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Tamiya 1/35 Flakpanzer IV Wirbelwind Kit First Look

By Ray Mehlberger

Date of Review February 2008 Manufacturer Tamiya
Subject Flakpanzer IV Wirbelwind Scale 1/35
Kit Number 35085 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Neat version of the Pz.Kpfw.IV Cons My original 1975 kit has a hull bottom part with motorization holes. Rubber band type treads may not please some modelers
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $37.00

First Look


While the German Army had made some plans for the formation of armored divisions in the 1930’s, they, in common with most powers of the time, overlooked the effect that air power would have on ground fighting. The armored (panzer) divisions proved highly successful in the opening of WWII and the Wehrmacht demonstrated how aircraft could be used for support of armor in the Polish Campaign of September 1939 and the French Campaign of May-June 1940.

Such aircraft as the Junkers 87 “Stuka”, Junkers 88, and the Me 109 were used to ravage the enemy forces just ahead of the attacking panzers. The Allies quickly adopted similar, but even more ferocious close-support tactics as the war progressed. Aircraft like the Il-2 Shturmovik, the Typhoon and the Thunderbolt became the scourge of the Wehrmacht and played a considerable part in ensuring the Allied advance into Germany in 1944-45.

At one time, in the Normandy Campaign, more German heavy tanks were knocked-out by rocket-firing Typhoons and Thunderbolts than by Allied tanks or anti-tank guns. Even in 1939, the Germans had made some provision, for including anti-aircraft units in divisional establishments, but these were towed for the most part. It soon became apparent that anti-aircraft defense was inadequate and to give more mobility and firepower self-propelled equipment was quickly developed.

By 1940, a version of the light half-track Sd.Kfz. 10 was in service as the Sk.Kfz. 10/4, with a 2cm Flak 30 mounted. In 1941, a version of the medium half-track Sd.Kfz. 7/1 appeared with the quadruple 2cm flakvierling 38 fitted. These were just two of several items of self-propelled anti-aircraft equipment.

Priority was given to furnishing assault guns and tank destroyers to the armored divisions, and the development of full-tracked AA tanks did not take place until 1942-43. The first vehicles of this type entered service in 1943. The Flakpanzer 38(t) tank was the first in service. This was followed by more vehicles adapted from the current model of the Pz.Kpfw. IV tank. One version, known as the Mobelwagen, mounted either the 2cm Flakvierling 38 or the 3.7cm Flak 43, on the Panzer IV chassis with superstructure sides which dropped to give a roomy, but unprotected, gun platform for the crew.

The counterparts, for use within the armored divisions, were the Ostwind (East-wind) with a single 3.7cm Flak 43, and the Wirbelwind (Whirl-wind) with the 2cm Flakvierling 38 in a fully armored traversing mount, which replaced the turret of the standard Pz.Kpfw. IV. The multi-faceted mount was in effect an open-topped high-sided turret with 16mm armor. The firm of Ostabau built 348 Wirbelwinds starting in December 1943, using the otherwise standard Pz.Kpfw. IV Ausf. J chassis. This Flakpanzer weighed 22 tons and had a crew of five (driver, commander, and 3 gun handlers).

The four 2cm guns in an integrated mount fired at 80 rounds per minute. Power for traverse was from that provided for the turret. The Wirbelwind was the numerous and successful of the Flakpanzer IV variants.

The kit comes in a tray and lid type box. The box art shows a Wirbelwind in overall earth yellow with a light red-brown wave pattern over it. It only carries the generic German cross. A figure of a crewman is on the rear deck searching the sky with a pair of binoculars. This is all on Tamiya’s usual all white background. One side-panel of the box has a small repeat of the box art next to what looks to be the history of the Wirbelwind in Japanese only. The other side-panel has full color illustrations of the box arts for 5 other AFV models that Tamiya markets. These box arts are a departure from how Tamiya does their box arts today. They all are in landscape scenes, rather than the all white backgrounds. Shown are box arts for a Pz.Kpfw. IV Ausf. H, a Sturmgeschutz III Ausf. G, a Tiger I, a King Tiger and a Jagdpanther.

Inside the box are 5 light tan trees of parts, a single hull bottom tub part, a hull roof part, black vinyl rubber-band type tracks, black poly-caps, the decal sheet and the instructions. All except the hull tub, hull top and the vinyl tracks are nicely in stapled-shut cello bags.

The instructions consists of a single sheet that accordion folds out into 8 pages of 7 ½” x 10 ¼” format.

Page one begins with a black and white repeat of the box art. This is followed by the history of the Wirbelwind in English and German.

Page two has “read before you start” instructions, also in English and German, an actual photo of the rear of a real Pz.Kpfw. IV and the first 3 assembly steps.

Page three through the top of page 7 give a balance of a total of 16 assembly steps. On each of these pages there are some black and white photos of various areas of the model made up. Step 14 is devoted to assembly and painting of the 4 crew figures provided in the kit. Three of these figures are seated and to be posed around the Flakvierling. The fourth figure matches the pose of the guy on the box art with the binoculars.

Page eight has a four-view drawing of the Wirbelwind in base color of dark earth yellow with a red brown wave pattern on it. No other camouflage pattern is shown, but markings in the kit are for:

  1. The 1st SS Panzer Division
  2. The 2nd SS Panzer Division
  3. The 21st Panzer Division
  4. The 116th Panzer Division
  5. A tactical marking for a tracked vehicle mounting the 20mm quad. AA gun

There are no parts tree illustrations in the instructions.

Large light tan letter A tree holds: the idler wheels, road wheels, return rollers, drive sprockets, bogies etc. (74 parts)

Medium sized light tan letter B tree holds: the open-topped turret parts, a tow cable, spare track links, shield parts, a couple ammo cases, a pair of binoculars, a pistol holster and the 4 crew figures etc.(46 parts)

The figure with the binoculars is divided into full body with separate arms and a peaked hat. Two of the seated crewmembers are divided into separate torsos, lower body halves and arms. The third seated crewmember has his two legs separate. All the seated figures wear steel helmets.

Medium sized light tan letter C tree holds: the chassis rear plates, muffler, hatches, jack block, tools, spare road wheels, front chassis plate, jack, tow hooks, fenders, head and taillights, fire extinguisher, vision flaps etc. (85 parts)

There is no letter D parts tree

Small sized light tan letter E tree holds: parts and ammo clips for the 20mm Flakvierling (45 parts)

Small sized light tan letter F tree holds: more parts for the 20mm Flakvierling and its shields and crew seats etc. (35 parts)

Next is the single hull tub part. This is old-generation Tamiya, with the motorization holes in the bottom of it to be filled with putty. There are raised letters inside it that give the original year of the kit’s release as having been back in 1975.

The final item is the single hull roof part. This has open hatches over the driver’s area, but there are no interior parts to go in there.

The decal sheet (already described above), the black vinyl poly-caps and the decal sheet complete the kits contents. The decal sheet has numbers 0 to 9 in red with white outlines, 3 German national crosses, white division markings and the one tactical mark. This completes the kit’s contents.

Elefant Model Accessories brand out of the Czech Republic makes a set of after-market turned aluminum barrels for the Tamiya Wirbelwind. It is set no. 35351. I got a set of these in trade with a net friend in Beirut Lebanon.

This is one neat version of the Pz.Kpfw. IV chassis. Modelers who suffer from AMS might want to get a set of individual links to replace the rubber band ones.