Sunday, February 5, 2012
The Soviet Army had technically superior tanks at the beginning of the war. However they were not very good at using them which led them to some serious setbacks when Germany attacked them. Once they learned to use them and once they were producing them at top capacity, they were enough to offset the technological tank advances on the German side, which was prompted by the Soviet tanks they encountered during Barbarossa. This resulted in the Soviets having to introduce fewer models. Let's take a look at a couple of them.
Forces of Valor Russian Heavy Tank KV-1 - Part I
The KV-1 was a Soviet heavy tank designed in the late 30's, tested during the Winter War with Finland and found in decent quantities (about 500) in the Soviet Army by the begining of the war. It weighed about 45 tons, but it was armed with the same 76mm gun as the T34 medium tank. So while it was definitely hard to destroy -it is said that in one engagement KV-1 #864 took about 135 hits-, the KV-1 was slow and prone to breakdowns due to its weight. Its weight also meant that it had problems crossing bridges, which limited its operational mobility. Therefore the KV-1 earned mixed reviews. With the advent of better guns on the German side, its thick armor was no longer enough to justify its drawbacks and it was phased out in favor of the T34 medium tank and new models of heavy tanks such as the KV-85 and IS-2. BTW, the KV-1 was named after Kliment Voroshilov, the Soviet Defense Minister. Forces of Valor has treated us to this model. As usual they have done a nice job. The paint detail includes plenty of mud and dust, and as you can see in the picture it comes with two bundles of logs which were there for extra protection.
Forces of Valor Russian Heavy Tank KV-1 - Part II
Here is another release of the FOV KV-1 tank in a slightly different paint scheme. The painting on the turret seems aa bit more interesting than in the earlier version, however, the weathering on the vehicles was better on the earlier release. This newer model is too clean for my taste. Not how you would expect to see a tank that has gone through some campaigns.
Forces of Valor Russian T34/85
The T-34 was a medium tank fielded by the Soviet Army. It went into production in 1940, and remained in production throughout the war with some improvements along the way. It was the most produced tank of the war. Close to 65,000 of them were built by war's end, and it continued to be produced for several years after that. Initially it was built with a 76 mm gun and a two-man turret. At the beginning of 1944, the T34/85 appeared, with a bigger 85mm gun and a three-man turret, which then allowed the commander to focus his entire attention towards directing the battle instead of having to help operate the gun. The T-34 is considered by many the best balanced tank of the war in terms of armor, speed and firepower. In addition to that, the sloping armor gave it additional protection and its reliability made it quite effective in the field. While the T-34 was still vulnerable to German heavier tanks, the huge difference in numbers, continued improvements in tactital doctrine, and their own heavy tanks, allowed the Soviets to overcome this. In terms of scale vehicles, FOV has given us a couple of versions of this vehicle. The one depicted here and another one in winter colors. Even as a scale model, the T34 offers a nice streamlined silhouette. The paint job on this tank is also quite nice, with some marks and writing on the turret which would have been added by the crew, and also bent and mud splattered fenders for added realism.
Ogonek ISU-152 Soviet Self Propelled Gun
This was a motorized assult gun introduced by the Soviets in late 1943. It was the result of merging the SU-152 model with the more mobile IS (Iosef Stalin) chasis used by the tanks. It carried a 152mm gun, with a 4.2 meter barrel, and could fire at a range of almost 4 miles. Using a crew of 5, it's firing rate was only about 2-3 shots per minute, but it could penetrate armor as thick as 125mm. To compensate for the lower firing rates, they used to fight in groups. Later models increased the barrel length to 4.9 meters and the range doubled. Given its weight, it's cross-country speed was about 10-12 miles per hour. It's heavy frontal armor (120mm) made it quite effective advancing against fortified positions or urban warfare, even in the face of direct artillery fire. The same qualities also enabled it to play the role of ant-tank gun/tank destroyer, able to knock out even the toughest German vehicles, including other heavy tank destroyers. Lastly, because it's gun was a howitzer, it could also be used as long range mobile artillery. As far as the model goes, this is a kit requiring assembly. I got it as a present from a good friend, and I only discovered recently that it was made by Ogonek.