152mm ML-20S
Barrel for Soviet ISU-152

armorscale Set No. B35-085
1:35th Scale

Review by Terry Ashley

The Set:

This release from armorscale is a replacement 152mm ML-20S barrel and mantlet/gun mounting for the Soviet ISU-152 SPG of WWII and Korea and and is designed primarily for the older Dragon 39-45/Korean War series ISU-152 kits (actually labeled JSU-152).

It should be noted the ISU-152 (in Russian ИСУ-152) is incorrectly referred to as the JSU-152 in the West. This is due to ‘Iosef Stalin’ being pronounced Joseph Stalin in English, but there is no J in the Cyrillic alphabet, hence the correct translation should be ISU-152.

The set consists of the aluminium barrel a machined brass muzzle brake, four resin pieces for the mantlet/gun mounting and a small etched brass fret with 4 parts plus a small instruction sheet. The metal barrel and muzzle brake themsleves are similar to the ISU-152 set released by ABER (set #35 L-40) a while back but this could be they are just representations of the same thing?

Resin metal and etched parts

The metal barrel has the correct taper and step segments and also features fine rifling inside the hollowed out muzzle with the machined brass muzzle brake having the correct 12 gas slots fully opened out without any cleanup required. There is a minor issue with the muzzle brake not having the two small locking screws which could be added for additional detail.

The overall length and diameter of the barrel/muzzle brake matches exactly to a set of 1:35 plans in the 7/1988 edition of Panzer Magazine as well as to enlarged 1:72 plans in the 4/2001 issue of Tank Master Magazine.

The resin parts are very well done with excellent cast texturing, bolt/rivet heads and weld seams as well as casting numbers on the gun mounting with just the usual casting blocks to be removed and some fine resin film inside the lifting hooks on the mantlet and gun mounting. The only blemish was one small air hole on the side of the mantlet easily filled but other than that everything was very cleanly done.

Close up of brass muzzle brake, barrel rifling and resin mantlet/gun mounting

To fit the resin and metal parts to the Dragon kits is really straightforward without any alterations required on the kit itself as all parts simply replace the kit parts but there is some minor assembly with the resin and etched parts.

The metal barrel fits snugly into the resin inner mounting and this is turn fits inside round locating holes in the back of the gun mounting but the fit while good is very loose and the gun will droop down over the hull front. You could just glue this in place but a simpler solution is to add a small plastic rod 'post' inside the gun mounting on which the inner gun rests holding it in the neutral position while also allow elevation.

The post is trimmed to the required length after test fitting and also allows the gun to be remain separate and can be fitted in place without any glue.

Barrel in mounting
Images of the small post added to hold the barrel in place

Due to the design of the barrel and mantlet you have to slip the barrel through the mantlet from the inside and this traps the gun mounting between the two for a good fitting assembly, you only need a small amount of glue to hold the mantlet firmly in place if you wish? Note; for the images here the only part glued is the large gun mounting to the Dragon kit hull with the rest held in place by the good snug fit. (apart from the etched top cover).

This cover requires the edges bent to shape which is easy enough but you have to watch the rear sides as they are only slightly bent down without the aid of engraved bending lines that are included for the other bends. At the back of the top cover are separate etched hinges that can be made workable with the addition of hinge pins from thin wire (not included). These hinges allow you to elevate the gun and the top cover will hinge upwards as it does on the real vehicle for excellent detail.

The fit of the large cast gun mounting to the Dragon kit is spot on without any trimming or filling needed as is the top bolted resin panel that also replaces the kit part.

Overall views of barrel and gun mounting
Close ups of gun mantlet/mounting with etched top cover
Images of elevated barrel with hinged top cover.

Just a quick note on comparing the armorscale barrel to the Dragon kit barrel sees the Dragon barrel too narrow in diameter by about 1.5mm at the breech end and short in length by about 3 mm making the armorscale barrel a worthwhile addition as is the extra detail on the cast mantlet and mounting parts.

It is also possible to use the barrel on the Eastern Express kit (#35103) of the SU-152 but not the mantlet as there were different features between the SU and ISU vehicle mantlets.

Comparison with the undersized Dragon kit barrel

Fitting the metal barrel to the new Tamiya ISU-152 SPG (kit #35303) is somewhat easier thankfully. The kit barrel is designed to fit into the internal gun mounting but the large locating pin is about 1mm wider than the pin on the armorscale barrel. All you need is super glue three strips of .5mm plastic strip to the armorscale barrel neck (top and both sides) and then fit this into the Tamiya gun mounting, there is a small locating tab on the inside of the kit gun mounting collar that also has to be removed with a sharp #11 blade.

The metal barrel then fits neatly into the kit gun mounting collar and you assemble the rest of the gun mounting and mantlet as per the kit instructions, all very simply.

The three plastic card strips added to the armorscale barrel neck to fit the Tamiya gun mounting collar.
Overall view of the armorscale barrel in the Tamiya ISU-152 kit

This set has the barrel and muzzle brake cleanly machined with the correct dimensions as well as the resin gun mantlet/mounting having excellent cast texturing and other details for a marked improvement over the older Dragon kit parts.

The bare minimum of assembly required and minimal cleanup makes for a fairly quick and easy assembly with the only work being with the etched top cover and adding the inner support post for the barrel if you wish?

The barrel can also be used on the newer Tamiya ISU-152 SPG (kit #35303) with only minor modifications.

Highly Recommended

See a comparison of available ISU-152 metal barrels

Thanks to me Credit Card and Lucky Model for the review set.

Page created June 9, 2008
Updated December 13, 2009