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#35289 Russian Heavy Tank JS-2 Model 1944 ChKZ

This kit represents an IS-2 manufactured from June 1944 onward with a hull from Factory No.200.  The kit features a hull with the one-piece glacis, wider mantlet for the Tsh-17 sighting telescope and Mk.IV sighting periscope on the turret roof, all appropriate for a vehicle of that period.  It includes provides optional locations for the headlamp and siren allowing you to build a typical vehicle from any period between June 1944 and May 1945.  However, the kit does not include the 12.7mm DShK machine gun typically mounted on IS-2s from January 1945 onward.

Step 1 of the kit instructions deals with the running gear.  The kit provides Tamiya's 'poly caps' for all wheels, making it easy to attach and remove the wheels during final assembly.  The road wheels are slightly undersized, by 0.29mm, but the difference will not be apparent to all but the most fastidious modeler.  The sprockets feature separate hubs for better definition of the undercut around the circumference of the hub.  The return rollers represent the revised type introduced in June 1944 with three large lightening holes, and this pattern is appropriate for the production period depicted by the kit.

Step 1 also directs you to assemble the lower front and lower rear hull plates with spare track links on both plates.  Photographs indicate that many vehicles carried an incomplete set of links and the mounting brackets on the hull plates include the bolt holes allowing you to omit one or more links if you wish.

Steps 2 and 3 deal with the assembly of the lower hull and suspension.  The kit's dimensions match up well against published plans and against measurements I have taken from the preserved vehicle at the Imperial War Museum in Duxford.  The underside of the hull includes all the appropriate maintenance hatches and drain ports for the fuel, oil and water tanks.  The suspension swing arms are molded separately allowing you to position your model on an uneven base if you wish, by cutting off the locating tabs on the base of each arm.  The kit also provides an alignment jig to help you avoid the infamous 'floating wheel' problem.

Step 4 directs you to assemble the fender stowage box and the external fuel tanks.  The tanks are molded in two halves with seams that will require sanding, though the fit of the parts is excellent and only minimal cleanup is required.  The upper half includes the weld seam where the rolled sheet was joined to form a cylinder.  The tanks feature separate ends with integrally molded lifting handles.  The handles are molded solid and will benefit from replacement with aftermarket items.  Similarly, the steel bands that secured the tanks on their brackets are molded integrally with the tanks, and the mounting hardware is incomplete.  Aber set 35220 is designed for this kit and provides numerous details including the tank mounting brackets and hardware.

Step 5 directs you to add the running gear to the hull, though I recommend that you leave the running gear separate until after painting.  DO NOT add the mud scrapers (parts C10 and C11) until after you add the sprockets, otherwise you will not be able to fit the sprockets in place.

The kit provides two different sets of tracks; one-piece 'rubber band' tracks made from a soft compound which can be glued with styrene cement, and individual link tracks.  Both sets represent the split-link track pattern seen on early IS series vehicles, but which persisted on some vehicles until the end of the war.  The single link track with a guide tooth on every link became more common from the summer of 1944 onward however, so check your references for the vehicle you are modeling.  If you wish to depict a vehicle with single link tracks, there are several options as described in 1/35 Scale Tracks and Suspensions.

Step 6 deals with the top run of the individual link tracks.  Tamiya provides an assembly jig allowing you to easily simulate the characteristic sag of the tracks over the return rollers.

Step 7 covers the remaining assembly of the individual link tracks.  I recommend that you leave the tracks, and the running gear, off the model until after painting.

Step 8 deals with assembling the 'rubber band' tracks.  As noted above, these can be assembled with styrene cement.

Step 9 directs you to assemble the upper hull.  The hull is comprised from two parts, similar to the original vehicle.  This separation allowed Tamiya to use the same upper rear hull for their JSU-152 (kit #35303).  The kit also provides sponson fillers (parts C36 and C37) and baffles for the openings beneath the engine air intake screens.  These baffles were present on the real vehicle.  Ensure that you drill out the holes for the position-keeping lights in the upper hull parts (parts B3 and P1) before joining the upper and lower hulls.

