Cold War Chinese Fake Tanks Fake Tanks

59-Patton (Fake Tank)

People’s Republic of China (1960s)
Main Battle Tank – Fake

From the Wargaming design bureau

Video games and historical accuracy are rarely used together in the same sentence. World of Tanks is perhaps one of the worst offenders, giving rise to some interesting, yet laughable fake tanks. This article will focus on one of the latest fake tanks to flood World of Tanks servers, the 59-Patton – An obviously fake mash-up between a Type 59 hull, and an M48A3 Patton turret. Many were quick to point out on WoT forums that it simply is unfeasible as a design. Nevertheless, considering how the creation of such a vehicle would be possible is a very interesting endeavor.

“Historical Information” and overall credibility

World of Tanks gives the following information about the 59-Patton –
After 1960, Chinese government launched the development of a new tank. The engineering experiments included a wide use of previously produced Type 59 tanks. One vehicle was equipped with the turret, gun, and fire control system of an American M48A3 tank.
This is rather vague information, and also almost certainly untrue. It is true that the Chinese were experimenting with tank development from the 1960s onward, particularly with heavy tanks and upgrading the Type 59 (although most of the prototypes were allegedly destroyed during Chinese nuclear testing, according to WoT).
The concept of fitting an M48 Patton turret to a Type 59 as some kind of basis for an improvement does not fit the reality of Chinese MBT tank development at the time. Having said this, little detail is available on Chinese tank development.
Development on medium tanks / MBTs was slowly giving solid results, but did not include any ideas of giving the Type 59 a new turret. In fact, it was more about improving the Type 59, as opposed to the development of totally new vehicles, turrets, or chassis. 617 factory, who produced the Type 59, were given orders to make improvements based on the same chassis, shortly after production started. The result was the creation of the well-known Type 69, which later developed into the Type 79 MBTs. The hulls and turrets of these new vehicles were practically identical to the Type 59. The only real differences were the new technology and the inclusion of a ‘new’ and improved 100 and 105mm gun, respectively. None of the new technologies used can be attributed to an American source, let alone a new Patton turret. For example, the Chinese captured a Soviet T-62 tank (during the 1969 Sino-Soviet border conflict) and copied many components, such as the Luna Infrared searchlight and integrated this into their MBT designs.
Whilst the M48A3 Patton was a good design, it was, by 1960, somewhat outdated and was therefore replaced with the M60 Patton, which featured a 105mm gun (although the M48 stayed in service until the 1990s). The M48A3’s 90mm gun would not be the best weapon to use against modern armor (particularly against Soviet armor, which became a priority for the PRC, due to the major breakdown in Sino-Soviet relations). Even if the M48A3 turret were modified to take a more potent Chinese gun, it would be far easier to upgrade existing Chinese turrets. This would allow a much quicker design process and faster production, seeing as though the same basic design would be used. In reality, the Type 69 followed exactly this – it was an upgrade of the Type 59.
However, the overall notion of an M48 Patton turret on a Type 59 chassis is absurd. The turret rings are a serious mismatch – the Patton turret is far too big for the Type 59 hull. A whole new hull (possibly but not necessarily based on the Type 59) would have to be developed in order to make this vehicle work, or the turret section would need substantial modifications.

A more credible story?

The other non-WoT suggestion behind the existence of the 59-Patton is to use the vehicle as a means to test the M48 Patton’s capabilities. There is a suggestion that perhaps the Chinese captured a damaged M48 Patton, or at least the turret (which will be discussed later in the article). In order to test the M48 Patton’s capabilities, the Chinese could mount the turret onto a chassis. The M48 Patton was in service until the 1990s, and it would perhaps be worth the Chinese knowing the M48’s capabilities. Whilst a more likely theory, given the path of Chinese tank development during the period, it does not address the fact that the vehicle would not work due to the turret ring mismatch. Perhaps the Type 59 chassis could be, in some manner, modified to take the turret, perhaps by means of a small superstructure on top of the chassis, which would make the hull wide enough to fit the turret, as seen with the supposed “T-34/62” tanks, essentially a T-34 with a T-62 turret, which were used as bunkers, circa 1980. (See Sidenote: II) The turret would not even necessarily need to rotate for tests, but could be welded on and the hull of the vehicle would have to be turned precisely for accurate aiming.
Entertaining the theory of how the Chinese would even get a Patton turret to experiment on is also very difficult, but, nevertheless, there are two major theories, neither of which are suggested by World of Tanks. However, it must be noted that there is no real proof that the PRC ever had a Patton to experiment with, nor did they ever experiment with making the 59-Patton a reality. If the concept of the 59-Patton is true, then it probably was little more than a passing thought.

