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"KV and IS series running gear: the same?" Topic

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593 hits since 25 Aug 2023
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Comments or corrections?

4th Cuirassier26 Aug 2023 4:20 p.m. PST

Looking at the KV-1, -2 and -85 versus the IS-2 and -3, the wheels, tracks etc look very similar. Does anyone know if they were in fact the same?

Was the turret on the KV-85 the same as the 85mm turret on the T-34? I am thinking not, because this would be too much of a coincidence with the Sherman / T23 turret retrofit.

Airfix are rereleasing their T-34 and Stalin tanks. Years ago I scratchbuilt a couple of T-35s using four Airfix Stalin tanks; the running gear was wrong but needs must. I am tempted to nostalgia-kitbash a Stalin into a KV of some description if this is feasible…

Martin Rapier26 Aug 2023 10:19 p.m. PST

No they aren't the same, but are very close. Nor is the KV85 turret the same as the as the T34.

There were a number of different turrets tried for the KV85, one of them is closer to that of an IS, another looks very similar to the T34, the others were somewhere in between.

Model manufacturers struggle with this too, as model KV85s have quite a range of various shapes!

So if you plonk a T34 turret on a KV chassis, it is close enough.

4th Cuirassier27 Aug 2023 4:59 a.m. PST

Interesting, would an IS-1 be a better subject than a KV-85, starting from the Airfix Stalin tank?

One of the conundrums of my youth was finding a use for the Airfix Stalin. They can't really be justified in a WW2 game and in any case the hull sides are wrong they should angle inward towards the bottom. A KV's should not which is what made me think of one. Somebody probably does a 1/76 KV85 or IS-1 but I dunno who and you don't see a lot on wargame tables…

Andy ONeill27 Aug 2023 9:48 a.m. PST

Think Milicast do a 1:76 kv85.
Trumpeter 1:72

Col Durnford Supporting Member of TMP27 Aug 2023 11:28 a.m. PST

I believe the KV-85 used a turret that look very much like the one on the IS-1 or 2.

That is what I did for my KV-85s. I have both the KV-1 and KV-85 turrets that can be swapped on the same body for early and late war models.

Mark 128 Aug 2023 7:51 a.m. PST

It's not easy to make generalizations that fit the KV-85. This is mostly because it was not a "standard" tank produced in volume, but rather an expedient project, a stop-gap, that was produced in a couple of fits and starts depending on what was at hand.

Most of the KV-85s were built at the end of the summer of 1943. KV-1S had been taken out of production. The hull of the IS was not yet ready for production, but the turret (first version) was. So a lash-up was done to fit IS turrets onto redundant KV-1S hulls.

It appears a second batch (or at least some number of tanks) was done with the same turrets added onto KV-1m42 hulls. As I understand, this set was done later, in the fall, as a part of re-manufacturing of battle-worn tanks (the Red Army would often ship "used up" tanks back for a factory refurb).

I have never seen a production KV-85 with a turret that looked much like a T-34-85 turret. There seems to be a persistent myth that it was the T-34-85 turret, but I've never seen a clear trail of an actual tank that was produced that would give credence to that myth.

Could be wrong. But that's the best I've seen so far.Seems to be a bit of a muddled story, and I'm very interested in good info that helps clarify it.

(aka: Mk 1)

Martin Rapier29 Aug 2023 11:07 a.m. PST

I've got a model KV85 which has a turret very similar to the T34, but I imagine it is a manufacturers fantasy. I got it second hand so I've no idea who made it.

Back in the 70s I converted my Airfix IS 3s into ISU 122s, by building a big box on top and sticking the gun on the front.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP29 Aug 2023 5:16 p.m. PST

"One of the conundrums of my youth was finding a use for the Airfix Stalin."

Not a lot, certainly. Would you care for a border clash with China? Or to beat on the Hungarians in 1956? I'd say the 1967 Arab-Israeli War is your best bet, and Wikipedia says Egypt still had a regiment in 1973. Or you can just say "it's a Stalin tank" and use it in late WWII, even if the model isn't quite right.
I'm getting less inclined to be fussy in recent years. Lots and lots of warfare with different vehicle types or uniforms, and only limited money and storage space.

4th Cuirassier30 Aug 2023 12:59 a.m. PST

Thanks all.

Back in 1970-something, when there was really only 1/76, I scratchbuilt or converted most of what I used – SU85, T-35, BT-7, and so on. Only years later did I notice that the JS series were just rebranded continuation KVs, and that each model was an incremental change anyway, hence the same running gear (near enough). Had I noticed that then, I could have had KV-1s and KV-2s after all! Dayum!

So as you do, when Airfix reissue these things, you think about doing it now, just for the fun. It sounds like a 1/76 KV-85, or JS-1, or JS-2 are all doable. Not necessary, but doable. Maybe a KV2? Maybe an SMK? There's a thought. Wasn't there another tank like the SMK that also had two turrets?

Griefbringer30 Aug 2023 5:45 a.m. PST

There's a thought. Wasn't there another tank like the SMK that also had two turrets?

There was the impressively named T-100 heavy tank prototype developed as an alternative to SMK (no idea how similar the running gear is to IS-series):


Also tested as an assault gun variant with single 130 mm naval gun:

4th Cuirassier31 Aug 2023 1:38 a.m. PST

@ Griefbringer

That was the one. Rival design, very few similarities.

The one to go for may be the SMK – a KV-1 was basically a shortened SMK with the 45mm turret deleted, enabling the 76.2mm turret to be lowered.

As so often with vintage Airfix, the vehicle the JS-3 is least suitable to depict is the one it's supposed to depict. To be an accurate JS-3, it would need the lower hull fixed as noted above and also its turret replaced with one of the the right size and profile. By the time you've corrected all that (nobody ever did) you'd have effectively scratchbuilt a new tank, but one that's hard to justify including in a WW2 game. I guess you could change the hull front and engine deck too and end up with a JS-2.

@ Robert – Didn't the Arab-Israeli variants have an extra road wheel?

The Airfix Stalin tank was a licensed copy, pantographed down from 1/48 scale, of the Aurora Stalin tank from 1956


- which probably explains the inaccuracies.

Personal logo Mserafin Supporting Member of TMP31 Aug 2023 9:09 a.m. PST

Didn't the Arab-Israeli variants have an extra road wheel?

Would that be the T-10m?

Martin Rapier08 Sep 2023 10:45 p.m. PST

Hilariously I was flicking through my old Airfix magazines (as you do) and came across an article from 1967 on how convert the IS3 into an IS2.

It mainly involves carving a new turret from balsa wood! And you'll need a spare Tiger wheel and cupola to make the IS2 cupola.

And yes, you'll need to get rid of the pike Hull front.

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