The explosion in popularity of the World of Tanks on-line game continues to pay dividends to tank modellers, especially those who like rare or never previously produced designs that didn't bear a swastika. As part of Tactical Press in Moscow, several authors have been releasing rather involved design and service books on Soviet AFV's as well as the German Maus over the past year. After much teasing on line we get almost 300 pages on Soviet experimental spherical and disc shaped AFV's.
First things first, it is entirely in Russian. If you do not speak Russian (as I do not) you will be either looking at the pictures or laboriously using translation software to get a rather dodgy text (tower for turret and so forth). Second thing is that it is difficult to find these books for order. They do show up on eBay and you can order them directly from Viktor Kulikov as I did. Shipping isn't cheap, running almost $20 as well. Third is that there are rumours that this was all an elaborate hoax by the author. The author denies this and I have to say, to generate the sheer number of blueprints and drawings (many in very different artistic styles) it frankly seems easier to believe that the research is legit. Heck, why can only the Germans be allowed to spend endless time coming up with ridiculous designs?
We start with 54 pages detailing the wheel and sphere designs from throughout the world before WW2, including multi-view drawings of several of them if you wish to scratch build some.
Following this you get 230 pages on Soviet designs broken down into the shape (rollers, spheres, wheels, etc.). The designs are well illustrated with period blueprints and modern multi-views. Again, for exotic scratch builders you have some fertile ground here with over 35 different vehicle designs.
Is it worth it? Well, that's a tough question to answer. Almost none of these designs ever left the drawing board and unless you read Russian the information is inaccessible. However the drawings and the designs are very nice and the visual information is plentiful. Whether that's a fair trade-off is up to you.
Highs: An extremely esoteric subject.
High quality printing.
A great number of designs and first rate drawings and blueprints.Lows: No English translation.Verdict: It's a curiosity and unlikely to result in new models being built but it does appear to be a very comprehensive approach to the subject.