SA's own Unimog

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SA's own Unimog

Post by Pine »

Interesting story which I enjoyed reading. As posted yesterday on Facebook by Koos de Wet:
Dis vanjaar 38 jaar gelede (1978) dat ek die Unimog plaaslik vervaardigde kajuit ontwerp en saam met Busaf PE ontwikkel, getoets en vervaardig het. Dit het saamgeval met wat die beginjare was van wat later die Samilprojek geword het en Krygkor het dus nie belanggestel nie en dit ook baie duidelik gemaak dat dit hoogstens n baie kort dienslewe sou he (alhoewel dit BAIE goedkoper as die Samil 20 was!) was en dan sou verdwyn indien dit enigsins suksesvol sou wees.

Hierdie projek het my ook n helse drag slae laat kry deur die bestuursraad van Daimler Benz destyds (maar het terselfdertyd ook baie deure vir my later oopgemaak binne die topbestuur van daardie organisasie).

Toe hulle die eerste fotos sien (en meer spesifiek hierdie met die Mercedes ster op die neus) bars daar n kernbom in die raadsaal van D-B in Stuttgart en word ek en my destydse CEO, Morris Shenker beveel om binne 24 uur voor die raad te verskyn en te "please explain". Ons het eintlik nie geweet waaroor alles gaan nie en toe ons die volgende oggend 10 uur voor die VOLLE raad verskyn toe weet ek HKGK!

Aan die woord was die destydse direkteur en hoof vragmotorontwerper van D-B, Artur Mischke en hy het my omtrent beetgekry ...............omdat ek dit gewaag het om die Mercedes ster op my kajuit te sit! Ek moes vir amper n uur luister hoe D-B se ontwerpvermoe en reputasie oor amper n eeu opgebou is deur beroemde ontwerpers en wie dink ek is ek om die "heilige ster" op my lelike "derdewereld" kajuit te plaas. En hoe langer hy aangaan hoe groeter bult die are in sy nek en hoe meer spoeg sproei oor die tafel soos n ligte reenbui teen die agtergrond van die raadsaaligte. Boggerol is eintlik oor die kajuit self gese (wat ek gedink het eintlik die probleem was voor die vergadering).Uiteindelik kom hierdie pynlike (vir my) skrobbering genadiglik tot n einde en ek word uit die vegadering verskoon terwyl Mnr Shenker moet agterbly. Ek weet toe al wat gaan kom.

Die see kon my nie afwas nie en ek het begin beplan om van loopbaan te verander sodra ek die volgende dag in SA terug is. Verpletter en verneder het ek die raadsaal verlaat en begin gereed maak om nog dieselfde aand terug te keer SA toe. Groot was my verbasing dus toe Mnr Shenker later by my hotel kamer in die Hotel Zeppelin instap en vir my se ek vlieg nie terug nie want Mnr Mischke het vir hom en vir my genooi vir n privaat ete daardie aand!!

Lang storie kort - Ek ontmoet toe daardie aand n heel ander (en ook die ware) Artur Mischke wat my se hy moes doen wat hy gedoen het MAAR hy het respek en waardering vir wat ek gedoen het en as ek in die toekoms tegniese hulp nodig het met enige nuwe projekte dan kan ek hom DIREK skakel maar ek moet net NOOIT WEER die M-B Ster op enige van my ontwerpe wat D-B komponente gebruik, plaas nie. Ek het later van hierdie aanbod gebruik gemaak en vir meer as 20 jaar n besonderse verhouding met daardie organisasie en hul topbestuur gehad, n voorreg wat nie baie mense buite D-B gehad het nie.

En drie weke gelede sien ek sowaar twee van hierdie ou Unimogs met my kajuite net buite Somerset Wes en toe kom al die ou herinneringe weer terug en per slot van sake, wat was n goeie pak slae tussen vriende nou gemeet teen al die positiewe wat daaruit gevolg het.

