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In-Box Review
Russia KV 'Big Turret'
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by: Darren Baker [ CMOT ]


On June 22, 1941 when Germany started its invasion of Russia, its mighty Panzer armies expected to crush everything before them as they had done in the rest of Europe. Instead they came up against Stalin’s heavy tanks, the KV1 and KV2. These behemoths held up the German advance into Russia, with a single KV1 or KV2 holding up the German advance for as long as thirty hours at a time when defending crossroads and routes of advance. The shells the Germans had just bounced off these heavily armoured tanks.

The KV1 and KV2 went into production in 1940, with 600 vehicles in service when Germany invaded. By 1943, when production stopped, 10,000 KV1 and KV2’s had been produced (the KV2 production was ended in 1941). The KV2 weighing in at 57 tons was an imposing beast, armed with a 15.2cm main gun and two 7.62 machine guns. The KV2 had its weaknesses such as being slow and not being able to rotate its heavy turret unless on flat level ground, however it was all but immune to all the German panzers and field guns of the day, with most KV1 and KV2’s being destroyed by the German 88’s or being hit in the rear.


The kit is packaged in a cardboard box which measures 413mm X 229mm X 79mm, the box is of a very sturdy cardboard which is the norm for Trumpeter. The artwork on the box is very well done, with an image that could encourage people to attempt a diorama of the box top. Inside the box you will find all the sprues individually wrapped in plastic with the exception of the road wheels and link and length tracks.

Included in the kit are the following:
• Nine sprues molded in a light grey plastic.
• The hull tub in a light grey plastic, which is not protected in a plastic bag, however it is protected by having its own partitioned area in the box.
• A small sprue of clear items.
• A 150mm length of copper twisted cable.
• A decal sheet measuring 80mm X 76mm packaged in a sealed plastic bag.
• A set of rubber band tracks.
• A glossy five way view painting and marking guide.
• A fold out set of instructions which gives you ten pages a little smaller than A4 size.


The kit parts are well molded with the only flash being on the tow chain eyes, and a few minor seam lines that will need attention. As with most Trumpeter kits the ejection marks are large, but for the most part not viewable when the kit is assembled. One of the mounting brackets for the fenders was broken in this kit, however its design should not cause too many issues to scratch a new one.

The hull of the vehicle is the same one used in all the KV models that Trumpeter produce, and to get over minor alterations in the hull there are several points that need drilling. The sponson sides are also separate parts from the hull that need drilling in various locations. The upper surface of the hull is in two parts, with one going from the rear of the vehicle and stopping just before the turret starts, the other containing the turret ring and then continuing to the front of the vehicle, which also needs drilling or cutting depending on version. Details on all of these parts are accurately replicated, with a great deal of detail from a minimum amount of parts. The underside of the hull has also been detailed, however this is an area I cannot confirm as accurate or not.

The fenders on this model are nicely detailed on the top surface, however the underside of the fenders do have a lot of push out marks that will need filling despite not being overly visible when the tracks are attached (I know they are there). There is another weakness in this area which is the tow cables, despite providing a length of cable to replicate the tow cables the eye detail is in my opinion very poor and another option should be sought. It is not all bad news in this area though as the tensioner provided for attaching the cable to the hull is beautifully replicated.

Tracks and Suspension:
There are two sets of tracks in the box for the KV2. You have the option of using rubber band tracks which are not the best I have ever seen, but are usable by anyone not comfortable with using individual links. The second option is to use the link and length tracks in the box which are very nicely detailed, I have used these on other occasions and they do look the part. They do have a weakness though, being that they require a lot of cleaning up due to a high number of push out marks on the inside face. There are too many push out marks to count and filling and sanding them all is soul destroying, but worth the effort. Both options are good replicas of the real item, however take into account the weaknesses of rubber band tracks, with the link and length being the most realistic option.

The suspension in this kit is an injection molded masterpiece, with all aspects of it being faithfully reproduced. To give you an insight into how much detail is in this area, it takes up seven of the fifteen stages to complete. You could show some of the parts removed from the tank and being repaired if you wish. The six bolt holes that are used to attach the track support arm are reproduced faithfully in the side of the vehicle. There are some seams that need cleaning, mostly on the legs, but nothing drastic and they should not represent any difficulty. Each arm has a hexagon ‘shaft’ which pushes into a socket in the body allowing for perfect alignment.

