|This page is about the Soviet heavy tank KV-1 (L-11). For other versions, see KV-1 (Family).|
- 1 Description
- 2 General info
- 3 Armaments
- 4 Usage in battles
- 5 History
- 6 Media
- 7 See also
- 8 External links
The KV-1 (L-11) is a rank II Soviet heavy tank with a battle rating of 3.7 (AB/RB/SB). This tank was introduced during the closed beta testing for Ground Forces before Update 1.41. The KV-1 L-11 is the first unlockable Soviet heavy tank which boasts raw firepower and armour at the cost of mobility.
The first heavy tank available in the Soviet branch. It's slow, difficult to manoeuvre and heavily armoured, and mounts the same gun of the T-34 (1940), sharing its awful penetration. In Rank II battles, this tank is tough to penetrate so you can lead the assault and absorb shots that will quickly destroy your lighter and better-armed teammates. It's better to prefer short-range engagements, and you must aim for weak spots, but your best weapon is other players, so act like a steel wall and cover other tanks with better guns.
Survivability and armour
The KV-1 (L-11)'s armour can be quite intimidating to newcomers meeting it. An average all-around armour thickness of 75 mm is nothing to slouch at. An opponent's saving grace when facing the KV-1 (L-11) is that most of the armour plate are lightly angled, but a compound-angled KV-1 (L-11) can begin boasting an effective plate thickness of more than 100 mm in some areas. This means that unless the enemy has a high-velocity anti-tank gun, they will need to deliberately aim for the weak points on the KV-1 (L-11) when facing it from the front.
Unfortunately for most KV-1 (L-11) players, one of the prominent weak points of the tank is the flat front armour on the turret. This is extremely bad since to aim the gun, the front face of the turret has to be pointed straight towards the enemy. No compound angling can be done in this case, and so the enemy has the opportunity of penetrating the bare 75 mm of the turret's armour plate. Not only that, such a penetration can knock out most of the turret crew, crippling the KV-1 (L-11)'s performance in battle.
Even so, the huge side and rear armour is flat, and so an enemy that pounces on the KV-1 (L-11) from these flanks will be able to penetrate if these side plates are not angled to account for the enemy. The front armour is also a huge target to hit, but is helped by a large 72 degree sloped plate that is basically invulnerable to most shots due to its effective thickness and ricochet chances. Penetrating through the lower front glacis will knock out the driver and machine gunner (though APHE shells may detonate the huge hull ammo rack behind them as well), but aiming for the upper front plate can reliably destroy the KV-1 (L-11) in one-hit. Fortunately for KV-1 (L-11) drivers, this upper plate has a driver vision port and machine gun ball mount present, which often ricochet most shells that hit there; though these features should not be relied upon for protection against enemy fire.
KV-1 (L-11) players should take care to not have an armour plate face perpendicularly towards the enemy and be constantly adjusting their hull angle to give their armour plates the extra edge needed to bounce an incoming round. When engaging target, don't keep the turret facing them too long or they will use the opportunity to poke through the turret front armour.
- Rolled homogeneous armour
- Cast homogeneous armour (Gun mantlet)
|Hull|| 75 mm (31°) Front plate
70 mm (72°) Front glacis
25 + 70 mm (7-71°) Joint plate
75 mm (26-51°) Lower glacis
|75 mm|| 60 mm (13-89°) Top
70 mm (14-57°) Bottom
|Turret|| 75 mm (15°) Turret front
90 mm (1-52°) Gun mantlet shield
75 mm (15-57°) Gun mantlet
|75 mm (14-15°)||75 mm (16°)||40 mm|
- Suspension wheels are 20 mm thick, tracks are 30 mm thick.
- Roof armour is quite excellent. 30 - 40 mm is nothing to ignore. It will reliably protect from most autocannons. Although aircraft with unique diving capability and +0 mm arms may still pierce it. More importantly, it makes the vehicle quite resilient against rocket strikes from vehicles such as the Calliope.
