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Weapons of World War Two

KV-1 heavy tank

KV-1 heavy tank

In 1938 the workgroup led by engineer Kotin received the order for one or more prototypes of heavy tanks that should be taken into consideration for the new program to strengthen the Soviet armored forces, intended for 1940. The first projects elaborated in the factories of Leningrad still envisaged tanks with multiple turrets, recycling the former tanks T-32 and T-35, but ultimately the projectists would come to the conclusion that it would be preferable a tank with a single turret, armed with a powerful cannon. The weight saved with the supression of the other turrets could be used to increase the armor.

When the definitive project was later presented to Stalin, this one decided to eliminate also the armored plates that protected the suspension. Hence it was necessary to replace this one, of springs, by another one of torsion bars, a technical novelty in that moment, surely less fragile and exposed than the former one. It had been born so the first tank KV (initials of the Commissar for Defense Klimenti Voroshilov), which took the denomination KV-1. The series of these tanks would be developed practically in a dozen of types during the entire war, and it has to be taken into account that some initials that identify one or another type were adopted by the Germans, while the Russians continued calling KV-1, for example, both the KV-1A and the KV-1B.

These tanks, of very coarse manufacture, as almost all the other contemporary Russian weapons, shared many identical components with the T-34 due to logistical reasons. Of entirely welded hull, they had in the successive types a casted turret that greatly improved the robustness. The engine, which would be later very used, was a Diesel of 12 cylinders in V, initially of 600 horsepower. The main armament consisted of a 76.2/30.5 cannon, which would be soon replaced in the KV-1A by the more powerful 76.2/41.5. For close defense were adopted three 7.62 millimeters Degtyarev 1929 machine guns.

Among the several improved versions of this tank are worthy of mention: the KV-2, armed firstly with a 122-millimeter howitzer and later with one of 152 millimeters; the KV-1S (from the word "skorotsnoi", meaning "fast"), lightened model of somewhat reduced dimensions; and finally the KV-8, a KV-1C armed with a flamethrower coaxial to a 45-millimeter cannon, installed in the turret. After having debuted in the aggression to Finland, the KV-1 fought against the Germans since the first days of the conflict, and with good results in the beginning.

But with the improvement of the German antitanks and the introduction of more powerful enemy tanks, the KV would be forced to increase their armor to the point of losing the brilliant characteristics that in the first moment had granted them superiority upon the enemy. Otherwise, they were not perfect tanks; the crews would always complain about the very poor comfort and the practical impossibility of abandoning the tank in case of emergency without being fully exposed to enemy fire. But from these tanks would be born the famous "Stalin", decisive weapon of the Soviet advance into Germany.

Year: 1939

Weight: 47.5 tonnes

Length: 6.75 meters

Width: 3.32 meters

Height: 2.60 meters

Ground clearance: 30.5 centimeters

Maximum armor: 100 millimeters

Engine: V-2K Diesel of 600 horsepower

Maximum speed in road: 35 kilometers/hour

Maximum speed in countryside: 12 kilometers/hour

Operational range in road: 250 kilometers

Operational range in countryside: 150 kilometers

Crew: 5

Armament: One 76.2-millimeter cannon; three 7.62-millimeter machine guns

Ammunitions: 114 of 76.2 millimeters; 3000 of 7.62 millimeters

Maximum surmountable trench: 2.70 meters

Maximum surmountable step: 1.19 meters

Maximum surmountable slope: 36 degrees

Fording: 1.45 meters

Also in Weapons of World War Two:

Savoia-Marchetti 79 SparvieroChar_B1-bis heavy tankPanzerkampfwagen VI B Konigstiger