The subject of this kit is one of the later versions of the IS (Or JS if you so prefer) which is classified as an 'M'. This, according to my sources, is much later than Tamiya's
version which is an early model. Despite this, Trumpeter's
box-art portrays the vehicle passing an abandoned (German) 37mm AT Gun....
The kit comes in four sprues moulded in a dark-green plastic, the tracks and the lower hull are seperate. Also included is a nylon sprue containing poly caps, a decal sheet and a length of thread to make your own towing hawser.
I will split the build into three sections - Running Gear/lower hull, Turret and Upper Hull.
First Impressions - The Box is Opened..
Subtle it isn't. The kit on first inspection seems to be heavily moulded with apparently little of the delicacy one has come to expect from more recent releases. However first appearances can be bad counsel...
The Build # 1 - The Running Gear
Each road wheel consists of three parts, one outside, one inside and a poly cap to ensure a snug (glueless) fit on the suspension arms. Likewise the support rollers. The Drive sprockets consist of four parts. Once the wheels are assembled and cleaned (very little cleaning up in fact, the mouldings are suprisingly free of excessive mould lines..) the next section which was worked on was the suspension. This is NOT
the easiest part of the kit. It took a fair amount of trial, error and test-fitting to get the correct angle for the suspension arms. The kit instructions are a touch 'vague' about positioning... After this was complete, I started on the upper hull...
The Build # 2 - Upper Hull
Again few problems were encountered. Most parts fit together with the minimum of problems although there are a few pitfalls for the unwary...
The first area where some care is required is the fitting of the side plates to the upper hull. They go in at an angle, and do require a bit of 'dry-fitting' to get the angle right. At this point, I would advise leaving off the sand-shields until everything else is completed.
The next 'entertainment' came with the auxiliary fuel tanks. There are two different models.Four are mounted on either side in groups of two, the other two on the rear plate. Once again, the instructions are vague, as to the mounting points or rather which way up they go.. Nor are the location points particularly well-defined...
The Build # 3 - Turret
The turret is very nicely cast with a rough 'casting' finish. Mould numbers are also moulded onto it. Few problems are to be encounted in this part of the kit although extreme care must be taken in seperating the ten 'railings' from the sprue. Care should also be exercised in avoiding a line in the two (vertical) halves of the main gun. The 12.7mm HMG is a touch crudely moulded and I have left it off for the moment...
The Build # 4 - Joining upper to lower hull
What seems like a daunting part of the construction is actually quite painless. Both upper and lower hull sections fit together well gaps are minimum and only a small 'wipe' putty was necessary..
The tracks on this kit are probably the worst aspect. Thick, inflexiple and 'fuzzily' moulded, they also appear to be a touch too wide which is why I am glad I left the sandshields off until they were in place. I also (in the interests of my sanity) was forced to position them at a slight angle from the hull to accomodate them. In a word, replace them!
Finishing and Painting
I always undercoat as for me it gives more 'solidity' to the final color. For this my undercoat of preference is Games Workshop's
'Chaos Black'. It covers well and dries quickly.
The base color was Tamiya
Light Sand in the 'rattle' can. At this point I had decided to do the Egyptian JSIII in an overall sand finish... Once this had dried, I did a light filter of oil paint (Burnt Umber and Black) over the entire vehicle and left for two days to dry.
I was then able to begin the drybrushing. For this I have no particular formula. I always drybrush using Vallejo
Acrylics.White, Light Sand, and various other shades such as beige were all used to give a different density and the effect of wear and discoloration. Finally a darker pin-wash was done and several areas were dirtied up. Particular attention was given to the engine deck and the areas round the refuelling points.As this was a vehicle in the desert, perhaps I gave it more wear and tear than normal. Some chipping was added with darkened gunmetal and rust was used over the milder steel areas... The tracks at the moment are only painted in gunmetal, they will receive drybrushing and washing in the not to distant future....
If this was a conventional review it would be given a solid '8'
however with the flexibilty afforded by this type of feature I can be a little more precise...
At first, the kit appears to be fairly crude by todays standards and certaily in some aspects it lacks a little in 'finesse'. However, bearing in mind the design criteria for this vehicle and its weight, the 'solidity' does seem to build a good representation of a historically important vehicle. Russian tank designers obviously preferred the bludgeon to the rapier...
The instructions are vague. Very vague. The casting on the turret is well done but virtually lacking in the upper hull. The markings give a chioce of only two vehicles - of the two the Egyptian one was a more attractive choice. The decals themselves are fairly thick although liberal use of microsol avoided any problems. The tracks are probably the worst aspect of the kit, replacing them would be a priority... The HMG is a touch crude for my taste looking more like 'old' Tamiya than anything else.
Extremely highly recommended. Not a kit for the absolute novice although it comes into the category of 'forgiving' One of those really attractive subjects that make a change from the more modern vehicles. If some real time was to be invested into this kit, a really attractive vehicle could be produced. On a historical note, this is the first JSIII I have built in more than 30 years. The last was the Airfix JSIII in 1/76th scale... If you want a nice 'different' vehicle, go for it!