1/25 KV-2 Cardmodel Build

by Charlie Clelland


Background


I guess I should give some context to the KV-2 so it doesn't just seem like a weird armoured oddity. The Russians at the end of the 1930s intended to replace the heavy (and fairly unsuccessful T-35) with a new heavy tank. Initially the new designs used multiple turrets (SMK and T-100). The SMK was also developed as a single turret tank and was called the KV-1. The KV designation was "political" since it acknowledged the Soviet Defence Minister - Kliment Voroshilov (who was also the KV's Chief Designer Zhosif Kotin's father-in-law). The multi-turret and KV-1 designs were tested in the Winter War against Finland in 1939 - only the KV-1 was successful. As a result of the Winter War it was realised that there was a need for direct fire vehicle carrying a heavy gun to attack fortifications. The KV-2 was the response to this requirement.

In spite of the 152mm gun and thick armour the KV-2 wasn't very useful during the Great Patriotic War (GPW) - it was slow and fairly unreliable. The rate of fire was fairly slow because of the 2 part ammunition and the limited space for the loader inside the turret. The huge turret was difficult to rotate on sloping ground and the height of the vehicle made it difficult to use tactically. There were 2 turret designs used in the KV-2s - the initial MT-1 design was replaced by a larger turret. Production of the KV-2 was ended when the factories were moved from Leningrad to the Urals after some 330 vehicles were produced. The idea of a heavy gun in the KV chassis wasn't a bad one and was eventually realised in the Su-152 which didn't have a turret.


The Model


This KV-2 model is a free download at http://www.papermodels-bg.com - there are 2 KV-2 models to choose from: the MT-1 turret and the later "lowered" turret. There were only a small number (about 9) of KV-2s built with the earlier MT-1 turret. The majority of the 330 or so KV-2s were built with an improved "lowered" turret. The turrets are not interchangeable between the hulls. The model was produced by Bulgarian designer Alex Horsh who has designed the SU-122 and T-80 published by Orel Publishers.

The colour of the model isn't right - Alex said it's a Pantone print colour - I guess the publisher specified the colour gamut since his SU-122 is the same colour. Russian armour from this period was usually painted in a colour known officially as 4B0 - a (variable) dull green colour. I pulled the coloured parts pages out of the .pdf and recoloured them with Gimp. The approximation of 4B0 was taken from JPSModelle colour chart lightened by about 10%.

Some basic stuff about the KV-2 model.....

The download is just under 6Mb and consists of:

- 6 pages of instructions - the drawings are excellent - better than most commercial kits. - 3 pages of reinforced parts which should be printed on 80gsm - the main hull parts are specified as 2mm rather than the usual 1mm card. - 16 pages of parts - this sounds pretty big but the size of the model combined with having both band and individual element tracks means a lot of pages.

There are no written instructions but this doesn't look like a problem because of the clarity of the instruction diagrams. The hints in the instruction diagrams are in Bulgarian but this doesn't seem to be a showstopper.


Frame


Cardmodels are unlike most modelling media since the media itself has limited strength. For models with no internal detail like the KV-2 the first step is to construct a frame from thick (usually 1mm) card that the skin of the model is glued to. The build requires 2mm card for the basic hull box - I figured this was going to be problematic because of the length of the hull and the difficulty of cutting 2mm card. I used 2mm balsa rather than card for the basic frame - much easier to cut than thick card. The frame design is very simple - just a box without any bulkheads. I added some reinforcement to the joins to try get the hull frame square. The remaining frame parts are in 1mm card - including the curved parts on the rear of the hull.



The turret frame certainly needs reinforcers to keep it square but it seemed quite accurate. The turret rotation mechanism is different from the usual cylinder in hole - it’s quite clever, a sort of bayonet fitting, although I'd recommend soaking the tabs in CA - I could just see them fraying in use.



Hull and Turret Skins


The fit of hull skin was very good. I cut the sides off the bottom part of the hull - I'd rather have a join on the hull bottom edge than try to get a big piece in place in one go. The edge colouring on the frame where the skins join on the turret frame is an attempt to cover up any slight misfits.



