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The Volkswagen Type 87 Kommandeurwagen, sometimes listed as the Type 877 Kommandeurwagen, was a four-wheel drive variant of the Type 82 Kübelwagen mounted with the body of a Volkswagen Type 1 "Beetle".[1] [2] It was used as a command car by Germany during World War 2.

Description

The Kommandeurwagen was based on the chassis of the Type 86, a prototype version of the Kübelwagen with a four-wheel drive system. The body itself was taken from the Volkswagen Type 1, an attempt by the German government to provide all citizens with an efficient means of transportation.[3]

The Kommandeurwagen was powered by a 25 horsepower Volkswagen engine, much like other Volkswagen military vehicles at the time. Many of the Kommandeurwagen's parts were shared between other Volkswagen models.[2]

The Type 1 body had widened fenders to accommodate the larger "Kronprinz" tires that were equipped for off-road purposes. Due to the increased height created by these tires, running boards were mounted to aid in entry.[3]

The combination of large off-road tires, four-wheel drive, and powerful engine meant the Kommandeurwagen was not the easiest vehicle to control.[2] But, it was capable of clearing nearly any obstacle.

Like the Type 1, the engine was fitted in the rear of the vehicle with the front reserved for storage and supplies. The standard outfitting included a spare tire, a shovel, a jack kit, and an extra 20 litre gas can. The main fuel tank could hold 40 litres of gasoline.[3]

Also installed was an infa-red lamp, which was used in-lieu of standard electric lights to avoid detection by enemy aircraft.[2]

History

Type 87 Africa

An officer with a Kommandeurwagen in North Africa.

Produced following the Kubelwagen and Schwimmenwagen, the Kommandeurwagen was designed for the harshest of conditions.[2] The first pre-production models went through trials in Yugoslavia, Greece, Bulgaria, and Romania, but only went into service in Germany. [3]

The vehicle was mainly issued to high-ranking officers, especially those who were stationed near active battlefields. As it was perfect for tropical conditions, a good number of Kommandeurwagens were sent to Erwin Rommel's Afrika Korps.[3]

Type 87

German officers posing for a picture with their Kommandeurwagens.

Around 669 Kommandeurwagens were produced during the war, seeing plentiful action with officers of all branches of the Wehrmacht on all fronts, mainly in the North African Campaign.[2]
Vw Type 87

A Kommandeurwagen scaling an incline.

Due to heavy bombings and air raids in 1945, the factories producing the Kommandeurwagens were moved to underground bunkers. While production of the vehicles was essentially finished, this ensured that Volkswagen could produce the demilitarized Type 1 "Beetles" after the war's end.[2]

Variants

  • Type 87: The mainstay of the Beetle-bodied Kubelwagens, equipped with four-wheel drive, off-road tires, and other equipment for enhanced mobility. 669 produced.[1][2]
  • Type 82E: A variant of the standard two-wheel drive Type 82 Kübelwagen. This versions shared only the Volkswagen Beetle body, nothing else.[1]
  • Type 92 SS: A specialized version built for the Waffen-SS, mainly used in the Soviet Union. The Type 92 came equipped with leather seats, map tables, and even hooks for fastening firearms.[3][4]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Seume, Keith, "Volkswagen Cars and Trucks", MBI Publishing Company, 2001
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 http://thevolkyland.com/site/military4.html
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 Taylor, Blaine, "Volkswagen Military Vehicles of the Third Reich: An Illustrated History", Da Capo Press, 29 June 2004
  4. http://www.bugland.be/Verschillende_Vw-types_Militaire-wagens.html