Soviet-Era IS-3M Returning to the Arena for TANKFEST 2024

Photo Credit: The Tank Museum / Press Release
Photo Credit: The Tank Museum / Press Release

The Tank Museum in Bovington, United Kingdom, is gearing up for TANKFEST 2024, with the facility announcing yet another armored vehicle set to make an appearance at the event: an IS-3M. The Soviet-era heavy tank will be pitted against the FV4005, ensuring engaging action for audiences to witness at the arena.

IS-3 on display outside
IS-3 on display at Moscow’s Victory Park, 2007. (Photo Credit: ShinePhantom / Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 3.0)

The IS-3 was developed in the latter stages of World War II. It entered service in the Soviet Union in 1945, making its debut at the Berlin Victory Parade. Weighing a whopping 102,500 pounds and featuring 110 mm of front hull armor, it was equipped with the 122 mm M1931/37 (A-19) gun as its primary armament. Those who crewed the heavy tank nicknamed it the “Shchuka,” thanks to its pike nose.

A staple of the Cold War, the IS-3 saw action during the decades-long border conflict between the USSR and China, the Six-Day War, the Prague Spring, the 1991-92 South Ossetia War and the Hungarian Revolution. Footage also surfaced in 2014 of rebels capturing an IS-3 and reactivating it, before ultimately abandoning the heavy tank.

The “M” variant debuted in 1952 as a more modernized version of the original IS-3. Along with featuring improved hull welding, this version was also equipped with removable external fuel tanks and an anti-aircraft machine gun.

IS-3M driving along a dirt course
IS-3M at TANKFEST 2018. (Photo Credit: The Tank Museum / Press Release)

The IS-3M last made an appearance at TANKFEST 2018. It was donated by the Soviet Union to the Belgian Royal Military Museum in 1989 and restored back to running condition decades later, in 2016.

Speaking in a press release, Chris van Schaardenburgh, the head of collections at the Tank Museum, said:

“The IS-3M was a massive hit with tank fans in 2018, and we are pleased to be able to work with World of Tanks and the War Heritage Institute to bring it back to the UK alongside the debut of the FV4005. Through this display, we will tell the incredible story of the race throughout history of armoured warfare to build bigger to defeat the enemy.”

Kresimir Gusak, the senior product manager for World of Tanks, PC, added:

“We are excited to work with The Tank Museum to bring IS-3M back to TANKFEST. World of Tanks is very proud to support The Tank Museum in helping to bring history to life and to support the work of conserving the collection for the future.”

Man standing atop an IS-3 outside
IS-3 captured from pro-Russian rebels in the Donetsk region, 2014. (Photo Credit: ANATOLII STEPANOV / AFP / Getty Images)

TANKFEST 2024 is slated to take place between June 28-30. Along with featuring a host of armored vehicles and tanks, the annual event will feature guest lecturers, living history encampments and tours of the Tank Museum itself.

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While multi-day passes are sold out, single-day tickets are still available, as are grandstand seating upgrades.

Clare Fitzgerald

Clare Fitzgerald is a Writer and Editor with eight years of experience in the online content sphere. Graduating with a Bachelor of Arts from King’s University College at Western University, her portfolio includes coverage of digital media, current affairs, history and true crime.

Among her accomplishments are being the Founder of the true crime blog, Stories of the Unsolved, which garners between 400,000 and 500,000 views annually, and a contributor for John Lordan’s Seriously Mysterious podcast. Prior to its hiatus, she also served as the Head of Content for UK YouTube publication, TenEighty Magazine.

In her spare time, Clare likes to play Pokemon GO and re-watch Heartland over and over (and over) again. She’ll also rave about her three Maltese dogs whenever she gets the chance.

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