Dit was inderdaad goeie dae daardie, hoe mens ookal daarna kyk.
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Re: SA's own Unimog

Post by fig »

Thanks for the article Pine. I couldn't understand most of it, but I now know where that style of mog came from. I had wondered if that cab was a SA design; now I know.
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Re: SA's own Unimog

Post by jolas »

cool story !
by fig » Mar 26, 2018
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Re: SA's own Unimog

Post by John Alves »

I drove a closed version (Medic truck) of that truck on the border in the bad old days, slow and noisy as hell, but could climb anything.
No sense being pessimistic. It wouldn't work anyway.

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Re: SA's own Unimog

Post by Pine »

Another interesting article regarding the development of the Buffel from the Unimog

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Article from Koos de Wet: The Buffel - Part 3a
The meeting that led up to the Buffel
It was mid April 1976 when Hans Buliczka, Daimler Benz Unimog Division Regional Manager for Africa contacted me advising that he wanted to visit to get firsthand information on how the Unimogs had done in SADF service during Operation Savannah because large orders were being placed for parts to repair and maintain them after their return from Angola when South Africa withdrew in March 1976. Judging by the spare parts orders they must have seen a fair deal of service/action.
As was customary, we arranged meetings for the factory representatives like Hans with various SADF personnel, from corporals to generals, to obtain whatever (useful) information we could with a view to improving/upgrading/modifying the Unimog 416.162 in spite of the fact that we had been advised that there would not be any further Unimog purchases at the time. Little did we know, or did we?
One of the meetings I set up was with Brigadier Dennis Bielich and in late April we met with him in his office to get whatever feedback he could give us (the good, the bad and the ugly as we always referred to the feedback from these debriefing sessions) regarding the deployment of the Unimogs in combat with the SADF . The brigadier was a no-nonsense, straight down the middle gentleman who simply told things like they were without straying into the "geheim/top secret" domain.
With the introductory pleasantries behind us, the brigadier raised the following matters (according to my notes) :
1. By and large the troops were happy with the Unimogs which mobility-wise were a big (and welcome) step up from the Bedfords.
2. The 12.5 x 20 tyres were new to the SADF and plans were afoot to produce these locally and with tougher sidewalls as the Michelins and Dunlop E13 tyres fitted as standard had soft sidewalls and whilst great in mud and sand, were quite often punctured by the notorious camelthorns and broken tree stumps, branches and sharp rocks. Noted.
3. The left-hand drive layout took some getting used to, but they could live with that and anyway, there was no right-hand drive option with this model.
4. Hans advised that the New Generation Unimog had a right-hand drive version available but the SADF were not interested in that.
5. The Unimog wheel-track of 1616mm, narrower than the other SADF vehicles, was a nuisance when it came to following wheel-tracks of other vehicles and Hans made a note to follow this up and see what the Unimog factory could do to help, but it had to be remembered that this was a runout product and it was highly unlikely wider axles could be considered with all the re-design and testing required. We did get an offset rim later though for the Buffel that increased the wheeltrack to 1740mm
6. There were cab rust issues which needed attention due to the tropical humidity and constant rain encountered in Angola.
7. Landmines were becoming a major headache and up to that point sandbags in the cab and on the rear body were mostly used on the Unimogs to provide some protection for the driver and crew, but they were really of limited value.
8. The CDU of the CSIR had developed the Bosvark (which we knew about) but a better solution was needed.
9. Then Brig Bielich asked Hans the following:
a. Did the Unimog factory have any equipment or designs/measures they could suggest to improve the landmine protection of the Unimogs
b. Did they perhaps have or know of a ballistically protected cab or half-cab that could perhaps be locally modified to improve the blast protection
c. Did they have a rear body that could be modified to provide better blast protection as well as ballistic protection for the crew who in the Bosvark were totally exposed to small arms fire.
d. The Brigadier was also familiar with the UR-416 light armoured vehicle made by Thyssen Henschel using a Unimog 416 chassis (see attached pictures taken from the internet) which had been evaluated locally as part of the Ratel programme where it was known as the "Boggelbees" and his thinking was that perhaps some of that technology could be used in some way to build a mine protected Unimog but it was a very long shot and the idea died a sudden death.
