View Full Version : The Schwimmwagen, truly an amazing vehicule

03-27-2007, 10:50 PM
I always wondered why VW didn't put out a post war version of this fantastic vehicule...
It's a marvel of simplicity, and yet, you would have to pay quite a sum of money if you wanted one. (They're pretty rare, only a hundred or so survived the war).

I Woud sacrifice the confort of a modern SUV anytime to ride into one!
My favorite transportation device ! (besides star treck teleportation!:mrgreen: )

03-27-2007, 10:59 PM
My Grandfather had a 1964 Amphicar........half car/half boat. German built.

03-27-2007, 11:46 PM
VW didn't put out a post-war model simply because it didn't have the resources to do such a thing.

After teh war, Europe had to rebuild its economy, state, infrastructure...

There simply wasn''t enough production slack to start production of what amounted to, basically, a toy.

03-28-2007, 08:36 AM
Thanks for your input, 1000ydstare,
I understand that right after the war, it was impossible. But in the 60s, 70s?
Even today, it would sell better than a lots of crappy cars put on the market...

03-28-2007, 08:42 AM
Ferdinand Porsche saw the potential of an amphibious version of the VW Kübelwagen (type82). The German Army was searching for a vehicle could handle snow, sand, mud and other rough grounds. He combined these qualities and added all-wheel drive which had been developed at about the same time for the VW (type87). The development project was called the type 128 which appeared in 1940.

Thirty examples were built in 1941 at the Wolfsburg Volkswagen Works and delivered to the Army's Engineer units. The type 128 had a boat-shaped body. The army was very impressed. In 1941 Porsche received instructions to further develop the type 128.
The type 138 was a type 128 but then with a little modified body it seems (version type 128 B). Some 100 more vehicles of this type were ordered. Another special version was produced type 129, probably a complete closed vehicle which could deliver bombs without a driver. This type was however not a success.

By the end of September 1940 the prototypes were tested in the lake called Max-Eyth near Stuttgart.
You can select 2 or 4 wheel driving in the type 128. The car had a gearbox with 4 gears and with 2 sperrdifferentials and a powertransmission to the front wheels.

Professor Porsche thought that the type 128 was too large and so unstable. Porsche started to create a smaller Schwimmwagen, which resulted in the project: type 166. The first 125 vehicles were produced by the Porsche Team and they were hand-made in Stuttgart. These cars are also known as "Vorserienschwimmwagen" or preseries Schwimmers.

The type 166 entered large-scale production in Wolfsburg (or "Stadt des KdF-Wagens", city of the Strenght Trough Joy car). The production model, this is the "VW-Schwimmwagen" we know today, possessed a wheelbase which was 40 cm shorter than the earlier type 128. Also the vehicle's width had been reduced by 10cm. There were some small body modifications done as a result of the army-tests. The tow hooks for example got reinforcements. Now it was powered by the same 1131-cm3 engine installed in the Kubelwagen from 1943.

In the water the engine drove a three-bladed propeller at the rear of the Schwimmwagen. The type 166 was very popular, mainly because of the off-road capabilities thanks to the 4wheel drive. However, its amphibious capability was rarely used in action.
In World War 2 the Schwimmwagen had lifespan of only 6 weeks.

The production stopped in 1944, because of the large number of man-hours involved in the production and the high material usage. In 1945 and 1946, the British built 6 Schwimmwagens. They used the spareparts that were left at the factory. It is supposed there were about 15.000 Schwimmwagens built.

After the war the Schwimmwagen was brought into action by the local Police, the firebrigades or by farmers. Some people even cut doors out of the Schwimmwagens. But soon the vehicles were replaced by new ones so the schwimmwagen disappeared to the demolition firm....
(Source: vw166.com)

03-28-2007, 12:30 PM
In World War 2 the Schwimmwagen had lifespan of only 6 weeks.

Acording to who ?

Sound very unlikely that the germans had made discardable vehicles.

03-28-2007, 04:14 PM
Hi panzerknacker,
My guess:
hard usage in a constant reteat-style war.
look at the attrition rate for similar soft-skin vehicules.
(the allied jeep comes to mind) From Life magazine, aug 1945 issue: (very good article that I will post someday)
"Each month, General Eisenhower reports, his armies use up 1500 jeeps, 375 medium tanks, 900 heavy trucks" and also:
"more than 5000 tires wear out on the western front every 24 hour"
So if they built only 15000, it's not so hard to do the math.

The source for the original info was vw166.com, but I remember seeing this number in a more complete history of the shwimmwagen. I'll try to dig it up and post it.

03-28-2007, 06:29 PM
Considering the number of typ 166 that had survided until our days that claim seems not very reliable.

03-28-2007, 07:39 PM
Considering the number of typ 166 that had survided until our days that claim seems not very reliable.

What do you mean?
and compared to what?
About 150 in working condition on 15000 built, that's not a lot...
I agree it certainly is more than panthers or Tigers. ( and consider this, those happy few that posses one often have to rebuild it from scratch )
I'm not here to argue pointlessly, just to share information.
I have nothing to prove in here
So if you have better sources, share them with us.

