How to make realistic Aircraft wheels in 1/48

How to make realistic Aircraft wheels in 1/48

It's the little things that make a model interesting. Consistent details that fit into a model. When I opened the box of my current project, I was full of anticipation. It is an old model from the last century, with a little love and affection it can be turned into a beautiful model. While I was looking over the components, a lot was wondering about something that was not at all possible. The tires were round! Admitted dimensions at that time standard for aircraft models. You can find out how to make really good model tires out of here!

Tires on the original aircraft

How to make realistic Aircraft wheels in 1/48

Let's look at the landing gear of an A400M. The tires are under load. What we notice when we take a closer look is that the tires are not round.

How to make realistic Aircraft wheels in 1/48

I put a circle the diameter of the wheels over the picture. It clearly shows the wheels are flattened below by the weight of the aircraft.

Aircraft tires are usually tubeless tires with air inflation. The tires have been filled with nitrogen since the 1990s. Nitrogen is said to reduce the risk of fire.

The tires get very hot during the loading process and the volume of air increases. If the tires were full, they would burst on landing. => low tire pressure and the weight of the aircraft leads to flattened tires.

The solution: flatten the wheels on the aircraft model!

How to make realistic Aircraft wheels in 1/48

The left wheel is a flattened one, the right one from the kit. While the right one looks like a toy, you think the left one is a wheel under load. Fast, simple and easy to implement. It is an effective trick to represent a model credibly. Especially when the model is on an airfield diorama.

Painting step by step

Flattening the wheel is a first, important step. The painting is decisive for the effect.

Prime with Airbrush and Revell Auqa Color

How to make realistic Aircraft wheels in 1/48

We start with the airbrush. The following colors from the Revell Aqua Color are used:

  • Tar black 06
  • Panzergrau 78
  • Aluminum 90

The tar black is applied over the entire wheel. It acts as a primer and provides more depth in the area of the rim. The very dark gray is sprayed onto the tread and discreetly on the wheel sides. To paint the rims, I cut masking tape.

Details with the brush

How to make realistic Aircraft wheels in 1/48

With the brush, I painted the area of the rim dry with silver 99. A washing with Drak Wash followed. Dark Wash is a mixture that I made myself. You can find out how to do this under "Magic Wash". The position of the valve was still marked in red on the wheel.

Last but not least, I applied light oil paint with a brush. After the lighter fluid had evaporated, I was able to remove the excess paint with a cloth. Finally, I painted the tread dry with Panzergrau.

Kit wheels can be quickly and easily converted into realistic replicas.

Video on the subject

This colleague is pursuing a somewhat different path. I'm curious which way you choose.

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Best wishes


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