Military Wiki
Armscor Hippo at the SAPS Museum, Ventersburg
Type Armoured personnel carrier
Place of origin  South Africa
Service history
In service 1974 - 1978[1]
Used by See Operators
Wars Rhodesian Bush War
South African Border War
Namibian War of Independence
Soweto uprising
Production history
Designer Armscor South Africa
Designed 1974[2]
Manufacturer Armscor South Africa
Number built 275[2]
Variants See Variants
Weight 8.8 tonnes (9.7 short tons; 8.7 long tons)[1]
Length 6.53 m (21 ft 5 in)[2]
Width 2.46 m (8 ft 1 in)[2]
Height 3.3 m (10 ft 10 in)[2]
Crew 2
Passengers 10

2x 7.62mm M1919 Browning machine guns[1]
Engine Bedford 2.5 l (150 in3) inline 6-cylinder water-cooled petrol[2]
Transmission 4-speed manual synchromesh[2]
Ground clearance 32 cm[2]
Fuel capacity 240 litres[2]
640 km[1]
Speed 73 km/h[1]

The Hippo is a South African armoured personnel carrier. Specially designed to be mine resistant, it can carry eleven infantrymen and a crew of two. The vehicle's remote-operated turret mounts dual 7.62mm machine guns, but like other improvised fighting vehicles, it is only lightly protected.

Development history

An interim solution adopted to deal with the threat of land mines deployed by the South West African People's Organization (SWAPO) in northern Ovamboland, the Hippo was simply a blastproof hull fitted to a Bedford RL chassis. Similar to the BTR-152, it offered a staggered troop compartment with seating facing inwards. Vision was restricted to narrow plate glass windows. This layout was universally unpopular and later corrected with the Buffel.[2] There were firing ports for the occupants and a powered machine gun turret could be braced on the open top, though these were seldom fitted. Passengers and crew debussed from a rear deck.[2] The Hippo Mk1R was based on a M1961 Bedford truck chassis, which was being phased from South African service in 1974.[1] Some 150 were shipped to the South African Police that year, another 5 being donated to the South-West African authorities.[2] Police units left behind several when they withdrew from Rhodesia in 1976; these were retained by Rhodesian Security Forces and later passed on to the Zimbabwe National Army.[3] In 1978, 120 Hippo conversions of M1970 Bedfords was undertaken for the South African Defence Force, which had assumed responsibility for patrols along the Angolan border and needed a new MRAP. They were replaced by the Casspir.


  • Hippo Mk1R - 1974 model, built on the 1961 Bedford chassis.
  • Hippo Mk1M - 1978 model, built on the 1970 Bedford chassis.


In popular culture

  • Hippos appear in the 1987 film Cry Freedom, during a portrayal of the Soweto uprising.

External links


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 "Lesakeng". South African Armour Museum. 2012-12-06. Retrieved 2013-06-18. 
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 Heitman, Helmoed-Römer. South African Armed Forces. Buffalo Publications 1990. ISBN 0-620-14878-0 p 44.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Nelson, Harold. Zimbabwe: A Country Study. pp. 237–317. 
  4. Moorcraft, Paul L.; McLaughlin, Peter (April 2008) [1982]. The Rhodesian War: A Military History. Barnsley: Pen and Sword Books. ISBN 978-1-84415-694-8. 

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