Soviet KV-85 Heavy Tank
Historical Description:The design for the IS series heavy tanks was underway in the August/September 1943 time frame. However, manufacturing issues delayed production of the large hull casting. As a result of the outcome of the battle of Kursk, the RKKA was pushing for heavier firepower to counter the new Panther and Tiger tanks. The stopgap solution was to mount an IS turret on a modified KV-1S hull. Mechanically, the KV-85 was identical to the KV-1S. The IS turret featured a larger turret ring so the KV-1S hull was modified by moving the turret forward and welding 60 mm thick crescent-shaped fillets to the hull sides. These modifications left no room for a crew hull top hatch so it was eliminated. The KV-85 prototype was assembled from a standard KV-1S hull, but carried a number of modifications not seen on final production vehicles. For example, there was a welded over aperture for the bow machine gun on the drivers front plate. Photographs indicate production KV-85s carried a full set of solid fender brackets instead of the skeletal ones found on other KV series tanks.
The wider turret required some modification to the fender stowage found on the original
KV-1S. The spare track links and mounts were placed in the 5 and 6 positions. The track link in the number 5 position replaced the external oil tank carried by the KV-1S. Four external fuel tanks were mounted on the outside of the fenders in the 7, 8, 9 and 10 positions. A tool box was placed behind the external fuel tank in the 8 position. The KV-85 carried grab rails next to the engine and transmission compartments to provide handholds for tank riding troops. The KV-85 did not have grab rails forward of the turret. Grab rails were also provided on the upper edge of the turret sides and rear.
The IS turret featured provisions for the radio equipment to be mounted on the left side wall in front of the commanders position. This eliminated the need for the radio operator in the forward hull. As a result, the flexible bow machine gun was replaced by a fixed forward firing mount to the right side of the driver.
From August-October 1943, 148 KV-85s were produced. Production ceased when the problems with the IS hull casting were resolved. A majority of the KV-85s were assigned to the southern Ukraine in heavy tank breakthrough regiments. As the IS-1 and IS-2 tanks came into service in early 1944, the KV-85s were replaced and assigned to composite units to make up for equipment shortages.
There is one known example of a KV-85 still in existence. This example is the first production KV-85. It is located in Avtovo, Leningrad Oblast, Russia. According to Neil Stokes, this vehicle has been incorrectly restored with a ball-mounted hull machine gun added.
Description of Construction:
In my first look review I described several issues I saw in constructing this kit. These issues were:
· Incorrect turret shape
· Incorrect track size for the vehicle depicted by this kit
· Lack of armored exhaust covers
· Number and detailing of external fuel tanks
· Solid air intake screens on rear deck
· Mounting hole for an antenna pot on the left front slope
I’ll address each of these issues in the following full build review.
Lower and Upper Hull: The lower hull consists of a hull tub, left and right side plates and rear plate. In addition, you are provided the option of a plastic or photo etched deflector plate which attaches to the rear hull plate. I elected to use the plastic option as it seemed to be in scale and was a lot less work to assemble. I attached the side plates to the hull tub first then added the rear plate and photo etched screen (figure 1). I had a few seam issues with this assembly which I corrected by adding weld beads from .010 plastic rod (figure 2).
The remainder of the lower construction includes adding the towing clevis attachments to the front and rear plate, return roller attachments and suspension dampers to the side plates.
The upper hull consists of a front plate, engine cover plate and transmission cover plate. The kit provides a mounting hole for an antenna pot on the left front slope. The KV-85 had the radio moved into the turret with the antenna moved to the turret roof. I filled this hole with some putty (figure 3). When you assemble the front plate to the lower hull you’ll see two indentations on each side of the hull tub for the front grab rails (WL32). Since the KV-85 did not have these grab rails I filled these indentations with putty. The bullet splash guard which runs in front
of the turret ring is a bit undersized, but I did not replace it.
