Kliment Voroshilov tank

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КВ-1 у диорамы «Прорыв блокады Ленинграда». Вид спереди-справа.JPG
KV-1 on display in Kirovsk.
Type Heavy tank
Place of origin Soviet Union
Service history
In service 1939–45
Used by Soviet Union
Wars Winter War, World War II
Production history
Designer Zh. Kotin, TsKB-2
Designed 1938–39
Manufacturer Kirov Factory, ChTZ
Produced 1939–43
Number built 5,219[1]
Variants KV-2, KV-8 flamethrower, KV-1S, KV-85
Specifications (KV-1 Model 1941)
Weight 45 tonnes
Length 6.75 m (22 ft 2 in)
Width 3.32 m (10 ft 11 in)
Height 2.71 m (8 ft 11 in)
Crew 5

Armour Maximum
Front: 90 mm
Side: 75 mm
Rear: 70 mm
76.2 mm M1941 ZiS-5 gun
3× or 4× DT machine guns
Engine Model V-2 V12 Diesel engine
600 hp (450 kW)
Power/weight 13 hp/tonne
Suspension Torsion bar
335 km
Speed 35 km/h (22 mph)
Kliment Voroshilov 2
Кв-2 3.jpg
KV-2 in Moscow museum with KV-1 in background
Type Heavy tank/assault gun
Place of origin  Soviet Union
Service history
In service 1939–45
Used by Soviet Union
Wars World War II
Production history
Designer Zh. Kotin, TsKB-2
Designed 1938–39
Manufacturer Kirov Factory, ChTZ
Number built 334
Weight 52 tonnes
Length 6.95 m (22 ft 10 in)
Width 3.32 m (10 ft 11 in)
Height 3.25 m (10 ft 8 in)
Crew 6

Elevation about 37°

Armour 60–110 mm (2.4–4.3 in)
152 mm M-10T howitzer (20 rounds)
DT machine guns (2,079 rounds)
Engine 1 x V2-K-12 cylinder diesel
550 hp
140 km or 87 mi
Speed 28 km/h (17 mph)
Abandoned KV-2 by the wayside, examined by German soldiers in June, 1941.

The Kliment Voroshilov (KV) tanks were a series of Soviet heavy tanks named after the Soviet defense commissar and politician Kliment Voroshilov and used by the Red Army during World War II. The KV series were known for their heavy armour protection during the early part of the war, especially during the first year of the German invasion of the Soviet Union. In certain situations, even a single KV-1 or KV-2 supported by infantry was capable of halting the enemy's onslaught. German tanks at that time were rarely used in KV encounters as their armament was too poor to deal with the "Russischer Koloss - Russian Colossus".[2]

They were practically immune to the 3.7 cm KwK 36 and howitzer-like, short barreled 7.5 cm KwK 37 guns mounted, respectively, on the early Panzer III and Panzer IV tanks fielded by the invading German forces. Until more effective guns were developed by the Germans, the KV-1 was invulnerable to almost any German weapon except the 8.8 cm Flak gun.[3] Even then, in a speech to the Panzerkommission on 18 November 1941, Guderian stated that "the sloped armor causes hits from the 8.8 cm Flak gun to ricochet" referring to the KV-1.[4]

Prior to Operation Barbarossa (the German invasion of the USSR), about 500 of the over 22,000 tanks then in Soviet service were of the KV-1 type. When the KV-1 appeared, it outclassed the French Char B1, the only other heavy tank in operational service in the world at that time. Yet, in the end, it turned out that there was little sense in producing the expensive KV tanks, as the T-34 medium tank performed better (or at least equally well) in all practical respects. In fact the only advantage it had over the T-34-76 was its larger and roomier three man turret.[5] Later in the war, the KV series became a base for the development of the IS (IS - Josif Stalin) series of tanks.

Development history[edit]

After disappointing results with the multi-turreted T-35 heavy tank, Soviet tank designers started drawing up replacements. The T-35 conformed to the 1920s notion of a 'breakthrough tank' with very heavy firepower and armour protection, but suffered from poor mobility. The Spanish Civil War demonstrated the need for much heavier armor on tanks,[citation needed] and was the main influence on Soviet tank design just prior to World War II.

