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Wednesday, 02 December 2015 01:50

TOMAHAUK: THE OFF-ROAD WAR BIRD

Written by Kristie Bertucci | Photos: Dale Martin & Eric Warren

Kenny Hauk isn’t one to live off of old accolades.

Instead the master fabricator and his Hauk Designs team are always looking toward the future and thinking of new ways of push the limits on their project vehicle. “The thrill for me is in the build, so as soon as I’m done with one, I’m already thinking about the next one,” he admits. His previous Project Phóinīx was an award-winning, trail-devouring vehicle that took the off-roading industry by storm, but now the renowned mastermind is back with an entirely new Jeep that’s even more bold and brazen than ever.

“Our goal has always been to break new ground and stretch the limits with our off-road builds,” Kenny says, mentioning that Hauk Designs was the first company to install a 24-valve Cummins crate engine into a JK Wrangler.

With over eight years of experience building numerous high-powered hot-rod style rock crawlers, the 2010 Jeep JK takes inspiration and pays homage to vintage war planes from WWII and has been christened “Tomahauk”. “Those planes were amazing machines with tons of incredible details. You often see people try to emulate the style with decals and painted on rivets. Our desire was to build something truly authentic with real rivets and with real vintage airplane parts incorporated into the design.”

To perfect the authenticity of its warbird design, Kenny scoured the Internet for pictures of vintage WWII aircraft and studied the markings and cockpit designs on every vehicle that has since then incorporated cues and parts from these fighter planes and bombers. He would even spend days on end rummaging through old crates of antique parts from various sellers in search for the perfect pieces to use on his own creation.

With the exterior design fully thought out, he then pinpointed the products that would turn the JK into a vintage warbird capable of handling any terrain. As Hauk Design’s first fully hydraulic all-wheel steering build, Kenny and his crew heavily relied on their friends Sean Stapley and Matt Hodges from West Texas Off Road to design Redneck Ram hydraulic steering assist system for the JK and the result was “amazing.”

Hydraulic steering is nothing new in the off-roading world, but it has recently exploded in popularity among many builders because of its benefit in producing more steering force, which is important for 4x4s like “Tomahauk” with huge tires (44x19.50x17 Pitbull tires wrapped around 17” TIS Monster Edition wheels, to be exact), locker differentials, and the ability to properly control and steer in challenging terrain. If designed properly, a hydraulic steering system can add to one’s enjoyment of a day on the rocks or dirt.


“Many off-road racers choose this setup since it can be adjusted to suit racing or crawling, allowing for better control. However, it is not recommended for on-road use since it can be over responsive on pavement.”


Other essential modifications that help it tackle the most technical of terrains include: a Rock Krawler suspension and custom long arm system with 3” rear and 3” front stretch and 16” coilovers; Steinjäger front and rear steering arm system; 1-ton Ford Kingpin Dana 60 front axle with Artec Industries axle trusses plus Yukon gears, Grizzly locker, Yukon lockouts and shafts; and 1 ton GM 14-bolt rear axle with Dodge Dana 60 Knuckles with Yukon gears, Grizzly locker, Yukon shafts and Yukon lockouts.

To make “Tomahauk” come alive, HID projector headlights provide it with menacing red glowing eyes, while Kenny’s good friends, David and Vanessa from Encline Designs and Vané Pinstriping, did all the hand lettering and airbrushing on the Jeep’s full-aluminum body armor custom-made by River Raider Off Road. Original B-17 Flying Fortress oxygen tanks were also used as fuel tanks. Inside, an original machine gun charging handle from a B-24 bomber allows the driver to shift gears and custom JAZ Products racing seats were split in half, widened and riveted back together to look like authentic bomber seats - further displaying Kenny’s eye for intricate details in his builds.

After finding a vintage WWII radio, Kenny knew he wanted to incorporate it into the build and asked the team at Sounds So-Good Car Audio in Waynesboro, PA to design a sound system around that radio, which now controls the entire system. A few B-24 steering yoke buttons also control volume of the complete MATTS Pro Audio speaker system and track selection on the hidden head unit.

With over $100K in modifications, “Tomahauk” took a total of three months to complete, but it was still a race against the clock to complete it on time for its unveiling at the 2014 SEMA Show. “We had an overwhelming response,” Kenny said after its big debut. “It seems to draw people from all ages and backgrounds, but especially those who have actually flown in a vintage aircraft or collect airplane memorabilia from that era.”

