In-Box Review
German Schwimmwagen Type 166
WW II German Schwimmwagen Type 196
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by: Bill Cross [ BILL_C ]


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 review
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 book Panther 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.
Highs: The usual Voyager quality and detail. A complete set that requires nothing more than the model.
Lows: A bit complex getting the convertible top support to go together correctly.
Verdict: Highly-recommended for the Tamiya kit, which is short on details.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: 1:35
  Mfg. ID: PE35220
  Suggested Retail: TBD
  PUBLISHED: Jul 13, 2011

Our Thanks to Voyager Model!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

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About Bill Cross (bill_c)

Self-proclaimed rivet counter who gleefully builds tanks, planes and has three subs in the stash.

Copyright ©2021 text by Bill Cross [ BILL_C ]. All rights reserved.


Actually, as I am currently using this Voyager set on my Schwimmwagen build, I have to say, that I'm not very satisfied and once for a while regret that I didn't choose Aber. Some of the details are oversized, as some don't get together so well and couple of details are geometrically wrong. As I haven't used some bigger details, like windshield, or roof frame yet, I do not have complete overview of the set though. Also instructions are quite messy and confusing - some of the details are not shown there, so one would have to guess, where and how to use these. Maybe such issues concern only this Voyager set, but in future, when choosing photoetch update for some model, I would definitely choose any alternative, but Voyager, if there's an option.
JUL 12, 2011 - 08:48 PM
Thanks, Kristjan, that's helpful to have a "boots on the ground" look at this, as my review is "in box" only and not a build review. I have a Schwimmie in my stash, but it's not up next. Voyager has improved its PE over the years, as this is an earlier one.
JUL 13, 2011 - 04:28 AM

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