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KV-1 Big Turret

Trumpeter 1/35 KV Big Turret Kit First Look

By Cookie Sewell

Date of Review May 2006 Manufacturer Trumpeter
Subject KV Big Turret Scale 1/35
Kit Number 0311 Primary Media 286 parts (281 in grey styrene, 2 vinyl track runs, 2 clear styrene, 1 twisted copper wire)
Pros First correct model of this early Soviet tank; choice of either styrene or vinyl track will be popular with many modelers; very thorough job of research appears obvious with moldings Cons Some ejection pin marks on the "hard" plastic tracks will be annoying to remove; odd gun barrel does not match production photos
Skill Level Intermediate MSRP (USD) $24.95

First Look

The KV with a 152mm howitzer was an assault tank offshoot of the KV heavy tank, and it was first proposed in the fall of 1939. When the war with Finland broke out ("The Winter War") the U-0 prototype of the KV was rushed to Karelia, but did not do well. In February 1940 prototype U-0 went back to Finland along with the U-1 and U-2 tanks; U-0 and U-2 sported the new large turret with a 152mm M-10 howitzer, and U-1 mounted the U-0 turret. Later, prototype U-3, also with an M-10, joined them. But by then Finnish resistance had been broken. During testing of the tanks against obstacles and live fire testing, the KV was noted as an excellent bunker buster, as the Finns did not have an antitank gun capable of piercing its thick armor.

Shortly after the KV was accepted for production, LKZ began work on producing two versions of the tank. The basic model was dubbed "KV s maloy bashni" or "Small Turret" and would mount a 76mm L-11 gun. The other, a fire support variant dubbed "KV s bolshoy bashni" or "Big Turret," carried a 152mm M-10 howitzer as tested in Finland. These had an ungainly high turret with massive cast mounting for the M-10 designated the MT-1 mount, which for all practical purposes appeared based on a naval gun turret. The M-10 fired an 88-pound HE shell that could crush any battlefield target, and was felt to be a perfect breakthrough weapon.

In September 1940, after 24 KV "Big Turret" tanks had been built, a new design turret was produced and used from that point on. This was initially called the "Lowered Big Turret" but eventually in January 1941 the term KV-2 was standardized for all of the 152mm armed tanks. It is hard to note the point where the KV "Small Turret" and KV "Big Turret" morphed into the KV-1 and KV-2 respectively, but it would appear that it happened in early 1941. Soviet records indicate the change was made when the tanks began to appear with bow DT machine guns. The KV "Small Turret" was now identified as the KV-1 with the addition of a bow machine gun vice the earlier pistol port. The KV "Big Turret" and KV "Lowered Big Turret" tanks can clearly be seen with simple pistol port plugs, and the KV-2 sports both the bow machine gun and the rear turret machine gun as well.

The early KV "Big Turret" tanks did not fare well on the battlefield, and it appears that most of them (19) went to the Baltic Special Military District with four to the Kiev Special Military District and one to the Caucasus Military District. Most of the photos of abandoned or knocked-out ones appear to be those in the Baltic area. None are known to survive today.

Trumpeter's kit follows the same pattern as its previous KV releases, and it is very nicely done. It uses" slide molding" or using multipart molds to create such things as hollow molded exhausts and inner fender details on the mudguards. It remains reasonably priced, which in a day of $50 plus kits is a true bargain.

The pattern of this kit follows all previous releases. The hull is molded in three basic parts – a central form and two appliqué sides, which is unique. The central hull shows a dip on the sides at the rear, so one can bet that either an SU-152, KV-1s or KV-85 will follow later on (there are at least five different KV kits out at the present and more announced.)

The side appliqué parts are squared off to replicate the early hull. Unlike the KV-2, which only included the late production "humped" upper rear plate that was used from July 1941 onward, the KV "Big Turret" comes with the correct early model engine deck rear section (part K-7). This is the correct one for this tank, as well as at least 85% of the KV-2 tanks.

All of the jounce stops are separate and correct, and the road wheel arms are each made up in two parts (there are two different grease caps, so make sure you do not get them confused.) The wheels are the correct early style, but the vinyl "keepers" from the KV-2 kit have been dropped. The drivers have both interior and exterior bolt details, as well as the correct mud scraper.

The separate track is well done, as it "link and length" with a pre-cast "droop" in the upper runs. As noted, there are two or four injection pin marks on each link, even the long runs, and while cleanup will be tedious it doesn't seem as bad as many other single-link sets. But even the vinyl "one piece" set is not bad, so many modelers will be happy to use them.

The hull details are all separate, including separate front and rear hull roof sections and fenders. While the fenders come with the track slap deflectors on the bottom (!) note that the actual fenders came in three sections, joined at the second and fourth braces on the sides. A choice of early or late model viewer covers is included (this one takes the earlier models and not the late ones used on the Model 1942).

The turret is a new molding – which seems to be the differentiating factor in the other two new releases (the "Light" and "Heavy" cast turrets from late 1941-1942) with the main section in two parts with a separate roof and mantelet mounting. The massive MT-1 mount is very nicely done, and due to the way Trumpeter broke down the parts it does not need to use "slide molding."

The kit retains the bizarre three-section gun barrel from the KV-2 kit, and I have searched every one of my references and have yet to find this item on any of the KV "Big Turret" tanks. The only deviation from a straight gun barrel was the first prototype turret mounted on tank U-0 which had a "Rube Goldberg" contraption that swung an armored cover over the muzzle of the weapon when not firing to prevent enemy troops from shooting down the barrel and denotating the round in the breech. All of the photos clearly show a smooth barrel and not sectional, even though the blueprints clearly call for one! I suggest replacing it with a Jordi Rubio or similar turned metal tube.

Only one finishing option is provided – an unidentified tank bearing either the logo "Bey Fashistov!" (Fight the Fascists), "Bey Fashistskuyu Gadinu!" (Fight the Fascist Reptiles!) or "Nami" (Ours). But again I have no photos of any KV "Big Turret" with these slogans, only KV-1 Model 1941 tanks with the F-32 gun. The sheet does throw in some red stars as well.

Overall this is one of the most accurate kits from Trumpeter yet, and they just keep getting better and better.