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Volkswagen Kubel / Kubelwagen Multirole / Utility Light Armored Military Car

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.

 Updated: 11/18/2016; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©

The ubiquitous German Volkswagen ("People's Car") of World War 2 (1939-1945) was the product of Porsche and Mercedes-Benz engineering with the design originating in 1933 at Adolf Hitler's request. First production examples - recognized as "Type 62" - appeared in 1936 and were based on Porsche's VW "Beetle" automobile. 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 the global war.

In practice, the Volkswagen Kubel proved highly reliable, robust and well-liked by all service banners that it operated under and served the same multi-role function as that of the equally-famous American Army JEEP of the Allied cause. The Kubel was a light-weight and inexpensive military car to produce en mass with the capability to operate effectively on road or off road. Power for pre-1943 vehicles was from a Volkswagen 4-cylinder engine producing 24-horsepower (998cc) while 1943 and onward models were driven by a 25-horsepower engine (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 and the 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 onward). 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 an improved filtration system aided engine function. This variant was known unofficially by the Allies as the "German Camel".

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Volkswagen Kubel / Kubelwagen Technical Specifications

Service Year: 1940
Type: Multirole / Utility Light Armored Military Car
National Origin: Nazi Germany
Manufacturer(s): Volkswagen / Ambi-Budd - Germany
Production: 50,435

Design (Crew Space, Dimensions, Weight, and Systems)

Operating Crew: 1 + 3
Length: 12.37 feet (3.77 meters)
Width: 5.25 feet (1.60 meters)
Height: 5.41 feet (1.65 meters)

Operating Weight: 1 tons (750 kg; 1,653 lb)

Nuclear / Biological / Chemical Protection: None
Nightvision Equipment: None

Installed Power and Standard Road Performance

Engine(s): 1 x Volkswagen Type 1 4-cylinder air-cooled engine developing 24 horsepower (until 1943); 1 x Volkswagen 4-cylinder 1131cc petrol engine developing 25 horsepower (1943 onward).

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

Armament and Ammunition

None unless personal weapons carried by the occupants.


Global Operators / Customers

Nazi Germany

Model Variants (Including Prototypes)

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.