About Me

My photo
Nairobi, Kenya
I an ex member of both 7 and 8 Squadron's of the Rhodesian war spending most of my operational time on Seven Squadron as a K Car gunner. I was credited for shooting down a fixed wing aircraft from a K Car on the 9 August 1979. This blog is from articles for research on a book which I HAVE HANDED THIS MANUSCRIPT OVER TO MIMI CAWOOD WHO WILL BE HANDLING THE PUBLICATION OF THE BOOK OF WHICH THERE WILL BE VERY LIMITED COPIES AVAILABLE Contact her on yebomimi@gmail.com The latest news is that the Editing is now done and we can expect to start sales and deliveries by the end of April 2011

Blog Archive

Search This Blog



Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Rhodesian Military mineproofing soloutions

Rhodesian Army Quarter-Master General, Colonel I.R. Stansfield faced what appeared to be an insolvable problem. First, United Nation sanctions isolated Rhodesia from world markets and restricted him from purchasing the armor from which he might fashion MRAP vehicles. Second, Rhodesia could not afford to buy the armor even if he could gain access to the world markets. These circumstances forced Rhodesia to design, build and field an MRAP vehicle fleet alone.

And less than six years after the first mine strike in April of 1971, the Rhodesians succeeded in transforming their entire vehicle fleet from an unprotected liability into an offensive capability that restored tactical and operational mobility to the Fire Force, virtually eliminated mine related deaths and significantly reduced mine related casualties. Following is a brief synopsis of how this small, financially constrained country sanctioned off from the rest of the world developed an MRAP fleet of vehicles over 25 years ago that, unbelievably, are more survivable than any comparable vehicle produced by the U.S. today.

To counter the successful fire force tactics, the communists began an offensive unconventional mine warfare campaign in 1971. Using mines they quickly began to exploit the unprotected Rhodesian infrastructure, laying mines along roads, city streets, and random open areas of the countryside surrounding farms and villages. In order to protect its citizens and maintain its legitimacy, the government formed a mine warfare committee that included the federal government, police, civil vehicle organizations and private companies. According to Stansfield, the committee’s most important and far reaching decision was to make survivability the most important aspect of mine and ambush protection, [emphasis added] and they laid down very specific criteria for crew protection.i

Next, Stansfield combined Rhodesia’s exacting and exhaustive mine casualty records with the mine warfare committee’s extensive vehicle blast tests to determine the major kill mechanisms associated with mines. Then he used this information to design and build special-purpose vehicles to effectively counter the kill mechanisms.ii Stansfield categorized the principles of mine protection under primary, secondary and tertiary kill mechanisms.

Primary kill mechanisms included acceleration, fragmentation and overpressure. Acceleration is the dynamic vertical acceleration resulting from a mine blast that often produces permanent or fatal neck and spine injuries. Fragmentations are the pieces from the mine itself or other debris propelled by the mine blast that cause massive soft tissue damage primarily to the head, heart and lungs. Blast overpressure is the sudden violent pulse of air generated by the mine blast that destroys the circulatory and respiratory system.

Secondary kill mechanisms resulted from vehicle parts failing under the stress of the mine blast and causing traumatic injury to the occupants. Tertiary kill mechanisms resulted from the various traumatic injuries produced by a vehicle crash often resulting from a mine blast.iii

Successful mine and ambush strikes also score a psychological mobility kill because they degrade the morale and confidence of offensive-minded forces. Successful mine attacks create hesitation, and sluggishness that degrade operational maneuver, while the confidence and high morale derived from knowing the operating force is protected from mine attacks is immeasurable. Stansfield recognized this fact and set about developing a fleet of vehicles capable of defeating each of the mine kill mechanisms listed above. In addition to protecting the operating forces, these vehicles actually changed the character of Rhodesian countermine warfare from passive defense in terms of neutralizing and avoiding mines and ambushes to an active offensive strategy of seeking them out.

The Rhodesians progressed quickly through first and second-generation field expedient and bolt-on protection like the U.S. Army attempted in Vietnam. The Rhodesians understood these methods did not afford them the protection they needed, reduced load carrying capacity, and cost prohibitively. Their third generation vehicles consisted of deep v-shaped blast deflecting hulls welded onto existing truck frames. These vehicles yielded substantial increases in protection from mines and small arms with the added benefit of protecting the occupants during rollovers from vehicle accidents.

Rhodesian design culminated with fourth generation MRAP vehicles designed from the ground up to protect against all three mine kill mechansims. These MRAP vehicles significantly expanded the offensive force options available to the Fire Force. In fact, they were so robust and survivable the Rhodesian Army began using them as offensive mobile fire support platforms in addition to their other logistical and transportation duties. The MRAP vehicles were so well protected and mobile that by the time the third and especially the fourth generation MRAP vehicles were fielded, the Rhodesians no longer attempted to detect and avoid the killing ground of an ambush, they detected and attacked directly into it.iv The Rhodesians had in effect turned an enemy strength into an exploitable vulnerability because the level of protection they enjoyed enabled them to literally drive through an ambush unharmed, then turn and destroy it.

The Rhodesian MRAP efforts to reduce casualties through survivability clearly speak for themselves. Their extremely detailed mine casualty records indicate unprotected vehicles suffered a 22 percent kill rate, while 1st and 2nd generation MRAP vehicles only suffered 8 percent casualty rate. However, 3rd generation MRAP fatality percentages drops to 2 percent while 4th generation falls below 1 percent. Rhodesian MRAP vehicles immediately restored the tactical mobility, and operational maneuver critical to the Fire Force while virtually eliminating casualties. The Rhodesians had effectively defeated the mine and ambush threat with mild steel, a sound design, and a philosophy that protecting their forces to improve their mobility was the key to victory.

Tactical victories, one might add. Still the ability of the Rhodesian to give their troops the tactical and strategic mobility back was certainly amazing given the dire overall ressources. A good deal of the AO in Afghanistan are more difficult to navigate and enforce greater compromises. But it doesn't seem to be that the British Mod has only recently learned the most important lesson: High mine protection is not something you slap on the next vehicle you come across!

Extracted from: http://www.defencetalk.com/forums/ar...dates-7467-11/

No comments:

Post a Comment

I welcome comments from everyone on my book Choppertech.
I am interested especially on hearing from former ZANLA and ZIPRA combatants who also have thier story to tell.