Theory 1 – Vietnam gave the PRC a Patton

It is highly unlikely that the Chinese would get hold of a Patton until the Vietnam War. This would require the NVA to hand over a captured Patton – something not easily done. The most likely time that Pattons would be captured is whilst they were in service with the Army of the Republic of Vietnam. In 1972, many of the 600 M48 Pattons to see service in Vietnam were given to the ARVN. These and M41 Walker Bulldogs would see sporadic fighting against NVA T-54s and PT-76s, but some were lost to Sagger missiles, such as in one incident in 23 April, 1973. In May, 1975, Patton tanks that belonged to the ARVN were abandoned due to running out of munitions and fuel (as a result of a US congressional ban on sending fuel and munitions to Vietnam). They were then in rather short service with the People’s Army of Vietnam. At least one Patton still stands at the War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh city. 
From this, it is clear that the most likely time that Pattons would be captured is during the later stages of the Vietnam War, and by this time, the Vietnamese had sided with the USSR, not the PRC, as part of the Sino-Soviet split.

The Sino-Soviet split occurred when the USSR and PRC were feuding for ideological control of Communism. By the mid-1950s, Nikita Khrushchev cemented his leadership of the Soviet Union, and he denounced Stalin’s cult of personality. He also pursued a policy of Peaceful Coexistence with the US and the West. However, Mao believed that it was every Communist’s duty to destroy the West. The idea of seeking peace with them was wrong and against Marxism. He called Khrushchev a traitor or ‘revisionist’ for this. Apart from which, after the death of Stalin in 1953, Mao considered himself the leader of the Communist world, as he is the ‘next most senior leader’.
Khrushchev was also at odds with Mao for a number of reasons. Khrushchev was also very critical of Mao’s leadership of the PRC, especially the failure of the Great Leap Forward, the brutality of the invasion of Tibet, and the assertion of independence from the USSR. He thought that Mao was dangerous. Mao had intentions to invade Taiwan, which was considered a sure-fire way to start a nuclear war. On top of this, Mao declared himself the leader of the “third world” in 1974, stating that the USSR was just another form of imperialism, and that Chinese Communism was the way for newly revolting countries to go. He wanted to form a third belligerent in the Cold War.
Vietnam was only a new chapter in this split. When Vietnam started its Communist revolution, both the USSR and PRC thought that they could gain a new ally. The Vietnamese were happy to keep sitting on the fence between Soviet Communism and Chinese Communism so that they would get more weapons from both sides.
Originally, the Soviets sent their supplies through the PRC, but it was discovered that the Chinese were stealing some of these for themselves, so they used alternative routes. The Soviets also sent advisers to the NVA. The PRC was a little more direct. They sent in engineer soldiers to aid the NVA, as well as tanks and other weapons. After the Vietnam War ended, the USSR became Vietnam’s strongest ally, and Vietnam sided with Soviet communism. This is mainly because the Chinese backed the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, at a time when Vietnam’s Communist party was strongly against the ideals of Pol Pot. In 1979, the Chinese even invaded Vietnam because of Vietnam’s occupation of Cambodia in 1978, which effectively ended the Khmer Rouge rule over Cambodia. This was another result of the Sino-Soviet split, with the Chinese Vice-Premier stating that the invasion was in response to ‘Soviet expansionism’ in the region.
History lesson aside, this shows that the Vietnamese and Chinese were hardly likely to collaborate on anything in the late war, which is when the Pattons were most likely to have been captured, and therefore there is little or no chance that the Chinese would receive a Patton tank this way.
It is reported by one Tanks Encyclopedia commenter that Vietnam gave China a Patton to test, and is currently on display at China North Vehicle Research Institute, but this is not proven to the satisfaction of the author.

