ISU-152-2 155mm BL-10 Cannon 2 in 1

Published: December 7th, 2014     
Product Image
Box Art
Reviewed by: Bryan Krueger - IPMS# 47881
Scale: 1/35
Company: Dragon Models
Price: $54.99
Product / Stock #: 6796
Product provided by: Dragon Models USA

This kit allows you to build one of two versions of a prototype WWII Russian tank destroyer based on the ISU-152 assault gun. The goal was to field an anti-tank gun heavy enough to deal with the heavier German tanks like the Tiger II, JagdTiger and any potentially larger tanks the Russian thought might be in the works with the Germans. The first prototype ISU-152-1 (Object 246) was developed in April 1944 and mounted the BL-8 long barrel gun. Performance did not meet expectations so the gun was reworked. In August 1944 a second prototype ISU-152-2 (Object 247) replaced the BL-8 with the improved and slightly shortened BL-10. The penetrating power and accuracy still did not meet expectations so the gun was again sent back for improvements but the war ended before this was ever completed. The 155mm designation in the kit name is incorrect and should not be used in the description of this vehicle.

The majority of this kit is a rebox of the older Dragon 9112 which dates back to the original release from 1994. The kit still has a high level of detail considering the age and has been spruced up over the years with corrections. There are still two issues with the kit. The road wheels are slightly undersized and there is a noticeable gap between the lower hull and sponsons. The kit still builds into a nice representation of the ISU-152 and the low part count should make this a quick build for even a novice modeler.

New parts have been added to the kit to allow the modeler to build either the first or second prototype. The notable new items are the incredibly long main gun and the large multi-piece muzzle brake with an option for the first or second prototype. Also included is a mantlet unique for Object 247. The new parts are contained on one sprue. The kit includes a nice set of Magic Tracks individual links with very good details. No photo etch is included. There is no decal sheet since the prototypes carried no markings. The two finish options are, solid 4BO green and solid 4BO green.

Lower Hull and Running Gear

Assembly starts with the road wheels, return rollers and drive wheels. The road wheels assemble to individual swing arms. The separate bump stops have nice detail. Step 2 calls out opening 6 holes in the lower front hull to later install the spare track brackets. The instructions show this as an optional step, but all photos of the prototypes show the spare tracks installed. These holes for the brackets need to be square so I drilled out the plastic and finished up the hole with a small square needle file.

Step 3 assembles the tracks. These are the Magic Track individual link type and the detail on these is very nice. There are two small proud ejector pins marks on each link that need to be cleaned up. I found a few swipes with a flat needle file are enough to smooth these out.

The individual links have a slight interlock that loosely holds the pieces together. It's not enough to make them workable but it does make them easier to handle. The instructions call out using 44 of the toothed links and 44 of the flat links. This results in a fairly tight looking track which would be appropriate for a prototype. If you want a little more sag I suggest adding one more link and hiding it around the run on the drive wheel or along the bottom. Two additional links would be too much. The links were assembled in a run and glued with liquid cement. When this had set up for a little while they were draped around the wheels. The wheels were then glued to the tracks so the whole thing could be handled as one piece. I managed to somehow install the tracks backwards. Don't let this happen to you. If you go with this assembly approach, don't forget to install the mud scrapers (B29) later on since the drive sprocket won't clear the arm if installed first.

I found out through dry fitting that there is a small gap between the lower hull rear plate (A8) and the upper bolted engine access plate (A1) when the upper and lower hulls are mated. The easiest way to fix this is to trim back the rear side walls on the lower hull (X) where the lower plate mates at the top corners. I found about .75mm was sufficient to get a proper looking fit. This alters the angle of the rear plate but the alternative would require serious scratch building or loss of detail from sanding.

Upper Hull

Steps 4 and 5 deal with the assembly of the upper hull. There is a lot going on here. Only a few photos of the 152-1 and 152-2 are available and there are a few minor details that should be addressed at this stage. But before I got into the detail assembly, I needed to deal with the gaps. I glued sheet styrene to fill in the sponson gaps on the upper hull and added strip styrene to the lower hull. These were blended with putty and sanded smooth. It was an easy fix.

The first prototype (Object 246) ISU-152-1 with the longer BL-8 gun was installed on an earlier production ISU-152 hull. The kit claims 2n1 with the option to build the first or second prototype, but it does not accurately represent the first one. The first prototype did not have the external fuel tanks mounted, which is easy enough to omit and clean up the locating marks. The first prototype had the earlier style continuous type grab handles that are not provided in the kit. These will have to be scratch built with rod and strip stock or sourced from another kit like an SU-152. The photos available do not show the pioneer tools, and the tool brackets were not mounted to driver side, but does show the pick axe mounted on the right side. The bracket for a fluid pump (D16) was not mounted to the prototype.

This kit more accurately builds into the second prototype (Object 247) ISU-152-2 with the slightly shorter BL-10. Photos show it with the external fuel tanks and individual grab handles as provided. I chose to build this kit as the Object 247 since it was closest out of the box. Photos of the second prototype show it also lacks the pioneer tools and clamps and the fluid pump bracket on the driver's side. Unfortunately I could not find images of the right side of the second prototype but I decided to install the pick axe based on a photo of the initial. The forward most grab handles (B2) are a post war addition and should be omitted here.

The fender bracket (B23) for the tow rings is a little basic as depicted in the instructions. Fortunately there are two B23 parts included on the kit so I sanded them both thinner, trimmed them up a little and used these to better represent the bracket. I also improved the horn mounted to the front plate. It was molded solid so I drilled out the front and used a sharp knife to hollow out the horn.

