First Look Review
Flakpanzer Wirbelwind
Sd.Kfz 161/4 2cm Flakpanzer IV Wirbelwind Smart Kit
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by: Andy Renshaw [ SKYHAWK ]


Dragon’s new Flakpanzer Wirbelwind gives modelers a fully new tooled kit of this interesting vehicle. However, as nice as it is, there are some tweaks and details to be made aware of about this particular vehicle.

Flakpanzers and self-propelled flak guns were one of the items WW2 Germany developed a lot of. Starting with mounting them on Panzer I and cargo trucks, all the way to fully tracked self-propelled 88mm guns, Germany came out with the widest variety of self propelled flak artillery in the war. Many were field modifications, but several were purpose built using existing components. One of these was the Sd.Kfz 161/4 Wirbelwind, or “whirlwind”

Dragon’s brand new kit is a very welcome addition to the Panzer IV lineup and is a happy replacement for the very aged Tamiya offering from decades ago. However there are some tweaks and issues that one should be aware of when diving into this kit. In this “first look” review, I want to give a very general overview of what you get in the box, then spend some time on what you don’t get…and some various options to explore using this kit.

in the box

In the kit you get the following:

942 parts total (including indy tracks)
Magic Track indy links
1 etched fret with 59 pieces
1 clear sprue
1 steel wire
Decals for Four marking options

The kit uses sprues from their recent #6300 Panzer IV H “late” kit for the entire hull. That said, I won’t go into too much about that, as there are excellent reviews that cover kit #6300, such as this one on Armorama. I will say that detail is excellent, and it is an easy, albeit long build but still simpler than dragons earlier Panzer IV kits. It does give a very detailed base for the Wirbelwind, however it may not be the most common variant. More on that later.

For the top, you get the excellent sprues from the 20mm Flakvierling from the Sdkfz 7/1 kit, minus the shields. You also receive a kit specific sprue that contains the gun traverse mount, a new internal bulkhead, fuel tanks, and some other Wirbelwind specific details including spare barrel boxes.

The icing of the kit is the beautiful turret, which is cast in two parts vertically. The joint is done right on a corner, with excellent fit, so there will be virtually no clean up needed here. Weld beads are seen on the inside and outside. The real treat is how thinly cast the turret is, and comes packed on its own plastic cradle for protection from warping and breakage. Lined up with scale drawings in Panzer Tracts 12 “Flak selbstfahrlafetten and Flakpanzer…” it scales out perfectly. At last a decent Wirbelwind turret!

the rest of the story

So what’s the problem? Really no problems, but some things to be aware of. First a little background on the vehicles. Records vary as to how many were actually produced, and I’ve seen numbers from as low as 87 up to 122 total between May and November of 1944. Of these, most were rebuilt Pzkfw IV G chassis that came from damaged or rotated out tanks from the front. These were fixed up with remaining Panzer IV parts, modified with a Wirbelwind turret and then sent back out with Flugabwehrzug units. Because of this, Wirbelwinds are seen with a hodgepodge of parts from Auf G’s and H’s, but from what I have seen in photos, mostly Auf G parts.

Some variations include:
•Bolt on additional front armor from mid production Panzer IV G
•All three types of return rollers (rubber rim, all steel w/ rib, and all steel no rib)
•Pressed or welded sprocket
•Early or late simplified road wheel hubs
•Early or later front tow hooks
•40cm track with either open or closed guide teeth, with most without ice cleats
•One photo in Concords #7022 “German Self-propelled Guns” shows a very late Wirbelwind with the vertical exhausts.

Again, from what I’ve seen in photos, the most common seemed to be a Panzer IV G chassis with early road wheel hubs, non-ice cleat track with open guide teeth, pressed steel sprocket (Pz IV G) and either rubber rimed or steel return rollers, and zimmerit. Second would be based on a Pz IV H but with early road wheel hubs, such as what is on the box art, and zimmerit again.