- The lower glacis, unlike most other tanks, is not a weak spot! It is including your own turrets height significantly better angled than the upper frontal plate. Further, neither the MG port nor the drivers view slit are weak points. Discard them as targets.
- Gun mantlet is an extra 75 mm bolted on to the turret, with some parts with an additional 90 mm added instead. This results in a spaced overlapped part with ~150 mm. Only the cheeks left, and right of the mantlet bulges should be shot! However, these areas are quite small and easily missed, if the turret is traversed.
With its heavy weight, the KV-1 (L-11)'s mobility is slow and sluggish compared to medium tanks of the era. However, the machine is still quite manoeuevrable, and has good acceleration to get to its maximum forward speed quickly. While getting from one point to another can take a bit longer than the other tanks, the KV-1 (L-11) can navigate around rough terrain and tight corners while adjusting its own momentum quite comfortably whether the vehicle's status is stock or spaded.
|Game Mode||Max Speed (km/h)||Weight (tons)||Engine power (horsepower)||Power-to-weight ratio (hp/ton)|
Modifications and economy
As usual, "Parts" and "FPE" first. "Tracks" is a good additional choice, a frequently targeted module. Also, it increases your turning capability a lot. After these, research "Adjustment of fire" and "Brake System", because the accuracy of the L-11 cannon is slightly increased, even though it is still subpar. The suspension is useful for firing on the move, something particularly useless for a slow, heavy tank. Braking quickly and being able to fire a more accurate shot proves to be much more efficient. The BR-350SP does not see any use. The small gain in penetration is offset by the lack of any HE filler, and the round should be ignored entirely. Afterwards, all Tier III & Tier IV upgrades are equally useful.
The 76 mm L-11 gun is not a good penetrating gun for the battle rating. While most nation's guns at this battle rating start having the ability to penetrate a bit more than 100 mm at point-blank ranges, the best penetrating AP round on the KV-1 (L-11) only has 93 mm of penetrating; the round is also a normal AP shot, meaning it does not have the benefit of exploding after penetrating the enemy armour. The gun is also coupled with a long reload time and a slow traverse rate. These factors mean that it is not a weapon that the KV-1 (L-11) can use to react to sudden situations.
The KV-1 (L-11) must be able to intimidate its opponents and keep them at bay with its armour and mobility long enough for each 76 mm shell from the L-11 gun to count. It is critical to know these skills as the rather low penetration values the shells of the L-11 gun has mean that the KV-1 (L-11) will often be facing enemies at closer ranges to make the most of the muzzle velocity.
|76 mm L-11||Turret rotation speed (°/s)||Reloading rate (seconds)|
The available ammunition allows for engaging all types of targets:
- BR-350A (MD-5 fuze): APHEBC; a shell with high explosive mass that will knock out any tank with a single shot, but has an average penetration power.
- BR-350SP: APBC; a solid shot with a better penetration but no explosive filler.
- OF-350M: HE; useful for destroying open and lightly armoured vehicles.
- Sh-354T: Shrapnel; useful against vehicles that are resistant to HE shells but too thinly armoured to trigger the fuses of AP shells.
|Ammunition|| Type of
|Penetration @ 0° Angle of Attack (mm)|
|10 m||100 m||500 m||1,000 m||1,500 m||2,000 m|
|BR-350A (MD-5 fuze)||APHEBC||78||76||70||62||56||50|
|Ammunition|| Type of
| Fuse delay
| Fuse sensitivity
| Explosive mass
(TNT equivalent) (g)
|BR-350A (MD-5 fuze)||APHEBC||615||6.3||1.2||14||150||48°||63°||71°|
|111||106 (+5)||101 (+10)||78 (+33)||0 (+111)||No|
- Racks are modelled by sets of 5 shells (+ 1 set of 3 & 2 sets of 4) and sets disappear from the rack once all shells in the set have been loaded/fired.
