The German Marder 1 Infantry Fighting Vehicle

The German Marder 1 Infantry Fighting Vehicle Background

West Germany had attempted to build a modern IFV in the 50’s building the Schützenpanzer Lang HS.30, which had been a Swiss design, but had many limitations and flaws in its design. So the German Army set out a new requirement in 1960 for a new IFV, which went on to become the highly successful Marder I, proving that Germany could still produce extremely successful Armoured Fighting Vehicles.

Early development contracts were awarded to the Rheinstahl group and the second group, Henschel Werke and the Swiss MOWAG company who went onto produce three sets of prototypes, numbering 25 vehicles, from 1961 to 1967.

The German Marder 1 Infantry Fighting Vehicle

The  Rheinstahl group completed the final development following the final requirements being received from the German Army. They produced ten pre-production vehicles (these ten were of the previous mentioned 25 prototype vehicles), which went through successful field tests with the German Army from 1968 to 1969 and were appointed the principal manufacturer for what was named, the new Marder 1 IFV and MaK as a sub-contractor.


Full-scale production of the Marder 1 began shortly afterwards. In total just over 2100 vehicles were built, with first vehicles being delivered and accepted into service with the German Army in 1970. Production was completed by 1975. The Marder 1 has gone through a series of up-grades (see chart below) from the 70’s up to the late 90’s as response to the Russian BMP series and are now all the A3 series.

The German Marder 1 Infantry Fighting Vehicle Variants

Original production model: Standard Infantry Fighting Vehicle (1970 to 1975).

Marder 1 MILAN ATGM: Standard Infantry Fighting Vehicle fitted with MILAN Anti-Tank Guided Missile system (1977 to 1979).

Marder 1A1+: Dual feeder fitted to the 20mm  MK 20 Rh 202 auto cannon giving gunner a choice of ammunition, fitted with night vision equipment including image intensifiers and a thermal imager. 674 vehicles up-graded to this variant (1979 to 1982).

Marder 1A1-: Same up-grades as the A1+ with the exception of the thermal imager. 350 vehicles up-graded to this variant (1979 to 1982).

Marder 1A1A: Same up-grades as the A1+ with the exception of the passive night vision equipment. 1112 vehicles up-graded to this variant.

Marder 1A2: All previous variants up-graded to this variant. The suspension, fuel tanks, cooling system and water-jet cleaning system were modified. Additionally a new sighting system was installed. The infra-red equipment was removed and replaced with thermal imagers with the exception of the 674 A1+s which already had them fitted (1984 to 1991).

Marder 1A3: All previous variants up-graded to this variant. New spaced armour system added and new roof hatch and storage boxes arrangement (1988 to 1998).

Marder 1A4: Commander’s vehicle.

Marder 1A5: Additional mine protection fitted. Re-modelled interior to protect the crew & infantry from blast and shock injuries inflicted when hit by a mine. 74 Marder 1 A3’s up-graded to this variant (2003 to 2004).

Marder 1A5A1: Equipped with air conditioning system, jammer for IED-protection and multi-spectral camouflage. In December 2010 ten vehicles were brought to this standard, further 25 to be upgraded by August 2011.

Roland Air-to-Air missile system

Marder 1 Roland Air-to-Air missile system: The Roland is a Franco-German mobile short-range surface-to-air missile (SAM) system. It had an 8km range. The Launcher was mounted on a Marder IFV chassis. It was fully withdrawn from German serive in 2005.

TAM Tank

TAM medium tank series: The Marder 1 hull is also used in the German designed TAM tank of the for the Argentinean Army.

marder light
Marder Light Tank:

Marder Light Tank: Refurbished Marder 1, with additional modular armour,  oto melara Hit Factor turret with a 105mm main gun. Developed in 2012.

The German Marder 1A3 Infantry Fighting Vehicle

The Marder 1 A3 is an all welded steel skin with added spaced armour. The added spaced armour saw the lose of the original embarked infantry troops firing ports on the A1 & A2 and now provides protection from small arms fire, air-burst shrapnel and up to 20mm rounds.

