Book Review
KV-2 Soviet Heavy Breakthough Tank of WWII

by: Jim Rae [ JIMBRAE ]


Although it may seem absurd now, (with the benefit of hindsight), the first appearance of the KV-II on the battlefields of Russia in the opening stages of Barbarossa, caused a fair amount of disquiet amongst the invading forces. Slow, unwieldy and grossly underpowered for its size, the KV-II did have one thing in its favour - heavy armor. This caused many problems amongst the Germans whose only AT weapon capable of dealing with it was the Flak 18 or Flak 36...

That said, the real weakness in the KV-2 lay in its use. Deployed in small numbers with inadequate supplies of POL or ammunition, the majority were simply abandoned where they stopped. The KV-II also had an even deadlier weakness - Soviet Strategic Policy...

Much of Soviet Strategic planning came as a result of their failures in the Russo-Finnish War. One of the identified shortcomings was an AFV which could deal with emplaced positions After some success, the project was given the green light with production beginning in 1940....

The book...

Having recently purchased (and reviewed) the two Tankograd Publishing books on the KV -1, I more or less new what to expect. The format is certainly similar...

KV-2 Soviet Heavy Breakthough Tank of WWII (Tankograd Publishing) # 2001 is written by Jochen Vollert . The book is an 80 page, A4 Soft-cover publication with photos in both color and black and white. The book also has six pages of Scale Plans in 1/72nd and 1/35th scale. Once again, the photographic images are the books' strong-point. presenting as wide a selection of photos as is possible in a book this size. The quality of reproduction (as we now take for granted) is first class with only a few of the photos having been published before.

The first part deals lucidly with an introduction to the KV-II, the 'philisophy' behind the design, the strategic and tactical deployment of the vehicle and some useful data on the prototypes-

The Chapter Headings:

* Introduction (including prototype details)

* "KV with Large Turret! - Pre-series production vehicles - KV - II Model 1939

* KV - II Model 1940 - Series Production Variant

* KV-II Turrets on Armored Trains

*"Operation Barbarossa" - The Kv-II in Combat

* The KV-Shock - the Wehrmacht encounters the KV-II

* KV-II Training Vehicles in Wermacht Service

* German Anti-Tank Gun Capabilities Against the Kv-II

* KV-II Captured vehicles (BeutePanzer) in Wehrmacht Service

* The KV-II Model 1940 in Technical Close-up

* Only One Survived - The Preserved KV - II

Conclusions and thoughts

The KV series of vehicles is a veritable morass of myth, fact, supposition and conclusions. As most people reading this review will want a little more out of their models than 'shake 'n bake' , some serious reference is needed. The difference between the prototype and production vehicles is important. The differences between the Model 1939 and the 1940 is equally significant. Once again, Vollert is the master of clarification. In the other two KV books, much emphasis was given between the differences in Turret, Hull and Running gear, in the case of the Kv-II (due to their having been less variants) the situation is a little clearer. That said. the author does have the ability to organize things in a logical manner. The book is written and edited in such a way, that everything on a given vehicle is within its own chapter with a well-written text to introduce each section.

Once again, there are some pleasant surprises in the book. Two sections in particular, KV-II Turrets on Armored Trains and The KV-II Model 1940 in Technical Close-up are some of the most interesting sections I have seen on the KV-II. The former, for the inspiration it will present to the scratchbuilder and the latter for the superdetailer.

In a book of 80 pages, there are obvious limitations as to what can be put in (and inevitably) what must be left out. Tankograd have done a superbly disciplined job in packing a lot of information into one book. Combining these with the two others in the series gives one a VERY adequate source of reference on the KV Series.

One curiousity, is that although the KV -II was never mass-produced like the T34, sadly only one example has survived out of the 334 built. Despite this fact, the KV-II remains a firm favorite with many modellers, due in part to it's bizarre aspect and in no small part to the work of people like Vollert in keeping its memory alive in books such as this...

VERY Highly Recommended

Availability and further sources..

The book and its companion volumes on the the KV series, was purchased from Aviation Book Centre , which is a British on-line retailer who offer a prompt and excellent service.

Armorama is currently publishing a series of Resource Features on various vehicle subjects, which link together all the material on a given subject (reviews, features etc.) The feature on the KV, can be seen here:

Armor Resource # 2 - The KV Series<

With Trumpeter having 'closed the circle' with the release of both (production) versions of the KV-II in 1/35th scale, it is perhaps useful to take a look at a book which will be of immense value for anyone working on either (or both) of these models...
Percentage Rating
  Scale: 1:1
  Mfg. ID: 2001
  Suggested Retail: €14.95
  PUBLISHED: Jan 18, 2006

About Jim Rae (jimbrae)

Self-employed English teacher living in NW Spain. Been modelling off and on since the sixties. Came back into the hobby around ten years ago. First love is Soviet Armor with German subjects running a close second. Currently exploring ways of getting cloned to allow time for modelling, working and wr...

Copyright ©2021 text by Jim Rae [ JIMBRAE ]. All rights reserved.


Click image to enlarge
  • kv2_cover
  • kv2_back
  • kv21
  • kv22