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Tamiya 1/16 scale Kubelwagen Type 82

Manufacturer: Tamiya, distributed by Tamiya American, 2 Orion, Aliso Viejo, CA 92656-4200, 800-826-4922
Kit: No. 36202
Scale: 1/16
Price: $89
Comments: Injection-molded, 225 parts, decals
Pros: Accurate, well detailed, wealth of options
Cons: Fragile, some fit problems
Tamiya continues to blur the differences between operating and traditional static models, and once again hobbyists have come out the winners. The firm's new 1/16 scale Kübelwagen (literally "bucket-seat car," though the name has come to mean Volkswagen's lightweight, stripped-down version of the Beetle) comes in both a radio-controlled operating version (currently going through the FCC licensing process in the U.S.) and a static version, which I built.

Production of the Kübelwagen began in 1940 and a civilian version was sold through at least the 1970s. It's an ideal subject for a dual-version kit, since its boxy body offers space for motors and servos and the original was intended for both on- and off-road use. Aside from the chassis, the two kits are similar, though the static kit comes with balloon "desert" tires and the R/C version comes with narrower European rubber.

With 225 parts - including hollow tires, a few tiny screws, and two figures - it's quite a boxful. The floor pan/fender assembly comes as a single styrene molding, and the body builds up out of seven pieces that are divided similarly to the stampings of the actual vehicle.

The doors and hatches are separate parts, as are a variety of other stampings. No parts had flash, though I did spend plenty of time smoothing parting lines and filling some ejector-pin marks.

The good news is that once you've built the body, you have an excellent understanding of how a real Kübelwagen fits together. The bad news, however, is that in this scale the hatches and doors are heavy enough to require a strong joint to hold them in place, and the fit isn't always good enough to allow that. The doors, which can be posed open, tend to pop out of their openings, and the top access hatch on my sample was too narrow for the opening. (I added a piece of .040" x .040" styrene on each side of the opening to fix the problem.)

Similarly, the well-detailed and poseable front suspension is nice, but the panels holding it in place must be glued twice. First I had to glue them to each other, which required some minor reshaping on my sample. Then I glued them to the bottom of the floor pan. Because the butt joints had to support the entire weight of the front suspension, I used solvent-type glue.

To facilitate painting, I skipped around in the instructions - building and painting the body first, then doing the same with the front and rear suspensions. The suspension, driveline, and engine parts generally fit well, though the cylinder castings on my sample were a tight fit into the crankcase, and the pushrods required trimming because they wouldn't fit all the way into the block.

Once the mold-parting lines were cleaned off and the driveline was painted, however, it was a real highlight - I now wish that I hadn't glued the back hatch closed, because once the ducts and skid plates are on the bottom, you don't see much of the engine from below. (If you do wish to show the engine compartment, I recommend simply leaving the back hatch loose rather than trying to glue it open, because that would be another fragile joint.)

The wheels attach with screws that are hidden by other parts, so they will roll if you really want them to. This is a fragile model, though (believe me, I learned that the hard way!), so don't plan on giving it to a small child if you want to see it in one piece again.

I used Tamiya acrylics to finish the model. My research indicated that many, if not all, of the vehicles in Africa were factory-painted gray and then had dark yellow paint applied in the field. The blowing sand scuffed much of the yellow off, however, leaving the gray exposed in many areas. The photos I found indicated that the paint wore off gradually rather than peeling off in sheets.

To re-create this effect, I airbrushed the body with two coats of gray. Then I gave the body a light coat of dark yellow. Finally, I used a Badger abrasive gun and 220 grit aluminum oxide to blast some of the yellow back off the body, simulating the effect of blowing sand. I concentrated on those areas that would most likely be blasted - fender edges, corners, and raised ribs. Once that was complete, I rubbed a bit of graphite powder onto the highest-wear areas to give them a bit of metallic sheen.

Though I painted the outside of the body yellow, I left the interior and the undercarriage gray, using the logic that a soldier painting a vehicle in the field would be more concerned with those areas that were most visible (and easiest to reach!). The seats and top are khaki, with some airbrushed shading, and I gave them a wash of a burnt sienna/Turpenoid mix. For the shovel, I used Tamiya flat brown paint and rubbed some SnJ aluminum powder onto the blade.

The windshield can be posed up or down, and it fit into the frame well; I used acrylic clear gloss as an adhesive. Finally, before mounting the tires on the rims I scuffed them with a coarse sanding stick to remove the seam.

This kit is well detailed and accurate, and it has many options that make it a natural for a diorama. In addition to a driver figure, the kit includes Tamiya's Field Marshal Rommel figure plus a variety of weapons and kit. It fits well overall, but not as well as most Tamiya kits I've built. That, combined with the need to clean and fill many parts, and the sheer size of the kit, meant that I spent approximately 60 hours on it. Because of that fact and its fragility, I recommend it for intermediate and experienced modelers.


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