Panhard M3

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Panhard M3
M3 VTT at Tempe School of Armour, Bloemfontein
TypeArmored personnel carrier
Place of originFrance
Service history
Used bysee operators
WarsAngolan Civil War
Lebanese Civil War
Western Sahara conflict
Second Malayan Emergency
Internal conflict in Burma
Iran–Iraq War
Gulf War
Iraq War
Iraqi Civil War
Yemeni Civil War (2015)
Production history
No. built1200
Variantssee variants
Mass6,100 kilograms (13,400 lb)
Length445 centimetres (175 in)
Width240 centimetres (94 in)
Height248 centimetres (98 in)

Armor8–12 millimetres
see armament
EnginePanhard 4 HD
90 horsepower
Power/weight14.75 hp/t
Payload capacity1,360 kilograms (3,000 lb)
Ground clearance35 centimetres (14 in)
Fuel capacity165 litres (44 US gal)
600 kilometres (370 mi)
Speed90 kilometres per hour (56 mph)

The Panhard M3 VTT (French: Véhicule de Transport de Troupes), armoured personnel carrier was designed as a private venture with the first prototype completed in 1969. The prototype had a single door in each side of the hull and twin doors in the hull rear. Mounted on the top of the hull was a Giat Industries one-person manually operated turret armed with a 7.5 mm AA-52 machine gun.

The first production vehicle, had a redesigned hull incorporating three hatches on either side of the troop compartment, and was completed in 1971. The Panhard M3 armoured personnel carrier shares 95% of its working parts with the Panhard AML armoured car, encouraging many countries to employ both the M3 and the AML in order to reduce operational costs.

The M3 VTT was subsequently replaced in production by the Panhard VCR. It remains one of the most common Western-built wheeled armoured personnel carriers in the world.[1]


The hull of the Panhard M3 is made of all-welded steel armour. The driver is seated at the front of the vehicle and has a single-piece hatch cover that opens to the right and in which there are three day periscopes. The centre one can be replaced by an image intensification periscope for night driving. The Panhard 4 HD engine is behind the driver.

The suspension at each wheel station consists of coil springs and hydropneumatic shock-absorbers acting on the suspension arms of the wheel mechanism. The tyres have puncture-proof Hutchinson inner tubes.

There are four doors in the M3, one in each side of the hull and two in the rear. The rear doors both have a circular firing port. Along the upper part of each side of the hull are three hatches hinged at the top that can be locked open. The Panhard M3 can carry 10 troops in addition to its crew of two, or it can carry 1,360 kg of cargo.

There are two circular hatches in the roof, one behind the engine compartment and a second one at the rear with a single-piece hatch cover. A wide range of armament installations could be mounted on the forward position; typically these are a 7.62 mm or a 12.7 mm machine gun, but some users have fitted a turret-mounted 20 mm cannon.

The basic M3 is fully amphibious without preparation. It is propelled in the water by its wheels at a speed of 4 km/h, but it can operate only in lakes and rivers. Steering, when afloat, is by turning the front wheels as on land. Optional equipment includes an air conditioning system and smoke grenade dischargers.