Many have noticed that what is in the box is not what is depicted on the box art. No zimmerit is included, so you are on your own on that one (maybe Eduard will come out with some PE soon?). Also the box art shows rubber rimmed return rollers and the early road wheel hubs, neither of which are included in this kit.

Now it seems that Dragon based the whole kit on the example at the Worthington Tank Museum at CFB Borden in Ontario, Canada. This example has all the features the kit does, such as the Pz IV H with late style road wheel hubs. I found one wartime photo with what looks like the later style road wheel hubs, but the image is poor and I am not certain, however it has rubber rimed return rollers.

It would have been nice for Dragon at the very least to include the sprues for the rubber rimed return rollers and early style road wheel hubs so that we can at least match the kit to existing photos. Better yet, I would have liked to have seen them do this on their Panzer IV G kit, and include later options, such as steel return rollers and late sprocket. This would have been a much more common vehicle and given the modeler a full choice of options. The Panzer IV H parts could have been saved for the pending Ostwind (and maybe a future 3.7cm Mobelwagen?) An oddity is their inclusion of the late style cast idler wheel and showing it as an option in the instructions, which I have never seen any Wirbelwind photos with this style idler.


So with all that, I still must say this is a great kit for what is in the box, but it’s unfortunate that for all the research Dragon put into this, they would have taken some extra effort and given the modeler some more common options out of the box…including some zimmerit! This could have made a natural 2-n-1 or 3-n-1 boxing on DML’s part. Maybe they have a plan on releasing a Panzer IV G based Wirbelwind under the cyberhobby label, especially if they do a zimmerit coated Panzer IV G, and then use that hull in a later release. We can only hope. For now enjoy a newly tooled Wirbelwind, I know I will!

•Jentz, Thomas L. & Doyle, Hilary Louis. PANZER TRACTS No.12 - Flak selbstfahrlafetten and Flakpanzer - Sd.Kfz.10/4 to 8.8 cm Flak auf VFW. Darlington (MD) : Darlington Productions, 1998.

•Rottman, Gordon. Armor at War #7022—German Self-Propelled Guns: Self Propelled Artillery, anti-tank, and anti-aircraft guns. Concord Publications, 2005.
Highs: Outstanding turret, overall detail, and fit.
Lows: Could have included some Pz IV G parts for more options, and no zimmerit.
Verdict: Good kit...still get one and it will do a late version out of the box
Percentage Rating
  Scale: 1:35
  Mfg. ID: 6540
  Suggested Retail: $49.95
  PUBLISHED: Sep 20, 2009

About Andy Renshaw (skyhawk)

I started modeling around 8 years old when my dad bought me a Monogram 1/48 A-7. We built that together, and after that he turned me loose. Along with armor and figures, I also enjoy building aircraft and trains (model railroading), and tend to cycle between the genres. Recently married, I have...

Copyright ©2021 text by Andy Renshaw [ SKYHAWK ]. All rights reserved.


