The IS-3M of the Belgian Royal Military Museum

Appearing at TANKFEST 2018

4th January 2018

A running IS-3, kindly lent by The Belgian Royal Military Museum, will be in the arena at TANKFEST 2018. 

The IS-3 was only superficially a major departure from previous heavy tanks. It had a new front hull and a new turret shape which became the trademark of all postwar Soviet tanks to date. It got the nickname “Pike” due to its pointed welded bow.

Production began early 1945, but the tank saw no action before VE-Day.Its first public appearance took place during the Victory Parade in Berlin in September 1945. 2311 IS-3 were built until the summer of 1946.

As of 1948 a number of improvements on all IS-3 tanks led to the IS-3M. It saw action in Hungary (1956 Uprising) and  Egypt (1967 War).

Mid-1988, the period of President Gorbachevs Glasnost and Prestroika, two volunteers of the armour section of the Belgian Royal Military Museum turned to the embassy of the USSR in Brussels with questions for a new painting scheme for the T34/85. Upon discussion they learned that the Soviets were willing to donate two armoured vehicles to the Museum on the condition that they would be received with full ceremony by the Belgian Minister of Defense. 

On 8 September 1989, the Soviet Ro-Ro ship Mekhanik Konovalov arrived at the port of Antwerp with a IS-3M “Pike” tank and a ISU-152 “Beast Killer” SP on board.

They had been thoroughly checked, repainted and completed at the Tank Factory N° 177 in Kiev (Ukraine). Chief Engineer Colonel Vladimir Mazin and two technicians accompanied the armoured vehicles to give driving lessons and technical instruction to the Belgian museum volunteers at the Field Artillery Training School in Brasschaat, near Antwerp. 

The IS3-M and the ISU-152 had every  single item on board, in full working order: machine guns, radios, optics, down to the crew overalls and field uniforms

On 2 October the formal handing-over ceremony took place at the square of the Cinquantenaire Park, where the museum is located. Army General (Armoured Corps) Yevgeni F. Ivanovsky, Inspector General of the Soviet Armed Forces represented the USSR and presented the vehicles to Belgian MOD Guy Coeme

A few weeks later, on 9 November the Berlin Wall fell. 

The two tanks were exhibited in the open tank courtyard of the museum, were moved in 2010 to the Bastogne Barracks WWII site of the Museum and were restored to running order in 2016 for the TankEvent of the Dutch National Military Museum in Soesterberg and the 60 years commemoration of the Hungarian Uprising, which took place near the Museum site in Brussels.

Find out more about the Belgian Royal Military Museum here and follow them on Facebook here.  

Book your TANKFEST 2018 tickets here.