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Olifant Main Battle Tank

Despite the fact that South Africa has not been the site of any major tank warfare it holds a surprisingly large and interesting range of preserved tanks. Also, although the majority of the vehicles are of British and American origin, there is nonetheless an interesting range of Soviet tanks to see as well as, naturally, many South African developments of foreign designs.

The South African Centurions have been modified in one way or another since the early 1970s with the Skokiaan [moonshine, ie an alcoholic drink illegally brewed at home] and Semel projects, and finally the Olifant upgrade program of the late 1970s and 1980s. The South African Semel (South African Tempest) tank which based on an upgraded conversion of the British Centurion. Actually most of the Semels was bought from Indian scrapyard & later upgraded/remanufactured to the Israeli Sho't standard [the Israeli Centurions are named Sho't]. The Sho't were equipped with a new diesel powerpack (Teledyne Continental - now General Dynamics Land Systems - AVDS-1790-2A engine developing 750hp) and an Allison Transmission CD-850-6 automatic gearbox, new coolant system, fire extinguising system and improved ammunition layout.

The Olifant tank was a product of the war in South West Africa/Namibia (SWA/N). It was developed to counter the possible deployment of the T-72 within Southern Angola. Although based on a Centurion tank hull, it has a locally produced power pack, transmission, tracks, wheels and fire control system and can be seen as almost a new tank.



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