Zvezda’s 1/72 IS-2, kit 5011 – an inbox review

Zvezda's 1/72 IS-2, kit 5011 Box top
Zvezda’s 1/72 IS-2, kit 5011 Box top

Earlier this month the long-awaited Zvezda quick-build IS-2 finally reached the local hobby shops, so I was quick to grab myself a copy. It’s close to an year late and I was anxious to see what do we actually get.

There are a hull tub (discussed lower), two grey sprues with parts for the hull and turret, a black one for the tracks, decals for 1 main variant (as on the box top) and additional generic numbers.

The first sprue shows the upper hull and most of the suspension and running gear parts. Yes, just as advertised the set does represent the later war production variety, the IS-2m with the “straight nose”, so it supplements rather than replaces the Italeri kit. As opposed to the Italeri kit, the cooling louvres here are molded angled, with spaces between them, so you can see through the grid.

Zvezda's 1/72 IS-2, kit 5011 Sprue 1
Zvezda’s 1/72 IS-2, kit 5011 Sprue 1

Again, we get separate suspension arms, wheels in two separate halves each with detail on either side (the sprockets have separate hubs), and even a segment with spare track links for the lower glacis. There are also separate towing hooks, a bunch of infantry grab handles for the turret, and a separate engine access plate. Zvezda has even supplied two late-war separate mud-scrapers. The big rectangular part in the upper right connects the hull halves together.

Sprue 2 has the turret parts, the external fuel tanks (4 of them) and some additional details.

Zvezda's 1/72 IS-2, kit 5011 Sprue 2
Sprue 2

Regrettably only 1 towing cable is supplied – there were usually 2 per tank. The strange-looking piece in the lower right is the part that fixes the turret to the upper hull.

Tracks – as on earlier kits they are sinlge-piece hard polystyrene parts, with attachment points for the wheels and molded-in channels that will help bend each run around the sprocket and idler.

Zvezda's 1/72 IS-2, kit 5011 Tracks
Tracks

Decals were a pleasant surprise, and I mean it. Rarely would a company supply generic numbers, which deals away with the limit of possible options for this kit. The main point, of course, remains building the tank from the box top – a popular example from the 104th Heavy Tank Regiment, 7th Guards Independent Heavy Tank Brigade.

Zvezda's 1/72 IS-2, kit 5011 Decal sheet
Decal sheet

Photographs in front of the captured Reichstag show more machines from the same unit, among them:

– 414 (possibly “Boyeviye druzya” – “War buddies”),

– 441 (NO white cross on the turret top),

– 443,

– 434 , the famous “Boyevaya podruga”Β  (“War [girl]friend”) .

Last but not least is the instruction sheet with 9 steps and painting scheme for tank 432.

Zvezda's 1/72 IS-2, kit 5011 Instruction sheet
Instruction sheet

Let’s now take a detailed look in the subassemblies – turret, hull and running gear.

Turret: three main blocks – turret base, superstructure, and a “lock” that holds the turret to the upper hull.

The superstructure is mostly made up of a single casting. The mold quality is very good, there is a small amount of flash, but details are well defined, and there are very nice weld seams around the perimeter of, and on the turret roof itself.

Zvezda's 1/72 IS-2, kit 5011 Turret top
Turret top

You can also sort of see the envelope-shaped extension on the left turret side is represented. The reason it is NOT as pronounced as one expects (at leas on the photos) are the glossy sides of the turret.

Zvezda's 1/72 IS-2, kit 5011 Turret left side - another shot
Turret left side – another shot

On the real thing the turret was cast and had the characteristics typical of all such turrets on Soviet tanks – rough texture.

Being a simplified model this IS-2 does not have such texture, so detail does look sort of soft. The Mk. IV periscopes on the turret look a bit small, but I own no references for its size, so it will be up to you to make up your mind.

