KV tank file photo

Kliment Voroshilov

CountryRussia
ManufacturerKirov Plant Kirov Factory, Leningrad, Russia
Primary RoleHeavy Tank

Contributor: C. Peter Chen

The Kliment Voroshilov heavy tanks, or KV for short, were the result of a Russian desire for a modern heavy tank that was not designed for the WW1-era philosophy which restricted heavy tanks' image as a slow moving breakthrough tank. During the Winter War, three prototypes (SMK, KV, and T-100) were sent in combat conditions for field testing, with the KV prototype emerging as the chosen tank to be placed into production. There were two variants right from the start; the KV-1 variant (sometimes named KV Model 1939 through KV Model 1942) was the original heavy tank design with a 76-millimeter gun, while the KV-2 variant was mounted with a 152-millimeter howitzer in the turret instead of the tank gun.

When Germany invaded the Soviet Union in Jun 1941, of the 22,000 tanks in the Soviet forces, 508 were KV-1 heavy tanks and about 100 to 200 were KV-2 heavy tanks. Equipped with heavy armor, German tanks found it extremely difficult to penetrate with tank guns unless in close range, thus needing to especially employ ground-attack aircraft or anti-tank guns to knock them out. Despite the weaknesses of slow speed, unreliable transmission, poor visibility, and poor ergonomics, Russian crews liked these heavy tanks due to the protection. Between 23 and 24 Jun 1941, a single KV-2 heavy tank pinned down a larger force for almost an entire day at the bridgeheads at the Dubysa River in Lithuania. On 14 Aug 1941, Lieutenant Zinoviy Kolobanov's five KV-1 heavy tanks laid in ambush for an oncoming German tank column near Leningrad, Russia; revealing only one tank at a time, the ambush knocked out 43 German tanks in about 30 minutes, while the Russian tanks were hit multiple times but none of the hits penetrated.

By 1942, as German tank guns improved, namely with the long-barrelled 50- and 75-millimeter guns, KV heavy tanks found themselves losing the armor advantage. Some crews looked to installing additional armor in the field to bolster defenses. Meanwhile, KV heavy tank's 76-millimeter guns were inadequate in penetrating the frontal armor of new German heavy tanks. Nevertheless, the KV-1 variant remained in production even after the migration of Russian heavy industries beyond the Ural Mountains; however, the KV-2 variant tanks were phased out at this time, after 250 had been built. To improve armor protection, variant design KV-1 Model 1942 was placed into production, which had thicker armor, but at the expense of mobility. The KV-1S variant tanks were thus released, which were lighter and smaller to improve performance, while commanders' cupolas were included in the design with all-around vision blocks, a visibility feature first found in a Russian tank design. In mid-1943, especially considering that KV-1 heavy tanks shared the same guns as the lighter and more agile T-34 medium tanks, KV production was almost ordered to stop, saved only by the apperance of German Panther heavy tanks. To counter the new German threat, between fall of 1943 and early 1944, 148 KV-1S heavy tanks were upgraded to become KV-85 heavy tanks by installing 85-millimeter tank guns. In the spring of 1944, production of all KV tanks ceased after the introduction of the Iosif Stalin heavy tanks. Although the designations were different, the original Iosif Stalin tank (IS-1/IS-85) was actually a modified KV-13 tank, renamed only because the politician that the KV tanks were named for, Kliment Voroshilov, had fallen out of Joseph Stalin's favor. Some KV heavy tanks remained in service through the end of the war, seeing combat as late as the Russian invasion of Japanese-held Manchuria in northeast China in Aug 1945.

Finnish forces captured two KV tanks; both of them received minor upgrades and were used against their former owners and both survived the war. German forces captured one KV tank, and it was also pressed into service, possibly seeing combat against American forces on the western front.

In total, about 5,219 KV heavy tanks were built during the design's production life.

Source: Wikipedia.

Kliment Voroshilov Timeline

23 Jun 1941 The German 6th Panzer Division encountered Soviet KV tanks for the first time at the Dubysa River in Lithuania. German General Reinhard was surprised to learn that the Soviet military possessed such a heavy tank, especially after learning that some German 105-millimeter shells were bouncing off the thick armor, and that some KV tanks had reportedly crushed German vehicles and guns by driving over them.