The doctrine of Soviet deep battle called for the existence of relatively slow, but heavily armoured, siege tanks that were supposed to keep pressure on enemy troops during the siege phase. Thus, the requirements for KV-1 were heavily skewed toward a less agile but heavy tank.

Several competing designs were offered, and even more were drawn up prior to reaching prototype stage. All had heavy armour, torsion-bar suspension, wide tracks, and were of welded and cast construction. One of the main competing designs was the SMK, which in its final form had two turrets, mounting the same combination of 76.2 mm and 45 mm weapons as the T-35. The designers of the SMK independently drew up a single-turreted variant and this received approval at the highest level. Two of these, named after the People's Defence Commissioner were ordered alongside a single SMK. The smaller hull and single turret enabled the designer to install heavy frontal and turret armour while keeping the weight within manageable limits.

When the Soviets entered the Winter War, the SMK, KV and a third design, the T-100, were sent to be tested in combat conditions. The KV outperformed the SMK and T-100 designs. The KV's heavy armour proved highly resistant to Finnish anti-tank weapons, making it more difficult to stop. In 1939, the production of 50 KVs was ordered. During the War, the Soviets found it difficult to deal with the concrete bunkers used by the Finns and a request was made for a tank with a large howitzer. One of the rush projects to meet the request put the howitzer in a new turret on one of the KV tanks.[6]

Initially known as Little Turret and Big turret, the 76-mm-armed tank was designated as the KV-1 Heavy Tank and the 152 mm howitzer one as KV-2 Heavy Artillery Tank.

The KV's strengths included armor that was impenetrable by any tank-mounted weapon then in service[7] except at point-blank range, that it had good firepower, and that it had good traction on soft ground. It also had serious flaws all of which were rectified with the introduction of the KV-1S:[8] it was difficult to steer, the transmission (which was a twenty-year-old Caterpillar design)[9] was unreliable (and was known to have to be shifted with a hammer),[9] and the ergonomics were poor, with limited visibility and no turret basket.[10] Furthermore, at 45 tons, it was simply too heavy. This severely impacted the maneuverability, not so much in terms of maximum speed, as through inability to cross many bridges medium tanks could cross.[11] The KV outweighed most other tanks of the era, being about twice as heavy as the heaviest contemporary German tank. KVs were never equipped with a snorkelling system to ford shallow rivers, so they had to be left to travel to an adequate bridge. As applique armor and other improvements were added without increasing engine power, later models were less capable of keeping up to speed with medium tanks and had more trouble with difficult terrain. In addition, its firepower was no better than the T-34.[9] It took field reports from senior commanders "and certified heroes", who could be honest without risk of punishment, to reveal "what a dog the KV-1 really was."[9]

While initially the Soviets made a lot of poor defense decisions, worsened by recent "cleansings" of Soviet military command, the KV-1 was unlike anything the German army had expected to encounter, and some of the battles against numerically superior Axis forces became legendary. Even though the operations of the KV family of tanks were severely hampered by restrictions due to its weight, they were fearsome and formidable weapons through most of the Second World War.

Further development[edit]

By 1942, when the Germans were fielding large numbers of long-barrelled 50 mm and 75 mm guns, the KV's armor was no longer invincible, requiring the installation of additional field-expedient appliqué armour. The KV-1's side (favorable approach: 30° degree at 300-500m distance), top, and turret armor could also be penetrated by the high-velocity MK 101 carried by German ground attack aircraft, such as the Henschel Hs 129 [12] The KV-1's 76.2 mm gun also came in for criticism. While adequate against all German tanks, it was the same gun as carried by smaller, faster, and cheaper T-34 medium tanks. In 1943, it was determined that this gun could not penetrate the frontal armour of the new Tiger,[13] the first German heavy tank, one of which was captured near Leningrad. The KV-1 was also much more difficult to manufacture and thus more expensive than the T-34. In short, its advantages no longer outweighed its drawbacks.