The kit provides optional locations for the headlamp and siren (to the left of the driver's visor, or to the right).  Vehicles manufactured before the end of 1944 mounted the headlamp and siren on the right, while those manufactured after that time mounted them on the left.  The kit instructions indicate the appropriate set of holes to drill out for each of the marking options.  If you decide to model a vehicle other than those for which the kit provides markings, check your references.

Step 10 deals with the upper hull detailing.  The radiator exhaust grille is molded in separate parts and makes use of 'slide mold' technology to correctly represent the angled louvres.

The kit provides etched nickel silver engine air intake screens.  These are well rendered but their frame lack the attachment bolts.  You can add the bolts from small sections of hexagonal styrene rod, or from aftermarket items.

The towing shackle stowage bracket on the front right-hand fender is rather poorly represented and is missing the top section.  I recommend replacing it with a suitable part from an after-market set.

The upper rear hull plate (part C40) has integrally molded liting eyes, but these are 'blind' and should be drilled out.  Many vehicles carried lifting rings in the eyes which can be added from small circles of thin wire.

Part C40 lacks the rain gutter above the upper edge of the large maintenance hatch.  This feature was introduced in the late spring of 1944 and was present on most if not all vehicles with the later one-piece glacis.  It can be added from thin styrene strip.

The retaining brackets for the tow cables on the upper rear corners of part C40 are incomplete.  These should be cut away and replaced with brass wire of the correct 'Z' shape.

Step 11 covers the headlamp, siren and tow cables.  The cast ends of the towing cables are molded open on one side.  The slots should be filled with putty and sanded to match the contour of the styrene parts for a better appearance.  Alternatively, you can replace them with aftermarket items.

Step 12 directs you to join the upper and lower hulls.  The horn and siren are mounted on the glacis, but the kit lacks the steel conduit that carried the power cable from the hole directly behind the siren to the headlamp.  This can be easily added from styrene rod.

Step 13 instructs you to add the tow cables.  Ensure that you DO NOT add the spring-loaded retaining clips (parts A18) until after you attach the cables to the rear towing shackles.

Step 14 directs you to assemble the gun and its mount.  The gun barrel is molded in two halves, with a separate TsAKB muzzle brake also molded in two halves.  The gun mantlet is the wider type introduced to accommodate the TSh-17 sight in May 1944, and is correct for the sub-variant depicted in the kit.

Step 15 assembles the main turret shell and attaches the gun.  The rain guard over the top of the mantlet (part C32) will benefit from thinning along its front edge with a sharp blade or file.

Steps 16 and 17 deal with the turret details.  The kit provides hand rails for the upper edges of the turret rear and sides (parts A2) and the lower edges (parts A8).  The rails along the lower edges were not fitted on all vehicles so check your references for the vehicle you are modeling.

The kit does not include the 12.7mm DShK machine gun typically mounted on the commander's cupola from the end of 1944 onward.  However, Tamiya includes this weapon in their JSU-152 kit (kit #35303) along with its mount.  If you wish to model a vehicle with the DShK machine gun, take the weapon and mount from that kit, replacing part C3 with the appropriate parts from the JSU-152 kit..

Step 18 deals with final assembly of the turret onto the hull.  The kit includes a commander figure (a whole figure) and a loader figure (molded from mid-thigh up) to place in the turret hatches.

The kit provides four marking options:

  • 7th Independent Guards Heavy Tank Brigade, April 1945, Berlin
  • 88th Independent Guards Heavy Tank Regiment, April 1945, Berlin
  • Czechoslovakian 1st Tank Brigade, May 1945, Prague.  At at least one of the vehicles from this unit carried a DShK machine gun on the commander's cupola, so check your references.
  • Polish 4th Heavy Tank Regiment, April 1945, Germany

All of these vehicles are finished in overall Protective Green 4BO.

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