e. Could a rear body be built that did away with the standard platform subframe as used in the Bosvark which could lower the rear body which would assist in improving the stability because the center of gravity was quite high in the Bosvark
10. The brigadier also reminded us (as if we needed reminding) that the CDU had received a lot of funding for their research into landmine protection from the SADF and unfortunately we could not expect any official funding for whatever we wanted to do or came up with.
11. Lastly the brigadier raised an interesting subject and we were requested to keep it to ourselves. The SADF had captured a "Stalin Organ" multiple rocket launcher (complete with bullet holes in the cab) in Angola and were looking at copying the technology and building a smaller more compact version of it on a Unimog. Somchem in Somerset West were already looking at it, but could we perhaps help with a suitable subframe and hydraulically rotating platform base on which the bank of launcher tubes could be mounted. I suggested that perhaps a hydraulic crane could be used and its mast and extension arms removed leaving just the rotating base with the stabilizer legs normally used on hydraulic cranes. The brigadier was apparently thinking along the same lines and I undertook to follow this up which I did and a few weeks later I delivered a Unimog with just such a modified crane base. What was done with this after I delivered it I have no record of.
Hans then continued with the rest of his visit and before he left we had a last wrap up meeting to discuss all that had happened and who was going to do what. Amongst other things, the following came up:
• Hans reminded me that Daimler Benz itself did itself not do military vehicle development but left that to specialist companies that did these developments and supported them with componentry and technical support as far as any components they supplied were concerned.
• They ( the Unimog factory) had no mine protection technology available in house nor were they aware of any companies in Germany that had anywhere near the experience comparable to what was available in South Africa so could not assist with that either.
• If we were to undertake any special vehicle development in South Africa they would not be able to support us other than with chassis drawings, technical support and special components from their existing range that could assist us.
• We were also cautioned not to do anything silly r irresponsible which could harm either the vehicle's image and reputation or the reputation of Daimler Benz.
• He would make enquiries upon his return into what offset rims were available for other Unimog applications which could be considered for widening the wheeltrack of the Unimog 416.162. He was aware that Lemmerz in Germany made a range of offset Unimog rims so would see what he could find out and let me know..
After Hans's departure in early May 1976 I started playing around with the idea of designing a blast and ballistically protected rear crew capsule for the Unimog with integral mounts (but which still allowed full chassis movement) which could do away with the subframe and help reduce the centre of gravity and within a few days a rough concept started crystallizing in my mind:
1. To keep weight and centre of gravity down I would design a rear body with integral mounts in the same position as the standard platform, 2 points fixed in the middle and the front and rear mounts able to swivel on crossmembers bolted to the chassis. This allowed the standard platform subframe to be deleted and would reduce the height by about 250mm.It would also be stronger than the setup used in the Bosvark where the body was mounted on the platform subframe which was not strong enough as it had not been designed for that.
2. The body would have a ballistically protected headboard, tailboard and dropsides to protect the crew from small arms fire and allow them to return fire over the top. They could actually crouch down behind the dropsides making them safe from small arms fire.
3. The dropsides would also fold down allowing the crew to jump out from a lower height than over the top
4. Back to back seating would be used like in the standard Unimog
5. The fuel tank would be put inside the body under the floor to protect it from small arms fire.
6. A drinking water tank would also be carried inboard under the floor
7. Because the fuel tank would of necessity be a long triangular shaped one, a protected balance tank would be mounted outside below the body to draw fuel from both the front and the rear of the fuel tank to avoid fuel starvation in hilly terrain.
8. To keep the underbody area as clear as possible to facilitate the passage of high pressure gas from a mine explosion, the spare wheel would be mounted at the rear
9. The batteries would be relocated and put in a ballistically protected box away from the chassis to keep that area as clear as possible of any fittings and fixtures that could be in the way of a mine blast.
