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Russian Heavy Tank



S u m m a r y

Stock No. Trumpeter 1/35 Scale Kit No. 00316; Russian Heavy Tank IS-3M
Contents and Media: 245 parts (224 in light olive drab styrene, 18 clear vinyl parts, 2 vinyl tracks, 1 length of nylon thread)
Price: USD$19.95 (USD$16.96 online from Squadron.com)
Scale: 1/35
Review Type: First Look
Advantages: First CORRECT kit of this version of this tank, nicely done, fixes some problems from Tamiya kit
Disadvantages: Some shortcuts on detailing, thin tracks
Recommendation: Recommended for any Soviet armor fan or Six-Day War modeler


Reviewed by Cookie Sewell

Trumpeter's 1/35 scale IS-3M is available online from Squadron.com


F i r s t   L o o k


Trumpeter is doing better with many of its kits, and this one is a kit that is better in many ways than the only other competitor on the market, Tamiya's IS-3 kit from 1996.

Tamiya did a rather lukewarm job on their kit it was based on the survivor in a Polish Museum of the first 52 or so pre-production tanks, and was thus missing all of the operational equipment needed for a "real" IS-3. After-market people immediately set to work with "correction" sets including brass and in a couple of cases an entire new upper hull for the IS-3M.

Alas, most of this was based on the vehicle at APG. This vehicle was one of the Egyptian IS-3M tanks captured in 1967 by the Israelis, converted to a static pillbox, retaken by the Egyptian Army in 1973 (when the Israelis apparently jammed the gun in battery to prevent its further use) and re-retaken by the Israelis. It was sent to APG as is, where a spare T-62 engine deck was welded onto the rear of the hull to cover the hole the IDF cut in the engine compartment to use for ammunition stowage. All of the kits used this as their model for an
"IS-3M" with a "T-54 engine and transmission" fitted to it.

TRUE the IS-3M did use a T-54's V-54 engine of 520 HP.

FALSE the T-54's transmission, radiator and other kit will not fit in an IS-3 engine bay, so they never looked like our marked-up friend.

The actual IS-3M was a combination of several rebuilding projects with new electrics, fender skirts, an additional side stowage bin (making 4 per side), an R-113 radio set, a pair of DShKM machine guns vice DSshK types, IR headlights, and new road wheels with better bearings. They also carried smoke pots on the rear of the hull.

For the record, this kit is a ground-up static kit and as a result was NOT designed to take a motorization pack. While the Tamiya kit may have provided inspiration, this is not the same model with new parts but a unique and separate kit.

The kit reflects the actual IS-3M and comes with most of the changes listed above. The wheels have the correct 10-bolt greasecaps of the T-10 type bearing wheels, but appear to be a bit underscale and are not sharply defined as the 5-bolt caps on the Tamiya kit. It does have sponson floors not found in the Tamiya IS-3 (or many other of their kits either), reasonably good weld bead details, but a somewhat overdone rough-cast finish on the turret. Casting numbers also are not the same as the Tamiya kit; it is quite possible that one of the handful of IS-3/IS-3M tanks purchased by China was used for the pilot for this kit, and it is more in line with the actual service vehicles than the Tamiya one.

The tracks are competently done but appear thin, however on comparison with the Tamiya tracks the only major difference is that one can be fitted together with plastic cement (Tamiya) and one cannot (Trumpter). The two tracks appear nearly identical except that the Trumpeter ones do not have depression detail on their outside edges of the inside face and are two links longer than the Tamiya ones. Oddly, the Tamiya track is a later model track seen on some IS-3M tanks and the Trumpeter track is the IS-2 based one found on many early IS-3s. Go figure.

Markings are included for the popular (well, with modelers anyway!) Egyptian IS-3M with the black eagle turret marking and a rather plain Soviet Guards tank.

Overall, this is a very nice kit and one which is more to the modelers' wants and desires. The reasonable price ($20 for a kit this good in this day and age is a STEAL!) should make it very popular, and shows Trumpter can play with the "big boys" when it concentrates its efforts.

Cookie Sewell

Review Copyright 2002 by Cookie Sewell
Page Created 25 August, 2002
Last updated 22 July, 2003

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