Step 5 covers the details installed on the rear engine plate. Part A3 is the rear travel lock for the main gun and is a holdover from the IS-2 kit instructions. Since the 152 has no turret to transverse to the rear, this part serves no purpose and should be omitted. Needless to say don't drill the holes for the travel lock. The panel lines for the service access hatches are molded very fine and should be scribed deeper or the detail will be lost with primer.

The fighting compartment rear top hatch has a rotating periscope for the crew. The locating holes and the instructions show this facing forward but the wedge of plastic that represents the periscope glass is molded facing backwards. I trimmed the pins from the periscope cover (B11) ands glued this facing towards the rear.

The lifting eyelets (B20) supplied with the kit are a little oversized. I used a small flat needle file to thin and reduce the diameter to better represent these small parts. Reference photos show rings passing through several of the lifting points acting as grab handles for the crew. I used small loops of soft solder wire to create these.

Main Gun Assembly

Steps 6 and 7 cover the main gun. This is the point in the instructions where you decide what version to build. Though you should make that decision sooner going by my notes above. To make the shorter BL-10 barrel, the barrel halves (E3 and E4) need to be trimmed. A mark is indicated on the inside of the kit halves where to cut. This cut needs to be square and even across both halves or the muzzle brake won't sit properly. I needed to thin and trim the tab on the muzzle brake base (E6) to obtain a true fit with the barrel. I thought I was going to have difficulty keeping the barrel halves aligned properly and worried about a long seam, but the parts glued up very nicely with no alignment issues and no warpage. No filler was needed to clean up the seam on the barrel.

The first and second prototypes had slightly different cast mantlets. The initial version had the standard ISU-152 mantlet (C2). A slightly different cast mantlet (E1) is used on the second prototype. The instructions have you install the mantlet (C2) and gun assembly to the fixed armored housing (C1). Normally this is fine, but the main gun on this thing is so long it tends to get in the way. I glued the barrel to the mantlet, assembled the interior parts (C4&C5) for the barrel mount to C1 but left the barrel sub assembly off until last. It was much easier to paint and handle this way.

Final Assembly

Step 8 covers installing the main gun and finishing up the last of the parts to the top of the fighting compartment. The splashguard (A9) is a little thick. This part should be thinned from the reverse side or replaced with thin sheet styrene. Step 8 indicates 6 notches to be carved out of the nose armor to fit the front spare track brackets. I used a sharp hobby blade and a small square needle file to create these.

Step 9 assembles the Upper and Lower hulls. The final step is installing the spare tracks and brackets to the nose armor. I drilled out the spare links to represent the missing track pins where appropriate. An alternative would have been to add small lengths of styrene rod between the teeth to replicate the pins. There might be some gap around the rectangular peg for the track bracket and the hole, so check this area and fill any visible gaps.

As a final bit of detailing, I textured all of the cast parts by dabbing on a layer of Gunze Mr Surfacer 500. When this was dry, I lightly sanded back the texture. I also applied a light coat of Mr Surfacer to the rolled plates on the fighting compartment and sanded this back leaving a little of the texture present. I added or accented the rough welds around the tow hooks, armored ventilator cover, lift rings, and lower rear hull plate.

Finishing

The Paint and Markings section of the instructions recommends Gunze H80|54 Khaki Green for the 4BO Green. I do not have this Gunze color in my paint rack so I can't comment on the accuracy of this color. I primarily paint with Tamyia acrylics so I searched online for suitable mixes to replicate the 4BO color. There is a bit of a debate among modelers that study Russian paint colors. Some say there was shift from using lighter green to a darker green as the war progressed. Others claim the color faded as it aged. Still others claim the color darkened as it aged. There was no consensus so I found a mix that looked about what I thought later Russian 4BO Green should look like. I mixed a base color of Tamiya Olive Green lightened with a little Flat Yellow and Deck Tan. I sprayed this over a pre-shade of Tamiya NATO Black. To create the highlights I mixed additional Flat Yellow and Deck Tan to lighten the base color. Details were picked out with Vallejo Model Color acrylics.

Since the tracks and running gear were glued as one, painting was a little more labor intensive. I sprayed the base track color a warm brown/black mixed from Tamiya colors. I then carefully sprayed the green on the wheels. Any overspray and nooks and crannies were touched up with a small brush.

Weathering began with a couple of different washes with enamel paints. I applied small chips and scratches with a 12/0 brush using Vallejo acrylics. Over this I applied a blue green filter to help shift the color and unify the paint and weathering so far.

The tracks were weathered by brushing in dry pigments and setting these with thinner. When this was dry I dry brushed the dark track color again so the results looks like dust and dirt ground into the tread on the links. I used a graphite stick and pointed cotton bud to simulate the more clean and polished areas on the track and running gear.

Pigments and enamels were used to represent the accumulated dust and dirt on the lower hull. Since these were prototypes, I did not go very heavy with the weathering. They didn't see combat but were still put through trials where the Russians discovered how challenging it was to navigate the huge gun over rough terrain and through confined spaces.

To finish the weathering, I used clear satin enamel paint to simulate fuel stains and oil accumulation.

Conclusion

This was quite a nice departure from my normal German armor. I didn't get bogged down in details and just had fun with the build and weathering. It should appeal to the World of Tank game players. It's one of the top tier tanks you can acquire in the game.

Thanks to Dragon Models USA and IPMS/USA for the review sample.

Notes

  • Upper left
    Upper left
  • Front left
    Front left
  • Left rear
    Left rear
  • Right rear
    Right rear
  • Right side
    Right side
  • Left side
    Left side
  • Left front
    Left front
  • Right side detail
    Right side detail
  • Left rear detail
    Left rear detail
  • Right front detail
    Right front detail
  • Right front
    Right front
  • Right rear detail
    Right rear detail

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