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KV tank file photo [8875]

Kliment Voroshilov

ManufacturerKirov Plant Kirov Factory, Leningrad, Russia
Primary RoleHeavy Tank


ww2dbaseThe Kliment Voroshilov heavy tanks, or KV for short, were the result of a Russian desire for a modern heavy tank that was not designed for the WW1-era philosophy which restricted heavy tanks' image as a slow moving breakthrough tank. During the Winter War, three prototypes (SMK, KV, and T-100) were sent in combat conditions for field testing, with the KV prototype emerging as the chosen tank to be placed into production. There were two variants right from the start; the KV-1 variant (sometimes named KV Model 1939 through KV Model 1942) was the original heavy tank design with a 76-millimeter gun, while the KV-2 variant was mounted with a 152-millimeter howitzer in the turret instead of the tank gun.

ww2dbaseWhen Germany invaded the Soviet Union in Jun 1941, of the 22,000 tanks in the Soviet forces, 508 were KV-1 heavy tanks and about 100 to 200 were KV-2 heavy tanks. Equipped with heavy armor, German tanks found it extremely difficult to penetrate with tank guns unless in close range, thus needing to especially employ ground-attack aircraft or anti-tank guns to knock them out. Despite the weaknesses of slow speed, unreliable transmission, poor visibility, and poor ergonomics, Russian crews liked these heavy tanks due to the protection. Between 23 and 24 Jun 1941, a single KV-2 heavy tank pinned down a larger force for almost an entire day at the bridgeheads at the Dubysa River in Lithuania. On 14 Aug 1941, Lieutenant Zinoviy Kolobanov's five KV-1 heavy tanks laid in ambush for an oncoming German tank column near Leningrad, Russia; revealing only one tank at a time, the ambush knocked out 43 German tanks in about 30 minutes, while the Russian tanks were hit multiple times but none of the hits penetrated.

ww2dbaseBy 1942, as German tank guns improved, namely with the long-barrelled 50- and 75-millimeter guns, KV heavy tanks found themselves losing the armor advantage. Some crews looked to installing additional armor in the field to bolster defenses. Meanwhile, KV heavy tank's 76-millimeter guns were inadequate in penetrating the frontal armor of new German heavy tanks. Nevertheless, the KV-1 variant remained in production even after the migration of Russian heavy industries beyond the Ural Mountains; however, the KV-2 variant tanks were phased out at this time, after 250 had been built. To improve armor protection, variant design KV-1 Model 1942 was placed into production, which had thicker armor, but at the expense of mobility. The KV-1S variant tanks were thus released, which were lighter and smaller to improve performance, while commanders' cupolas were included in the design with all-around vision blocks, a visibility feature first found in a Russian tank design. In mid-1943, especially considering that KV-1 heavy tanks shared the same guns as the lighter and more agile T-34 medium tanks, KV production was almost ordered to stop, saved only by the apperance of German Panther heavy tanks. To counter the new German threat, between fall of 1943 and early 1944, 148 KV-1S heavy tanks were upgraded to become KV-85 heavy tanks by installing 85-millimeter tank guns. In the spring of 1944, production of all KV tanks ceased after the introduction of the Iosif Stalin heavy tanks. Although the designations were different, the original Iosif Stalin tank (IS-1/IS-85) was actually a modified KV-13 tank, renamed only because the politician that the KV tanks were named for, Kliment Voroshilov, had fallen out of Joseph Stalin's favor. Some KV heavy tanks remained in service through the end of the war, seeing combat as late as the Russian invasion of Japanese-held Manchuria in northeast China in Aug 1945.

ww2dbaseFinnish forces captured two KV tanks; both of them received minor upgrades and were used against their former owners and both survived the war. German forces captured one KV tank, and it was also pressed into service, possibly seeing combat against American forces on the western front.

ww2dbaseIn total, about 5,219 KV heavy tanks were built during the design's production life.

ww2dbaseSource: Wikipedia.

Last Major Revision: Nov 2009

Kliment Voroshilov Timeline

23 Jun 1941 The German 6th Panzer Division encountered Soviet KV tanks for the first time at the Dubysa River in Lithuania. German General Reinhard was surprised to learn that the Soviet military possessed such a heavy tank, especially after learning that some German 105-millimeter shells were bouncing off the thick armor, and that some KV tanks had reportedly crushed German vehicles and guns by driving over them.


