We welcome contributions in respect of your experiences on the Ratel
A team of Ratel enthusiasts is currently compiling a book on the history of this great vehicle for publication later. The team consists of ex-SA Army, Armscor and Industry personnel who were intimately involved in the development and early deployment of the vehicle and they have access to most of the original project material including evaluation and trial results, minutes of meetings, photographs, reports, etc. However, to complete the picture, the team is welcoming contributions in any or all of the following areas:
- The development of the vehicle itself. This covers the "pre-Ratel" period where foreign contenders were evaluated in the early 1970’s right through to the actual Ratel development and manufacturing project itself. This section also covers operational and other improvements and upgrades over the years and will touch on developments after 1994. This is the main thrust of the book and the main idea behind the project as many Ratel users and enthusiasts are unaware of much of the project background, how Ratel actually came into being and what obstacles and challenges lay in its path.
- Developing the total system. The development of mechanised doctrine in the SA Army (in so far as it involves the Ratel) and other parallel developments that optimised the deployment, support and employment of Ratel to such good effect. This includes the integration of Ratel into all combat and training units and formations, and the development and adaptation of battle handling, drills, tactics, etc.
- The Ratel Effect. The role that Ratel played in specific operations - with the accent on how Ratel affected the operation and its participants, rather than on the details of the operations themselves (there are already several books concentrating on the operations and battles).
- "My Ratel". Personal Ratel-related anecdotes, photographs and other "memories" from training, operations, maintenance, support or any other phase of Ratel life.
Anyone who would like to join the team and assist with research is also welcome to do so and you can send your contributions to admin@61Mech.org.za
On the subject of what went on in the project, did you know:
- That as many as 7 foreign contenders were evaluated before the decision to proceed with Ratel?
- That Ratel’s next-to-immediate predecessor was "Buffel"? No, not the venerable Unimog-based Mine Protected Vehicle but a locally-developed 6x6 IFV!
- That Ratel’s "pa" is Ratel "SS"? No not "Schutzszstaffel" but "Sagte Staal"!
- That the "braai rooster" on each Ratel actually has another primary aim and was already in the TOTE during early series-production?
- That the first Ratel to be produced and the very last share exactly the same driveline - despite the number of variants produced and the wide variety of roles for which the vehicle has been used?
- That the Ratel evaluation covered virtually the whole of geographical South Africa and culminated in full destructive tests (including firing tests with 140mm and 88mm artillery, 20mm F1 cannon, petrol bombs, personnel and tank mines and others)? Although such tests may be the norm nowadays, getting permission in the 1970’s to destroy a new, complete and serviceable armoured vehicle wasn’t easy!
- That ex-SA Army Ratels are now in service with at least five other armies?
- That General (then Colonel) Jannie Geldenhuys was one of the original project officers on the SA Army’s "ICV" project?
- That Roland De Vries was the first (and only?) person ever to physically bend a Ratel?
- That Wessie van der Westhuisen and Tony Savides were the first to (inadvertently) demonstrate that Ratel is as amphibious as a brick?