by: Matt Flegal [ ]
The explosion in popularity of the World of Tanks on-line game continues to pay dividends to tank modellerís, especially those who like rare or never previously produced designs that didn't bear a swastika. As part of Tactical Press in Moscow several authors have been releasing rather involved design and service books on Soviet AFV's as well as the German Maus over the past year. Just in time for the release of Trumpeter's IS-4 model kit we get a very useful reference book for the tank.
First things first, it is entirely in Russian. If you do not speak Russian (as I do not) you will be either looking at the pictures or laboriously using translation software to get a rather dodgy text (tower for turret and so forth). Second thing is that it is difficult to find these books for order. They do show up on eBay and you can order them directly from Viktor Kulikov as I did. Shipping isn't cheap, running almost $20 as well. Is it worth it?
Yup, it sure is. Almost every one of the 138 pages has a well-produced period photo or blueprint drawing. 56 pages start us off discussing and picturing the various Object 701 prototypes. The text is informative (note: since I'm using translation software take this with a grain of salt moving forward, it is full of info but I have no way to confirm its accuracy or even if I'm reading it correctly) and dense. You get a great multi-view drawing of the first prototype and a smaller one of the third. Lots of very nice photos accompany this chapter.
Following this you get 42 pages of the IS-4 in service. The vast majority of these photos are ones I have never seen and they will give the modeller some good reference of these as they appeared while actually being used. You also get excellent 1/35th scale five-view drawings of the in-service tank as well as the IS-4M. These are not the M-Hobby drawings that have spread about the internet; they are much more detailed and appear more accurate as well when it comes to turret shape.
Twenty-five pages of engineering drawings and interior period photos follow. One thing that I very much appreciated is that the book does not waste pages on current museum walk aroundís (which you can get around the net and via Youtube with the Chieftain's 2-part video on the outside and inside of the Kubinka IS-4). The focus is on period photos and drawings which is a great reference for us.
We wrap up with a dozen page summary of the IS-4 program in the context of the post-war Soviet heavy tank program. I hadn't realized several things, such as the 10:1 production ratio of IS-3 to IS-4 tanks. Interesting but frustrating because I know I'm only getting the bare bones out of it.
So it's a reference you probably can't read, that's difficult to get, and a little pricey to get a hold of. Worth it? To me, yes. There is very little in English on these tanks and the information that you can glean from the internet is sparse. This was a failed design and it shows. However, here you get many photos of the prototypes and service vehicles, excellent plans and drawings, and much useful information to tackle your Trumpeter kit.