SPECIFICATIONS

KV-1 Model 1940
MachineryOne V-2K 12-cylinder diesel engine rated at 600hp
SuspensionTorsion Bar
Armament1x76.2mm F-32 gun (111 rounds), 2x7.62mm DT machine guns
Armor2575mm
Crew5
Length6.75 m
Width3.32 m
Height2.71 m
Weight43.0 t
Speed35 km/h
Range335 km

KV-1 Model 1941
MachineryOne V-2 12-cylinder diesel engine rated at 600hp
SuspensionTorsion Bar
Armament1x76.2mm F-34 gun (111 rounds), 4x7.62mm DT machine guns
Armor30-90mm
Crew5
Length6.75 m
Width3.32 m
Height2.71 m
Weight45.0 t
Speed35 km/h
Range335 km

KV-1 Model 1942
MachineryOne V-2 12-cylinder diesel engine rated at 600hp
SuspensionTorsion Bar
Armament1x76.2mm ZiS-5 gun (114 rounds), 4x7.62mm DT machine guns
Armor20-130mm
Crew5
Length6.75 m
Width3.32 m
Height2.71 m
Weight47.0 t
Speed28 km/h
Range250 km

KV-1S Model 1942
MachineryOne V-2 12-cylinder diesel engine rated at 600hp
SuspensionTorsion Bar
Armament1x76.2mm ZiS-5 gun (114 rounds), 4x7.62mm DT machine guns
Armor30-82mm
Crew5
Length6.75 m
Width3.32 m
Height2.71 m
Weight42.5 t
Speed45 km/h
Range250 km

KV-85 Model 1943
MachineryOne V-2 12-cylinder diesel engine rated at 600hp
SuspensionTorsion Bar
Armament1x85mm D-5T gun (70 rounds), 3x7.62mm DT machine guns
Armor30-160mm
Crew4
Length6.75 m
Width3.32 m
Height2.71 m
Weight46.0 t
Speed40 km/h
Range250 km

KV-2
MachineryOne V-2K 12-cylinder diesel engine rated at 600hp
SuspensionTorsion Bar
Armament1x152mm howitzer, 2x7.62mm machine guns
Armor110mm max
Crew6
Length6.79 m
Width3.32 m
Height3.65 m
Weight53.1 t
Speed25 km/h
Range140 km

Photographs

Russian KV-1 Model 1939 heavy tank, date unknownGerman troops inspecting an abandoned KV-2 heavy tank, northern Russia, Jun 1941Destroyed Soviet KV-1 tank in Aunus, Karelia, Russia, Sep 1941KV-1 tank on a street in Moscow, Russia, 7 Nov 1941
See all 13 photographs of Kliment Voroshilov Heavy Tank



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Visitor Submitted Comments

  1. Bill says:
    17 Nov 2010 02:12:05 PM

    The Red Army had 639 KV-1 Model 1941 Tanks
    at the time of the German invasion Jun. 1941
    It was powered by a 12-cylinder diesel engine
    of 600hp, with a crew of five.
    Main gun was the 76.2mm F-32 w/111 rounds of
    ammo, and 3x7.62mm machine guns w/3,024rds.

    Many KVs were lost to mechanical problems,
    than to enemy action. The tank had terrible
    reliability.
    Some drivers used hammers, just to shift the
    gears. Thats how the Russians do it, keep banging on it, until it works!

    "UNSUNG HEROS OF THE SOVIET UNION"

    One KV blocked the road to Ostrov, held up a German armored unit for two days. The KV was
    still an effective weapon, its armor kept it
    in the fight.
    The Germans couldn't knock it out with anti-tank guns, they would watch, as the rounds
    bounce off.
    The Germans had to call in air support or
    artillery to knock out the KV.
  2. Bill says:
    18 Nov 2010 01:09:45 PM

    Sorry I misspelled Heroes:

    Who ever that crew was, to stand and fight,
    and block the road for two days. Those men
    knew the chances of surviving were slim, but
    nevertheless they defended Mother Russia,
    Their homes and Families.

    How many such actions took place during WWII
    men who fought and died alone, to stop the
    enemy a few against hundreds, sometimes one
    against one, and both died.

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Kliment Voroshilov Heavy Tank Photo Gallery
Russian KV-1 Model 1939 heavy tank, date unknown
See all 13 photographs of Kliment Voroshilov Heavy Tank



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