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Omega's Tank Review Number 5: IS-3

omega tank review Soviet heavy tank IS-3

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omega760 #1 Posted 26 August 2017 - 09:34 AM


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Hello and welcome to my fifth tank review! This time we're going to be looking at the powerful tier 8 Soviet heavy tank, the IS-3! As a stock tank the machine will perform adequately with strong all around armor protection, surprisingly decent mobility for a heavy, but sadly the same 122 mm gun you first see potentially all the way down at tier 6 on the KV-85. The weak link of a stock IS-3 is sadly this gun. The pure alpha punch of the gun is as strong as it ever was at a very meaty 390, however, it is the relatively low penetration value and the tier position of the IS-3 that hold it back. With the same 175 pen that you've basically had for two whole tiers you should know by now what you can and cannot pen. Even with the upgraded gun from the IS you will still be frustrated by higher tier opponents. The IS could hold its weight even when bottom tier as there are many tanks, even at tier 9, that can be penetrated with over 150 mm of pen. However, unlike its sibling the IS, the IS-3 sees the top dogs of this game, tier 10. With beasts like the Maus, E-100, IS-7, and Type 4 heavies rolling around even your premium APCR with 217 mm of pen will struggle against some opponents. It is only when fully upgraded that this tank achieves its full potential. This is thanks to the machine's signature gun, the BL-9 (not to be confused with the even more fearsome BL-10 on the ISU-152). With 225 mm of penetration with standard rounds there is very little a fully upgraded IS-3 cannot pen. For the very few targets that can handle that level of high penetration, there's always the APCR with a shocking 265 mm of pen which is arguably on par with a tier 9-10 TD standard round as far as penetration power is concerned. Rest assured, a fully upgraded IS-3 can rest easily in the knowledge that his gun finally has a pen value to match his alpha power.


As always we'll start by further discussing the strengths of this machine, and with the IS-3 you don't have to look very hard to find those bright points. As mentioned before, the top gun is fully capable of competing with any tank you run into even when bottom tier. However, a big gun is almost to be expected of a Russian heavy tank by now. What other strong points does this machine, widely regarded as the best among tier 8 heavy tanks, demonstrate? One of the most obvious strengths, even when stock, is your armor. While the stock turret is by no means weak, it CAN be penetrated from the front as it only features a thickness of 175 mm. The top turret is a different story altogether. With over 240 mm of incredibly rounded armor this turret is all but unassailable. Even tier 10 tanks will regularly bounce off this monstrous slab of Soviet steel. With this incredibly strong turret, fans of American tanks may be thinking that the IS-3 must have terrible hull armor to compensate.This is not entirely true. While the turret front is certainly the strongest armor on the tank, the hull armor is also fairly strong as well. The IS-3 introduces an armor layout unlike anything you've seen in previous tanks within this line. Gone is the relatively weak and easily penetrated drivers viewport of the KV-1, KV-85, and IS. Instead we have...the pike nose. The front of the IS-3 upper hull is angled in such a way that it forms a slight V shape. This natural angling increases the effective armor of your hull and means that, to get the best armor possible you should point your tank directly at the enemy as opposed to the usual strategy of turning the hull slightly to the side. The IS-3 does this for you. If an enemy is directly in front of you and you have no other cover available, point your hull straight at him. This by no means guarantees you will bounce, especially against higher tier tanks, but trying to angle the hull yourself ruins the pike nose design and makes you EASIER, not harder, to damage. This isn't even mentioning the side armor. While most tanks are much easier targets from the side, this isn't always the case with this machine. The IS-3 features spaced side armor that seems to make shells, for lack of a better term, vanish. Many players have cursed as their shells just seem to disappear into a Soviet controlled black hole even from point blank range. Armor that offers some of the most balanced protection at tier 8? A fairly large caliber gun with impressive levels of penetration? Surely the IS-3 must be crushingly slow to compensate. No tank can do everything right? Sorry, wrong again as the IS-3 will also surprise you with its mobility. With its top speed of 38 km/h the tank isn't going to outrun a light tank, but it can easily keep pace with most mediums and outpace other heavies with ease. Instead of searching for a single strength, as you do in many other tanks, the IS-3 almost makes you want to search for a weakness. Surely there must be SOMETHING this machine can't do?? Let's see if this tank is really as perfect as it seems. 


