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#1 Brian Keith

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Posted 22 August 2019 - 05:33 PM

I found these photos in a stack of photos at a tractor show. First photo clearly shows a US soldier with his hand on a US Army marked and plated German Volkswagen. You can see it has 557 INF-557th Infantry, and the plate is dated 1951. It is a typical snapshot, not in true focus and is a double exposer; it is still an interesting photo. Second show two soldiers seated in the same Volkswagen. I suspect the US Government had a program to purchase German made items to help recover the post-war economy. It would be cool to replicate this vehicle and show up at a military vehicle rally! Thanks for looking at the following photos, comments welcome! Note the oversized cap badge, the soldiers were members of an army band in Europe.
BKW

US Army VW Crop 001.jpg
US Army VW2 crop 001.jpg

#2 patches

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Posted 22 August 2019 - 06:45 PM

Never heard of a 557th Infantry, or Battalion, there was a 557th Field Artillery Group but that was in the 60s. The HEID we're pretty sure stand for Heidelberg, the city where U.S. Army Europe was HQed, but stumped on the 557 INF.



#3 patches

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Posted 22 August 2019 - 06:46 PM

laugh in.jpg



#4 aznation

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Posted 22 August 2019 - 08:54 PM

>

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#5 aznation

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Posted 22 August 2019 - 08:55 PM

>

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#6 earlymb

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Posted 23 August 2019 - 12:32 AM

I guess a Bug would also be a practical and more comfortable 'runaround' than a jeep, certainly in peacetime. I believe at this moment in time the VW plant was still under British control, and that might have something to do with it (the British army put the plant back in working order after finding a few VW's in the rubble and ordered a bunch of Beetles for military use themselves). Also note that paint is glossy, even reflecting the image of the photographer!



#7 patches

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Posted 23 August 2019 - 06:08 AM

Ah ha a Rifle Platoon, the 557th Rifle Platoon, now thats an obscure unit there ever was one, Thanks AZ. would of been better if they put PLT at the end there :D



#8 gwb123

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Posted 23 August 2019 - 07:03 AM

During the late 1970's and early 1980's we had Volkswagen Vanegans assigned as administrative vehicles to battalion level and above. Inexpensive and efficient, you couldn't beat them.  Plus, if they had a maintenance problem or broke down on the road, you had a Volkswagen dealership readily available in practically every town of any size in Germany.



#9 Bluehawk

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Posted 23 August 2019 - 07:12 AM

This, is definitely a first.



#10 Proud Kraut

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Posted 24 August 2019 - 03:23 AM

As far as I know the VW Kaefer was widely used by US Army Labor Service units as well.



#11 Brian Keith

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Posted 25 August 2019 - 05:59 AM

Thanks so much for the great information aznation, you've provided me some excellent info once again! After having a chance to read the info, I'm sure the band and Honor Guard traveled and performed together. The article mention the various helmets, see this post showing more photos from this album
http://www.usmilitar...-helmet-photos/
It is interesting that it is not mentioned that they are black soldiers.
Very interesting unit, I'm glad I found the photos so we all could learn a bit about this obscure unit.
BKW

#12 aznation

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Posted 25 August 2019 - 07:17 AM

You're welcome Brian.  Yes, I'm sure they traveled and performed together.  I noticed that the article mentioned the various helmets so I posted a link from this post to your other post.  Yeah, I'm pretty sure it was intentional not mentioning about the soldiers color.  Those are some great photos you have there.  Thank you for posting them.  That unit is very interesting.



#13 ordnance

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Posted 30 August 2019 - 12:51 PM

Just noticed this interesting thread.  Thanks for posting Brian.  Here are a few scans of the original U.S. Beetle manual in my library.VW%20Manual%201.JPG

 

VW%20Manual%203.JPG

 

VW%20Manual%204.JPG

 

VW%20Manual%205.JPG

 

VW%20Manual%206.JPG

 

VW%20Manual%207.JPG

 

VW%20Manual%202.JPG



#14 aznation

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Posted 30 August 2019 - 03:56 PM

That's a pretty cool, and I imagine somewhat rare VW manual ordnance.  Thank you for sharing that.