Zvezda's 1/72 IS-2, kit 5011 Turret top
Zvezda’s 1/72 IS-2, kit 5011 Turret top

What you will definitely notice is the lack of pistol ports on either sides of the turret. Indeed – on some post-war modernized IS-2M (the one with the toolboxes) the ports were welder, but still visible.

Angle changed a bit to allow light to expose the “envelope” better from the front. Notice the rain cover over the gun mask is an integral part of the turret and has its vertical sides also molded on.

Zvezda's 1/72 IS-2, kit 5011 Turret top
Turret top

Right side. The first pic displays the first casting issue – a small sinkhole on the rear right edge.

Zvezda's 1/72 IS-2, kit 5011 Turret right side
Turret right side

The double weld seam continues around the perimeter.

Zvezda's 1/72 IS-2, kit 5011 Turret right side 2
Turret right side 2

The the base of the commander’s cupola is well-defined, almost hexagonal, and again surrounded by a weld seam. The supersctructure is one-piece part, molded with the hatch closed (and sort of simplified).

Zvezda's 1/72 IS-2, kit 5011 Commander's cupola - back to front view
Commander’s cupola – back to front view

What you can see here is that the “guard rail” of the Mk.IV is a tad low.

The cupola was cast, so some rough texture will not be out of place.

Zvezda's 1/72 IS-2, kit 5011 Commander's cupola - front-to-back
Commander’s cupola – front-to-back

Also, the flat sloped areas around the perimeter are the places where the detail connected to the metal feeds in the mold; they were later cut off with torches, so adding somewhat parallel scratches on these spots will help the appearance.

The base for the circular DT mount at the back of the turret is a separate detail.

Zvezda's 1/72 IS-2, kit 5011 Turret DT ball mount base
Turret DT ball mount base

There’s a second part for the flexible segment of the mount, including the gun barrel itself.

DT ball mount and ventilator cover
DT ball mount and ventilator cover

There is a separate ventilator cover part, which also has a weld seam on it’s 4 “legs”; it’s mounted using a semi-circular pin to match the opening in the turret roof.

The turret nose appears to be shaped close enough to the original.

Zvezda's 1/72 IS-2, kit 5011 Turret nose
Turret nose detail

On the actual tank it was another cast detail, which does not have the texture in the kit. It also lacks the two circular patches marking the gun trunnions.

The main gun mask has bolt detail, but also lacks the cast texture.

Zvezda's 1/72 IS-2, kit 5011 Gun mask
Gun mask
Zvezda's 1/72 IS-2, kit 5011 Gun mask
Gun mask

Next is the D-25T 122mm tank gun.

Nice looking, circular cross-section, NO seam down its length, however…

Zvezda's 1/72 IS-2, kit 5011 Muzzle brake
Muzzle brake

If you missed it – here we go again…

Zvezda's 1/72 IS-2, kit 5011 Muzzle brake 2
Muzzle brake 2

The proportions of the muzzle brake openings have nothing to do with the real thing. The overall detail in the kit is shorter, while on the actual vehicle it looks like this:

IS-2 main gun - note muzzle brake
IS-2 main gun – note muzzle brake

Also note there is a horizontal seam between the upper and lower halves of the detail, which is not represented – as isn’t the cast texture. On the second tank, just below the gun tube of the first one you will see the missing gun port and the trunnion spot on the turret nose detail. The 4 lifting hooks are provided as separate details.

The DShK up top:

Zvezda's 1/72 IS-2, kit 5011 DShK
DShK heavy machinegun

The cooling ribs are a bit simplified, but acceptable considering the scale. The muzzle brake looks good; drilling it for will be required.

Onto the turret base:

Zvezda's 1/72 IS-2, kit 5011 Turret base
Turret base

Some of the grab handles are molded as a part of this detail. The parting line between this detail and the superstructure is made to match the line on the real deal, so it’s up to you how the weld seam would look.

