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HyperScale Resource Guide No. 1

Pkw.K2s Schwimmwagen Typ 166

Photographs by James Blackwell
Reviews, Description and Captions by Brett Green

schwimjb_1.jpg (63127 bytes)

Restored Schwimmwagen
on Display in Sydney, Australia

This is the first in a series of "HyperScale Resource Guides". The purpose of these guides is to provide a starting point for research and construction tips on a particular modelling subject. The first Guide focuses on the Pkw.K2s Schwimmwagen Typ 166. This is a timely subject given Tamiya's recent release of their new Schwimmwagen kit in 1/35 scale.

In this concise "HyperScale Resource Guide" you will find a brief background of the vehicle, an assessment of commonly available kits, a description of the restored subject vehicle (including areas which are not original), sixteen photos of the restored car and a list of other sites on the Internet with information and pictures of the Schwimmwagen.

If you only want to look at one section of the guide such as the review of the new Schwimmwagen, or go direct to the photos, you may use the subject headings in the "Contents" list below.

C o n t e n t s

Modelling the Schwimmwagen - The Old Kits
Tamiya's New Schwimmwagen - In Box Review
Schwimmwagen Walkaround - Description of Vehicle
Exterior Photographs
Interior Photographs
More Schwimmwagens on the Web

B a c k g r o u n d

The Typ. 166 Schwimmwagen was the definitive version of this amphibious German military car. It was originally based on the basic chassis and drivetrain of the standard Volkswagen Beetle. The powerplant was a Volkswagen 1,130 cc, air cooled four cylinder petrol engine which would still look familiar to VW owners today. This "flat four" motor was rear mounted and drove the rear wheels. Four wheel drive was selectable via a stick-shift. 25 horsepower was available to propel the little amphibious car up to 80 kph on land, and up to 10 kph in the water.

The propeller assembly was lowered into the water when running in amphibious mode, and was directly connected to the engine crankshaft to provide efficient power transfer.

Mass scale production of the Type 166 Schwimmwagen commenced in 1942 following earlier trial developments of the amphibious Volkswagen. 14,276 were produced when production ended in late 1944.

The Schwimmwagen was used widely by Wehrmacht and SS units on the Eastern and Western fronts. It was mainly operated in reconnaissance and liaison roles where its amphibious versatility and rough-ground capability gave it an edge over virtually all other vehicles.

The Schwimmwagen was a highly successful and sought-after development of the Volkswagen family of vehicles.


M o d e l l i n g   t h e   S c h w i m m w a g e n - T h e   O l d   K i t s

Schwimmwagen kits have been released by a number of kit manufacturers over the years. Despite the selection of kits, they all suffer from inaccuracy and incomplete detail. A complete list of Schwimmwagen kits in all scales can be found in the IPMS Houston Schwimmwagen article, but some of the more common offerings are briefly described below:

1/35 Scale Tamiya Kit MM-3 (or MM-3503 depending on your boxing).
This kit dates from 1970 and looks like it! The shape is wrong, it is woefully oversimplified and the only good news is the inclusion of the wide wheels and tyres. The bad news is that the wheels are completely wrong, failing to capture the "dished" look of the original, and the tread pattern is fatally oversimplified. Give this kit to a ten year old nephew!

1/35 Scale Italeri Kit No. 313.
A better offering than Tamiya but still oversimplified with no belly detail. All mesh grilles are moulded solid. There are also some obvious inaccuracies, which include the portrayal of a bench seat in the rear. See photos below for the correct configuration of two separate seats.

1/48 Scale Frog/Fuman/Bandai.
A simple little kit, yet offering engine, transmission and basic suspension detail. Accuracy is suspect in some areas including the seats. Other details (such as the buckles and the folding mechanism for the canvas tilt) are massively over-scale in 1/48. Even so, less embarrassing than the old Tamiya kit.

But now Tamiya redeems itself by introducing a brand new gem in 1/35.

T a m i y a ' s   N e w   S c h w i m m w a g e n   I n   B o x   R e v i e w

The first piece of good news is that Tamiya's 1/35 scale kit MM-224 shares nothing in common with their original Schwimmwagen from 1970.

schwimbg_1.jpg (39578 bytes)The second item of good news is that this new Schwimmwagen is state-of-the-art Tamiya. The kit is cleverly designed, simple in parts breakdown, accurate and well detailed.

The bad news is... well, there is not much bad news!