Nonetheless, because of its initial superior performance, the KV-1 was chosen as one of the few tanks to continue being built following the Soviet reorganization of tank production. Due to the new standardization, it shared the similar engine (the KV used a 600 hp V-2K modification of the T-34's V-2 diesel engine) and gun (the KV had a ZiS-5 main gun, while the T-34 had a similar F-34 main gun) as the T-34, was built in large quantities, and received frequent upgrades.[citation needed]

When production shifted to the Ural Mountains 'Tankograd' complex, the KV-2 was dropped. While impressive on paper, it had been designed as a slow-moving bunker-buster. It was less useful in the highly mobile, fluid warfare that developed in World War II. The turret was so heavy it was difficult to traverse on uneven terrain. Finally, it was expensive to produce. Only about 300 KV-2s were made, all in 1940-41, making it one of the rarer Soviet tanks.

KV-1 produced in 1942, displayed in Finnish Tank Museum in Parola.

As the war continued, the KV-1 continued to get more armour to compensate for the increasing effectiveness of German weapons. This culminated in the KV-1 model 1942 (German designation KV-1C), which had very heavy armour, but lacked a corresponding improvement to the engine. Tankers complained that, although they were well-protected, their mobility was poor and they had no firepower advantage over the T-34 medium tank.[citation needed]


In response to criticisms, the lighter KV-1S was released, with thinner armour and a smaller, lower turret in order to reclaim some speed. Importantly, the KV-1S had a commander's cupola with all-around vision blocks. It also had a sophisticated planetary transmission that significantly increased the reliability, and allowed use of more efficient regenerative geared steering, unlike the solely clutch and brake steering systems used by the Panzer III, IV and T-34. Its reduced weight allowed it to achieve a top speed of 43.3 km/h. Over 1,300 were built before production ended in August 1943.[8] Although KV-1S was the best of the mass-produced KV tanks, overcoming its predecessors problems, more modern tanks were already in sight.[14] Up-arming the regular turret of the KV-1S with an 85mm S-31 resulted in the KV-1S-85 or KV-85G. This was rejected as it came with the unacceptable loss of a dedicated commander, reducing the turret crew to two.[15] However, the thinning-out of the armor called into question why the tank was being produced at all, when the T-34 could seemingly do everything the KV could do and much more cheaply. The Soviet heavy tank program was close to cancellation in mid-1943.

The appearance of the German Panther tank in the summer of 1943 convinced the Red Army to make a serious upgrade of its tank force for the first time since 1941. Soviet tanks needed bigger guns to take on the growing numbers of Panthers and the few Tigers.


A stopgap upgrade to the KV series was the short-lived KV-85 or Objekt 239. This was a KV-1S with the new turret from the Object 237(IS-85) still in development, mounting the same 85 mm D-5T gun as the SU-85 and early versions of the T-34-85. The 85 mm proved capable of penetrating the Tiger I from 1000 m and the demand for it slowed production of the KV-85 tremendously (only 148 were built in the end). The KV-85 appeared on the front beginning in September 1943 and its production ended by December 1943.[16] Soviet industry was therefore able to produce a heavy tank as well armed as the Tiger I before the end of 1943. In spite of being an excellent opponent to the Tigers and Panthers, the KV-85 was built in too few a number to influence the war.[8] The complete Object 237 was accepted into service as the IS-85 and was produced in the autumn and winter of 1943-44; they were sent to the front as of October 1943 and production of the IS-85/IS-1 was stopped by the spring of 1944 once the IS-122/IS-2 entered full-scale production.


A new heavy tank design entered production late in 1943 based on the work done on the KV-13. Because Voroshilov had fallen out of political favour, the new heavy tank series was named the Josif Stalin tank, after the Soviet leader Stalin. The KV-13 program's IS-85 prototype was accepted for production as the IS-1 (or IS-85, Object 237) heavy tank. After testing with both the 100 mm D-10 and 122 mm guns, the D-25T 122 mm gun was selected as the main armament of the new tank, primarily because of its ready availability and the effect of its large high-explosive shell when attacking German fortifications. The 122mm D-25T used a separate shell and powder charge, resulting in a lower rate of fire and reduced ammunition capacity. While the 122mm armor piercing shell had a lower muzzle velocity than similar late German 7.5 cm and 8.8 cm guns, proving-ground tests established that the 122mm could penetrate the frontal armor of the German Panther tank at 2500 metres[17] and the HE shell would easily blow off the drive sprocket and tread of the heaviest German tank or self-propelled gun. The IS-122 replaced the IS-85, and began mass production as the IS-2. The 85 mm gun saw service in the lighter SU-85 and T-34-85.

