HistoryAfter the end of the Siege of Leningrad in January 1944, the Soviet High command began to entertain the notion of moving some of the relocated tank design and production facilities back to Leningrad from Chelyabinsk where they had operated since late 1941. The move was delayed however, due to the need to avoid disruption to design programs and manufacturing schedules. Facilities were finally moved back to Leningrad in early 1945 and among these facilities was Special Purpose Design Bureau No.2 (Samostoyatelnoe Konstruktorskoe Buro: SKB-2) headed by Zhosef Yakovlevich Kotin. An astute political player, Kotin was keen to keep his design bureau active and visible. SKB-2 therefore began design work on a new version of the ISU-152 self-propelled gun. The new design mounted the 152.4mm ML-20SM Model 1944 gun in a fixed superstructure with thick, heavily sloped armor on a hybrid IS-2/IS-3 chassis. The project was variously known as the ISU-152 Model 1952 or Kirovetz-2. A single prototype, designated Objekt 704, was built in the summer of 1945 and underwent testing at the NIIBT facility at Kubinka, near Moscow. While the vehicle performed satisfactorily in automotive and gunnery tests, it was found to offer no significant advantage over the existing ISU-152 design. Furthermore, the heavily sloped superstructure reduced the already cramped internal working space and made it very difficult for the crew to serve the main armament. The evaluation committee recommended that the project be terminated. The prototype was eventually handed over to the Military-Historical Museum of Armoured Vehicles and Equipment at Kubinka, where it remains at the present time.
The ModelThe model is based on Trumpeter’s kit 05575. The kit is one of Trumpeter’s more recent releases and the major dimensions scale out well against published drawings. It does suffer – if that’s the correct term – from the fact that Objekt 704 is one of the vehicles available in the World of Tanks online game, and the WoT designers have taken a few liberties with the design. The kit therefore includes several features not present on the real vehicle, so you need to take a little care during assembly. Bizarre has done an excellent review here on Armorama which covers most of these points.
The BuildI added E.T. Model’s set 35-217 which is specifically designed for this kit, and which enhances a number of details compared to those on the base kit. I was very impressed with the quality of the E.T. Model set – the brass was thick enough to bend without breaking easily, but not too thick. The set even includes spares for the some of the smaller parts in case you launch one into tweezer-induced orbit. Photo 01 Caption: I replaced the kit tracks with MasterClub’s MTL35028 set since the kit tracks scale out to 700mm wide as against the correct 650mm for IS-2 and IS-3 tracks. I was very impressed with the Master Club set. They assemble easily with no glue, will withstand reasonable handling, fit nicely around the kit sprockets and the molded track pins look exactly like the real thing. Just remember that the track pins are ‘handed’ – the blind end should be closest to the hull on each side, and the end with the washer and cotter pin (it looks like a nut) should be on the outside. The kit instructions direct you to use 84 links on each side but a test fit revealed 86 links gave an appropriate amount of sag on the top runs. Bizarre states in his review that he found 83 links was the correct number, so I guess there are minor tolerances in the fit of the track links or the way we set up our models’ suspensions. Photo 02 Caption: The E.T. Model set provides very nice replacements from the BDSh smoke canisters and their mounting apparatus. The kit parts are simplified and some of the details are incorrect. However, the canisters were never fitted to the real Objekt 704. They are present on the vehicle as it appears in the World of Tanks online game and Trumpeter has included them in the kit to allow modelers to replicate the WoT version. I omitted the smoke canisters and their brackets, and filled the locating slots on the upper rear plate with styrene strip and putty, then sanded them smooth. Part G4 is another World of Tanks addition and I didn’t realize until after I’d attached it, so I had to cut it away and sand the surface smooth. The E.T. Model set also provides replacements for the hinges on the transmission compartment access plate but in my opinion, they did not significantly improve upon the kit parts so I did not bother using them. Photo 03 Caption: The E.T. Model set includes replacements for all the lifting eyes on the hull and superstructure. I used these since it was easier than drilling out the molded-on ones, some of which are difficult to reach. E.T. Model also gives you etched lifting rings for the inspection hatches but these are flat in cross-section and don’t look right so I made my own from brass wire. Photo 04 Caption: The kit provides the cast gun mount in two separate pieces. In all fairness to Trumpeter, this is probably the only practical way to represent the complex shape of the original casting but it does result in a seam that must be filled and the casting texture re-added. I accomplished this with Mr Surfacer and Squadron White Putty thinned with liquid cement. Photo 05 Caption: The kit provides both two-part styrene and one-piece