After naming so many strengths that make this tank seemingly invincible, surely you must be prepared for the worst surprises of all time. This tank must have some deep dark secret that prevents it from taking over the world right? Well....yes and no. The gun, while powerful in both damage and pen, is somewhat inaccurate with a dispersion of 0.4 at 100 meters. This means that the IS-3 struggles at long range, especially in distances of over 300 meters. To compound this weakness, the relatively low profile of the tank and the far forward mounting of your gun mean that your gun depression is a somewhat poor 5 degrees. This prevents you from utilizing your strong turret on a ridge in the same way that an American heavy tank can. These two factors mean that an IS-3 is most comfortable on mostly level ground at relatively close range to the enemy. Therefore, this tank excels at city fighting and suffers slightly on large, open maps with large terrain variances. Also, with a reload to match the caliber of your gun (12-14 seconds) you aren't going to win a DPM fight any time soon. What about the armor then? Yes, your armor is very strong but not invulnerable. The raised pike nose design means that your lower glacis, a weakness on many tanks, is a difficult target as it is angled upwards meaning taller tanks may simply ricochet off unless they are below you in elevation. However, the pike nose itself isn't invulnerable. Tanks with over 200 mm of pen can and will punch through the tank from the front and, as previously discussed, angling the tank yourself makes the armor worse not better. The truly devastating weakness of this pike nose is not the armor itself though. It is the module behind the armor. Ammo racks, and the front of an IS-3 is full of them. This means that taking frontal damage has a high chance of, not only increasing your already slow reload time, but instantly killing your tank via ammo detonation. You can mitigate this by applying hull down tactics and the low profile of the machine to only expose your heavily armored turret. Yet even your bastion of a turret is not infallible. Directly above your gun is a plate of armor that is only around 20 mm thick. This means nearly every tank that you will see has a gun large enough to overmatch this armor. Your low profile exacerbates this by allowing many tanks to shoot down into this easy weakness should you get too close. This puts the IS-3 in an awkward position. It needs to get close to its enemy to compensate for its low accuracy but doing so exposes the weaknesses in your armor and, should your enemy aggressively rush you, your low fire rate might spell your doom. You can't fully utilize the strong side armor in a sidescraping position as the very forward mounting of your gun means you must expose your pike shoulder to take a shot. The IS-3 is far from perfect. Yet, with judicious use of tactics and careful forethought you will quickly understand why this tank is considered one of the greats.


The IS-3 is a brawling brute of a heavy that loves fighting in a city where it can hide its weaknesses, poke out to fire a brutal 390 alpha 225 pen shell into any player unfortunate enough to be in front of it, then slide back into cover to reload. This perhaps makes it one of the defining vehicles for Soviet heavy tank gameplay. It is one of the more user friendly tanks to play as the angling is partially done for you, but it is only by understanding these angles and how you are presenting them to your enemy that this tank truly becomes a monster. As with any tank, the difference between becoming a burned out hunk of steel with its turret missing and a destroyer of entire teams is the commander behind the machine. Treat the IS-3 well and it will show you why so many players love and respect it.


New feature: recommended crew skills and equipment!


Crew Skills (in no particular order): Safe Stowage. Sixth Sense. Brothers in Arms. Repairs. Smooth Ride. Snap Shot. Deadeye. Armorer. Jack of All Trades. Track Mechanic. Off-Road Driving.


Equipment (highest recommended first): Vertical Stabilizer. Gun Rammer. Vents/Gun Laying Drive (Depends on whether you want an all around boost or a quicker aim time. I prefer Vents.)


Have a question or think I missed something? Want to request a review? Just want to say hi? Let me know down below and good luck!  :)


Edit: Looking for Part 6? It's here! http://forum-console...-6-amv-elc-bis/

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