Blast Resistant Vehicles – CF Armoured Fighting Vehicles
– October 2006
Blast-Resistant Vehicles For Beginners — the Hybrids:
'Belly Plates' under Frames and the Modular Monocoques
Stephen Priestley, Researcher, Canadian American Strategic Review
Early 'blast-resistant' vehicles employed a
armoured hull, V-shaped to deflect the blast from landmines. The CF's RG-31 Nyala APV follows this pattern. However, there are other ways to create
blast-resistant vehicles and variations on the theme.
No Soft Underbellies Here – The Pros and Cons of Full Frames and Belly Pans
The simplest way to create a blast-resistant vehicle is to base this 'new' type on
an existing medium truck chassis – as was done by the Rhodesians for their Crocodiles, the first
dedicated mine-resistant troop carriers). There is great allure in this approach for designers since much
of their work has already been done by the chassis developer. The downside to mounting a blast-resistant hull
on top of a frame (as we saw with the Buffel) is that, while the armour hull may survive the blast of a mine
or IED, the mild steel ladder frame beneath it invariably suffers enough damage to create a 'mobility
The solution to this problem was to create a V-shaped belly pan to fit underneath the chassis.
This is not as easy as it sounds. Two practical problems immediately present themselves. First, the suspension
must be free to 'travel' without creating unduly large gaps in the armour. Then there is ground clearance:
placing the blast- resistant hull above the frame creates a substantial gap between ground and crew. Moving the belly
plate below the chassis protects the frame itself but at a cost to crew compartment vulnerability –
the belly plate being much closer to the ground.
"There's a Good Dog ..." – Giving Kraus Maffei Wegmann's Dingo a Belly
The German Dingo (a contender in the CF APV (Armoured Patrol Vehicle) contest makes a good example of
full-framed and belly plate-protected blast-resistant vehicle design. KMW got around the ground clearance issue
by using a U-shaped (or, more accurately, a truncated V-shape) for its belly plate. The frame is from a Unimog truck.
 The off-the-self component lent Dingo economy but also gave a degree of grief. The armour plate makes
the Dingo quite a bit heavier than even a fully loaded Unimog. Changes had to be incorporated at a
cost to commonality. These were minor bugs, the fixes quite simple, and do not distract from the
'Body-on-frame' construction protected by belly plates might seem fatally flawed beside monocoque
hulls. But that's because a crucial element has been left out of our story. Until now, all the designs discussed
have had steel armour. The Dingo crew compartment is steel armour but its belly is not. The
belly pan is a composite panel mounted to the frame with shock absorbers. While steel V-shaped hulls rely entirely
on deflecting blast, the Dingo's composite belly plate also deforms under pressure to counter blast
energy not deflected or absorbed by the shock-mounts.
Another Southern African Approach – Namibia's Modular Monocoque Wolves
Namibia followed the South African lead with blast- resistant vehicles but decided it could build a
better mousetrap. Two designs were built in Namibia – the Wolf and the related, but smaller,
Wer'wolf. Both are monocoque hulls with a twist. The rear section of the hull is open to
allow for modular 'mission kit' pallets.
When equipped with APC-style rear compartments, a Wolf or Wer'wolf (right) is all
but indistinguishable from 'normal' V-hulled blast-resistant vehicles (one hesitates to call them
conventional). The concept is intended to provide maximum mission flexibility on the same hull.  For the most part,
the vehicles are operated as APCs, complete with a rear shelter.
The unanswered question remains how the modular design stands up to blast – will the two hull
components separate under pressure? Field performance has been impressive. While few Wolf /
wolf have been made, de- mining is a tough proving ground. Formal testing is another matter.
Namibia is isolated and resources are limited. In that light, creating the Wolf series is a
doubly impressive achievement.
"Pater noster qui ... " or Passing the Blast-Resistant Vehicle Paternity
Many readers will have noted the more-than-passing resemblance between the Namibian Wolf
series and the 6x6 Buffalo route-opening vehicle now
deploying with the CF to Afghanistan. CASR will survey the current
major blast-resistant vehicles by type. In that series we will trace the sometimes complex parentages of designs like
the Buffalo – and the Wolf itself – amongst others.
 Early model Dingos (also called ATF1s, from Allschutz Transport Fahrzeug or All-protected Transport
Vehicle) used a Unimog U100 L chassis. This proved too weak and prone to frame flexing. The Dingo 1
(confusingly, an ATF2) had a stiffer U1150 L chassis. The variant offered to Canada was the improved Dingo 2
(ATF3) using the largest of UHN (Unimog Hochmobil = highly mobile) frames, the U5000.
 The standard Unimog suspension had to be strengthened due to higher weight and to be made less 'springy'
– soldiers had made complaints of motion sickness.
 In an old Wer'wolf Mk II brochure, the Namibian Ministry of Defence (owners of
manufacture, WMF) offered APC, logistics, riot control, tanker, and ambulance shelter modules and open mounts for
23mm AA guns, recovery cranes, and rocket launchers. The Wolf (HEC modified ) is used by MgM for
Next in this
In Detail Review – 'Add-ons' and a Case for Blast-Resistant Support