ISU-152-2 155mm BL-10 Cannon
|Stock Number and Description||Dragon Models Limited 1/35 scale ‘39-‘45 Series Kit No. 6796; ISU-152-2 155mm BL-10 Cannon 2 in 1 - Smart Kit|
|Media and Contents:||420 parts (236 in grey styrene, 184 Magic Track single links)|
|Price:||pre-order price US$54.99 via Dragon USA Online|
|Review Type:||First Look|
|Advantages:||Only kit available in this scale of unique late-war Soviet prototype guns|
|Disadvantages:||Still has undersized road wheels and a slightly too high lower hull pan; one-off prototypes that never saw combat|
|Recommendation:||Recommended to all Soviet SP and “IS” fans|
It never fails in wartime that somebody has to have an idea that what you need to win is a “bigger hammer” than the other fellow. As the Germans turned to the long 8.8 cm antitank gun and then to the 12.8 cm gun the Soviets thought they would need to do the same.
The result in April 1944 was a modified version of the ISU-122 that now mounted a new version of the BL-7, an improved version of the long-barreled Br-2 152mm gun better suited to use in armored vehicles. The modified gun with a new muzzle brake was dubbed the BL-8 and fitted to a modified ISU-122 chassis, designated Object 246 or informally as the ISU-152-1 to differentiate it from the ML-20 gun/howitzer version.
The gun was extremely powerful - it could propel a 96 pound shell at nearly 2,800 feet per second which would overpower any known armor protection on the battlefield at that time. But it used a screw breech so was very slow firing, and the new muzzle brake was not very effective. Back to the drawing board.
In July a new variant, Article 247 or the ISU-152-2, was tested. This used a BL-10 gun which used a different muzzle brake and a sliding breech block. Same performance of the gun, and faster loading, but the gun was too long and made mobility extremely limited along with a very narrow aiming cone for the vehicle; the new vehicle was now nearly 12 meters long with the new barrel some 2.8 meters longer than the successful ISU-152. The ideal was soon dropped.
DML has now released both versions of the vehicle in a single box (one kit) with parts to build the early -1 version with its regular ISU mantlet or the -2 with a modified muzzle brake and new mantlet. Note that the gun is a 152mm, not a 155mm; in reality the Russians only recently began offering a 155mm tube for countries that use NATO standards and never had one during WWII. The gun barrel is two-part styrene but anyone with a Flex-i-File can make a smooth item out of it with little trouble.
The kit is an old friend and has been around for a long time. But while its two major flaws have long been known - undersized road wheels and a hull pan slightly too high - neither one has been fixed by this time which is a bit of a shame. Fixing the wheels is easy if annoying - simply wrapping them with a strip of 0.020 x 0.080 styrene solves the problem – it should have been fixed long ago.
The kit now does provide a new set of Magic Track single links that represent the “split link” tracks used primarily on SP guns which is a nice touch.
Technical consultants are listed as Tom Cockle and Gary Edmundson.
Finishing directions are simple as this vehicle was just a prototype - 4BO green and no markings, so no decals are provided.
Overall this is a nice idea - offering Soviet “one offs” as a change of pace - but by now DML should have corrected the errors in the base kit.
A 18 Rear plate, engine grating, details
C 5 Mantlet, elevation mounts, rain guard
B 88x2 Wheels, suspension, fuel tanks, small details
D 21 Upper hull, casemate details
E 7 Barrel, muzzle brake options, ISU-152-2 mantlet
T 92 Magic Track flat plates (split)
Y 4x2 Spare track holders
X 1 Lower hull
Z 92 Magic Track toothed plates
Thanks to Freddie Leung for the review sample.