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Kuebelwagen Type 82 Kit

Tamiya 1/16 Kuebelwagen Type 82 Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review June 2019 Manufacturer Tamiya
Subject Kuebelwagen Type 82 Scale 1/16
Kit Number 36205 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Nice details Cons See text
Skill Level Experienced MSRP (USD) $124.00

First Look

Kuebelwagen Type 82 Kit
Kuebelwagen Type 82 Kit
Kuebelwagen Type 82 Kit
Kuebelwagen Type 82 Kit

Many years ago, I used to own a Kuebelwagen. To be accurate, it was a 1974 Volkswagen Thing, but rather than a Type 82, the owner's manual identified it as a Type 181. I enjoyed that unique vehicle for the several years I owned it, but when I was to be stationed overseas, I sold the Thing because I wasn't going to need a car in Berlin. To make matters stranger, when I did arrive in Berlin, the US Army military police were driving Kuebelwagens. Okay, they were Things, but it was interesting to see militarized Things (Kubels) on active duty (again). About that same time, the US Army was transitioning to a new Kevlar helmet that was shaped like the WWII German helmets, but I digress...

I thought about buying another Thing after I left active duty, but by then I had enough of the Volkswagen brand and bought a Jeep Wrangler instead. When Verlinden developed a kit of the Kubel in 1/16 scale, I added that to my collection but at that time, my skills were not up for kits made of resin and photo-etch. Several years later, Tamiya released their 1/16 Kubels in two variants: European and North Africa. They even released another North Africa kit with a Rommel figure in the box. One of the main differences between the two versions is the type of tire. The European has road tires while the North African Kubel had the low-pressure 'balloon' tires for driving on sand. I opted for the European version. A few years ago, I built the kit and for the most part, it was a great project, but I also ran into a fundamental flaw in the kit design that has troubled me since then. When Tamiya recently reissued the kit, I decided to get another one and see if I could correct that flaw. You can see my first build of this kit here.

Out of the box, this kit is molded in desert tan styrene and presented on seven parts trees, plus one tree of gray parts, one tree of clear parts, one sheet of dye-cut clear acetate parts, and one set of rubber (vinyl) tires. Among the features and options in this kit:

  • Nicely detailed four-cylinder air-cooled engine
  • Detailed engine compartment
  • Rear engine hatch can be posed open or closed
  • Detailed chasis and suspension
  • Working steering (steering wheel to front wheels)
  • Nice details in the interior
  • Positionable front and rear doors
  • Windshield can be posed up or folded down
  • Choice of canvas top up or stowed
  • Optional side windows
  • Optional driver figure (seated)
  • Optional weapons and personal equipment

Tamiya did a nice job with the details and even the heat exchagers and heater ducts are there (for those who've owned the air-cooled VW Beetle or Thing, you'll remember how much 'fun' it was to sit inside the car on a cold morning before the engine had warmed up enough to provide interior heat).

The fundamental flaw in this kit is the mounting of the brake hubs to the axle assemblies. When you mount the wheels and tires to brake hubs, each wheel assembly has enough mass that is almost too much for Tamiya's axle mounts. Tamiya has you attach the brake hub using a small screw that goes from the brake backplate through to the brake hub. The brake assembly mounts to the suspension and the wheel assembly goes on from there. Unfortunately, there isn't much of a mechanical hold using the screws and if you set the Kubel down just right, the brake hub will strip out and leave you with a problem. There isn't a (clean) way to disassemble the brake assembly and revise/repair the stripped out brake hub, so in my case, I went with cyano. I was very not happy with this flaw. For the next build, I'm considering a combination of brass rod and tubing to provide a stronger wheel mounting system. There are other opportunities to enhance this kit. The first thing that jumped out at me was the lack of ignition wiring.

So now that I've built one with the various options provided by Tamiya, I bought this kit to have a 'do-over' and replace some of the options with more robust solutions that won't otherwise affect the detail and accuracy of this otherwise nice kit. The Kubelwagen, like the MB Jeep, is one of those vehicles that was used by all of the military services in all combat theaters, so there are so many opportunities to create a unique subject between camouflage, configuration, figures, and cargo, that will tell a story in one glance.