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date of publication: 28-01-2013

Heavy Tank KV-1, KV-1-S


Heavy Tank: KV-2

Constant increases in the armour of the KV-1 between 1941 and 1942, resulting in greater weight and lower speed, began to have a serious impact on the ability of Soviet armoured formations to operate the KV-1 alongside the T-34. Grouping the KV-1 tank into separate armoured brigades for purely assault and infantry support roles in October 1942 solved part of the problem. However, it left open the need for heavy tank support for the mobile units now facing increasingly more effective German tanks and anti tanks guns, armed with more sophisticated and lethal munitions. Ultimately the dilemma was only resolved in late 1943 when the was up-gunned with the DT-5 85mm (3,3in) and the heavier Josef Stalin models introduced.

During 1940, Kotin and his team had in fact already developed two prototypes for a KV-3 based on modifications to the KV-1 that would have fitted the new heavy tank requirements in 1942. Object 220 had a longer hull, larger turret, and a 107mm (4,2in) gun. Object 222 retained the basic external design of the KV-1 with an enhanced turret layout. It was their need for a new powerplant, which would have disrupted tank production in the critical period 1941-1942, which led the GKO to reject the KV-3 models.

Heavy Tank: Heavy KV-2A Tank

An attempt was made to solve field requirements and demands of production with the KV-1-S (S: skorostnoy, or speed). To achieve a road speed of 40km/h (25mph), the weight of the tank was reduced by thinning its armour: for example 60mm (2.3in) at the front. It had a smaller, thinner turret and lighter road wheels. A new gearbox, main clutch and improvements in enginecooling and lubrication also assisted in enhancing its speed and mobility. Production began in August 1942, but after 1370 vehicles had been built, it was discontinued in late 1943 as improved designs began to appear. The design was not especially liked by tank officers such as General M.E. Katukov who, in late 1942, told Stalin that it the KV had a more potent gun or one of greater calibre than the T-34, he might excuse its weight and other shortcomings.

Late War Years

Heavy Tank KV-1, KV-1-S production ended in favour of new, more powerful models capable of surviving an increasingly lethal battlefield. However, the role or the KV series in the Great Patriotic War did not end altogether. At Kursk in 1943, KV-1-S tanks of the 53rd Guards and Fifty-Seventh Army Heavy Tank Brigades look part in the vicious fighting of 12-14 July that broke the impetus of the German offensive. tanks supported infantry of the 3rd Byelorussian Front in East Prussia in late 1944. Some KV-1 tank and KV-1-S are alleged to have taken parr in the Berlin operation of April-May 1945. By the war's later stages, many had been allocated to support duties, such as command tanks for the tank-destroyer regiments. What is certain is that after 1943, the basic hull design and chassis of the KV influenced a series of late-war Soviet tanks that were amongst the best designs of any nation during the war.

Heavy Tank: KV-2A 1941-1942