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Roden 1/72 scale IS-3 Stalin

Manufacturer: Roden, available from Squadron Mail Order, 1115 Crowley Drive, Carrollton, TX 75011-5010, 972-242-8663
Kit: No. 701 Scale: 1/72
Price: $7.96
Comments: Injection-molded, 129 parts (5 vinyl), decals

Pros: Good detail, good fit, soft vinyl track
Cons: Small details are oversize, no pins to close track loops, removing small parts from sprues is tricky

The IS-3 (also known as JS-3) was the ultimate development of the Soviet KV series of tanks during World War II. Its deployment in 1945 meant the IS-3 saw little combat. Sporting angled armor plate, a domed turret, and a large 122mm gun, the IS-3 would set the basic design for Soviet armor for decades to come.

There has been a resurgence of 1/72 scale armor in the last few years, and the Ukrainian company Roden has chosen the IS-3 for its first kit in this scale. Molded in dark green plastic, the kit features delicate detail. The one-piece tracks are molded in a particularly soft vinyl that makes them easy to fit to the suspension. Many small parts are molded separately, but others, such as the tools, are molded in place on the hull. Markings for four different vehicles are provided, but the multicolor decals of my sample were printed slightly out of register. A six-piece 12.7mm machine gun is provided for the turret. No figures are included in the kit.

The complex lower hull is molded in several pieces, but if you align them carefully when gluing, you'll get an excellent fit. The delicately molded main road wheels are difficult to remove from their large sprue attachments without damaging them. I added all of the road wheels, return rollers, and the idlers to the lower hull, but left off the drive sprockets until I was ready to install the tracks. Two plates are provided to block off the upper hull over the tracks, a nice touch often missed in small-scale armor kits. I added all of the details to the hull except for the spare track links. As the fit of the upper and lower hull was good, I assembled them after painting and installing the tracks.

With the hull ready for paint, I turned to assembling the turret. Some small gaps were present in front where the upper and lower halves join. This was easily filled with super glue and filed to shape.

I managed to remove all 12 turret grab handles from their large sprue attachments without breaking any. While the grab handles are crisply molded, they are overscale. There are dimples in the turret to show the grab handle locations, but most of them are too far apart for the grabs provided. If I were to build another kit, I would fill in the grab handle dimples and replace the molded kit parts with wire. I crushed the gun handle (9B) while removing it from the sprue, and wound up leaving it off the gun.

With all of the major assembly finished, I painted my tank with Polly Scale TAC dark green as a base coat and brushed Future on the turret where the decals would go. The decals seemed to respond well to the usual application of Micro Sol and Micro Set. Finally, I sprayed Polly Scale clear flat over the entire vehicle.

The instructions suggest joining the track loops using the normal pin method common to one-piece tracks, but the kit parts don't have any pins on them. Also, the vinyl wouldn't adhere with any glue I had. I wound up sewing the tracks together with a needle and black thread. The tracks don't really match up with the drive sprockets, but they are stretchy enough that they can be made to fit with a little care. With the tracks installed I glued the upper and lower hull halves together.

I lightly sprayed Tamiya earth thinned heavily with alcohol over the lower hull, fenders, and tracks, for weathering. I gave the entire vehicle a wash of burnt umber oil paint, and then a dry-brushing with Floquil dark green enamel lightened with white and yellow ochre oil paint. Finally, I dry-brushed the tracks and turret machine gun with steel.

The finished model captures the look of the IS-3 and matched exactly the dimensions given in Hogg and Weeks The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Military Vehicles. It was pretty easy to build - taking only about 12 hours - but handling the many small parts requires experience. Modelers wanting to add extra detail will still find a lot of things to do.

While the vinyl tracks are adequate, I hope Roden invests in injection-molded link-and-length tracks for future releases. Despite the minor problems, Roden has done a good job with its first armor release.


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