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Weapons of World War Two

ISU-152 tank destroyer

ISU-152 tank destroyer

During the Battle of Kursk, which saw the widest utilization of armored means in the entire Second World War, the two powerful adversaries, Germany and the Soviet Union, had the idea of trying the same thing at the same time: to present the weapon that should say the ultimate word in the field of armored means, ensuring to its owner the superiority in the battlefield. The German hopes fell upon the tank destroyer "Elefant", which would reveal itself as slow and vulnerable, while the Russians relied in the new self-propelled cannon ISU-152. This weapon, which would give so good results that after the war it would be distributed among the armed forces of the countries adhered to the Warsaw Pact and that would remain in service until the mid 1950s, had a rather brief "gestation".

It was such in that moment the necessity of stopping the German heavy tanks armed with the deadly 88-millimeter cannon, that Stalin in person made pressure over the group of projectors that worked in Chelyabinsk under direction from engineer Kotin. The weapon in study was a tank destroyer of new formula (at least for the Red Army), this is, a cannon installed on the framework of a tank and protected by a casemate of closed top. Between the beginning of the studies and the presentation of the prototype a truly record time passed: only twenty-five days. The ISU, initials of Istrebitelnij Samochodnia Ustanovka (Self-Propelled Tank Destroyer), immediately demonstrated to be a fearsome adversary for the German tankers.

In practice it was the result obtained by the "fusion" of two already existing weapons: the 152-millimeter howitzer cannon Model 1937 and the hull of the heavy tank KV-1S; but on the other hand, the pressure of the events did not allow the luxury of long study times to create a weapon of original characteristics. The excellent cannon was able to fire a high-explosive grenade with a weight of 43 kilograms to a distance of 17300 meters, with a muzzle speed of 570 meters/second. Naturally, this range was never used, for in the combat between tanks it was used exclusively direct fire with optical aiming. The hull, originarily that of the KV-1S, was replaced in the last models by the one of the IS tank of 46 tonnes; this is the case of the ISU-152 depicted on the illustration.

Excellent antitank, the ISU-152 had, however, a defect: the ammunition, given the large caliber of the cannon, had the projectile and charge as separate pieces. Naturally this originated space problems for the storage of the ammunition reserve, which was limited to 20 shots, and exceptionally 28. For antiaircraft defense, and rarely for close one, it was mounted in the top of the casemate a 12.7 millimeters DSHK machine gun. However, examining advantages and defects, it can be said that the ISU-152 was an excellent armored element which deserved the nickname with which its crews liked to refer to it: "Zvereboi", this is, "the beast that hits".

Year: 1943

Weight: 47 tonnes

Length: 9.05 meters

Width: 3.07 meters

Height: 2.48 meters

Ground clearance: 36 centimeters

Maximum armor: 100 millimeters

Engine: V2 JS (V2K) of 520 horsepower

Maximum speed: 37 kilometers/hour

Operational range: 220 kilometers

Crew: 6

Armament: One 152-millimeter cannon; one 12.7-millimeter machine gun

Ammunitions: 20 of 152 millimeters; 200 of 12.7 millimeters

Maximum surmountable trench: 2.84 meters

Maximum surmountable step: 0.99 meters

Maximum surmountable slope: 36 degrees

Fording: 1.22 meters

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