Gazelle FRV

The Gazelle FRV or Fast Reconnaissance Vehicle is a 4x4 infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) intended for scouting duties based on the body of the Mercedes-Benz Unimog light truck developed by Zimbabwe in the early 1980s.

Gazelle FRV
Class Vehicle
Type Armoured Fighting Vehicle
Manufacturer Mercedes-Benz
Origin Zimbabwe (Rhodesia)
Country Name Origin Year
Zimbabwe (Rhodesia) 1981
Country Name Operational Year Retirement Year
Zimbabwe (Rhodesia) View
ManufacturerName Production From Production To Quantity
Mercedes-Benz View

The FRV project begun in 1981-82 as a joint-venture by the private firm Kew Engineering of Gwelo (now Gweru) and the newly created Zimbabwe Defence Industries (ZDI) to meet a requirement from the Zimbabwe Government for a home-grown light armoured vehicle intended to the export market. After the prototype was completed, ZDI demonstrated the Gazelle to the Kenyan Army, but no orders were ever placed and production did not proceeded as expected. Although the prototype was also tested by the Zimbabwe National Army’s (ZNA) 1st Mechanised Battalion in Mozambique, the ZNA never formally evaluated or adopted the vehicle and eventually the whole project was discontinued.

Built on a Mercedes-Benz U1100 Unimog 416 2.5 ton light truck chassis, it consisted of an armoured hull of welded ballistic steel plate incorporating one rear and two side doors. The overall design is very similar to the French ACMAT TPK 4.2 PSF armoured car, with exception of the glacis which had a small conventional windscreen on the right side and on the left side a projecting, box-type canopy of three framed windows of bullet- and splinter-proof glass to give the driver better lateral vision. This peculiar element of design was probably inspired by South African-made armoured vehicles such as the Buffel, which entered service with the South African Defence Force (SADF) at the time. The Gazelle had a five-man crew – driver, commander, gunner and two infantry scouts. Though a very fast and robust vehicle with a good off-road performance the Gazelle however, unlike most former Rhodesian and Zimbabwean armoured vehicles, lacked protection against landmines and had not for this single design flaw, it certainly would have been a commercial success. Is no longer being marketed.

Type infantry fighting vehicle
Place of origin  Zimbabwe
Crew 2+2
Armor 4.5 to 6 mm welded steel plate
1 12.7mm or 14.5mm Heavy Machine Gun
1 20mm auto cannon or 1 7.62 mm light machine gun
Engine Daimler-Benz OM352 turbo diesel
120 hp
Power/weight hp/ton hp/tonne
Suspension wheels, 4 x 4
700 km
Speed 85 km/h

End notes