The 7th Independant Guards Heavy Tank Brigade reached the southeastern Berlin suburbs as part of Chuykov's 8th Guards army on the 24th/25th of April 1945.
They had the red star with the polar bear painted on both turret sides as a memory of their participation at the Karelian campaign in late 1944
In December 1944 they switched to the heavies IS-2 as the ChKZ plant at Tankograd was finally able to deliver significant numbers of the new tank.
On April 16,1945, they were fully equipped with 65 tanks in three regiments (104-106), each one carrying 42 122mm rounds instead of the usual 28.
During the attack on the Seelow Heights and the following approach to Berlin, 105th Regiment lost 10 tanks and 106th Regiment 6 tanks while the Brigade as a whole destroyed several German Tiger, Panther, Ferdinand and Pz.IV and lots of guns.
The next days once again showed the vulnerability of tanks in street fighting as the Brigade suffered heavy losses from guns, Panzerfaust and Panzerschreck.
However, the unit had finally reached the central Brandenburg Gate when the famous TASS photocorrespondent Eugene Khaldei made his shots of tank no.414, 432 and 434 with the rear turret inscription "Combat Friend".
Map of Central Berlin with the final location of the 7th Independant Guards Heavy Tank Brigade marked in red