- Turret empty: 101 (+10) shells.
|7.62 mm DT|
|Mount||Capacity (Belt)||Fire rate||Vertical||Horizontal|
The small calibre of the DT machine gun makes it largely ineffective against all armoured vehicles but the ones with an open compartment. It still can be used to ping targets as a rangefinding help. The clip capacity of the machine gun is quite poor, as it relies on a magazine of 63 bullets instead of a belt like similar machine guns from other nations.
Usage in battles
The first thing to know about the tank, just because it's a heavy tank does not mean you should charge headfirst into the enemy. While it may look intimidating as you watch the enemy's shells deflect off your vehicle as you move slightly forward to their front lines, you risk getting flanked as moving forward gives the enemy enough space to get around and hit you in the vulnerable rear area. Try to avoid letting the enemy get close enough to catch your turret ring and destroy each of your crew from there. Thankfully, the turret ring is quite a small target, and will be difficult to hit from far away. Despite the 75 mm all-around armour, don't think for a second that you are invulnerable and play smart still. Also, angling is quite important, as many of the Axis long-barreled 75 mm will penetrate you.
Make sure that you have a few teammates that are with you when playing the KV-1, as your gun will struggle to penetrate common foes such as the M4 Sherman and the T-34 frontally. With only 78 mm of penetration at point-blank, it is necessary to aim for your opponents' weak spots. However, the post-penetration damage is amazing, and a shot that penetrates will most likely kill the enemy.
One of the more common and dangerous enemies this vehicle will face is the Pz.IV F2. The Panzer IV F2 has thin armour, but the long 75 mm cannon can easily pierce the KV-1 armour if it is not angled properly. The penetration for the PzGr 39 Shell, which is an APCBC and the stock shell for the Panzer IV F2, at normal combat ranges of 100 m and 500 m has 133 mm and 121 mm respectively. Another dangerous enemy is the StuG III F. It has the same 75 mm as the Panzer IV F2, but lacks a turret, making it harder to hit. Also, it is more well armoured compared to the Panzer IV F2, and has some sloped armour plates in the front. Try to hit the two non-sloped spots near the driver and the machine gunner, or flank around and hit their weak side armour.
Never charge into a KV-1 unless you are also playing as a heavy tank. The L-11 is a low-quality gun but can do devastating damage at short range. As a light tank, medium tank, or tank destroyer, always sneak around the KV-1 and get in shots from the back or side. The KV-1 has a slow turret traverse and flat side armour, making it especially vulnerable to flanking.It is not advised to engage with a KV-1 at all if you are playing as an SPAA.
As a heavy tank, if your gun is capable of penetrating the front of the KV-1's frontal armour, aim for the lower middle of the upper glacis, where the large ammo rack is located. If the shot penetrates, it almost guarantees a destroyed KV-1 as the ammo rack is huge.
As a light tank, medium tank or tank destroyer/SPG, use the advantage of cover (building, hill, trees, etc.) to flank or get behind a KV-1. It will be hard-pressed to turn quickly enough to angle its near-impervious frontal armour towards you. If you are not confident in your gun's ability to deal significant damage to the engine block or ammo racks, it is advised to fire at the tracks and disable the tank before rushing up to it and firing directly at the back. Shooting at the rear of the turret is also an option to attempt to hit one of the ammo racks on either side. However, smarter drivers will empty their turret of ammunition, so firing at the turret will not always work.
