by: James Bella [ ]
Quick Wheel has quite an extensive line-up of brand/kit specific masks to simplify the task of painting road wheels. This specific mask, QW-008, is manufactured for the Dragon Pz 38(t)/Marder III family of vehicles, and even though only six specific kit numbers are listed, this mask will perform well on the other DML kits that share the same size wheels.
A prominent feature of the 38(t) is its large road wheels, and this mask will hold all eight wheels and up to four return rollers in one shot…a complete vehicles worth. Dragon has two style road wheels as can be seen in the images: the older style (kit wise) which has a single lip between the wheel and tire, and the improved wheels in the later kits that have a lip for the wheel and the slight bulge where the tire is mated to the wheel. Both styles were used for this review.
The Quick Wheel mask comes packaged in a zip-lock bag with a card stock backer and header. The mask is constructed of, what appears to me, a hardboard material similar to tempered Masonite (although water resistant) and covered on the front with a thin blue vinyl. It proved to be very durable, as I used the upper half of the mask about a dozen times repainting the same wheels over and over, and it’s still as usable as the lower half. No instructions are included, and really none are needed. Using the mask is very straightforward; after painting the tires simply pop the wheels in the holes from the back (black side), turn the mask over and paint away (blue side).
The first time I used the mask the wheels were a very snug fit, which if you push too hard the vinyl can become distorted. I did find that the vinyl has some memory, and will revert back to its original form after a little rest. After that first time, the fit was almost to the point that friction wouldn’t hold them in place and a blast from the airbrush could push them right out the back. This didn’t affect the performance for me as I airbrush directly on a flat surface, but something to take into consideration. What was odd, the fit was the same in all the holes even though I only used the top half. Moisture from the paint and/or clean-up may have some effect.
The vinyl around the return roller openings seemed a bit ragged and I expected a problem right from the beginning. Sure enough, a dry fit showed a space around the rim and the wheel was slightly off-center…and the paint followed suit. Not a real big deal, but a clean line is the purpose of these masks. All four holes had the same basic flaw, and I checked the fit with return rollers from multiple kits.
One area that makes these masks a real gem is when doing camouflage. I used to paint the camo on all the wheels while airbrushing the vehicle and then do the tire part afterwards using a paintbrush, since a circle template will only allow doing one at a time. With this mask, camo can be applied to all the wheels while doing the main vehicle and not having to worry about painting the tires later.
As far as clean-up is concerned, wiping down with a paper towel and Q-tip with the appropriate thinner works well, and rinsing under the tap with cool water had no ill effect. Check to make sure the ‘inside’ of the holes are free of excess paint and thinner too, a Q-tip works well to clean that up. Be warned, fibers and lint like to stick to the vinyl mask. Isopropyl alcohol, Tamiya acrylic and lacquer thinners, mineral spirits, Medea airbrush cleaner and plain tap water all worked without causing any problems with the vinyl or backing.
The mask performed more than adequate time after time on the road wheels, not so well on the return rollers. If I planned on only building one or two of the DML 38(t)’s, I wouldn’t be able to justify the cost of these masks versus the fairly easy to paint road wheels. With all the offerings from Dragon in the 38(t) family (and who can build only one or two of these!) along with the ease of use especially if painting a camo scheme, the Quick Wheel mask makes sense to invest in. If not abused, they should give plenty of good service for quite a few models worth of wheels.