The wheels are also very nicely done carrying detail on both faces rather than only the face you can see, they all appear accurate and perfectly shaped. It should be noted that at least four wheel patterns were used on the KV tanks, and the set included in this kit represents an early pattern (‘39 to ‘41)

The turret, despite only consisting of twenty seven parts, replicates the minimal detail present on the turret well. The three parts that go together to construct the main gun can be a bit difficult to line up, and hiding the join is hard work. The only detail I question is the three rings around the main gun, as I have not seen a KV2 barrel with three rings on the barrel so far. The main gun can be elevated once complete however, unless you enjoy playing with your models, I would glue it at an angle you desire.

I have assembled this model and the turret goes together very well, with very clean joints when assembled. The rear of the gun mantlet does have a spur of plastic on its back face which is difficult to clean off, it does however need to be removed in order to join the mantlet to the turret. I have utilized the LionRoar photo etch set and turned barrel in my build, I will however do my best to show the kit part along with the after market items I have used.

The turret in this model is one of the very early KV2 designs. It can be identified by the sloping front, and the two part door at the rear. I have read that as few as four KV2’s had this turret design.

There are seven and a half of the ten page instruction booklet given over to construction of the model, which is shown in fifteen stages. Each stage is very clear as no step is overly complicated or too busy. One and half pages show the layout of the kit parts on the sprues, with the remaining page giving you a guide to the symbols and their meaning. Having built a few of the KV1 and KV2’s from Trumpeter, I have to date only come across one instruction/location error, which was on the KV2 in German service.

I am not convinced that the decal sheet is of much use in this kit, as apart from two Russian stars the rest are slogans in Russian Cyrillic text. I have seen slogans painted on KV1’s, but I have yet to see one on a KV2, that however is up to you and just my personal belief.

The Build

I did not follow the instructions as regards the order of the build, and I utilized the Lion Roar after market set LE35060 for the build. I started by constructing the turret which all went together cleanly, the only hard part was the removal of a plastic peg behind the gun mantlet. I used the after market barrel included in the Lion Roar set, and the brass cover as seen in the pictures.

The hull and suspension went together cleanly and easily. I have used the horn, light, and fender mounting brackets from the PE set (I believe it is a horn, but if a horn is needed to warn you something this size is coming glasses is the least of your worries). From the pictures you can see the PE fender mounting brackets and the kits fender mounting brackets, I will leave it to you to decide if it is worth the effort. I have also used the PE which is for each of the four hatches on the vehicle, it is a lot of work to remove, sand, and then attach the PE, however if you are going to show any of the hatches open it will I feel be worth the effort.

The PE grill covers are not the easiest parts to get to the right shape, but they do improve the overall appearance, I ended up using an Xacto handle as a rolling pin to get the shape right. Due to the large number of hatches on this version of the KV2 it would be a good candidate for a full or partial interior build, if you feel up to the task.

There are at least four types of road wheels for the KV1 and 2, the version that comes in the kit are the initial version and used from 1939 to 1941. I believe that the same pattern wheels are supplied in all the Trumpeter KV kits and so may not always be the correct pattern, it was not unusual to see KV tanks with more than one wheel pattern due to the number of rebuilds some vehicles received.

A review of the Lion Roar LE35060 set by Jim Rae can be found Here on Armorama.


For anyone who wants to add a KV1 or KV2 to their collection I highly recommend you buy one of the Trumpeter offerings. Nicely detailed and accurate as best that I can tell, and you cannot beat them for the price and accuracy. The inclusion of rubber band tracks, and link and length allows the modeler to decide how easy or difficult the modeler wants this area to be. The low price for what is a very accurate KV2 that will build into a good model from the box, or a great model if you want to add some of the after market items available. I highly recommended this model for both novice and advanced modelers.