turned aluminum barrels for the main armament. There have been several opinions that the aluminum barrel isn’t quite right around the muzzle but it looks good to me so I used it. If your opinion differs, RB Model offers an aftermarket barrel. The coaxial machine gun barrel requires drilling out, which I did with a fine drill bit. Photo 06 Caption: The forward hatches on the roof of the superstructure, which have built-in periscopes, rotate on the rear vehicle, but only part of the rotating section lifts and swivels sideways to open the hatch. Trumpeter have chosen to mold the hatches as one piece each however, which means they cannot be posed open without completely rebuilding them. If you want to build the vehicle with hatches open, you are restricted to the loader’s hatches at the rear. Even these have torsion bars to counterbalance the weight of the hatch covers however, which complicates the exercise. I chose the easy way out and attached all the hatches in the closed position. Photo 07 Caption: The E.T. Model set includes an entire fret of parts for the DShK machine gun on the loader’s hatch. I didn’t use all of the parts but I did replace the firing handles since the shape of the bracket on the kit parts is wrong. I also added the sights as well as the handle and mounting brackets for the ammo box. Like the coax machine gun, the muzzle needs drilling out and I did that with a fine drill bit. Take care here since the kit part is quite fragile. I broke off the muzzle twice. Photo 08 Caption: E.T. Model also includes complete replacements for the two external fuel tanks and their mounting brackets. I chose not to use these since the kit parts are quite nice, a good match to photographs of the real vehicle and a lot less work. I did use the etched brass handles for the ends, however. Photo 9 Caption: I couldn’t find a clear period photo of the wiring for the headlamp and horn so I used some fine aluminum wire from the beading department at the local craft store, along with a little artistic license. Photos 10 and 11 Caption: The completed model is now ready for paint. Finishing Photos 12 and 13 Caption: I primed the model with Armory Matt Black applied from a spray can. After the primer dried for 24 hours, I applied the base coat AK Interactive’s 4BO Russian Green Special Modulation Set. I brought the colors up to the ‘Light Base’ but didn’t go so far as the ‘Highlight’ or ‘Shine’ colors since I wanted to keep a relatively dark tone. I added dirt and dust to the running gear and lower hull, creeping up a little onto the upper rear plate and the fenders, using a mixture of pigments and Vallejo acrylic paints. I didn’t want to add too much weathering since this was a prototype vehicle, but any AFV driven off-road picks up some degree of dirt. The tracks were primed with the same black, then painted with AK Interactive Dark Rust, followed by various pigments. Photo 14 Caption: I picked out certain details in contrasting colors, such as the muzzle of the coaxial machine gun in Vallejo Black Metal. I was pleased that the retexturing on the gun mount casting is all but invisible under a coat of paint. Photo 15 Caption: I took a little artistic license with the wiring for the headlamp and horn since contemporary photos do not show this area well. I felt that it needed something, however. Photo 16 Caption: I painted the barrel on the anti-aircraft machine gun in the same Vallejo Black Metal as the coax machine gun, then gave it a couple of washes with black oil paint to tone down the ‘sparkly’ appearance. Photo 17 Caption: The pickaxe is the only external tool on the vehicle. I painted the handle in a light wood color using Vallejo Matt Flesh with a wash of Raw Umber oil paint. Photo 18 Caption: I misted dirt and dust over the rear of the vehicle using Vallejo Model Air Mud Brown and Sandy Brown paints, along with some subtle streaking with oils and pigments.
SummaryTrumpeter has given us a simple yet well-engineered kit, and I found it to be a very enjoyable build. The kit would build up well right out of the box, but the E.T. Model photo etch set does provide some significant detail enhancements such as the lifting eyes, tie-down straps on the rear of the superstructure and various machine gun details. I highly recommend getting hold of this set if you’re planning to build yourself an Objekt 704. Some might complain at the inclusion of some World of Tanks features but if the popularity of the game gives us more kits of unusual vehicles in styrene, then that’s fine with me. Altering the kit to represent the actual 1945 prototype was a relatively simple exercise. I was highly impressed with the Master Club metal tracks. They assemble easily, look great and the ‘no glue required’ claim is absolutely true in my experience. If you’re a fan of oddball Soviet era AFVs, I encourage you to give this one a go. My thanks to Saul Garcia for the Trumpeter kit and E.T. Model photo etch set.
Copyright ©2020 by Neil Stokes. Images and/or videos also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. The views and opinions expressed herein are solely the views and opinions of the authors and/or contributors to this Web site and do not necessarily represent the views and/or opinions of Armorama, KitMaker Network, or Silver Star Enterrpises. All rights reserved. Originally published on: 2015-11-15 16:09:08. Unique Reads: 13144