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1:32 WW1 German Spoked Wheels


Jim H
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1:32 Spoked Wheels, German


Spoked Wheel Shop
Available soon from the Spoked Wheel Shop for $100AUS

 

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Without a doubt, the genre of Great War aviation modeling is getting as much attention from aftermarket manufacturers as were the mainstream modeling genres, a few years ago. Before 2009, and the launch of Wingnut Wings, large scale WW1 modellers didn't have much of a choice, and certainly very little in the way of AM sets. Perhaps it's too early to say that 1:32 WW1 modellers are now experiencing a 'golden age', but with this first release from the 'Spoked Wheel Shop', you'd certainly be forgiven for thinking so.

 

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Fokker D.VII

 

It can be quite unusual to see one of those beautiful Albatros, Fokker or Pfalz aircraft without the protective canvas covers that adorned the wheel 'hub' area. They were there for a reason; to protect from airfield debris being thrown up into the wheel, and probably to streamline the wheel too. Having said that, aircraft were indeed known to operate without them, and of course, during maintenance, they would be removed.

 

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Hannover CL.II

 

Have you ever tried to make your own spoked wheels? I haven't, and doubt I could make a convincing enough attempt. The recent Windsock Worldwide has an article on how to try your hand, but it this is all too much for you, then this is where the 'Spoked Wheel Shop' will come in very handy. Before we continue, you will have seen the cost of these at the top of the article. Please don't let this put you off, as you are about to find out why they cost $100AUS, and I think you'll agree that these are pretty exceptional, by anyone's standards.

The Spoked Wheel Shop isn't due to actually launch until the 1sy July this year, but in the interim, we have been lucky enough to receive a set of their 760 x 100 wheels which form their very first release. The operation is run by Steven Robson, a native of Adelaide, Australia, and he has spent the last four years both researching his subject and perfecting the creation of his product. Initially, only small quantities of these will be available, primarily due to the hand-made nature of the product.

 

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Ok, onto the wheels themselves.

 

Steve sends his products packed into small, plastic jewel boxes, with each wheel being contained in a separate box, along with a different size outer wheel. The wheels are also inserted into small sleeves of foam to protect them further. This also aids piece of mind when it comes to purchase, as the wheels themselves, are surprisingly strong. The boxes are also sealed with a length of masking tape. Mine winged their way from Oz, all the way to the UK with zero problem. Shipping also only took a few days too, which is reassuring.

 

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Steve has supplied my review set, as he will with regular sales, with an extra pair of tyres. These wheels are perfectly suitable for German C & D class aircraft. Comparisons of these against the Wingnut Wing kit parts do indeed show a nigh on perfectly sized replacement for these parts. Of course, you will need to slightly modify the axel so that the wheels can be pinned to them with a small length of brass wire.

For your information, German C Type aircraft were fitted with 810 x 125 sized tyres, and D Types used 760 sized tyres. Steve will supply both tyre sizes with his wheel sets.

 

For general information, C Type aircraft were the armed two-seater biplanes, such as the Rumpler C.IV, Halberstadt CL.II, to name the two from WNW's current range. D Type were armed single seat scout/fighter biplanes, such as the Albatros line, Fokker D.VII, Pfalz D.III/a, and the majority of Idflieg fighter types. Exclusions to this rule were generally aircraft such as monoplanes and triplanes (Fokker Dr.1 and Fokker E.I/II/III/IV/V). Steve is currently working on these for release though, but you are looking at around another year, possibly from the date of this review. Steve certainly WON'T release anything until he gets both his research and construction techniques nailed down.

 

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The wheel rims themselves are cast from STERLING SILVER! These are produced using the Lost Wax casting method which is common for many ornate model castings, and because this is silver, it will need to be protected from oxidation which will cause the rim to tarnish. I suggest a light brushing with Klear, or similar, and using this as a base primer before you paint them. The instructions also suggest a chemical mix to add a patina to the rim and brass hub. I can't vouch for the silver, but the Uschi van der Rosten brass blackening fluid would be excellent for the hub. This centre brass hub is finely turned, and the spokes themselves are extremely strong Japanese tri-filament. As you would expect, one side of the wheel exhibits the characteristic cone shaped outer hub, whilst the inner hub is more flat. Check your references though, as it wasn't unknown for aircraft to have these reversed. The outer rim is also recessed as was the real thing.