References used:
•KV 1 & 2 Heavy Tanks 1939-45 New Vanguard 17
•Stalin's Giants KV-I & KV-II Schiffer Military History
•Stalin’s Heavy Tanks 1941-45 Concord: Armor At War Series
Highs: The inclusion of rubber band tracks, and link and length allows the modeler to decide how easy or difficult the build will be.
Lows: Large number of small knock out marks in the link and length tracks, and poor quality of the tow cable eyes.
Verdict: A must have for anyone interested in the KV tanks, and at the price charged for these kits you could build all nine offerings from Trumpeter without taking out a second mortgage.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: 1:35
  Mfg. ID: 00311
  Suggested Retail: £12.99
  PUBLISHED: Jul 11, 2009

About Darren Baker (CMOT)

I have been building model kits since the early 70’s starting with Airfix kits of mostly aircraft, then progressing to the point I am at now building predominantly armour kits from all countries and time periods. Living in the middle of Salisbury plain since the 70’s, I have had lots of opportunitie...

Copyright ©2020 text by Darren Baker [ CMOT ]. All rights reserved.


Thanks James as I kind of had to muddle through this one because I usually use Bill Plunks reviews as a guide.
JUL 14, 2009 - 05:17 PM
Thanks for that Darren. I already have five KV-1s and one KV-2 from Trumpeter. Might build one next!
JUL 20, 2009 - 11:19 PM
There is some more information on the KV2 coming from someone who knows more than I, watch this space for his update.
JUL 21, 2009 - 12:55 AM
Just to add a bit more background to Darren's excellent review, the Trumpeter KV 'Big Turret' kit represents one of the 20 series production vehicles manufactured by LKZ in June/July 1940. It can be back-dated to one of the four pre-production vehicles built between January and March, but that requires eliminating the ventilators from the turret roof as well as numerous other changes specific to individual vehicles. The KV s bolshoiy bashniy, to use a rough transliteration from the Russian, weighed 54 metric tons, 2 tons more than the later KV-2 since the MT-1 turret was 2 tons heavier than the later MT-2 turret. The Trumpeter kit gives you the correct early pattern road wheels with eight round holes on the inner (center) disc. These holes exposed the rubber cushioning ring between the two discs and helped to cool the rubber which became very hot as it absorbed energey when riding over rough ground. In October 1940, the number of holes was reduced from eight to six so the early eight-holed wheels are correct for a June/July production hull. The kit also gives you the correct cast return rollers with reinforcing ribs and drive sprockets with sixteen bolts retaining the hubs. The tracks are slightly incorrect since they represent the later version with lengthened guide teeth and thickened ends on the links, but this is hardly noticeable. The hull is dimensionally accurate but needs a little work on certain details. The nose plate on vehicles manufactured prior to the end of August 1940 was attached with 34 bolts; seventeen on the lower face and seventeen on the upper. The kit gives you the later place which had 22 bolts, as fitted from September 1940 to July 1941. This can be fixed with a bit of patience however. The kit gives you the correct "creased" rear hull overhang with the flat spot at the top, though both this and the later version are included in the kit. Use part K7. The hull and turret episcope covers lack flanges, which is correct for vehicles manufactured before mid-March 1941. Ensure that you DO NOT use the inspection port (part A18) in the center of the engine access hatch. This feature was only introduced at the end of 1941 when the engine cooling system was revised to include a header tank and overpressure valve; the port allowed the driver to inspect the valve without opening the hatch. The change was made long after KV-2 production ceased, and the port is certainly not appropriate for a June/July 1940 hull. The stowage boxes are the correct early pattern with no handles on the lids, and the instructions give you the correct configuration; two on the left-hand fender, one on the right. However, the kit is missing the cross-cut saw and its bracket from the left-hand fender, which was fitted on vehicles built prior to March 1941. Steal one from the "KV Small Turret" kit, since you don't need it for a vehicle manufactured after March 1941 (the saw was moved inside the stowage box). The turret is nice but the circular vision port and pistol port on the right-hand front face need covers like those on the sides and rear. This is an understandable mistake since several photographs of the real thing show the covers missing. The barrel is a bit of a problem. First of all, it's 3mm too short. Secondly, it includes the reinforcing collar around the muzzle