Posted by: philipmartin | December 8, 2009

The German Volkswagen “Jeep” Fails the Field Test

From the Patton’s Lucky Scout book, a World War II memoir by PFC Frank Wayne Martin:

One of my assignments as the war was winding down was to check out German equipment, to see how the war was effecting the quality.

I have always enjoyed studying economics, and during combat in Europe, the only book I carried was a rather thin textbook on economics. After Patton saw me reading it, he started assigning me to report to him my view of how well Germany was dealing with wartime material shortages.

The German equipment used in the field showed signs of “cost trimming” by the end of the war. As a point of comparison, our jeeps were pretty rugged and took a lot of abuse, but the German equivalent was in far worse shape.

The Army Volkswagen was their equivalent of the jeep. To test to see if the new ones were as rugged as needed, I found one that I was sure was just off the production line: fresh paint, new fabric on seats, etc. I first drove it around an open field, leaving ruts three to five inches deep.

Testing the German Volkswagen "Jeep"

PFC Martin tests the German Volkswagen "Jeep"

Then I drove across the ruts. The chassis collapsed.

I got out and tapped it with my trench knife, hearing a thin sound. The chassis looked the same as earlier models, but instead of solid steel, it was made of thin sheet steel welded into a square shape.

Testing the German Volkswagen "Jeep"

PFC Martin tests the German Volkswagen "Jeep"

Testing the German Volkswagen "Jeep"

The German Volkswagen "Jeep" failed the test (unknown soldier sits on vehicle with broken chassis).

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