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Old 15th September 2018, 04:13   #1
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Default Mercedes Unimogs in India

Hi my name is John I live in Northern Ireland and am trying to find out about Unimogs brought into India during the 1950's. It is well known that Tata sent representitives to Mercedes during 1954 and 1956 looking at cars, trucks and four wheel drive vehicles. They looked at the then new Unimog 411, extensively test drove it and one, possibly three were, brought to India for evaluation by the Army. Ultimately the Army decided they wanted capacity to move tonnage on roads rather than a low tonnage vehicle that could and would go anywhere. Without a military contract it was not economically viable to import or locally construct Complete Knock Down kits of an expensive vehicle in India.

What is less well know is Tata also looked at the experimental Unimog 405SH chassis this was a rear engined version of the just in production petrol 404S 1.5T truck. The 405SH used many of the 404S components including the engine, gearbox, axles, electrical systems and many small parts. On a part by part count 92% of the parts were interchangable. The 405SH chassis was designed to be used as a basis for armoured cars.

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A Unimog 405SH with prototype Ruhr steel body beside a Unimog 404

Unimog dispatch records show that six 405SH chassis were dispatched to Tata, Bombay for onward transfer to Jamshedpur railway workshop between June and August 1956. These would have been supplied as a basic chassis with no body for completion locally. Nothing has ever been heard or seen of these chassis since!!

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Basic early 405SH chassis and "production" chassis. Note the engine at the rear, fuel tanks (2) and sloped steering wheel on the production chassis to enable the armour to be angled and provide more interior space.

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The 405SH chassis would have been ideal to modernise the Tatanagar or Indian Pattern Armoured car (photo above) that had previously been in production at the railway workshop?? And I believe the Army were at this time trying to get more capable Armoured Personnel Cars?

Over a four year period i have identified a total of 35 405SH chassis were built by Unimog so they are remarkably rare. So far I have tracked down 7 still in existence, the rest having been destroyed in conflict in the Congo, used as range practice targets for missiles in Ireland or just disappeared as the Indian ones have.

I am looking for any information that anyone might have as to what happened to the Indian 405SH's. Were they used as a basis for an Armoured car that was never produced or just scrapped after many miles of test runs and abuse?

Mercedes Unimogs in India-img_20170617_201707870_hdr.jpg

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My interest in this subject stems from the fact that I have acquired a 405SH with a Landsverk APC body and am slowly rebuilding it. It is probably the only 405SH in the world with a working engine and I hope to have it finished in about 2 years. I therefore have a great interest in this obscure vehicle.

Mercedes Unimogs in India-img_20170429_142428913_hdr.jpg

Any help or leads or photos would be appreciated.


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Old 15th September 2018, 19:17   #2
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Default re: Mercedes Unimogs in India

Mercedes Unimogs in India-mercedes-unimog-delhi-ca-1961.jpg

Mercedes Unimogs in India-mercedes-unimog-india-birdwatching-1961.jpg

Mercedes Unimogs in India-mercedes-unimog-india-ca-1961.jpg

John, here a few for you from the Mercedes-Benz Public Archives.

India, 1961
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Old 17th September 2018, 10:15   #3
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Default re: Mercedes Unimogs in India

Some threads on Unimogs in India:

Adventures of Moggy (The Adventures of "Moggy" - A Unimog in India)

My Unimog (My '87 Unimog U1150)

2 Unimogs (Team UNIMOG at Elevation 14200ft–via Babusar-Sheosar–Burzil–Butogah Passes)

Another Unimog (An Indian Unimog)

And there are more pics shared by Harit here (Nostalgic automotive pictures including our family's cars):
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Lots of posts on that link about the Unimogs too:
Originally Posted by Prabal View Post
Absolutely right, the Unimog was offered to India in the early/mid 50s, around 1954-55 (Daimler Benz had just acquired them at that time, a couple of years before).

Like I said above, the Unimog was offered to India around 1954-55.

But what a pity Cedric, we're talking about this today. The person who had first-hand, hands-on experience of the Mog that was brought to India (for the Indian Army) and tested for suitability for it's use is no longer with me. I wish I had paid more attention to him and remembered all the details now. But what I can yet recollect is that he was really impressed by its go-anywhere ability - apparently, he went off-road while stuck in a huge jam - in the 50s imagine!! - somewhere near Tughlakabad, in Delhi, driving through fields and varying undulating terrain, and rejoined traffic on road, ahead of the stuck lot behind in order to reach Palam airfield on time!

The reason for rejecting such a capable vehicle was, as announced by the bosses (KN Katju, the Defence Minister then, and later once again, during a fresh attempt to gain favour, by his successor VK Krishna Menon) was it's rather high-cost. It seemed that the Unimog was also not suitable for carrying heavy loads (compared to the other trucks on duty/in the fray) due to its unique suspension set-up (massive articulation, long-travel springs, and all).
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Old 22nd September 2018, 18:27   #4
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Default Re: Mercedes Unimogs in India

Thanks for the replies and the very interesting pictures. I have read most of the threads mentioned above over the last few days and they are quite informative. If anyone comes across any information on the rear engined 405SH in India please let me know.



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