HyperScale Resource Guide No. 1
Schwimmwagen Typ 166
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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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.
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
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.
IPMS Houston - Schwimmwagen
Rob Plas - Schwimmwagen
Photographs and Source Information Copyright 1998 by James Blackwell