ARM: Review - Trumpeter 1/35 Scale KV "Big Turret"

Kit Review: Trumpeter 1/35 Scale Kit No. 00311; Russia KV "Big Turret"; 286 parts (281 in grey styrene, 2 vinyl track runs, 2 clear
styrene, 1 twisted copper wire); price US $24.95
Advantages: 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
Disadvantages: some ejection pin marks on the "hard" plastic tracks will be annoying to remove; odd gun barrel does not match production photos
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: For all Soviet armor fans
F I R S T L O O K
    Trumpeter adds another kit to its KV family with one of the most obscure and poorly identified variants of the tank built.
    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 applique 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 applique 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.
Cookie Sewell
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Cookie, what do you make of the narrow/wide fender issue? The drawings in the two russian "History of the KV" books show two different widths, but other than a few iffy photos it looks like all KVs (except the one with "aero" tanks on the fenders, I think) had narrow fenders that that were substantially - rather than slightly - narrower than the tracks.

Apparently there was some sort of sectional sleeving on the barrel that normally fit very tightly with almost no visible joint. You can see the jacket seams in close-ups of the KV-2 that took a small AP proj through the barrel and bulged the jacket (I think it's in the old Aero Series or Squadron books by Uwe Feist), as well as modern photos of the KV-2 survivor, IIRC. So, the idea is right, the execution faulty.
KL
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Kurt,
I think that for the most part it's more a case of changing the track links, as the early KVs had smooth extensions on the track links whereas production ones have a reinforcement that seems to make them a bit wider. I haven't translated the two Kolomiyets books (it's 160 pages after all) but the drawings show that the tracks did get wider by a bit over the course of the tank -- IIRC from 700 mm to 730 mm.
The shot of that one -2 with the shattered barrel shroud is the ONLY one I've seen with the three sectional jackets on it, and then it shows to be a thin sheet steel one and not a sectional barrel. But again this is the early model and the only addition I can see in the clear photos is the screwball door attachment (which was on U-3, not U-0, mea culpa.) The one in Moscow doesn't appear to have the shroud from what I can see in some photos I got from Steve Zaloga.
Cookie Sewell
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This seems to be a bone of contention (and along with the KV-2 barrel, the only identified error in the Trump KV series). Robert Lockie and I were looking at various pics at AMPS and I was swayed to the "one fender width" position. Of course neither of us thought to see if the TRACKS changed . . . I don't have the books in front of me but (again, IIRC) there looked to be two different bracket fastener patterns as well, plus some odd fender extensions on the KV-2 proving ground shots.

Somebody posted a link to photos of the Moscow vehicle where you could see lines. . . I agree though, on a 1/35 model of a serviceable gun, you shouldn't see them.
KL
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Kurt,
There is no standard on the !@#$*^&! fender brackets, but there are two types -- solid and open. They mix and match and the only relative standard I can think of is that they tend to be mounted in lateral pairs (one on each side in the same station of the same type.)
Still no clue why they put on a sectional cover. It's one thing if you have a lagged (e.g. insulated) barrel and another if just for decoration, and for the most part the Soviets rarely did anything without a reason. Curiouser and curiouser. (Will look up the M-10 howitzer and see if that explains the reason why.)
Cookie Sewell
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I had seen that. What I was thinking of was the six screws visible in the overhead drawings of the gusset flanges (where attached to the fender sheeting) of most of the tanks in Vol. 1 vs. the four screws shown in the drawings of KV-8 in vol. 2. These look like they might have been KV-1s fenders . . . ????

My thought was that the barrel might have been wire-wrapped for strength. A jacket would make sense then.
KL
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Kurt,
Could be on the fenders. The KV-8 was the last model of KV to be produced and as such may have had transitional stuff before they went to the new KV-1s hull and fittings. Some were even built with the "s" hull and KV A-23 type transmissions, too.
Cookie Sewell
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