Soviet Steel – The IS2 Heavy Tank

Recently I’ve written about the KV-1 Heavy tank by warlord games, the very successful Russian tank that came into service in 1939.   In that post I mentioned how the KV-1’s greatest enemy was it’s weight, which massively hindered it’s ability to get where it was needed.    As tank and vehicle technology advanced during the second world war, the size of gun that the KV-1 was capable of carrying also became an issue.   The KV-1 was fitted with a 76.2mm anti-tank gun, the same as carried by the T34.

Initial efforts saw the KV-1 fitted with an 85mm gun, being named the KV-85 during development.   By the time these new and improved KV tanks entered service, the Marshal Kliment Vorolshilov had fallen out of favour with his superiors and the tank was renamed to the Josef Stalin 1 (IS-1).    130 IS-1 tanks were produced, it was rendered more or less obsolete even as it entered service as Soviet engineers had managed to fit the same 85mm gun to the T34 Chassis.

Developments continued on the IS chassis however, and after further testing engineers were able to produce an IS fitted with a 122mm gun.    Although this gun didn’t the same ant-armour capacity as more modern anti-tank guns it did have a prodigious HE shell which fulfilled the requirements of Soviet High Command as a break through heavy tank, working alongside Infantry assaults.

Interestingly the HE shell was so powerful that it was capable of knocking a heavy tank out without actually penetrating the armour.   According to some sources the IS-2 and Tiger were capable of disabling each other in normal combat conditions under 1000m, with performance relying upon the quality of the respective crews.

So, we’ve waffled on about the IS-2, what’s in the kit?

My IS-2 was purchased from our usual hobby provider Boss Minis.   It’s a resin and white metal kit with lots of lovely detail.

As usual with Warlord kits, the IS-2 contains 4 resin castings,  these are;

  • Tracks (left and Right)
  • Hull
  • Turret

sov-is2-resin-01

These resin castings are then supplemented with metal fixings including;

  • Tank Commander,
  • Hatches
  • Main gun Barrel
  • Fuel cans
  • Spare Track pieces
sov-is2-metal-01
The more eagle-eyed amongst you my have spotted some additional fuel tanks in this picture.    They snuck in whilst I wasn’t looking, honest!

So, what’s it like in game?

The IS-2 is a heavy tank (10+) available in a number of flavours.   For 256 points you can have an inexperienced version, 320 gives you a regular and 384 a veteran tank.

It’s armed with a heavy anti-tank gun (reflecting the slightly less powerful AP rounds of the weapon) which can also fire as a medium howitzer inflicting the full 2D6 hits!, a hull mounted Medium Machine Gun, a Coaxial Medium Machine Gun and a rear facing Medium Machine Gun.

It also has the Cumbersome special rule which reflects the difficult and slow firing rate of the vehicle.     This tank cannot be assigned an order until another unit on the same side has been assigned an order (unless the only units left all have the cumbersome rule).

The Good

  • Soviet Technology is cheap comrade!  320 points for a heavy tank gun / medium howitzer heavy tank is very reasonable.    (this feeds into good point 2)
  • It’s very versatility is what made it shine in the war, and that comes through in the rules, if your opponent doesn’t bring a tank, you can still enjoy yourself mowing down infantry with those machine guns and shelling anything daft enough to sit in the way
  • It’s iconic.   This is the grandaddy of the MBT tanks from 50’s, 60’s

The Bad

  • It’s only armour 10+ at the front, there’s no armour all round.    If you let someone flank you, you will be staring forlornly at the coolest dead tank in the dead pile.
  • Cumbersome.   I love this rule from a thematic standpoint, it fits the history of the tank (and the weapon it was armed with) but in game it will make getting that decisive alpha strike off more difficult and less reliable.

The Ugly

  • That versatile gun, whilst it is versatile and flexible, it may struggle in the K47 universe when faced with the super heavy walkers and tank with more modern guns, that can and should be offset by thought and some clever list design.

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