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Unimog Model 406/419 Engineering Vehicles History in the US Military

Unimog 406 vehicle at Ft. Belvoir, VA, 28 July 1983. Eight of these vehicles were acquired by the U.S. Army Mobility Equipment Research and Development Command for evaluation as a small emplacement excavator (SEE). This unit is probably a J.I. Case Corporation MB4/94
Unimog 406 vehicle at Ft. Belvoir, VA, 28 July 1983. Eight of these vehicles were acquired by the U.S. Army Mobility Equipment Research and Development Command for evaluation as a small emplacement excavator (SEE). This unit is probably a J.I. Case Corporation MB4/94.

A series of special purposes vehicles were developed for the US military, based on small Unimog 406 tractor trucks. Fitted with a variety of attachments, these vehicles were adept at field engineering tasks commonly encountered by mobile forces. Only one of the Unimog vehicle variants (the Small Emplacement Excavator or SEE) became a popular resource, with approximately 2,500 vehicles deployed widely in the US military.

The US military Unimog 406 engineering vehicles originated in the period between 1975 and 1980 when the J.I. Case Corporation imported the Unimog U-900 Model 406 into the United States. Case engineers added a rear deck, roll bar, and falling-object protection system, then fitted the 406 with a rear-mounted folding Case backhoe and front-mounted 3/4-yard bucket loader (Schmidt Engineering FL4). The resulting vehicle was sold through Case tractor dealerships as the MB4/94. The MB4/94 had obvious appeal to the military. A few were given camouflage paint and sold to US military customers where it was often called the SeeTrac. These were Commercial Off-the-Shelf (COTS) procurements without standardization.

In the early 1980s a program began to formally evaluate the potential of the MB4/94 and competitive vehicles. In July 1983, eight of these vehicles were acquired by the US Army Mobility Equipment Research and Development Command for evaluation as the Small Emplacement Excavator (SEE). Euclid Corporation was involved with this phase of the SEE program, but no details have been uncovered about their contribution. This program eventually standardized two new vehicles, incorporating improvements over the MB4/94, called the Small Emplacement Excavator (SEE) and High Mobility Material Handling Equipment (HMMHE), later renamed High Mobility Material Handler (HMMH). The new vehicles were based on the Unimog Model 419, a special version of the 406 for the US military.

Starting in 1985, the standardized vehicles were procured from Freightliner for the US Army and Marine Corps:

In 1987, another model was added, the Freightliner High Mobility Entrencher (HME) Unimog Model 419.102, although only twelve of these were built.

By 2003, the Unimog 419 vehicles were at end of life. They were superceded by the High Mobility Engineer Excavator (HMEE) manufactured by JCB Landpower, a subsidiary of J. C. Bamford group.

Material on this page was compiled from Modern U.S. Military Vehicles (Crismon) and other sources.