The engine cover plate has bullet splash guards directly behind the openings for the air intakes. These splash guards were not present on the KV-85 so I carefully removed them. The kit provides shutters for the air intake openings, but I blanked these openings with strips of .015 plastic. The instructions show you drilling three holes in the transmission cover plate for a rear grab rail. However, I could find no documentation that this grab rail was added to the KV-85 so I did not drill these holes. The engine and transmission cover plates were bolted to the hull so I was careful not to use to much glue in attaching them to the hull (figure 4). When I assembled the hull plates I found the transmission cover plate did not extend down to meet the air vent screen. I filled this gap with .020 plastic strip. I don’t know if this gap was a result of a construction error on my part or a kit design error (figure 5).
Detailing the upper hull includes adding the transmission hatch covers, engine hatch, driver’s armored visor, armored machine gun housing, head light, horn (WC13 or WL32), armored electrical cable cover, armored nose plate, exhaust pipes and air intake screens. The assembly of the upper hull detailing parts went very well. I elected to use horn (WL32) as this seemed to be the horn used on most KV-85. I also added horn and light wiring using .010 soldier. The kit does not provide armored exhausts as featured on most production KV-85s. However, a few of the early production KV-85s were equipped with unarmored exhausts which are provided in the kit. As a result, I built this model to represent one of the early production KV-85s.
The kit provides solid screens for the air intakes. Several aftermarket companies make great replacement sets. I used the screens from the Aber PE grills for KV I/KV II (35G16). The construction of these screens is a bit fiddly, but the result looks very good (figures 6-7).
Suspension and Track: Assembly of the road wheel arms, idler assembly, road wheels, return roller wheels, mud scraper and sprockets is very straight forward and presented no fit issues. As with any suspension you should make sure everything is aligned before being glued in-place. I elected not to glue the suspension in place until final painting and fitting of the track. This is a personal preference and helps me in final alignment of the suspension.
This kit is supplied with 192 individual track links. This includes 96 links with a center guide horn and 96 flat links. The links were free of punch out marks and required minimal clean-up of spure attachments points. Although this track is not workable the links fit together well and presented no construction problems. The KV-85 was equipped with 650mm track not 700mm track as depicted in this kit. This is not a construction problem as the kit track is designed for the model; however, it does present an accuracy issue and may require replacement with aftermarket track. Figure 8 shows a comparison of the kit track with Modelkasten SK-14 track. Since I’m building this KV-85 for an AMPS review I’m using the kit provided track.
I read an article on the internet about using the jig from the Tamiya IS2 kit to get the proper sag on the top run of track. I used the jig from one of my kits to establish the sag for the top run of track (figures 9-11).
I assembled the track with two runs on each side. This method generally works for me as it facilitates painting and final assembly (figures 12-13). Having built several Trumpeter KVs I’ve learned to fit the track with the fenders before they are attached to the model as there can be some clearance issues. I had no problems with this kit.
Fenders: The kit provides nice fenders and solid fender brackets. I addition, you also receive crescent shaped fillets for the enlarged turret ring, external fuel tanks, and spare track links. The kit does not provide a rectangle tool box which should go behind the first external fuel tank on the left side.
Production KV-85s had four external fuel tanks not two fuel tanks and two storage boxes as depicted in the kit. This is not an issue as the kit provides four external fuel tanks. The detailing on the external fuel tanks is very soft. I added straps from lead foil and built tie downs with Grandt Line bolts and 1.5mm X 1.5mm X .010 sheet plastic squares. I made the end handles from .010 brass strips shaped as handles (figures 14-15). In installing these two fuel tanks, you’ll need to plug the holes provided for attachment of the rear storage boxes in positions 9 and 10 and open hole on the outside of the fender for the fuel tanks.
Production KV-85s had a rectangle tool box behind the first external fuel tank on the left
side. I used the tool box from the Trumpeter KV-8 kit to add this detail (figure 16).
I glued the fuel tanks to each fender assembly and test fit the fenders to the hull before finally gluing them in-place. I then added the fender brackets and crescent shaped fillet to complete the assembly process. The kit provides a shorter skeletal fender support in either plastic or photo-etch for attachment to the crescent shaped fillet. This bracket is too short so I made a solid one out of .015 sheet plastic (figures 17-18).