03-29-2007, 10:29 AM
No, is not a lot, but I still feel that the durability time figure in rather low, I will search more in order to make my point ( or not :rolleyes: )


03-29-2007, 11:15 AM
Yea notice he has that oar so when the vehicle gets stuck, he can hopefully push it out of the mud from the bottom of the lake:)

03-29-2007, 01:46 PM
The oar is a useful precaution. The Swim waggon, had a very poor reverse gear in water (you can see why from the positio of the propellor) the oar provided the "reverse gear", like wise the only steering came from the front wheels. Again pretty poor. The oar was used to steer the car. I am pretty sure the oars were standard issue to all users of the vehicle.

With regards to the 6 week life span.

It is a statistic. And as we all know, there are lies, damm lies and statistics.

In order to understand the 6 week statistic we need to know what it was based on, for example does it mean 6 weeks till write off or 6 weeks till it needs a mechanics repair/maintainence?

Takin gin to account that the vehicles were probably quite heavily abused, not to mention quite complex (ie the Power Take Off for the propeller) they probably needed a lot of maintainence.

Also factor in water getting in to the engines. A very real threat when crossing water in, what is essentially, a land vehicle. The whole design family (inluding the Kubalwagon) was based on the same chasis as the VW Beatle (civialian vehicle).

Herbie goes bananas!!! :D

Another point, was that the hulls were able to be ruptured whilst driving on land, leading to that sinking feeling when on water. It is doubtful that sunken vehicles could be recovered. Those that were damaged, were likely to be scrapped and used for spares, unless the damage was repairable. Factories were often bombed in the latter stages of the war, resulting in fewer vehicles and spares.

Most vehicles went to teh Eastern Front, not known for as a benign environment for anything. In cold weather, a special highly volatile fuel was used. It is worth noting that this fuel (even today) normally leads to faster deterioration of the engine, and possible "addiction" of the engine to the fuel. In the cold winters of Russia, this stuff would have been used by the ton!!! Likewise, 80% of damage (even today) to an engine from running is caused in the first 10 minutess, as it warms up. Now factor in the cold of the Russian winter, and any other methods such as lighting fires under the engine or boiling water over the engine to thaw it out.

They were used, to start with, for recce. Hardly a gentle pass time, before being used as transports and liason vehicles for getting to the more remote sub-units. Again hard graft for the vehicles.

Rommel wanted them, but didn't get them as the desert doesn't have as many rivers and water obstacles ans teh Eastern Front. Although, they weren't used for amphibous crossings as you would imagine.

Likewise the lifespan may have related to vehicles under Allied control, who wouldn't have had ready access to spares.

The lifespan is only an average. It doesn't mean that after 6 weeks the vehicles stop. We have many WW1 planes still around, and certainly the Royal Flying Corps' (precurser to the Royal Air Force) pilots lifespan was said to be 20 minutes!!!!

04-01-2007, 01:48 PM
I posted the article I was referring to in a new thread:
American military (european theater)
US army high attrition rate. Life magazine, Jan 45 article
read the article. The pictures are amazing.

And some more pics of shwimmers:

04-01-2007, 02:02 PM
Somehow a less sexy design, more on the utilitarian side, I guess...

04-01-2007, 06:39 PM
Those ARE great photos, thanks for sharing.

11-01-2007, 06:24 PM
Typ 166 with a strange apparatus, I dont know if it is for better impulsion in water or snow.


11-02-2007, 12:13 PM
It's for snow and/or deep mud.

Not very popular, due to the fact it was a complete bitch to fit. Once fitted they stayed fitted, hence a vehilce on the road that is still fitted with them.

They weren't used for river crossing for one simple reason,

If you you look at this picure....


Note, the wheels would be completely submerged. The wheels in the picture would be pushing as much water forward as back. Thus would be useless.

11-02-2007, 05:18 PM
Yup, now I see it, thanks.

01-21-2008, 02:51 PM

http://i3.photobucket.com/albums/y77/AcoolVW/schwimmwagen/th_F1.jpg (http://i3.photobucket.com/albums/y77/AcoolVW/schwimmwagen/F1.jpg) - http://i3.photobucket.com/albums/y77/AcoolVW/schwimmwagen/th_F2.jpg (http://i3.photobucket.com/albums/y77/AcoolVW/schwimmwagen/F2.jpg) - http://i3.photobucket.com/albums/y77/AcoolVW/schwimmwagen/th_F3.jpg (http://i3.photobucket.com/albums/y77/AcoolVW/schwimmwagen/F3.jpg) - http://i3.photobucket.com/albums/y77/AcoolVW/schwimmwagen/th_F4.jpg (http://i3.photobucket.com/albums/y77/AcoolVW/schwimmwagen/F4.jpg) - http://i3.photobucket.com/albums/y77/AcoolVW/schwimmwagen/th_F5.jpg (http://i3.photobucket.com/albums/y77/AcoolVW/schwimmwagen/F5.jpg) - http://i3.photobucket.com/albums/y77/AcoolVW/schwimmwagen/th_F6.jpg (http://i3.photobucket.com/albums/y77/AcoolVW/schwimmwagen/F6.jpg) - http://i3.photobucket.com/albums/y77/AcoolVW/schwimmwagen/th_F7.jpg (http://i3.photobucket.com/albums/y77/AcoolVW/schwimmwagen/F7.jpg)

01-22-2008, 09:10 AM
Beautiful Shwimmers !
Thanks Koen!
I have to get my hands on one of these cars... as soon as I win the lottery!

