The type 181's rated payload for military
use was 400 kg, and being a general utility vehicle, its uses included
command, patrol, dispatch and radio vehicle. Standard military equipment
included an axe, headlamp blackout covers, military lighting system, map
light, radio suppression, four rifle mounts, spade, starting handle, towing
eye, towing hook and a wheel chock. Radio vehicles had an additional 24V,
756 Watt dynamo fitted.
Largest military user was
From 1969 to 1979 the
Federal Army) procured 15,200 type 181s. They were used by all branches
of the military, especially the army and the
police). Approximately 1,000 additional vehicles were delivered to governmental
agencies such as the Bundesgrenzschutz (border guard), postal service,
forestry department, fire brigade and civil defense/ emergency rescue units
throughout the country.
Since 1981 more than 9,000 type
181s were struck off charge. The German government sold them on the open
market as well as donated them to the Greek and Turkish armies. In 1992
an estimated maximum of 4,000 type 181s were still in service with the
Bundeswehr. This number slowly decreases, as removal from military service
is determined on repair and serviceability costs. A number of VW 181s remain
in service as of 1999.
Mike Woodhouse's restored
German Army type 181 in Feldjäger guise.
Note the blue beacon
light - a popular accessory for restored military type 181s!
In addition to the standard accessories
(spare tire w/rim; spare fan belt; tool kit; tommy bar and socket; top
hinge covers; window bag; floor mats) the German Bundeswehr VW 181s had
the following accessories:
larger Group 41 battery;
front skid plate;
4 rifle holders;
straps on the inside rear deck for attaching
strap and holder inside front apron
spare fuel can inside spare tire;
wheel chock with strap and bracket for
inside engine compartment;
clip and latch for engine hand crank
inside engine compartment;
green vinyl covers for the headlights,
side mirrors and windshield (some early windshield covers were canvas);
engine crank handle;
metal spare bulb and fuse holder;
separate 8 slot fuse box for the black-out
lights and warning light;
spark proof 7 position light switch
with lock-out cam.
Most were fitted with a pulley guard
for the generator and all had a brush inspection slot cover. Also, there
were nuts welded to holes under to the rear shelf area to bolt down various
military equipment. The military VW 181 weighs 55 kgs (dry) more than its
Other countries tested the VW 181 for
military use. At least one was tested by Venezuela (afterwards it
was stored at the VW factory and it still exists).
military users include:
Austria: Bundesheer (federal
Belgium. (Note: the use of VW
181 by the Belgian Army has been questioned. Possibly they were used by
Belgian units in Germany? Confirmation
is eagerly sought after.)
Brunei: the Sultan of Brunei
guard has at least six dark blue VW 181s with the seal of the sultanate
on the doors.
France: used by units stationed
Great Britain: British Army on
the Rhine (BAOR) used some communications/tactical radio units for use
in joint exercises with the German Bundeswehr.
Greece: donation from German
Army (EJERCITO MEXICANO), Navy (ARMADA DE MEXICO), and Air Force (FUERZA
AEREA MEXICANA) used the 181 from the early seventies up until the nineties.
The Netherlands: Luchtmacht (Royal
Netherlands Air Force).
Turkey: donation from German
United States of America: units
stationed in Germany use many "local" vehicles including many VWs. It has
been suggested these included VW 181s.
|The Royal Netherlands Air
Force used a number of VW 181s for airfield surveillance and security.
This example is well armed with a pedestal-mounted .50 cal machine-gun.
VW Australia imported two military
VW 181s in the early 1970's for evaluation and possible purchase by the
Army. They were not successful and these were later sold as surplus
with an interesting mix of NATO and Australian military accessories.
More detailed information on
numbers used during what periods by which armies are most welcome.
Source: Ken Crimmins (e-mail
97-07-01); Arnd Klinkhart (e-mail 98-08-13); George Mele (e-mail
98-08-13); Raimundo Molina; Dan Sorkowitz (e-mail 98-08-25, 99-05-12);
Hanno Spoelstra; Peter Thompson (e-mail 98-04-27); Mike Woodhouse (e-mail
19-02-1999); Mauricio Rueda Chapital (e-mail 17-1-2004).
See the Danish
Army Vehicles Homepage for a camouflaged Danish VW M181 "Jagdwagen".
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Last update: 19-01-2004
Copyright © 1996-2004 H.L. Spoelstra / All Rights Reserved