enclosed troop compartment, a rear exit door and large bulletproof windows on the sides and rear. Referred to as Moffel.[1]
  • Buffel Mk IIB - Cargo carrier. The SA Army ordered 57 of these in the early 1980s. Payload capacity stated as 2.637 tons.[1]
  • Bulldog - based on SAMIL 20 truck with the driver's cab on the right. The Bulldog was utilized by the SAAF for patrolling airfields. A variant called the Ystervark was produced and used in the anti-aircraft role.[1]
  • Rhino - A further development of the Bulldog but with the driver seated inside a fully enclosed troop compartment. 20 were produced for the SAAF.[1]


Map with Buffel operators in blue with former operators in red

Current operators[edit]

Former operators[edit]

Combat history[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "Surviving The Ride ISBN 978-1-928211-17-4". 30 Degrees South. Retrieved 2015-07-24. 
  2. ^ Engelbrecht, Leon (2010-01-21), Fact file: Mamba APC/MRAP, DefenceWeb, retrieved 2013-07-09 
  3. ^ "Scramble for the Congo - Anatomy of an Ugly War" (PDF). ICG Africa. 2000-12-20. Retrieved 2013-06-18. 

External sources/Bibliography[edit]