In-Box Review
JS-2 Heavy Tank
JS-2 Russian Heavy Tank Model 1944 ChKZ
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by: Scott Espin [ SPIFF ]

The JS-2 came about as a counter to the Panther and Tiger tank designs fielded by the Germans in 1942/43. It was designed as a breakthrough tank with heavy frontal armor up to 120mm thick which was well sloped so as to withstand the mighty German 88mm gun. The JS-2 featured a massive 122mm gun capable of penetrating the frontal armor of the Panther. It was very effective at bunker busting and achieving the “breakthrough” which the faster T-34 tanks could then exploit. The 1944 model represented in this kit featured several improvements over the original JS-2 including a faster loading gun with a new, double baffle muzzle brake, better fire control and a simpler front hull using a flat/sloped front armor plate.
The Kit
The kit is packaged in a large white box standard for Tamiya’s 1/35 scale line of armor kits with a nice rendition of a JS-2 on the cover. The sprues are protected in clear plastic bags as are the decals. The instructions are the usual well done black and white line drawings. The kit contains:

• 388 plastic parts on 6 sprues including individual track links
• Photo etch fret with 2 grill screens
• 2 single piece “rubber band” tracks
• Poly caps for the running gear
• String for the tow cables
• Decal Sheet with 4 sets of markings
• Fold out black and white instructions
• An information sheet

The information sheet lists some of the weapons used in the Battle of Berlin by both the Germans and Russians along with a basic map. It is far from comprehensive, but will be of interest to history novices. As can be expected from Tamiya, the quality of the moldings is excellent with minimal mold parting lines and no flash.

Running Gear
The detail on the drive wheels and return rollers looks good and includes the rough cast texture of the real thing. Construction begins with the road wheels, idler wheels and drive sprocket. Each assembly consists of 4 parts including 1 poly cap. The poly caps are sandwiched between the assemblies and sealed in place by the road wheel caps. This design will allow all the wheels, idlers and sprockets to rotate.

Lower Hull
The lower hull consists of a sturdy one piece tub which includes the hull bottom, side and rear hull plates. The lower front glacis plate is attached separately. The instructions would have you attach the spare tracks to the lower glacis before attaching it to the hull but most will want to wait until after the base coat has been sprayed so as to make painting the camouflage easier. All of the suspension components are molded separately which allows for better detail to be molded into the parts and provides for a more realistic appearance. This also gives you some flexibility if you wish to model any of the suspension arms articulated for use on a base or diorama. Tamiya includes a jig for use when attaching the suspension arms to ensure they are all level, which is a really nice touch! That should minimize the chance of a floating road wheel once the tracks are installed. Once all the suspension components have been installed it’s time to pop on the wheels. It looks like the mud scraper for the drive sprocket should be installed after the sprocket has been attached. No hull interior parts are provided.

Tamiya has included two different options for the tracks. The first is the typical one piece tracks which have been the standard for Tamiya for many years. The ends of the tracks have an overlapping tongue and groove type attachment which can be glued together using normal model cement… in other words, no need to heat up a screwdriver to mash down vinyl pins. The second option features individual, alternating track links (parts D1 with guide horns, D3 without) which are to be cemented together. There are two ejector pin marks on each track link which you’ll probably want to fill and sand. Two jigs are provided for assembling the upper runs of the tracks which are designed to help you replicate the typical track sag between the return rollers when the JS-2 is at rest which will really come in handy! The rest of the links are to be glued in a straight run for the bottom, then individual links need to be glued around the drive sprockets and idlers. The instructions would have you attach the tracks around the running gear at this stage of construction, but most will want to wait until the base coat has been sprayed before installing them.