  • M3 VTT: The VTT (Véhicule Transport de Troupes), is the main armoured personnel carrier variant.
  • M3 VDA anti-aircraft vehicle: The VDA (Véhicule de Défense Antiaérienne) is a modified M3 chassis fitted with a turret armed with twin 20 mm cannon and a day sight, with the option of an RA 20 series radar on the turret rear. One M3 VDA with the radar can control two other systems without the radar. In service with Côte d'Ivoire (6), Niger (10) and the United Arab Emirates (Abu Dhabi) (48).
  • M3 VAT repair vehicle: The VAT has a crew of five (commander, driver and three mechanics) and equipment fitted includes a pulley block with struts and tackle, cutting equipment, a generator, benches, a vice, towbars, tow cables and a complete range of tools.
  • M3 VPC command vehicle: The VCP has additional communications equipment, two additional batteries and map tables. Its basic crew consists of commander, assistant commander, driver and two radio operators plus command staff.
  • M3 VLA engineer vehicle: The VLA is fitted with a removable hydraulically operated dozer blade at the front of the hull and has a crew of six consisting of commander/gunner, driver, pioneer section commander and three pioneers.
  • M3 internal security vehicle: Is fitted with a front-mounted obstacle clearing blade and other equipment for use in the internal security role.
  • M3 VTS ambulance: The VTS has a crew of three (driver and two orderlies) and can carry four stretcher patients, six sitting wounded or two stretcher patients and three sitting wounded. It is unarmed and has a large single-piece door in the rear of the hull.
  • M3 VSB radar: The VSB is fitted with a variety of radar systems such as the RASIT battlefield surveillance radar or RA-20S air surveillance radar. The latter is used with the M3 VDA twin 20 mm self-propelled anti-aircraft gun system when this is not equipped with its own individual radar.
  • M3 VPM: Turret with breech-loading 81 mm mortar.
  • M3 VTT 60 B: Armed with 60 mm Hotchkiss-Brandt CM 60 A1 smoothbore breech-loading mortar.


Saymar M3 APC[edit]

The Israeli company of Saymar have completed development and testing of a new automotive upgrade package for the Panhard M3. Saymar have replaced the old petrol engine with a more fuel-efficient Toyota 2L-T diesel engine developing 102 hp. Other sub-systems upgraded include the manual transmission, new engine cooling system, new and improved electrical system, new disc braking system all round, hydraulic powered steering, new turret electrical system, communications and intercom system. All new electrical components include more reliable electrical wire bundles, electric voltage regulator, 24 V 65 A generator, 24 V starter, new drivers panel and new instrumental panel. This upgrade can be carried out in the user's own facilities with the aid of kits provided by Saymar or the company could carry out the work in its own facilities. This upgrade package could also be combined with a general overhaul of the vehicle to bring it up to an almost new build standard.

Irish army upgrade[edit]

In 1983 Irish army tested a M3 fitted with a 140 hp Peugeot V6 petrol engine. The test was successful, and 14 Irish Panhard M3s were rebuilt with the new engine as well as a new Citroën braking system, a 6-speed manual gearbox and new electrics.


  • TL.2.1.80 turret with twin 7.62 mm FN MAG machine guns.
  • TL.52.3.S turret with one 7.62 mm machine gun and three LRAC F1 anti-tank rocket launcher.
  • TL.52.S turret with one 7.62 mm machine gun and one LRAC F1 anti-tank rocket launcher.
  • CB.127 ring mount for 12.7 mm M2 Browning machine gun.
  • STB ring mount where hatch opens forward to form a shield with one 7.62 mm machine gun.
  • CB.20 M621 ring mount with 20 mm autocannon.
  • HOT: Equipped with four HOT long-range anti-tank missile.
  • MAS T 20.13.621 turret with AME 20 mm autocannon.

Combat history[edit]

Middle East[edit]

At least 60 M3 VTTs were delivered to the Lebanese Army in 1970-73[2][3] and saw considerable action during the Lebanese Civil War (1975–1990), with some being loaned to the Internal Security Forces (ISF) in 1976. Following the collapse of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) in January that year, a significant number of these vehicles fell into the hands of the competing militias, notably the Lebanese Arab Army (LAA), the Army of Free Lebanon (AFL),[4] Al-Mourabitoun,[5] Kataeb Regulatory Forces (KRF),[6] and the Tigers Militia.[7][8] A few M3 VTTs were again captured by the Lebanese Forces (LF) militia from the Lebanese Army during the Elimination War in 1988-90, and remained in service with the LF Military Police corps until the end of the Civil War in October 1990.[9]

List of operators[edit]

M3 VTT operators, past and present. Blue denotes contemporary operators, red former.
Irish Panhard M3 in UN colours.