A destroyed Soviet KV-1 in Olonets, September 1941, during the Continuation War


The Soviets did not recognize different production models of KV-1 during the war; designations like model 1939 (M1939, Russian: Obr. 1939) were introduced later in military publications. These designations, however, are not strict and describe leading changes, while other changes might be adapted earlier or later in specific production batches. Designations like KV-1A were applied by the Germans during the war.

KV-1 model 1939
A KV-1B at the Bovington Tank Museum
  • KV-1
    • Model 1939 – First production models, these tanks were prone to frequent breakdowns, but were highly resistant to anti-tank weapons during the Winter War. These tanks were armed with the 76 mm L-11 tank gun, recognizable due to a recuperator above a barrel. Most tanks were lacking the hull machine gun. 141 were built.
    • Model 1940 (German designation: KV-1A) – Used the F-32 76 mm gun and a new mantlet. The main production model by the time of the German invasion.
    • Model 1940 s ekranami ("with screens") or KV-1E – with additional bolted-on appliqué armour and F-32 gun.
    • Model 1941 (KV-1B) – Up-armoured with 25–35 mm (0.98–1.38 in) added to the turret, hull front and sides. Turret was now cast instead of welded. This tank was armed with the longer-barreled 76.2 mm F-34, and later ZiS-5, tank guns.
    • Model 1942 (KV-1C) – Fully cast turret with thicker armour or welded turret with thicker armour, again up-armoured and used an improved engine and the 76 mm ZiS-5 tank gun.
    • KV-1S – A variant with higher speed, but thinner armour. A new, smaller, cast turret and redesigned rear hull with a new planetary transmission were used. 1370 were built.
    • Panzerkampfwagen KV-IA 753(r) and Panzerkampfwagen KV-IB 755(r) - Captured KV-1 in German service. Some were fitted with a high-velocity 75mm L/43 KwK 40, the same gun used in a Panzer IV Ausf F2. Certain models were also fitted with extra armor protection.

All tanks in the series were heavily based on the KV-1.

The KV-2 heavy artillery tank's 152-mm howitzer was housed in an enormous turret. This prototype differs from the production version in several ways. It was called the Dreadnought by its crews.[18]
  • KV-2 (334) – A heavy assault tank with the M-10 152 mm howitzer, the KV-2 was produced at the same time as the KV-1. Due to the size of its heavy turret and gun, the KV-2 was slower and had a much higher profile than the KV-1. Those captured and used by the German Army were known as (Sturm)Panzer kampfwagen KV-II 754(r) and often used for artillery observation due to its height. Few were produced due to its combat ineffectiveness, mainly the decreased speed due to the weight of the new gun and turret. The enlarged turret also offered a much bigger target, resulting in it being easier to hit and destroy than other KV tanks. Due to the increased turret weight due to expanded dimensions and a heavier gun, the turret traverse mechanism could work only on level ground.
  • Т-150 (Object 150) - Experimental tank based on KV-1. Armor - 90mm, Weight - 51 tons. New 700 hp engine. Turret had a cupola but was in all other ways identical to the turret of the KV-1. One prototype was constructed in 1941 and was destroyed defending Leningrad.
  • KV-3 (Objects 221, 222, and 223) - Experimental tanks based on KV-1. Longer chassis (7 rollers per side). The first design (Object 221) was never built, but it was supposed to have a 85mm gun. The same thing happened to Object 222, but it was supposed to have a F-32 76.2mm gun. The Objects 221 and 222 both used a new modified KV-1 turret. Object 223's hull was built and was tested with weights to simulated the new conical turret (housing a 107mm ZiS-6 cannon) that was designed for it. Object 223 had up to 120mm of sloped armor. Series production was intended to start in late 1941, but the German invasion of Russia halted these plans and the only prototype hull was destroyed.
  • KV-4 (Object 224) - A project for a super-heavy tank. About 20 different designs were proposed, but it was cancelled to due to the outbreak of the war. Different versions would have been between about 85 and 110 tonnes. Armour from about 120 to 190 mm. Armament consisted of the 107mm ZiS-6 cannon. Different variants had various auxiliary weapons: 45mm, 76mm cannons, machineguns and flamethrowers in addition to the main gun.
  • KV-5 (Object 225) - A cancelled project for a super-heavy tank. Armament was to be a 107 mm ZiS-6 gun in a large turret and machine-gun in a small secondary turret. Weight was projected as about 100 tons, and the tank was to have 150-180mm of armor. Project development began in June 1941, however was cancelled due to the Siege of Leningrad, in which all developmental operations at the Kirov Plant were halted. The project fell out of favour from the more advanced heavy tank designs, and no prototype was built.
  • KV-7 (Object 227) (also called U-13). - Experimental self-propelled gun based on KV-1 armed with 3 cannons: two 45mm model 1932/34 and one 76mm F-34. 200 rounds of ammunition was carried for the 45mm guns and 93 rounds for the 75mm gun, and the tank had 100mm of frontal armor. One unit was produced and tested in 1941.

