Continuing the theme of ludicrous looking AFVs, the Soviet KV-2 was an early War monster.


Let’s take a look at another tank who’s design aesthetic was inspired by Warner Brothers.

Previously I posted about the KV-1 tank.  The KV-2 was substantially the same machine with the same strengths and weaknesses.  But the Soviets wanted something that could stand at the front and outfight fortified bunkers.  While the KV-1 was armored well enough, it lacked for high angle, high explosive fire.  So that is exactly the weakness the KV-2 was built to fix.  It was armed with a 152mm howitzer and sacrificed nothing in terms of armor thickness.


For those who think the M3 Lee had a high profile, I present the KV-2…

So the good news was, it could do exactly what it was designed for; waddle up to an enemy field fortification and reduce it to rubble.  But the bad news, no surprise here, it was even less mobile and less reliable than its KV-1 stablemate.  In particular, the weight of the turret was so great it could only rotate on level ground.



Keep in mind this was never meant for high speed, open ground type operations; that’s what a T-34 was for.  When Germany launched Operation Barbarossa in June of 1941 the Soviets found themselves in a highly fluid defensive campaign that the KV-2 was not well suited for.  It was never meant to be a main battle tank and as such was never produced in mass numbers, but rather as a supplement alongside the KV-1.  As such, only 334 were built before the factories were relocated to avoid the Nazi onslaught.  When those factories resumed operations from beyond the Urals they focused on other, more useful designs.
By the time the Soviets needed such heavy armor again in 1944 they had newer, more capable designs.



KV-1 and KV-2.  The hull is significantly the same, but not the turret!  Probably no other military would have classified the KV-2 as a “tank”.  It lacks a direct fire anti-tank gun.  In fact, the Wehrmacht captured a number of them and considered them a sort of “Sturmpanzer”.

As an aside, most other combatants expected specially trained *skilled* troops to do this sort of bunker busting (ie. combat engineers).  Specialized weapons ARE a part of that formula, but the Soviets were largely opposed to such *elite* type training and instead sought a bigger stick.  Sorry, that’s just my editorial opinion on this.


My cartoon duo.  Sturmtiger and KV-2 were meant for a similar sort of mission.

This is the Tamiya kit.


Late in the War, when the Soviets were facing fortified defensive positions, they relied on a newer generation of heavy “breakthrough” tanks like the IS-2 shown here.

About atcDave

I'm 5o-something years old and live in Ypsilanti, Michigan. I'm happily married to Jodie. I was an air traffic controller for 33 years and recently retired; grew up in the Chicago area, and am still a fanatic for pizza and the Chicago Bears. My main interest is military history, and my related hobbies include scale model building and strategy games.
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19 Responses to KV-2

  1. Chris Kemp says:

    If brute force and ignorance doesn’t work, then you’re not using enough of it 🙂

    Regards, Chris.

    • atcDave says:

      Hah! Often a viable philosophy.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      Back in school we used to say that sufficient force properly applied for the right amount of time will solve any problem. Kind of sounds like Soviet WWII doctrine now that I think of it.

      Also the KV-2 seems to possess that real industrial ugliness that only the Soviets seem to have truly mastered.

  2. I’d would certainly be a good bet in the ‘ugly tank’ stakes. Looks typically Russian, built for function rather than aesthetics.

    • atcDave says:

      Yeah, definitely no beauty pageant winner!

    • Ernie Davis says:

      And given Dave’s description of some of its drawbacks, barely functional outside a very limited purpose.

      • Indeed. It was hardly a game changer!

      • atcDave says:

        A very expensive limited purpose. I believe it cost 2 – 3 x what a T-34 did? Gee good thing cost was irrelevant in the Soviet system….
        And yet, the design bureau was under a lot of pressure to make something better, or else, from Stalin himself that finally led to the Joseph Stalin tanks.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        It is funny how the IS series sort of parallels the Pershing-Patton line of tanks in US development. The IS-1 was an improvement over the T-34, but as the later T-34 85 already sported the more effective 85mm gun, only marginally so in armor protection. The IS-2 was a beast, but the choice of gun (a 122mm that was in surplus, but used two piece naval style ammunition) limited it’s rate of fire, but the armor helped make up for that deficit against the later German models. The IS-3 never really saw much combat against the Germans, but was the main battle tank well into the ’50’s and many elements carried on into the later T-series tanks that were the main battle tanks for most of the rest of the Cold War. The T-10 heavy tank was essentially the last of the true IS series, but after Stalin’s death the IS designation was pretty much abandoned.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah I’m pretty sure the “IS” designation was all about placating the monster.

        I thought you’d mentioned once that the IS-3 was purely a post-War tank? I was under the impression it was at least deployed before the War’s end. Do you know the specifics?

      • Ernie Davis says:

        I think the IS-3, very much like the Pershing was being deployed by the end of WW2 but I haven’t seen anything definitive on how much combat they saw. They were certainly not deployed in any significant number before the war ended.

      • atcDave says:

        Being Soviet it’s possible there is no definitive answer.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        They were definitely used against the Japanese at the end of the war. Against Germany there was the rumor that they tangled with some Jagpanthers and acquitted themselves quite well, but as you say that could have been for propaganda. Apparently the first sighting of the type by the Western Allies was at a victory parade, where it made a bit of an impression.

        IS-3’s were still in use by the Egyptian Army as late as the ’67 war, and apparently still matched well against the far more modern M48 Pattons, although their gunnery wasn’t on the same level (whether that be due to training or antiquated systems) and they were apparently ill-suited to operations in a desert climate. So while it is hard to tell for many reasons, indications are that the IS-3 was a formidable tank for it’s time, at least equal to anything the Wehrmacht could have thrown at it.

      • atcDave says:

        I know I’d read between King Tiger and IS-2 it mostly came down to crew quality, which of course normally favored the Germans.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        I’d also read that due to the gun issues on an IS-2 mentioned above, even a well trained crew could maybe get off 3-4 shots a minute at best, but that anecdotally the armor was often sufficient and the gun powerful enough that the IS-2 was often a match for the Germans.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah I’d read the same thing. The King Tiger’s kill range was slightly less (which seems strange to say!), but it could often close the range if it survived the first shot. And of course with Germans mostly on the defensive it Often gave them the advantage of setting the ambush.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Well those sound like two very similar accounts, even if from a slightly different perspective.

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