by: John Smith [ ]
DEF MODELís Resin replacement wheel set DW35090 is designed for a 1/35th scale HEMMT (Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck) kits with M977 and M983 being indicated on DEFís box, though suited to a range of other HEMTT variants.
These portray the XZL with sagged wheels for retro fitting to Trumpeter or Italeri model kits. The contents come in a stout colourful box with a clear picture of the wheels shown on top as well as a list of what is contained inside- 2 types of front wheel twice, 2 types of rear wheel twice, 1 spare, 4 connectors for mounting the wheels plus wheel masks. This presentation alone is nice but doesnít prepare you for the amazing quality found once the box is open. The wheels are air bubble free, cast in a light grey resin. The stubs are small and have letters indicating the different type wheels. Iíve used resin replacement wheels before, but the casting finesse found here is another level. This hints at the attention to detail put into the manufacture of these wheels as rather than have multiples of the same cast, what we have is literally different wheels as the bulge at the base of the tyre (the Ďsaggedí wheel of the box title) is different in relation to the valves in the hub preventing the finished model having all the wheels mirror reach other. The bulge is very nicely done achieving the look of weight that these vehicles have and probably the best reason for replacing the already good Trumpeter wheels in their recent HEMMT tractor. It should be noted that the spare is free from any bulging as in reality it would be free from weight.
Having seen the evolution of quality in HEMMT wheels there is still a place for these replacements. As said Trumpeters wheels are very good but it is extremely difficult to indicate the bulge to simulate weight. Italeriís newest version of the HEMMT, kit number 6525 has the latest type of HEMTT tyre in a softer vinyl than Trumpeter use which may cause future problems as I note a residue mark in the box where the tyres are laid. These are nice with a small amount of clean up required. All of these are what Iíd term 4 block pattern and are the latest type seen in service based on 20x10.00 steel rims with 1600 R20 XZL Michelinís fitted. The hubs of the Italeri wheels are far simpler, and seem to reflect the earlier wheel hub. The excellent TANKOGRAD book (number 3003) on HEMTT provides lots of details on the range of HEMTT and the various wheel types. There was also a 3 block pattern fitted to HEMMT though not often seen, that bridged between the early directional tyre and these XZLís. Italeriís earlier HEMMT models had horrible plastic two part wheels based on the directional tyres. These looked nothing like the real thing so a suitable candidate for the DEF replacement. (These earlier directional tyres are still in use by the US Army, in fact some pictures in the TANKOGRAD book show trailers in old wheels with the tractor clad in new 4 Block treads. Interestingly the keen eyed will spot that occasionally the directional tyres are fitted the wrong way round).
A sheet of precut masking sheet is included to aid airbrush users in painting. The instructions give two ways of masking, in effect allowing the masks to paint two sets of wheels.
While comparison type reviews are not usual on Armorama, in this case it did seem to make sense as a way to allow you to decide if the cost was worth the visual benefit. All in an excellent item that has the capacity to improve your Trumpeter kit or transform you old Italeri one.