KV-7-2 (improved variant)(also called U-14) had two 76mm F-34 cannons, and 85mm of frontal armor. Vehicles were not taken in service primarily because they could not fight tanks (the KV-7s had only 15 degree gun traverse to each side) and could not combat concrete bunkers due to the small caliber of the guns. After the failure of the KV-7 it was decided to put one 152mm gun in the casemate instead of three smaller guns; this led to the development of the SU-152.

  • U-18 - Experimental self-propelled gun. KV-7 armed with 152 mm ML-20 howitzer. Vehicle was projected in 1941. Wooden mockup was constructed. Project was cancelled, but this vehicle was a first step towards SU-152 design.
  • S-51 (also called U-19) - Experimental self-propelled gun projected by the Grabin Artillery Projects Central Department armed with 203mm B-4 cannon in a KV-1S hull. The vehicle was to have 75mm of frontal armor, 60mm on the side, and the roof was to be 30mm (the roof would have been removable to facilitate loading). It was projected to weigh 66 tons, one prototype passed by the testing grounds in the spring of 1944 but it was not very successful and was cancelled within a year.
  • SU-152 - See SU-152. Heavy assault gun based off the KV-1S chassis.
  • ZiK-20 - The ZiK-20 was very similar to the U-19 (S-51), but had 105mm of frontal armor, and 75mm of side armor and was to mount a ML-20 gun. By the time was wooden mockup was made the KV-1 was phased out of production. However just before the project was cancelled a blueprint was draw up to equip the ZiK-20 with a Br-2 152.4mm gun; and to offset the weight the frontal armor was to be reduced to 75mm (or 60mm on the KV-1S chassis)
  • SU-203 - SU-152 equipped with 203mm M-4 mortar. Never built.
  • KV-8 (42) – A KV-1 fitted with the ATO-41 flamethrower in the turret, beside a machine gun. In order to accommodate the new weapon, the 76.2mm gun was replaced with a smaller 45 mm Gun M1932, though it was disguised to look like the standard 76 mm (The cannon was placed inside 76mm tube).
    • KV-8S (25) – The same as KV-8, but based on KV-1S. Equipped with ATO-42 flamethrower (improved version of ATO-41).
    • KV-8M - Upgraded version of KV-8S. Equipped with two flamethrowers. Two prototypes were constructed.
  • KV-9 (Object 229) - A KV-1 with short 122mm U-11 cannon. One prototype was constructed and proved in 1941.
  • KV-10 (Object 230) - Also known as KV-1K. A KV-1 with 4 rocket launchers on the sides of hull. Each launcher contained two 132mm M-13 rockets. Early variant of KV-1K had two launchers on the back of hull, each contained 6 rockets. One prototype was constructed and tested in 1942. Not taken in service.
  • KV-11 (Object 231) - KV-1 armed with 85mm F-30 cannon. Projected in 1942. Not built.
  • KV-12 (Object 232) - Experimental chemical tank. Was equipped with 4 external toxin tanks on the back of chassis. Tanks surrounded with 30mm armor. Not taken in service.
  • KV-13 (Object 233) - Prototype of a medium tank. Designation for an advanced redesign of the KV series, which resulted in the production of the IS series.
    • IS Model 2 - A KV-13, with turret and armament from KV-9. One prototype was constructed and proved in 1943. Tank had lost competition to IS Model 1 and was not taken in service.
  • KV-14 (Object 236) – Prototype designation for a 152 mm self-propelled gun, accepted for service as the SU-152.
  • KV-85 – A KV-1S with the 85mm D-5T cannon in a new turret, with the ball mounted hull machine gun removed and the hole welded shut, 148 of these tanks were produced in the second half of 1943 until the spring of 1944; they were a stopgap until the IS tank series entered production.[19]
    • KV-85G - KV-1S with 85mm S-31 cannon. Turret and mantlet remained from conventional KV-1S. This variant was a competitor of KV-85 during proving. It lost the competition and was not taken in service.
    • KV-122 - A KV-1S with short 122mm S-41 howitzer. One prototype was made in 1943. Not taken in service.[20]
    • KV-100 - A KV-85 with the 100mm S-34 cannon. One prototype was made in 1944. Not taken in service.
    • KV-122 (Object 239) - A KV-85 with the 122mm D-25T cannon. One prototype was made in 1944. Not taken in service.
  • KV-220 (Object 220) - Experimental tank based on KV-1. Longer chassis (7 rollers per side). Armor - 100mm. New 850 hp V-2SN engine with turbocharging. New diamond-shaped turret. 85mm F-30 cannon. One prototype was constructed in 1941. The tank was lost in battle.[21][22]
  • KV-220-2 - The KV-220 had its turret removed (The turret and KV-220-2 were both used in the defense of Leningrad) it was fitted with a KV-1 turret and F-32 cannon. The tank was lost in battle, supposedly later repaired, and sent to a training unit. Also known by the inscription on the turret: "For the Motherland".[21]