10. A suitable frame with canvas cover would be fitted to provide cover for the troops
The Unimog 416.162 had a GVM of 6000kg and an empty weight of over 3000kg so I had to be careful with whatever I designed not to exceed the GVM.
My calculations showed that with the design I had in mind, I was well within the weight limit so that gave me the confidence to embark on such a project.
As UCDD, my employer at the time, possessed no bodybuilding facility I would have to partner with a company or companies that could work with me to do such a project on a risk sharing basis and immediately my thoughts turned to DogsBodies in East London who were already doing work for me on the Unimogs to do the bodybuilding part of the project and to Messrs Transerve Pty Ltd in PE whose owner, Pat Ball I knew well from past (first class) work they had done for me. Transerve could do all the braking, electrical , air filtration and fuel system modifications.
Phone calls to both companies with the broad outline of what I had in mind resulted in immediate, enthusiastic and positive responses and I invited them to a meeting in East London at the DogsBodies premises to talk through what I had in mind. This was late May 1976.
At the meeting I showed them my drawings and rough calculations and shared with them what I considered the market potential to be (my estimate between 50 and 100 at the time!) because it was nearly impossible to get any information from Armscor or the SADF on potential number so it was at best an optimistic thumb-suck and I happily plead guilty to that error of judgement.
Thumb-suck or not, it was sufficient to have both the Dogsbodies and Transerve management confirm without hesitation that they wanted in and so as partners, we settled on the following that fateful day:
1. I would be the Project leader and chief designer for the project
2. All parties would bear their own costs for the development
3. DogsBodies and Transerve would be given the work for their scope of supply if and when orders were received and in that way they could recoup their development costs
4. The development would be done on the premises of DogsBodies in East London
5. DogsBodies would make their Chief Draughtsman (Piet Smit) available to do detailed drawings for me and their workshop supervisor, Don McKay to supervise the building of the prototype.
6. Transerve would make available one of their top technicians, Clive Fyfe, to come to East London and work with us to do the braking, electrical and fuel modifications on site.
7. We would build a plywood mock up to start with to see where we could locate or relocate components before finalizing the drawings and cutting steel. For example, we needed to determine how high the drop-sides should ideally be and where they should be hinged etc and the mock-up would be ideal for that.
8. There were other minor details we also discussed but these were the main points
We were all ware of the following and knew the (huge) risks we were taking when we decided to go ahead with this project :
1. Brigadier Bielich had already told us that no development funding was available from the SADF so that was a given and no financial support could be expected from them.
2. Armscor and the SADF were already going into "Air Cooled New Generation (later SAMIL) mode" and would hardly be supportive of what we had in mind.
3. Armscor had already told us the last Unimog contract was the "last and final" one so no support could be expected from that quarter
4. The CDU (Dr Joynt and his team) at CSIR had their own SADF funded projects they were busy with so no participation or involvement could be expected from them.
To summarise, we all were well aware of the huge risk we were taking, but went into it with our eyes open and with a handshake amongst friends and partners, the Buffel project as born.
As was expected of me, I then took this matter back to the Chairman of the Management Board of UCDD, Mr Shenker for his blessing, and without a second thought he gave me the OK and told me to get on with it.
The Buffel project was now officially "GO".
To Follow - The Buffel Project - Part 3b - Out of the starting blocks.
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Re: SA's own Unimog

Post by AlanH »

Thanks for sharing. Also read it on Aircooledvwsa.
Wonder why none of the Unimog crowd posted or knew of this.
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Re: SA's own Unimog

Post by Pine »

AlanH wrote:Also read it on Aircooledvwsa.
I thought THIS was Aircooledvwsa? :shock:
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Re: SA's own Unimog

Post by AlanH »

Hehe, this was also linked to another forum I'm on. thought I was posting there. Thanks anyway. :-)
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Re: SA's own Unimog

Post by Pine »

AlanH wrote:Hehe, this was also linked to another forum I'm on. thought I was posting there. Thanks anyway. :-)
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