As the Nazis rose to power, they promised the German people a variety of things, starting with jobs and enough food, and going all the way to a “people’s car” (Volkswagen
). It was designed by the ubiquitous Ferdinand Porsche, who seems like he was behind almost every innovation of the period, though he apparently borrowed enough in this case from the Czech auto maker Tatra that the latter sued. Not surprisingly, the "people's car" never made it to the people (other than the ones who ended up in uniform). Instead it was diverted like - most German consumer goods at the end of the 1930s - to war production, where it was dubbed the Kübelwagen (short for Kübelsitzwagen
or “bucket seat car.” With over 50,000 built by 1945, it was Germany's "jeep," serving as staff car, ambulance, radio car and general, all-around jitney.
The Kübelwagen was fine for the improved roads of Western Europe, but war with the Soviet Union was always in Hitler’s demonic imagination. So there was a clear need for all-terrain vehicles, especially ones that could cross rivers. This prompted the transformation of the Kübelwagen into an amphibious version called the Schwimmwagen (literally “swimming car”). Using a bathtub body shape and mounting a propeller at the rear and being steered with the front road wheels, the Schwimmwagen could get across rivers without the need for bridges or ferries.
Tamiya has had a Schwimmwagen kit in production for many years, and several AM resin wheel makers offer tires for the kit. Some time back, Voyager released a set of PE upgrades for the now ancient Tamiya kit, and the company recently sent us a review sample. Given the enduring popularity of the Tamiya Schwimmwagen, we thought a review was in order.
what you get
The set comes in the usual Voyager square box, and contains:
2 frets of brass photo etch
2 lengths of ABB plastic in 1mm and .5mm diameters
4 pages of instruction on 2 sheets of paper
1 film for instrument dials
The Tamiya kit is generally considered adequate with no major accuracy issues, but suffers from the old mold technology of kits released at least ten years ago. The Voyager set is meant to address some of those issues, including brackets, clamps, reflectors and pedals where styrene can’t hope to compete against brass. Other areas include tools and wire screens, as well as the fold-down propeller that distinguishes the Schwimmwagen from its land-locked cousin.
One feature of the Tamiya kit that cries out for improvement is its “rag top.” Voyager has a nifty frame for the Schwimmwagen’s convertible roof that allows modelers to show a wrecked or partially-wrecked vehicle, or to replace the kit’s styrene roof with one scratch-built from tissue paper soaked in white glue or silicone caulk. Other nice improvements are a metal license plate, metal frame for the windshield, and detailing for the rear-mounted raised radiator (meant to stay above the waterline).
Given that over 15,000 Schwimmwagen were produced by war’s end, the Tamiya kit will likely soldier on until someone decides to upgrade it. Since it’s far from “horrible,” the impetus to release a new kit is low. A comprehensive upgrade like this one from Voyager means that an old warhorse can look terrific next to recently-released AFVs. In fact, Mirko Bayerl
in one of the dioramas included in the Canfora Publications
used a Schwimmwagen parked inside a building to terrific effect.
Armorama thanks Voyager Model for supplying this review set. Please be sure to mention that you read about it on Armorama when ordering or purchasing from your supplier.