EPISODE 1: The Volkswagen Type 166 SCHWIMMWAGEN.
Not all my research for MANNA involves books. Building models is a great way to create miniature representations of the equipment I will be featuring in the book. However, nothing seizes the imagination quite like seeing ‘the real thing’, whether it is a tank, a heavy gun, an airplane, or in this case, a working Schwimmwagen.
It looks like a bathtub on wheels. It even has a propeller on the back that can be lowered into the water so the driver may ‘drive’ across rivers and small lakes. It was built in Germany in the war as an amphibious vehicle, slightly smaller than the VW Beetle, with good handling qualities on land or in the water. According to at least one of my interviewees, a number of them saw service in the Netherlands during the occupation of 1940-1945. This would be hardly surprising considering the number of canals and natural bodies of water in the country.
These pictures were taken at the Ontario Regiment Museum Aquino a few years back. The owner of this working Type 166 had acquired the car from someone in Italy many years before and carefully restored it to its original configuration, complete with the propeller being an authentic wartime vintage artifact bearing the VW logo with the gear surrounding the company initials. (The gear disappeared with the de-Nazification of the company by the British after the war.)
If the Second World War, its history, equipment, and legacy, interests you, please take time to visit the Ontario Regiment Museum in Oshawa, ON., Canada. There is an excellent book on the regiment’s history I strongly advise you read to put what you see there into context. FIDELIS ET PARATUS, by Sgt. Rod Henderson, is an excellent, authoritative and complete history of the regiment. Many volunteers make this excellent museum ‘go’, and the tank days, when all the armour comes out to play, are well worth attending.
There will be other posts related to this collection and the connections to MANNA coming up in the future. More likely they will be posted on the social media sites attached to this one.
Watch this space…