ISU-122 Heavy Self-Propelled Gun
Manufacturer: PST (Kit #005)
PST is one of the newest manufacturers to enter the market, and their entry into the small-scale armor scene is astounding. Their first series of kits include the IS and ISU line of vehicles, which all share some common components, and my first kit of theirs is the ISU-122. They have also released the ISU-122S (#006), which includes a larger gun barrel with muzzle brake. The two kits are identical, except for their instructions and optional parts, so you can make either vehicle from either kit if necessary.
According to the vehicle dimensions included in the instructions, the kit scales out perfectly to 1/72nd. I have compared it to the 1/35th scale ISU-122 by DML, and the detail and dimensions are almost identical, so assuming the DML kit is accurate (usually a fair usumption), then this kit is highly accurate as well. The detail on the model is very good. It is better than most currently marketed kits, surpassed only by Revell's latest releases, and perhaps a few old ESCI kits. Some of the smaller details need replacing, however, such as the hand holds on the superstructure sides. I replaced the ones in my kit with bent brass wire. PART makes a beautiful photoetched brass detail set for this kit, which I passed on using this time around.
The quality of molding is not as high as other companies', more along the lines of "limited-run" technology, but it is certainly acceptable. The plastic is very soft, so care must be taken when cutting and sanding, so as not to inadvertantly take off too much. Many of the bogie wheels were molded poorly, as though the two mold halves were not lined up correctly, and the rims of some wheels were off-center. Luckily, the problem is not real noticable on the completed model.
The two hatches on the superstructure roof are molded open, however, they were very thick, so if you want to pose them open, you'll have to thin them considerably. The loading hatch on the rear of the superstructure is molded open, but the hatch opening is blanked off from the inside, so that would need to be opened to have an open hatch. Unfortunately, no crew figures are included to put in the hatches.
The spare fuel cannisters and the smoke barrels on the rear hull have a unique construction, with separate end caps, so as to eliminate the sanding from the ends, and making the finished barrels look much cleaner. This method works very well, and I found that it was much easier to cut off the alignment pins on the barrel halves, and sand the mating surfaces completely smooth, for a much better fit. An optional storage tube for a spare gun barrel is included to replace the two fuel cells on the right hull side, if you so choose. I hollowed out the two exhaust ports on the engine deck, because they are molded solid in the rear, where they should be open.
An AA machinegun is included for the commander's hatch, but I left it off my kit. Although fairly well detailed, it does not exhibit the same high level of detail as the rest of the kit. There are attachment hooks for the tow cables on the rear hull, and the eye rings for the ends of the tow cables are included in plastic, but the modeler is required to fabricate his own cables from thread, or some other appropriate material. Although this is additional work for the modeler to locate suitable material, the final cable will likely look better than poorly molded plastic cables, as are typical in these kits.
The tracks are link and length, hard plastic, and very well detailed. They are, however, a little difficult to work. Each one required substantial cleaning up, which is tedious enough at the larger scale, much less small scale. The teeth holes are too small for the sprocket teeth (probably due to flash) so instead of taking the time to open them all up some, which isn't even guaranteed to work, I clipped off the teeth from the sprocket wheel where the track links attach. It's not at all noticable on the completed model. Plenty of spare links are included, which allow you to replicate the pronounced track sag typical of these vehicles.
The kit decals were extremely thin, but bunched up a little bit when I was applying them, and it took me a long time to smooth them out. Be careful when placing yours to avoid this hassle. They are some of the best decals I have had the pleasure of using. After a coat of clear flat, the carrier film has completely disappeared, and they look painted on. I painted the model Polly Scale Soviet Green (almost any green would work - there were no paint standards), and I gave the tracks a heavy rust wash. The scan above makes the tracks look far rustier then they actually are, but a fair amount of rust is accurate for these tanks. All in all, this kit did not go together quite as smoothly as some others that I have built, but the finished product looks fantastic, due to the excellent detail molded onto it. I highly commend PST for providing us with this long desired kit of a very important vehicle.
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