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JSU-152 Kit

Tamiya 1/35 JSU-152 Heavy Self-Propelled Gun Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review December 2009 Manufacturer Tamiya
Subject JSU-152 Heavy Self-Propelled Gun Scale 1/35
Kit Number 35303 Primary Media Styrene, PE
Pros Nice exterior detailing, distinctive subject Cons No interior details, defective vinyl track (see build review)
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $59.95

First Look

JSU-152 Kit
JSU-152 Kit
JSU-152 Kit
JSU-152 Kit
JSU-152 Kit
JSU-152 Kit
JSU-152 Kit
JSU-152 Kit

The ISU-152 was a Soviet Army self-propelled heavy gun developed during World War Two and continued service into the 1950s. Designed as a versatile mobile heavy gun system, the ISU-152 was a follow-on development of the SU-152. Where the SU-152 and ISU-152 shared a common main gun, the 152mm ML-20S howitzer, the SU-152 was based upon the KV-1 chassis and the ISU-152 was based upon the IS-2 tank chassis.

You might get confused by the ISU-152 versus JSU-152 designations. They are the same vehicle and actually the same designator, but in Cyrillic, the IS (or JS) in the designator is the abbreviation for then Soviet Leader Josef (Iosef) Stalin. The I and J are interchangeable depending into which language the Cyrillic is being transliterated into.

The ML-20S main gun is essentially a six-inch artillery piece that is mounted inside an armored shell to provide indirect fire support to Soviet infantry while protecting its crew. The vehicle could only carry 20 rounds before it needed resupply. Because the vehicle was well-armored, it could drive into the thick of a battle and use its gun in a direct-fire mode, which was great for pushing the assault into Berlin and blasting away the heaviest fortifications.

Although the vehicle wasn't really designed as an anti-tank weapon, the ISU-152 was synonymous for 'big honking gun' and in Russian was nicknamed the 'animal killer' because no German tank could survive a direct hit, whether it was a Panther, Tiger, or Elefant.

Tamiya's newest tooling is now on the street in the form of this nicely done JSU-152 kit. The kit is molded in dark green styrene and presented on five parts trees plus a separately provided lower hull. Two trees molded in olive drab and one tree molded in clear round out the styrene parts and the kit wraps up with a fret of photo-etched parts and a set of vinyl tracks molded in dark gray.

Several of the parts trees are common to the Tamiya JS-II kit as they should be. The engineering in these kits have raised the bar on armor kits in a few interesting areas. It used to be that you'd insert the torsion bar suspension arms into the lower hull and you'd trust the molded-in key to align the arms for an even sit of the completed model. Inevitably, one arm might be a bit out leaving a gap under some portion of your tracks or road wheels.

In this kit (and the JS-2), you insert the arms as before, but Tamiya provides an alignment tool to ensure that all of the arms are properly aligned to one another. Nice.

Next, this kit (and the JS-2) provide the option for vinyl track or indidual track links in styrene. Actually a few lengths of the styrene are molded together to make assembly faster in areas where the track would be straight. What's interesting is that Tamiya also provides a set of jigs to replicate the track sag over the return rollers so you can assemble the track links on the jig, let the glue dry, then install the pre-sagged track link sections onto the return rollers. Very nice!

Assembly of the rest of the kit is very straightforward as this kit has no interior, so you'll be focused on the outer details including the big honking gun. I am amazed at the crisply molded open slots in the muzzle brake of this distinctive scale weapon!

Two crew figures are also included to provide some 'life' and action for your JSU-152.

Markings are provided for four examples:

  • ISU-152, '600', Königsberg, April 1945
  • ISU-152, '115', Berlin, May 1945
  • ISU-152, '43', Berlin, May 1945
  • ISU-152, 'Moskva', Poland, January 1945

This is a nice looking kit and replicates one of the more common silhouettes for Soviet armor during the late war and into the 1950s. This should provide the modeler with a simple build that will go rather quickly over a weekend.

My sincere thanks to HobbyLink Japan for this review sample!

For a look at this kit built-up, click here.

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