Current operators[edit]

Former operators[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Bradford, James. International Encyclopedia of Military History (2006 ed.). Routledge Books. pp. 97–98. ISBN 978-0415936613.
  2. ^
  3. ^ Zaloga, Tank battles of the Mid-East Wars (2003), p. 52.
  4. ^ Kassis, Véhicules Militaires au Liban/Military Vehicles in Lebanon (2012), p. 57.
  5. ^ Kassis, Véhicules Militaires au Liban/Military Vehicles in Lebanon (2012), p. 44.
  6. ^ Kassis, Véhicules Militaires au Liban/Military Vehicles in Lebanon (2012), pp. 57; 59.
  7. ^ Kassis, 30 Years of Military Vehicles in Lebanon (2003), p. 24.
  8. ^ Kassis, Véhicules Militaires au Liban/Military Vehicles in Lebanon (2012), p. 56.
  9. ^ Kassis, 30 Years of Military Vehicles in Lebanon (2003), p. 47.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa "Trade Registers". Retrieved 2013-06-20.
  11. ^ Nerguizian, Aram; Cordesman, Anthony (2009). The North African Military Balance: Force Developments in the Maghreb. Washington DC: Center for Strategic and International Studies Press. pp. 25–27. ISBN 978-089206-552-3.
  12. ^ Bosnia Peace Process: Pace of Implementing Dayton Accelerated as International Involvement Increased (PDF) (Report) (First ed.). Washington D.C.: Government Accountability Office. June 1998. p. 170. Archived from the original (PDF) on 11 December 2008. Retrieved 28 June 2017.
  13. ^ "Iraq" (PDF). Tel-Aviv: Institute For National Security Studies. 11 May 2012. Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 June 2017. Retrieved 25 June 2016.
  14. ^ "Lebanon" (PDF). Tel-Aviv: Institute For National Security Studies. 30 August 2011. Archived from the original (PDF) on 26 June 2017. Retrieved 29 September 2016.
  15. ^ a b c "M3 and Buffalo". Newtown, Connecticut, United States: Forecast International, Incorporated. August 2006. Archived from the original on 26 June 2017. Retrieved 25 June 2017.
  16. ^ Christopher F. Foss. Jane's Tanks and Combat Vehicles Recognition Guide (2000 ed.). Harper Collins Publishers. pp. 330–335. ISBN 978-0-00-472452-2.
  17. ^ "Morocco" (PDF). Tel-Aviv: Institute For National Security Studies. 1 March 2016. Archived from the original (PDF) on 26 June 2017. Retrieved 25 June 2016.
  18. ^ Cordesman, Anthony (2001). A Tragedy of Arms: Military and Security Developments in the Maghreb. Westport: Praeger Books. p. 62. ISBN 978-0275969363.
  19. ^ "Eurosatory 2016 - Regional Focus: Middle East and Africa [ES2016D1]". London: Jane's Information Group. 13 June 2016. Archived from the original on 14 June 2016. Retrieved 29 September 2016.
  20. ^ Fitzsimmons, Scott (2013). Mercenaries in Asymmetric Conflicts. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 157–160. ISBN 978-1107-02691-9.
  21. ^ "Lesakeng". South African Armour Museum. 6 December 2012. Archived from the original on 3 July 2013. Retrieved 18 June 2013.


  • Christopher F. Foss, Jane's Tank and Combat Vehicle Recognition Guide, HarperCollins Publishers, London 2002. ISBN 0-00-712759-6
  • Samer Kassis, 30 Years of Military Vehicles in Lebanon, Beirut: Elite Group, 2003. ISBN 9953-0-0705-5
  • Samer Kassis, Véhicules Militaires au Liban/Military Vehicles in Lebanon 1975-1981, Trebia Publishing, Chyah 2012. ISBN 978-9953-0-2372-4
  • 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