The Olifant started life as Centurion tanks modernised by South Africa, considered the best indigenous tank design on the African continent.
The Olifant Mk 1B main battle tank was developed and produced by the Olifant Manufacturing
Company, OMC Engineering PTY Ltd, based in South Africa. Development of the Olifant started in
1976 and first entered service with the South African Armoured Corps in the late 1970s. OMC Engineering
later became Reumech OMC, then Vickers OMC and, in September 2002 was renamed Alvis OMC, following
the acquisition of Vickers Defence by Alvis plc. In September 2004, Alvis OMC became part of BAE Systems Land Systems.
The layout of the Olifant Mark 1 was very similar to that of the South African Semel tank which was based
on an upgraded conversion of the British Centurion tanks. The Olifant has been continually upgraded.
The Mark 1A entered full-scale production in 1983 and the first were in service by 1985. In the same
year that the Mark 1A entered the production phase, development work was started on the Mark 1B, and
these tanks were in production during the 1990s and are operational in the South African Armed Forces.
Semel (1974): 810 hp fuel-injected petrol engine, three-speed semi-automatic transmission.
Olifant Mk 1 (1978): 750 hp diesel engine, semi-automatic transmission.
Olifant Mk 1A (1985): Retains the fire control system of the original Centurion, but has a hand-held
laser rangefinder for the commander and image-intensifier for the gunner.
Olifant Mk 1B (1991): Torsion bar suspension, lengthened hull, additional armor on the glacis plate and
turret, V-12 950 hp diesel engine, computerised fire control system, laser rangefinder.
Configuration Not applicable
Engine Turbo-charged V12 diesel (900bhp)
Dimensions 8.6 x 3.4 x 2.9m
Fuel capacity 1240l
Turning radius Not applicable
Max speed 60 km/h (on road)
Range 350km (cross country)
Vertical obstacle 1m
Armament 105mm GT3 quick firing semi-automatic gun
The Comet was an upgrade of the Cromwell hull. Fast, reliable, low profile with a high powered
variant of the 17lb gun, mounted sideways in the turret. It was lighter and smaller than
a Sherman, but carried thicker and better sloped armour.
The Rolls Royce Meteor engine and wide tracks gave it excellent mobility as well, and the illustration is of
a tank recovery variant.
Shongololo means millipede. This recovery vehicle is based on a MAN TTV.
The Withings MK 1A (6 × 6) recovery vehicle is based on the chassis of the
SAMIL 100 (6 × 6) 10,000 kg truck, suitably modified for the recovery role. The vehicle is
fitted with a fully enclosed mineproof cab which also protects the occupants from small
arms fire and shell splinters. The cab is provided with bullet-proof windows in the front and sides.