History of Tanks - KV-1

A look back at the Russian Colossus.

The KV-1 is part of a series of tanks made by the Soviet Union that were used for the majority of World War II. These tanks were a part of the Kliment Voroshilov collection of armor, named after the Soviet Defence Commissar and politician of the same name. Known for their incredible armor properties, the KVs were renowned for the ability to hold off an enemy advance.

The KV-1 offers great armor all around its hull, perfect when top-tier in a battle.

The Soviet Union had their own doctrine on which they designed their tanks, known as “Soviet deep operation”. This doctrine, in turn, precipitated the need for heavily armored, yet unfortunately sluggish, tanks that were to be used for holding a position against an enemy attack or maintaining pressure during a siege.

From this, the Soviet designers began work on a replacement for the T-35. Several designs were created, including the multi-turreted SMK (direct competition of the would-be KV-1). As part of the design process, a single-turreted tank was designed and named after the Soviet Defence Commissar. All previous designs had included heavy armor (aligning with the doctrine), wide tracks, and torsion-bar suspension.

As 1939 was coming to a close, the Soviet Union entered the Winter War, and it was here that the SMK and KV were tested in combat conditions. The KV ended up outperforming its competitor and because of this, 50 units were ordered for production.

The stock gun will get you through some scraps, but it's worth upgrading to the Howitzer.

It was around this time that the KV saw its first two versions named the KV-1 and KV-2. The difference between these two tanks was based off the struggles the Soviets had in trying to attack concrete bunkers. As such, the KV-1 came mounted with a 76mm gun while the KV-2 operated using the 152mm Howitzer.

Light and Medium tanks will have difficulty penetrating your armor, but be aware that SPGs are your worst enemy.

In World of Tanks, the KV-1 is a Tier 5 heavy tank known for its excellent hull armor and its impressively rounded turret upgrade. It’s also one of the best heavy tanks for newer players, as it’s a short grind down one of the best USSR tank lines in World of Tanks.

In-game it has a wide range of available guns, with the 76mm ZiS-5 being the stock version, as with the real-life variant of the KV-1. However, the KV-1 can be upgraded to utilize a 122mm U-11 Howitzer, capable of one-shotting a lot of lower tiers while still being able to hold its own when the KV-1 is bottom tier.

Due to the heavy armor, the KV-1 is extremely heavy, making it slow and cumbersome. 

The KVs success was attributed to its armor, which at the time, was impenetrable by any competing tank-mounted weapon. Unfortunately, its armor was its biggest weakness, as the sheer weight of the KV-1 left it stranded or caused drivers to divert and look for adequate bridges. It took senior commanders and certified heroes to report on the KV-1s struggles before further progress was made.

One such hero was tank commander and veteran of the German-Soviet war, Zinoviy Kolobanov. The tank commander managed to hold out against 43 German Panzers using just his KV-1. With such impressive armor, German tanks struggled to penetrate the KV-1, as is evident with Kolobanov’s achievement.

While it was eventually outclassed, the KV-1 remains one of the most popular starter-heavies in World of Tanks.

Due to its sheer size and seemingly invincibility, the German’s took to calling it the “Russischer Koloss” or “Russian Colossus”. However, this legendary status faded, as later in the war German armor increased in lethality thanks to their use of long-barrelled 50mm and 75mm guns, which could easily penetrate the thick hide of the KV.

Toward the end of the war, the KV series of tanks became the foundation of what would become the iconic IS series of armored vehicles. Though for its time, the KV was a powerhouse, as the war progressed it became apparent that its weight was becoming too large a factor to continue production.

So while the shift away from the KV-1 and others in the series was inevitable, players can still experience one of the easiest to use heavy tanks in World of Tanks.

Sam Chandler is the Australian piece of the AllGamers puzzle. Out of all his gaming-related passions, collecting N64 games, speedrunning, and Souls games rank among the most important. You can reach Sam through Twitter, @SamuelChandler, or through his email, sam.chandler@allgamers.com, at any time of the day or night on either side of the globe.

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