KV and other heavy Soviet tanks compared[edit]

Soviet heavy tanks of World War II[23]
T-35 T-100 SMK KV-1
Crew 11 7 7 5 5 5 5 4 4 4
Weight (tonnes) 45 58 55 43 45 47 42.5 46 46 46.5
Gun 76.2 mm
M. 27/32
76.2 mm
76.2 mm
76.2 mm
76.2 mm
76.2 mm
76.2 mm
85 mm
122 mm
122 mm
Ammunition 100 111 111 114 114 70 28 28
Secondary armament 2×45 mm
5×7.62 mm
45 mm 45 mm DT 4×DT 4×DT 4×DT 3×DT 2×DT, DShK 2×DT, DShK
Engine 500 hp
M-17M gasoline
500 hp 850 hp
600 hp
V-2K diesel
600 hp
600 hp
600 hp
600 hp
600 hp
600 hp
Fuel (litres) 910 600 600 600 975 975 820 520 + 270
Road speed (km/h) 30 35 36 35 35 28 45 40 37 37
Road range (km) 150 150 335 335 250 250 250 240 150 (225)
Armour (mm) 11–30 20–70 20–60 25–75 30–90 20–130 30–82 30–160 30–160 20–220

Combat history[edit]


A KV-1 on fire, knocked out near Voronezh in 1942.

When Operation Barbarossa began, the Red Army was equipped with 508 new KV tanks.[25] So effective was its armour that the Germans were incapable of destroying it with their tanks or anti-tank weapons and had to rely on 88 mm anti-aircraft guns (flak) or 105 mm guns to knock them out. Only a few of these tanks were used to good effect, but one event of the Battle of Raseiniai was a notable example. On 23–24 June, a single KV-2 effectively pinned down elements of the 6th Panzer Division–the spearhead of Panzergruppe 4–for a full day at the bridgeheads of the Dubysa river near Raseiniai, Lithuania, playing a prominent role in delaying the German advance on Leningrad and destroying around two dozen German tanks.[26]


On 14 August 1941, the vanguard of the German 8th Panzer Division approached Krasnogvardeysk (Gatchina) near Leningrad (now known again as Saint Petersburg), and the only Soviet force available in an attempt to stop the German advance consisted of five well-hidden KV-1 tanks[citation needed], dug in within a grove at the edge of a swamp. KV-1 tank No. 864 was commanded by the leader of this small force, Lieutenant Zinoviy Kolobanov.

