Traction on the move: Daimler-Benz AG

Aug 2, 2011
  • Four, six and eight driven wheels
  • Amphibious armoured vehicle with all-wheel drive
  • Unit numbers gradually increase
In 1926, the expertise of Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft and Benz & Cie. was pooled in the newly-formed Daimler-Benz AG. This also affected the area of all-wheel-drive technology. In subsequent years it was mainly the military that ordered all-wheel-drive vehicles. One of the most interesting of these was an amphibious, armoured crew vehicle with eight wheels, all of them with independent suspension and drive. The overall weight was 9.5 tonnes. Design work on this vehicle known as the MTw 1 began in Untertürkheim in 1927, and two units were initially built by the Berlin-Marienfelde factory. This vehicle was designed to travel both forwards and backwards, being equipped with a range-change transmission with five gears for either direction. The four outer wheels were steered, and the vehicle was powered by an M 36 model six-cylinder engine with a displacement of 7.8 litres and an output of 100 hp (74 kW) at 2000 rpm. The indicated climbing ability was around 33 per cent, and the vehicle was able to cross trenches with a width of 1.5 metres. The maximum speed on land was 65 km/h, with an average cruising speed of 32 km/h. In water the MTw 1 was capable of 5 km/h thanks to a two-blade propeller, and was likewise steered by turning the wheels.
Over the years, various all-wheel-drive commercial vehicles were produced as variants of the relevant rear-wheel-drive trucks, for example the LG 4000 (in-house model designation LG 68) in 1937. This was Germany’s first six-wheel truck with all-wheel drive, and naturally it was a genuine all-terrain vehicle. It celebrated its debut at the 1935 International Automobile and Motorcycle Fair in Berlin. Following production of the first five units, which were built in Gaggenau, the factory in Berlin-Marienfelde produced a series of just under 80 vehicles.
The major customer was the German Post Office, and other vehicles were sold to Greece, China, Argentina and South Africa.
The LG 4000 had a four-speed transmission with a two-stage low-ratio transfer case and a reversing transmission, which provided a total of 8 forward and 8 reverse gears. The climbing ability on a dry road with good traction was a remarkable 50 per cent and 40 per cent off-road depending on the nature of the ground. The LG 4000 was powered by a model OM 67 six-cylinder diesel engine with a displacement of 7.4 litres and an output of 95 hp (70 kW) at 2000 rpm. At a later stage the OM 67/3 engine with 100 hp (74 kW) was also used. As an alternative, the vehicle was also supplied with a model M 68 six-cylinder petrol engine, which likewise generated 100 hp (74 kW).
Other highlights in the long succession of all-wheel-drive vehicles by Daimler-Benz include the L 1500 A (1.5-tonne class), the L 3000 A (three-tonne class) and the L 4500 A (4.5-tonne class), which were produced in relatively large numbers from 1940 – at the time of the Second World War these were of course mainly for military use. The L 1500 A, for example, had a 2.6-litre petrol engine with six cylinders and an output of 60 hp (44 kW) at 3000 rpm. The all-wheel-drive system featured selectable front-axle drive, while the four-speed transmission had an additional reduction gear for low ratios and thus for off-road applications. Its climbing ability at the rated payload was 45 per cent. The L 1500 A was supplied as an open crew vehicle or with a box or ambulance body. The production volume confirmed its well-conceived design, as 4,900 units were built in total.
Mercedes-Benz L 1500 A, personnel carrier for the German army, 1942.
Mercedes-Benz L 1500 A, personnel carrier, 1941.
Eight wheels, all driven: The MTw 1 floatable crew bus from Mercedes-Benz – the picture shows a test chassis from 1927/28.
Chassis of the four-axle Mercedes-Benz LG 3000a with eight-wheel drive and 100 hp diesel engine (ca. 1937/38).