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Professor Porsche's Wars (Hardback)

The Secret Life of Legendary Engineer Ferdinand Porsche Who Armed Two Belligerents Through Four Decades

WWII WWI Transport History More History Cars

By Karl Ludvigsen
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Pages: 272
ISBN: 9781783030194
Published: 27th October 2014
Last Released: 18th November 2015



Star Review

Fascinating and irresistible - Monsters & Critics

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Regarded as one of the great automotive engineers of the twentieth century, Ferdinand Porsche is well remembered today for his remarkable automotive designs including the Volkswagen Beetle and Auto Union Grand Prix cars. Yet there is another side to his extraordinary career, for he was an equally inventive designer of military vehicles and machinery. In this field too he excelled. Indeed the sheer versatility of his contribution is astonishing. Karl Ludvigsen's study is the definitive guide.

He tells the complete story, focusing on Porsche's relations with the German armed forces and on the stream of advanced designs he was responsible for. Included are Austro Daimler's pioneering aero engines, the Kübelwagen, Schwimmwagen, Type 100 Leopard tank, Ferdinand or Elefant tank destroyer and the astounding Type 205 Maus tank. He also describes Porsche's creative work on aero engines, tank engines and even a turbojet for the V-1 flying bomb.

Karl Ludvigsen's account confirms the pre-eminence of Ferdinand Porsche as a brilliant and prolific engineer, one of the most remarkable of his generation.

Journalist Karl Ludvigsen, who specialises in the history of the automotive industry, has written a thorough chronological study.

Michigan War Studies Review

Author Karl Ludvigsen presents general interest readers with an examination of the life, engineering and design prowess, and wartime contributions of German automotive giant Ferdinand Porsche. The author has organised the main body of his text in eighteen chapters devoted to Porsche’s introduction to
the military, his work in advancing aviation power for Germany, his work with Adolph Hitler, and a wide variety of other related subjects. The author is a former Vice President of Ford of Europe and an independent historian
and scholar.


Fascinating and meticulously researched.

The Spectator

The fact that Professor Ferdinand Porsche designed military vehicles is well documented but, inevitably, Porsche biographies tend not to dwell on the subject before launching into the more glamorous part of his story, and the bit that sells books in large numbers: the cars.

As a long-time Porsche enthusiast I was confident that I had a pretty good vision of Porsche's contribution to military ordnance and thought of it as significant, but a somewhat intermittent, undertaking.

But Karl Ludvigsen's latest book, Professor Porsche's Wars, surprised me by showing that the 'Prof' was rarely, if ever, without a military project on the drawing board.

Ludvigsen needs no introduction to the Porschephile, being the author of the definitive book on the marque, Porsche - Excellence Was Expected, and one would have though that there was little that could be added to the Porsche story that had not already been covered in that magnificent opus.

Stripped of the distraction of automobile projects, the Porsche story assumes a quite different and slightly sinister dimension. Ludvigsen points out that Porsche's military contracts amount to what could almost be seen as a parallel 'secret career' in the arms business.

Classic Porsche

Fascinating and irresistible, a perfect gift for anyone interested in military vehicles.

It is amazing to think that people were thinking in terms of armoured cars as early as 1905.

The drawings and illustrations are brilliant, and incredibly detailed in some cases showing the actual make up of an engine or vehicle with all the parts carefully listed.

Porsche is best known today as a manufacturer of high speed luxury sports cars – yet for many years it had a major part to play in designing and producing military vehicles. The company’s founder, Ferdinand Porsche, played a key role as a military engineer during both the First and Second World Wars – as well as in the run up to the First World War.

This is the story of the creation of vehicles such as the Schwimmwagen, the Type 100 Leopard tnk, Ferdinand tank destroyer, the Kubelwagen, the Type 205 Maus tank and numerous aero engines. There are fascinating insights into the way the company operated, and the creative process by which these military vehicles were created.

It is a story that has, until now, received very little publicity. Ludvigsen has created a book that justly deserves considerable praise for drawing the attention of historians and military enthusiasts to the story of Professor Porsche.

Monsters & Critics

A true Porsche enthusiast truly won’t regret reading the book....Together with the other books Karl Ludvigsen has written about Porsche, this makes a wonderfull addition to any Porsche library.

Libe zu Ihm

A fascinating book about an extraordinary man.... I wish he had been on our side! Recommended.

Colette Barnham (Amazon Reviewer)

A mechanical genius, whose work started at the dawn of motoring. Architect of the 1930's Auto Union rear-engined Grand Prix cars, which shared the podia with the Mercedes silver arrows of the period, and so much more.

Roger Allton (Amazon Reviewer)

A fascinating book, have a dictionary to hand as the language can be challenging in places. Be careful because once you start reading you will not be able to stop.