Theory 2 – Pakistan gave the PRC a Patton

Pakistan and the PRC had a good relationship stretching back the 1950s. When most countries severed diplomatic ties with the PRC in protest over their claims of being the ‘real China’, Pakistan did not. Since 1962, Pakistan has received substantial military, economic, and technical assistance from China, with collaborations on military hardware such as the Al-Khalid continuing to this day. However, back in the 1950s, the USA was very interested in relations with Pakistan for strategic reasons. The USA did not want the domino effect to take place in Pakistan (whereby neighboring or nearby Communist states aid local Communist parties into revolution and take over the country), so various forms of economic and military aid was sent in order to ensure Pakistan stays loyal to the West.
After a mutual defense treaty in 1954, Pakistani tank officers were trained in the US at Fort Knox. During the mid-50s, Pakistan’s cavalry regiments received 230 M47 and 202 M48 Patton tanks (although none seem to have been M48A3s). However, by 1966, in the context of the aftermath of the Indo-Pak war of 1965, China and Pakistan began military relations. The aim was to counter Indian (and US) dominance in the region. China was wary of India because of its ties to Tibet. India had trade links with Tibet that it did not want disrupting, following the Chinese annexation of Tibet and incorporation into the PRC. Despite an agreement of coexistence in 1954, border disputes between India and China ensued in the early 1960s, thus leading to the Sino-Indian War in 1962, and other events such as taking in the Dalai Lama as a political refugee after the 1959 Tibetan uprising only made things worse. Due to Pakistan’s shared interest to avoid Indian influence, Pakistan and China saw each other as viable allies – an alignment of mutual interest.
This being the case, it is possible that Pakistan could send a Patton to the PRC for testing. However, many Pattons were lost during the 1965 Indo-Pak War, particularly at the Battle of Asal Uttar, September 8-10, with a minimum of 99 tanks lost out of the 176 Patton tanks and 44 Chaffees committed to the battle. This even led to the creation of Patton Nagar at the site of the battle, where many captured Pakistani tanks, mainly Pattons, were displayed – seeming to be mostly M47s, but some M48s, too (in all, an estimated 72 Pattons, of which 28 were in running condition). These vehicles were later shipped across India and were displayed as trophies. Whether or not Pakistan would therefore donate a tank to China in the 60s is doubtful.

Credibility of other Chinese tanks in WoT

Some commentators across the WoT forums and the internet have suggested that other little known vehicles such as the T-34-1, T-34-2, 112, and 113 are also likely fake vehicles. Despite the odd photo of tanks such as the WZ-111 (although without a turret ever built), it is generally stated that the other prototype tanks were destroyed during Chinese nuclear testing. It is speculated that many of the prototypes were already placed inside the blast zone, whilst tanks such as the Type 59 were driven into the fallout zone afterwards to test conditions.
Other comments about World of Tanks and its Chinese server operator also exist, which suggest that all of these prototype vehicles are fakes, and make libelous comments about the integrity of the Chinese World of Tanks server operator, Kongzhong.
Sources, external links, and further reading:
The M47 and M48 Patton Tanks” by Steven J. Zaloga
War Despatches: Indo-Pak Conflict 1965” by Lt. Gen. Harbakhsh Singh
From Kutch to Tashkent: The Indo-Pakistan War of 1965” by Farooq Bajwa
A World Divided: Superpower Relations 1944-90” by Steve Phillips
Marxism After Marx” by David McLellan
The Vietnam War 1956-1975” by Andrew Wiest
Vietnam 1955-1975, a compelling look at America’s longest war” History Channel, 2011/12 (A 4 DVD and 100-page magazine release by (Chinese) (Chinese)
World of Tanks Forum
M48 Patton on Tanks Encyclopedia
WZ-111 on Wikipedia
China-India Relations on Wikipedia
China-Pakistan Relations on Wikipedia
The Battle of Asal Uttar on Wikipedia

Rendition of a 59-Patton. The turret rings would be a serious mismatch.

Merkava M48
A prototype Merkava M48 – a real vehicle. One prototype Merkava chassis had an M48 Patton turret in order to test out the chassis, particularly the feasibility of a front-engine hull design. This may have perhaps inspired the 59-Patton.