The model has the gun barrel modeled as a double skinned tube with an elaborate collar on the muzzle end. Reference photos (www.jagdtiger.de) show a KV-2 in Moscow - the gun barrel is a simple tube with a thin band around the muzzle end - the gun has to be constructed before skinning the turret because the skins overlap the front part of the frame. The scratchbuilt gun barrel is rolled from 80gsm on a 6mm rod (scale 150mm - close enough to 152mm). The gun installation as designed has the side cheeks on the mantlet made from strips. The actual shape was a circular section so made my own from a stack of disks of matt board - sanded the stack to shape by spinning the stack in an electric drill. The shaped circle was then cut up into the segments representing the armour. Looks a lot better than the original design. The rear door gave me a bit of grief - as designed it's supposed to have an angled strip around the edge to represent the camfer on the armoured door. After a failed attempt to get this looking reasonable I just made it up from oversize parts and cut the camfer. The hinges didn't seem to have any pins as designed so I added them. I decided to go with the version with the slogan even if there's not a lot of evidence that KV-2s had slogans on the turret. The slogan is "Za Stalina" ( For Stalin ). The handholds and rear door handle are florists wire - painted and then touched up with 6B pencil to emulate wear. The KV tank armour was built by bolting the plates together and then welding the plate joins - the bolt shanks can be seen as a row of depressions along the joins. To highlight these I engraved them with a 2mm hollow punch using only enough pressure to dent the card but not cut the surface.



Suspension


The roadwheels were moderately painful to build - lots of work punching out the holes in the wheels with a screwpunch. I think the design could have been better in locating the central web of each roadwheel in the center of the tire. The attachment of the roadwheel axle to the swing arms is pretty weak - replaced it with a bamboo skewer axle. The attachment of the swing arm to the hull is a simple card cylinder - replaced this with solid disks. Also drilled and pinned the swing arms with bamboo pins into the hull - the weight of the wheel plus swing arm was enough the delaminate the joint at the hull. In retrospect it would have been better to emulate the torsion bars and run the bamboo skewers across the hull, it would have made the swing arm alignment more precise.



The designed swing arm buffers weren't anything like the original so I scratch built them by rolling up a solid cylinder of 80 gsm 4mm high and 3mm diameter, cut out a section to fit the base plate in. The sprockets have Drafmodel (www.drafmodel.com) lasercut nut shapes. As designed the outer plate on the sprocket assembly was just a flat disk - the original has a dished plate. I formed this by soaking the part in Meths then worked the shape on a measuring spoon with the ball from an old mouse. It's important to stabilise the printed surface with Krylon (acrylic) spray otherwise the inkjet ink will be attacked by the alcohol. The return rollers are a bit strange - KVs had 2 types of return rollers: an early type with rubber tires and a later type with steel rims. The design models somewhere between the two. I doubled the thickness of the rim and went for the rubber tired type. Rather than try to support the return roller assembly by gluing it onto the hull I added bamboo skewer axles into the hull - seems to work pretty well. The idler assembly is well designed but not easy to build. The design has a hemispherical hub but this doesn't seem right from images of KVs - I replaced this with a disc. Internally there are supposed to be small struts between the idler wheels - there's no indication on the wheel parts where these fit - I skipped them. The contact areas between the suspension elements and the track were highlighted with a 6B pencil to emulate worn metal surfaces.



Tracks


The model offers tracks built of individual elements or band tracks - there are currently no lasercut tracks available for KVs. I built a few individual links but wasn't particularly impressed with them. The band tracks were improved by making a hinge from baking paper between individual links. Relief was added to the outside by cutting out the raised part of the track links and adding strips to the hinge areas. The guide plates were too thin as designed but seemed reasonable after adding a 200 gsm lamination. The tracks were painted with acrylic paint - the colour is an attempt to approximate stone dust.



Conclusion


I went with as designed tow cables - the end parts of the cable are too wide to fit into the shackles and the attachment hook on the side of the hull. I think I should have gone with simple loops at the ends of the cable.
The supports for the mudguards are too weak - I'd suggest using CA to stiffen these.
The bulged part of the engine hatch is modelled as a series of conical rings, replaced this with a single piece formed by soaking in alcohol and worked to shape.
There is a light which looks something like the German "Notek" light modeled. Images of KVs seem to indicate this wasn't always fitted - I left it off.
The headlight body is turned out of a piece of dowel - the modeled petal form just didn't seem to come out right.
The trash screens on the engine air inlets were made from acrylic varnished thread. I'm still working on how to get this looking right.
The nut shapes on the rear deck are lasercut Drafmodel nuts.
The lifting eyes on the rear deck were made by drilling a hole into rear deck and forming the loop from fine wire around a 1mm drill, twisting the wire ends together and gluing this into the drill hole.

Overall this is a pretty good model. The fit is generally good with no nasty surprises in construction. I think some parts are not structurally strong but this can be easily fixed. It could have some weathering added using chalk dust - although this should be fairly light since the KV-2s broke down fairly often so time inservice would have been short.



The finished model can be seen in the Gallery - Webmaster