ISU-152 Article by Stephen Brezinski
Jan 2007 email: sbrez(at)

PST ISU-152 vs. Italeri ISU-152 kits in 1/72
A Compare & Contrast Review

By Stephen Brezinski, November 2006

This imposing self propelled gun has long been one of my favorite AFV’s from a visual and historical perspective. Reminiscent of Grond from the movie Lord Of The Rings, the ISU-152 to me represents a Soviet battering ram smashing its way west to Berlin. PST gave us our first 1/72 scale injection-molded plastic kit of this vehicle over five years ago, and now Italeri gives us their interpretation of this vehicle.


Wee Bit of History for the Modeler
In order to deal with the assault of German fortifications, and new powerfully armed and armored Panzers, Soviet engineers and industry turned to mounting their 152-mm gun-howitzer and 122-mm cannon onto their heavy tank chassis. Where the Soviet KV tank spawned the SU-152, in 1944 the Ioseph Stalin tank was used for the ISU assault guns with a high superstructure similar to that developed for the earlier SU-152. You will notice that I use the term ISU and Ioseph Stalin tank is used rather than JSU and Joseph Stalin. The way I recall, about 10 years ago modelers & historians from the former USSR let it be more commonly known over the web and new reference books that with no letter “J” in the Cyrillic alphabet, the correct translation was with an “I”, hence “ISU”. Slowly this has been becoming the norm. See the references for further details on this.
The ISU-152 and ISU-122 went into service in early 1944 with the first large-scale use in the summer of 1944 during operation Bagration. Some typical scenes to model could be in the Soviet assaults on Budapest, East Prussia and Berlin. The heavy armament made them formidable in city fighting though I understand were hampered by a traverse of only 5 degrees left and right, slow reloading and low ammunition storage. A limited number of ISU’s also served in the wartime and post war Polish and Finnish armies, and Egyptian Army in the 1960’s. The ISU-152 and ISU-122 were kept in production and service post-war, and underwent upgrades that are the subject of some good scratchbuilding projects. Like early German StuG’s and Ferdinands, early ISU’s had no machine gun armament, so they relied on tank riders for protection from infantry anti-tank weapons. In early 1945 it was common to see them with roof mounted 13-mm machine guns [keep this in mind when doing a diorama set in a particular time period].


The Kits
PST offers four different version of the ISU self propelled guns: ISU-152 with a 152-mm ML20S gun-howitzer, the ISU-122 with a 122-mm A-19S gun, ISU-122S with the D-5S gun and muzzle brake and different mantlet, and an experimental SU-152-1 with a long 152-mm gun. They come in four separate boxes but each kit contains all the parts for each vehicle. Overall molding is decent, with some flash and thick parts. PST gives us over 150-parts.
Italeri offers at this time only the ISU-152 though a 122-mm gun barrel with muzzle break of the D-5S gun is also included within the kit. The D-5S is the same gun used in the IS-2. If you look at the references we will note that this gun used a different mantlet than the ML20S howitzer and A-19S gun, so officially this spare gun barrel cannot be used with this kit [unless you steal the spare mantlet from the PST model]. The box comes with a regular kit with about 130 parts including link & length tracks, open hatches, and individual wheels, etc; and a wargaming kit of the ISU-152 comprising 9 parts.

Scale & Size Comparison

In the above scan it’s obvious that the gray PST upper at the far right, is several millimeters longer and wider than Italeri’s, though both claim to be 1/72. Most of PST’s additional length is in the nose and in the engine deck; the superstructure length is pretty much the same on both. A reference for length without the gun barrel gives the length and width for the ISU at 6800-mm and 3070-mm respectively. Based on these measurements, the PST kit measured at approximately 1/73 length and width and so is closer to true 1/72 scale. The Italeri model measured out to be about 1/76 by length and 1/73 by width, being short in the nose and engine deck.


The Hulls
PST gives us two open hatches though a third rear hatch can be easily cut open. The center hull is from Italeri’s display model kit with open hatches while the hull at far right is their wargaming offering with no open hatches. Both hulls are decently detailed though Italeri’s molding is a bit more crisp and fine. Italeri’s ISU kits have a better detailed hull bottom which will be a benefit in the event you wish to model the tank on its side. Italeri offers nice cast texture on the nose that will have to be replicated by the builder on the PST model. Both model kits can use some better definition of the casting marks and weld seams.
Be aware that both kits lack a floor to the sponson area over the tracks, so that with open hatches we may see daylight coming in. On both kits the exhaust outlets on the engine deck must be drilled out. Italeri offers nicely detailed undersides for the open hatches while PST hatch undersides are blank.
Both kits offer spare fuel drums for the rear sides. Only PST gives us the drum-shaped smoke canisters for the rear. Neither kit offers tow cables though PST does offer the end loops to be mated with some twine or wire.

