Home  |  What's New  |  Features  |  Gallery  |  Reviews  |  Reference  |  Forum  |  Search

Iosef Stalin 2 Diorama
"Tiger Bait"

by James Blackwell


js2jb_6.jpg (53461 bytes)

IS 2 Heavy Soviet Tank

Images and Description by Brett Green

Four More Images in Text and 6 more images at the bottom of the page

B a c k g r o u n d

There is a common perception that the German Tiger and Panther tanks were responsible for the escalation of armour and armament in the Second World War. However it was the T-34 with its ballistic shape, its relatively heavy armour, mobility and excellent anti-tank gun that forced the German Army to respond with these more powerful tanks.

The appearance of the Panther and Tiger at Kursk in 1943 prompted a panicked Soviet countermeasure resulting in the IS (Iosef Stalin) series of tanks.

The IS-2 was the first production version. Although the IS-2 weighed in at around 40 tons (the same as the German "medium" Panther), the Soviets classified it a heavy tank. This was not entirely without justification. The sheer weight of the 122mm shell compensated for the lack of muzzle velocity. It was a potent and effective answer to the heavy frontal armour of even the best German AFVs.

However, the IS-2 did not prevail in every encounter with its German adversaries.



T h e   S u b j e c t

James' diorama is based on the results of one such clash. It represents an IS-2 knocked out in the ferocious battles in the Kurland Pocket between the Baltic Sea and the Gulf of Riga during the late Autumn of 1944. Tigers of S.Pz.Abt 502 and 510 with the support of 126 Infanterie Division managed to temporarily stall this Soviet onslaught.

The diorama portrays a scene from the aftermath of the initial fighting. Elements of a patrol in the 126 Infanterie Division are cautiously examining the remains of an IS-2 dispatched by a Tiger.

The IS-2 is depicted after having suffered a number of hits from the deadly 88mm. The first two have glanced off the mantlet damaging only the side fender and toolbox, but the next few rounds have penetrated the hull side into the engine bay effectively disabling the vehicle. As the stricken IS has slewn to a halt in a paddock, two final rounds have finished the job. Withering fire from the coax machine gun of the Tigers has cut down the escaping crew.



T h e  D i o r a m a

The IS-2

js2jb_8.jpg (56898 bytes)This is the DML/Dragon early IS-2 (kit 6012). Due to the open hatches and blown mantlet, James decided to scratchbuild a full interior. Naturally, Jaguar released their resin interior set immediately afterwards (as is always the modellers' curse!)

Numerous details were also added to the exterior. These included

  • Torsion bar axles individually positioned
  • Fuel filler cap opened
  • Weld beads and surface detail improved
  • Mudguards removed and heavily damaged
  • Headlight hollowed out and genuine broken glass added from Microscope slide cover slips
  • Horn hollowed out
  • Damaged radiator grille - cut out and replaced with photo-etched mesh and lead-foil strip
  • Cylindrical bladed radiator fan scratchbuilt from 35 pieces of styrene strip and discs.
  • Boxed in sponson undersides
  • Many other details added from styrene, brass and lead foil

The IS-2 was painted overall with Tamiya Acrylic XF-13 J.A. Green followed by a wash of Windsor and Newton "Burnt Sienna" oil paint mixed with Humbrol 33 Flat Black. A light misting of Tamiya XF-61 Dark Green followed.

The white numerals are rub-down decals from MB Models (WWII Large Soviet Numbers - set 2013).

For a more detailed discussion about the DML/Dragon IS-2 kits, go to the Construction Feature in HyperScale's Armour Archive.

js2jb_9.jpg (41122 bytes)

The first step to achieving the rust effect was to spray various layers of XF-64 Red Brown. Rustall was then applied with a medium sized brush. Care was taken to vary the thickness and number of Rustall coats. Tamiya XF-1 Flat Black was airbrushed in thin lines to represent smoke stains. The finishing touches were various pastels in brown and orange shades and cigarette ash to simulate real ash! The result is a convincing burnt hulk.


