Tamiya 1/48 Schwimmwagen type 166
KIT #: 32506
PRICE: 1000 yen SRP
DECALS: Three options (license plates)
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: 2004 release date


Volkswagen Schwimmwagens used the engine and mechanicals of the VW Type 86 four-wheel drive prototype of the Kübelwagen and the Type 87 four-wheel drive 'Kübel/Beetle' Command Car, which in turn were based on the platform of the civilian Volkswagen Beetle. Erwin Komenda, Ferdinand Porsche's first car body designer, was forced to develop an all-new unitized bodytub structure since the flat floorpan chassis of the existing VW vehicles was unsuited to smooth movement through water. Komenda patented his ideas for the swimming car at the German Patent office.

The earliest Type 128 prototype was based on the full-length Kübelwagen chassis with a 240 cm (7.9 ft) wheelbase. Pre-production units of the 128, fitted with custom welded bodytubs, demonstrated that this construction was too weak for tough off-roading, had insufficient torsional rigidity, and easily suffered hull-ruptures at the front cross-member, as well as in the wheel-wells. This was unacceptable for an amphibious vehicle. The large-scale production models (Type 166) were therefore made smaller, and had a wheel-base of only 200 cm (6.6 ft).

VW Schwimmwagens were produced by the Volkswagen factory at Fallersleben / Wolfsburg and Porsche's facilities in Stuttgart; with the bodies (or rather hulls) produced by Ambi Budd in Berlin. 15,584 Type 166 Schwimmwagen cars were produced from 1941 through 1944; 14,276 at Fallersleben and 1,308 by Porsche. Given these numbers, the VW 166 is the most mass-produced amphibious car in history. Only 189 are known by the Schwimmwagen Registry to remain today, and only 13 have survived without restoration work.


When Tamiya decided to enter the 1/48 military vehicle kit market in the early 2000s, the schwimmwagen was part of the introductory group of kits. Obviously the line has proved to be quite popular with Tamiya even reboxing a few European kits to keep up with the demand.

This kit comes on two sprues of light tan plastic with a clear sprue for the windscreen. You get a full hull to which the suspension, wheels and interior are attached. The interior is a separate piece that accepts the four seats and the shifter along with some other small parts. The steering wheel shaft fits into the tub after the interior is installed.

The upper hull section is where the instrument panel and radiator assembly are attached. Then one places all the other bits and pieces such as the windscreen, lights, spare tire, pioneer tools and oars. In the back you have the prop assembly which you can pose raised or lowered. The long bar used to raise and lower the prop assembly fits atop the rear mounted muffler and screen.

Instructions are the long fold out variety and use Tamiya paint references. There are to options, both on a base of panzer yellow with one having large green patches. A small decal sheet is provided that has some unit markings and license plates.  


Like all Tamiya 1/48 kits, this is a nice looking one. It shouldn't take all that long to build



January 2020

If you would like your product reviewed fairly and fairly quickly, please contact the editor or see other details in the Note to Contributors.

Back to the Main Page     Back to the Review Index Page     Back to the Previews Index Page