Upper Hull
The upper hull consists of two halves divided just behind the backside of the turret ring. The 1944 model of the JS-2 featured a simplified front hull without the “step” of the previous model so the two piece design of the upper hull might be an indication that the earlier JS-2 is in the works. A gun travel lock was installed on the rear of the hull in the new and improved 1944 model and is therefore included in the kit. Photo etch grill screens are provided which always add a nice level of detail to the engine deck, however the hinges are molded into the plastic and are a bit simplified. A string is provided for the tow cables which will need to be measured and cut into 100mm lengths. The instructions have a 100mm long guide/template to make the measuring easy. Based on my experience with string tow cables they just don’t look very realistic as you always wind up with stray fibers which are especially obvious after painting, not to mention the paint soaks into the fibers and just doesn’t look right. They are also very difficult to weather realistically so you’ll probably want to come up with a substitute for the string. Four spare fuel tanks install on the hull rear, with each tank made up of two halves so you’ll have some seam work to do here. You’ll need to decide which paint/marking scheme you’re going to go with before you install the headlight and horn. The first 3 marking options require them to be installed on the left. The 4th option requires them to be installed on the right. Holes need to be drilled out to attach them. There are no clear parts in the kit so the headlamp is just green plastic that will need to be painted silver. I’m a little surprised that in this day and age a small clear sprue with a headlamp was not included for a more realistic appearance.

The turret is comprised of two halves, top and bottom which are separated along the natural seam lines of the real thing. The rough cast texture of the turret is reproduced very well as are the weld seams. The D-25T 122mm gun consists of two halves for the barrel and two halves for the double baffle muzzle brake. As always with barrels comprised of two halves, some seam work will be required. The gun will swivel up and down if care is taken when installing the gun mantlet. No turret interior is provided other than two simplistic seats. There are two crew figures, the commander (full figure) and the loader (from the waist up). Only the very late models of the JS-2 had an anti-aircraft machine gun so that is not included in this kit.

Camouflage and Markings
The kit has 4 sets of markings all in an olive drab color scheme:

• 7th Independent Guards Heavy Tank Brigade, April 1945, Berlin
• 88th Independent Guards Heavy Tank Regiment, April 1945, Berlin
• Czechoslovak 1st Tank Brigade, May 1945, Prague
• Polish 4th Heavy Tank Regiment, April 1945, Germany

The first two options have white air recognition stripes which are not included on the decal sheet so you will have to paint them yourself. That should be easy enough, especially because those stripes were hand painted on the real thing so you’ll probably want to hand apply them in the same way or mask a little bit unevenly.
Overall this is a very nice kit. I really like that Tamiya is including both the single piece rubber band tracks for those intimidated by individual links as well as the single links (and jig) for those with like the more realistic appearance of individual link tracks. The detail is good, the rough cast texture is replicated well. I wish Tamiya would stop using twisted string for the tow cables though.

A Build Log has been started on the Forums to evaluate the kit construction.

Highs: Accurate representation, quality moldings, option to use either individual links or single length track.
Lows: String for tow cable, no clear part for the headlight.
Verdict: Great kit, the track options and jigs are a really nice touch
Percentage Rating
  Scale: 1:35
  Mfg. ID: 35289
  Suggested Retail: MSRP $61.00
  PUBLISHED: Sep 20, 2008

About Scott Espin (Spiff)

I have been an avid student of military history for over 35 years, especially World War II with my focus mostly on German military equipment (tanks and aircraft). I'm especially interested in anything relating to the Eastern Front and North Africa. My Dad ignited my passion for modeling when I...

Copyright ©2021 text by Scott Espin [ SPIFF ]. All rights reserved.


Those of you interested in this kit might also be interested in these Aber upgrade sets: Aber 122mm D-25T tank Barrel for JS-2 Aber Grilles for JS-2/JSU-122/152
SEP 20, 2008 - 06:10 AM
I love these 'peaks' inside! Nice write up too.
SEP 20, 2008 - 08:29 AM
Thank you Jeff. I'll have a build log going on this kit sometime this weekend.
SEP 20, 2008 - 08:32 AM
Hey Scott, I've got one of these in my stash. As usual with Tamiya, what's inside the box looks great. It's nice to hear that it's not just my opinion !!! Cheers jjumbo
SEP 20, 2008 - 09:16 AM
I've started the build and so far it's been flawless. The fit is perfect! The wheel assemblies are done as is most of the lower hull except for the suspension arms. I'll post the build log a little later today when I have more "meat" to post, so to speak.
SEP 21, 2008 - 06:15 AM
I've also got this one getting dusty in the closet and this is a good reason to at least dust it off and look at it Thanks Scott Bob
SEP 21, 2008 - 01:32 PM
You're welcome Bob, hope to see you dust it off and get to building it soon! I finally had a chance to get the build log going. You can see it here if you're interested. Tamiya 1/35 JS-2 Model 1944 ChKZ Build Log
SEP 22, 2008 - 06:40 AM

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