By T. A. L. "Dozer"



Southern Rhodesian Armoured Car Regiment - Raised February - 1941

Southern Rhodesian Reconnaissance Car Regiment - 1941-1947

Southern Rhodesian Armoured Car Regiment - 1948-1956 

Disbanded 1956

Rhodesian Armoured Car Regiment (RAC) - Reactivated - 1973-1979

Rhodesian Armoured Corps (RAC) - 1980


The Rhodesian Armoured Car Regiment (RAC) was originally raised in February 1941 for service in WWII. Later being disbanded and re-established in 1972 as the Rhodesian Armoured Corps (RAC) to combat Marxist terrorist in Rhodesia’s insurgency conflict as an armoured cavalry unit. The RAC represents a unit of approximately regimental size along with a Armoured car training center.

            During this time the unit received this unofficial nickname; “Black Devils” from the enemy, because of the distinctive all black jumpsuits worn by the regiment. This uniform was authorized by the regimental commander to give the elite outfit a unique look.


(Above) RAC white metal cap badge circa 1973-1980.

(Left) The outdated Ferret scout car as used by the RAC.



            The primary function of RAC was as a rapid reaction /deployment contingent, with a secondary mission in security operations and supporting roles in reconnaissance, patrolling, escort duty, crowd control, and roadblocks.



(Left) Front view of the then prototype infantry fighting vehicle.

(Above) Right side view. Pictures show no armament mounted.

(Right) Back view of the low cost Bullet. 

Structure and Equipment

            The Black Devils organizational structure is loosely comparable to western armored cavalry units. The Corps consists of four operational armoured squadrons (roughly regimental size), which in turn have four troops. Three of the squadrons were commanded by a cadre of regular officers and non-commissioned officers, and manned by territorials who were activated for incremental periods. The fourth squadron was manned as a regular establishment.

            The Black Devils maintained a pool of armoured vehicles of the wheeled variant all of foreign manufacture, with the exception of a couple. The majority of these vehicles were four-wheel drive, with various mounted armament of machine guns; either a 50 caliber machine gun, twin Brownings or a 20mm aircraft gun.

The Rhodesians manufactured two additional combat vehicles. The Bullet was a wheeled infantry-fighting vehicle. It carried a 10-man crew. The vehicle commander was also the squad leader.

            The second was the Vaporizer, so named because if it were to hit a landmine it would vaporize. It was a high-speed dune buggy type vehicle used in the scout/reconnaissance role. This is a good example of the unit’s ingenuity; it was built upon a light chassis with a fiberglass body. It was manufactured for less than $1500, and mounted with a 30 or 50 caliber machine gun.



UR-416 50 (Approximately) Armoured Personnel Carrier West German
Eland 60 Armoured Car France
Ferret 20 Light Scout Car Great Britain
S/90 54 Scout Car South Africa
Vaporizer Unknown Scout/Reconnaissance Rhodesia
Bullet Unknown Infantry-fighting Vehicle Rhodesia
Crocodile Unknown Armoured Transport Rhodesia


(Left and right) A look at the high mobility scout/recon vehicle, developed in 2 months for $1500.00 each.


(Right) This armoured transport was the successor to the Puma mine protected vehicle. This was one of the better manufactured and developed Rhodesian concepts. It was designed to be armoured and mine-proof. At the time of production all data on the specifications of the Crocodile was classified.


Tactic and Techniques

The tactics initially used by the RAC reflect its British heritage, and the United Kingdom’s association with NATO. However, as the war progressed, the RAC began to experiment with a blend of tactics incorporated from German, South Africa, French, and American. The Rhodesians studied these tactics, and modified them to the terrain and character of an African insurgency.

The Black Devils employed tactic that fell into two major categories:

·        Tactics against ground troops with possible anti-tank capability.

·        Tactics against Conventional type Armour thrust

The armour column always moved with the supported mechanized infantry, with one of the elements of combined arms in support. Air support was used only when absolutely essential. In order to compensate for the lack of an “aerial umbrella”, the armoured car units developed a tactical doctrine which emphasized:

  • movement

  • Speed

  • Offensive action

weapons training

(Left) A Black Devil firing a 50cal. from a 4x4.

(below) Another Black Devil firing twin 30cal. Brownings.

(Right) Members of the RAC qualified every 10 day with their weapons and re-zeroed after every operation.

Selection and Training

            The Black Devils only maintained the best leadership and troopies in their field, weather they were Squadron commander, vehicle commander, drivers or mechanics. All members of RAC our infantry trained and qualified prior to arrival to the corps depot for armoured car training.  The curriculum  was done through a 12-week basic selection and armour car training course, required for all personnel assigned to RAC. After this basic course they would begin their formal training in their assigned duty. The length of this phase of training depended on the individual’s specialty. In general all the training is rigorous and demanding, physically and mentally. Upon successful completion of all training troopers are issued their black jumpsuits. Once assigned to the unit Drivers, gunners, and vehicle commanders our cross-trained in others' skills as well as in vehicle maintenance.


(Above) Black Devils observe trainees conduct live fire exercises at a secret training location in Rhodesia.

(Right) Note the Browning twin 30cal, mounted on the 4x4. 


            Although the Rhodesian Armoured Corp was small and virtually self-reliant, it was a potent force which included an anti-armour capability. The Rhodesians never possessed tanks, but they had modified a number of their vehicles to carry anti-armour weapons. Throughout 1978-1979 they became justifiably concerned over the introduction of approximately 200 T-34, T-54 and T-62 Soviet tanks into Zambia accompanied by Cuban military advisors. With the introduction of this force into one of the Frontline Nations, Rhodesia received considerable assistance in upgrading its anti-armour capability from South Africa and possibly Israel. It has been impossible to define the exact nature of its anti-armour capacity, but both Jane’s and World Armies speculate upon the existence of a credible deterrent.

            The Black Devils have been reported to achieve contact with insurgent forces in excess of 90% of all their performed operations. This was impressive, but should be tempered with the knowledge that a squadron was never committed until military intelligence had established a large concentration of guerrilla forces. This was due to growing economical restraints, and it became imperative for the Black Devils to monitor cost factors and economy of force of all operations, to get the best and biggest bang for the buck.


The Rhodesian Armoured Corps (RAC)  troopers are issued black jump suits after successful completion of training. Nicknamed Black Devils By a terrorist radio station in Maputo, Mozambique, after a highly successful raid.


  • Stiff, Peter. Taming the Landmine. (1986)
  • Moore, Robin. Rhodesia. (1977)
  • Arniel, A.J. Badges and Insignia of the Rhodesian Security Forces 1890-1980. (1987)
  • Brown, Robert.  The Black Devils.  (Soldier of Fortune, January 1979)
  • Lohman, Charles and MacPherson, Robert. Rhodesia: Tactical Victory, Strategic Defeat. (1983)



(Above and Right) The Black Devils on operations in the Tribal Trust Lands (TTL) have porsued "Terrs" to a cluster of huts formerly ocupied, prior to them being burt to the ground. Note in the background the huts burning. 




THIS SITE LAST UPDATED: Wednesday, June 27, 2007 09:59:00 AM

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