Tuesday, 30 March 2010


Tamiya 1:35 Schwimmwagen, reference 35224


Conceived by Porsche in 1940 and manufactured mainly at the Volkswagen factory at Fallersleben-Wolfsburg (also in less numbers at the Porsche works at Stuttgart) the VW Schwimmwagen type 166 was not the first German amphibious derivative of the ‘Military Beetle’, but was the more successful, later production variant. The original Schwimmer was the less stable Type 128 (also known as the Kradschützen Wagen), which had a longer wheelbase and a slightly more angular appearance; in fact the 128 was designed on the Kübelwagen chassis, but due to its fragility and risk of the hull cracking became a poor candidate for amphibious deployment (very few of these ever made it to front line service because of this fault). The Schwimmwagen Type 166 shared many parts with the Beetle and its ‘Bucket Car’ cousin, it had a 4-cylinder air cooled engine, which was 1,131 cc in size, it had 25 horsepower at 3,000 rpm and could reach top speeds of up to 80km/h on land and 10km/h in water. It had manual transmission and was 4-wheel drive only in 1st and reverse rears. Its fuel tank was 50 litres in capacity and the curb weight was 910Kg.

This particular model is the production version (type 166), of which over 14,000 were manufactured between the summer of 1942 and late 1944 (apparently there are only 130 or so recorded survivors to this day). This amphibious 4-man all-terrain vehicle had a screw apparatus at the rear, which operated the propeller unit in water; the screw only provided forward propulsion and directional control was provided by the front wheels, which would act as rudders when turned by the steering wheel whilst afloat. The propeller had to be lowered into place when the vehicle was deployed in water using the rod stowed on top of the exhaust shroud behind the rear seats, but usually it was held up out of harms way on the rear deck engine cover whilst on land – as in this instance. If the Schwimmwagen was required to go backwards in water the crew could either use the paddle or the driver could put the wheels into reverse gear allowing the jeep to move slowly backwards.


Main references used in this project:

* Wings & Wheels Publications - VW/Volkswagen Schwimmwagen In Detail
* Tankograd Wehrmacht Special 4008 Kubelwagen Typ 82. ‘From the Military Beetle to the Amphibious Schwimmwagen.’


Main items used in this project:

* Tamiya 1:35 German Schwimmwagen Type 166 (35224)
* Eduard 1:35 Schwimmwagen photo etch set designed to be used with Tamiya kits (35378)
* MR Models 1:35 Schwimmwagen wheels (MRA3584)

Even in spite of the photo etch and resin wheels this was an extremely fun and engaging model to build. I have no doubt that had I decided to do an entirely out of the box build this little jeep would have been completed in the course on one evening, but having decided to go the whole hog the build took about a week – one of the bigger jobs was the cleaning up of the super-sized 200-16 special-rimmed wheels, which took a fair bit of sanding and filling as they had plenty of air bubbles and very big resin blocks to be cut away and sanded down.

As with most of my projects in the last two years I decided to build the vehicle fully and then paint it in one go – little did I realise how incredibly delicate such a model is – in fact it really only has one spot that you can hold it firmly without damaging one part or another (around the sump holes on either side of the lower chassis).

At times the Eduard photo-etch set almost seems to be an unnecessary affectation (especially in the cab), yet in some parts is an effective enhancement of the detailing of this endearing model. Before I decided on this build I did consider the Italeri option, but knowing how well the Tamiya Kübelwagen fits together it was a no-brainer.

In view of my all-in-one approach to painting I ducked out of the photo-etch windscreen surround opting for the styrene, which is actually finely detailed, however I substituted the clear plastic windscreen for a piece of cut-to-size styrene sheet in place, as I wanted to paint the Schwimmie with its linen cover over the folded down windscreen.


The whole model was primed with Tamiya NATO Black, then overpainted with Tamiya Dark Yellow, creating shade in the recesses by concentrating most of my efforts to the centre panels of the vehicle. A simple two-tone camouflage scheme was painted with soft edges using Lifecolor Olivegrün, which was darkened centrally with a mixture of that colour and matt black.

The Schwimmwagen received the usual weathering including chips and scuffs with acrylics, then an all-over wash with Burnt Umber in oils, after which the kit was matted with Winsor & Newton Matt Lacquer. The pigment work was done in a rough and random fashion using MIG Pigments, which were blended with MIG Thinner for Washes.


Once again Tamiya takes the prize for a simple build and Eduard compliments this kit adequately with an untaxing set of photo-etch. The figure is out of the box, but with an Alpine Miniatures head. I am sure that I will build another Schwimmwagen soon enough as this was a great model to spend time on.

Bill Hazard
Build completed in July 2009

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