Since re-introduction into the Southern African market the Unimog U4000 and U5000 have performed well in demonstrations for a number of industry segments, including mining, forestry, civil engineering and even some private entrepreneurs, who use their Unimog for recreational activities.
When the retired Defence Force members of the GEM Village in Irene, Tshwane, were donated a 25-pounder field gun to display on their premises, they had it restored and built a “platform of honour” for the commemorative piece of warfare equipment. But moving the 6.5-ton, G2-gun from its temporary stand to its permanent home proved an almost impossible challenge.
That is until retired Captain Dries Rabie (74), a resident of GEM Village, called in the help of Mercedes-Benz Commercial Vehicles Centurion. “If ever there was a vehicle that could perform the task with distinction, it would be the enigmatic Unimog,” said Dries.
Always ready to face up to a challenge, Unimog sales executive Francois Pieterse enlisted the help of Ferdi de Beer, Technical Specialist at Mercedes-Benz South Africa, who was willing to demonstrate the amazing capabilities of the Unimog.
The operation of moving the solid piece of steel to its final resting place got off to a shaky start when the team realised that the Unimog’s tow pin was mounted way higher on the vehicle than the gun’s coupling could reach and some heavy-duty jacks had to be found, as it was an impossible task to lift by hand. Displaying some incredible driving skill, Ferdi reversed the Unimog within millimetres of the coupling and the gun was hooked!
Driving at snail’s pace in order to manoeuvre the Unimog and its valuable cargo around some tight corners, Ferdi’s real challenge was to position the gun on a metre-high raised platform in an extremely confined space – and without ruining the neatly kept surrounding garden. By this time operation G2 had sparked great interest from the residents of the village, most in awe of Ferdi’s mastery behind the wheel and the extreme capabilities of the vehicle.
The new-generation Unimog U4000 that performed the job with such ease has a Euro 3 engine, providing 160 kW (218 hp) of power and 810 Nm of torque, a gross combination mass (GCM) of 25 500 kg and can tow up to 10 tonnes with ease (that is almost two G2 guns!).
The Unimog U4000 boasts unique off-road capabilities, thanks to its flexible ladder-type frame for high rigidity on the road and amazing torsional flexibility off-road. It offers superior 4-wheel-drive with differential locks in both axles, as well as portal axles to provide ample ground clearance.
Over decades, the Unimog has proved itself worldwide as a versatile implement carrier and transport vehicle for public services, municipal contractors, the construction and energy sectors, as well as other industries.