KV-1 Heavy Tank
During 1938 work was begun by Soviet design bureaux to create a heavy tank to replace the T-35. All the designs were of the multi-turreted type except for one, which it's designers named after the then defence commissar, Klimenti Voroshilov. This design, known as the KV-1, was far more mobile than the other submissions and was field tested in the Finish winter war (1940) and was accepted for mass production that began in the summer.
The vehicle went into production in two forms, a self-propelled gun, the KV-2 and a tank, the KV-1A. The prototype tank had been armed with a short 7.62-mm gun but at the beginning of 1941 a better long 7.62-mm gun was used. The first version of the tank had some transmission and clutch problems which made changing gear extremely difficult but other than that the KV-1 was a solid design, which set the course of soviet heavy tank production for many years.
The KV-1B had an additional 25-35 mm of armour added to the sides and front of the hull to provide extra protection. The protective capability of the tanks armour was further increased when in the KV-1C the plated turret was replaced with one which was completely cast and slightly more rounded. Not only did having a cast turret increase protection for the crew but it also simplified and speeded up the production process. The KV-1C also had a better engine giving 75 kW of additional power.
The KV-1S (S for skorostnoy, meaning fast) attempted to improve the power to weight ratio further buy removing all the appliquÃ© armour and thus making the tank lighter. The final version produced in 1943 used the newly produced turret of the IS-1 tank, which carried an 85-mm main gun.
Upon the German invasion of the USSR the Kirovskij factory building the KV-1 was moved to Cheljabinsk and was renamed Cheljabinskij Kirovskij zavod. Despite the move however, 933 tanks were still produced in the second half of 1941 and sent to the font line.
In action the KV-1 was used as a breakthrough tank due to it's heavy armour. Though it's theoretical top speed was 35 km/h this was rarely achieved but as a breakthrough tank this was not a handicap, it was up to the faster T-34s to rush through the enemy lines once the KV-1s had broken the defences.
Specifications (KV-1A version)
Main armament: 76.2-mm gun
Secondary armament: 3 machine guns
Armour: up to 100 mm
Specifications (KV-85 version)
Weight: 43,000 kg
Length: 6.68 m
Width: 3.32 m
Height: 2.71 m
Max speed (on road): 35 km/h
Engine: One V-2K V-12 diesel
Power-to-weight ratio: 10.42 kW/tonne
Range: road: 150 km
Vertical obstacle climb: 1.2 m
Gradient: 40 %
Trench crossing: 2.59 m
Main armament: 85-mm gun
Secondary armament: 2 machine guns
Armour: up to 100 mm
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From this photograph the rough and ready style of soviet tank production can be appreciated, this early version KV-1 tank has a simple box shaped turret. The KV-1 was a tank design which was continually updated throughout the Second World War.
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So well armoured was the KV-1 tank that the Germans were quick to put any they captured back into action on their side. This captured KV-1 appears to have been abandoned by its German crew, either in retreat or after being knocked out by the Russians.
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Seen here from behind, the KV-1 was the best heavy tank the Russians had in service when the Germans invaded in 1941.
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Fresh from the factory and complete with tow cables, this KV-1 has the later turret with more rounded edges.
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Even the thick armour on the KV-1 was not defence enough against the German 88-mm anti-aircraft/tank gun.
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A KV-1 pictured on a dirt road in summertime. During spring and autumn the dirt roads of Russia turned to a near impassable quagmire (much to the Wehrmachts annoyance) but thanks to its extremely wide tracks the KV-1 was able to keep moving in such conditions despite its weight.
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Although not produced on the same scale as the famous T-34 tank the KV-1 was constantly developed leading to the Stalin II tank in 1945.
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These tanks are KV-85s, essentially the same as the KV-1S except that it used the turret of the new IS-1 tank (later also used on the T34/85 tank) and it's 85-mm gun.
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