Steel wheels for M46/47/48/60 family, type 1

Elefant 35064
1/35 scale

The review sample set I received from Elefant Corporation was an early copy, so I received it without any instructions, but it’s pretty obvious how to put the parts together, so it’s not a problem.

The parts in the set represent a standard pressed steel 26” diameter wheel as used on all Patton family tanks, including M60 (which technically were not Pattons…) and were also used on M26 Pershings (although typically with a mud shield, which changed their appearance). In the set we get 14 complete wheels – 12 for road wheels and 2 for idlers, which on those tanks were identical to road wheels. Each wheel comes in three parts: outer wheel, inner wheel and a hub. Elefant offer two versions of this set (35064 and 35065), which represent two slightly different styles of steel wheel pressing. The difference between sets is very small though. The hub included in the 35064 set I received is the final type as used on M60 tanks. Elefant have plans to also soon offer earlier type hubs, including the M48 ones, but at this moment all sets come with this one style. This means that if you plan to use this set with M48 model now, you need to modify the parts slightly (add the lubricating port on top of each hub dome). Also, if you want to use the set with earlier tanks i.e. M46 or M47, please keep in mind that those tanks originally had slightly different, earlier style of hub caps.

The parts were originally CAD designed and 3D printed, but in the set we get cast resin copies of printed masters. Extremely fine printing layer lines are visible on parts under high magnification, but not with the naked eye.

Careful cleanup is required for wheel parts, not just to remove casting blocks from tires, but also to eliminate thin resin film from wheels center holes. The center flanges on wheels are very thin too – be careful not to damage them while removing the resin film! Once you remove the resin pouring block from the tire, you may need to use a sanding stick to smoothen the “rubber” around it, as in some parts there is a noticeable line there – probably the result of a small crack in the silicone mold.

To assemble parts, you first need to attach the hub part to the inner (inboard?) wheel. There are ten tiny pins around the hub part flange and corresponding holes in the wheel (exactly where the bolt holes are in real wheels). In my set the tolerances of diameters are a bit too tight and to assemble the parts without risking breaking the delicate resin wheel flange, I enlarged the holes just very slightly with a reamer. Then the parts fit perfectly and pins are flush with the surface of the wheel once properly set in their holes. Once the inner wheel and hub are together, you add the outer wheel onto the hub and you are done. The outer wheel can be attached to the hub and inner wheel at any position – no need to rotate them to any specific angle to make them fit, as contact surfaces are flat.

The complete wheel looks excellent. As far as I can tell from my references it’s very accurate in size and shape. The undercut specific to those steel wheels is correctly reproduced. If you compare the wheel to AFV Club M60 kit parts, the difference isn’t big, as the kit parts are very good too, but the Elefant wheels are MUCH better than wheels in any older kit, like Tamiya or Academy M60 ones. Interestingly the wheels in Takom M60 kits, while having separate rings to represent the undercut profile, have noticeably too small bolt heads around hubs and Elefant wheels provide big improvement over them too.

To use the set with any of the mentioned kits, you have to modify the hub part yourself to make it fit on the kit axle. Out of the box Elefant hubs have quite small and shallow hole in the back of the hub, which you have to enlarge yourself to the diameter and depth appropriate for your kit (unlike the BitsKrieg set of M60 wheels, this one does not include any drill bits – you have to find your own bit of proper diameter). For some kits you have to shorten the kit axles, as obviously you cannot drill too deep into the resin hub part. I was told by Vladimir Ziska of Elefant, that for some models you may also want to add small spacer rings on axles, as not all kits have the suspension arms curved sufficiently to attach properly to the accurate deep profile of resin wheels. Elefant are considering providing such spacers in the future, but it’s easy to make your own if your kit requires them.

If you look VERY closely at hub part casting, you may notice small 3D printing flaws, which are copied onto all resin hubs. There is a tiny hole in the hub cap dome, which shouldn’t be there, and two of the small bolt heads around the dome were not fully printed - they are only represented as thin resin “lines”, not full bolt heads. We are talking about bolt heads that are probably no more than 0.3mm wide and the mentioned hole itself is probably only 0.1mm in diameter, so without a magnification you can’t really see any of those flaws - in practice they are completely irrelevant for the final appearance of the product and I just mention them for completness...

While this set requires a bit more work that some of the others available on the market to assemble and adjust to the specific kit, it is very accurate, well cast and provides great improvement over wheels included in most Patton family tanks and related vehicles.

Many thanks to Vladimir Ziska of Elefant Corporation for the review sample!

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