KV-1S (August 1942 to August 1943)
You have very little choice if you want to model a KV-1S in plastic; at the time of writing, the Eastern Express kit #35100 is the only available 1/35 scale plastic kit of this variant. There are rumors that Trumpeter will produce kits of the late KV series variants, but these rumors are unconfirmed and even if they are true, the release dates are unknown.
Fortunately, the Eastern Express kit is basically accurate and, while it will require some work and the addition of some aftermarket parts, can be made into a nice model.
The kit tracks require replacement with after-market items. They represent the narrow split link type of track commonly seen on the KV-1S, but they are somewhat stiff and are best replaced. A number of manufacturers offer suitable replacements. Friulmodel's ATL-54, Modelkasten's SK-14 and WWII Productions' 35022 are all suitable candidates.
The lower hull is assembled from a curved belly plate, separate flat plates for the hull sides, and a separate curved lower rear hull plate. For the truly pedantic, note that the mounts for the suspension swing arms include two grease fittings rather than the correct single fitting. Cut away the right-hand grease fitting for accuracy.
The mounting plates for the towing eyes are the early trapezoidal pattern rather than the circular pattern seen on all KV-1S hulls. You should replace the mounting plates with discs cut from styrene sheet, and use the kit parts for the towing eyes themselves.
The kit provides two different types of road wheels - all-steel wheels with eight small lightening holes, which were the most common type seen on the KV-1S, and similar wheels with eight larger lightening holes, which were seen on some KV-1S vehicles in 1943. However, the kit only includes a 'half' set of each type, and you must use one type on the inner halves and the other type on the outer halves. By reversing the wheels, you can depict the two different types. As noted above, the wheels with small lightening holes were the most common type from the spring of 1943 onward, and the other type provided by the kit were relatively rare. Vehicles completed in late 1942 or early 1943 however, typically carried spoked wheels with large cutouts. If you wish to depict a vehicle from the spring of 1943 or later, use the kit wheels with the small lightening holes. For an early production vehicle with spoked wheels, your only choice is to use Azimut Production's set 35311 which provides a partial set of these wheels for the outer road wheel halves. You must either combine these wheels with kit parts for the inner halves, or use two of the Azimut sets.
The sprockets feature the correct eight retaining bolts on the hub covers, but the covers include a raised lip which is incorrect and should be sanded away. The idlers are correct in shape and size but the conical hubs lack the grease fitting. This can be easily added by drilling a hole in the correct place and simulating the fitting itself with a piece of hexagonal rod. See the drawings and photographs on page 143 and 144 of KV - Technical History and Variants for a guide.
The upper hull is molded as a single component including the fenders. The fender brackets feature the correct four bolts attaching them to the fenders, but the brackets themselves are rather thick and would benefit from replacement with brass items from one of the many aftermarket sets.
The kit includes an applique armor plate for the driver's front plate. While some KV-1S vehicles carried applique armor, it was relatively rare so check your references for the vehicle you are modeling.
The upper hull molding is a common part shared between Eastern Express' KV-1S, KV-8S and KV-85 kits, and the crew hatch in the upper hull is faired over. You must carefully cut and file the opening to accommodate the hatch cover, which is the correct late pattern with a raised lip.
The kit instructions incorrectly direct you to fit the rear attachment brackets for the turnbuckles that hold the tow cables (parts 31A) in the horizontal position rather than the correct vertical position.
The instructions also incorrectly direct you to fit the stowage box on the number 5 position on the left-hand fender. It should be fitted on the number 7 position instead.
The kit lacks the spare track links seen on the number 5 and 6 positions on the fenders. You must source these from the spares box or, if you use an after-market track set, use spare links from that set with scratch-built brackets.
The kit includes four external fuel/oil tanks for the fenders, but there should be five tanks - four for fuel and one for oil - on the number 5, 7, 8 ,9 and 10 positions.
The fuel, oil and water filler caps are correctly placed but are surrounded by grooves which were not present on the real vehicle. The caps themselves feature a circular raised fitting in their centers, whereas the real caps featured either a single square hole or four small holes to accept the tool used to remove and replace the caps. The best approach here would be to remove the caps entirely, fill the grooves and replace the caps with discs cut from styrene sheet, with holes drilled in them.
The engine access hatch is a separate component but is somewhat simplified. If you wish, you can use the kit part and drill the two missing holes in the central inspection port. Alternatively, you can use the aftermarket item from Modelling Artisan Mori (MRP03) which has better detail. You must scratch-build the cable and hook for the rear lifting eye since neither the kit nor the Modelling Artisan Mori set include the cable and hook.
The radiator intake screens to either side of the engine access hatch also require replacement, since they are simplified and feature the longitudinal rods over the mesh covers which were apparently only fitted to a few trials vehicles. Carve away the molded screens, taking care to preserve the bolt-head detail around them. Eduard sets TP088 and TP089 offer suitable replacements.
The bolt configuration on the engine compartment and transmission compartment roof plates is accurate but the bolts are round rather than hexagonal and would benefit from replacement with small pieces of hexagonal rod. The kit includes the central bolt on the rear edge of the transmission compartment but many vehicles from the spring of 1943 onward lacked the bolt and left the hole empty, or lacked the bolt and the hole.
The lifting eyes are generally accurate but are molded integrally with the hull top and should be drilled out for accuracy. The kit includes lifting rings for all the eyes but these were rarely seen on vehicles in the field, so they should be omitted.
The exhausts are accurate in shape but require hollowing out with careful use of a drill bit and a sharp #11 blade.
The kit provides hand rails for the upper hull sides, as fitted from the spring of 1943 onward. You can omit these if you wish to model a 1942 production example. If you do decide to fit the handrails however, you may wish to replace them with styrene rod or wire for a finer appearance. The kit also lacks the hand rails typically welded horizontally to the outer faces of the applique armor plates on the upper hull sides. Again, you can add these from styrene rod or wire.
The cast turret is accurate in shape, and includes a good representation of the cast texture. The casting seams depict the early pattern seen in late 1942 and early 1943. To depict a later turret from the spring or summer of 1943, you can sand away the existing casting seams and replace them with the revised pattern as shown on page 352 of KV - Technical History and Variants. The turret roof plate is a separate component and lacks the weld seams around its edges. These can be added from putty or styrene rod softened with liquid cement.
The turret episcope covers are separate components but the episcopes themselves are absent from underneath the covers. These can be added from suitably shaped thick styrene strip.
The gun mantlet is somewhat misshapen when compared to photographs of the real vehicle, and should be replaced with an after-market item. Modelling Artisan Mori produces two different replacements which differ only in the pattern of the optional appliqué armor on the front of the mantlet. See 1/35 Scale Gun Barrels and Mantlets for more information.
The ZIS-5 gun barrel is rather crude and should be replaced with an after-market barrel. See 1/35 Scale Gun Barrels and Mantlets for suitable candidates.