Engesa EE-9 Cascavel (Rattlesnake) History

Realizing the need to replace its aged stock of World War 2-era (1939-1945), American-made M8 "Greyhound" armored cars, the Brazilian Army selected a 6x6 wheeled design by the local concern of Engesa as a successor. This vehicle became the EE-9 "Cascavel" ("Rattlesnake") in service and was exported widely across South American and to clients in the Middle East. Modernization programs have served to pushed the EE-9 product along in the new millennium, keeping it fit for modern confrontations. Around 2,500 have been produced since service entry occurred in 1974.

The finalized Engesa product became a 12-ton vehicle featuring a length of 6.2 meters (with the main gun forwards), width of 2.6 meters, and a height of 2.7 meters. The standard operating crew - consisting of a driver, commander, and gunner - was three with the driver seated at front-left in the hull and the turret supporting the remaining two personnel. Armor protection ranged up to 12mm thick and consisted of steel and a fire detection system was implemented for crew survivability.

Standard armament ultimately became a 90mm main gun fitted to the turret's frontal face. To this was added a coaxial 7.62mm machine gun for anti-infantry service. The main gun was mated to a Fire Control System (FCS) for gunnery assistance and a laser rangefinder improved accuracy and reaction times. Later models introduced an external turret roof mounting for an addition 7.62mm Medium Machine Gun (MMG) or a 12.7mm Heavy Machine Gun (HMG) for local defense which also being fired from within the confine of the vehicle.

Power to the line has been primarily an American Detroit Diesel 6V-53N 6-cylinder water-cooled diesel engine of 212 horsepower though a German Mercedes-Benz diesel of 190 horsepower was also witnessed. The engine and transmission system were fitted to the rear of the vehicle hull to provide middle and frontal internal space for the crew and various mission-critical components. The 6x6 wheeled configuration featured a noticeable space between the first and second axles and large road wheels aided in traction and cross-country traverse. Suspension was a unique Engesa-developed "Boomerang" double-axle arrangement and each wheel was given a "run-flat" feature as standard. Maximum road speed reached 100 kmh with an operational road range out to 880 kilometers.

Initial pilot vehicles appeared during 1970 and pre-production forms followed between 1971 and 1972. Upon acceptance by the Brazilian Army, production quality vehicles were seen from 1974 on. Besides the EE-9 model, Engesa also manufactured another local, similar 6x6 wheeled armored car as the EE-11 "Urutu" and this resulted in the two machines sharing many of the same automotive components for logistical friendliness.

The earliest of the EE-9 line were equipped with a turreted 37mm main gun, these taken from expiring stocks of World War 2 American-made M3 Stuart Light Tanks. The model was known as Cascavel I and carried with it the nickname of "Cascavel Magro" (the "Thin Rattlesnake"). Following this mark was the Cascavel II which featured an enlarged turret ring to house a traversing assembly appropriate for the 90mm DEFA D921 tank gun of French origin. This vehicle featured the full H90 series turret and was nicknamed "Cascavel Gordo" (the "Fat Rattlesnake") while being meant primarily for export sale. The Cascavel III mark brought along with it an in-house Engesa-designed turret system mounting a 90mm Cockerill Mk 3 series tank gun of Belgian origin (the guns were manufactured locally under license). The Cascavel IV was introduced thereafter and showcased an all-new engine and transmission pairing which improved performance. It was also equipped with a useful 7.62mm MMG/12.7mm HMG mounting for local air defense and updated optics with laser rangefinder for improved day/night service and accuracy respectively.

The most successful of the listed Cascavel models became the Cascavel III and operators went on to range from Bolivia and Brazil to Uruguay and Zimbabwe. A modernization program has been underway to evolve the EE-9 and EE-11 vehicles to a new fighting standard for service into 2020 and possible beyond.

The EE-9 saw combat service beginning with the Colombian Civil War (1964-Present) and then the Chadian-Libyan War (1978-1987). It also became a veteran (fighting under various national flags) of the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988), the Gulf War (1991), the 2nd Congo War (1998-2003), and - most recently - the Libyan Civil War (2011).

Engesa EE-9 Cascavel (Rattlesnake) Specification


Engesa - Brazil
2,500 Units


- Reconnaissance (RECCE)

- Security / Defense / Law Enforcement / Convoy Escort



20.34 ft (6.2 m)


8.69 ft (2.65 m)


8.86 ft (2.7 m)


12 tons (11,000 kg; 24,251 lb)


1 x Detroit Diesel 6V-53N 6-cylinder liquid-cooled diesel engine of 212 horsepower.


Maximum Speed:

62 mph (100 kph)

Maximum Range:

547 miles (880 km)

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1 x 90mm Cockerill Mk 3 main gun

1 x 7.62mm coaxial machine gun

1 x 7.62mm/12.7mm machine gun on turret roof (optional)


44 x 90mm projectiles

2,200 x 7.62mm ammunition


Cascavel - Base Series Name

Cascavel I - Original production model of 1974; 37mm main gun.

Cascavel II - 90mm DEFA D921 main gun in H90 turret

Cascavel III - 90mm Cockerill Mk III main gun in Engesa turret.

Cascavel IV - Updated engine and transmission system; roof-mounted 7.62mm/12.7mm machine gun mounting; laser rangefinder; day/night optics support.

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