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Paul Brown

Revell 1/72 Soviet Heavy Tank IS-2

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Soviet Heavy Tank IS-2 1/72 (03269)
The IS-2 heavy tank was developed as a successor to the earlier KV series of tanks. Criticism of the latter compared with the T-34 - KVs were heavier, less maneuverable and had an inferior gun - led to fears that the design bureau and production facilities might get closed down. An improved KV design appeared, but further to the capture of a German Tiger Tank it was decided to embark on a new design that could battle head to head with German armour, whilst also being fitted with equivalent or better weaponry than the T-34. This would eventually lead to the 46 tonne IS-2 fitted with a 122mm gun and a whole series of IS heavy tanks post war. The IS-2 went into service in April 1944 and was used as a spearhead by the Red Army in the final stage of the Battle of Berlin. I bought this kit on a bit of a whim, because when you think of WWII armour the T-34 is always predominant, naturally so considering it re-wrote the book in respect of tank design, but it was effectively (bar the T-44) a dead end design, whereas the IS series continued to be developed. In fact the advanced nature of the IS-3 was a tremendous shock to the other Allied nations when it appeared at the September 1945 Victory Parade in Berlin. This is also a Zvezda tooling and I've not seen any of their armour kits before, so, interest fully piqued, a purchase was made and I've found it sufficiently of interest to do this in-box review.
The box art shows an IS-2 of the Seventh Guards Brigade poised at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin amidst burning fires. This means you could put possibly date the scenario to 29/30th April 1945.
Unlike other Revell 1/72 armour kits, you don't get the impression that the box is crammed with parts, but the frames are large, necessitating a larger box than usual for a tank subject of this size. I would describe the parts frames as elegantly and thoughtfully produced. As well as the grey plastic frames and loos hull lower moulding, there are black plastic moulded tracks, small decal sheet and the now familiar instructions.
Although the parts list runs through A, B, C (C is duplicated presumably a typo that should read D), the frames don't actually have a flag with a representative letter, so in no particular order let's have a look. First up the frame containing the hull deck running gear and wheels.
The hull looks good with well represented grilles and louvres and the wheels and return rollers are very nicely detailed. There are some very fine handles that will need a lot of care to remove (I recommend PE razor saws for this sort of job) and there are some other tiny but well moulded detail parts. I was a bit concerned about the suspension trailing arms being difficult to position, but in fact they are keyed, so if you're doing a base or diorama that requires the suspension shown as active you will need to modify the parts accordingly.
The second frame is essentially turret, weapons and ancillaries, including a couple of sprocket parts they couldn't fit on the other frame. 
I was expecting a bit of casting texture on the turret, but maybe this is a bit of an ask in 1/72? There's no doubting the crispness of the moulding and the turret grab rails are done so finely there's little or no need to replace them with wire. The machine gun, shovel and tow chain are exquisitely moulded. There are discernible mould lines on the circular tanks and gun barrels, but this is a shortcoming of the manufacturing process that can't be avoided. They should be easy to clean up. The turret has a basket that is essential a snap fit retaining ring. It means the turret has to be fastened before you can cement the lower and upper hull parts together, but there is an innovative (to me) intermediate part with pins that fit into sockets in the hull parts and should greatly simplify the way everything fits together.
The remaining components are the single piece lower hull, tracks and decals.
The tracks are another innovation for me personally. They are beautifully moulded in a hard, but presumably bendy plastic - seen that before in other kits. The innovation is the moulded tabs that are provided with a hole that aligns with the return rollers. The axles for the rollers act as a retaining pin to hold the track firmly in place and allowing the ends to be glued together, hopefully without too much of a fight. I find this to be a very elegant solution, although you must hope they've allowed enough slack between the tabs to allow some droop between the rollers. The tracks do seem to be quite flexible, but until removed from the runner it's impossible to judge exactly how flexible. Enough to bend around a sprocket or idler? I hope so!
Nothing much to be said about the lower hull piece, it's robust and appropriately detailed.
Decals are provided for the 7th Guards Tank Brigade, Battle of Berlin 1945, or a Polish Tank, Independent Regiment, 1945. Not much in the way of decals, but they are well printed. I would favour the Guards scheme as it has a little more colour to break up an otherwise drab appearance of overall green.
The instructions are as we now expect them to be, printed in colour on semi-gloss paper, informative and with a useful paint guide. The typo on the parts layout was noticeable, obviously(!), but without a thorough check I've not come across any other errors, an actual build would more likely show any up. I've included the paint callouts here, there's not many colours required and for once the paint mix suggested, for the track colour, will probably be ignored by modellers who might already have a preferred way of painting tracks. I've also included the page that shows the track assembly that might be of interest.
I'm aware that braille scale armour is often overlooked in favour of 1/35 and there's no doubt the larger scale offers the modeller an opportunity to go to town on a model with the whole gamut of detailing, painting, weathering, chipping etc. But, I do appreciate the gem like quality that can be achieved with a well assembled and painted 1/76 or 1/72 model and they don't take up very much space to display or store. In respect of this Zvezda tooled kit, they have provided the modeller with an excellent base to work some magic. I can't comment upon nth degree accuracy of the kit, but for me it looks sufficiently like the photos of real IS-2s that I have seen to pass muster. It is well moulded, well detailed and has some innovative engineering that should make assembly somewhat easier than you'd normally expect with a kit of this scale. Recommended to all braille scale fans.
Review sample courtesy of my wallet. 
Revell model kits are available from all good toy and model retailers.
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