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Weapons of World War Two

The German Invasion of Russia (Jun 1941)

KV-1 heavy tank

KV-1 heavy tank

In 1938 the workgroup led by Engineer Kotin received an order for one or more prototypes of heavy tanks which had to be taken into consideration for the new program of enhancement of the Soviet armored forces intended for 1940. The first designs elaborated in the factories of Leningrad still envisaged tanks with multiple turrets, by recasting the former T-32 and T-35 tanks, but the designers would ultimately arrive to the conclusion that a tank with a single turret, armed with a powerful cannon, would be preferable. The weight saved with the suppression of the other turrets could be advantageously used to increase the armor. When the definitive design was later presented to Stalin, this one decided to eliminate also the armored plates which protected the suspension. Because of that it was necessary to replace this one, of leaf-spring type, by another one of torsion-bar type, a technical novelty in that moment, surely less fragile and exposed to damages than the former one. This way it had been born the first KV (initial letters of Klimenti Voroshilov, the Soviet Commissar of Defense) tank, which took the denomination KV-1. The series of these tanks would be practically developed into a dozen of types for all the duration of the war, and it has to be taken into account that some initial letters which identify one or another type were adopted by the German, whereas the Russian continued calling KV-1, for example, both the KV-1A and the KV-1B. This tank, of very coarse manufacture, like almost all of the other contemporary Russian weapons, shared many identical components with the T-34 due to reasons of logistical practice. Of entirely welded hull, it had in the successive types a casted turret which greatly improved the robustness. The engine, which would be later very used, was a Diesel of twelve cylinders in V, initially of 600 horsepower. The main armament comprised a 76.2/30.5 cannon, which in the KV-1A would be soon replaced by the more powerful 76.2/41.5. For close defense three Degtyarev 1929 7.62-millimeter machine guns were adopted. Among the several improved versions of this tank they are worthy of mention: the KV-2, initially armed with a 122-millimeter howitzer and later with a 152-millimeter one; 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 paired to a 45-millimeter cannon in the turret. After having debuted in the aggression to Finland, the KV-1 would fight against the German since the first days of the conflict, and with good results in the beginning. But with the utilization of more powerful German anti-tank cannons and tanks, the KV would be forced to increase its armor to the point of losing the brilliant characteristics which had initially conferred superiority upon the enemy to it. Moreover, it was not a perfect tank; the crews would always complain about the very poor comfort offered by the KV, and about the almost total practical impossibility of exiting the tank in the event of an emergency without getting fully exposed to the enemy fire. But from this tank it would be born the famous "Stalin", decisive weapon of the Russian 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

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