Eland-90 at Bridge 14, 1970s
|Place of origin||South Africa|
|In service||1962 – 1990|
|Used by||See Operators|
|Wars||Angolan Civil War|
Rhodesian Bush War
South African Border War
Namibian War of Independence
Western Sahara War
Second Congo War
Chadian Civil War
|length||5.12 m (with gun)|
|Crew||3 (commander, driver, gunner)|
|1X90mm low recoil gun|
|2x .30 M1919 Browning|
|Engine||4-cylinder 2.5-litre petrol|
90 hp at 4,700 rpm
|Ground clearance||330 mm|
The Eland is an air portable light armoured car based on the Panhard AML. Designed and built by South Africa for long-range reconnaissance, it mounts either a 60mm breech-loading mortar or a GIAT 90mm gun on a very compact chassis. Although lightly armoured, the vehicle's permanent 4X4 drive makes it faster over flat terrain than many tanks.
Production history[edit | edit source]
Between 1962 and 1964, France approved a licence for the domestic production of the Panhard AML in South African plants. Imported as the VA (Vehicle A) Mk1, original AMLs from France and their local counterparts were first offered to the South African Defence Force in 1964.
Upon undergoing several upgrades to the steering (Mk2) and brake system (Mk3), each vehicle was also equipped with a custom 2.5 litre 4-cylinder petrol engine which superseded the air-cooled French models; electric clutches were concurrently replaced by more conventional hydraulic systems (Mk4, Mk5). While South Africa's AMLs remained externally similar to their Panhard counterparts, up to two-thirds of their parts and design were of indigenous origin by 1970. Subsequent models were thus officially designated Eland.
The Eland now formed the armoured backbone of the South African Army, although as early as 1969 SADF officials were discussing its replacement or supplementation with something more suited to countering tank warfare; at the time, Elands were considered no more than scout cars for rural patrols and border security. Having undergone extensive upgrade programmes in the early 1970s, there were now 369 Eland-60s and 131 Eland-90s under active service. Anticipating conventional military threats to South Africa from abroad, the SADF ordered another 356 vehicles and began fitting the existing fleet with ENTAC missiles for deployment in anti-tank roles.
Elands were first tested in combat against Cuban and MPLA forces in Angola during 1975's Operation Savannah. Their crews found fighting capability constrained when operating on terrain better suited for tracked vehicles, and criticised the lowness of the body, which made sighting difficult over thick bush. Additionally, five Elands were immobilised in hostile territory due to mechanical failure, at least three of them on roads. To minimise similar problems on future campaigns, the SADF began showing interest in a more dependable alternative operating for extended periods without logistical backup: Ratel.
The final Eland variant to be released was Eland Mk7, introduced in 1979. It included a new transmission, a turbocharged motor with power pack configuration, a lengthened hull, and a larger turret to accommodate taller South African servicemen. Some were immediately exported to Zimbabwe-Rhodesia to replace the older Mk4s then in service with the Rhodesian Security Forces, while others went on to serve throughout the remainder of the Angolan bush war. Since 1990, surviving Elands have been relegated to reserve roles or sold off to foreign governments and corporations; the South African National Defence Force has adopted the eight-wheeled Rooikat in their place.
Design[edit | edit source]
External[edit | edit source]
A boxy, squat, four-wheeled vehicle, the Eland's hull slopes downwards at the front and rear. There are semi-circular wheel arches with stowage bins adjacent to each rear wheel. Sand channels are mounted across the front of the hull, with headlamps located on either side of the towing shackle, beneath the channels. There are three periscopes fixed to the driver's top hatch. The gun turret, which overhangs at the rear, is shallow and rounded, with sloping sides and a prominent sighting periscope to the right. There is a domed cupola over the commander's hatch.
Armament[edit | edit source]
The Eland may carry one 90mm (3.54 in.) cannon with 29 rounds, or a breech-loaded 60mm (2.36 in.) HB 60 mortar with 56 rounds, in addition to 2,400 and 3,800 rounds stored for the machine guns, respectively. Two smoke dischargers are located on either side of the manually-powered turret. Eland-90s may be assisted via a non-stabilised optical fire control system.
Variants and upgrades[edit | edit source]
- Eland-60: Armed with a 60mm mortar and twin medium machine guns or one heavy machine gun. Used for mobile indirect fire support.
- Eland-90: Modified version of the AML H 90 armoured car, retaining the Panhard chassis but having a new Hispano-Suiza designed turret with a 90 mm GIAT F1 rifled gun, a co-axial machine gun, and an anti-aircraft gun. Provision also made for mounting up to four ENTAC or SS.11 missiles.
- Eland-20: 20mm autocannon fixed on a two-man turret; export models sold to Morocco and Uganda.
- Eland Mk1 (Panhard AML)
- Eland Mk2 (improved steering)
- Eland Mk3 (improved brakes)
- Eland Mk4 (modified fuel system/clutch)
- Eland Mk5 (first complete South African engine)
- Eland Mk6 (upgraded stowage bins)
- Eland Mk7
Operators[edit | edit source]
- Chad - Chadian Ground Forces: 82 refurbished Eland-90s purchased from a Belgian firm in 2007.
- Malawi - Malawian Army: 13 Eland-90s purchased from the SANDF in 1994.
- Morocco - Moroccan Army: 60 Elands delivered in 1981; provided with instructors for training the Moroccan crews.
- Zimbabwe - Zimbabwe National Army: 28 Eland-90s and undisclosed number of Eland-60s inherited from Rhodesian predecessor at independence in 1980.
Former Operators[edit | edit source]
- Rhodesia - Rhodesian Army: Up to 34 Eland-90s and Eland-60s acquired or on loan from South Africa, which initially limited their use in external raids. Disguised with South African Police licence plates prior to 1976.