Richard Davidson (Amazon Reviewer)

Very Informative - Well Illustrated Book. Have Enjoyed Reading

Geoff Boultwood (Amazon Reviewer)

A detailed account of the military applications of Ferdinand Porsche’s achievements and failures from his early life until his death in 1951. Interesting to see how he applied his automotive electric motor traction systems to tanks. The book layout is magnificent. Glance through it and look at the pictures and you then feel the need to read the technicalities.
There are many black and white photographs which have been carefully chosen to add character and information to the page on which they are shown. Indeed, it is rare not to have a page without one or more pictures or diagrams. Initially I thought some of these diagrams unnecessary but then I found myself investigating them to fully understand the written descriptions. Also, most pages have comments in their bottom outer corner which add technical or historical detail without interfering with the main page story line. Works well.
Progressing through the book I wondered more and more why Porsche contributed so much to Hitler’s war effort. He met Hitler many times, but was perhaps unaware of the Nazi atrocities. He certainly arranged for better conditions for conscripted factory workers. But being a hugely talented workaholic explains many things and the last chapter puts it into context
As an aside, it was wonderful to read some of the hoops that German factories had to jump through at the demand of officialdom. Mirrors my experience with UK MoD in the 70s.

Mike Holland

Recommended by...

All About History magazine

The book is well illustrated, including some patent and other technical drawings...For anyone interested in Austro Daimler and Auto Union history this book is useful.


An essential read for every petrolhead and an intriguing insight for students of the period.

History of War

The connection between weapons and industrial design is strong at Porsche. This is the subject of an engrossing new book, Professor Porsche's Wars, by Karl Ludvigsen.

Stephen Bayley - Octane

Nearly 300 pages long it's everything we've come to expect from Ludvigsen: richly researched and well illustrated with more than 200 pictures and drawings.


The result is not just a 'must' for transportation collections, but a top recommendation for military history holdings and consideration for the wartime works of a major car designer.

The Midwest Book Review

The research here is of the highest order.

356 Register Magazine

Crammed with information, original photographs, illustrations and drawings, we reckon it's an essential addition to any military vehicle enthusiast's reference library.

Classic Military Vehicle

As featured in.


This book doesn't shy away from what may be considered the "dark side" of Porsche's life and time...A fascinating text on a unusually fascinating man.

Casemate Publishers

In his new book, Ludvigsen approaches the legend from a new and surprisingly rich angle - The Professor's contribution to military ordnance, the design and production of which occupied him continuously throughout his long career.

Richly illustrated and stripped of the distraction of Porsche's concurrent motor car endeavors, it produces a compelling tale of a prolifically talented engineer dedicated to innovation and perfection stubbornly battling against the often seemingly impossible constraints imposed upon him.

The Automobile

If you believe that Karl Ludvigsen has already illuminated all aspects of the Porsche brand and person, now this book arrives that deals with the less-known military designs.
A comprehensive bibliography and index complete a work that is not just intended for those interested in automobiles.

Austro Classic

A meticulous and enlightening effort, running to almost 300 pages and being richly illustrated with more than 200 photos and drawings.
Readers come away with a clear reminder of just what a brilliant and prolific engineer Porsche was, but also a more informed view of the controversial nature of some of his efforts.

Professional Engineering

Readers will have come to expect lavishly produced and thoroughly researched books on Porsche from Karl Ludvigsen but this latest work from the Suffolk domiciled authority on all things Porsche takes the reader along a slightly different road in that it describes the talented engineer's work on military projects rather than motor cars. ... This is a book that is hard to put down, especially for anyone with an engineering bent. The author has given us an eminently readable but learned treatise on a less known aspect of the work of one of the greatest engineers of the twentieth century.

VSCC Magazine

I must say this book was not what I was expecting. It did not tell the story of the legendary sports car designer and manufacturer that we are all familiar with, but one of an innovative and forward thinking engineer, who was an active and influential part of the German 'War Machine' during both world wars. His design of the VW Beetle was not a surprise but his significant involvement in Aero engines, Marine engines, Tanks and even the V1 flying bomb certainly was. Ferdinand Porsche's relationship with Adolf Hitler, post war arrest and subsequent imprisonment as a suspected war criminal also came as a suprise...this book will appeal to not just those with an interest in engineering, but also those with an interest in the history of the first half of the 20th Century.

Iceni Magazine

We're all familiar with Ferdinand Porsche's automotive design work, but an oft-forgotten side of his career saw him designing many military vehicles. This book is a fascinating look at his work for the military, which spanned the first half of the twentieth century through both the First and Second World Wars. [It] chronicles Porsche's work for Adolf Hitler as one of his most trusted designers, where he was responsible for vehicles such as the Kubelwagen, the Schwimmwagen, and the Type 205 Maus tank. Porsche's work on aero and tank engines, and his involvement with the V-1 flying bomb, are also covered.

GT Porsche

A sobering account of a difficult time.

Classic Cars

This is a very comprehensive book on perhaps the most remarkable automotive engineer of the 20th Century. There is much here for military vehicle enthusiasts and Karl Ludvigsen's writing style makes this a fascinating read. Highly recommended to all.

Miniature Armoured Fighting Vehicle Association

Professor Porsche's Wars is illustrated with over 200 images and is an in-depth account of Porsche's little-known career as a military engineer during both World Wars. It features details of Porsche's relations with the armed forces of Austria-Hungry, and later Germany under both the Weimar regime and Adolf Hitler's Third Reich.

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