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The KV-1 Heavy Tank was a heavy tank used by the Soviet Union during World War II, with the KV-1E being the most widely used variant. 

Description

The KV-1 used the 76.2 mm F-34 as its main gun, while also utilizing three DTM 7.62 mm machine guns. Production started in 1939. At the time it went into service, the KV-1 was the most efficient heavy tank in the world, outclassing all other heavy tanks.

It had a maximum speed of 29 kilometers per hour with the W-2-K diesel engine that was used. The frontal armour was about ninety millimeters thick. The KV-1 also had a crew numbering five men and the total weight of the KV-1 system was about 43,090 kg with the total length being 6.2 meters.[1] The suspension system used was a torsion bar type and it also had a 5 speed forward, 1 speed reverse transmission system. The first KV-1s had a fairly low reliability as there were numerous issues with the suspension and transmission systems that could cause mechanical failure and immobilization of the vehicle.

Variants

The initial KV mounted both a 76.2 mm and a 45 mm gun in the turret with single machine gun in the hull. With the outbreak of the Winter War the KV was sent to the front, but only after the 45 mm was replaced with a 7.62 mm machine-gun, while another machine-gun was mounted in the rear of the turret to protect the tank from infantry assaults. Towards the end of 1940 the 76.2 mm L-11 tank gun was replaced with the new 7.62 mm F-32 gun, this became the KV-1 or Model 1940. This model can also be referred to as the KV-1A. 

Also In 1940, in response to intelligence on the Germans a decision was made to increase the armour of KV-1. Additional armour plates were bolted to the hull and turret. This modified KV became the KV-1e ("e" means "ekranirovaniy" or "with shields"). Additionally, the 76.2 mm ZiS-5 cannon was first fitted on this model. Also importantly, KV-1e can be referred to as the KV-1B as in the simplified designations for the variants in the KV series.  

Then in 1941, the KV-1 model was uparmored and now had a fully cast turret with armor that was about 120 mm thick. This model was designated the KV-1C or Model 1941 and had a modified version of the 76.2mm F-34 tank gun the 76.2mm ZiS-5 tank gun designed to better fit the KV-1C (Model 1941) cast turret. Both of these Main Tank Guns were superior to the older F-32 and the Leningrad Kirov Factory's 76.2mm L/11 guns. Another variant, the KV-1S came in 1942 but had one major difference, it was significantly lighter because of the removal of a great deal of its armor. The S in KV-1S in fact stands for speed. About one thousand were produced. There was even a flamethrowing version of the KV-1 series designated KV-8. However, unlike the KV-2, it is very similar to the original platform except for the added flamethrower. The KV-2 was a heavily modified self-propelled gun version of the KV-1 series that saw limited service.[2] It should also be noted that certain KV-1s captured by German forces were sometimes given a German anti-tank gun to replace the original Soviet armament and accordingly designated as Panzerkampfwagen KV-IA 753(r).

History

The first KV class heavy tank appeared during the 1939 Winter War with Finland. Like many other Soviet weapons the war with the Finns was to be a proving ground.

Development of the KV (Klimenti Voroshilov) began in February 1939. By September 1939 the first tank was built and tested. At the start of the German invasion, the Red Army had 639 KV-1 tanks. Though they proved a tough nut to crack for the invading Germans, they were let down by their unreliability. In July 1941 the F-32 gun was replaced with a new 76.2mm ZIS-5 gun, similar to the F-34 gun of the T-34 tank. By 1942 most technical difficulties were overcome and the KV continued to roll off the production lines in ever increasing numbers.

Production of all KV-1 tanks stopped in 1943, when the Soviets realized that more efficient heavy tanks could be produced, which led to the development of the Iosif Stalin series of heavy tanks.

References

  1. http://www.wwiivehicles.com/ussr/tanks-heavy/kv-1.asp
  2. http://www.militaryfactory.com/armor/detail.asp?armor_id=313


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