CORRECTION on the Buffalo

A couple of days ago I expressed my frustration with the press for calling the Buffalo an “armored personnel carrier”. A commenter points out that the South Africans, who built the vehicle, indeed designed and use it as an APC. Googling for ‘buffalo armored personnel carrier’ or ‘buffel armored personnel carrier’ brings up a lot of hits, though the actual info seems pretty thin. It appears that it could carry 10 tropps in addition to the driver. Here is about as much info as I could find.

So while the US isn’t using it as an APC, at least not in the sense that we usually think of using an APC, but rather as a specialized anti-mine/bomb vehicle, an APC is, in fact, what the Buffalo is and I was wrong to criticize the caption writers. My apologies.

Meanwhile, I also came across this Reuters photo of Iraqi firemen putting out the fire after the Buffalo from the earlier post was hit:


And thanks to the commenter who set me straight.


  1. Well, I’d argue that when you specialise a vehicle like this (by adding the arm, for example), it’s no longer fulfilling the same role and so I wouldn’t call it the same thing. For instance, some tanks have their turrets replaced with a fold-out bridge, and after this they are called Armoured Bridge Laying Vehicles or Bridge Laying Tanks – they’re not exactly Battle Tanks any more. Similarly, if you replace it with a winch, they’re known as Armoured Recovery Vehicles. Yet others are known as Combat Engineering Vehicles. etc. So while the Buffalo may have originally been designed as an APC, that doesn’t mean that we should call all its derivatives APCs, IMO. We tend to name military vehicles by their roles, not their history. The history contributes to the code number, but not the designation. So an M3 Armoured Recovery Vehicle may be a converted M3 tank… Basically, you could argue it either way I think, but I agree with your previous position most strongly.

  2. The Buffalo is based on the South African Casspir and not the South African Buffel, which was an earlier design based on the Unimog. The Casspir was an all new monocoque design from the early 1980’s. The South African’s are certainly the world leaders in this type of technology and were developing this 30 years before us..