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Ystervark:The Little Truck That Could

The Ystervark is a light South African mobile anti-air unit, developed during the mid 1980’s as a result of changing military doctrine.

Briefly: A light and compact South African SPAAG unit, featuring a rapid-firing 20mm cannon with impressive destruction potential.

Ystervark, SPAAG, Britain, rank III


  • Fast-firing 20mm gun
  • Good mobility
  • Poor protection
  • Exposed crew and modules

Up until the early 1980’s, the SADF anti-air regiments were reliant on towed equipment. However, as the military doctrine shifted towards mobile warfare, the need for a self-propelled anti-air gun unit became clear. As a result, South African engineers began working on a respective design, which had to be rugged enough to withstand the harsh South African terrain and threat of landmines, yet light enough to ensure a high level of mobility.

Building on the basis of a previous mine-resistant vehicle project, the engineers came up with a light SPAAG design, built on top of the Bulldog APC chassis between 1983 and 1984. Entering service almost immediately, the Ystervark was used to accompany South African mechanized battalions and to protect strategic assets, such as air bases in the southwest African region. Ystervarks were first employed operationally during Operation Thunder Chariot in 1984 - a division -scale exercise in South Africa during which the Ystervarks were first tested.

However, the Ystervarks didn’t have to wait long for their first combat deployment. Taking part in several operations in the ongoing South African Border War from 1986, Ystervarks were used to great success as deterrents to low-flying Angolan attack aircraft and helicopters, even downing several Angolan MiG’s in 1986 and 1987.  After the conclusion of the Border War in 1989, the Ystervark was gradually being phased out of service in 1991 and replaced by the SAMIL 100 Kwêvoël mine-protected SPAAG armoured truck called the Bosvark. Officially, the Ystervark was withdrawn from active service in 1997 after more than 70 units were produced.


In War Thunder, the Ystervark will be a new light SPAAG unit awaiting all tankers at rank III of the British ground forces tree in the next major update coming soon to the game. At first glance, the Ystervark boasts a rather unimpressive arsenal: just a single 20mm GAI C01 autocannon, fitted to a fully rotating open turret on the back of the vehicle’s loading area. However, being a variant of the Oerlikon KAD cannon, already present on some vehicles in the game such as the R3 T20, the Ystervark’s 20mm cannon also has a very impressive rate of fire and superb ballistic properties. As such, these qualities make the gun very pleasant to operate and provided armour-piercing ammunition is loaded, the cannon can also become a threat even to more heavily armoured vehicles at close range.

Fun Fact: The Ystervark received its name after the South African porcupine, which is covered in numerous spikes, forming its defensive measure against predators.

Being based on a modified APC chassis, the Ystervark is unsurprisingly very mobile. Powered by a 124 hp diesel engine and possessing a weight of just 6 tons, the Ystervark can reach a top speed of 85 km/h under ideal conditions and thanks to its rugged design, the vehicle can even take on less hospitable terrain types without a noticeable impact on mobility.

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However, the Ystervark barely features any noteworthy protection. A large portion of its 3-man crew are situated in the exposed fighting compartment to the back of the vehicle, while only the driver enjoys some protection thanks to the light armoured plating and bulletproof glass encasing the driver’s cabin. Nonetheless, the vehicle is highly susceptible to combat damage, with even shrapnel from nearby explosions posing a high risk to the wellbeing of the vehicle and its crew. As a result, exposing the Ystervark directly to enemy fire is almost certain to lead to an untimely demise.


Meet the Ystervark SPAAG in the upcoming War Thunder major update “Ground Breaking”, coming soon to rank III of the British ground forces tree. In the meantime, make sure to stay tuned to the news in order not to miss out on the latest developments regarding the upcoming major update. Until then, happy hunting tankers!  

You can greatly speed up the research on this vehicle with:

British Starter Pack
The Kit Includes:
  • Crusader II “The Saint” (Rank 2 tank, Britain)
  • Spitfire Mk.IIa Venture I (Rank 2 aircraft, Britain)
  • 120000 Silver Lions
  • Premium account for 7 days.


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