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Mercedes-Benz UNIMOG (UNIversal-MOtor-Gerat) 4x4 Utility Truck

Several hundred thousand Mercedes UNIMOG utility trucks have been produced since the late 1940s.

 Updated: 8/17/2017; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©

German infrastructure went through a critical rebuilding phase following World War 2. While its arms producing sectors were held in check, more civilian-minded endeavors were undertaken to shore up economic shortfalls. Once such initiative became the famous Mercedes-Benz UNIMOG - the "UNIversal MOtor Gerat" - a four-wheeled, 4x4 drive, medium-class utility truck intended to serve the agricultural market. In this role, the vehicle undoubtedly succeeded due to its all-terrain capabilities, high ground clearance and multi-role attitude allowing it to operate most anywhere and everywhere it was (and is) required. Pilot (prototype vehicles) emerged in 1946 to which serial production began in 1947. Since then, the series has evolved across many lines - including many militarized versions - for decades. As many as several hundred thousand UNIMOGs have been produced since the 1940s with the vehicle still marketed by Mercedes-Benz today (2013).

Original production was handled by Erhard and Sons of Schwabisch Gmund. Daimler-Benz became its primary manufacturer in 1951 to which the famous and easily identifiable Mercedes logo adorned all vehicle engine grills.

As an all-weather, all-terrain vehicle, the modern UNIMOG can operate in nearly all environments, some of them hazardous in nature. The transmission features 24 forward and 22 reverse gears to provide the "magic touch" when attempting to conquer terrains of all types. Base rear-wheel-drive can be used for management of smooth road surfaces while the all-wheel-drive is called upon to take on tougher assignments. This can include sand mounds, deep snow, muddy roads, uneven ground, loose stone roads and the like (chains can be affixed to each wheel unit for additional traction). The chassis is designed with some anti-rollover properties which protect both man and machine as well as cargo if applicable. The available ground clearance ensures that the UNIMOG can traverse landscape without fear of becoming lodged against uneven ground. Its oversized tires and high chassis also allow the vehicle to climb obstacles as required. The available diesel powerplant allows for a maximum road speed reaching 55 mph (90 kmh). Mercedes-Benz currently offers a range of diesel engines for the UNIMOG family, spanning 150- to 218-horsepower output.

The 4x4 drivetrain sports differential locks across both wheeled axles. Its chassis frame is of a ladder-type construction featuring tubular cross members to promote strong resistance to fracturing under stress. The frame sits atop a coil spring suspension system to allow for comfort during rides and flexibility when managing uneven surfaces. Performance qualities include approaching 45-degree inclines, -44-degree declines, 1.20 meter deep water sources, a 38-degree ramp angle and 38-degree tipping angle. Tire pressure can be adjusted on-the-fly through a Central Tire Inflation System (CTIS).

The high center-of-gravity cabin supplies ample headroom as well as seating for up to three persons with an excellent view over the short nose of the vehicle. Access is via hinged, automobile-style windowed doors located to either side of the cabin. The steering assembly is fixed at the left side and is ahead of a conventional instrument panel featuring typical automobile status indicators, gauges and a pair of liquid-crystal display multi-function units. The cabin is further air conditioned for operation in high temperature/high humidity climates and a heater provided for all other. A square or round (optional) roof hatch is provided.

Key to the UNIMOG's success has been its available onboard power which is proven in driving a plethora of industry machines from the running engine. As such, the UNIMOG has been featured in agriculture, forestry, snow removal, mowing, brush/debris clearance, firefighting (forest fires), humanitarian assistance (rescue) roles and in reaching far-off, difficult access locations including flooded areas and deep snow (the latter two made possible by the high-mounted exhaust port along the cabin side). The vehicle can haul some 1,100 tons (short). It is clear to see the military applications inherent in such a vehicle.

Currently marketed UNIMOG models by Mercedes-Benz include the U300, U400, U500, (part of the "Professional Implement Carriers" group) U3000, U4000 and U5000 series. Several major military forces - including the United States Army and Marine Corps - utilize the handy UNIMOG in their present inventories.

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Mercedes-Benz UNIMOG (UNIversal-MOtor-Gerat) Technical Specifications

Service Year: 1947
Type: 4x4 Utility Truck
National Origin: Germany
Manufacturer(s): Mercedes-Benz - Germany
Production: 250,000

Design (Crew Space, Dimensions, Weight, and Systems)

Operating Crew: 1
Length: 15.75 feet (4.80 meters)
Width: 6.99 feet (2.13 meters)
Height: 7.15 feet (2.18 meters)

Operating Weight: 5 tons (4,400 kg; 9,700 lb)

Nuclear / Biological / Chemical Protection: None.
Nightvision Equipment: None.

Installed Power and Standard Road Performance

Engine(s): 1 x Mercedes-Benz M180 2.2L 6-cylinder gasoline engine of 80 horsepower (most models typically fitted with diesel engines).

Maximum Road Speed: 50 mph (80 km/h)
Maximum Road Range: 298 miles (480 km)

Armament and Ammunition

None. Personal weapons carried by the crew can be used (if any).

Dependent upon personal weapons carried by the crew (if any).

Global Operators / Customers

Argentina; Australia; Belgium; Bolivia; Brazil; Chile; China; Denmark; Estonia; Finland; France; Greece; Ireland; Indonesia; Mexico; Netherlands; New Zealand; Pakistan; Paraguay; Portugal; Rhodesia; Singapore; South Africa; Switzerland; Turkey; United Kingdom; United States

Model Variants (Including Prototypes)

UNIMOG - Base Series Designation; initial pilot vehicles in 1946; serial production begun in 1947.
600 - 1947 series; batches also produced by Boehringer.
404S - Gasoline-powered variant of 1955; 64,242 examples produced.
406 - Model of 1963; 4-cylinder diesel engine of 65 horsepower.
MB Trac - Farm tractor variant
UNIMOG 425 (Heavy) - Heavy duty variant of 1974
435 - West German military model of 1975; extended wheelbase.
408 - Light-class model of 1992
418 - Light-class model of 1992
U2450 - 6x6 chassis model of 1993
U5000 BM437.430
"FUNMOG" - Luxury civilian model; 12 examples produced.
UX100 - Compact model of 1996
U300 - UGN/405 model of 2000
U400 - UGN/405 model of 2000
U500 - UGN/405 model of 2000
UNIMOG "Black" - Special Edition luxury UNIMOG of 2005.
U3000 - Model of 2006
U4000 - Model of 2006
U5000 - Model of 2006