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Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Bolt Action - Review: Warlord Games IS-3

The IS-3 is arguably the most advanced tank of WW2 and is one of the last tanks developed during the war to see the battlefield. Though it might have seen action as part of Soviet forces in Manchuria after the German capitulation, it is not even clear if this beast of a tank ever saw actual combat during World War Two. Warlord Games makes a resin model for this tank, and as a lover of big tanks, I was excited to get my grubby paws on one!

For a bit of background information, this is what Military Factory says about the IS-3:

"The IS-3 (also "Joseph Stalin" or "Iosef Stalin" IS3) heavy tank was a continuation of the successful series of tanks fielded by the Soviet Army in World War 2. The series began with the inception of the IS-1 in 1943, this based on the KV series of similar scope. The IS-1 was then followed into service by the IS-2 first appearing that same year and mounting the lethal 122mm main gun. Convinced that more could be gained from such a system, the Soviets went ahead and developed the mighty IS-3 series.

The IS-3 was essentially a redesign of the IS series as a whole. The turret was given a new, well-rounded look while the glacis plate was more heavily sloped for better ballistics protection. Room for the turret crew was improved as was space for additional projectiles while not losing any of the critical armor protection the series had become famous for. In fact, the IS-3 showcased more armor protection across it turret than previous IS incarnations. Overall armor protection was as good as ever, providing relative safety to both man and machine. The new turret and hull design provided for a lowered silhouette, in effect making her a more difficult target to track from any angle. The powerful 122mm (121.9mm) primary armament was retained for its proven penetration capabilities at range with a skilled crew letting off between 2 and 3 rounds per minute. Projectile choices for the commander were broadened and included at least 10 armor-piercing (AP) rounds along with up to 18 high-explosive (HE) fragmentation rounds giving the IS-3 flexibility when engaging various battlefield targets.

The prototype appeared under the rather bland designation of "Object 703" in October of 1944. Within a short time, the prototype was evaluated and accepted for serial production to commence at Soviet factories equipped for the construction of heavy vehicles. The first examples of completed IS-3s arrived in the Red Army inventory in May of 1945. However, Hitler had already committed suicide at the end of April and the war in Europe was all but over - Berlin had fallen to the Soviet Army and the German war machine was dismantled to become a few remaining pockets still fighting on. The IS-3 was noted for its later appearance in the September 7th victory parade through Berlin proper.

However, while the war in Europe had closed, the Soviets were still continuing their war against the army of Japan in the Far East and it is believed that at least one regiment of the new IS-3 series was deployed in an unknown capacity during August of 1945. The Empire of Japan would, itself, officially capitulate by the end of the month, ending the war in the Pacific.

By the end of the war, the IS-3 proved to be the most advanced tank of its kind anywhere on the battlefield. Production continued through to the middle of 1946 to which some 2,311 individual examples were ultimately completed. The IS-3 went on to stock the inventories of the Red Army and Soviet allies for decades to come during the volatile Cold War years. Its design went on to influence all future Soviet tank endeavors for the next two decades with inquisitive eyes in the West even taking notice."

Size wise it truly is a beast of a tank and it easily, at least, the size of most German, late war, big cats.

The lion's share of this kit is made up of four large resin pieces: the hull, the turret, and the two tracks. These are accompanied by a small pile of metal pieces that really help you to trick out your IS-3. You get an optional driver if you opt to leave one or more of your hatches open and the heavy machine-gun pintle mount can be assembled in a number of possible configurations, which I thought was a nice touch. In real life this assembly rotated around the hatch for easy use by the crew.

You can see the metal components below.

Detail wise this kit is everything that I have come to expect from recent Warlord kits. Crisp edges, sharp details and easy to assemble. I took a few pictures of what this kit looked like right out of the box. You will notice some easy to trim, minor flash along the front of the kit. This took me almost no time to clean off with the edge of a hobby blade and was no trouble at all.

The rest of the hull was exceptionally cast. I could not have been more pleased with it.

One of the most distinguishing features of the IS-3 is its squat, rounded turret. Outside of having to snip a few resin tabs underneath... (seen below)

The turret was extremely detailed and perfectly cast. It was a nice treat to have such a large and visually striking part of the kit come out of the box looking so good.

The tracks are usually a problem area on resin kits but the tracks on this kit were cleanly rendered and, outside of a few thin sheets of resin connecting the wheels behind the wheels (again a very quick job to fix), they were ready to go and sharp as a tack.

Be careful when trimming flash. I thought there was a bit of flash along where the tracks meet the hull. Turns out, there isn't. I created a gap. Thankfully this was easily fixed with with a tiny blob of green stuff so no lastly harm was done to this beautiful kit!

Game wise, The IS-3 is a brute! Just the way I like em. It is has an armour value of 11+ since it is a super heavy tank BUT because it has such advanced armour, it counts as having an armour value of 12 in the front arc. The highest value in the game!

Here is my beast assembled and ready to go. I have left my HMG off my kit for easy painting. Embarrassingly, it was not until I was looking at the pictures for this article that I realised that I left the painted machine-gun in my figure case. Soooo, it is not in the painted pictures which is a shame, given that Warlord gives you a sturdy and detailed gun to attach to the top of your kit. The girth of some pintle mounted guns often means that they easily bend and break. That is not the case here.

In the old version of the game its heavy AT gun did 2D6 hits HE. I am not sure what that means for V2 of the game (template wise) but it is brutal against folks in buildings! It also has a pintle mounted HMG for late turn shenanigans.

While it has the heaviest armour in the game, it is also the most expensive tank in the game points wise. It clocks in at a cool 600 points at regular. While this is a huge chunk of an army, if played right it can be a huge problem that people will have a really hard time dealing with on the table top.  It is a great psychological boogeyman.

It also makes it a huge points sink. You might think that that is a bad thing but if you are looking for an easy way to get into playing late-war Soviet forces, this tank and a few squads will get you started (at a 1000 points). It may not be the most "competitive" choice out there given the huge selection of Soviet tanks, but it is a fun and unique one.

I HIGHLY recommend this kit. Warlord has really outdone themselves this time! I can't wait to get mine on the table.

Till next time...

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