The Figures

js2jb_1.jpg (19579 bytes)One of the German figures is the standing figure in the Kirin "German's at Rest" (set 25010) slightly reworked. One arm is scratchbuilt to hold the Hornet KAR 98K rifle. The other German figure is based on the Verlinden POW No. 1 (set 634). Arms were sourced from the parts box. Various insignia and accessories were added to both figures from Armour Accessories by Historex, and scrounged from other sources.

The dead Russians started out as a Verlinden "German Casualty" (no. 610) and their Soviet APC (no. 509) crewman with legs from one of the figures in ESCI's Sapper Team. The final figure was virtually scratchbuilt with a skull carved from a Warriors bald head.


The Accessories

The diorama features many subtle accessories. Two crows and a sparrow came from Tamiya's "German Tank Crew at Rest" (set 35201). Tamiya's instructions advise to "…use birds as you like" - which James did!

Fence posts are matchsticks linked with Verlinden photo-etched barbed wire. Bird droppings are Tamiya white paint. The gate is scratchbuilt from basswood strip with chain and peg latch plus Grandt line hinges. The tree stump is from Verlinden. The toolbox on the ground is folded from lead foil. Various scraps from the destroyed fuel tanks are also formed from lead foil with the Rustall treatment.

The tow cables are seven-strand brass picture wire, painted red-brown and Rustall.

There is a skeleton of a dead calf (unfortunately not seen in these shots) from Morse Productions. It was originally intended to be an HO scale cow skeleton.


The Groundwork

Groundwork is Pollyfilla mixed with white glue and Kitty Litter. The dirt is "Tuft" Topsoil. Tuft is an Australian brand of model railway landscaping material. The topsoil compound has also been applied to the tracks and the running gear of the IS-2, and the boots of the German figures. This is a very effective method of blending the subjects with the base.

Mint flakes provided the leaf litter. The tree was "borrowed" by James from his neighbor's garden.

The completed groundwork received an uneven dark wash in the track marks to represent churned soil.


C o n c l u s i o n

This compact yet complex and impressive Diorama earned James first place at the 1998 Australian Open Model Championship (Model Expo) in Melbourne.


R e l a t e d    L i n k s

The diorama was inspired by an image on the "Red Steel" website. The specific photograph may be viewed by following this link. This excellent site features many images of Soviet tanks in various categories. Well worth a visit.

 For more tips and techniques on using Rustall, see the article in HyperScale's Reference Library.


R e f e r e n c e s

Another photograph of the same vehicle appears in both

50 Famous Tanks by George Bradford and Len Morgan, Arco 1967
by George Bradford and Len Morgan, Arco 1967
Library of Congress Card No. : 67-12768


"Armour on the Eastern Front" by Walter Spielberger, Aero Series No 6. 1968.
Library of Congress Card No. : 68-17961

The following references are also helpful for more general details:

"IS-2 Heavy Tank - 1944-73" by Zaloga and Sarson, Osprey New Vanguard No. 7, 1993.
ISBN 1-85532-396-6

"WW II Soviet Heavy Tank - Stalin" Tank Magazine Special, 1983

"Stalin's Heavy Tanks 1941-1945" by Zaloga and Kinnear, Concorde, 1997.
ISBN 962-361-616-3

"Red Army Uniforms of World War Two in Colour Photos" by Shalito Mollo and Savchenkov, 1993,  Europa Militaria No. 14
ISBN 1-872004-59-8

"German Soldiers of World War Two" by Histoire and Collections, 1994
ISBN 2-908-182-29-7


Additional Images

Click the thumbnails below to view the images full-sized.. 
Use the "Back" arrow on your browser to return to this page.


js2jb_2.jpg (22771 bytes)         js2jb_3.jpg (50901 bytes)        js2jb_4.jpg (38390 bytes)

js2jb_5.jpg (53269 bytes)         js2jb_7.jpg (54536 bytes)         js2jb_10.jpg (48820 bytes)

Diorama by James Blackwell
Photographs and Description Copyright 1998 by Brett Green
Page Created 20 June 1998
Last updated 26 July 2007

Back to HyperScale Main Page

Back to Feature Articles