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Soviet Heavy Tank KV-1 1939/1940

Don Association


S u m m a r y

Stock No. (no number); Soviet Heavy Tank 2nd World War Period KV-1 1939/1940
Contents and Media: 331 parts (112 in brown styrene, 218 in grey styrene, 1 section of nylon wire)
Price: Between USD$12-20, depending on source
Scale: 1/35
Review Type: First Look
Advantages: Provides parts to build an early model KV-1 tank; working tracks
Disadvantages: Very crude details; coarse and old-fashioned moldings; will not build into a Model 1940 as is
Recommendation: Recommended for all "Klim" fans


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Reviewed by Cookie Sewell


F i r s t   L o o k


With regard to WWII Soviet tanks, the only major service versions we currently can't model "out of the box" are the early models of the major WWII tanks the T-34 Models 1940 and 1941, and the KV-1 Model 1940. A new manufacturer, Don Association (which lists itself as a joint British-Ukrainian venture on the box) has now released a new kit of the Model 1939 and Model 1940 KV-1 tanks.

The title of the new kit is not entirely accurate. The first KV-1 built was the only Model 1939 and it was sent to the Mannerheim Line for testing, which it did not complete prior to the end of December 1939. That tank was quite a bit different in details from the later tanks which were produced in 1940.

The first KV tank (it only got the designation KV-1 when the 152mm KV-2 was accepted for production) had extra fuel panniers which ran the entire length of its fenders, as well as a 500 HP V-2 diesel engine and a "small" turret with a coaxial 76mm L-11 cannon and 45mm Model 1938 tank gun, as well as a DT machine gun in the mantelet, one in the rear of the turret, and one in the bow gunner's position.

The "U" or validation series prototypes did not see the light of day until February 1940, with a mixture of "small" turret KV tanks armed with just the 76mm gun and "big" turret tanks armed with the 152mm M-10 howitzer. A total of eight tanks saw service in Finland, but no combat; they were used for testing of their weapons against overrun Finnish obstacles and engineering works.

While the "small" turret tanks were ordered into production in June 1940 as the KV-1, the "large" turret was unsuccessful and sent back to be redesigned. It became the KV-2 with the familiar boxy turret most people associate with the tank.

The Model 1940 production tanks used square panniers for fuel reserves on the fenders (up to four per side was normal) and were armed with the 32 caliber long L-11 76mm gun. This gun had a recoil mechanism which was mounted above the gun barrel, and as such had a very pronounced "boar's head" type mantelet. It was not until late 1940 that the tank switched to the 76.2mm F-32 of the same length but with the recoil mechanism under the barrel. The ZIS-5 was the normal gun for the late Model 1940 or Model 1941 KV-1, as it had a much longer barrel still of 40.5 calibers.

The Don Association kit is somewhat of a mixed bag, and is not for the "shake the box" modeler. Most of its dimensions appear close, but is a nearly totally "flat" kit with retrograde modeling conventions like suspension arms molded onto the sides of the hull. Moldings overall are crude, and lack a lot of the details most of us have come to expect. The two-color moldings are also reminiscent of Matchbox kits, not a good sign. However, this kit WILL build up into a KV-1 but it will take time.

It offers a turret which it claims will build as either a Model 1939 or 1940. It will NOT build into a Model 1939 at all, and will also not build into an early Model 1940 as it does not have the "boar's head" mantelet. If you want that, you will have to scrounge the basic "hump" from an ICM T-28 or T-35 kit. The kit does provide the short (F-32) or long (ZIS-5) barrel for the 76, but both are not much more than two-part tubes with smooth sides and a big seam. The mantelet is most accurate for the short F-32 gun, so you are still pretty limited and should only opt for the late Model 1940. As for a barrel, call for Jordi Rubio or another after-market barrel manufacturer.

It has the overlapping lip (which appears to be riveted with massive rivets 17 of them in the few photos I can find of the hullw without the applique armor) at the front of the hull which appears (photos are hard to see this detail in) to be normal for early KV tanks But it also comes with the later applique armor for the upper glacis and turret race, which appear way too thick, and no L-shaped applique nor the plate which goes on below it.

Wheels are very heavily done and of the incorrect pattern for early KV tanks, and to be honest they look more like they came off the old Aurora JS-3 kit. Drivers and idlers are also poorly done.

The track links are a bit crude but as compared to the rest of the kit amazing moldings. They have 0.020" (0.5mm) holes through the hinges, and the instructions indicate that you are to use 25mm sections of the nylon wire to make them work. Personally I don't think that works as the wire is about 0.008" (0.2mm) in diameter and not likely to fit right. I would use some suitable microrod with heat forged pin heads and cement them to the ends to make a working hinge.

Overall the rest of the details are incredibly crude, and as a result this kit is going to require a kitbash with a Tamiya KV-1B or KV-2 kit to be more or less accurate. That's a bit more than most modelers want to go, but there's no other way to get this kit up to modern levels of detail.

Markings are included for five KV-1 tanks, three of which appear to be Model 1940s and two Model 1941s. The Mannerheim line markings are bogus, as the tanks were the U series prototypes which the kit will not build.

Don Associates also offer a KV-2 kit for the same price. Not only that, they share the same box (flip it over and it is the KV-2 box; this has to be a pain for retailers as it has two items sharing the same box and customers are not likely to be amused if they get the wrong one!) It is designed to be "green" and recycled, and packing must have been "Green" approved as it quite flimsy. Eastern Front Hobbies packed my kit well, but it "flexed" in shipment, sucking plastic worms into the box and ejecting track links (yes, all 168 links come in a little bag, not on trees!) into the worms, making unpacking a merry chase for parts and getting rid of the worms!

Thanks to Bob Lessels of Eastern Front Hobbies for the review sample.

Cookie Sewell AMPS

Review Copyright 2002 by Cookie Sewell
Page Created 18 April, 2002
Last updated 22 July, 2003

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