Pros and cons
- All points of armour are better than good at its rank
- Angling your hull makes it virtually immune to most guns it faces
- Virtually no weak spot except the small turret ring
- Gun does decent damage upon penetration
- Heavily armoured for a Rank II tank
- One of the few Soviet tanks that have a crew of five
- Excellent rate of fire, useful for short-range engagements
- Quicker and better armed than the other first-rank II heavy tank; the Matilda II
- L-11 gun is very inadequate for its battle rating
- Low speed, typical for heavy tanks
- Slow turret traverse, if you need to change targets quickly you must rotate both the turret and the hull
- No neutral steering - making turns, especially when playing as the stock KV-1, will decrease your speed dramatically
- Penetration shots from the sides and below the turret are typically catastrophic
- Heavy and slow, you can't relocate quickly, and you are vulnerable when climbing hills
- Later variant of the Panzer IV can easily penetrate your armour, even from the front
- Large fuel tanks lined up on the side
- Cannot reliably compete with other heavy tanks in its BR range
- Most British tanks can penetrate your armour even from long range
- Trying to knock out another KV-1 L-11 is just a waste of shells and time
The start of the KV-1 heavy tanks began after the heavy tank T-35's flaws came to light. Designers were ordered to draw up new designs to become the basis of a breakthrough heavy tank needed for the Soviet doctrine. This made for a tank that was heavily armoured, but not very mobile as it was to be for siege warfare. The designs offered all had heavy armour, wide tracks, and used the torsion-bar suspension. The designs were the SMK, T-100, and what would be the KV tank, which was named after the then Soviet Defense Commissar Kliment Voroshilov.
During the developmental progress, the prototypes of all these heavy tanks were made, and the Winter War with Finland was on its way. The Soviets sent these tanks into Finland for combat testing, to which the KV design outperform in every way with its superior armour and firepower. The armour on the KV tank was impenetrable by a tank cannon in service and most anti-tank guns as well; the 76.2 mm cannon also gave it a colossal firepower boost compared to the usual 37 mm in use by other countries. However, the design was found to be challenging to steer, the transmission was unreliable, ergonomics were weak, and vision was limited, plus with its 45-ton weight, it was a weighty tank for its time. In truth, while formidable in power and protection, courageous crew member willing to curse the name would speak out about the trouble the KV tank was. The first variant of production before World War II broke out was the KV-1 model. The first model production was equipped with the L-11 cannon, but this was deemed insufficient in performance and was later replaced in subsequent production models by the improved F-34, or the ZiS-5 cannon.
When Germany invaded the Soviet Union in 1941, the Red Army had 508 of the KV tanks. With that many KV tanks available, the Soviets shocked the German forces as their anti-tank and tank forces had few weapons capable of defeating it, having to rely mostly on the 88 mm Flak guns and the 5 cm Pak 38 with APCR rounds. But by 1942, Germany fielded large amounts of long barreled 50 mm and 75 mm cannons in both tanks and towed format, making the KV lose much of its armour advantage.
Perhaps the most memorable moment of glory for the KV-1 was at Krasnogvardeysk near Leningrad on the 19th of August 1941 when 5 KV-1s, led by Lt Zinoviy Kolobanov, ambushed the German 8th Panzer Division (a light panzer division consisting mainly of Panzer II, III and 38(t)). But there are some contradicting stories about what happened, and even if it indeed did happen. One story that supports the claim goes like this: each of the five KV-1s was hiding at different locations, came out one by one to fire at the incoming German tanks, then retreat before the next tank could come out. Such tactic boxed an entire tank and ended with 43 tanks destroyed before the KV-1 tanks retreated from running out of ammo, all in a span of about half an hour. During this battle, one of the KV-1 tanks was struck 135 times with no penetration. For their feat, Lt Z. Kolobanov and a few officers were decorated with the Order of Lenin and Order of the Red Banner medal.
The KV-1 continued to serve until the end of the war, though in dwindling numbers as they were lost due to mechanical failures, combat, and being superseded by more modern tanks. Some KV-1s built in 1941 still saw service in 1944 at the Leningrad front before being replaced by IS-2 tanks, then they saw service in Manchuria in 1945 before retired altogether at the end of World War II.
