Wednesday, October 9

Fancy a longer Schwimm? Then try out this new AFV Club VW - We review & build their Type 128

AFV Club of Taiwan has produced a new “Schwimmwagen” in injection moulded plastic – but not the one you might think. This is the earlier and longer type 128 that has it’s fair share of fans out there. Let’s build and paint it up to see how it all goes together….
Schwimmwagen Type 128  
AFV Club
1/35th scale
Tan Styrene – three sprues
1 small PE sheet
Decals for 4 different vehicles.
Available from AFV Club’s Distributors worldwide

Part I of II The kit
In this part we will be looking at the VW 128 and the difference to the better known VW166 we will be reviewing the kit from the box and from our experience in building it - while the next part we will build for you, paint and weather the kit so you can see if the theory and the practice meet up to our expectations. First let's have a look at this peculiar little vehicle...

The VW Type 128 and 166 were called the Schwimmwagen - literally German for a floating or swimming Car. It was the most mass produced amphibious car in history. The model we are looking at is the earlier VW 128 – this was the “Limousine” of Schwimmwagens as there were fewer made, though they were 4 wheel drive they were not built as tough as the VW166 and they were a larger vehicle than the mass produced Schwimm we all know – The few that were made were issued to officers and high ranking staff .

Here is the 128 on
 it's early trials
And in the factory during construction..
Yee-har Grand-mar! Now we know why the developers said they had a "soft" structure...This one is seen on trials 
The VW 128 is now the rarest Schwimmwagen still in existence - and this one is the oldest! This  VW 128 was found and restored recently from the site at Hitler's Berghof – his mountain retreat (there must be some water up there somewhere!)

 This vehicle, Schwimmwagen no VW128/19 - has just been restored and is one of the only two still surviving (restored) in the world. It gives us a good base of research when looking at this kit. Any pictures in this review of a grey 128 are this restored example.
It’s the little differences..
The VW 128 is not as well-known as it’s mass produced brother the more familiar “dinky” type 166. The difference between the type 128 and 138 subtypes were minor and had to do with attempts to reduce the weight so negligible here. Whereas there are several small changes that you can see visibly from the VW128 to the VW166.

The VW 128 floorplan (Left) & 
The VW 166 floorplans side by side

You can see several changes in the shape of both vehicles if you look closely - it was a good choice to do this vehicle - even though it saw limited service it has a whole different feel to the shorter 166
The VW 128 was based on the longer wheel based Kübelwagen chassis (240 cm (7.9 ft))  whereas the Type 166 were not as long, and had a wheel-base of only 200 cm (6.6 ft). 

The change was because pre-production units of the 128, fitted with custom welded body tubs had a construction that was too weak for tough off-roading and suffered  with poor torsional rigidity (IE not very rigid ) with the frontal cross-member often rupturing at the hull which isn’t good for a water-tight car! The 166 was redesigned and it is the version we all know now, but this version we are looking at was only produced in a number of thirty units.

 Here are the VW128 (in grey) and VW166 (in Gelb) in comparison with two restored vehicles

Notice the front prow is higher on the 128

The dip on the 166 on  the hull section where the driver sits - it is flat on the 128 along the hull

40cm deeper in the back seat is obvios in this picture for the VW 128

Different hood and exhaust set up

You can see again the rounded prow on the 128 - apparently the tyre served as a breakwater as well as a place to put the spare!
If you want to see some good pictures f one of the two existing Typ.128’s left in the world then this Facebook site on the VW vehicle is great - (or their website if you don’t have, or care for for that matter - FB)

The kit…
Seeing a gap in the market for this type in styrene AFV Club has produced this kit in far many more numbers than it ever saw in real life to some thankful modellers who want a twist on a favorite softskin. Let’s have a look at his kit
The box art is very nice - and the white box opens up to reveal three small tan sprues, a tiny sheet of photo etch and a decal sheet with a black and white paper instruction sheet. There are several illustrations in that old fashioned “Tamiya” Japanese style that show the variances between Schwimmwagens and their earlier cousins like the  Trippel SG – a neat thing to have in the instructions I reckon. It fleshes out the development a little.

