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GABTU (Main Directorate of Armoured Forces) was determined to maintain
this state of affairs. The SKB‑2 heavy tank design bureau in
Chelyabinsk started the KV‑13 program to build a heavy tank with both
sufficient mobility and heavier armour.
N V Tseits, recently released from a Gulag concentration camp, headed the project with his old colleague K I Kuzmin working on the hull design. Using castings to get a better shaped tank, his team delivered a tank ten tons lighter than the KV, despite having better armour.
Unfortunately its performance was lacking and the project was cancelled.
Iosef Stalin Heavy Tank
On Tseits’ death, N F Shamshurin took over the project. A new transmission, cooling system and lightened tracks solved many of the KV-13’s problems. Meanwhile Marshal Kliment Voroshilov, for whom the KV tank was named, was in disgrace, so the KV-13 was renamed IS-1 in honour of Iosef Stalin, the Soviet leader. One of the oddities of the new tank was a fixed-mounted machine-gun for the driver to replace the one fired by the co-driver in previous heavy tanks.
While certainly an interesting concept, the practical usefulness of this machine-gun was nil.
The capture of a Tiger tank in late 1942 led to the April 1943 order to install an 85mm gun in the new IS-1 tank. This required a whole new turret and the lengthening of the hull with an additional road wheel to take the extra weight. The IS-85 as it was now known shared this turret with the KV‑85 that was produced while IS-85 production got under way.
This was not the end of the up-gunning. The Battle of Kursk led to the demand for an even bigger gun on the IS chassis that eventually led to the IS-2 armed with a 122mm gun.
The first IS-85 heavy tanks were delivered by the Chelyabinsk Kirov Plant in October 1943. These were issued to Guards Heavy Tank Regiments reforming after the summer’s heavy fighting.
The IS-85 heavy tank was issued to 1st, 8th, and 13th Guards Heavy Tank Regiments fighting in the Ukraine. These units were heavily engaged in early 1944 at Starokonstantinov, Korsun-Shevshenkovskiy and Fastov Station west of Kiev.
It was re-equipped again in mid-1944 with IS-2 heavy tanks and ended the war in Silesia with the 5th Ukrainian Front.
8th Guards Heavy Tank Regiment
The 8th Guards Heavy Tank Regiment was formed in October 1942 in the Moscow Military District with KV-1 tanks. It fought with the 24th Army at Stalingrad in December 1942.
In July, after heavy fighting during the
earlier part of the year, it was re-equipped with IS-2 heavy tanks.
From December 1944 it was assigned to the 4th Guards Tank Army as a
independent support regiment.
In Flames Of War
The IS-85 first featured in Mid-war Monsters
as an experimental tank, but it saw actual service during the first half of
1944. You can now field it in Red Bear as an option in the
Gvardeyskiy Tyazhelyy Tankovy Polk.
The IS-85 can be modelled using the IS-2 Guards Heavy Tank
Company (SBX08) box set or the IS-2 blister pack (SU092). Both of these
products now include the barrel options for both the 85mm gun of IS-85 and the
122mm gun of the IS-2.
Check out the IS-2 Guards Heavy Tank
Company box set in the online store here...
Check out the IS-2 blister pack in the online store here...