The Type 166 Schwimmwagen was the definitive version of this amphibious German military car. It was originally based on the basic chassis and drivetrain of the standard Volkswagen Beetle. The powerplant was a Volkswagen 1,130 cc, air cooled four cylinder petrol engine. This “flat four” motor was rear mounted and drove the rear wheels. Four wheel drive was selectable via a stick-shift. 25 horsepower was available to propel the amphibious car up to 80 kph on land, and up to 10 kph in the water.
The propeller assembly was lowered into the water when running in amphibious mode, and was directly connected to the engine crankshaft to provide efficient power transfer.
Mass production of the Type 166 Schwimmwagen commenced in 1942 following earlier trial developments of the amphibious Volkswagen. 14,276 were produced when production ended in late 1944.
The Schwimmwagen was used widely by Wehrmacht and SS units on the Eastern and Western fronts. It was mainly operated in reconnaissance and liaison roles where its amphibious versatility and rough-ground capability gave it an edge over virtually all other vehicles.