Many variants of the KV tank would be produced in the span of World War II as the Soviet try to keep it in production as long as possible, the initial version was called the KV-1 and remained most part as the main Soviet heavy tank for the first part of World War II. A bunker-buster variant mounting a 152 mm howitzer after experiences in Finland brought the monster KV-2 assault tank, which is very turret heavy that it must be on a flat surface to properly rotate. After complaints of its mechanical issues and lack of performance compared to the lighter T-34 medium tank was heard, the factory updated the tank, thinning its armour, and adding a commander's cupola with all-around vision blocks, so in 1943 it was designated as the KV-1S. But the KV-1S introduction was a little too late as then the better German tanks such as the Panther tanks could knock them out with ease. An attempt to up-gun the KV-1S was to give it the 85 mm D-5T gun then in use on the SU-85. This variant was called the KV-85. Though it was seen favourable for a nice increase in firepower among the armoured forces, soon even the lighter T-34 began mounting the 85 mm gun as the T-34-85. It was determined that the heavy tank would have a much bigger gun than the medium tanks, but at the time the KVs were falling out of favour in preference to the newer IS-1 and IS-2 heavy tanks coming into service, which was based off the KV-13 prototype tanks developed in 1942 as a medium tank.
Several KV-1s survive after the war, most as monuments, but also in museums. Only one genuine KV-1 was restored to running condition in Russia after it was found in the bottom of the Neva River.
The first clashes with Spanish nationalists armed with light anti-tank weapons made it clear that a new heavy tank with cannon proof armour had to be created. The heavy tank's design began at the end of 1938.
For 1940, the mass-produced KV-1 was a truly pioneering innovation, embodying the most advanced ideas of its time: individual torsion-bar suspension, reliable cannon proof armour and a single powerful universal weapon within a classic layout. This was the first time such an arrangement was used on a Soviet mass-produced heavy tank, which meant that the KV-1 received the strongest defences and most potential for modernisation. The tank's armoured hull was welded from 75, 40, 30 and 20 mm thick rolled armour plates. The KV-1 was equipped with a 500 hp B-2K diesel engine and a 76.2 mm L-11 cannon with an ammunition complement of 111 shots, in addition to three 7.62 mm DT machine guns. One was paired with the cannon, while the others were placed on the bow and stern in ball mounts. When necessary, the machine guns could be removed and used outside the tank.
The KV-1 tanks made their debut on the Winter War front. The tank successfully passed its trial by fire. No enemy anti-tank cannon was able to destroy it. Many times, the new vehicles survived battle not only with several but with several dozen German tanks.
The tank had some serious drawbacks: its poorly designed transmission and air filter, insufficiently durable tracks and road wheels, a crowded fighting compartment and poor vision. The engine and transmission often broke down during intensive use. The tank's 7-tonne turret also caused many problems. Its weight lead to rotation issues related to the high force placed on the aiming mechanism levers and the low power of the electric motors.
- Other vehicles of similar configuration and role
- [Historical] Tanks of Kliment Voroshilov
- [Wikipedia] Kliment Voroshilov tank
- [Tanks Encyclopedia] KV-1
- [Military Factory] KV-1 (Klimenti Voroshilov)
|Leningrad Kirov Plant (Ленинградский Кировский Завод)|
|T-28||T-28 (1938) · T-28 · T-28E|
|T-80||T-80B · T-80U · T-80UK · T-80BVM|
|KV-1||KV-1 (L-11) · KV-1 (ZiS-5) · KV-1E · KV-1S|
|KV-2||KV-2 (1939) · KV-2 (1940) · KV-2 (ZiS-6) · KV-220|
|Other||SMK · IS-7 · Object 279|
|KV||▀KV-IB · ▀KW I C 756 (r) · ▀KW II 754 (r)|
|See Also||Chelyabinsk Tractor Plant|
|USSR heavy tanks|
|KV-1||KV-1 (L-11) · KV-1 (ZiS-5) · KV-1E · KV-1S|
|KV-2||KV-2 (1939) · KV-2 (1940) · KV-2 (ZiS-6) · KV-220|
|Other KVs||KV-85 · KV-122|
|IS-1/2||IS-1 · IS-2 · IS-2 (1944) · IS-2 No.321 · IS-2 "Revenge" · Object 248|
|Other IS tanks||IS-3 · IS-4M · IS-6 · IS-7|
|T-10||T-10A · T-10M|
|Multi-turreted||T-35 · SMK|