What's In the Box

Tamiya's new Schwimmwagen consists of 90 parts on two separately bagged sprues of tan coloured styrene, one clear acetate sheet and one 6cm x 6cm sheet of vinyl mesh. A casual Wehrmacht driver figure is included. His tunic is unbuttoned with the sleeves rolled up, and his pose is very relaxed.

Kit features include engine detail, positionable engine cover, movable propeller mount, a delicate lowering rod, canvas top in folded position, narrow wheels and authentically reproduced vinyl mesh bulkhead at the rear of the passenger cabin. Vinyl mesh is also used to represent the ventilation grilles on top of the engine compartment. 

What's Not In the Box

There is no kit option for the commonly seen wide tyres, nor for the hood in deployed position. Weapons are not supplied.

Kit Detail

Detail is everything that one expects from a new Tamiya kit. Both under-dash fuel tanks are present. The timber floor slats are subtly textured in a woodgrain finish although, curiously, this texture is not carried through to the angled footrests. The four individual leather seats are creased in a subdued and realistic fashion. The lower body includes moulded-on drain tubes which are hollowed out at the ends. The propeller is attached to its circular guard in a single moulding, and looks very good. The lifting handle for the engine hatch (part B42) is one of the finest detail parts I have seen in injection plastic (with the exception of Model Kasten's amazing Stug. IIIG Detail Set).

Visible engine detail has been designed with the minimum number of parts but with no compromise in detail. The cylinders and block of the flat-four engine are moulded as part of the engine bay, and the more visible fan assembly, fan belt, carburetor and general plumbing are separate parts. This should build into a convincing little replica yet the entire assembly, including engine bay and the forward bulkhead, comprises of only six parts.

Decals are provided for three Wehrmacht vehicles. Another nice touch is that decals are also supplied for a couple of placards in the engine bay and on the dashboard.

Suggested Improvements

The only areas needing improvement are the oversimplified machine gun mount on the front passenger side (part B1), the tool clamps, the rear of the taillight mounting bracket and the rear locking clamps for the engine cover. The determined detailer may also wish to add a few tiny missing details. These include wing nuts for the ends of the windscreen hinge, little tie-downs on the inside of the windscreen frame, canvas-tilt attachment points on the top of the windscreen, a loop for the lowering rod on the propeller assembly and stowage straps along the inside upper wall of the cabin. Finally, no restraint is provided for the stowed propeller assembly, so a strap and mount should be added.  However, the kit will look superb even without these extra details.

The engine vents will benefit from some slight modification. If the instructions are strictly followed, the mesh grilles will be recessed too far below the vent openings due to the thickness of the plastic. The upper body should be reduced to scale thickness around the vent openings before attaching the mesh to achieve a more realistic appearance. An alternative is to cut the mesh to the exact shape of the vent and fix it on the top inside edges of the vents.

Construction Tips

The suspension assembly shares a number of parts in common with Tamiya's recent Kubelwagen kit. Take care when fixing the wheels to the suspension arms. The original vehicle had a reputation for weak suspension, and Tamiya's careful duplication means that the link between the suspension arms and the wheels is quite delicate. I recommend using Cyano glue (Super Glue) to get a quick, strong bond between the suspension arms and the wheels. I will probably also use Super Glue to fix the rear suspension trailing arms (parts B46 and B47) to the lower body.

Care will also be required when separating the acetate windscreen from its surrounding sheet. As with the Kubelwagen kit, the acetate windscreen is commendable for its scale-thickness and clarity. Unlike the Kubelwagen, Tamiya have recessed the join so that the windscreen has one "tab" on each edge. This has eliminated the problem of stress marks that were present on the edges of the Kubelwagen windscreen. The instructions recommend using scissors to cut these tabs, but I will be using a brand new knife blade to avoid creasing or otherwise damaging the flexible acetate.


This little kit is another masterpiece by Tamiya. It will build into a lovely model right out of the box, and is by far the best Schwimmwagen model offered in any scale. It would have been nice to get the option of wide tyres, but the eager after-market resin industry will certainly address that minor shortcoming soon. With a small amount of extra effort a perfect Schwimmwagen replica is now within the reach of most modellers.

Highly Recommended.


S c h w i m m w a g  e n   W a l k a r o u n d   P h o t o g r a p h s

This Schwimmwagen was photographed during September 1996 at a Volkswagen Car Club meeting in Dural on the outskirts of Sydney. As far as can be determined this is the only original Schwimmwagen in running condition in Australia.

