Kfz.1/20 K2s Schwimmwagen. Personal reconnaissance car from WW2. 

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The Volkswagen Schwimmwagen (literally “swimming car”) was a four-wheel drive amphibious vehicle, used extensively by German ground forces during the Second World War. The Schwimmwagen is the most-produced amphibious car in history.

Prototyped as the Type 128, it entered full-scale production as the Type 166 in 1941 for the Wehrmacht.

All Schwimmwagens were four-wheel drive in first gear (and reverse gears on some models) only and had ZF self-locking differentials on the front and rear axles. As with the Kübelwagen, the Schwimmwagen had rear portal axles, which provided increased ground clearance, while at the same time reducing drive-line torque stresses with their gear reduction at the wheels. The Schwimmwagen had a top speed of 50 miles per hour (80 km/h) on land.

When crossing a body of water a screw propeller could be lowered down from the rear deck/engine cover. When in place a simple coupling provided drive straight from an extension of the engine’s crankshaft. This meant that screw propulsion always drove forward. The Schwimmwagen had a top speed of 10 km/h (6 mph) in the water. For reversing in the water there was the choice of using the standard equipment paddle or running the land drive in reverse, allowing the wheel-rotation to slowly take the vehicle back. The front wheels doubled up as rudders, so steering was done with the steering wheel both on land and on water. The Schwimmwagen could also be steered by the passengers using the aforementioned paddles.

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