|In Search of ... decent Humvee Wheels
|by Doug Chaltry
|16 January 2006
|Here is the second
installation in my "In Search of..." series of
articles. This time our prey is the always elusive Humvee
This past year, both Revell and Dragon released plastic kits of the ubiquitous HMMWV utility truck, and they were immediately followed by two sets of resin replacement wheels, one from MIG Productions and the other from the relatively new Calibre72. I have often seen questions on the forums of which were the better wheels, and when I sat down to compare them all, I remembered that these four were not the only Humvee wheels out there.
The very first Humvee kits released were a series of resin kits from ARMO. Although they are older models (I think released in 2000 or 2001), they are also quite fine, and are superior to any other Humvee on the market when it comes to interior detail, including complete engines.
A few years ago, Military Wheels (MW) released their own series of Humvees, the first time that they were made in plastic. Granted, they are limited-run plastic, which means that they will require a little extra work to clean up and assemble, but I'm building one right now and it's really not a bad kit (well, except for the wheels, as you will see).
So, we have four companies producing Humvee kits: ARMO (several versions in resin), MW (several versions in limited-run plastic), Revell (two versions in plastic), and Dragon (many versions in plastic). We have two resin manufacturers selling replacement wheels: MIG and Calibre72, and we also have a resin and etched metal conversion set from CMK that includes replacement wheels. This gives us a total of seven wheels to compare.
I've arranged the wheels in the scan with the three plastic wheels on the left and the four resin wheels on the right. I should have placed the MIG and CMK wheels adjacent to each other, since they both represent the new "aggressive" style of wheel, but I didn't think of that until now. All other wheels have the original tread pattern. MW and Revell are both plastic wheels, while the Dragon wheel is a rubber tire stretched over a plastic wheel rim. ARMO, MIG and Calibre72 are one-piece resin parts, while the CMK item has separate resin wheel and tire parts, with the tread and wheel rim details provided in etched metal.
This following scan shows the same wheels after priming them all in light grey to better compare their detail:
As you can see, the CMK wheel looks really bad because of superglue that I had slopped on the tire during construction, which I didn't notice until after painting it. I was thinking of going through the effort of cleaning it up, but I really don't think I'll be using these wheels anyway, so why bother?
As mentioned, the MIG and CMK wheels have the aggressive tire pattern. All others are supposed to represent the standard tread.
Regarding the size of the wheels, I had real difficulty in finding the exact wheel measurements for the two different styles of wheels shown here. The best I can come up with, and someone correct me if I am wrong, is that the measurements for the original style wheel are: 37 x 12.5 x 16.5. These measurements show tire outer diameter x tire width x wheel rim diameter, in inches (I saw one place list them with a 38 inch tire diameter, which I believe was a civilian tire). The newer aggressive wheels are narrower than the originals, but I believe the other measurements are the same. The only detail difference on the hub between the two wheel styles is more rim bolts on the aggressive wheel hubs.
This table shows comparison measurements of all the wheels, converted to millimeters:
As you can see, not one of these wheels is accurate. I find this hard to believe, which is why I suspect that my reference measurements must be incorrect. If someone else knows the correct measurements, please let me know. My email address is at the top of this page.
The MW wheel is the largest of the bunch, though still a hair too small in diameter. However, the wheel rim is far too large in diameter, which makes the tire appear to be too thin. The hub detail is a little flat, though overall not too bad. The worst aspect of this wheel is the tread, which is non-existent, considering the method of molding this wheel. Unless completely covered in mud, these wheels are pretty much worthless.
The Revell wheels are far too small to use. They look like those stupid little wheels you see people mount on Honda Civics all the time. The rim detail is not too bad, as far as the bolts and hub, though as you can see, where does the rim end and the tire begin? As with the MW wheels, being injection-molded plastic, there is no tire tread pattern. Too bad they didn't mold these wheels in three parts as they did for their Luchs and Fuchs kits.
Although they are not easy to assemble, the Dragon wheels are some of the better looking wheels in this comparison. The tire is rubber, and needs to be stretched over a plastic wheel rim. This is not easy, and you can see that the rim has been slightly damaged in the process. The rubber tire tread pattern is pretty good, though with some flash needing to be trimmed, which is difficult to do without leaving little hairs behind. I suggest melting the flash off instead with a hot pin. Wheel rim detail is very good, though the overall dimensions are not accurate (tire is too small and rim is too large).
The ARMO wheel shares many of the same dimensional problems as the others, being too small in total diameter, the rim too large, and the tire too narrow. The wheel hub detail is very poor, though the tread pattern is very good. I haven't yet mentioned that all of the wheels in this review are supposed to be the rear wheels, which has a different hub than the front wheels. But all four of the ARMO wheels are identical, which is incorrect.
The MIG wheel represents the newer "aggressive" pattern of tire. The wheel rim is taken from the Revell kit, but with the added bolts, which is correct for this version. The tread pattern could be improved some because the way it is now, it just sort of 'represents' the tread, as opposed to 'replicates' the tread, if you understand my distinction. The tread could be deeper, with more 'chevrons'. Also, the tread pattern should be distinguished between left side and right side wheels, whereas all the wheels in this set are for the same side of the vehicle. Best I can tell, the overall diameter is too small, the tire is too wide, and the rim diameter is too large.
The Calibre72 wheel exhibits the best detail of all the wheels in this review. The wheel rim and hub detail is absolutely outstanding, and the tread detail is gorgeous as well. You can even see the Good/Year logo on the sidewall (though I believe there should be some additional writing opposite the logo). Where this wheel falls down is with its size (tire diameter and width are too small, and rim diameter is too large), and also the exaggerated bulge which is meant to depict a weighted tire, but in fact makes it look flat.
The CMK wheel is simply BAD in most every way. Why mold the tire and rim separate? The opening in the tire was larger than the rim, so that a lot of glue was needed to fill the gap, with the obvious poor results. Why was the hub detail provided in etched metal? It's too flat, and was also difficult to attach. Why make the tread pattern in etched metal? The two tire tread patterns seen on Humvees are on wheels with different tire widths anyway, so flexibility is not an issue here. The tread pattern is very shallow, and not at all convincing on the finished item. The tire diameter is too small and width is too large, and the rim diameter is too large as well. This is pretty much the worst wheel in the bunch.
If my reference measurements are correct, then I am still in need of a really good replacement wheel for the multitude of Humvee kits in my collection. But, about the only wheels here which I will absolutely refuse to use are the Revell and CMK wheels. I'm trying to figure out if I can use the MW wheels (since they are the only ones that come close to the correct tire diameter). The best wheels available are the Dragon, MIG and Calibre72 wheels, though each also has it faults.
Of course, if my reference measurements are not correct, then this entire article is just as worthless as those CMK wheels.
Postscript: I have just learned that another set of replacement resin wheels has recently been released by the Czech company Professional Models. If I ever get one of these sets, I'll revise this article to include them.