that was not present on the June/July production batch and was only introduced when the first KV-2 Model 1940s appeared in November. The barrel also includes the infamous grooves. The M-10S had a sleeved barrel made up of three segments welded together, so the grooves show up on factory blueprints and were actually there. However, the segments of the sleeve were welded together and the welds ground smooth, so the joints are barely visible even from close range. The deep grooves on the kit parts are way too prominent. Given the problems with the barrel, I recommend replacing it with Jordi Rubio's TG83, which has no grooves or collar and is the right length. The Lion Roar update set is a mixed bag. Nice stowage boxes, fender brackets etc but the barrel includes the aforementioned grooves and has the collar too. As noted above, I'd go with the Jordi Rubio barrel. Lion Roar's radiator intake screens are also the wrong shape. The curvature should not include the frames on the long sides. Eduard gets this right in their KV Big Turret update set and their screens are easier to assemble than Aber's, so I would go with the Eduard set. For those who are wondering, this information comes from Maxim Kolomyets' latest Frontline Illustrations 1/2009 "The KVs of Leningrad" (unfortunately only available in Russian or in Polish from Wydawnictwo Militaria) and also from my own book, which is almost finished but not yet available. Cheers, Neil
JUL 21, 2009 - 06:14 AM
Thank you Neil for correcting some errors in the information I have, and expanding upon the information I have right. I look forward to your book being published as I have a soft spot for the KV series of vehicles.
JUL 21, 2009 - 08:25 AM
A cool image that I found, showing all 4 on the same vehicle... Left to right 1) Replaced initial pattern, autumn 1941. Standard for KV1 m41 and m42. 2) KV-1S variant pattern 3) Initial KV-1S pattern 4) Initial pattern 1939-41(rubber ring on inside) Yes. I love reading a good introduction with background. particularily helpful when only a fleeting interest is had in particular subjects. Those that are not interested can simply skip it.' Good review Darren. Hi Neil. Looking forward to your book. This will be a must buy. Will you be devoting a section to models, or is it entirly a reference study?
JUL 21, 2009 - 02:28 PM
Hi Frank, The photo you posted is of the KV-1 at the CAF Museum in Moscow. This vehicle is a "dog's breakfast" of parts from different variants. There were, in fact, nine different road wheel variants, with a possible tenth though I'm not sure on that one. Your quoted text is correct except for the right-most wheel, which was one of four two-part resilient designs with rubber rings. This one is the cast variant that was introduced in mid-July 1941 and was fitted until October/November of that year. The other variations were: Pressed steel variant with no reinforcing ribs on the outer disc and eight cooling vent holes on the inner disc. Used from January until October 1940. Pressed steel variant with six cooling vent holes. Used from October 1940 to early July 1941. Pressed steel variant with six cooling vent holes and no lightening holes on the outer disc. Used for a short period in early July 1941. Cast variant with six cooling vent holes, lightening holes and reinforcing ribs on the outer disc. Used from mid-July to Oct/Nov 1941. After that, they went to the all-steel cast wheels. By the way, no disrespect to Steve Zaloga who wrote the text you quoted. When he wrote that book, he used the best information available. A lot has come to light since then, particularly due to Maxim Kolomyets and his research at the LKZ archives in St Petersburg. The book is written from a modeller's perspective, so it goes into great detail on the visible differences between variants and production features, when they occured and why. There's also a lot of information on the interior stuff, mechanical operation etc. Just to give you an idea, the book is over 400 pages in A4 size, has 250+ photos and about 300 line drawings. There's a lot of detail :-) The modelling stuff will not be in the book, but I am preparing a web site which will launch at the same time, to hold modelling-related information such as lists of kits and after-market products, reviews, tweaks lists etc. By doing it that way, I can more easily keep it up-to-date when somebody releases a new kit or after-market set. Cheers, Neil
JUL 22, 2009 - 01:31 AM
As far as wheels for KV tanks you might be interested in this article: http://www.armory-rus.ru/index/0-123
JUL 24, 2009 - 09:34 AM
Nice summary of the various types, consistent with Maxim Kolomyets' research on the early variants and with the work done by Ian Sadler, H.M.Pampel and myself on the late variants. Neil
JUL 24, 2009 - 01:59 PM

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