A huge success at SEMA, Tomahauk” is scheduled to be properly tuned and tested on dirt and rocks to see what it’s really capable of at the 2015 Easter Jeep Safari in Moab, UT. “We will have the Jeep completely dialed in so that it can tackle some of the nastiest trails our country has to offer. I must say, it is going to be hard to top this next year.”


GEAR: 2010 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited “Tomahauk”

Tires and Wheels
  • 44x19.50x17 Pitbull tires
  • 17'' TIS Monster wheels
Suspension
  • 1-Ton Ford Kingpin Dana 60 front axle
  • Artec Industries truss/full hydro ram mount
  • Yukon Gear & Axle gears, grizzly locker, Yukon lockouts and shafts
  • 1 ton GM 14-bolt rear axle with Dodge Dana 60 knuckles
  • All wheel steering system with full hydro control built by Red Neck Ram steering systems
  • Front and Rear 1350 JE Reel driveshafts
  • Rock Krawler Suspension Custom Long Arm System with 3'' rear stretch and 3'' front stretch
  • Rock Krawler 16'' coilovers front and rear
  • Steinjäger steering arm system front and rear
  • Artec Industries high steer arms and truss system front and rear
Performance
  • LS3 Crate Engine with Turbo Pros twin T4 turbos
  • Tial waste-gates and blow-off valves
  • Mishimoto aluminum radiator
  • Tail Gunner Turbo intakes
  • 4L80E auto transmission that is shifted with an original B-24 machine gun charging handle
  • Advance Adapters Atlas 2 speed transfer case with original T6 warbird flap control levers for shifters
Lighting
  • Custom HID Projectors Halo HID headlights
  • Max-Bilt Trail Tail taillights
Exterior
  • Warn 10S Zeon winch
  • Strike Force Zebra doors skinned with custom aluminum body work by Hauk Designs and River Raider Off Road
  • Full Aluminum body armor custom made by River Raider Off Road and installed by Hauk Designs
  • 3652 real aluminum rivets hand installed by Kenny Hauk
  • Custom aluminum front bumper by River Raider Off-Road with molded in bomber wing tips
  • JAZ Racing center fuel tank with two WWII bomber oxygen tanks as auxiliary fuel tanks
  • Drake hood latch pins and Drake fire extinguisher mount
  • Vintage style hand-painted lettering by Vané Pinstriping
  • Airbrushed and hand-painted nose art by David Morgan at Encline Designs
  • VIAIR continuous duty on board air system with 2.5 gallon custom bomb air tanks
Interior
  • Custom JAZ racing seats that have been split in half, widened and riveted back together to look like authentic aluminum bomber seats by Hauk Designs
  • Star Fabricating custom OD green diamond-stitched leather inserts on the seats
  • Real vintage airplane gauges, levers, seat belts, B-24 steering yokes, switches, lights, tanks, buttons and headsets
  • Hauk Designs custom-built DOM roll cage
Audio
  • Matts Pro Audio system installed and designed by Ben Messler at Sound So Good Audio
  • The WWII area radio actually controls the entire sound system and the red buttons on the B24 steering yokes control the volume and track selection
  • (2) Optima Batteries Yellowtop deep cycle batteries fitted by a Genesis Offroad JK Dual battery kit

Sources
Hauk Designs | www.haukdesigns.com • MMATS Pro Audio | www.mmatsproaudio.com • Optima Batteries | www.optiomabatteries.com • VIAIR | www.viaircorp.com JAZ | www.jazproducts.com • River Raider Off-Road | www.riverraider.com • Strike Force Zebra | www.strikeforcezebra.com • Max-Bilt Trail | www.maxbilt.com Warn | www.warn.com • Advance Adapters | www.advancedapters.com • Tail Gunner | www.tailgunnerexhaust.com Mishimoto | www.mishimoto.com • Artec Industries | www.artecindustries.com Steinjäger | www.steinjager.com • Pitbull Tires | www.pitbulltires.com TIS Wheels | www.tiswheels.com • Yukon Gear and Axle | www.yukongear.com • Rock Krawler Suspension | www.rockkrawler.com

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