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MiniArt Soviet Ball Tank “Sharotank”

Review of the 1/35 scale fictional armor kit — one of the most unique subjects on the market
Model companies are always trying to find something no one else has made, thus the many so-called “paper panzers” on the market. Now MiniArt rolls out a Soviet ball tank or “Sharotank.” This vehicle is fictional, but a captured German ball tank is in Russia’s Kubinka Tank Museum.

The plastic here was less brittle than previous MiniArt kits I’ve built, and I only broke one part removing it from the sprue. The kit’s directions do a good job of calling out the proper color for most small details and give color recommendations for nine paint brands.

The tank consists of an inner frame containing an engine, crew seats, and track rollers. This is sandwiched between two half spheres that contain the armament, ammunition, radiator, and fuel cells. Construction starts with the detailed engine, but the oil pan needs filing to sit flat.

There’s play in the placement of the motor mounts (C13 and Ca17). If they are not glued evenly the motor will not sit properly on its frame. There’s not much surface area to glue the engine to the frame, so glue the drive wheel housing in place on the frame before the engine.

Seats for the anti-tank guns are small with their footrests hitting a 1/35 scale figure behind the knees. Once interior components are painted, the two frame halves are glued together.

The housings for the machine guns and cannons are meant to be movable, but I glued them in place for ease of painting. Be careful though, if the guns are mispositioned they may interfere with the inner frame once the spheres are in place. Also, be sure to glue the shell racks tilting down or the shells will not fit. The doors can be posed open or closed.

Step 37 shows the headlight being attached, but the part does not have the base shown in the picture. I made one from styrene strip. The clear lens was marred by a bubble.

Separate slide-molded flash suppressors allow the machine guns to slip through the hull. I drilled a shallow hole in the suppressor’s back to improve the bond.

After the outrigger wheels are glued together, they are supposed to slide into the fenders, but I had to sand the sides for fit. The tracks are supplied in four solid sections that attach around the frame. Gaps showed up between them that I filled with scrap styrene. You’ll also need to sand the tracks flat for the tank to sit properly, if not on its base.

There are six marking choices, four Russian, one Polish, and one for a captured German vehicle. I chose markings for a mobile checkpoint of the Belorussian front, 1944, painting the camouflage with Tamiya and Vallejo acrylics.

The decals didn’t want to come off the backing, so I let them soak longer than usual. However, they are thin and disappear under a flat coat. My decal sheet was damaged, so I hand-painted touch-ups to cover the mishaps.

This was an enjoyable build of an unusual model. I spent 33.5 hours on it, most of the time spent painting and weathering the interior. The build was not complex. Anyone with a few kits under their belt should have little problem building it.

Note: A version of this review appeared in the September 2019 issue.
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