#15 Brian Keith

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Posted 31 August 2019 - 07:11 PM

Excellent addition to this post! Thanks so much! I guess I'm not really surprised one was produced, I'm surprised one still exists and was posted here!
BKW

#16 ordnance

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Posted 31 August 2019 - 08:55 PM

I thought you would appreciate it.  Definitely one of the most unusual U.S. manuals in the collection.  I really wonder if any ex-U.S. or British issue split window beetles survive today.



#17 gwb123

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Posted 02 September 2019 - 06:51 PM

Flash forward to 1981...

 

For as many times as I rode in one of these vans, I am surprised I do not have more photos of them in use.

 

This one was assigned to the 708th Maintenance Bn.  The major walking towards our van was our chief of operations. We were out surveying sites for an upcoming exercise.

 

On the other side of the door was US Army in white and a vehicle number.  I don't believe we used bumper numbers on these.

 

Among other things, these were sometimes used to transport our higher ranking NCO's and their families to the departure gate at Rhein Main airport.  More typically they took our BN commander to conferences or visits to outlying units.  You have to remember, our units were garrisoned or deployed in about 6 to 8 locations across Germany at a time.

 

A captain I know won a life saving medal in one of these.  The vehicle was driving at speed down an autobahn when the side door latch failed.  A Sp/4 was sitting next to the door and almost went flying out.  If it wasn't for the good captain he would have flown out of the vehicle.

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#18 Proud Kraut

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Posted 05 September 2019 - 12:18 PM

Nice "Bulli" picture!



#19 Old Marine

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Posted 05 September 2019 - 03:12 PM

I can't add anything useful to this thread, but I want to thank you for posting that photo of the VW.  I have had this kit stashed away for a long time and I was never sure what to do with it.

 

I wanted to build and paint it in use by the US Army but I had never seen a photo of one.  I have photos of Kublewagens and Schwimmwagens in US service and I figured that some GI somewhere must have gotten ahold of one of these VWs and painted it up in OD with US markings, but until now I have never seen any photos.  Finally, thanks to your photo I know they were used by the Army and I now know how paint this kit, so, thank you.  That's a great photo.

 

Ordnance, does you manual have any information about paint and marking of the vehicle?  

 

 

 

 

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#20 Brian Keith

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Posted 05 September 2019 - 05:30 PM

Old Marine,
That is a really neat kit of a very rare War Time produced military VW. The VW in the photo's I posted is a regular production late '40's to 1951 VW. Very glad you enjoyed the photo's.
BKW

#21 Ewart

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Posted 06 September 2019 - 10:09 AM

Flash forward to 1981...

 

For as many times as I rode in one of these vans, I am surprised I do not have more photos of them in use.

 

This one was assigned to the 708th Maintenance Bn.  The major walking towards our van was our chief of operations. We were out surveying sites for an upcoming exercise.

 

On the other side of the door was US Army in white and a vehicle number.  I don't believe we used bumper numbers on these.

 

 

 

That's a great photo. I built one of these in 1/35 scale a bit ago, I would have made the US army version if I had known they were used.

 

I know the Australian Army used some of the VW T1's in Vietnam.



#22 Pointedcuffs

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Posted 29 September 2019 - 05:21 PM

Here are a couple early 50's pics.

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#23 gwb123

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Posted 30 September 2019 - 07:01 AM

Neat photos.  

 

Notice the difference in the placement of the USA on the hood serial number.

 

I would guess the bumper marking is for Stuttgart.



#24 Bob Hudson

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Posted 30 September 2019 - 07:24 AM

Having owned three VW beetles over the years it was fun to see this. I wonder if they removed the front passenger seat on any to allow easy access to the rear seat for VIP transport? Mexico City's once large population of beetle taxis did that and it would've made for a low-budget Army staff car :) 



#25 phil.co1

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Posted 21 December 2019 - 06:25 AM

Here is a pic of British General Gales VW. The fellow is someone I know who used to service the vehicles and drive him around during the 50`s in Germany.

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