by: Jason Bobrowich [ ]
We have all heard the songs such as Watching the Road Wheels by John Lennon; Road Wheels of Life by Gino Vanelli; Road Wheels of Steel by Saxon; and many more great hits over the years. Tank road wheels have been an important part of pop culture since mid 20th century.
All kidding aside, tank road wheels are a vital component of the mobility of a tank. In the real world road wheels work in cooperation with the track in order to assist in keeping it rolling. Connected to the primary suspension support arms the road wheels are important in that they provide a level of shock absorption after the initial ground impact with the tracks. In the modelling world road wheels on a tank should simulate the weight of the tank by sitting solidly on the track. The road wheels can be fresh looking or have chipped and worn rubber surfaces if applicable. They may have leaky hubs or caked on the inside with mud. Details on the face of the road wheels are defined by smooth curves, raised bolt detail, and visible edges of the rims.
On the flip side, who looks on the backside of the road wheel for details? Most of this location is hidden away under the tank and is not subject to a great deal of scrutiny by the viewers or judges. For the discerning modeller this has been a feature completely overlooked by all Leopard model producers and aftermarket vendors…until now.
The lack of detail on the back side of the road wheels and idler wheels was an opportunity that did not escape the Leopard Workshop with the release of their Leopard 1 replacement road wheels.
It is important to know that the detail provided on the inner road wheels and idler wheels is not actually part of the road wheel. The real road wheel simply has a concave inner surface with bolt holes and the rear of the road wheel is flat. When two road wheels are mounted together on the suspension the flat surfaces are together. The details shown on the back side of the Leopard Workshop road wheels are in fact the rear of the circular mounting plate that has the attachment bolts. This plate and bolt assembly fits over the suspension arm spindle shaft and planetary gear. The road wheel hub is then mounted over the spindle and planetary gear to complete the assembly. When the inner and outer road wheels are mounted on the bolts and then a circular retaining plate is placed on the outer road wheel. Bolts are then attached to secure everything together. These details can be seen in the images of the suspension of a Canadian Leopard C2 I provided in the review.
Packaged in a little box just the right size to fit a full set of replacement road wheels and a small set of instructions there is no wasted space with this set.
The set provides a full replacement set of road wheels and idler wheels. That means 14 x outer road wheels, 14 x inner road wheels with the back side detail, 2 x outer idler wheels, and 2 x inner idler wheels with the back side detail.
The majority of the leg work has been done for the modeller as most remnants of casting blocks has been removed. Clean up overall will be quick and painless with some minor sanding required and any residual thin film of resin removed from the centre. Assembly after cleanup is a piece of cake and you simply need to match up the inner and outer road wheels.
The surfaces of the road wheels and idler wheels are smooth. This is an advantage over the Italeri and Revell of Germany parts that have horizontal grooves around the circumference. No need to spend time filling and sanding anymore!
I did a quick eye ball comparison of the Leopard Workshop road wheels with the Meng, Takom, and Italeri road wheels. The circumferences all appear the same. The width of the road wheels has the Leopard Workshop road wheels a touch wider than the Meng, and Takom road wheels. The big difference can be seen when comparing the Italeri/Revell of Germany road wheels with the Leopard Workshop road wheels. The Leopard Workshop road wheels are visibly wider than the Italeri versions making them look much more solid.
Attachment of the road wheels to your Leopard kit of choice is plainly and simply laid out in the instructions. Whether you use an Italeri, Revell of Germany, Meng, or Takom kit the suspension arm mounts will need to be trimmed to 3 mm (according to the instructions) in order for the road wheels to fit properly. The idler wheels should fit without any modification on the Meng and Takom kits.
Is this set worth buying? Yes, for several reasons, including no need to fill and sand grooves, the obvious fact of back side detail, and a more realistic road wheel width. With the Meng and Takom kits having workable suspension components the ability for Leopard Workshop to be posed with the suspension articulated will lend itself to having the inner portion of the road wheels exposed. The details provided in this set will enhance the look of the suspension if the inner components are exposed.
I hope we see more Leopard aftermarket parts from Leopard Workshop such as spare road wheels, side skirts with inside detail to show them flipped up, and perhaps even an open driver’s tool box.