The Landwasserschlepper or LWS was an unarmoured, amphibious tractor that was used by Germany during World War II.


The LWS had a single Maybach KL 120TRM engine that was capable of propelling it at speeds of up to 40 km/h on roads and 12 km/h in water.[1] To operate the vehicle, the LWS required a crew of at least three men with an ability to carry up to twenty passengers or the equivalent in cargo. Thus, the only armament mounted on the LWS were the weapons carried on board by the crew.

The total length of the Landwasserschlepper was around 8.6 meters with a total weight of around 13,000 kilograms.[2] Operational range was 240 kilometers on land. Its design resembled that of a standard patrol boat fitted with tracks.[3] As noted by German development officials, the LWS had a notably high silhouette on land which posed the risk of exposing it to enemy fire, though this was accepted and development continued.


The only variant of the Landwasserschlepper series was the LWS II which in reality was designed as a near completely different vehicle. The LWS II was based on the chassis of the Panzer IV and had several key differences. Notably, the cockpit for the driver was completely different, being only a small 'box' like cockpit. Next, the LWS II had four exhaust pipes in the top of the vehicle. Furthermore, the hull itself was far more angled. 


The LWS was developed in 1936 by Rheinmetall who were tasked with creating an amphibious tractor that was capable of transporting cargo and ideally troops. Development was slow at first but picked up substantially with the upcoming Operation Sea Lion. The initial prototypes were completed by 1940 with testing beginning immediately. However, the cancellation of the operation meant that the development was also cancelled. In the end, the remaining pre-production examples were sent into use by the Wehrmacht with the later LWS II also entering limited production in 1944. They were useful however, in both North Africa and the Eastern Front. In total, only seven examples of the original LWS were produced.  


  3. Ford. J. Brian. Secret Weapons: Technology, Science, & the Race to Win World War II. Osprey Publishing (2011), Page 231

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