The vehicle is in remarkable shape, and the owner has obviously gone to a great deal of trouble to authentically restore the vehicle. There are, however, some non-standard modifications. These include:

  • The muffler, its perforated cover and the reinforced pipes and brackets are replacements for the original, flimsy Schwimmwagen parts. This was necessary as the original parts would have almost rusted to a state of dust after 50 years.
  • Shock Absorber Struts were added to the rear to bolster the weak rear suspension arms.
  • Flanges are welded to the front suspension arms to accommodate shock absorber struts, although the struts are not in place.
  • The red filler cap on the bonnet and possibly the red handle on the dash are non-standard
  • The starboard side tail-light is probably a concession to Australian motor registration requirements.
  • The canvas roof is also probably a replacement.

The vehicle wears genuine Continental tyres with the appropriate tread. The paddle is also original, having been obtained at an auction in France.

The overall impression of the vehicle is that it is very complete and authentic.

Exterior Photographs

Click on the thumbnails below to see the full sized image. To return to this page click the "Back" arrow on your browser.

schwimjb_2.jpg (69525 bytes)The nose of the Schwimmwagen. Note the weld bead where the tub side meets the centre section. It is also interesting to note the dimpling of the thin sheet metal where the front apron meets the main body of the vehicle at the front. Dimples are also visible at each spot-weld where the front fender is attached to the body.

schwimjb_3.jpg (72462 bytes)Note where the shovel mount is welded to the side of the body. The wing nut and other windscreen details are visible in this photograph        


schwimjb_4.jpg (59319 bytes)The spare tyre secured with three bolts. Note the black tyre valve. This vehicle is equipped with the wider wheels and tyres. The wheels are quite deeply dished.   


schwimjb_5.jpg (70219 bytes)Top view of filler and windscreen details. Note the tie downs at the inside base of the windscreen and the canvas-tilt attachment points at the top of the windscreen.

schwimjb_6.jpg (71302 bytes)Front three-quarter general view.


schwimjb_7.jpg (50486 bytes)Good detail shot of the paddle, the clamp for the paddle handle and the drain tube.


schwimjb_8.jpg (46085 bytes)General rear-three-quarter view featuring the propeller assembly. Note the clamps for securing the engine cover. The loop for the lowering rod can be seen on the top cover of the propeller assembly in this view

schwimjb_9.jpg (51239 bytes)Rear view.  The extra tail-light is probably required for roadworthiness in Australia.     


schwimjb_10.jpg (68983 bytes)Note the leather retaining strap for the stowed propeller assembly.


schwimjb_11.jpg (62956 bytes)General starboard side view.


schwimjb_12.jpg (43952 bytes)Great detail shot of the starboard headlight and its mount with the canvas cover, the horn and the forward machine-gun mount.        



Interior Photographs

schwimjb_13.jpg (52703 bytes)General dashboard layout. Note wooden planks and footrests.         


schwimjb_14.jpg (35928 bytes)Good under-dash detail of fuel tanks.


schwimjb_15.jpg (48440 bytes)Nice shot of the stowed canvas hood, the retaining straps and a small chain. The black seats are quite glossy. Note the non-standard perforated exhaust guard. The square metal object bolted to the bar behind the front seats is a rack for two rifles. The function of the small chain dangling against the rear bulkhead is not known. It is too short to be a restraint for the canvas tilt and appears too flimsy to hold the propeller assembly.

schwimjb_16.jpg (67982 bytes)Good general view of the interior. The painted mesh at the rear of the cab is well displayed here.


M o r e   S c h w i m m w a g e n s   o n   t h e    W e b

There are at least two other sites with Schwimmwagen"walkaround" photos.

IPMS Houston - Schwimmwagen Walkaround
The first is at IPMS Houston's website. This excellent article gives an interesting history of the vehicle, a list of Schwimmwagen references and has 20 well captioned photographs. The shots have been taken on a cloudy day providing high quality photographs showing good detail. When you have finished looking at the Schwimmwagen article, check out the rest of the site. Well worth a look. You can find this site by following this link:

Rob Plas - Schwimmwagen Special
Rob's Dutch site also has a "walkaround" style photo-feature on the Schwimmwagen. Be warned, however - the thumbnails take a long time to load because they are the same bandwidth as the full sized images! URL is as follows:


Photographs and Source Information Copyright 1998 by James Blackwell
Descriptions, Reviews and Captions Copyright 1998 by Brett Green
Also visit Track-Link for the best in armour modelling
Page Created 21 April, 1998
Last updated 09 May, 2002

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