The black and white instructions are only twelve steps in all – there are four different ways to paint your 128 as well as seen after the construction phase. Seeing there are only two exiting in the world right now – one being in panzer yellow/cream and one being grey – well I suppose you can make up whatever you want really.
Colours are given in only the general shades – no paint brand colour numbers are mentioned….. So you can keep on making it up when you are ready to paint!
The existing versions do not help as for a camo scheme - maybe only as reference for the insides of the vehicles.
The plastic on offer is moulded largely without flash - you only see it on the smaller and thinner parts like the frame for the opened hood. There aren’t lots of nodes all over the kit to remove and the fact that the whole kit comes on three sprues makes this a simple kit to make. There are only twelve steps in the instructions gives you a hint that this is an easy and quick kit to build. I would say to those who have the Tamiya 166 kit this is a very similar build with slightly better detail.

The "Tub"
The top of the tub is flash free - well moulded and a good shape to represent the original. Squarish on the middle of the body and rounding off towards the front. Not rounded to a point the whole way like the VW 166 was.

The front is to the right - the undersides of the axle which is covered over by the front assembly

Sprue B
...Containing many of the vehicle's smaller details - this sprue is still important and a lot of your modelling time is spent on these. The boot opens ( though no engine) and has an indentation for the prop to fold upwards in "land" mode. The boot is moulded so it can open but no internal support is provided and there is nothing inside if you did want to show it open.

The windscreen is simple and there are two oars provided for stowage on the left (port) of the rear fender (hull)
The front cover for the axle, and of note here is the canopy of the vehicle -the option is just "down" in this kit. I would have liked to have a raised version as well. I know of one on the market already that supply a closed canopy for this vehicle - and another shot of the canopy from the side..
The front axle and the two scissor like canopy frames - noticed here are some of the only bits of flash on the kit.
The round fuel tank that goes under the passenger side dash as well as the raised detail on the dash panel. The ring around the prop is a little thick to me - but I do not want to have to resort to PR for this so don't say i mentioned it..
The real dash panel of the 128 - unrestored and fixed up just like new(ish). You can see the cylindrical tank under the dash on the right

Sprue C
 The "wood" floor here is really well done - just fine enough in this scale to represent wood with some good weathering. If you were really smart you could cut it out - paint the inside of the "tub" and insert this and the seats AFTER it is all painted up. Hmmmm... I wasn't that smart.

The restored VW 128/19 showing wooden slatted floor and rear bench seat with single bucket seats
 The correct seating plan is here - note the 166 has four buckets whilst the 128 has two bucket in the front and a bench seat in the rear. The rear cabin wall is here on the bottom right. It looks great with some dry-brushing.
 Both sides of the wheels - they fit together easily and the tyres slip on or off them they have hubs as well which is seen on this restored vehicle below..
Hubcaps on the left - then without on a "166" on the right - this kit has both options. Hub capped or not.

The wheels with tyres from different angles + spare
There are five vinyl tires for your pleasure as well . Like ‘em or not they are here, and they have some quite good detail on them. They slip very easily over their wheels so the wheels can be made up and painted and the tires either painted or dusted with pigments and attached later if you wish. I like these tyres – they are chunky and the tread is well replicated. You can even see the writing on the tyre walls; it will come up very clearly with some light weathering.
There is a decal sheet offered here to compliment the kit. Printed by (insert name here ‘cos I don’t know) in Taiwan these decals are thin, without too much carrier film and in register. They feature number plates for 4 different cars along with the vehicle numbers for VW 128/2 & VW 128/20. There are some vehicle stencil markings in black but none in white which is a bummer. Nothing to cry about though it is good to have four choices I suppose.

I can say from using them already the decals went on easily from the construction but that is more in the build so we will show you then. Interesting that from all of the pictures in this review - one of the most common shots of the vehicle - with German Generals in it at the surrender on the Elbe in 1945 - is featured on the decal sheet
The one thing we are missing on this sheet is the speedometer - that's right of all cars an open top. I sourced mine from another  vehicle.

So there it is - the kit is accurate to plan of the real thing and includes many new aspects missing from the Tamiya kit. It is not that dissimilar in the construction and next week we will put it all together - paint it and weather it a bit with some mud - it sounds messy but it is fun - so keep tuned and we promise you well see it next week!

Adam Norenberg.

Thanks to AFV club for sending these to us to make and review