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#3539 KV-1 Soviet Heavy Tank

Zvezda 3539

This kit represents a KV-1 Model 1940 with early welded turret and F-32 gun, even through the box art depicts a vehicle with the ZIS-5 gun.

The kit provides a late production Model 1940 hull with regular curved rear overhang, two types of road wheels, pressed steel rubber-rimmed return rollers without reinforcing ribs and early pattern drive sprockets with 16 hub retaining bolts.  The suspension swing arms have three hub retaining bolts.  These features make the kit appropriate for a vehicle produced in August or September 1941.

The kit provides two sets of tracks.  Both represent the early Omsh pattern track with a guide tooth on each link, but one set is in vinyl while the other is a link-and-length set in styrene.  The styrene tracks do not include the molded-in track sag the way that the Trumpeter kits do, but the plastic is soft enough that the track sag can be added by carefully bending the parts.

Separate suspension arms are included, and these are keyed to the lower hull sides to assist in alignment.  The torsion bar hubs are the late pattern with three hub retaining bolts.  Most KV-1 Model 1940s carried the earlier pattern with six bolts, but there was some overlap in the early fall of 1941 so it is possible that some vehicles carried the late pattern hubs.

The kit includes both pressed steel two-part resilient road wheels without lightening holes as fitted in early July 1941, and cast steel two part resilient wheels with lightening holes and reinforcing ribs introduced in mid-July 1941 and used until October/November of that year.  However, the kit does not provide enough parts for a complete set of each.  The intention is that the modeler should assemble one half of each wheel with a pressed steel part and the other half with a cast steel part.  The wheels can then be fitted to the suspension arms with either part facing outward, thereby creating the appearance of a complete set of one type of wheel, or a mixed set.  Note that the inner and outer wheel halves will not match, but this is difficult to detect after assembly, particularly if the wheels are weathered with mud.  Purists can replace the wheels with resin alternatives from Hussar Productions, MB Models or Trakz.

The kit provides drive sprockets with 16 hub retaining bolts, which is appropriate for the time period depicted.  However, the shape of the hubs is incorrect, with a flat section around the outer edge rather than the correct entirely convex shape.  The sprockets will require replacement with after-market parts.

An early pattern domed engine access hatch is included, with the inspection port molded in place.  The inspection port was not introduced until the end of 1941, after Model 1940 production had ceased, so you should sand it away.

Late pattern radiator intake screens are provided, which are appropriate for a vehicle manufactured in the summer or early fall of 1941.  The screens are molded as inserts which are added from beneath the upper hull, which has the frames molded integrally.  The end result is acceptable but if you wish to replace the screens with after-market parts, you will need to carefully carve away the frames without damaging the surrounding bolt detail, and also fabricate the louvers beneath the screens from styrene or brass.

A notable inclusion is an insert for the V-2K engine, which allows the engine access hatch to be fixed in the open position.  The engine is somewhat simplified and lacks a number of features such as hoses and wiring, but provides a good basis for detailing using the photographs in KV - Technical History and Variants as a guide.  Note that the kit does not include parts for the transmission, which would be visible if you model the transmission hatches in the open position.  If you wish to add a transmission, there are a number of after-market sources including Maquette’s T-34 V-2 Engine & Transmission Set.

The kit includes early pattern transmission and hull hatches with rounded edges.  While the transmission hatches are correct for a late production Model 1940, the most common type of crew hatch during the summer and fall of 1940 was the flat disc pattern.

The locking bars on the hatch interiors are nicely molded, and the hull and turret hatch interiors even include grab handles.  However, Zvezda has oriented the locking mechanisms on all the hatches (hull hatch, turret hatch and transmission hatches) in the same way, offset to the right as for the turret hatch.  The mechanisms on the hull hatch and transmission maintenance hatches had one bar located at the 12 o’clock position (ie. pointing straight up when the hatch was opened).  For accuracy, the locking mechanisms will need to be replaced if you wish to depict the crew hatch or transmission maintenance hatches in the open position, but a number of after-market vendors already offer sets that include these parts.

The upper hull is molded in a single piece including the fenders.  Bolt patterns on the engine and transmission compartment roofs are correct for the period.  The bolt heads are flat rather than conical but the transition from conical headed to flat headed bolts occurred around this time, so the kit is certainly plausible.  The length of the hull is approximately 3.5mm too short when compared to scale drawings, although the width is correct.

The kit fenders are rather simplified, and lack the vertical lip along their outer edges.  The flanges for the fender brackets are molded integrally with the upper hull and the vertical flanges lack bolt heads, though the horizontal flanges do include the correct six bolt heads.  The fender brackets themselves are also rather thick.  A number of after-market vendors provide suitable replacement fenders and any of these would significantly improve the model, though the task is complicated by the fact that the kit’s fenders are molded integrally with the upper hull.

The kit provides an assortment of fender stowage including the stowage tube for the gun barrel cleaning rods, three large rectangular stowage boxes of the revised pattern introduced in late January 1941 and a single 50-litre lubricant tank.  The stowage boxes are inaccurate in shape however, since the lids extend all the way down the outer face rather than ending level with the reinforced ends.  This can be rectified with thin styrene sheet or the stowage boxes can be replaced with after-market items.  The cylindrical stowage tube for the gun barrel cleaning rods was seldom seen by the late summer of 1941, but check your references for the vehicle you intend to model.

This is the only kit that offers the small 50-litre lubricant tank in styrene, though they are available in brass from Aber in set 35196.  Most photographs indicate that the tanks were fitted in sets of four, six or seven however, so you will likely need to find an alternate source or cast your own in resin using the kit parts as a master.

A notable and commendable feature of the kit is the level of interior detail that is provided.  While not comprehensive, the parts will allow you to assemble the model with hatches and driver’s visor open, without the need to scratch-build the interior parts.  The kit includes interior parts for the driver’s visor, hull machine gun and turret interior details including the gun breech, seats, ammunition stowage and episcopes.

The kit includes appliqué armor for the hull front and driver’s front plate.  The driver’s front plate armor is of the shorter Type 1 pattern, which was common on vehicles manufactured in the late summer and early fall of 1941.  The kit also includes appliqué plates for the forward portions of the upper hull sides above the fenders.  These plates lack the cut-outs often seen on such armor, but plain plates as provided in the kit were certainly not uncommon.  The kit also provides the chevron-shaped armor for the hull top in front of the turret ring and, interestingly, the short bar welded to the hull top in front of the hull hatch.  At the time of writing, no other kit includes this feature.  All of the appliqué armor parts including the short bars for the rear quarters are molded as separate items, allowing you to use or omit parts according to the references for the vehicle you are modeling.

The kit includes an early welded turret that features the circular weld marks characteristic of a vehicle produced by ChTZ.  These are actually circular depressions rather than rings, and accurately match the marks seen on a number of preserved vehicles.  The turret hatch includes a representation of the P40 anti-aircraft mount for the DT machine gun, which is also included in the kit.  However, the mount is far from accurate when compared with photographs of the real P40 mount.

Markings are included for three vehicles.  However, it must be noted that none of the three vehicles was actually a late production KV-1 Model 1940. ‘Besposchadniy’ and ‘Suvorov 700’ were KV-1 Model 1942s with angular rear hull overhangs, simplified welded turrets and ZIS-5 guns, while ‘Istrebitel’ was a late production KV-1 Model 1941 or Model 1942 with a cast turret.  However, this does not present a major problem for the modeler since many KV-1 Model 1940s did not carry markings and, if you wish to model a vehicle with markings, there are a number of after-market sources.

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