Soviet heavy tank, the IS-2, is the first in a great new silver coin series called Confrontation

It isn’t often that we get a new coin from a new series from a new producer, and from a mint we haven’t covered before, so clearly we’re intrigued. That the coin subject is one I have a passion for and the strike in a format that I think is the best price/quality balance around right now, means there may be a little bias sneaking in here and there…

The series, called ‘Confrontation’, looks at mankind’s biggest hobby – conflict – and is doing so, at least with the first coins, using the tanks employed on the Eastern Front during WWII. As far as confrontation goes, it really doesn’t get much bigger or more brutal than the fighting between Nazi and Soviet forces. As a predominantly ground war, the king of the battlefield were the armoured divisions, used to spearhead penetrating attacks which would be followed up by the infantry.

The technological advantage swung between the two sides, culminating on the Soviet side with the IS-2 in early 1944. The Germans fielded their own tour-de-force, the King Tiger, which will be the subject of this series second coin, hopefully later this year. The depiction of the IS-2 is first class. there’s an extraordinary sense of depth in the foreground, enhanced by the gun barrel and the Czech hedgehogs (anti-tank obstacles). There are soldiers with PPSH submachine guns, a PAK-75 anti-tank gun, a King Tiger, and much more liberally scattered around to compose a very neat scene. The gilded star represents the highest soviet reward, the Hero of the Soviet Union.

The obverse is equally interesting, although not in the high relief of the reverse. It shows us a battle timeline for the Sandomierz Bridgehead, an action the IS-2 had a key role in. We love that the obverse of this Niue issue is fully themed rather than just have an effigy of QEII or a national emblem, although the latter is present in miniature form. All together this looks to be a terrific strike by the Volga-Vyatka Mint and a credit to the Russian producer, NumisArt. It’s available now from them, or from Powercoin, Coin Shoppe or Intercoins-Berlin.


In the early stages of the Nazi invasion of Russia, much was expected of blitzkrieg, the combined air and ground campaign that had worked so well in Poland, and in the subjugation of France and the Low Countries. WHile early progress was swift, it wasn’t all plain sailing for the Wehrmacht.

The Soviet Union had been modernising its tanks and with great success. When German Panzer III and IV’s came up against the T-34 and KV-1, it was a rude awakening, with only the formidable, but awkward 88 mm Flak being able to reliably penetrate their frontal armour. However, technical progress was rapid and the Tiger and Panther tanks deployed by the Nazi’s were simply too well protected to fall easily. After several iterations of the heavier KV-1 design, in early 1944 the IS-2 was deployed.

Packing a huge 122 mm gun with a five-fold increase in muzzle energy over the venerable 76 mm, it was capable of penetrating the frontal armour of the big cats at long range, even the Tiger II when it showed up on the battlefield. Well armoured and with a potent High-Explosive shell for infantry support, it was a very successful vehicle, standing toe to toe with the German heavies until the end of the war.

After the war, this 46-tonne beast remained in limited service with China, North Korea and Cuba, but the emerging Main Battle Tank concept had effectively made the heavy tank far less effective, and it was soon consigned to retirement. A total of 3,854 were built by UZTM and Kirov Factory. Several examples still exist in museums, mainly in Eastern Europe and Russia, but also in the US, UK and China.

COMPOSITION 0.999 silver
WEIGHT 62.2 grams
FINISH Antique
MODIFICATIONS Ultra high-relief, gilding
BOX / C.O.A. Yes / Yes