by: Frederick Boucher [ ]
introductionAs Germany lost air superiority, its armies were decimated by Allied air power. The Sd.Kfz.161/4 Flakpanzer IV "Wirbelwind" (Whirlwind in German) was a self-propelled anti-aircraft gun based on the Panzer IV tank. It was developed in 1944 as a successor to the earlier self-propelled anti-aircraft gun Möbelwagen. The quad 20mm cannons were feared by Allied pilots, who called them "Hell's Quad." The armor and rapid fire from the four guns of the Wirbelwind was also very effective against infantry. It is believed that either 87 or 105 Wirbelwinds were produced during the war, but due to discrepancies between the recorded production numbers at Ostbau Werke and Wehrmacht service records, the exact number will probably never be known.
the kitSome thirty years ago Bandai released a 1/48 Wirbelwind (and a Möbelwagen) as part of their huge quarter scale military collection. The kit consists of six sprue trees of more than two hundred parts molded in ochre plastic for the vehicle and crew figures, four poly caps, two screws, a die-cast chassis and a decal sheet. Each is bagged separately for protection.
The lower hull and superstructure are from the Panzer IV model. This includes mounting brackets for Schurzen (side skirt armor). Plenty of spare parts for the spares drawer! However, while there are the obligatory spare track pieces, there are none of the jerry cans, tarps, boxes or crates that were standard in Tamiya kits since the 1970's.
Thankfully, the tracks are not the old vinyl rubber band types, nor are they individual link type. They are "link and length" style. Each side is built up from several sections of varying lengths–even individual–that allow the pieces to wrap around the sprocket and idler.
The figures are in the thick winter uniform. Their detail is well done. The hands seem big–perhaps due to modeling thick gloves?
The excellent molding is typical Tamiya: sharp, crisp and no flash on any parts. The few ejection and mold marks will not be visible once assembled, unless you really scrutinize the bottom of the turret interior. Surface detail of the tread structure, fender pattern, rivets and hinges are crisp. Unfortunately, several tools are molded on. The die-cast chassis has good detail and a closed underside. There is no surface texturing, and while access hatch lines are recessed, they appear slightly wide and shallow.
The decals are well printed. Only two vehicle options are provided. The instruction sheet is clearly written and laid out, a typical accordion fold. Tamiya paints are referenced.
ConclusionThis kit is a typical Tamiya kit. Well designed, excellently molded, and well detailed. Based on what it is in the box it should also be an easy to build kit. When I start to build it, I’ll give you a full report!
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