Main Armament

Above is a comparison of the gun barrels offered in both kits. Italeri [in green]gives us the barrel for the ISU-152, and a 122-mm barrel for the ISU-122S, the same gun as in the IS-2 tank. As mentioned above, the 122-mm D-5S barrel does not go with the mantlet in the Italeri kit. PST gives us four gun barrels to go with the two different mantlets. Consistent with the size relationships with the hulls, the PST 152-mm howitzer is both longer and wider than Italeri’s gun barrels. PST’s 152-mm ML20S barrel is slightly off-register in the forward and rear ends.
While Italeri’s 122-mm barrel impresses me as too thin for 122-mm, PST’s 122-mm gun barrel is a tad too thick which I prefer over being too thin in this instance; it looks much more formidable, and the Stalin tank should look formidable. To check the barrel thickness issue I measured the diameter of both PST’s and Italeri’s D-5S barrel just aft of the muzzle break. While we cannot measure the bore for a true value, this outer diameter can be a reference. PST’s outside diameter comes out to 215-mm true, so a 122-mm bore gives us a barrel wall of about 45-mm thick. Italeri measures to 150-mm, so with a 122-mm bore it has 15-mm barrel wall thickness. Based on this I come back to the PST barrel being a little too thick but still acceptable to me; Italeri’s is unacceptably too narrow for my taste. I believe that Roden’s D-5S barrel from their IS-3 model is the closest in this scale.

Above is a scan of the gray PST company’s mantlets and olive-green Italeri mantlets. At far left is PST’s 122-mm D-5S barrel with its distinctive mantlet at the base of the barrel and the mount at the top center. Notice how the mantlet for this D-5S is different from the mantlet for the more massive 152-mm ML20S. At far right is Italeri’s one-piece mantlet from their wargaming kit with PST’s 122-mm A19S gun barrel. The cast gun mantlets and nose of the both models can use some rough texturing: adequately done by applying a coat of liquid styrene cement and then daubing with a stiff toothbrush and small metal tools, or by a number of other acceptable methods for this scale.

A comparison of the wheels for these kits have been compared several times already so I will not go much into them here. Both a okay in molding and detail, but not Revell or Dragon quality. Italeri’s roadwheels are more finely done but lack holes that PST does have; these should be drilled out for a fine display model. Be careful removing PST’s wheels from the sprues, several of mine broke along the edge from the stress of the sprue snippers.
The IS and ISU tanks used a torsion bar suspension. Both PST and Italeri mold their suspension arms, rather thickly, into the hull sides making it difficult to articulate the roadwheels over rough terrain unlike Roden’s IS-3 kit that includes separate suspension arms. Both kits offer link & length styrene tracks with good detail; Italeri’s tracks are a bit more sharply molded. Simon Barnes covers the tracks and wheels well in his reviews so I will not duplicate that effort here. When assembling I recommend that you attach the wheels and tracks to the hull sides before attaching the sides to the upper superstructure. This approach will help in getting all the individual links straight and lined up.

The suspension for Italeri’s wargaming, quick-build, kit comes in just a left and a right side with all track and wheels molded together. There is not real track-link detail and the track run is smooth. If it were not for the wheels and tracks the quick-build kit could be a good display model.

In the above scan is my attempt at doing some surgery & kit bashing to replace Italeri’s wargaming tracks & wheels with the superb light-gray styrene one-piece suspension & tracks, available as an extra in Trumpeter’s 1/72 scale IS-3 kit. The IS-2, ISU and the IS-3 tanks all shared the same wheels and tracks though the IS–3 looks lower to the ground. Assembled on the Italeri kit the Trumpeter one-piece suspension & tracks fit well and can well pass for a tank heavily loaded. Outer roadwheels and the inner sprocket will need to be stolen from extra’s in the PST kits or cut from the discarded Italeri one-piece wargaming suspension. Above we see some PST IS-2 wheels glued on, on the lower set of tracks is one of Italeri’s roadwheels.

Both kit makers give us exploded-view type instructions with symbols. PST’s instructions [at right] are small and complicated compared to Italeri’s instructions [at left], which are larger and are broken down into more steps. Both are adequate to an intermediate builder.


Both kits offer water applied decal markings for several vehicles, but Italeri gives us more complete painting instructions. I have not used these particular decals yet, but from past experience Italeri’s have typically applied easier and clearer than my experience with PST’s decals, though based on all the fine looking PST models posted on the web, both look fine when properly applied.


Both PST and Italeri give us decent models of these Soviet assault guns and both have certain advantages over the other. The Italeri kit is a bit smaller than true 1/72. Fit of parts within both manufacturers’ kits was fine and have so far for me, no significant problems. With good references both manufacturer’s models can be converted to the modernized ISU’s of the 1950’s and 1960’s.
Now with PST releasing good KV tank models and ISU assault guns, why have they yet to release an SU-152 model?


A Few Construction & Historical References I used for this review: Simon Barnes’ review of Italeri’s ISU-152 kit at On The Way website. Another great kit review at 72 website The Russian Battlefield website, one of the best on the web for information on the development and use of Soviet World War 2 armor and artillery.

RUSSIAN TANKS OF WORLD WAR II, by Bean & Fowler, MBI Publishing (2002). A good concise history of Soviet tank development, use and the vehicles up to the Cold War period, in a soft cover book.

STALIN’S HEAVY TANKS 1941-1945, by Steven Zaloga, Andre Aksenov and Aleksandr Koshchavtsev, Concord Publications (1998). A great, not too expensive softcover reference book with text, black & white photos and color illustrations. A fine website on World War 2 armor and other weapons; black & white photos, 5-view color illustrations, and history in French and English. Owned by Vincent Bourguignon

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