Hiding motor vehicles

Years ago I had a chat at a military exhibition with someone I knew from online contacts, and aside from other memorable things about this encounter, he asked me if I was  "tracks" or a "wheels" guy (regarding armoured vehicles). I am neither, and the chat drifted to a different point quickly: I mentioned how irritatingly large (and thus difficult to hide) even rather light military vehicles such as a 2 ton vehicle as a Unimog are.

Unimog 4x4, (c) KIZILSUNGUR, see here

The tires alone are huge already, obviously so in order to reduce the nominal ground pressure and to increase the ground clearance. This is fine for offroad performance, but hiding such a vehicle is about as hard as hiding a vehicle with ten times its payload - or, save for treacherous tracks on the ground, a tank. Even a folding cab as popular during the Second World War U.S. Army or a hydropneumatic suspension wouldn't help much if your tires are this big.

So during the chat he showed an altogether different idea of "hiding" than I had in mind (outdoor): He saw an important threshold at the size of a car garage. The idea is intriguing indeed. An entire reconnaissance platoon or even company could hide in a village's car garages (particularly if the civilians fled) and hostile reconnaissance troops might pass through the village and would report that it's  vacated unless they were very thorough in their reconnaissance and thus very slow. Both workshop and storage halls (including barns) would be easier to use and allow for larger vehicles, but they're fewer and thus more quickly searched. (That's why I didn't think much about indoor hideouts at first.)

I'm not sure about the typical size of car garages in Eastern Europe, but the typical size in Central Europe allows at most a SUV of a Grand Cherokee's size* and is thus de facto limiting the capacity of the vehicle to two personnel + approx. a ton cargo or four to eight personnel with portable equipment. I've repeatedly argued against using such small vehicles. They worsen the ratio between troops and vehicles, thus increasing the share of personnel bound to the job of driver, also needlessly increasing the length and passing time of convoys and finally this makes the handling of troops by the leadership more difficult.
There is an exception; troops which routinely operate in small groups only (such as reconnaissance platoons) merely suffer from the drivers' share problem.

So maybe light reconnaissance or mounted patrol small units might actually make good use of vehicles small enough for ease of hiding. This may particularly apply to defensive reconnaissance. It's also a rather cheap solution and may involve commandeered civilian vehicles with a new matte paintjob (decentrally applied with spray cans).


*: While still able to open doors at both sides.


  1. Toyota mot inf.

  2. With a high qualitiy milspec thermal sight it would be very easy to detect such vehicles in the car garages if they are parked their just after driving. So you need some time to cool your vehicles down.

    And your trick would work only once. After that the enemy would sureley invest one shot with a machine canon into every garage and this would not cost the world. Like trees were processes in second world war after the first experiences with snipers shooting from treetops. After the first losses the troops as a matter of routine shot with machine guns into every suspiciosu tree top.

    So your light motoriced infantry would die in the garages hitten by machine canon fire.

    >>I've repeatedly argued against using such small >>vehicles. They worsen the ratio between troops and >>vehicles, thus increasing the share of personnel >>bound to the job of driver, also needlessly >>increasing the length and passing time of convoys >>and finally this makes the handling of troops by >>the leadership more difficult.

    I disagree completley.

    1 Every soldier today has a driving licence and can drive such a light vehicle, so you need no special drivers (Dragoon Style Infantry).

    2 Modern versions of such vehicles carry many soldiers and are not expensive. For example a Flyer 72 can carry 7 soldiers plus 1 Driver plus 1 Gunner - no fewer than 9 soldiers and every one of them can take the drivers seat.

    The same with the Dragor - it also carries 9 Soldiers. And there are over such vehicles too.

    And you can arm them with 120mm Mortars, Stinger, even 105mm Ultralightweight Howitzers.

    This vehicles are very useful and outstanding, but i would not hide them in car garages. Their primary advantage is mobility, so the must move all the time.

    1. Well, obviously I disagree completely.
      The problem with drivers isn't the license, but the need to leave behind a security element every time you dismount the troops from vehicles. Preferably, thsi security element is numerous enough to evacuate the vehicles in face of a threat before the dismounts return.

      To use very small capacity vehicles also creates large convoys even of small units and it menas that very few men can rest during movements. Soldiers need to use every chance for a nap, and that's not going to happen if 1/4 or even everyone needs to be awake for driving.

      That Flyer thing isn't going to have more than six seats with the proper amount of personal gear, ammo and fuel supplies onboard and provides negligible weather protection in wintertime.
      The average count of men onboard will be much less than 4 with such vehicles - it's already about 4 with a vehicle fleet consisting largely of medium and heavy lorries!

      Tt's nonsense to expect troops to move around much (and the Flyer would empty its fuel tank in half a day if you tried!). Troops are resting or waiting more than 20 hrs/day even during mobile warfare, moving less than four hrs/day. They don't get to sleep much, but sure don't move much. Historial advance speeds even of motorised forces were less than 150 km/day, with about two km driven for one km advance. Realistically you can expect troops to move about 200 km/day during mobile warfare.

      Last but not least, having a driving license doesn't equal being a competent driver for military purposes. Offroad driving stillr equires extra training in order to reduce the rate of vehicles getting stuck or flipping over.

  3. This is a subject I have theorised over a few times.

    Western forces seem to drag to much unnecessary kit with them. If one use a minimum of self-discipline, 4 soldiers would easily fit in a Hilux double cab with all mission critical kit on the bed.
    That way, 4 soldiers can be transported in a safe and fairly comfortable way in both peacetime and in in times of conflict. The fifth seat is too small for a regular soldier but, a volunteered local in a uniform like boiler suit can squeeze in to provide his/hers knowledge of the area.

    The point of this solution would be to treat this vehicle like a consumable, radios in a backpack/ on the soldier (Civilian sourced antennas on a roof-rack), one leaves the vehicle behind. A small squad can be left behind to provide over watch and to shoot up treats/the vehicles to stop the enemy using vehicles or the supplies within them.

    During wartime one could easily fill the bed of the 4x4 with soldiers for short haul.

    No armament should be mounted on the vehicle as a standard.
    Hiding, yes civilian garages do work, the same do agricultural structures and industry buildings/warehouses. A passing enemy will normally send foot units into built up areas before the main force moves trough. To suspect that they have the resources to do that over h whole village is unlikely.

    To train all solders as drivers is no problem, basic understanding of such simple vehicles and simple terrain driving can be learnt over a weekend (BTDT), if you add driving with NVGs, a week is enough.

    Naturally this unit structure work well for reconnaissance, but one could easily throw a Javelin, 84mm or antitank mines on the bed if the soldiers are trained for it. Further, rifled 120mm mortars can be towed, Grad-P(Ad western guidance to Polish or Turkish 122 mm), like mortar, both towed and carried on the roof.
    If there is a rearmament period before a war, an IRIS-T on the roof of some Vehicles and you have air defense that is much more potent than Manpads.

    All this may work as long as the unit is trained as a light infantry unit in peace time and one prevents gold plating such as IRIS-T in peacetime. Proper light infantry, not the overburdened modern knights.

    The chance for a unit like this to happen is quite small owing to the lack of sexiness and gold plating.

    PS I have read “the Toyota horde”.