Hull:

Zvezda's 1/72 IS-2, kit 5011 Upper hull
Zvezda’s 1/72 IS-2, kit 5011 Upper hull

As is usual with Zvezda’s snap kits fenders are an integral part of the hull, and feature a number of locating pins for various accessories. The hull on this has the later, straight-line upper glacis, and the “covered” driver’s visor, and a welded splash guard in front of it – the molded-on weld seams are visible enough even on the small image.

The whole “nose” section is late cast variety rather than welded one – the nose is prominently rounded. The problem is either case the join lines around the driver’s “dog house” are too pronounced; they are more rounded on the actual vehicle.

Actual IS-2 - note rounded glacis joints
Actual IS-2 – note rounded glacis joints

The driver visor’s cover also needs to be rounded off – it’s a bit too squared-off in the model.

Zvezda's 1/72 IS-2, kit 5011 Upper hull
Zvezda’s 1/72 IS-2, kit 5011 Upper hull

There are two Mk.IV visors above the driver’s station, which are even lower than those on the commander’s cupola. The rectangular opening on the upper glacis is for the driver’s light.

Zvezda's 1/72 IS-2, kit 5011 Upper hull
Zvezda’s 1/72 IS-2, kit 5011 Upper hull

Zvezda instructs you to place the shovel on the right fender – its actual place in on the hull wall.

Further down: the see-through cooling grills over the engine are a welcome addition. Again, pleasant weld seam around the hull top.

Zvezda's 1/72 IS-2, kit 5011 Upper hull rear
Upper hull rear

For an OOB build the mesh screens over the air intakes do look good. All that needs to be done is to drill the exhausts πŸ™‚

Zvezda's 1/72 IS-2, kit 5011 Rear deck - aerial view
Zvezda’s 1/72 IS-2, kit 5011 Rear deck – aerial view

The rear engine access plate – a separate detail:

Zvezda's 1/72 IS-2, kit 5011 Hinged engine access plate
Hinged engine access plate

Note weld seam and molded-on hinges. Even the pull rings look good – the plate is about 4 times smaller in real life πŸ˜‰

More details. This toolbox sits on the front left of the fender. Fot war time examples its lid must be flat. The ribbed tops are a post-war improvement.

Zvezda's 1/72 IS-2, kit 5011 Tool box
Tool box

Another box – this time for the right side of the hull – pretty good.

Zvezda's 1/72 IS-2, kit 5011 Toolbox 2
Toolbox 2

The ubiquitous woodsaw and a pair of towing rings.

Zvezda's 1/72 IS-2, kit 5011 Saw, towing loops
Saw, towing loops

Another nice detail – a separate gun support for the rear plate.

Zvezda's 1/72 IS-2, kit 5011 Gun support
Zvezda’s 1/72 IS-2, kit 5011 Gun support

Annoyingly there is just one tow cable in the kit (two are standard for an actual IS-2). To make matters worse Zvezda has actually made a pretty good job of the one-piece part. Oh well…

Zvezda's 1/72 IS-2, kit 5011 Tow cable
Zvezda’s 1/72 IS-2, kit 5011 Tow cable

Onto the hull tub. Bottom.

Zvezda's 1/72 IS-2, kit 5011 Lower hull
Lower hull

Sides.

Zvezda's 1/72 IS-2, kit 5011 Hull tub right side
Hull tub right side

As you can notice the bottom has the access hatches, the wheel stations are appropriately stagerred since the suspension uses torsion bars. There are bolt details where appropriate, the suspension arm travel stops are in place.

Zvezda's 1/72 IS-2, kit 5011 Hull tub left side
Hull tub left side

But why am I showing this side? Because the hinged ammo-loading hatch is missing – it should be where the red dot is. Easy to simulate with a disc of plastic and some fantasy for the hinge πŸ˜‰

Details:

– 4 spare track links for the middle slots on the lower glacis.

Zvezda's 1/72 IS-2, kit 5011 Spare track links
Spare track links

– tow hooks.