KV-1 Model 1940
MachineryOne V-2K 12-cylinder diesel engine rated at 600hp
SuspensionTorsion Bar
Armament1x76.2mm F-32 gun (111 rounds), 2x7.62mm DT machine guns
Length6.75 m
Width3.32 m
Height2.71 m
Weight43.0 t
Speed35 km/h
Range335 km

KV-1 Model 1941
MachineryOne V-2 12-cylinder diesel engine rated at 600hp
SuspensionTorsion Bar
Armament1x76.2mm F-34 gun (111 rounds), 4x7.62mm DT machine guns
Length6.75 m
Width3.32 m
Height2.71 m
Weight45.0 t
Speed35 km/h
Range335 km

KV-1 Model 1942
MachineryOne V-2 12-cylinder diesel engine rated at 600hp
SuspensionTorsion Bar
Armament1x76.2mm ZiS-5 gun (114 rounds), 4x7.62mm DT machine guns
Length6.75 m
Width3.32 m
Height2.71 m
Weight47.0 t
Speed28 km/h
Range250 km

KV-1S Model 1942
MachineryOne V-2 12-cylinder diesel engine rated at 600hp
SuspensionTorsion Bar
Armament1x76.2mm ZiS-5 gun (114 rounds), 4x7.62mm DT machine guns
Length6.75 m
Width3.32 m
Height2.71 m
Weight42.5 t
Speed45 km/h
Range250 km

KV-85 Model 1943
MachineryOne V-2 12-cylinder diesel engine rated at 600hp
SuspensionTorsion Bar
Armament1x85mm D-5T gun (70 rounds), 3x7.62mm DT machine guns
Length6.75 m
Width3.32 m
Height2.71 m
Weight46.0 t
Speed40 km/h
Range250 km

MachineryOne V-2K 12-cylinder diesel engine rated at 600hp
SuspensionTorsion Bar
Armament1x152mm howitzer, 2x7.62mm machine guns
Armor110mm max
Length6.79 m
Width3.32 m
Height3.65 m
Weight53.1 t
Speed25 km/h
Range140 km


KV-1 Model 1939 heavy tank, circa 1940sGerman troops inspecting an abandoned KV-2 heavy tank, northern Russia, Jun 1941
See all 15 photographs of Kliment Voroshilov Heavy Tank

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Visitor Submitted Comments

1. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
17 Nov 2010 02:12:05 PM

The Red Army had 639 KV-1 Model 1941 Tanks
at the time of the German invasion Jun. 1941
It was powered by a 12-cylinder diesel engine
of 600hp, with a crew of five.
Main gun was the 76.2mm F-32 w/111 rounds of
ammo, and 3x7.62mm machine guns w/3,024rds.

Many KVs were lost to mechanical problems,
than to enemy action. The tank had terrible
Some drivers used hammers, just to shift the
gears. Thats how the Russians do it, keep banging on it, until it works!


One KV blocked the road to Ostrov, held up a German armored unit for two days. The KV was
still an effective weapon, its armor kept it
in the fight.
The Germans couldn't knock it out with anti-tank guns, they would watch, as the rounds
bounce off.
The Germans had to call in air support or
artillery to knock out the KV.
2. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
18 Nov 2010 01:09:45 PM

Sorry I misspelled Heroes:

Who ever that crew was, to stand and fight,
and block the road for two days. Those men
knew the chances of surviving were slim, but
nevertheless they defended Mother Russia,
Their homes and Families.

How many such actions took place during WWII
men who fought and died alone, to stop the
enemy a few against hundreds, sometimes one
against one, and both died.
3. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
4 Oct 2014 03:10:49 PM


During the war 5,219 KV-1's were built how many were rebuilt from damaged vehicles and returned to service, is unknown.
About 225 KV-2's were built and were armed with
1 x 152mm howitzer. The KV series went through different modifications during the war some versions never entering service. The later KV-85
was a stop gap until the IS series tank entered production.
Oops almost forgot the KV-5 heavy tank, in April 1941 the Russian army changed its requirements for two heavy tanks the KV-4 and KV-5.
The KV-5 was to be armed w/1 x 107mm main gun with front armor up to 170mm (6.7 in) thick the tank commander could have operated 1 x 12.7mm DShK heavy machine gun.


This tank was powered by 1 x 1200hp engine but later modified to take 2 x V-12 engines side by side. Secondary armament was located in a turret on the right side of the hull 1 x 45mm gun or 7.62mm machine guns. This project never entered service.


The KV-VI The Russian Land Battleship another general discussion of WWII, or just a fascinating tale? using parts from the KV-I and KV-II, BT-5,
T-60 and T-34, the machine carried six turrets, the front turret 1 x 76.2mm gun smaller turret on top with 2 x 12mm auto-cannons.
Another turret behind the first armed w/ 2 x 44mm guns.
Main turret armed w/ 2 x 156mm guns w/ a smaller turret armed with 2 x 44mm guns.
Behind the main turret was another turret with
1 x 76.2mm gun and a smaller turret armed with
2 x 44mm guns and mounted above this turret was
1 x Katyusha rocket launcher.
Powered by 2 x 600hp engines giving it a speed of 13mph. The chassis was supported by 14 x road wheels per side, 8 x return rollers per side plus 2 x front and 2 x back main wheels.
No photos exist or taken in action, did it even exist, or was it propaganda spread to the Germans to strike fear.
4. Will says:
9 May 2023 05:57:56 AM

The mighty death fridge

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Kliment Voroshilov Heavy Tank Photo Gallery
KV-1 Model 1939 heavy tank, circa 1940sGerman troops inspecting an abandoned KV-2 heavy tank, northern Russia, Jun 1941
See all 15 photographs of Kliment Voroshilov Heavy Tank

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