There are two other minor issues concerning the assembly of the fenders. The first is the inclusion of a bottom piece (WW1) to the crescent shaped fillet. The kit instructions show you gluing this piece to the underside of the fender. I could not fit this piece in without interfering with the track so I left it out. I could not find any clear pictures to show if this piece existed on the original KV-85s. The second minor issue is the front fender extensions (WL15 and WL16). I could not find documentation which showed these extensions on operational KV-85s so I left them off and filled their mounting holes on each fender.
The turret provided in the kit is in the asymmetrical design shape of the turret for an IS2. This turret shape is incorrect for a KV-85. I decided to use the turret provided in the kit for this review, but plan to replace it with a turret from the Eastern ExpressKV-85 kit for display purposes (figures 19-20).
Figure 19, Trumpeter KV-85 Turret Figure 20, Eastern Express KV-85 Turret
Assembly of the turret is very straight forward. I enhanced the turret casting seam with .040 ½ round plastic strip which I roughed up with the mini drill and added casting numbers to the rear of the turret with Plastruct architectural numbers. I also used Mr. Surfacer 1000 to enhance the texture of the turret (figures 21-22).
The kit provides the modeler with the option of a plastic or aluminum main gun barrel. I elected to use the aluminum barrel. The kit instructions have you glue the commander’s hatches (WL20 and WL34) the wrong positions. The commander’s hatch (WL20) with the periscope should face the front of the vehicle. I added a periscope bottom and handles to the commander’s hatches as additional detail.
Paint and Markings: I’ve added Vallejo acrylic sand to the underside and suspension of the KV85 to simulate an accumulation of mud and dirt (figure 23). I found this product works very well to show mud build up on the suspension.
I painted this model with a base coast of Life Color 4BO. I then used Life Color light 4BO to post shade each panel. The kit provides marking for five different KV-85s. There is limited documentation on markings used by KV85 units so I selected a set of turret numbers. The carrier film to these decals is very thin so use some care in their application.
I gave this model several light coats of AK Interactive dark wash for green vehicles and added streaking to the turret and hull with AK Interactive dark streaking effects. I used unbleached titanium oil paint to dry brush to highlight various turret and hull details and lightly applied AK Interactive dark steel pigment to selected areas to simulate wear and buffing. I applied a wash of AK Interactive earth effects to the underside and suspension and highlighted the mud buildup with a dry brushing of unbleached titanium oil paint.
The track was painted a base coat of Vallejo track primer. I applied a heavy wash of AK Interactive track wash and highlighted track wear with AK Interactive dark steel pigment.
I added a commander figure using a body from the Tri-Star Russian tank crew and head from an Alpine Russian figure set (figures 24-25).
I have mixed feelings about this kit. It is the first kit of the KV-85 released using newer slide mold technology. Trumpeter provides two photo etched frets, an aluminum barrel and nice set of decals to enhance this kit. In general, it was fun to build. Modelers of all skill level can make a nice model of a KV-85 without much difficulty.
However, the incorrect turret shape and track sizing does present modelers with the challenge of kit bashing for a turret and going to aftermarket sources for track in order to make an accurate representation of a KV-85. Overall, I was disappointed Trumpeter had these accuracy issues with an otherwise nice kit.
Thanks to MMD Squadron for the review sample.
Reviewed by Mike Petty AMPS Central Virginia
KV Technical History and Variants, Neil Stokes, AirConnections Hobby Inc., 2010.
4BO Green web-site, http://www.4bogreen.com.
KV-1 Soviet Heavy Tank of WWII – Late Variants, Jochen Vollert, Tankograd Publishing, 2005.
KW Vol 2 1941-1944, Maksym Kolomyjec, Wydawnictwo Militaria, 2002.
Stalin’s Heavy Tanks 1941-1945 The KV and IS Heavy Tanks, Steven J. Zaloga and Jim
Kinnear, Concord Publishing Company, 1997.
KV-1 & 2 Heavy Tanks 1939-1945, Steven J. Zaloga and Jim Kinnear, Osprey
Russian Tanks 1915-1968, John M. Brereton and Uwe Feist, Feist Publications, 1970.