Soviet gun barrel 152.4mm ML-20S for ISU-152
ABER 1:35 Set #35 L-40
Review by Terry Ashley

The Set:

Eastern ExpressThis barrel set from ABER provides the 152mm ML-20S barrel as used on the SU-152 and ISU-152 SPGs and is optimised for use with the Eastern Express KV-14 (SU-152) (kit #35103) which was built of the KV chassis while the later ISU-152 utilised the IS chassis with both versions using the same gun.

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.

It could be used on the older Dragon 39-45/Korean War series ISU-152 kits (kit #6047, 6803) but as the Dragon kit barrels are about 1.5mm too narrow in diameter at the breech end there will be some modifications required on the kit mantlet to fit the ABER barrel. The Eastern Express kit on the other hand has the correct diameter barrel making the addition of the metal ABER barrel a little easier but some work is still required.

The set consists of the aluminium barrel and a machined brass muzzle brake with the metal barrel having the correct taper and step segments and also features fine rifling inside the hollowed out muzzle. The machined brass muzzle brake has the correct 12 gas slots fully opened out without any cleanup required but there is a couple of minor issues in that the gas slots are slightly too short and the two small locking screws are not included and could be added for additional detail.

Barrel parts
Close up of brass muzzle brake, barrel rifling

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.

Fitting the barrel to the Eastern Express kit requires a bit of work as the neck on the ABER barrel is longer than on the kit barrel and it doesn't insert far enough into the mantlet. To resolve this you either have to cut away the ridge inside the kit mantlet or cut down the barrel neck, modifying the plastic part would be the easiest option.

Comparison of the ABER and Eastern Express kit barrels showing the detail differences (muzzle brake)
and the different sized neck resulting in some fit issues as above.

Images showing the fit of the Eastern Express kit and ABER barrels
and the inner ridge to be trimmed for a better fit.


As indicated above to fit this barrel to the Dragon ISU-152 kit mantlet will require the mantlet hole to be enlarged by 1.5mm to fit the correctly sized ABER barrel and this will be quite tricky given the contours of the mantlet around the barrel locating hole.

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 ABER barrel. All you need is super glue three strips of .5mm plastic strip to the ABER 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 ABER barrel neck to fit the Tamiya gun mounting collar.
Overall view of the ABER barrel in the Tamiya ISU-152 kit

This is a simple update for the Eastern Express kit with the barrel and muzzle brake being the correct dimensions and only minor alterations to the kit for fitting the barrel. It 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 ABER for the review sets.
Airconnection carry the full range of ABER update sets and barrels.

Page created June 9, 2008
Updated December 13, 2009