Saturday, 28 May 2011

The KV Tank: A Guide to...

The Kliment Voroshilov (KV) tanks were a series of Soviet heavy tanks, named after the Soviet defense commissar and politician Kliment Voroshilov. The KV series were known for their extremely heavy armour protection during the early war, especially during the first year of the invasion of the Soviet Union in World War II. Almost completely immune to the 7.5 cm KwK 37 and 3.7 cm KwK 36 guns mounted on the early Panzer III and Panzer IV tanks, until better guns were developed often the only way to defeat a KV was a point-blank shot to the rear. Prior to the invasion, about 500 of the over 22,000 tanks in Soviet service at the time were of the KV-1 type. When the KV-1 appeared, it outclassed the French Char B1,[1] the only heavy tank used in the world at that time. Yet in the end it turned out that there was little sense in producing the expensive KV tanks, as the T-34 medium tank performed better (or at least equally) in all practical respects. Later in the war, the KV series have become a base of development of the excellent Iosif Stalin tanks.
Source: wikipedia


The KV is often the first heavy tank  that a player will use in World of Tanks and it handles very differently from every other tank encountered up to that point. This guide aims to ease the player into the use of a KV heavy tank and advise them of possible strengths and weaknesses of it, to become a bigger asset to their team. Many players keep the KV around for its very good credit earning potential, one of the most effective credit earners in the game.

Firstly, here is my suggested research progression for the KV:

  1. Tracks: Necessary for extra traverse speed and capacity to use a more effective gun. Equip immediately.
  2. 122mm U-11: HE only. Much more effective than the stock 75mm ZiS-5. Can destroy smaller tanks in 1 shot. Equip immediately.
  3. KV-2 Turret: Required to fit the 107mm ZiS-6 or 152mm M-10 guns. Do not equip until you have unlocked the 107mm ZiS-6
  4. 107mm ZiS-6: In my opinion, this is the best weapon for the KV. Good penetration value (can penetrate tanks like the IS-3 from the front), good damage value (heavily damages or one-shot kills tier 4 tanks and some tier 5 tanks) and is reasonably accurate. The first taste of a real heavy tank gun.
  5. V-2K Engine: A necessary piece of equipment to progress towards the next tank. Do not equip this engine as it provides no extra horsepower (HP) bonus.
At this point, you may wish to unlock the V-5 engine and unlock the KV-3 tank or unlock the KV-1S tank, depending on how you wish to progress.

Some people find the 152mm M-10 gun to be an extremely effective weapon to use consistently on their KV. Whilst the penetration with AP rounds is not great, the damage with HE rounds is very high and will give many tanks, especially medium tanks and tank destroyers cause for concern. The drawbacks with this weapon... 2.7 rounds per minute or ~22 seconds reload time, which leaves you as a sitting duck to any tank for a long time unless you incapacitate them with your first shot. 0.6 accuracy, this is an inaccurate gun and is best served on the front line to increase the chances of a hit... the KV is not a front line tank as it is easily damaged and has a low number of hit points.

The 152mm M-10 using KV can be an effective and fearsome ambush platform but personally I find it has too many drawbacks to make it a reliable tank on most maps and in most situations.

KV Strengths: Versatile armament capable of dealing damage to any opponent. Front hull and turret are reasonably strong and difficult to penetrate for Tier 1-4 tanks. Can be the big fish in a little pond, terrorising Tier 1-5 matches.

KV Weaknesses: Can be the small fish in a big pond, scary! Side and Rear armour are not strong. Hatch on the back of the KV-2 turret is weak/critical spot. If you get tracked or your turret ring is damaged in close combat, you're in some serious trouble.

The KV with KV-2 turret and 107mm ZiS-6
The KV in Tier 5 matches 

You can be penetrated from the sides and rear. You can and will be penetrated from the front. You will be outmaneuvered by smaller tanks and take damage. You are not invulnerable and if you choose to go out alone, you will die.

Many new KV players feel invulnerable in their brand spanking new Heavy Tank. I have just dispelled that myth.

With the 107mm ZiS-6, sit back, survey the battlefield and allow your smaller tanks to protect your flanks whilst you shoot at enemy tanks from a distance. You have the accuracy to do this and the power to annihilate most tanks in 1-2 shots at this level.

If you are using the 122mm U-11 still, you will need to get in closer to make more effective use of your powerful but inaccurate gun. Remember that although the stock KV turret turns faster than the KV-2 turret, you are still slow and can be caught out by fast tanks. Proceed with caution and be aware of this weakness.
You are very slow to turn and cannot cope with the speed of enemy light tanks and some medium tanks. They will pick you apart and you will not be able to turn fast enough. If you are caught in this situation, you can turn your turret AND your hull at the same time to get your gun pointing at them OR try to back out of it. Know your surroundings, assess the situation and do what you feel is best at the time.

Primary threats: PzIV, StuG III, SU-85, Leopard, T-34, T1 Heavy, any SPG/artillery.

The KV in matches above Tier 5

The KV can be an easy kill in these games. Certain tanks and many artillery pieces can cripple or destroy the KV with one single shot.
All is not lost. The KV with 107mm ZiS-6 can effective damage most tanks up to and including Tier 8 at a distance with a little aiming and luck. Aiming at weak spots on front armour or aiming for the sides or rear hull armour are effective ways for the KV to deal damage in these games.

The 152mm M-10 is a nice weapon here, capable of bloodying the nose of any heavy in the game. Its drawbacks are still present and any use of this gun needs to be planned very carefully. 

The 122mm U-11 can deal damage to all targets in this matchup but not very well at all. Stay safe, don't get shot at and reply as effectively as you can with your own shells but don't expect miracles.

Primary threats: Everything!

Advanced Section

If you intend to keep your KV as a fun tank or credit grinder, here are a few more tips.

Crew Skills: Once your KV crew reach 100%, they are allowed to earn and train a new skill. I recommend Repair as your first skill. This will decrease the amount of downtime and vulnerability your tank has should you become de-tracked. If you manage to train up to a second skill, I'd recommend camouflage. Fires are rare and firefighting on such a tank would not provide tangible benefits.

Specialist Equipment (modules?): This is difficult but I would personally choose the Large Calibre Tank Gun Rammer (increased rate of fire), Large Spall Liner (Artillery and many small tanks will attack you with High Explosives) and the Improved Ventilation Class III (improved crew stats).

The Enhanced Gun Laying Drive is also a good option, providing faster aiming speeds on the 107mm ZiS-6 and 152mm M-10.

Hopefully this gives you some insight into the KV tank, it's strengths, weaknesses and potential. Please leave a comment and check out the rest of my guides.

World of Tanks Guides