KIT: Tamiya 1/48 KV-1 (1940)
KIT #: ?
PRICE: 1800 yen and
DECALS: Three options
REVIEWER: Tom Cleaver


      The KV-1 was a response to a 1939 specification for a heavy breakthrough tank armed with a 76.2mm cannon and armor capable of resisting anti-tank weapons up to the same caliber. The basis of the design was the SMK heavy tank prototype, which was equipped with two turrets, one with the 76.2mm low-velocity gun and the other a 45mm anti-tank gun. 

      After the failure of the multi-turret T-35, Stalin ordered there be no more multi-turret tanks, which resulted in a radical re-design in September 1939, creating a heavy tank with only one turret armed with the high velocity 76.2mm L30.5 gun and more armor protection, while maintaining a weight around 43 tons. The resulting KV-1 was named for Klimenti Voroshilov, the Soviet Commissar of Defense. In an attempt to decide which was the best design, the prototypes of the T-100, SMK and KV were sent to fight in Finland, manned by factory crews.  Combat soon proved the ineffectiveness of the multi-turreted designs and demonstrated the superiority of the KV. Shortly afterwards, the order for serial production was signed and mass production began in the summer of 1940.

      The KV-1 had armor 75mm thick and was powered by a 500 hp water-cooled diesel. With a crew of five, it weighed in at 44 tons.  While the transmission caused problems, the wide-track treads allowed the KV-1 to traverse terrain that would have bogged down any other heavy tank.

      The KV-1 was a nasty surprise for the German panzers in the summer of 1941.  German 57mm and 75mm shells couldn’t penetrate its heavy armor, while the 76.2mm cannon it carried had no trouble turning the Panzer III and Panzer IV into swiss cheese.  German tank crews quickly named the KV-1 “the monster.”  Even the 88mm anti-tank gun had trouble stopping a KV-1. The only way the Germans were able to achieve successes against it was to concentrate the fire of many tanks - in some cases an entire battalion -  at ranges of 100 meters or less.  Even this was not always effective and frequently only damaged the KV-1 without knocking it out.  Maneuvering to the flanks and rear and opening fire at ranges of 50 meters or less still would not guarantee destruction. 

      The combat record of the KV-1 was outstanding.  On August 19, 1941, a platoon of four KV-1s of the 1st Tank Division ambushed a German tank column near the Voiskovitsky collective farm outside Leningrad. The platoon leader, Senior Lieutenant Zinoviy Kolobanov, knocked out the two lead tanks. The others, unaware of what had happened, continued to advance. Kolobanov's platoon of four KV-1s advanced into the German formation and in the melee that followed, Kolobanov destroyed 22 German tanks, ramming at least one. His KV-1 was hit 135 times during the fight without effect. The other three KV-1s destroyed 16 other tanks. Kolobanov's feat made him the second highest ranking Soviet tank ace of the war. 

     During the Operation Taifun, the assault on Moscow, a KV-1 of the 89th Independent Tank Battalion commanded by Lt. Pavel Gudz knocked out ten German tanks while receiving 29 hits from enemy tanks and anti-tank guns, which failed to stop the KV-1.

      In the tank battles at Brody-Dubno in Ukraine, the KV-1 played a vital role. Gen. Maj. Morgunov, the armor commander in Ukraine, reported: "Special mention should be made of the good work of the 4th, 8th and 15th Mechanized Corps who showed that a single KV tank was worth 10-14 enemy tanks in battle." Army commanders appreciated the KV-1's near invulnerability and pleaded for more. Gen. Maj. Rokossovsky said: "The KV tanks literally stunned the enemy. They withstood the fire of every type of gun that the German tanks were armed with."

      Widely produced between 1940 and July 1941, the KV-1 served throughout the Second World War.  Its design influenced both German and later Soviet armored vehicle development.


     This KV-1 kit comes on the now-standard four sprues - one for the hull and associated equipment, one for the turret, and two for the road wheels and tracks - in dark green plastic, with a diecast lower hull.  The molding is crisp, and the various items to fit on the hull are separate. (I'm thinking Tom left out a redundant sprue or two from the pic. Ed).

      Decals are provided for three vehicles that fought at the Battle of Kharkov in May 1942.


      This KV-1 looks like another winner in the increasingly-popular 1/48 scale armor released by Tamiya.   

August 2006

Thanks to HobbyLink Japan for the review kit.  Get yours at “Japanese Prices” at

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