 

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You can use the rims with the actual WNW kit parts, as the hub diameters correspond. For this, simply cut away the kit hub and trim to the internal tyre diameter, checking against the silver rim for the final fit measurement. Doing this will ensure that your model retains the 'Gothania' or other raised tyre manufacturer mark that the kit is moulded with.

If you wish to use the tyres supplied, you will need to eradicate any soft seam from the circumference, using some fine wet 'n' dry paper, then you'll have to paint them in a mid grey colour. WW1 tyres were generally NOT black.

 

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Comparison with Wingnut Wings Fokker D.VII (OAW) wheel

 

To remove the tyres, which look like perfectly sized O-rings, is simplicity itself. I simply pull the tyre outwards at opposing sides, and use my thumb to gently push the hub/rim outwards. I can do a tyre change in about 30 seconds per wheel. Try getting Kwik-Fit to do that!

A single sheet of A4 is included which explains the construction of the wheel and materials. You will notice that the spokes can be supplied in various materials. As well as the tri-filament we have been sent, you can also choose from a steel alloy or even sterling silver. I suspect the latter is perhaps more of a luxury than as to look authentic. The sheets data is given thus:

 

Technical Data each Wheel

Rim: Lost-wax casting in Sterling Silver, 17mm OD (not including the rim flanges), rim width 2mm,

Hub: Brass 2mm OD with 2 x flanges in 3mm OD

Brass Inner axel 1mm OD (length varies) plus 2 x finishing washers in 2mm OD

Spokes:

  • Option A: 40 x Tri-layer filament (Japan) 0.14mm OD in graphite colour
  • Option B: 40 x Sterling Silver wire 0.2mm OD
  • Option C: 40 x Steel Alloy wire 0.15mm OD, colour natural steel

Tyre:

  • 760's: Rubber O-ring, 17mm ID, round cross-section in 3mm OD
  • 810's's: Rubber O-ring, 17mm ID, round cross-section in 4mm OD

Wheel:

  • Outside Diameter fitted with supplied 760 rubber tyres, 23mm
  • Outside Diameter fitted with supplied 810 rubber tyres, 25mm

Tips

Restore scratched rim patina with 1200 grain Wet & Dry sand paper

Remove the tyre seam by weathering with 240 grain Wet & Dry prior to fitting

Trim and hand drill the kit axel to fit wheels or just replace the kit part with 2mm OD (1.1mm ID) brass tube

Use the kit tyres by making a donut to fit your wheels

Weather the rim and hub with Liver of Sulphur or oil paint wash to darken.

Paint the rim grey/green after priming first with floor polish

 

So what do we think?

When I showed this set of wheels to a site staff member, he described them as being perhaps the ultimate in aftermarket for Great War aviation modellers. There can be no doubt that this product is aimed at the modeller who wishes to lavish a lot of time and expense of his/her project, but at the same time affords a modeller with limited bench time, the chance to fit a set of authentic looking, and totally accurate spoked wheels. The surgery needed to fit these is minimal, and only a length of brass wire or stiff brass/steel rod is required to fit, along with a suitable size micro drill bit.

 

This is a simple solution to what most modellers would find a nightmare to achieve, and one which must be now highly tempting. The possibilities are endless, especially for depicting maintenance dioramas, or those with decommissioned. As I write, I know there are other producers of spoked wheels, but for sheer craftsmanship and quality, I think my friend really was right about about these: the ultimate AM upgrade for your pride and joy.

 

Extremely highly recommended

 

My sincere thanks to the Spoked Wheel Shop for the review sample used here. To buy directly, head over to the SWS home on WW1 Aircraft Forums, and form an orderly queue at the door. Sales open from July 1st 2013

 

James H.

 

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Hi David,

 

Yes, with current exchange rates, you're about on the nail.

 

The sterling silver element of them will add to the cost, as well as the expense of the filament. I should be rolling these out (pun intended) on my Fokker D.VII in the next month or two.

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