59 patton
A 59-Patton as seen in World of Tanks.
WoT release 59 patton
The release article for the 59-Patton, as taken from It is obviously a pure work of complete fiction.
WOT chinese tech tree
The Chinese ‘tech tree’ from World of Tanks. It is filled with mysterious prototypes, most of which are probably fake or speculations at best.
WZ-111 prototype
A WZ-111 prototype in China Tank Museum, Beijing. It was constructed without a turret and the project was cancelled in 1966 due to a vast number of mechanical issues. Courtesy of Wikipedia user 颐园新居.
Type 69 tank
A Type 69 tank on display at the Tank Museum of the People’s Liberation Army, Beijing. The Type 69 was the next major Chinese tank development and began in 1963. It was hardly more than an upgraded Type 59. There was seemingly no intention to create a new turret, nor was there any need – the improved 100mm gun was incredibly similar. It was also an unsuccessful tank, and the Type 79 was produced, although it was little more than an improvement on the Type 69, featuring a copy of the L/7 105mm gun.
patton war remnants museum
An M48 Patton at the War Remnants Museum, Vietnam. It has been suggested that one could have been sent to China from Vietnam, but this seems unlikely, as after the war, the two nations had a dramatic diplomatic fallout.

Patton Nagar
“Patton Nagar”, 1965. Photograph taken by Brig. Hari Singh Deora A.V.S.M, 18th Cavalry, Indian Army. As taken from Wikipedia. The suggestion that Pakistan might have sent the PRC M48s to test is unlikely, as many were lost in the 1965 Indo-Pak war.

Merkava M48
One of possibly two Merkava prototypes featuring an M48 Patton turret. This may have inspired the 59-Patton, however, there is no proof of this.

Side-note I: Merkava M48

Prototype Merkava chassis were fitted with at least one or two M48 Patton turrets in the early 1970s in order to test the new front-engine layout.  A Centurion “Shot Kal” turret was also used for this testing. It is possible that the prototype Merkava tanks with the M48 Patton turrets inspired the 59-Patton.

Side-note II: T-34/62 tanks

There were some T-34 tanks that were modified to take a T-62 turret circa 1980 (believed to be in Bulgaria). They had the turret rings and hulls modified to fit the larger turret, and were used as bunkers near the Turkish/Greek borders. Despite reports that they could reportedly still drive, it seems to be the case that they were just immobile bunkers. They also reportedly remained in service at least 1996. Only a few photos of a rusted wreck can be found online and there is simply a lack of information on the vehicles. This shows that the 59-Patton could exist in much the same manner. Other strange Bulgarian mix-ups exist such as a Panzer IV with a SU-76’s gun modified to fit into the turret with a small superstructure built on the existing turret to make the gun fit.

Fake Tanks WW2 Soviet Fake Tanks

T-34-85-I (Fake Tank)

Soviet Union (1943)
Medium Tank – Fake

Always cross-reference your sources

This tank is a little known fake, but a little too close to home to be ignored. In fact, the first ever illustration of this vehicle came from Tanks Encyclopedia, and is a result of not cross-referencing sources very carefully. The concept is simple – a T-34 with an IS-85 turret mounted on top. The direct reference to such a vehicle came from, but was picked up on by the author of our own T-34/85 article. In this Fake Tanks article, we will explain exactly what happened…

Available information

The only information given on this tank concept is on (the page can be viewed here under the title “variants”) and it states:
T-34-85-IHad turret that was designed for the KV-85. The turret ring had a diameter of 5.2′ / 1.56 m. Issued to Guard Tank units. The main gun was reported to be able to penetrate the front armor of a Tiger or a Panther.
The source cited is “Russian Tanks of WWII, Stalin’s Armoured Might“, a book by Tim Bean and Will Fowler. It states under the title of T-34/85-I (page 103):
With its 85mm (3.34in) gun, the T-34-85-I that appeared in 1943 was basically an upgunned T-34. The T-34-85 had a new turret originally designed for the KV-85 tank with a ring diameter of 1.56m (5.2ft). This created the space for an extra crew member and simplified tasks of the commander, who previously had helped with the gun. The T-34-85-I was first issued to elite Guards Tank units, and the new gun soon proved its worth. Based on the prewar M-1939 85mm (3.34in) anti-aircraft gun, it had an effective range of 1000m (1100yd) and, it was claimed, was able to penetrate the frontal armour of the German Tigers and Panthers.
This paragraph is clearly referring to the T-34/85, but it was given a strange designation – T-34-85-I. Focusing on a particular problem with the paragraph “The T-34/85 featured a new turret originally designed for the KV-85 tank…”, we can clearly say that the book has made a blatant error.

