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KV-1 Identification: Distinctive variants, traits, and features

KV-1 Identification: Distinctive variants, traits, and features
After a recent private message, I decided this might be useful. This thread will teach you how to identify the model of KV-1 you're looking at, and decipher whether or not it is a production or a field modified tank. 
Model 1939:
This is the first production variant of the KV-1. It is easily identified with a few different unique traits. Firstly, early production vehicles had a pistol port instead of a hull machine gun. This was later improved with the introduction of a 7.62 mm DT hull machine gun. This variant was armed with the 76.2 mm L-11. You can identify this cannon with the distinctive pig snout mantlet. This model also had an exposed turret ring, resulting in a large rear turret overhang and a taller profile.
Model 1940:
This is the second (third if you want to count the MG change of the Mod. 1939) production variant of the KV-1. This variant was armed with the 76.2 mm F-32 cannon. You can identify this model and its cannon with the gun mantlet. It differed from the L-11 by being flatter and more angular. The turret ring remained exposed. The later production version of the Mod. 1940 had appliqué armour after the "cannon scare" the Soviets experienced against the Germans. The frontal hull had 25 mm thick plates applied, the turret ring was protected via 30 or 50 mm thick plates. 
On top of this, the German invasion resulted in a lack of engines for the model 1940 production run. The Soviets solved this issue with the addition of the M-17 engine, but due increased fuel consumption, external fuel tanks were required.
Model 1941:
This is one of the models with the most amount of variants. The early production variant varied slightly from the original model KV-1's. It was still armed with the 76.2 mm F-32, but the noticeable difference was that the turret ring was now incorporated into the armour resulting a lower profile. The rear turret overhang was reduced and the rear sights were also moved back to eliminate a blind spot.
The next variant was the KV-1 with bolt-on armour from the cannon scare, this variant is officially known as the KV-1E. This variant featured 30 mm bolt-on armour. 
After the KV-1E came the Model 1941 late (welded turret). This variant differed from early with the addition of the 76.2 mm ZiS-5 cannon. You can identify it with the longer barrel and the more unique mantlet with the service port.
Lastly, the model 1941 received a simplified cast turret for ease of production. This variant is identified with the obviously rounded turret. The rear machine gun was unprotected.
Model 1942:
This is one of the final KV-1 models. This model differs with an increase turret ring protection, a protected rear machine gun, and an angular rear hull.

*hull only, turret is model 1941*
KV-1S and KV-85 will be posted in a different post due to picture limit. I'll update this with a link to the post at a later point.


  • KV-1 Soviet Heavy Tank of WWII - Early Variants, Jochen Vollert, Tankograd Publishing - Verlag Jochen Vollert (Tankograd - Soviet Special No. 2002)
  • KV-1 Soviet Heavy Tank of WWII - Late Variants, Jochen Vollert, Tankograd Publishing - Verlag Jochen Vollert (Tankograd - Soviet Special No. 2003) 
  • Барятинский М., Коломиец М. Тяжелый танк КВ. // Журнал «Моделист-конструктор». — 2005. — № 9.
  • Коломиец М. Ленинградские КВ-1. Конструирование и производство. Тактикал Пресс-2012. Копия чертежа 1940 года.
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So we don't have the KV-1 1942? but the germans have that but a captured one with a 75mm longbarrel?


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Wow.  I was just reviewing some of my information on the KV-1 I have listed in an MS Access database for my hobby, wargaming in 1/72 scale with figures and model vehicles.  I discovered that this is the article I used a couple of years ago (June 2017) to help me definitively distinguish between the different types (except for the M1939, that was always easy! :smile: ) of KV-1.  This link is referenced in each of the KV listings I have.


So I want to make sure I thank Choogleblitz for this.


I've been playing WT since Xmas and am enjoying it for what it is.  I realize some game related fudges have to be made for balance in War Thunder, but I really wish a few bits of Gaijin's research and interpretation of tank warfare were as excellently researched as this article.  I do love WT for what it is, though. :smile:


Thanks again, Choogle, all the best.



Edited by *Tango_2_3

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On 05/05/2019 at 06:44, DestroyDaDa said:

how about add KV-2 identification to this


There's really only two, AFAIK.  The pre-production with a sloped turret front and the main production model with a vertical turret front.  A number of book sources I have put the pre-production numbers at 4 only.  I think, but am not sure (because my books are packed away for a renovation) that Zaloga mentions the 4 number.  But there are so many pictures of the sloped turret front, that I think there must be more and I've read other sources that indicate up to 30-something were made.

Hope that helps.

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