KV-2 heavy tank
For the Germans, the meeting with the KV-2 was a real shock. Despite the relatively small number of manufactured KV-2 tanks, they caused a real sensation on the fronts of the Great Patriotic War. With its 152-mm shells, heavy tanks confidently hit all the German armored vehicles available at that time. Reservations, in turn, was enough to protect against the vast majority of guns. Only the 88-mm anti-aircraft guns could more or less normally fight the "Klima Voroshilov" of the second model.
In 1939, the 95-mm divisional gun F-28 was put to the test. This gun, together with the 122-mm howitzer F-25 was supposed to be part of the divisional "duplex". Despite the rather large caliber, the gun was very compact. At the same time, she possessed worthy characteristics, including as a means of fighting tanks. At a distance of a kilometer, the F-28 could pierce armor 65 mm thick set at an angle of 30 degrees.
A completely logical solution was the development on the basis of ballistics of the F-28 tank gun. The project, which was proactive, received factory index F-39. As a basis, the collective of the design bureau of plant No. 92 under the direction of V. G. Grabin took the groundwork for the 76-mm F-34 cannon. Periodically, information emerges that the F-39 was built and even tested on the T-28 tank. There is even a photograph of a tank with such a tool. Alas, this is nothing more than the result of misinterpretation of facts and misinformation on the part of Plant No. 92. In fact, the photograph is a retouch, which was used in large quantities in the album of the plant No. 92. The F-39 was really designed and really was going to be tested on the T-28. But it never came. By the summer of 1940, interest in 95-mm guns was lost.
On June 11, 1940, a curious point appeared in the proposals for clarifying the tank armament system. The KV-2, instead of the 152-mm howitzer, was proposed to be equipped with a 107-mm cannon based on the M-60 hull gun, developed by the design bureau of plant No. 172 (Molotov, now Perm). The tests showed that at a distance of 800 meters the M-60 was able to penetrate armor up to 107–110 mm thick, set at an angle of 30 degrees. Again, this system pops up in the statements of tank, self-propelled and anti-tank systems to be developed. Point 4 it mentions the “107 mm tank gun installed in the turret of the KV tank (swinging part from the new 107 mm corps gun M-60).” The deadline for its manufacture was November 1, 1940, the contractor was the Kirovsky Plant.
The fact that the Kirov factory was engaged in such systems was not known until now. Meanwhile, the 107-mm cannon with ballistics M-60 artillery design bureau of the Kirov factory took to work, though not immediately - it initially refused it. In January 1941, the Kirov Plant presented to the Main Artillery Directorate of the Red Army (GAU) a draft of a high-power tank gun, which had an index of "412". Such 400th indexes at the Kirov factory since 1940 received artillery systems. For example, the installation of a 152-mm howitzer in the KV-2 with a "lowered" turret had the index "402".
The “412” system was offered in two versions at once. "412-1v" was a tank version of the 100-mm naval cannon B-24. The GAU refused this system at once, since only the pipe, the projectile and the sleeve were taken from it. Moreover, an armor-piercing projectile for the B-24 did not exist in nature, and the GAU quite rightly believed that the nomenclature of tank artillery should correspond to the field. So the first coming of a tank gun of 100 mm caliber ended in complete fiasco.
As for the second system, which had the index "412-2b", it had a caliber of 107 mm. Its development was offered to the Kirov Plant at its own expense, because in 1940, as mentioned above, they refused to work. Since that time, another plant has taken the initiative, which in January 1941 had already manufactured its gun. On this story, the 107-mm cannon development of the Kirov factory ended.
The fact that the plant number 92 proactively develops a tank gun caliber 107 mm, it became known in December 1940. Until that moment, there was no information about the system that received the F-42 index in the GAU KA. When creating a new cannon, the collective design bureau of plant No. 92 made the most of the experience of creating the F-39 and F-34. As it was prescribed in the requirements of the GAU KA, the gun was created using the barrel of a 107-mm divisional gun, model 1940 (under this index M-60 was adopted).
It was expected that the prototype F-42 would be ready by December 25, 1940, but the work was delayed. The new gun was supposed to be used on the basis of a prototype of a heavy T-220 tank, but this idea had to be abandoned. Tower T-220 was too small for the F-42. On February 19, 1942, a letter signed by Marshal Kulik went to Plant No. 92 with instructions to install a prototype model for the KV-2 tank by May 1, 1941. The tank was shipped to the plant even earlier - on January 29. At the same time, they decided to try to install the F-42 on the second sample of the T-220, for which its turret was to be sent to plant No. 92.
The combination of protection, armament and mobility influenced the decision of the Commissariat of Defense. In early 1941, a new tank was put into service under the designation KV-2. Serial production was deployed at the Kirov factory in Leningrad. KV-2 was produced until October 1941. In the first months of the war, the production of heavy tanks gradually declined. The reason for this was several factors at once: the complexity and labor intensity of production, the plight of the industry, the need to evacuate production, etc. The exact number of KV-2 tanks produced raises questions. Most often the figure is 330-340 cars. However, a number of sources indicate the fact that Perm Plant No. 172 managed to produce only a hundred suspension systems for howitzers. From this it is concluded that the appropriate number of collected tanks.
The 4th tank division is often cited as examples of the failure of new tanks. In the first two weeks of World War II, this unit lost 22 KV-2 tanks. Moreover, only five of them were hit by the enemy. The rest of the lack of fuel or spare parts were abandoned or destroyed by the crew. As a matter of fact, the bulk of the losses of Soviet heavy tanks came precisely in non-combat incidents. Difficulties with supplies and constant retreat forced tankers not to repair their cars, but to throw them out or destroy them. Nevertheless, even in such difficult conditions, the Soviet tankers brought the enemy a lot of problems.
The KV-2 tanks that survived the retreat of the Red Army fought for several years. Beginning in 1943, part of the heavy tanks were converted into repair and recovery vehicles. The fact is that by that time their driving performance was not fully arranged by the military, and the engine of good power was able to provide for the evacuation of wrecked armored vehicles. Several KV-2 were captured by the Wehrmacht and used for their own purposes. In the German army, Soviet tanks received the designation PzKpfw KV-II 754 (r). The last of these trophies was destroyed in the 45th, during the assault of Koenigsberg.
The main period of life and combat work of the KV-2 tanks fell on the most difficult times of the Great Patriotic War. Because of this, the tanks suffered heavy losses, primarily non-combat. This was one of the main reasons why only one of the more than three hundred collected tanks survived to our time. Now he is an exhibit of the Central Museum of the Armed Forces. Interestingly, the museum of the Northern Fleet Air Force (Safonovo, Murmansk region) has another tank, similar to the KV-2. The word “similar” is used here for the reason that the tank from Safonov was made for the shooting of the feature film “Tank Klim Voroshilov-2” and another heavy armored vehicle, the IS-2, became its base.
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