Russian Heavy Tank JS-2 Model 1944 ChKZ
Tamiya, 1/48 scale
The T-34 tank was already entering service by the beginning of the Great Patriotic War. The KV series of heavy tanks was also in service at time the Wehrmacht swarmed across the Soviet border in June 1941. Although the T-34 and KV-1 were more than capable of dealing with this first generation of German Tanks including the Panzer III and Panzer IV, the new Tiger and Panther tanks encountered in 1943 were another matter entirely.
The 76m guns of the T-34 and KV series tanks were ineffective against these powerful new vehicles, so the 85mm anti-aircraft gun was adapted for use in the KV-85 tank. This stop-gap vehicle received increased frontal armour, an improved turret and overall reduced weight compared to the heaviest KV tanks. This new vehicle was named Iosef Stalin 1 in honour of the Soviet leader.
Only a small number of these IS-1 tanks saw service, however, as the more powerful A-19 122mm gun was selected as the standard weapon for this series. This gun offered excellent performance in the anti-tank role and was also effective against fortified defensive positions. The installation of the bigger gun resulted in the Iosef Stalin 2.
The IS-2 entered service in 1944 as a breakthrough tank. This formidable new weapon proved itself emphatically against the most heavily armoured German tanks. During the fighting around the bridgehead on the River Vistula in August 1944, IS-2 tanks of the Red Army’s 71st Guards Independent Heavy Tank Regiment knocked out four Tiger IIs for the loss of three of its own vehicles.
Although the IS-2 weighed in at around 40 tons (the same as the German "medium" Panther), the Soviets classified it a heavy tank. This was not entirely without justification. The sheer weight of the 122mm shell compensated for the lack of muzzle velocity. It was a potent and effective answer to the heavy frontal armour of even the best German AFVs.
The IS-2 was withdrawn from front-line Soviet units following the introduction of the more streamlined IS-3 in 1945. The IS-2 continued in service with the armies of China, North Korea and Cuba well into the Cold War era.
We see both “JS-2” and “IS-2” used to describe the family of Stalin tanks.
The original IS-1 tank was named in honour of the Soviet leader. “Iosef” is a closer translation of Stalin’s first name, while “Josef” is more anglicised, but both versions are widely used.
Following up their excellent 1:35 scale kits, Tamiya has now added a 1:48 scale JS-2 to their growing Stalin family.
Tamiya’s 1:48 scale JS-2 is an all-new kit comprising 211 parts in dark green plastic, four metal ingots, four polythene caps, a length of string and markings for four vehicles.
Moulding quality is every bit as good as the 1:35 scale kit. Exterior detail is also very good indeed. Surface texture represents the rough casting of the real thing. The shovel, saw, horns, lights, barrel lock and other hull details are all separate parts.
The only real concessions to scale compared to the 1:35 kit is that the suspension arms for the road wheels are moulded as part of each lower hull side and the engine vents are moulded as solid plastic. The headlights are also solid plastic.
The Commander figure is well moulded and nicely detailed.
In common with its big brother, this JS-2 includes injection moulded link and length tracks. The long top run features convincing drape between the return rollers, while the curved runs around the drive sprockets and idler wheels are made up by multiples of two-link sections.
Unlike some of Tamiya’s earlier 1:48 scale kits, the lower hull is all-plastic. However, if you yearn for full 1:48 scale 46 tonne weight, Tamiya does supply four metal ingots to be fitted inside the lower hull. These are not structural though, so their use is purely optional.
Instructions are clearly called out in 14 illustrated steps.
Markings are supplied for four vehicles.
Tamiya’s 1:48 scale JS-2 should be a fast, easy build as we have come to expect from this excellent series.
Text and Images by Brett Green