German forces attacked Krasnogvardeysk from three directions.[citation needed] Near Noviy Uchkhoz settlement the geography favoured the Soviet defenders as the only road in the region passed the swamp, and the defenders commanded this choke point from their hidden position.[citation needed] Lieutenant Kolobanov had carefully studied the situation and readied his detachment the day before. Each KV-1 tank carried twice the normal amount of ammunition, two-thirds of which were armour-piercing rounds.[citation needed] Kolobanov ordered his other commanders to hold their fire and await orders. He did not want to reveal the total force, so only one tank would expose itself at a time and engage the enemy.

On 14 August, the German 8th Panzer Division's vanguard ventured directly into the well-prepared Soviet ambush. Kolobanov's tank knocked out the lead German tank with its first shot. The Germans wrongly assumed their lead tank had hit an anti-tank mine, and failed to realize they had been ambushed.[citation needed] The German column stopped, giving Kolobanov the opportunity to destroy the second tank. Only then did the Germans realize they were under attack, but they failed to find the source of the shots. While the German tanks were firing blindly, Kolobanov knocked out the trailing German tank, thus boxing in the entire column.[citation needed]

Although the Germans correctly guessed the direction of fire, they could not spot Lieutenant Kolobanov's tank, and now attempted to engage an unseen enemy. German tanks moving off the road bogged down in the surrounding soft ground, becoming easy targets.[citation needed] Twenty-two German tanks and 2 Self-propelled gun pieces fell victim to Kolobanov's tank before it ran out of ammunition. Kolobanov ordered in another KV-1, and 21 more German tanks were destroyed before the half-hour battle ended.[citation needed] A total of 43 German tanks were destroyed by just five Soviet KV-1s (two more remained in reserve).[citation needed]

After the battle, the crew of No. 865 counted a total of 135 hits on their tank, none of which had penetrated the armour.[citation needed] Lieutenant Kolobanov was awarded the Order of Lenin, while his driver Usov was awarded the Order of the Red Banner. Later on, former Captain Zinoviy Kolobanov was again decorated by Soviet authorities, despite having been convicted and downgraded after the Winter War for "fraternizing with the enemy." After the end of World War II, Lieutenant Kolobanov served in the Soviet occupation zone in East Germany[citation needed], where he was convicted again when a subordinate escaped to the British occupation zone, and was transferred to the reserves.[citation needed]

The battle for Krasnogvardeysk was covered up by Soviet propaganda.[citation needed] A monument dedicated to this battle was installed in the village of Noviy Uchkhoz in 1980, at the place where Kolobanov's KV-1 was dug in, due solely to the demands of the villagers. Unfortunately it was impossible to find a KV-1 tank, so an IS-2 heavy tank was installed there instead.[27]

The Soviet victory was the result of a well-planned ambush in advantageous ground and of technical superiority.[citation needed] Most of the German tanks in this battle were Panzer IIs, armed with 20 mm guns, and a few Panzer IIIs armed with 37 mm KwK 36 L/46.5 guns.[citation needed] The German tank guns had neither the range nor the power of the 76 mm main gun of a KV-1, and the narrower track width of the German tanks caused them to become trapped in the swampy ground.

