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Tamiya 1/35 scale JS-3 Stalin Russian heavy tank

Kit: No. 35211
Scale: 1/35
Manufacturer: Tamiya, imported by Tamiya America, 2 Orion, Aliso Viejo, CA 92656-4200, phone 800-826-4922
Price: $49
Comments: Injection molded, 217 parts (6 vinyl, 1 string), decals.

When the Cold War started just after World War II, the Soviet Union's JS-III heavy tank was at the top of the list of threat weapons. When it was revealed during the May 1945 victory parade in Berlin it shocked Western military authorities. Despite its potential, most of its service career was spent as a threat, but some saw action with the Egyptian army in the 1967 Six-Day War with Israel.

Tamiya's Stalin kit is from all-new tooling. Cleanly molded in olive-drab plastic, the kit represents the first production JS-III model, but the parts breakdown hints at modified future releases. The rough-cast finish of the distinctive hemispherical turret is beautifully captured. The interior parts are limited to turret seats and periscopes, and a single crew figure is included.

At first glance it appears to be a simple kit, but there are more than 200 parts. Most of them go into the suspension and once you are "rolling," it doesn't take long to build the Stalin. Tamiya's alignment jig for assembling the suspension arms made positioning all the wheels at their proper level a snap!

The wheels are detailed on both sides. Be careful gluing the rear engine plate (part No. C34) as it's easy for it to slide in the wrong direction. Make sure its bottom edge is even with the bottom edge of the hull top.

When installing the gun assembly push it back into the turret as far as possible. The real gun had only negative 2 degrees of depression.

A little filler was needed at the V-shaped front joint of the hull top and chassis. No sponson floors are provided, creating an open appearance while it goes together. You may wish to add floors from sheet styrene if you want to open the large turret hatches.

The kit includes string for making tow cables. I normally use wire, but spraying the string with a heavy coat of metallic gray is acceptable.

The vinyl tracks show good detail, but it's difficult to duplicate the sag between the return rollers. I applied super glue where necessary to keep them down.

Testor's new Model Master Russian armor green enamel provides a realistic semigloss finish on Soviet/Russian vehicles.

References were not easy to find. My primary source was Stalin Postrach Zachodu by Janusz Magnuski. The March 1995 issue of Museum Ordnance also was useful. Though I couldn't find exact dimensions, the finished model looks convincing.

An enjoyable 15 hours were invested in my Stalin. It's not a difficult kit to build, and it's a good pick for beginners as well as experts.

Jim Zeske


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