IS-2 tankists receiving awards, 1945.
In august 1942, the Soviet highcommand knew that the development of new heavy panzers were in full planning. The designwork on a new heavy tank were therefore started. With the experience from the KV conversions, (KV-3 and KV-13) Soviet started to build a new project, the IS-1 which mounted a 85mm L/53 cannon in mid 1943. In late -43, the first prototypes of the new IS, left the factory. After special field-tests, the IS series were ordered to be built in October 1943. Soon after the first production of the IS-1 had begun, Soviet needed an ever more powerful tank. Therefore, some of the IS-1 was rearmed with a new 100mm gun. This was going to show ineffective against other tanks and was not seriesproduced. Then, in the end of October a new 122mm cannon was tested in the battlefield by General F. Petrov. This cannon showed much more effective than the 100mm cannon. On October 31st, the first IS-2 was ready for battle. By the end of 1943, some 102 IS-2 had been built. The Iosif Stalin 2's first action was with the 11th Guards Heavy Tank Regiment at Korsun Sjevkenskovskij ("Korsun Pocket") in February 1944. During this battle, general Kotin personally followed the IS-2 in action, and got with this very useful information. After testings of several vehicles, it was decided at the end of -44, to improve the armor which later led to the IS-3. The IS-2 has been compared unfavorably to both the Tiger and Königstiger in armor and firepower, though it should be kept in mind that by Soviet standards the IS-2 were much more comparable to the Panther tank, especially in terms of weight, size and cost. In the spring of 1944, the modified IS-2m (m: modifikatsirovanniy) appeared. The main difference was the use of a new, simpler and better angled bow casting. The improved D-25T gun was introduced on the IS-2m, and other modifications such as fire control improvements and some internal changes were made. A total of 3.483 IS-1/2 heavy tanks were manufactured.
IS-2 passing some resting soldiers on the Leningrad-front, 1944
IS-2 preserved at Army Museum Frunze, Moscow.
Photo provided by: George Mellinger.