’s new Flakpanzer Wirbelwind gives modelers a fully new tooled kit of this interesting vehicle. However, as nice as it is, there are some tweaks and details to be made aware of about this particular vehicle.
Flakpanzers and self-propelled flak guns were one of the items WW2 Germany developed a lot of. Starting with mounting them on Panzer I and cargo trucks, all the way to fully tracked self-propelled 88mm guns, Germany came out with the widest variety of self propelled flak artillery in the war. Many were field modifications, but several were purpose built using existing components. One of these was the Sd.Kfz 161/4 Wirbelwind, or “whirlwind”
Dragon’s brand new kit is a very welcome addition to the Panzer IV lineup and is a happy replacement for the very aged Tamiya offering from decades ago. However there are some tweaks and issues that one should be aware of when diving into this kit. In this “first look” review, I want to give a very general overview of what you get in the box, then spend some time on what you don’t get…and some various options to explore using this kit.
in the box
In the kit you get the following:
942 parts total (including indy tracks)
Magic Track indy links
1 etched fret with 59 pieces
1 clear sprue
1 steel wire
Decals for Four marking options
The kit uses sprues from their recent #6300 Panzer IV H “late” kit for the entire hull. That said, I won’t go into too much about that, as there are excellent reviews that cover kit #6300, such as this one on Armorama
. I will say that detail is excellent, and it is an easy, albeit long build but still simpler than dragons earlier Panzer IV kits. It does give a very detailed base for the Wirbelwind, however it may not be the most common variant. More on that later.
For the top, you get the excellent sprues from the 20mm Flakvierling from the Sdkfz 7/1 kit, minus the shields. You also receive a kit specific sprue that contains the gun traverse mount, a new internal bulkhead, fuel tanks, and some other Wirbelwind specific details including spare barrel boxes.
The icing of the kit is the beautiful turret, which is cast in two parts vertically. The joint is done right on a corner, with excellent fit, so there will be virtually no clean up needed here. Weld beads are seen on the inside and outside. The real treat is how thinly cast the turret is, and comes packed on its own plastic cradle for protection from warping and breakage. Lined up with scale drawings in Panzer Tracts 12 “Flak selbstfahrlafetten and Flakpanzer
…” it scales out perfectly. At last a decent Wirbelwind turret!
the rest of the story
So what’s the problem? Really no problems, but some things to be aware of. First a little background on the vehicles. Records vary as to how many were actually produced, and I’ve seen numbers from as low as 87 up to 122 total between May and November of 1944. Of these, most were rebuilt Pzkfw IV G chassis that came from damaged or rotated out tanks from the front. These were fixed up with remaining Panzer IV parts, modified with a Wirbelwind turret and then sent back out with Flugabwehrzug
units. Because of this, Wirbelwinds are seen with a hodgepodge of parts from Auf G’s and H’s, but from what I have seen in photos, mostly Auf G parts.
Some variations include:
•Bolt on additional front armor from mid production Panzer IV G
•All three types of return rollers (rubber rim, all steel w/ rib, and all steel no rib)
•Pressed or welded sprocket
•Early or late simplified road wheel hubs
•Early or later front tow hooks
•40cm track with either open or closed guide teeth, with most without ice cleats
•One photo in Concords #7022 “German Self-propelled Guns
” shows a very late Wirbelwind with the vertical exhausts.
Again, from what I’ve seen in photos, the most common seemed to be a Panzer IV G chassis with early road wheel hubs, non-ice cleat track with open guide teeth, pressed steel sprocket (Pz IV G) and either rubber rimed or steel return rollers, and zimmerit. Second would be based on a Pz IV H but with early road wheel hubs, such as what is on the box art, and zimmerit again.
Many have noticed that what is in the box is not what is depicted on the box art. No zimmerit is included, so you are on your own on that one (maybe Eduard will come out with some PE soon?). Also the box art shows rubber rimmed return rollers and the early road wheel hubs, neither of which are included in this kit.
Now it seems that Dragon based the whole kit on the example at the Worthington Tank Museum at CFB Borden in Ontario, Canada. This example has all the features the kit does, such as the Pz IV H with late style road wheel hubs. I found one wartime photo with what looks like the later style road wheel hubs, but the image is poor and I am not certain, however it has rubber rimed return rollers.
It would have been nice for Dragon at the very least to include the sprues for the rubber rimed return rollers and early style road wheel hubs so that we can at least match the kit to existing photos. Better yet, I would have liked to have seen them do this on their Panzer IV G kit, and include later options, such as steel return rollers and late sprocket. This would have been a much more common vehicle and given the modeler a full choice of options. The Panzer IV H parts could have been saved for the pending Ostwind (and maybe a future 3.7cm Mobelwagen?) An oddity is their inclusion of the late style cast idler wheel and showing it as an option in the instructions, which I have never seen any Wirbelwind photos with this style idler.
So with all that, I still must say this is a great kit for what is in the box, but it’s unfortunate that for all the research Dragon put into this, they would have taken some extra effort and given the modeler some more common options out of the box…including some zimmerit! This could have made a natural 2-n-1 or 3-n-1 boxing on DML’s part. Maybe they have a plan on releasing a Panzer IV G based Wirbelwind under the cyberhobby label, especially if they do a zimmerit coated Panzer IV G, and then use that hull in a later release. We can only hope. For now enjoy a newly tooled Wirbelwind, I know I will!
•Jentz, Thomas L. & Doyle, Hilary Louis. PANZER TRACTS No.12 - Flak selbstfahrlafetten and Flakpanzer - Sd.Kfz.10/4 to 8.8 cm Flak auf VFW
. Darlington (MD) : Darlington Productions, 1998.
•Rottman, Gordon. Armor at War #7022—German Self-Propelled Guns: Self Propelled Artillery, anti-tank, and anti-aircraft guns
. Concord Publications, 2005.