"retire" is a pleasant word...more like trash it! give it to the kids to introduce them into the hobby (it still builds really easy), or use it as a paint test hulk... enjoy! Andy
SEP 21, 2009 - 10:08 AM
Andy, Thank you for the review...well done and quite informative. A question regarding the zimmerit; because the hull is from Dragon's Pz.Kpfw. IV, Ausf. G (kit #6300), do you believe that it is safe to assume that ATAK's zim set for the 6300 will fit properly? Granted, there will be plenty of zim parts left over!! Bill...thanks for the link to RZM for the Tristar wheel set. I've ordered a set (they give a 10% discount because it's a web order [$15.30 + shipping]). I also have a set of JB Model barrels for it that I picked up in my last order from them (can't have too many Flak barrels! ). Thanks again guys. Mike
SEP 23, 2009 - 01:48 AM
I was wondering exactly the same on the zimmerit Mike. The chassis parts in the kit are all labelled Pzkpfw IV ausf H so Ataks zim 35047 set should work a treat. Can anyone tell me who stocks Atak in the UK, ive tried Lou Stener and he only has the sets to fit the Tamiya Pz4 H. Regards Paul
SEP 23, 2009 - 02:26 AM
Mike, first the kit is on the Ausf H (which is #6300). The entire lower hull, plus upper hull is from that kit. Basicly the only thing different in the Wirbelwind kit is the turret and few extra parts such as the spare barrel boxes. So any zimmert set for the new dragon Ausf H should work fine, with very little left over (you will cover all the same regions on the wirbelwind as you would with a Ausf H) Ive got a Ausf G on the way to me...and im going to cut up some Cavaler zimmerit I traded for to do the zimmerit. Should make for a different looking wirbelwind than what is in the box. Ill have a full build review of this posted at IMPS USA (www.ipmsusa.org) in a month or so, and ill follow up here with a few pictures as well. Gotta love these flakpanzers, and cant wait to get an Ostwind (that should be very good OOB as it was mostly based on the Ausf H ) thanks guys for your interest! Andy
SEP 23, 2009 - 02:35 AM
Paul, Check your PMs...I sent you a possible on the zim. Andy, Thanks again. And yep, the Flak Panzers are pretty slick. An updated Ost and Mobel would be cool. UPDATE: Though RZM shows the Tristar wheel set in stock, it AIN'T!!! Just got the "so sorry" email. Mike
SEP 23, 2009 - 04:42 AM
Thanks for the great review. Would be interesting to see how this compares o the Tamiya one.
SEP 24, 2009 - 02:41 AM
I Already have that kit on my bench. Nice kit so far,but hard to research,as there is not too much information about Wirbelwinds. The assembly of the turret could be tricky and need to be filled. I´ll sand all the seams on the turret plates down and make new. Well,since it´s the H version,you can use the Atak Zimmerit for the Late H version. But, the Pz IV (tank version) has an little auxiliary motor exhaust mounted on the rear just beside the engine exhaust. Probably they were missing on the Wirbelwinds,because the auxiliary motors were omitted. The Atak zimmerit set has a zimmerit gap on that place and there is no information,if the "Ostbau-Sagan" fabric,where Wirbelwinds were produced,did fill the gap with zimmerit after dismounting the auxiliary motor exhaust. It´s hard to reproduce,if there was zimmerit on the rearplate beside the exhaust Hard to follow for me are as well the marking options given. There are 2 variants using turret numbers: The "032" 1 PzDiv, LAH and "044" u.i/unit eastern front. The only known researchable Wirbelwind using a turret number was the "031",wearing a rough-and-ready applied wintercamoflage over the standart 3 tone camouflage. Turretnumbers were absolutely rare on Wirbelwinds,as it was an late war produced machine,most of them just weared 3 crosses. Cheers
SEP 24, 2009 - 04:03 AM
Ted, there really is no comparison... the taymia one is also based on the old tooling Ausf H hull (with motor holes)..unless taymia reissued it with the newer tool hull from thier newer Ausf H/ J kits (same hull in the 3.7 Mobelwagen). Even if it is, its no where as detailed. Also the turret on the taymia kit is not the correct shape, and overall the entire kit is 1980 technology compared to the 2009 technology of the Dragon kit. But, if you want a weekend build and could care less about the details, then the taymia kit is still the way to go. andy
SEP 24, 2009 - 04:14 AM
just as an update to any interested, I obtained a Ausf G kit and built the wirbwind stuff on it, adding zimmerit using some acryilic paste mixed with some baby powder to thicken it a little. Worked very well. Ill have some pictures posted soon. as with any Dragon panzer IV kits, this isnt no weekend, or for that matter, week long build! Should have paint on it this weekend! (along with that Tasca Sherman III early that is collecting dust) Andy
OCT 13, 2009 - 08:27 AM

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