Wheels on the ground are the best way to gather quality reconnaissance information, deploy fast moving patrols, maneuver behind enemy lines etc. Since the SAS desert raids in the WWII small wheeled vehicles began to be very important in the military role. One of the iconic vehicles that still cracks on is the Land Rover with its myriad of variants serving still today in Afghanistan in its original combat purpose.
What began as an upgrade program by Ricardo Vehicle Engineering – the RDV (Rapid Deployment Vehicle) gradually evolved into a Land Rover Wolf WMIK – Weapons Mount Installation Kit by 1999. WMIK’s feature strengthened chassis outriggers, roll cage fittings and weapon mounts. Typically the vehicle will carry any of the .50 cal heavy machine gun, 7.62 mm General Purpose Machine Gun (GPMG), Automatic Lightweight Grenade Launchers (ALGL) or on the occasion the MILAN ATGM on the rear ring-mount, with an additional pintle mounted GPMG on the front passenger side.
These vehicles have become a symbol of British forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. In keeping with their hearts and minds philosophy they were chosen for patrol duties instead of armored fighting vehicles such the Warrior IFV.
Latest variants are the E-WMIK, and the R-WMIK that feature new alloy wheels, automatic gearbox, four man crew and the 2.5 liter engine replaced with a 2.8 liter unit as the vehicle weighs 4.7 tonnes.
Wheels & tires
DEF Model’s resin replacement tires are modeled after the latest wheel update for the WMIK series. The original fit was the 7.50x16 Goodyear G90 tire on a standard steel HD vented rim, however due to the lower quality the tire was changed to Michelin XCL and finally to 235/85/16 Michelin XZL O/R presented here, a long-wearing all-terrain radial tire family for tactical wheeled vehicles. Some of the features of the XZL, are:
• Self-cleaning, open shoulder tread design features offset elements to help enhance traction and floatation capabilities on varied terrains including snow, sand, mud and highway,
• All-terrain, non-directional tread design for added versatility,
• Full-width steel belts and elastic protector ply help provide extra casing protection against most off-road hazards (four steel plies for the tread and a single steel ply for the sidewalls),
• Buttressed shoulder blocks that offer extra sidewall protection,
• Load rating for a single tire of 3750 lbs,
• Tubeless construction compatible with Central Tire Inflation systems and bead locks and/or run-flat devices.
Please refer to references when looking for this tire. It’s easier to find a single middle-line plug. The ones depicted here are called somewhere 4-lug pattern tread. Everything else mentioned in this review is common for the entire XZL family.
To further lighten the load, tires are mated onto aluminum alloy rims. These are called Blindo (Italian for strong/tough/armored) and are made in Italy by a company called Arcasting for an English company - Silverline 4x4. To withstand the rigors of off-road use the alloy rims are made of prime aluminum with a 7% silicon mix, low pressure casted, nitrogen de-gassed and undergo multiple heat treatments to withstand a 1550 kg weight-drop test as a final measure of quality. The complete rim weighs 14.3 kg and once shipped to UK, is fitted to front-line vehicles ready for shipment to Afghanistan. These are also commercially available and go for ~ 149 £ a piece.
This update set comes in a small cardboard box with a nice picture of a built HobbyBoss kit featuring the resin wheel set. There is an awkward caption that could lead to a misunderstanding as it states there are 6 wheel parts in the box.
The contents are:
• 4 wheels
• 1 spare wheel
• 1 roll-cage side mount for the spare wheel
• set of wheel masks
The wheels are small in appearance if you are used to beefy Humvee tires. They are cast beautifully with absolutely no casting defects what so ever. The molding plugs are long and thin, centrally positioned on the tire so when you remove the plug no sidewall detail will be destroyed in the way. Each pair of wheels is letter coded with A or B on the plugs, while the spare is blank, so no mix-up will happen. There is some flash present between the thin spokes but removal will be easy with a sharp blade. The lettering on the sidewalls is clear and sharp and has the correct MICHELIN protruding lettering. According to some reference photos I found on the web, it is incomplete (lacking the tread type and size), but this shouldn’t be a big problem. A nice detail is the sagging on the road wheels while the spare has none. This is delicate enough to show some wheel load, but not like some wheels that are semi-deflated. The spare wheel side-mount bracket is a simple affair, thin enough and without any warping for such a small and thin part.
The instructions are not for the wheel placement which is a matter of simple logic, but rather for a nice detail and which are the painting masks. This is quite a welcome thing and DEF Models should be an example to other manufacturers for adding this small yet very useful thing. On a small sheet of masking tape (very similar to Tamiya masking tape if not the same) are 5 concentric wheel masks. Each is made up of 2 parts, smaller – inner, larger – outer with a cut notch present. Usage is very simple:
1) paint rim color on one side
2) place smaller mask A
3) paint tire color all over
4) mask tire using mask B
5) paint rim on the other side
If you’re careful you could probably use this mask for more than one model.
This set is quite useful if you want to update your WMIK model to a more recent version. There are examples out there with 15 (more common?) as well as 12 spokes so don’t sweat it if you see something different on your reference pics. If you’re careful you could probably use the provided masks for more than one model. This update is not to be used without more resin sets that update your model depending on the time frame, but for us that would like to build a more recent vehicle it’s really good. It’s affordable, looks good, simple to use, has paint masks and is a no-brainer in my book.