IS-3 or IS-3M

Hello all,

I’m a bit confused with the introduction date for the IS-3Ms and also the easily visible differences.

Are these IS-3Ms?

Are these IS-3s?

All the photos were taken in Budapest in 1956.
Thanks for the answers.


I believe the IS-3M version didn’t come into service until after the Hungarian invasion.


The best way to tell them apart is that the M has an oil tank on the front right fender but not always present, as IS 3 we’re upgraded to Ms in the early 50s it quite possibly that they were in Hungary but most changes are internal and so there is no real significant detail to tell one from tuther. Upgrades to Ms lasted from 1950—1954


Trumpeter do a pretty decent 1:35 IS-3M should you want to build one:



Now you see my problem is that some sources say that the Ms came after the invasion while some sources say that the IS-3s were upgraded in the early 1950s…
I see that the storage box doors on the side are different. The Ms have one door below the turret ring and one slightly ahead. The IS-3s have only one door under the ring. Am I right?


Like with all Soviet (and Russian) vehicles, the IS-3s underwent gradual upgrades from their introduction until the final IS-3M version. For example, the stowage boxes on the sides of the hull were not present on the early production models that were famously paraded in Berlin in 1945 (and modeled by the Tamiya kit), but were added in the late 1940s, or the minimal side skirts you see in the first two pictures you posted above but not the last two. Like Simon pointed out, most improvements were not readily visible because they were mechanical, to fix the hull welds and engine mounts, which had a tendency to crack because of the radical lower hull shape. When all the upgrades were finished in the late 1950s, the fully upgraded vehicles were referred to as Ms (pretty much like the T-55 on its introduction incorporated all the gradual upgrades the T-54 had gone through in previous years.)

I would agree that the Trumpeter IS-3M would be your best starting point for any of the above vehicles (the very first models that took part in the Berlin Victory Parade are well represented by the Tamiya kit).

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As far as the number of storage boxes goes, I think that remained unchanged after they were introduced. Maybe the different camera angles are deceiving?

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When the initial Tamiya kit came out in '96, the easiest way to get an IS-3M was to get the Jaguar resin conversion. Unfortunately their first attempt copied an IS-3M from a museum that used the engine deck from a different tank. They then rereleased it with the correct engine deck as seen below. You can clearly see the stowage bin hatches on the side of the hull. It might have been an easy matter of scribing the new hatches on, but they all had lips around the opening that would have been difficult to replicate.


Well, there is a difference I just have no idea why? Is it because early-late model or only Ms had this stowage box style?



I guess then I go with the Trumpeter, thanks :slight_smile:


You’re right - the one with the bort number of 111 and the Polish one have three boxes instead of four like the first two - I’ve never noticed that before. Maybe the one arrangement is on upgrades from the original limited production run and the other arrangement on new production tanks?

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Although it doesn’t mention specifically the change to the stowage box, most of the changes to the M were in the hull, strengthening of the weld joints and adding strengthening ribs and internal changes. The stowage bins are not part of the armour, which actually inclines inwards from the top plate. The difference in position could be as simple as the difference between the two factories producing the M. Remember all IS 3s we’re upgraded to Ms so all potential photos from today are M vehicles.

Yes, that one is rather decent. Albeit a tad boring to build, since there is little detail to see.

But the onoly game in town unless you like resin. Most people don’t.
I think mine pictured above is fairly well detailed. And a quick build as well.

Edit: I think there may have been a PE “upgrade” that had PE stowage covers, in case you’re stuck with the old Tamiya kit. (or if you want to model one with only three on each side) I know I really liked the texture on the Tamiya turret. Not sure how it looks on the Trumpeter kit.

Well, guys! What the hell do you want? A thousand Bronco-type parts? Track links in 8 - 10 parts - oh wait, we’ve already got those.

A nice simple build will suit me just fine!


Then go for the Trumpeter.
It will suit you just fine and produce a good looking representation of the real thing.


The IS-3 Model 1946 had three doors per side and flat front mudguards; the IS-3M Model 1953 and Model 1960 had four doors per side and ribbed front mudguards.

The doors on the IS-3M Model 1953 were flat and sat flush on the sides; the Model 1960’s doors had a lip like the pannier box doors on a T-64 or T-72 and were embossed with ribs for stiffening, making them look like they were plates sitting proud of the sides.



Kurt, thanks for the valuable information. :+1:

Thank you for the information. I do love this forum with all these knowledgeable people. I always learn something new :slight_smile:

The IS-3M had fenders with stamped grooves, and high side skirts. Those are the most obvious visible differences from the IS-3. The oil tank on the right side fender wasn’t always present.