Zvezda's 1/72 IS-2, kit 5011 Tow hooks
Tow hooks

Running gear

Let’s start with the suspension arms.

Zvezda's 1/72 IS-2, kit 5011 Suspension arms
Suspension arms

The lower one is to be fitted on station No.1; it has a different cross section as on the real deal.

Reverse – note the mounting pin shape is different:

Zvezda's 1/72 IS-2, kit 5011 Suspension arms
Suspension arms

Next up is the idler arm/tension adjusting mechanism.

Zvezda's 1/72 IS-2, kit 5011 Idler arm
Idler arm

The outer wheels half. Overall positive impression, though boltheads are seriously undernourished.

Zvezda's 1/72 IS-2, kit 5011 Wheel, outer half with hub
Wheel, outer half with hub

Note: 10-bolt hub covers are post-war mod; WWII examples had 5 bolts on the hub cover.

The sprocket’s inner half – very nice.

Zvezda's 1/72 IS-2, kit 5011 Drive sprocket, inner half
Drive sprocket, inner half

Outer half, inside face – notice the spline matching the key seen above:

Zvezda's 1/72 IS-2, kit 5011 Drive sprocket 2
Drive sprocket 2

Outer face:

Zvezda's 1/72 IS-2, kit 5011 Drive sprocket outer face
Drive sprocket outer face

Wish the boltheads were hexagonal, but oh well… The hub here is a separate detail, see below:

Zvezda's 1/72 IS-2, kit 5011 Sprocket hub, inner half of return roller
Sprocket hub, inner half of return roller

The return roller’s inner half (on the right) will accept the mounting pins of the track – hence the cutout.

Here’s the outer half:

Zvezda's 1/72 IS-2, kit 5011 Right: return roller - outer half
Right: return roller – outer half

Maybe it will be easier to glue the inner halves directly to the track runs, and then pin them with the outer ones?

Zvezda's 1/72 IS-2, kit 5011 Return rollers
Return rollers

Tracks themsleves:

Zvezda's 1/72 IS-2, kit 5011 Tracks: outer face
Tracks: outer face

Notice that there are SPLIT tracks, as appropriate for wartime vehicles. What I mean is that the tracks that did NOT carry guide teeth were made up of two halves. This is also noticeable on the heavy SPGs based off the IS-2.

Zvezda's 1/72 IS-2, kit 5011 Tracks: inner face
Tracks: inner face

As noted above every other track is split down the middle. Notice this is evident on the image below:

The split track links are visible on this late IS-2 example
The split track links are visible on this late IS-2 example

Overall not really impressed by the shape of the guiding teeth themselves – too narrow at the top and too pointy.

Zvezda's 1/72 IS-2, kit 5011 Tracks: guide teeth
Tracks: guide teeth

At the same time the mounting lugs for the tracks are pretty large – hope they will not be too visible.

Step 9 in the instructions mentions the 5 lifting hooks for the turret, 4 more grab handles and the signal horn can be GLUED (they do not have pins and holes made for them.

So – to sum up:

Pros:

– a complete, nicely done kit of a 1944 model IS-2.

– realistic general layout and fittings.

– separate tools, gun travel lock, rear engine plate, etc.

– separate suspension arms (you could be using other tracks πŸ˜‰ ).

– bolt, mesh and suspension detail.

– accurate track link pattern.

– one-piece track.

– easy-to-drill out exhausts – hollow on the inside.

– competitively priced – about $10.

Β Cons:

– missing cast texture on appropriate parts.

– missing pistol ports on the turret.

– missing ammo loading hatch.

– wrong muzzle brake.

– side join lines of upper glacis too sharp.

– track guide teeth too sharp.

– only 1 tow cable.

– tiny bits of flash and a couple of small sinkholes on the turret.

Is that “your” IS-2 then? Hopefully this review will help you make up your mind.

What it certainly proves is that it’s way too early to bin the Italeri kit; the best result will come from combining the two kits together.