by: Matt Smith [ ]
In April 1944, in an attempt to increase the firepower of the existing ISU-152, a high-power variant of the self-propelled gun was developed in Factory No. 100, this was designated ISU-152BM, sometimes referred to as ISU-152BM-1 or ISU-152-1. The official factory designation was Object 246. This vehicle was armed with the 152.4 mm BL-8 (БЛ-8) gun it had a maximum range of 18,500 meters and with a muzzle velocity of 880 m/s. During August 1944 the BL-8 gun was replaced with the improved 152.4 mm BL-10 gun and was designated ISU-152-2, this gun had a maximum range of 19,500 meters with a muzzle velocity of 880 m/s.
The factory designation of this vehicle was Object 247 (Объект 247), in December 1944 the ISU-152-2 underwent trials, and both the barrel strength and the angle of horizontal guidance proved to be unsatisfactory. The gun was sent for further improvement, but it wasn't completed before the war ended. This particular vehicle was never accepted for service. Dragon has released this particular vehicle making it a unique late war Russian prototype self-propelled gun.
This model is packaged in a the typical Dragon cardboard box and the first thing one will notice is how light the box is. Unlike many releases from Dragon this is not a kit that will fill your spares box. It consists of 420 parts (236 in grey styrene and 184 Magic Track single links). A simple tri fold typical Dragon instruction booklet is included. Two options are available (one ISU-152-1 and one ISU-152-2) both are finished in an overall 4BO green with no markings, as such, no decal sheet is provided.
The majority of the sprues actually date back to the 1990s and are marked JS-2/JSU and feature the older ‘Dragon body’ logo with a single sprue ‘E’ appearing to be a new moulding. The lower hull is separate and is much more defined with almost no sink marks and moulded in a darker gray plastic than the rest of the sprues. I compared this to the older (2009 I believe) Orange Box release of the JSU-152 and the sprues are identical in appearance and part numbering.
As a result the kit's two major flaws remain these have long been known - undersized road wheels (13.6mm vs 14.6mm) and a hull pan slightly that is too high it is a shame that neither one has been fixed by Dragon after multiple releases. Otherwise the kit moldings are showing some signs of age with flash and sink marks around most of the larger pieces, I wouldn’t consider this a deal breaker. The mantlets and front of the upper hull have a textured cast appearance that is somewhat thick and slightly over scale, weld marks on the upper hull are also included and these are depicted much better. The lower hull is a one piece affair and despite the size discrepancy is probably the best single piece of plastic in the kit. Unfortunately most of it will be hidden behind suspension, wheels, and tracks; however the hatch and bolt detail are fantastic. The running gear, aside from the slightly undersized road wheels) are detailed nicely with the correct style of return rollers (with lightening holes) for late a 1944 model. No option exists for articulating the running gear, but this could be done with a small bit of effort. On a positive note the use of Dragon Magic Tracks for the split link tracks as used by Soviet SPG platforms in World War 2, these are crisply molded and should add a nice touch to the finished kit.
Painting and Finishing
There is only one scheme offered; Russian 4BO Green and as previously detailed above there are no decals as this was a prototype.
Even though this is marketed as a “2 n 1” kit, the only option is for a BL-10 barrel, which was only used on the ISU-152-2. In order to make an ISU-152-1, the kit barrel would need to be extended an additional 6.51mm. Both muzzle brakes are included, however, and the multi-piece BL-10 brake is very nicely rendered. The barrel is a two piece plastic option; both halves in my review kit are straight with no signs of warping. Even with the minor flaws in the kit itself, I would recommend this to any fan of Russo-Soviet "big guns". The undersized wheels are easily fixed with a thin strip (0.02" x 0.08") of styrene applied to each wheel. Highly recommended for fans of Soviet IS or SP gun platforms.