The Volkswagen Kubelwagen was the Nazi version of the Jeep. Built under the guidance of Mercedes-Benz and Porsche engineers, the vehicle proved robust and reliable on the front lines. And a few of its design features would allow it to be more effective in combat than a Beetle knockoff had any right to be.

Prior to World War II, the rising chancellor of Germany, Adolf Hitler, had announced plans to make Germany into a motorized nation. This led to the adoption of the Volkswagen Beetle. But Hitler had also ordered military versions of the vehicle to be developed. These vehicles would go on to fill the same niche for the Reich that the Jeep served in America.

The road to the Kubelwagen began in the 1933 Berlin Auto Show. That was when Hitler had called for a motorized Germany and heard the plans for Ferdinand Porsche’s 25-horsepower vehicle with an air-cooled engine. Hitler had demanded that it seat four and have good gas mileage. Then it was off to the races.

It took a few years for Porsche to finalize the design and begin mass production under the newly formed Gesellschaft zur Vorbereitung des Volkswagens company, soon shortened to Volkswagen.