Soviet Steel – The KV-1 / KV-ZP

Hi all, I thought I’d start with some brief information about the The KV-1 (source: Wikipedia) .  It first saw action during the Winter War, where it out performed both the SMK and T-100 (rival prototypes for production as a break through tank).   It was developed to be used alongside Soviet deep battle doctrine which called for a heavily armoured tank to support troops as they pushed through enemy defences.  The KV-1 proved to be the most successful design and 50 were ordered in 1939.    The Kv-1 is probably the lesser known KV variant with the KV-2, with it’s iconic tall turret and intimidating 152mm howitzer the more striking and famous design.   Needless to say the Germans were not expecting the KV series of tanks and there are a number of stories regarding these tanks and their battles vs superior numbers.   At the time they entered service, the armour on these tanks was pretty much impervious to any any tank weaponry accept at point blank ranges.     The downfall of the KV series was the design of the transmission which was 20 years old at the time of service.  This coupled with the massive weight (45 tons) of the tank made them difficult to drive and susceptible to becoming stuck  or stranded when the surfaces they were travelling upon could not support their weight.


So what’s in the kit?    The KV-1 from Warlord Games is predominantly resin tank with white metal parts for small parts.    The kits comes with a white metal gun barrel, hatches for the turrets and tow rings for front and back.    The hull is cast in one piece with tracks in one casting per side and the turret cast as a whole piece.    As usual clean up was easy but I’d recommend a bowl of very warm water for the track assemblies to help them fit snugly against the hull.    I’ve no photos of the components or the prep side of things as I was too impatient and built the tank immediately!

As with other articles (SU-76, Heavy Infantry) this model will be painted in a distressed winter camouflage, however unlike the other two articles this time I’m using Hair spray.     Any brand will do, I think I used silvrikin (a brand here in the UK, other brands are available), simply because that’s what my wife had in the house!

KV1 with ZP and Normal Turret. Pre shaded and decalled

I start as I start with all models of this type.   A good coat of Vallejo Primer followed by a good coat of Vallejo Olive Grey.   This is then given a rough highlight using a mix of White and Olive Grey to pre-shade the model before we start.   The model is then given a good coat of gloss varnish.    This is to protect the paint against the weathering and to help the decals slide around on the surface until I am happy with their positioning.    The decals were applied with the aid of microset and microsol (if you haven’t got these products, trust me you should be acquiring them, they make life so much easier) although the surfaces were largely flat so I didn’t need more than a coat of microset in this instance.   These are then protected with another coat of gloss varnish, again because the weathering process does involve a bit of scrubbing and I don’t want to lift these decals off with the white paint.     Finally the model is given a coat of Model Colour light blue grey or game colour wolf grey to give an off white pale grey coat.

The first thing to notice is that unlike the chipping fluid which flakes, the hairspray causes the paint to tear which can lead to ridges or stretch marks if you’re not careful.   I suspect I may have put too heavy a coat of paint or hair spray on in this but further experimentation will tell!

KV-ZP white washed and chipped. Ready for weathering and shading
KV-ZP white washed and chipped. Ready for weathering and shading

So, now that we have our KV chassis and turrets pre-shaded and chipped we’re ready to start our weathering and sponging shenanigans.   This may seem a long write up but when you do this you will be surprised by how quickly you can rattle through the steps.   I finished this model in about 3 hours start to finish.

First of all we start with olive grey and white on sponges.    These are then applied liberally around the large tear marks on the chassis to break the surface up.    You should focus on a few areas.   Anywhere there will be movement (door plates, hinges etc), anywhere there will be contact (edges of turrets, edges of track guards, front and rear of the vehicle) and finally anywhere where you are simulating battle damage (sometimes over decals if you wish).

Once you’ve completed your sponging of Whites and Greens you should be left with a nicely chipped paint job.  What I did at this point was to start hitting the outside edges of large surfaces with dark sea grey.   It’s a very dark blue grey which gives a good blackened colour to start picking out areas where I want to simulate rust.      The same colour was used to start the simulation of powder burns on the end of the gun and smoke/oil staining on the engine deck.    The next step of the rusting process is to use three different browns, a dark red brown (VMC Chocolate Brown is what I used) a mid red brown (Vallejo air color rust) and a bright brown (orange).   On areas where I want rust I start with the Chocolate Brown, then move to rust then dot in with orange.    I also water down both rust and orange colours and use these to wash around rusted areas and to do streaks where the rust has stained the paint after rain or snowfall.  Finally a wash of Vallejo Smoke thinned with acrylic thinners is applied to areas where it seems prudent.

With this done, the final step is to add mud.    It would look weird to have a vehicle which is both beaten up and rusted to have no mud splatter at all.  I am after all, portraying a winter soviet army which is struggling through fields of mixed snow and grass so mud would be unavoidable.     I mix Vallejo pigments (Umber) with Agrax Earthshade and Acryllic thinners / water to make a paste which then get’s liberally spread all over the tracks, around the track guards and the front of the vehicle.   This is then left to dry and covered over with matt varnish to protect and remove the shine from the gloss varnish coats before.

So what are the in-game options for our KV-1 / KV-ZP?   The KV-1 isn’t available in the K47 Soviet Army list (boo hiss!) so in K47, the options are simple.

The KV-ZP is available at 290 points for a regular version (345 for a veteran) and comes with one ZP turret and a hull mounted MMG.    When we compare this with the points cost for a T34-ZP at 215 and 258 points respectively, it’s not such a massive increase when you consider how much more survivable the ZP is.

It’s going to be pretty tasty in game.  Let’s consider the effects of the Projektor.

Essentially you draw a straight line 24″ from the barrel of your turret.    Anything under that line is hit on a 4+ and suffers D3 pin markers.   Artillery and Infantry Units suffer D3 hits with a Pen value of +1.  Vehicle Models suffer an automatic Crew Stunned result.

I think that this will be one of those weapons that opponents want to deal with.   Whilst it doesn’t seem like it will kill anything in a devastating strike, the control that this can give with the potential of pinning multiple units in one shot means it cannot be ignored.  The ability to make it harder for units to activate or respond in an area with one tank will make this one of those situational weapons that can turn a battle (or force an opportunity in a tight game).

So, why not mount this on your new shiny t-34 hull?  My main concern with this is that the T34 is too lightly armoured to be closing within 24″ of enemy units.   So many units in K47 can and will bridge a gap of 18″ in one turn.   Getting up close and personal can leave you with a sad face and a wrecked tank marker in short order.   As a result, I see this sitting on a KV-1 chassis simply because of the all around armour. If it’s underestimated I guarantee that this will give your opponent one of those “it does WHAT?” moments!

2 thoughts on “Soviet Steel – The KV-1 / KV-ZP

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