Osprey Modelling #9:

Modelling the IS Heavy Tank

by Nick Cortese

reviewed by Neville Lord


The Iosef Stalin (IS) series, often known as the JS or Joseph Stalin series in the West, resulted from the race for battlefield supremacy on WWII's Eastern Front. First committed to combat in 1944, the IS-2 along with its variants, the ISU-122 and ISU-152, proved to be major adversaries for Germany's Panzer forces. During the first half of the Cold War the IS series was feared by NATO who encountered them in Korea, while in the Middle East the IS-3 saw active service with Egypt in the Arab Israeli wars. For modellers a good range of IS tanks are available including kits from Tamiya and Dragon.

"Modelling the IS Heavy Tank" is Nicola Cortese's first title in the Osprey Modelling series. The book is based on five of the author's own modeling projects, which showcase a broad range of kits, accessories and techniques. The overall standard of the models and photography is high and effectively steps the reader through the projects. The text clearly and articulately explains each project and the techniques presented. The construction and weathering techniques are presented in a manner that allows modellers to feel confident to take on the next challenge. While the book is based on the IS series the techniques presented are transferable to other kits and include a good number of techniques that are would either be new to many readers or would not be covered in depth in their existing references and magazines. The book is strongly focused on the modeling techniques and does not provide a technical history (New Vanguard 7: IS-2 Heavy Tank 1944-73 by S Zaloga address this).
The book commences with a brief introduction, where the author explains his purpose and introduces some of his favourite tools and materials. The projects presented are:

-Dragon ISU-152 (1/35) which is aimed at an intermediate modeler and includes correcting the lower hull and adding exterior detailed including the CMK 152mm ML-20 howitzer barrel and scratch building handles from wire. Colour plates are provided to explain the sponge technique that was used to achieve the worn white washed appearance.

-Dragon IS-2 (1/35) with a full interior (Jaguar), Maquette engine with additional scratch built detail and enhanced exterior using ABER and Eduard photo etch, JR barrel and ModelKasten tracks. This is a master level project and the completed model depicts an abandoned and damaged tank.

-Trumpeter JS-3M (1/35) in Egyptian service. The Trumpeter kit is improved using Armour Track Models' workable individual link tracks and additional exterior detail made from plastic card etc. Explanation is given on how to achieve a worn sand yellow camouflage using pre-shading and washes.

-Tamiya JS-3 (1/35) which is super detailed at the master level with an extensively reworked engine bay and deck (Maquette V-2 engine and plastic strip and varying other accessories (Aber PE, JR barrel and Fruil tracks).

-ISU-152 self propelled gun based on the 1/35 Tamiya JS-3 and Cromwell Models ISU-152 resin conversion set. This advanced level conversion shows how to get the best out of the resin set and includes notes on the painting and weathering of the kit and Fruil tracks.

-Fujimi JS-2 and JS-2M kit (1/72). One of these kits is largely built out of the box, while the other one is enhanced using wire, aluminum and styrene in a project that illustrates how many of the techniques explained earlier can be applied in a smaller scale.

The book concludes with a list of useful books and other references, a list of models of the IS series and related aftermarket accessories, and one page depicting the Tamiya and Gunze Sangyo paint colours used.


"Modelling the IS Heavy Tank" is in my opinion the best of the Osprey Modelling books on military vehicles that I've read to date. It is well focused on how to get the best out of a good selection of IS series kits and achieves this using an effective combination of well written text, numerous colour photos and a broad range of techniques that will develop the reader's modeling skills. Highly recommended.


Tamiya make a high quality model of the IS-3 (kit 35-211: JS-3 Stalin Heavy Tank).

Dragon and Shanghai Dragon have a favorably regarded range of kits of the IS family. Unfortunately many of them are often hard to find.
-6052 Russian JS-1 (M.1943) Heavy Tank
-6012 JS-2 Stalin II (1943 version with early front hull)
-6018 JS-2M CHZK production type (1944 version with cast front hull)
-6804 JS-2M UZTM Prod. Type (sold as Korean war Chinese volunteer version)
-6013 JSU-122 Tank Destroyer
-6803 Chinese JSU 152 Howitzer (sold in Korean war series)
-6047 JSU-122S/152 (later release which can be made as either type)
Zvezda has released an affordable range of IS series models, which are often marketed by Italeri.
-IS-II (Zvezda 3524/Italeri 281)
-ISU-122 (Zvezda 3534)
-ISU-152 (Zvezda 3532/Italeri 296)

(Editors note: Nick has a number of articles right here on our website and you can see his spectacular skill yourself!)


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