Thursday, 21 June 2018

Mixing up your Jeep wheels

British jeeps, unlike their US counterparts, were often seen with a mismatch of tyres; sometimes even on the same axle. This is very common on the LRDG / SAS jeeps where the harsh desert conditions would be particularly wearing on tyres and replacements were limited to whatever was available. These two pictures of SAS jeeps are great examples of tyre mismatch.

So what options do we have available to replicate this and how do they compare? As you will see below, there is a great deal of disparity between tread patterns and wheel hub design in these kits and aftermarket sets, particularly on the rear wheel hub.


For the purposes of this article Tamiya really only have two contenders, their ancient "British Special Air Service Jeep" and the more recent "Willys MB 1/4 Ton 4x4 Truck".

 As you would expect, the older SAS version of the jeep is very dated and not really up to scratch compared to modern offerings.

Probably the most useful and easiest to obtain, the Tamiya Willys MB Jeep is a great little kit and captures most of the detail of this vehicle very well. As you would expect, it is based on a US spec vehicle with the associated standard bar-grip tyre tread. For clarity, in this article if I refer to one of the aftermarket kits being designed to fit the Tamiya kit, it is this one.

Tamiya Front and Rear wheels, note the difference in the hub design.


Dragon have several offerings in their "Jeep" range, unfortunately their availability is sporadic and although they are excellent kits, they are also expensive coming it at approximately twice the price of the Tamiya kit. I'll focus on their British SAS jeeps here, the remainder are again US bar grip.

For all intents and purposes these two kits are pretty much the same, the only real difference is the weapons fit and the figures. These kits come with a full set of bar grip tyres but also have a set of multi-part "road" tyres too. These consist of several disks that, when placed together, create a radial tread pattern perfectly. The rear wheel also has two different hub options, depending on your preference.

Tamiya wheel (Left), Dragon bar grip (Right)

Multi-part "road" tyres and optional hub parts


Their ETO version of this kit only contains the US spec bar grip tyres.


Data to follow


Data to follow


Contained within their excellent SAS Jeep conversion set are wheels with a road type tread designed to replace the wheels on the Tamiya kit. As this conversion set contains enough parts to equip two vehicles, there are four tyres included. Note however that the wheel hubs on these suggest they are replacements for the front only.

DEF Model

Def model make some lovely resin wheels with one unique feature we haven't seen as yet, they are weighted. The slight bulge to the bottom of the tyre is a subtle feature but adds something a little special. My only reservation with this set is the rear hub design, I'm really not sure about it, to me it looks too similar to the front one. Despite what it says on the box these resin wheels are designed to fit the Dragon kits but with a little surgery can be made to fit the Tamiya one.

Def sagged wheels Rear (left) and Front (Right) and alongside the Tamiya wheels. Note again the rear hub.



The only Resicast wheel I have to hand is a spare from the Popski's Private Army Jeep conversion. A little too square edged for my liking but it does have another unique tread design.


So, there are the main players. For me, the best option to represent an SAS/LRDG road type tyre would be from either of the Desert SAS jeeps, if you can find the kit. Alternatively, if you want to show the weighted tyres go for the Def model set but I would be tempted to replace the rear hub on these.