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"Captured KV-1s" Topic

10 Posts

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846 hits since 30 Aug 2017
©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

codiver30 Aug 2017 7:27 a.m. PST

In the Arc of Fire set of rules, a Soviet KV-1 is listed as "no dedicated commander" (prior to the KV-85 version). I believe this is due to the commander having to assist the loader, as opposed to the T-34 where the commander also functioned as the gunner.

My question is if when the Germans used captured KV-1s, were they able to crew them "their" way, i.e. with a dedicated commander? Did that result in any other effects/modifications e.g. did they then remove the turret rear MG? Note: I am most interested in the captured KV-1s they did not up-arm to the German 7.5cm KwK 40.

deephorse30 Aug 2017 10:40 a.m. PST

One of the books I have on Beutepanzer (unfortunately for me it's all in German!) lists the crew of a KV-1 in German service as 5. Make of that what you will.

Mark 1 Supporting Member of TMP30 Aug 2017 12:14 p.m. PST

I can not speak specifically to the Arc of Fire rules, but …

A Soviet KV-1 did have a commander, and he was not "dedicated". His assigned role in combat was not just "helping the loader" … he WAS the loader. There was no other loader.

It is entirely appropriate to apply penalties to the effectiveness of KV-1s (in game terms) based on their combat results -- German comments often note how they tended to wander about in combat, without regard to terrain, emerging threats, and the actions of platoon mates. This was in large part due to the unrealistic expectations of what the commander could or could not do based on poorly conceived crew tasking. But it is important to understand that the pre-war crew tasking concepts also drove an exceedingly poor turret layout, and that became the bigger limitation once combat experience showed the mistakes of the crew task assignments.

Rules removing the restrictions based on some re-assignment of duties (as might happen in a captured tank) might be appropriate for other tanks … but I would not say so on a KV-1. In the KV-1 there were significant limitations on the commander effectiveness were driven by the layout of the turret and particularly its vision devices relative to its crew stations (locations in the turret), not just whether the commander did or did not have too many tasks he was expected to do.

The KV-1 had a 3 man turret crew. Telling the 3rd man to load the gun, so that the commander can be dedicated to commanding the tank, does not solve the problem. Russian tankers tried this. They found it was actually more productive just to leave the 3rd crewman out altogether, as he tended mostly to get in the way, rather than tasking him to do something else.

The commander's position was on the right side of the gun. There was no other location in the tank from which a crewman could effectively load the main gun and the co-ax MG.

The 3rd turret crewman was the rear MG gunner. His position was at the back of the turret. If the commander swaps places with him, this lowly MG gunner can indeed load the main gun and the co-ax MG, offloading those tasks from the commander. BUT … that dedicated commander then has NO ability to see across the frontal arc of the tank. The rotating periscopes were located at the front of the turret on the left (gunner) and right (commander) sides. All the other turret vision devices were fixed over specific limited arcs. And the turret's only hatch, directly in the recoil path of the main gun, could not be used during combat.

So it doesn't matter which army crews the tank. Unless you rebuild the turret, you can't have a commander who is effective as a commander in a KV-1. He can't command without seeing, and he can't see unless he is in the loader's location.

It seems that the Germans did in fact modify the turrets on some KV-1s. In some cases they put Pz IV cupolas on the existing hatch. This was of low utility, as the location was still in the recoil path of the main gun, and so could only be used sporatically in combat. Others re-located the hatch or created a new hatch, often further back. This made a difference. But the tactical efficiency was much more a question of whether and how the turret was modified than just whether the crew was German.

BTW this issue was resolved on the KV-1S. It did not wait until the KV-85 for resolution. It was a known issue in 1940, and was present in the KV-3 prototype designs. But it was not put into production due to concerns about disruption of schedules, until the KV-1 started to fall into disfavor from other issues (namely poor mobility). If you look at a KV-1S turret you will see a cupola on the left side near the rear. This placed the commander behind the gunner, freeing up the right side position for a dedicated loader.

Or so I have read. Wasn't there at the time …

(aka: Mk 1)

fantasque30 Aug 2017 4:11 p.m. PST

what an excellent answer Mark 1. I am thoroughly impressed.

goragrad30 Aug 2017 9:07 p.m. PST

Very informative.

79thPA Supporting Member of TMP30 Aug 2017 9:16 p.m. PST

No kidding. Great post.

Forager31 Aug 2017 7:56 p.m. PST

I think he's lying about not being there. Too much insider information.

codiver01 Sep 2017 5:58 a.m. PST

Thanks for the info, particularly to Mark!

Eclaireur01 Sep 2017 3:44 p.m. PST

In my experience Mark1's posts are always worth reading :-)

Lion in the Stars01 Sep 2017 5:53 p.m. PST

I'm pretty sure Mark1 summons the spirits of WW2 tank crew…

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