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Soviet Ball Tank with Winter Ski (40008) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models This is a hypothetical design from an alternative reality where ball-tanks were practical, and although there are some quite realistic looking pictures out there on the web, this is a decidedly fictional or "what-if" design for a small infantry tank that might have been quite handy for approaching bunkers or installations with significant light weapons presence. It does appear to have some weaknesses though, such as the little outrigger wheels that if shot out, would result in a seriously dizzy crew at best, so it's probably for the best that it remains in the realms of the fantastic. The ball hull is static, with a large wide track running around the circumference, propelled by the motor inside. There would be some serious torque transfer to the hull on acceleration or deceleration, but as this doesn't seem to adversely affect those big-wheel motorcycles, it wouldn't be a huge impediment, especially as the majority of the hull won't be moving. There is a crew of five, with the top-most crew member in each side running the weapons stations, and the front-facing crew driving and operating the forward machine gun. The final rear-facing crew operates another machine-gun that faces to the rear. Oddly, the main guns face sideways in ball-mounts, which would make shooting straight ahead difficult without cooperation from the driver, which could be tricky in such a confined, noisy environment. In reality, it would probably have been a massive failure, but it's interesting nonetheless. This being a Soviet design of course it comes equipped with Skis for the winter! The Kit This is the third of this subject from MiniArt, who usually keep their subjects in reality, or at least prototype form. A lot of effort has been put into making it appear real however, including a complete interior, which gives the model a bit more gravitas and believability than an empty shell would have done, and also opens up the possibility for dioramas or vignettes. The kit arrives in standard sized MiniArt box, with a yellow/sand colour scheme, and inside are 23 sprues in mid grey styrene of various sizes, a single sprue of clear parts, and a decal sheet. The instruction booklet is bound in a colourful glossy cover, with greyscale drawings inside, and the decal options printed on the inside covers front and back. Detail is really nice for a relatively small kit, and I have to say that this is just the kind of silliness that appeals to me, as it is at least semi-believable and just a little bit left-field. Construction begins with the engine, which is quite a complex assembly, and has a large friction roller at the rear to apply power to the track. The crew seats are built up next, and then attached to the main frame, which consists of two large hoops with cross-members to retain its shape. Track rollers are fitted to the inside of the frames, and the engine, seats and ancillary equipment are all suspended from this. Ammo racks for the main guns are built up at the same time as the gun breeches and the machine guns, which also have spare ammo cans made up, and all these sub-assemblies are installed into the hull halves, which have cut-outs for the ball-mounts, a radiator grille (backed with a fairly standard looking radiator), and conformal fuel tank. In the centre of each side is a crew hatch that is operated by a wheel, with arched hinges and interlock parts included. With the breeches and machine guns fitted from the inside, and the hatches put in their required positions, the halves are glued to the frames, and the hollow tipped gun barrels are added, plus a headlight with clear lens for night operations (ha!). The track is supplied in four parts with a straight tread and matching joins to minimise clean-up. The four parts glue around the open section of the hull, with a scrap diagram showing the correct location on the lip, and of course the two skis that stop it from tipping over. That's all there is to it! Markings As it's all fiction, it's probably more a case of choosing the scheme that appeals to you, and as there are a choice of six, it should be pretty easy. You can of course mix and match decals and scheme, as no-one (sane) is going to be complaining that it isn't accurate! From the box you can build one of the following: 1st Separate Armd Div of Ball tanks. Red Army, Eastern Front, winter 1942/43 Red Army, Unknown Unit 1942-46 3rd Single Div Ball Tanks, Soviet Navy 1942-46 Captured Combat Vehicle. Wehrmacht unit, Eastern Front, winter 1943./44 2nd Separate Armd Div of Ball tanks. Red Army, Eastern Front, winter 1942/43 Captured Combat Vehicle. Finnish Army, Karelia Winter 1944. Decals are by Decograf, with good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed areas. The shark mouth is going to be quite popular, I'd expect. Taken from MiniArt's website Conclusion An awesome trip into alternative history that's got a certain hokey appeal, partly because it looks like it could possibly have worked. The internal structure has been well thought-out, and the variation in decal options makes for a fun project that shouldn't take too long to complete. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
I picked one of these up and thought it would be a bit of fun, I wasn’t disappointed it’s a really nice build. It’s got a full interior with plenty of detail, my plan is to do it in a battle of Berlin. Toppled over with a dazed crew bailing out with some Volkssturm troops to capture them.