Oliver Barnham, United Kingdom

To introduce myself – I worked for 40 years in Asia and the Middle East (Borneo, India, China, Japan and Saudi Arabia). I am now retired, living in England and working for various museums in different parts of the world.
I have a small collection of military vehicles; including a car that was in the desert when it was young – a 1942 VW Kübelwagen ‘Trop’ which served with the 164 Light Afrika Division

VW Type 82 Kübelwagen

The Volkswagen Kübelwagen was a light military vehicle designed by Ferdinand Porsche and built by Volkswagen during World War II for use by the German military . Based heavily on the Volkswagen Beetle, it was prototyped as the Type 62, but eventually became known internally as the Type 82.

With its rolling chassis and mechanics built at Stadt des KdF-Wagens (renamed Wolfsburg after 1945), and its body built by US-owned firm Ambi Budd Presswerke in Berlin, the Kübelwagen was for the Germans what the jeep was for the Allies.

When the German military took delivery of the first vehicles, they immediately put them to the test on- and off-road in snow and ice to test their capability at handling European winters; several four-wheel-drive vehicles were used as reference points. The two-wheel-drive Kübelwagen surprised even those who had been a part of its development, as it handily out-performed the other vehicles in nearly every test. Most notably—thanks to its smooth, flat underbody—the Kübel would propel itself much like a motorised sled when its wheels were sinking into sand, snow or mud, allowing it to follow tracked vehicles with remarkable tenacity.

In November 1943, the U.S. military conducted a series of tests as well on several Type 82s they had captured in North Africa; they concluded that the vehicle was simpler, easier to manufacture and maintain, faster, and more comfortable for four passengers than the U.S. Jeeps. This statement is at odds with U.S. War Department Technical Manual TM-E 30-451, Handbook on German Military Forces, dated 15 March 1945. In this manual (p. 416), it states “The Volkswagen, the German equivalent of the U.S. “Jeep”, is inferior in every way except in the comfort of its seating accommodations.

Photographs of the preserved Vehicle

Technical Data

  • Manufacturer: Volkswagenwerk GmbH
  • Production: 50,435 (1940–1945)
  • Platform: VW Type 1 Kdf-Wagen
  • Engine: air-cooled flat-4, 985 cc (23.5 bhp (17.5 kW)) / 1,131 cc (25 bhp (19 kW))
  • Transmission: 4-speed manual; self-locking differential
  • Wheelbase: 240 cm (94 in)
  • Length: 374 cm (147 in)
  • Width: 60 cm (63 in)
  • Height : 165 cm (65 in) (top up);111 cm (44 in) collapsible
  • Curb weight: 715 kg (1,580 lb) (GVW 1,160 kg)

164 leichte Division Afrika

The 164th Division was a unit of the Wehrmacht in World War II. It was initially created as the 164th Infantry Division in November 1939 and took part in the invasion of Greece in April 1941. In January 1942, consolidating Axis seizure of the island during the Battle of Crete, the 164th was reorganized as Fortress Division Kreta (FDK). In August 1942 the division was split to form the smaller Fortress Brigade Kreta and the 164th Light Afrika Division (German: Leichte Afrika Division), with the former remaining in Crete and the latter sent to North Africa.

The 164th Light Afrika Division fought at El Alamein and took heavy casualties in the westward retreat. It was sent to Tripoli for rehabilitation, but the necessary resources were not available, so it was sent to Tunisia to build fortifications. It was almost entirely destroyed there, and the remnants were lost in general Axis surrender in May.