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Countdown to Bagration: the tanks of Bagration – Soviet IS-2

by on July 21, 2012

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The Iosif Vissarionovich tank (or IS tank, also known as the Joseph Stalin tank), was a heavy tank developed by the Soviet Union during World War II and first used in the Kursk area in September 1943. The tanks in the series are also sometimes called JS or 1048; 1057; tanks.
The heavy tank was designed with thick armour to counter the German 88 mm guns, and carried a main gun that was capable of defeating the German Tiger and Panther tanks. It was mainly a breakthrough tank, firing a heavy high-explosive shell that was useful against entrenchments and bunkers. The IS-2 was put into service in April 1944, and was used as a spearhead in the Battle of Berlin by the Red Army in the final stage of the war.

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The IS-122 prototype replaced the IS-85, and began mass production as the IS-2. The 85 mm guns could be reserved for the new T-34-85 medium tank, and some of the IS-1s built were rearmed before leaving the factory, and issued as IS-2s.
The main production model was the IS-2, with the powerful A-19. It was slightly lighter and faster than the heaviest KV model 1942 tank, with thicker front armour and a much-improved turret design. The tank could carry thicker armour than the KV series, while remaining lighter, due to the better layout of the armour envelope. The KV’s armour was less well-shaped and featured heavy armour even on the rear, while the IS series concentrated its armour at the front. The IS-2 weighed about the same as a German Panther and was lighter than the German heavy Tiger tank series. It was slightly lower than both.
While the design was good for its time, Western observers tended to criticize Soviet tanks for their lack of finish and crude construction. The Soviets responded that it was warranted considering the need for wartime expediency and the typically short battlefield life of their tanks.
Early IS-2s can be identified by the ‘stepped’ front hull casting with its small, opening driver’s visor. The early tanks lacked gun tube travel locks or antiaircraft machine guns, and had narrow mantlets.

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