01-22-2008, 09:48 AM

http://i3.photobucket.com/albums/y77/AcoolVW/schwimmwagen/th_F1.jpg (http://i3.photobucket.com/albums/y77/AcoolVW/schwimmwagen/F1.jpg) - http://i3.photobucket.com/albums/y77/AcoolVW/schwimmwagen/th_F2.jpg (http://i3.photobucket.com/albums/y77/AcoolVW/schwimmwagen/F2.jpg) - http://i3.photobucket.com/albums/y77/AcoolVW/schwimmwagen/th_F3.jpg (http://i3.photobucket.com/albums/y77/AcoolVW/schwimmwagen/F3.jpg) - http://i3.photobucket.com/albums/y77/AcoolVW/schwimmwagen/th_F4.jpg (http://i3.photobucket.com/albums/y77/AcoolVW/schwimmwagen/F4.jpg) - http://i3.photobucket.com/albums/y77/AcoolVW/schwimmwagen/th_F5.jpg (http://i3.photobucket.com/albums/y77/AcoolVW/schwimmwagen/F5.jpg) - http://i3.photobucket.com/albums/y77/AcoolVW/schwimmwagen/th_F6.jpg (http://i3.photobucket.com/albums/y77/AcoolVW/schwimmwagen/F6.jpg) - http://i3.photobucket.com/albums/y77/AcoolVW/schwimmwagen/th_F7.jpg (http://i3.photobucket.com/albums/y77/AcoolVW/schwimmwagen/F7.jpg)

Fantastic Photos...thanx for posting them.

01-22-2008, 10:41 AM
no problem, glad you liked them!

01-22-2008, 11:18 AM
You noticed, that that restored Schwimmwagen got Afrika Korps markings? xD

01-22-2008, 03:06 PM

Major Walter Schmidt
05-13-2008, 10:39 PM
Is that a prototype?

05-22-2008, 06:53 PM
The shorty General Hasso Von Manteufel onboard a Typ 166, the guy in the Panzerbefehlwagens Panther is the Oberst (colonel) Lagkleit, both officers belong to the Gross Deutschland armored division.


spudnut 42
02-14-2009, 05:57 PM
Reguarding post war production , All schwimmwagen and kübelwagon bodies were built at the american owned ambi-budd presswerks near Berlin. Bodies were shipped by rail to wolfsburg for assembly with VW components. At wars end the ambi-budd plant was in the russian zone of occupation and its tools and presses were quickly disassembled and shipped back to russia. The earliet typ128 and typ166 scwimmwagens were built at the Porsche factory near stutgart and had 128 and 166 prefixes to their serial numbers. The VW assembled schwimmwagens had a 7- prefix as did the engine block for this was a VW typ7 , bug typ1 , kubel typ2 , bug with kubel chassis typ5, industial typ9 .The typ166, typ82,typ82e,typ87,etc. were all porsche numbers not VW! I've got a 42 typ166 at my shop and a 44typ7 thats driven daily.

02-15-2009, 12:56 AM
Have been very close to a Type 166.
It was a "mid series" production, from details I could discern, and thoroughly restored to operability.
However: less apparent than may be thought is the relatively low freeboard, a drawback it shares with its' American cousin and French grandchild.

As to producing the vehicle today: seeing that the Grosser KubelWagen is still marketed (albeit under another name), I cannot see it as unreasonable that the Type 166 could be produced, especially if in somewhere like Poland, Brazil, or Spain.

Certainly a modern version would be a reasonably affordable alternative to the existing hugely expensive amphibious vehicles in the "motorcar" class.

Regards, Uyraell,

02-16-2009, 01:43 PM
interesting thread
Nice pics

02-16-2009, 02:37 PM

The picture here is unusual, in more ways than one.
I've had a couple days to think about this. The vehicle driven by the officer, climbing the slope is Not a Type 166, nor do I think it to be a Type 128.

I'm thinking the Einheits Schwimmwagen prototype Authorised from Hans Trippel Motor Works.
Trippel produced several vehicle prototypes, none of which were adopted by the Wehrmacht. The "best known" of these rare vehicles were the "Schildkrote" ("Turtle") series, of which the vehicle climbing the slope is most likely a direct ancestor.

Regards, Uyraell.