Combat history[edit | edit source]
Affectionately known as "Noddy Cars" to their crews, SADF Elands were deployed extensively throughout the Angolan civil and South African border wars. During Operation Savannah, they proved more than a match for Cuban T-34s and wreaked devastation on lighter BRDM-2 reconnaissance vehicles and PT-76s. Later in the conflict, Eland-90s often fought heavier armour to a standstill by outmaneuvering enemy formations, striking from the flank, and breaking contact before a counterattack could be launched.
During the Rhodesian Bush War, RhACR manned Eland-90s in several engagements with ZIPRA, ZANLA, and Mozambican troops. Eland-60s were used for airfield security, although some did support mechanized operations in 1978. The armoured cars were directed to patrol particularly dangerous regions such as the Honde Valley, and often operated with little to no infantry support. Late in the war, Rhodesian engineers proved that even AP rounds fired from an AK-47 could sufficiently penetrate an Eland's frontal armour, but crewmen conceded that this disadvantage was offset by the vehicle's speed and weapon range. The Zimbabwe Defence Forces subsequently deployed Eland-90s against ZIPRA dissidents in Bulawayo during 1981's Entumbane Uprising, destroying three BTR-152s and a BRDM. At least 20 Zimbabwean Elands also saw action when the ZDF participated in the Second Congo War.
Because the Eland is widely regarded as a cheap and superior alternative to improvised technicals in harsh African conflict zones, it remains popular with several sub-Saharan armies and insurgent groups for use in fire-support or anti-infantry roles.
In popular culture[edit | edit source]
In the Larry Bond novel Vortex, an Eland squadron annihilates a unit of attacking T-62 tanks during a hypothetical SADF invasion of Namibia. Eland-90s are prominently featured throughout the storyline.
See also[edit | edit source]
References[edit | edit source]
- Heitman, Helmoed-Römer. South African Armed Forces. Buffalo Publications 1990. ISBN 0-620-14878-0 p 44.
- "Restoration of the Eland-60". Sandstone Estates. 2012-12-6. http://www.sandstone-estates.com/index.php/military-vehicles/40-military-vehicles/2829-restoration-of-the-eland-60. Retrieved 2013-6-18.
- "Fact file: Rooikat armoured car". Defence Web. 2010-1-21. http://www.defenceweb.co.za/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=6253:fact-file-rooikat-armoured-car-&catid=79:fact-files&Itemid=159. Retrieved 2013-6-18.
- "AML-90". 61mech.org.za. http://www.61mech.org.za/equipment/2-eland-90. Retrieved 2013-6-18.
- Bell, Kelly. Operation Savannah: Task Force Zulu & the Rommel of Angola. Modern War, 2006, Volume 1 Issue 4 p. 45.
- "How Green We Were". Senteniel Projects. 2000. http://sadf.sentinelprojects.com/bg3/Major1SSB.html. Retrieved 2013-8-9.
- Kaplan, Irving. Area Handbook for the Republic of South Africa. p. 739.
- "Lesakeng". South African Armour Museum. 2012-12-6. http://www.saarmourmuseum.co.za/lesakeng.html. Retrieved 2013-6-18.
- Warwick, Rodney. Operation Savannah: A Measure of SADF Decline, Resourcefulness, and Modernisation. Scientia Militaria, 2012, Volume 40 Issue 3 p. 364-377.
- Hamann, Hilton. Days of the Generals. pp. 30–35.
- "Rhodesian Armoured Car Regiment Uncovered". rhodesianforces.org. http://www.rhodesianforces.org/RhodesianArmouredCarRegt.htm. Retrieved 2013-6-18.
- "South African Arms Supplies to Sub-Saharan Africa". SIPRI. 2011-1. http://books.sipri.org/files/misc/SIPRIBP1101.pdf. Retrieved 2013-6-18.
- Christopher Chant. A Compendium of Armaments and Military Hardware (1987 ed.). Routledge and Kegan Paul Ltd. p. 32. ISBN 0-7102-0720-4.
- "Trade Registers". Armstrade.sipri.org. http://armstrade.sipri.org/armstrade/page/trade_register.php. Retrieved 2013-06-20.
- "Papers and death merchants". Africa Confidential. 2008-2-15. http://www.africa-confidential.com/article-preview/id/2473/Papers_and_death_merchants. Retrieved 2013-6-18.
- Willem Steenkamp. Borderstrike! South Africa Into Angola 1975-1980 (2006 ed.). Just Done Productions. p. 43. ISBN 1-920169-00-8.
- Anthony H. Cordesman. A Tragedy of Arms: Military and Security Developments in the Maghreb (November 30, 2001 ed.). Praeger Publishers. p. 62. ISBN 0-275-96936-3.
- "Scramble for the Congo - Anatomy of an Ugly War". ICG Africa. 2000-12-20. http://www.crisisgroup.org/~/media/Files/africa/central-africa/dr-congo/Scramble%20for%20the%20Congo%20Anatomy%20of%20an%20Ugly%20War.pdf. Retrieved 2013-6-18.
- Nelson, Harold. Zimbabwe: A Country Study. pp. 237–317.
- Locke & Cooke, Fighting Vehicles and Weapons of Rhodesia (1995), p. 100.
- AllAtSea.co.za/army - Glossary of SA military terminology and slang
- Treyarch (2012-11-30). Call of Duty: Black Ops II. Xbox 360. Activision. Level/area: Pyrrhic Victory.
- [|Larry Bond]. Vortex (1991 ed.). Warner Books, Inc. p. 59. ISBN 978-0446363044.
- [|Tom Kratman]. The Liberators (2011 ed.). Baen Books. p. 35. ISBN 978-1-4391-3402-3.
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|Photo of the Eland-20|
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