Explaining why the source is wrong

What the book says is wrong, and it appears the authors have misunderstood how the M1943 T-34/85 turret came about. The KV-85 was put into battle by September, 1943, and the T-34/85 was only put into service in February 1944, meaning the KV-85 came first. The T-34/85’s M1943 turret was never going to be fitted to the KV-85, as by the time production of the T-34/85 started, the KV-85’s production (which was a stopgap) was replaced by the IS-85.
In reality, more detailed sources refer to elements of the KV-85G turret being used in the making of the M1943 T-34/85 turret. The KV-85G was the prototype of the KV-85, and it featured an 85mm gun jammed in a cast KV-1S turret. However, before production of the KV-85G began, the IS-85 turret was completed and was then mounted on the KV-85 chassis (essentially a modified KV-1S chassis) for testing, and this prototype was considered much more suitable for stopgap production. To reiterate, there was no immediate intention to serially produce the IS-85 turret on the KV-1S chassis, this was merely a means to test the IS-85 turret. However, it was deemed suitable for stopgap production because the KV-85G was not fit for service. The turret was simply far too small for a five man crew, the huge 85mm gun, and sufficient munitions. As a result, during testing of prototypes for the KV-85 project, the KV-85G was totally dropped as a design, and did not participate in any such testing.
The KV-85G turret was apparently not forgotten entirely, and was actually adapted for use on the T-34 (in order to make the T-34/85) in the summer of 1943, when Morozov took over from Koshkin as chief designer. However, it was immediately deemed unacceptable because, again, it lacked sufficient space, but did influence the M1943 T-34/85 turret. However, it must be noted that the M1943 turret was mostly influenced by the T-43’s turret, except it was simplified for production by removing some periscopes, etc, but nevertheless, the KV-85G turret proved that a simplified design was easier for production.
Nothing in the last three paragraphs is what the source suggests. Based on what the source actually says, you would expect that there would also be another prototype – A KV-85 hull with an M1943 T-34/85 turret, if Fowler and Bean were correct. However, this is not the case.

Explicit references to the fake tank

The first explicit mention of the T-34-85-I as a concept appeared on and cited “Russian Tanks of WWII, Stalin’s Armoured Might” as their source for this variant. To explain how this misconception appeared, we have to explore linguistics and semantics.
The first problem is that the paragraph had the title of “T-34-85-I” (on page 99, it is referred to briefly as the “T-34-85-1”, both of which are unique to the book) which would throw the reader off because they had probably never heard of the designation before. Secondly, the notion of the T-34-85 having a turret which was “originally designed for the KV-85” shows that the reader from must have thought that the IS-85 turret was intended for the KV-85, which they assumed to be true, and, as explained, is not true. Thirdly, the fact that the book is well-bound, well-produced, and seemingly well-written would perhaps make it a very credible source, as opposed to some spurious page on the internet. These three things combined must have meant that the author at thought that there was such a thing as the T-34-85-I – a T-34 with an IS-85 turret, which “was first issued to elite Guards Tank units…
As a result of this mistake made on another website, Tanks Encyclopedia used this bad information in the writing of the T-34-85 article leading to the drawing of the T-34-85-I. In fact, this even made its way onto the Asian World of Tanks forums in May 2014, with nobody pointing out that this is a fake vehicle.

