Sir Roy Fedden is remembered for the highly
successful sleeve valve air-cooled radial aero-engines he designed for
the Bristol Aeroplane Company, England, Before and during the Second World
War. He was dismissed in 1942 after a disagreement. He and his team
began the design of a radical car in 1943. They produced a design with
many unique features, a sleeve valve air-cooled three cylinder radial engine
that was located at the rear of the car driving a torque converter. The
all-independent suspension using swing axles to drive the rear wheels had
Lockhead-Thornhill hydro-pneumatic strut springing and a part aluminum
chassis frame. A prototype was ready for road testing in 1945, but the
roadholding was deficient and after the prototype flipped over on test
in 1946 the project faded away.
In 1945 Czechoslovakia was re-established as an independent state, after being occupied by German forces from 1938 until they were driven out by the Russian forces towards the end of the Second World War. Czechoslovakia was no different to the other countries of Europe in having a severe shortage of transport vehicles. Tatra carried on producing a limited number of both the Type 57, a front engined economy car and the Type 87 a luxury car, as well as heavy trucks. After the communist coup d'etat in 1948, the economy of the country was rigidly directed and Tatra was directed to concentrate on heavy truck manufacture, only making a limited number of prestige cars for the communist party bosses.
By 1944 sixty five percent of the plant at
Wolfsburg, specially built to produce the Volkswagen had been destroyed
by allied bombing. The tooling used to manufacture the Volkswagen saloon
had been removed from the site and the remains of the factory was being
used to produce Volkswagen based military vehicles and other war materials.
The first allied troops to reach Wolfsburg at the end of the war were
Americans. They were soon replaced by British troops as Wolfsburg was
in the region designated as the British zone of occupation. The factory
was at a standstill and chaos rained in the area. With the active support
of Volkswagen workers the British army soon put the remains of the factory
and its workers to work repairing and servicing its vehicles. As all kinds
of vehicles were in short supply, the British forces and the Volkswagen
workers gathered together any Volkswagen components that had remained when
production had stopped civilian or military types. They began the assembly
of whatever vehicles that could be made from them, for use by the occupying
forces and civilian authorities. They were so successful that in 1945
the six thousand plus then employed at the plant produced seven hundred
and thirteen vehicles.
Regie Renault was founded in1946 using the Renaults factories. It operated as a private company but owned by the state, similar to Volkswagen after 1948. The state appointed Pierre Lefaucheux as president of the new company and he soon prepared the 4cv for production, showing the car first at the Paris Salon in October 1946 and production started the following year. By 1950 production was up to four hundred a day.
Renault 4cv section.
The Volkswagen factory was listed for disposal for war reparations but none of the motor manufacturers of the allied countries it or the Volkswagen, having little regard for the car. The British army engineers thought otherwise having grown to respect the military Volkswagen’s they had encountered during the war years. As the Volkswagen plant was the only car plant in the British zone of occupation and vehicles were urgently needed, the tools to manufacture the Volkswagen saloon were returned to the plant, repairs to the building were stepped up. The production of the car was resumed, this time with the 1131cc engine that had been developed for the military models in 1941. During 1946 almost ten thousand cars were produced and the following year almost nine thousand. Some of the latter were exported to nearby European countries.
A Standard Volkswagen 1945-53.
In January 1948 the occupation authorities appointed Dr Heinz Nordhoff as director of the plant. With production and exports rising, at last cars were supplies to the people the car was originally designed for, the German motorists at large.
All the principle engineers involved in the development of rear the engined cars were imprisoned at some time at the end of the Second World War. Ferdinand Porsche was detained by the French authorities for a couple of years, without any charges against him. This effectively removing him from working on future projects, but his son Ferry filled his place at the head of the Porsche design team.
Hans Ludwinka was also imprisoned, in his
case by the Czechoslovakian authorities for his involvement with war production
for the Germans. He lost all his assets and the rights to all his patents.
Ledwinka replacement as the chief engineer at Tatra was Julius Mackerle;
he set Ing Soucek to design a replacement for the Type 97. The Type 97
had been an expensive and complex car and what was needed was a car for
a more suitable for the times. Work started on the new design at the end
of 1945; the result was the T107 it had similar proportions to the Type
97 but was slightly larger and heavier. The engine was again a 1750cc air-cooled
flat four unit, but of simpler construction with a single camshaft and
push rod overhead valve that produced 48bhp. Torsion bars were used in
place of the transverse leaf spring at the rear was the other major changes
in specification, although the whole of the car was completely new.
Tatra T107 first prototype.
The body designed by Josef Chalupa was of advanced form even for a Tatra, with a full width body of flowing lines passable as being drawn at the end of the twentieth century not in the first half. The first prototype was produced in December 1946 and a second in 1947. Another designer was brought in as the car didn’t perform as required and five more prototypes with a 1952cc engine and other changes were produced. In this form the car went into production as the T600 Tatraplan.
Tatra T600 Tatraplan.
Tatra made 4275 of this model by mid 1951 then production was transferred to the Skoda factory, were another 2099 were produced by the end of 1953, Tatra concentrating on truck production. By which date over half a million of the prewar designed Volkswagen's had been.
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