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Ogenok 1/30 JS-3 Heavy Tank Kit First Look

By Ray Mehlberger

Date of Review January 2009 Manufacturer Ogenok
Subject JS-3 Heavy Tank Scale 1/30
Kit Number - Primary Media Styrene
Pros Large kit of late war Soviet tank Cons Poor box, decals and inaccurate treads
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) Out of Production

First Look

JS-3 Kit
JS-3 Kit
JS-3 Kit

The Iosif Stalin tank (or IS tank), was named after the Soviet leader Joseph Stalin. It was a heavy tank developed by the Soviet Union during WWII. The tanks of the series are also sometimes called JS or backwards N and C tanks.

This heavy tank was designed with thick armor to counter the German 88 mm guns, and sported a main gun that was capable of defeating the new German Tiger and Panther tanks. It was mainly a breakthrough tank, firing a heavy high-explosive shell that was useful against entrenchments and bunkers. Its predecessor, the IS-2, was put into service in 1944, and was used as a spearhead in the Battle for Berlin by the Red Army in the final stage of the war.

Production of this new model, the JS-3, began in early 1945 and only a handful were ready in time to be used in combat. The first inkling the Western Allies had of it was when it was displayed in the Victory Parade in Berlin, and it’s shape, armament and presence were to have considerable influence on western tank design for several years. This was especially it’s well-sloped armor, the “frying pan” shaped turret and the considerable gun overhang.

In postwar years, the Josef Stalin continued in service and was supplied to some members of the Warsaw Pact and satellite countries. A JS-4, with thicker armor and a more powerful engine was developed, but few were built and it was not placed into service. The JS series was finally replaced by the T-10 in 1957.

At the time of their inception, the JS tanks were the most powerful tanks in the world, combining good armor protection with ample firepower and adequate performance, all in a package which was not unduly heavy. It achieved this by making some sacrifices – the crew accommodations were cramped and the ammunition carried was only 28 rounds. But, it was still successful and ranks as a milestone in tank development.

Ogenok was a model company based in Russia. I don’t believe they exist anymore and this kit is out of production therefore.

The kit comes in a very poor quality of cardboard tray and lid type box. The boxart shows 2 JS-3’s driving through the Berlin gate, during the Allied Victory Parade. Both tanks have Soviet flags flying above their turrets and a couple Soviet aircraft are doing a flyover. This boxart is rather poor quality too and posed against a bright yellow background. All the wording on the box is in Russian only. No kit number is anywhere in evidence on it.

Inside the box is one giant sized dark green parts tree that is folded in the center into two halves that fill the large box tight in all directions. These are in a stapled shut cello bag. The small decal sheet and the instructions complete the kits contents.

The instructions consist of a single sheet that accordion folds out into 6 pages of 8” x 12” format. They are printed on very poor quality brown newsprint type paper. All the wording in them is in Russian only.

Page 1 has a line drawing of a JS-3 in profile.

Page 2 begins with a lot of Russian, I haven’t a clue as to what it all says, but part of it appears to be a blow by blow instructions of what part number glues to what other part number I think. This is followed by the first assembly step drawing.

Part numbers are called out on the instruction drawings and are molded next to the parts on the trees. However, there are no parts tree illustrations in the instructions. Page 3 has two more assembly step drawings, accompanied by blow by blow instructions again.

Page 4 has what I believe is a list of the names of all the kit parts (again only in Russian).

Page 5 has an assembly drawing for assembling gears and motors for a motorized JS-3 kit that Ogenok obviously must have marketed (not this kit).

Page 6 is also instructions for the motorized kit and shows how to assemble the tethered control box and battery installation in it. (again, not for this kit).

The giant sized dark green tree, as mentioned above, is folded in two. Half of it holds: the hull tub part, drive sprockets, idler wheels, turret parts, 122mm main gun barrel & it’s muzzle, wheel retainer pins, horn and hatches (35 parts).

The other half of the giant sized tree holds: the hull top & sides, return rollers, road wheels & more retainer pins, grab handles, external fuel tanks, spare track links, a pickaxe and antenna etc. (70 parts) A few parts had broken off the tree in transit.

The decal sheet is very poor quality and better replaced with a aftermarket one. It is printed in REVERSE on the backing sheet, with the glue side upward. It only has 2 red stars on it, that have their edges bleeding. The number 072 also appears. No scheme drawings are in the instructions and so we are not told where to apply these on the tank or what outfit they represent. However, for the most part….Soviet tanks went into service a lot of times devoid of any marks at all. So, check your references.

The rubber-band type tracks are molded in a silver colored vinyl. They are only caricatures of the JS-3 tracks. The detail is all wrong on them and the teeth on them is molded as domes. Because of the odd 1/30th scale that the kit is, I doubt any aftermarket track sets in 1/35th scale will fit.

The model is also missing a lot of rivet and weld detail that was on the JS-3. Some doors that are molded into the sides of the hull have inaccurate raised letter X patterns on them. A view of an actual JS-3, that is on display at the Aberdeen Tank Museum, shows that these doors were smooth surfaced. However, this kit was state of the art for over 30 years ago. Ogenok does not exist any more either and the kit reminds me of early Tamiya armor kits in quality.

The kit has no interior detail or crew figures and the flexible machine-gun mounted on the turret roof and shown on the boxart is not included in the kit. The main gun travel lock that is mounted on the rear of JS-3’s is not in the kit.

This kit will be a very easy first time build for a novice armor modeler for sure.