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Volkswagen Kubel / Kubelwagen Light Multirole Armored Car (1940)

Authored By Staff Writer | Last Updated: 9/30/2013

The Volkswagen Kublewagen light armored car proved a robust and reliable vehicle across the many fronts making up World War 2 for the German Army.

The Volkswagen ("People's Car") was the product of Porsche and Mercedes-Benz engineering and design originating in 1933 at Adolf Hitler's request. First production examples - recognized as the "Type 62" - appeared in 1936 and were based on Porsche's VW "Beetle" automobile design. When the vehicle was selected to fill the ranks of the growing German military, several requested changes were implemented to produce the "Type 82" designator. By war's end, some 50,000 to 55,000 examples of the Volkswagen "Kubel" (meaning "bucket") or "Kubelwagen" (meaning "bucket automobile") would be produced - the name derived from the bucket-type appearance of the seats. Full rate production began in 1940 with Germany already embroiled in total war.

In practice, the Volkswagen Kubel proved highly reliable, robust and well-liked by all banners that it operated under and served the same multi-role function as that of the equally-famous American Army JEEPof the Allies. The Kubel proved a light-weight and inexpensive production car with the capability to operate equally effectively on road or off road. Power for pre-1943 vehicles was served through a Volkswagen 4-cylinder engine producing 24-horsepower with 998cc while 1943 and onwards models were served through a 25-horsepower engine delivering 1,131cc. The operational components of the Kubel design proved efficient and easy to maintain under the harshest of battlefield conditions and the air-cooled engine meant that it could operate well in colder temperatures when compared to a liquid-cooled design. Crew protection was nothing more than sheet metal body panels. Overhead cover consisted of a canvas convertible top with integrated screens to serve the windowless doors. Four doors served as the exit/entry methods for the driver and up to three passengers.

The Kubel appeared in a variety of forms including the "Type 92" which featured a fully-enclosed body design (1943 onwards). A tropical version, known as the "Tropenfest", was also delivered when the base Kubels failed to impress in hot climates across North Africa and the Middle East. These were fitted with special tires to navigate the deep sands and improved filtration. This variant was known unofficially by the Allies as the "German Camel".

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Specifications for the
Volkswagen Kubel / Kubelwagen
Light Multirole Armored Car


Country of Origin: Imperial Germany
Manufacturer: Volkswagen / Ambi-Budd - Germany
Initial Year of Service: 1940
Production: 50,435


Focus Model: Volkswagen Type 82 (Kubel / Kubelwagen)
Crew: 1 + 3


Overall Length: 12.37ft (3.77m)
Width: 5.25ft (1.60m)
Height: 5.41ft (1.65m)
Weight: 0.8 US Short Tons (750kg; 1,653lbs)


Powerplant: 1 x Volkswagen Type 1 4-cylinder air-cooled engine generating 24hp (up to 1943); 1 x Volkswagen 4-cylinder 1131cc petrol engine of 25hp (1943 onwards).


Maximum Speed: 50mph (80.4 km/h)
Maximum Range: 270 miles (434 km)


NBC Protection: None
Nightvision: None


Armament:
None unless personal weapons carried by the occupants.


Ammunition:
None.


Variants:
Type 62 - Initial Production model appearing in 1936.


Type 82 - Modified Type 62 appearing in 1940.

Type 86 - Widened chassis based on the Type 82.

Type 92 - Enclosed Body Design appearing from 1943; uprated engine producing 1131cc.

Tropenfest - Tropical Climate Variant; "German Camel"; fitted with special sand tires.


Operators:
Nazi Germany