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Buffalo Mine-Protected Clearance Vehicle (MPCV)

For information on how to build a Buffalo, see the January issue of FineScale Modeler.
buffalo mine-protected clearance vehicle
Two U.S. Army Buffaloes stand ready to roll from Camp Liberty in Baghdad.
In the January FineScale Modeler, James Wechsler tells us how to build a Buffalo. The following article and images are exclusive to

In the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, roadside bombings with "improvised explosive devices" (IEDs) have been the single greatest threat to coalition soldiers, accounting for more than half of the casualties in Afghanistan.

At first, Americans could do little more than desperately bolster the equipment on hand. Although add-on armor doubled the weight of the Humvee, soldiers patrolling in them - and heavier vehicles as well - were still in grave peril.

As tactics turned to detecting and disabling IEDs, specialized vehicles were brought to bear. A South African design, the Casspir, featuring steel wheels and a V-shaped hull to deflect the force of road-embedded explosives, is the inspiration for the Buffalo MPCV.

The six-wheeled, 13'-tall, 23-ton Buffalo is the heftiest of a family of MRAP (mine-resistant ambush-protected) MPCVs built by Force Protection, Inc. based in South Carolina. Aside from its size, the Buffalo is easily distinguished by the iron-clawed, 30-foot hydraulic arm its crew can manipulate from within the protective hull to root out land mines and IEDs from their hiding places while overseeing the operation on a video monitor and through 5"-thick ballistic glass. In current convoys and patrols the Buffalo is never far from the front, clearing the way.

Although demand far outstripped supply when the Buffalo first entered action in 2003, by June 2008 Force Protection had delivered its 200th Buffalo to the American military. Additionally, Canada and other coalition nations are ordering Buffaloes for their own forces.
buffalo mine-protected clearance vehicle
In friendlier surroundings, a Buffalo moves across the desert during an IED clearance exercise at the U.S. Army's National Training Center, Fort Irwin, Calif.
buffalo mine-protected clearance vehicle
The best view of a suspicious roadside object is from inside the heavily armored Buffalo, through 5"-thick ballistic glass.
buffalo mine-protected clearance vehicle
Another MRAP, a U.S. Air Force MaxxPro truck made by International, leads a convoy out of Camp Stryker near Baghdad International Airport on its way to train Iraqi police.
buffalo mine-protected clearance vehicle
A Force Protection stablemate of the Buffalo, the 4-wheeled Cougar MRAP demonstrates its off-road capabilities at Camp Taqaddum in Anbar province, Iraq. The Cougar's mobility makes it a good teammate for the Buffalo in route-clearance operations.
buffalo mine-protected clearance vehicle
With its blast-resistant, V-shaped hull and steel wheels, the South African-designed Casspri was the inspiration for the Buffalo.
buffalo mine-protected clearance vehicle
The Buffalo stands 13' tall, not counting the hydraulic arm and its video camera.
buffalo mine-protected clearance vehicle
A U.S. Marines Buffalo helps out with a little road maintenance, clearing a hole near Lake Habbaniyah, Iraq. As more forces move to Afghanistan, more Buffaloes will follow.
Buffalo Specifications

Engine: Cat C13 12.5 L, 440 hp @1,800 rpm
Torque: 1,483 lb.-ft. @ 1,400 rpm
Speed: Tires rated at 55 mph
Range: 300 miles (85-gallon tank)
Transmission: Cat CX31 6-speed
Transmission case: Cushman 2-speed w/neutral
Front axle: Axletech 30,000 lb. drive/steer axle
Front suspension: 30,000 lb.
Rear axle: Axletech 46,000 lb.
Rear suspension: 23,000 lb. each side
Tires: Michelin 16R20XZL 16,000lb. aluminum rim w/ run-flat
Spare tire: 1 run-flat
Electrical: 24V
Brakes: Air, protected chambers
Armor, glass, mine-protection: Restricted
Hatches: 6 topside (standard)
Door: 1, rear only
Height: 13'
Width: 8' 8 1/2"
Length: 26' 11"
Internal length: 12' 6" behind front seats
Weight: 48,500 lb.
Weight (max. GVWR): 76,000 lb.
Payload: 27,500 lb.
Fording depth: Approx. 40" (unprepared)
Approach angle: 25 degrees
Departure angle: 60 degrees
Ground clearance: 18" front, 25" transmission-case cover, 15" rear
Air transport: C-17

From Force Protection, Inc. April 2009

View the January issue's complete table of contents and watch the issue's video preview.

More January 2010 online:
- Mike Mikolasek's MiG-15
- Building a cutaway N1K2-J Shiden Kai
- DESKTOP WALLPAPER: David Farris' 1/35 scale King Tiger


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