RussianArmour Overview
All drawings © o5m6 2008. All rights reserved.
No publication in any form without the author's written permission.

Last Updated: October 05, 2008

Member of a Guards Tank unit, turret hatch half-opened, spare tracklinks installed to the hull front

IS-3 Heavy Tank »Pike«
With the appearance of the King Tiger on the Eastern Front during the fightings for the Sandomierz bridgehead in August 1944, it become evident that the tank evolution had climbed the next level.
Two design teams, one led by N. L. Dukhov and called »Kirovets-1«, instantly started the development of a new heavy tank based on the chassis and suspension of the IS heavy tank.
One team redesigned the hull front with two 110mm plates welded together at an angle, sloping down to the vehicle's front, termed a Pike nose by its creators.
The new turret designed by Dukhov's team was a simple hemisphere with a thick armour gun mantlet faired cleanly into the shape.
The hull panels were cleverly laid out to increase their effective thickness to frontal attack by heavily angling them as well.
To accommodate the large turret, the upper hull sides actually sloped inward, a feature hidden by attaching thin metal tool stowage bins along the upper sides.
Internally, the Kirovets-1 was essentially similar to the IS-2, using a slightly modified V-11 diesel engine without the inertia starter of the older engine. It also used the same D-25T main gun.

The first prototype was shown to Marshals G. K. Zhukov and A. M.Vasilevsky in October 1944, and received a strong recommendation for series production.
The latter started at ChKZ in March of 1945 and 29 were finished before VE-Day, with another 2300 produced in total.
However, the IS-3 design had been prematurely rushed into production, and the tank was beset with lots of mechanical problems leading to many modification in the post-war era.

The issue of whether or not the IS-3 saw any fighting in the Berlin campaign is a controversial one.
For many years, official Soviet accounts indicated that it did take part in the fighting.
However, internal Soviet design histories that were restricted until recently deny that this was the case, and interviews with Soviet heavy tank designers also indicate that the IS-3 never saw any combat action against Germany.
Apparently, at least one regiment was rushed to Germany in April 1945, but hostilities ended before they were committed to the fighting.
Other sources indicate that IS-3 heavy tanks were used in the August 1945 assault on the Japanese Kwangtung Army in Manchuria, but that has to be considered uncertain as well.

Member of a Guards Tank unit, turret at 3 o'clock, spare tracklinks installed to the hull front

Ready for transport, turret at 6 o'clock, rear smoke discharger drums installed

Left : Ready for back transport from Germany

Berlin, Unter den Linden, September 7, 1945
On friday, September 7, 1945, five days after VJ-Day, the Japanese surrender in the Pacific theater, the Allied forces held the official victory parade in the heart of Berlin, on the once splendid boulevard »Unter den Linden«.

The decorated tribune along the highway was crowded by many representatives of the now four Allied nations (USSR, USA, UK and France), among them :

  • Marshal Georgiy Constantinovich Zhukov, commander-in-chief of Soviet occupation forces,
  • General George S.Patton, commander of American 3rd army ,
  • General Robertson of the British forces and
  • the French General Marie P. Koenig.
The parade was headed by a Regiment of Soviet 248th Infantry Division of the 9th Rifle Corps of the 5th Shock Army, followed by forces of the French 2nd Infantry Division, proceeded by the British 131st Brigade, Royal Guardsmen and Pilots of the RAF and finally by U.S. Parachutists of the famous American 82nd Airborne Division.
After a short interruption the columns of Armoured Fighting Vehicles followed.
The first dispatch consisted of thirty two American M24 Chaffee and sixteen armored cars M8 from the 705th Tank Battalion.
They were followed by French tanks, armoured transporters and armored cars from the 3rd Tank Regiment of the 1st Tank Division.
English armored troops presented twenty four Comet tanks and thirty armored cars from the 7th Armoured Division as well.
In all, nothing really spectacular for the present militaries.

Then, however, a column of fifty-two heavy tanks approached which had not been seen by Western eyes yet.
The IS-3 were part of the 71st Guard Heavy Tank Regiment of the 2nd Guard Tank Army.
The well sloped armour and the flat round turret so deeply impressed everyone around that Marshal Zhukov could proudly inform Stalin accordingly.

Proudly parading in front of the tribune