Some KVs remained in service right up to the end of the war, although in greatly diminishing numbers as they wore out or were knocked out. The 260th Guards Heavy Breakthrough Tank Regiment, based on the Leningrad front, operated a number of 1941-vintage KV-1s at least as late as the summer of 1944 before re-equipping with IS-2s.[citation needed] A regiment of KVs saw service in Manchuria in August 1945, and a few KV-85s were used in Crimea in the summer of 1944. The Finnish forces had two KV-1s, nicknamed Klimi, a Model 1940 and Model 1941, both of which received minor upgrades in their service, and both of which survived the war.[citation needed]

See also[edit]

Tanks of comparable role, performance and era[edit]


  1. ^ Zaloga; including variants and prototypes
  2. ^ Vollert, Jochen (2005). Tankograd Militar Fahrzeug - Special No. 2003 Soviet Special - KV-1 Soviet Heavy Tanks of WWII - Late Variants. Tankograd Publishing. p. 59. 
  3. ^ Glantz, David M. (1995). When Titans Clash: How the Red Army Stopped Hitler. University Press of Kansas. p. 36. ISBN 9780700608997. 
  4. ^ Jentz, Thomas; Doyle, Hilary. Germany's Panther Tank. Schiffer Publishing, Ltd. p. 14. ISBN 0887408125. 
  5. ^ Ogorkiewicz, Richard (2015). Tanks: 100 years of evolution. Osprey. p. 94. 
  6. ^ Zaloga p. 7
  7. ^ Russel H. S. Stolfi. Hitler's panzers east: World War II reinterpreted. p. 158. 
  8. ^ a b c Vollert, Jochen (2005). Tankograd Militar Fahrzeug - Special No. 2003 Soviet Special - KV-1 Soviet Heavy Tanks of WWII - Late Variants. Tankograd Publishing. p. 33. 
  9. ^ a b c d Sewell, Stephen, CW2 (rtd). "Why Three Tanks?" (Armor, July–August 1998), p. 24.
  10. ^ Steven Zaloga; Steven J. Zaloga. KV-1 & 2: Heavy Tanks 1939–1945. p. 9. 
  11. ^ Steven J. Zaloga; Peter Sarson. IS-2 Heavy Tank 1944–73. p. 3. 
  12. ^ Pegg, Martin (1997). Hs 129 Panzerjager!. Classic Publications. ISBN 0952686716. 
  13. ^ Dmitry Pyatakhin. "The New Generation of Soviet Armor vs. Tigers". Retrieved 3 January 2011. 
  14. ^ Vollert, Jochen (2005). Tankograd Militar Fahrzeug - Special No. 2003 Soviet Special - KV-1 Soviet Heavy Tanks of WWII - Late Variants. Tankograd Publishing. p. 34. 
  15. ^ Vollert, Jochen (2005). Tankograd Militar Fahrzeug - Special No. 2003 Soviet Special - KV-1 Soviet Heavy Tanks of WWII - Late Variants. Tankograd Publishing. p. 40. 
  16. ^ Boldyrev, Eugeni. "KV-85 Heavy Tank". The Russian Battlefield. Retrieved 20 October 2014. 
  17. ^ Tolochkov; Volosatov (September 12, 1944). "Report on the Results of Testing of the 100 mm and the 122 mm Tank Guns at the Kubinka Proving Grounds". The Russian Battlefield. Retrieved 27 October 2014. 
  18. ^ Zaloga 1984, pp.118–19
  19. ^ Boldyrev, Eugeni. "KV-85 Heavy Tank". http://english.battlefield.ru/. Retrieved 20 October 2014. 
  20. ^ Солянкин А.Г., Павлов М.В., Павлов И.В., Желтов И.Т. Отечественные бронированные машины. ХХ век. Том 2. 1941–1945 (Domestic Armoured Vehicles. XXth Century. Volume 2. 1941–1945). Moscow, 2005. P. 238
  21. ^ a b Potapov, Valeri. "KV-3, KV-4, KV-5, KV-7, KV-9, KV-220". The Russian Battlefield. Retrieved 25 October 2014. 
  22. ^ Zaloga, Steven (1996). KV-1 & 2 Heavy Tanks 1939-45. Osprey Publishing. p. 13. ISBN 1855324962. 
  23. ^ Zaloga & Grandsen (1984) pp. 119, 176
  24. ^ IS-3 Model 1945 onwar.com
  25. ^ Zaloga & Grandsen 1984: 125
  26. ^ Zaloga 1981: 10–12, Zaloga 1995: 17–20
  27. ^ Герой, не ставший героем (Russian)


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