IS-85 Guards Heavy Tank Regiments

IS-85 IS-85 Guards Heavy Tank Regiments

Soviet heavy tanks were a thorn in the side of the German Army throughout the war. Their armour was almost invulnerable to most German anti-tank weapons and their guns were more than adequate to deal with most German tanks.

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.

Combat Service
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.

IS-85 1st Guards Heavy Tank Regiment
The 1st Guards Heavy Tank Regiment was formed in October 1942 with KV-1 tanks. It entered combat in late November 1942 with the 21st Army. In January to February 1943 it took part in the final storming of Stalingrad. It continued to operate as a infantry support regiment until March 1944 when it was re-equipped with IS-85 tanks. They were the first unit to use the IS-85 against the German Tiger when they met the 503. Schwere Panzerabteilung near Starokonstantinov.

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.

Due to heavy loses it was equipped with a mix of T-34 and KV tanks by September 1943 before it was finally re-equipped with IS-85 heavy tanks in March 1944. It fought through early 1944 and was engaged in the Korsun-Shevchenkoskiy fighting. It was once more re-equipped with IS-2 heavy tanks in June/July. In August 1944 it was assigned to the 19th Tank Corps where it served until the end of the war.
IS-85 13th Guards Heavy Tank Regiment
The 13th Guards Heavy Tank Regiment was formed on 28 October 1942 in the Moscow Military District from the 34th Tank Brigade with KV-1 tanks. It first saw combat with the 3rd Shock Army on the Northwestern Front in January 1943. In early 1944 it was assigned to the 2nd Tank Army after being re-equipped with new IS-85 heavy tanks where it saw fighting at Fastov Station.

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...

Red Bear

Last Updated On Monday, October 1, 2012 by Blake at Battlefront