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Pretty good IS-2 doc

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The doc, part of the Russian language (English subtitles) Weapons of Victory series, covers not only the IS-2 but the reasons for its existence, development, combat experience and subsequent models, too. The footage is simply tremendous and includes some telling pictures of terminal effects.

The major failing lies in the highly selective explanation of why the IS-2 swiftly replaced the IS-2. The doc would have us believe it was a straightforward armament issue, but the real reason was that the armor on the IS-1 had huge problems, resulting in combat disaster. There is an explicit statement that the IS-3 did not see combat at all and debuted at the Parade of Victors after the war ended in Europe. There is no mention whatsoever of the separate loading ammo, either, though this has clear tactical implications.

The doc does say the German tankers, based on captured orders, were not to engage the IS-2 in open combat, but rather to lie in wait and ambush from the flanks. It makes this sound like it makes the Germans lesser and sneaky, but if you read many of the Russian combat accounts, that's exactly how they dealt with the Big Cats, using such AFVs as the ISU-122. Indeed, when the Russians first encountered the King Tiger, they thought they were dealing with Panthers. Until the assessment team came out to do its analysis!

On balance, though, the doc is very much worth the ~12 minute running time. The footage alone would make it worthwhile, and the rest is gravy, to include sequences of full-on tank attack with accompanying infantry and tankodesantniki, as well as strong German antitank defense from dug-in, thoroughly camouflaged positions.


John Kettler

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