Kit Review: Trumpeter 1/35 scale Kit No. 05589; Soviet JS-2M Heavy Tank - E arly; 521 parts (336 in grey styrene, 177 in brown styrene, 6 etched brass, 1 twisted copper wire, 1 turned aluminum barrel); retail price US$91.99
Advantages: first kit of the postwar IS-2 modification; nicely rendered wit h changes where needed; looks the part
Disadvantages: only provides two sets of rather sparse markings
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: for all postwar Soviet armor fans
At the end of the Second World War the Soviet Union had retained a large n umber of its most effective WWII tanks, specifically the T-34-85 Medium Tan k and the IS-2 Heavy Tank. Both formed the backbone of the Red Army in the immediate postwar years while the T-54 was going through its ?child ren?s troubles? and the IS-3 was failing to provide a super
-tank for the next war due to its many problems.
But in 1951 the Ministry of Defense decided that in order to stay relevant - even if just in a reserve role - the IS-2 tanks needed to be given an up grade to more modern standards and equipment. As they still had a large num ber of Model 1943 tanks (with the KV-13 style bow) and the later Model 1944 (?Roman Nose? bow) both tanks were given the same level of upgrades with only minor differences to compensate for the different front ends.
The 1951 upgrades included: capping and removing the fittings for the rear mount for the DT machine gun; fitting the V-54K-IS engine of 520 HP which was more reliable than the original V-2-IS one; fitting the OU-2 fire suppr ession system; new bearings for the road wheels (later they used T-10 road wheels during rebuilds); fitting IS-2 type thin armor ?falsie? ? panels to the front of the upper hull each with two storage bins; IS-3 style mudguards and short fender skirts; upgrade in stowage from 28 to 35 r ounds of ammunition; and eventually a 12.7mm DShKM machine gun for the comm ander. In 1957 the tanks received further upgrades to their communications and electronic equipment to include a new R-113 FM radio set.
The tanks remained in service for a number of years and in reserve until 1997 when President Yeltsin ordered them stricken and scrapped. Few IS-2M ta nks were sold or given to Soviet allies but Cuba bought a battalion as did the CSSR. The only known combat action for the IS-2M was in its use as arti llery fire support against Brigade 2506 at the Bay of Pigs in April 1961.
While there are a number of IS kits out for both the IS-85/IS-1 and IS-122 /IS-2 in its KV-13 and ?Roman Nose? types, this is the firs t kit of the postwar IS-2M to be released from any manufacturer. Oddly Trum peter calls it the Early model but that is not based on its upgrades but ra ther that this tank is based on the Model 1943/KV-13 chassis and not the la ter Model 1944.
The kit provides all of the changes needed to upgrade a wartime IS-2 Model 1943 to the postwar Model 1951 configuration except for the DShKM mount wh ich will have to be scrounged; if they do a Late version on the Model 1944 I think that it may come with such an installation. Parts for the kit come from Trumpeter?s IS-1/IS-2 kits and the IS-4 as well as new mold pa rts for this version - 24 new styrene parts and a new set of track links.
Construction starts with the lower hull and suspension mounts and the late
-war standard fitting of four track links to the lower glacis plate. Suspen sion is built up in the conventional manner of road wheel arms, bump stops, return rollers, road wheels and then drivers and idlers. Track runs are si ngle links with 88 per side noted (176 are needed and 177 provided so atten tion to no sacrifices to the ?carpet monster? is at a premi um if the kit tracks are used).
The engine deck has interior baffles and dividers with the radiator air in takes having etched brass grilles. The fenders also form the hull sponsons when attaching the upper hull to the lower.
The IS-2M parts mostly go on during Step 8 - somebody planned ahead for th e storage bin covers for the ?falsies? are found on the IS-1 suspension detail sprue! Ditto the late model ?cage? head light guards which come from both the new IS-2M sprue and the IS-1 sprue. O ther items include a oil tank (E16/17) and the IS-3 style mudguards and ski rts.
The turret also uses a number of different bits with several different opt ions to include rain covers (E24, C10 or C9) and mantlets (C30 or WU1). Two different sets of ?cheek? pieces are included for the diff erent mantlets. The gun can either use the standard styrene barrel or the m uzzle brake may be removed and attached to an aluminum barrel.
Some tanks were noted as being fitted with a second ventilator, but the ki t only comes with one. The only major glitch I found was that the kit shows the rear DT machine gun being used when the upgrades removed the interior fittings and filled the opening in the mount with weld bead. To simulate th at, add part C4 but fill the opening and sand flat.
Only two somewhat dull finishing options are shown - either 4BO green wit h stars or 4BO green with Guards badges. For those wanting something a bit different, Cuban ones were 4BO green with ?bort? numbers fr om 801 to 831 and also were fitted with MDK-5 smoke canisters and a blackou t headlight on the left side of the glacis.
Overall this an excellent effort and the first of the postwar IS-2 version s to come out.