It carries a number of weapons as found on most NATO IFV’s in its two-man turret. It carries a Rheinmetall MK 20 Rh 202, 20mm auto cannon and thanks to the dual feeder fitted on the A1 up-grade, it now has a choice of ammunition with the gunner being able to fire either armour-piercing or High Explosive rounds at a flick of a switch. It carries the Rheinmetall 7.62mm MG3 belt fed GPMG as its coaxial secondary armament.

Troop compartment of the Marder 1 A3
The German Marder 1A3 Infantry Fighting Vehicle

The development of the IFV has grown in to an Anti-Tank role as well. The Marder 1 A3 is no exception, with a mobile MILAN Anti-Tank Guided Missile mounted on the turret, which is fired by the commander. It’s only draw back compared to other NATO IFV ATGM systems is that the Marders has to be fired from the exposed position of outside the turret, rather than from safely inside the turret. It also has six 76mm smoke grenade launchers.

The Marder 1 A3 uses torsion bar suspension and is powered by a MTU MB 833 Ea-500 6-cylinder liquid-cooled diesel engine with a Renk four speed HSWL 194 gear box with four forward and two reverse gears which provides a top road speed of 65 km/h (this used to be 72 km/h prior to the added weight of the added spaced armour system).

Marder 1 Infantry Fighting Vehicle Operators

chile marder
The German Marder 1 Infantry Fighting Vehicle – Chile


200 TAM tanks, 216 VCTP (APC variant of TAM) and VCPC were manufactured for the Argentinean Army over a prolonged production period of 1979 – 1983 and 1994 – 1995.


Marder 1 Roland Air-to-Air missile system bought by the Brazilian Army in the late ’70s All were retired in 2001.


120 MArder 1A3 were ordered in 2007 and a second order of 160 later on, total 280 (surplus German stock). Chile already uses the Leopard 1 tanks supplied from the Neatherlands and Leopard 2 from Germany.


The Marder 1 has served in the German Army (Panzer grenadier AKA mechanized infantry) for over 30 years and all were upgraded to the Marder 1A3. Is being replaced by the new German Puma IFV.  By the end of 2020, the Bundeswehr will have taken delivery of 350 Puma IFV.


50 ordered and being delivered. Discussions on possibilty of convering an unknown number to the Marder Light Tank to complement Leopard 2 Main Battle Tanks also bought.

The German Marder 1 Infantry Fighting Vehicle Combat History

Marder 1 A3 in Kosovo as part of KFOR
The German Marder 1 Infantry Fighting Vehicle – KFOR

The Marder 1 A3 was deployed with German forces as part of KFOR, but there are no recorded engagements it participated in, unlike Afghanistan. In July 2009 the vehicle defended and fought of a heavy Taliban attack without any losses of a German outpost. It’s only criticism has been the lack of Air Conditioning for the crew and has since fought in other fire fights.

The German Marder 1 Infantry Fighting Vehicle Spec’s

28.5 tonne marder 1A1/A2
33.5 tonne marder 1A3
37.4 tonne marder 1A5
Length: 6.79m
Width :3.24m
Height: 2.98m
Crew: 3+7
Armor: Welded steel, protection up to 20mm APDS rounds Frontal Arc
Main Gun: 20mm Rheinmetall MK20 Rh 202 automatic cannon (Dual Feed)
ATGM launcher: MILAN
Coaxial Gun: 7.62 mm MG3 machine gun
Engine: 591hp MTU MB 833 Ea-500 diesel engine
Power to weight ratio: 21.1 hp/tonne
Transmission: RENK HSWL 194
Suspension: Torsion bar
Fuel capacity: 652 Litres
Operational Range: 520 km
Top Road Speed: 75km/h Marder 1A2 & 65km/h Marder 1A3