The armored personnel carriers of the Red Army - the KV-1 tank

(To Francesco Sisto)

The KV-1 tank (Kliment Vorosilov 1) can be considered the first Soviet heavy tank of modern design; was born from the experience drawn from the use of the T-35, the realization of which was the result of a "certain confusion then existing about what should have been the armament of a heavy tank".1

It should be noted that during the winter war (1939-40), the KV-1 tanks that were used allowed the Soviets to develop those techniques that would later lead to the tanks of the series Stalin (the IS).

The KV-1 tank was designed by Kliment Vorosilov (minister of defense of the Soviet Union from 1925 to 1940 and one of the first to be awarded the title of Marshal of the Soviet Union). In fact, it's named after it.

As mentioned above, the first examples of the KV-1 appeared in 1940 towards the end of the Winter War; their use, however, went almost unnoticed.

In 1941, however, the KV-1s came as a surprise to the Germans. However, the great confusion that prevailed in the ranks of the Soviet armored departments regarding the use of tanks and the considerable skill of the Germans meant that the KVs fell under the blows of the German tanks.

All this made the military leaders reflect… so much so that it was decided to concentrate mass production on the T-34 (medium tank). As a result, heavy tanks fell into the background until the appearance of the series Stalin.

It should be noted that the KV-1 maintained some elements already tested on the T-35, such as the rolling carriages and initially also the tracks. However, the heavy tank only had a turret equipped with a 76,2 mm model 39 gun 30,5 calibers long, later replaced with the model 40 which had a size of 41,5 calibers.

The heavily armored KV-1 was produced in 1A, 1B and 1C variants; it was also powered by the same aircraft engine that was mounted on the T-34. The substantial shortcomings of the vehicle were in the transmission and rolling elements and, as reported by the soldiers, "in the vision apparatus and in the access compartments to the wagon".

In 1943, to counter the considerable firepower of the German army tanks, it was decided to mount an 85mm gun on the KV-1. This new variant was given the name of KV-85 (photo) but was scarcely reproduced.

Eventually, the KV-1 was decommissioned in the winter of 1944.

Some technical data

The KV-1 tank had a weight of about 43 tons, a length of 6,70 meters, a width of 3,26 meters and a height of 2,74 meters.

The engine power was 450-500 hp, with a maximum speed of about 40 km/h.

The frontal armor was 75 mm, while the side armor was 60 mm; turret armor of 75 mm.

The tank could count on a crew of 5 men.

Armament consisted of one 76,2mm cannon and three 7,62mm machine guns.

1 See C. Falessi, B. Pafi, The KV-1 tank, in Storia Illustrata, n°157, 1970, p.99

Photo: web / Bundesarchiv / Twitter