Overall credibility of the book

The book as a whole is a superb guide for beginners, because it offers detail on the behind the scenes of Soviet tanks. For example, detail is given about the political decisions made with regards to tanks, the problems the engineers faced, and Soviet armored warfare tactics. This book is also well-presented and has a plenty of photos and technical drawings.
However, the book does not appear to be a trustworthy source, which seriously compromises everything contained within it. There is no mention of any sources. This means that all of the information of the book is, as far as any reader is concerned, based on the word of Bean and Fowler – which may also be dubious for the following reasons.
Will Fowler is a prolific author. He mostly writes on special forces (at least 12 books) such as the SAS, but he is also a general historian of WWII (mostly general books, and mostly on the Eastern Front) and WWI (the Somme and Ypres). He has even written some reference books on weapons such as rifles, pistols, machine guns, etc. Fowler is not an expert on tanks. Furthermore, because reviews (although not academic reviews, they are numerous) of Fowler’s other works tend to condemn the accuracy of his works with regards to smaller details, it is possible that his credibility as a historian is somewhat undermined.
Tim Bean is perhaps more credible. He is stated to be “a senior lecturer at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. He is a specialist on the Red Army in the interwar years…”  However, the entire Soviet military-political scene undergoes some drastic changes during the Great Patriotic War, as do Soviet tank designs, so his credibility on the subject of Soviet tanks of WWII is somewhat diminished. But on the other hand, his knowledge of military-political interactions is not worthless, because these drastic changes do not take place really until 1943/1944. This may perhaps explain why focus of the book tends to be on early war tanks, and skips over late-war tanks in a single chapter; because this is closer to Bean’s field of supposed expertise. Above all, he is able to refer to the way in which engineers and Soviet political elites interacted, which is seldom seen in tank reference books, but due to the lack of sources, what he says cannot be confirmed.
The book also seems plagued with inaccuracies. They have made up a designation for the T-34-85 (as mentioned), but have also labelled a photo of an ISU-122S as an IS-2 (page 26), confused a T-12 for a T-24 (page 63) (these are different but related designs), labelled a photo of an ISU-122S as an ISU-122 (page 134) (the designs feature different guns), and wrongly refer to an IS-2 (M1944) as an IS-2M Model 1944 (page 141) (the IS-2M was a postwar modernization), just to name a few problems. These small inaccuracies, combined with the aforementioned issues with credibility of the authors, and the overall issue of a lack of source citation all point towards this book being an unreliable source.

Plausibility of the T-34-85-I

This vehicle would have been fairly pointless to produce, as the IS-85 turret was not designed for the T-34/85, and the turret rings do not match. Even if they were made to match, the excess weight would slow the tank down, all in exchange for roughly 10mm more armor. It is possible that there would be an increased ammunition capacity at the expense of the radio operator (like on the KV-85 and IS-85), but the gun would be exactly the same as on the T-34/85, and there would be no other tangible benefits.
If it was made, it would likely take on the exact same roles as the T-34/85, as opposed to being used like the KV-85 or IS-85 (heavy breakthrough tanks), because its armor would not be as strong as real heavy tanks (the KV-85 had up to 30mm more hull armor, and the IS-85 hull had 75mm more armor than the T-34-85-I would have).

T-34-85-I Estimated specification

Dimensions (L-w-h) 4.95m×2.71m×1.82m (16.24×8.89×5.97 feet)
Total weight, battle ready 36 tons
Crew 4
Propulsion V12 diesel GAZ, 400 bhp (30 kW)
Speed (road) 32km/h (20mph)
Range 170km (106 miles)
Armament Main: 1 x 85mm (3.35in) D-5T. Secondary: 3 x 7.62mm (0.3in) DT machine guns
Armor 30 – 90mm (1.18- 3.54 inches)

The original T-34-85-I drawing that was featured on our very own T-34-85 page. It is a T-34 with an IS-85 turret on top.
KV-85 with T-34/85 turret
A KV-85 with T-34/85 turret; a possible variant that could be inspired by the source’s suggestion that the T-34/85 turret was originally designed for the KV-85. This is, of course, not true.
IS-I with KV-I turret
An IS-2 tank disguised to look like a KV-1 from the film “Battle of Moscow”, 1985. This was most likely done with a dummy turret. In this illustration, we have made the turret the correct size, but the turret features an M1942 gun mantlet, but an M1941 turret shape.
The KV-85G prototype. It was just a KV-1S with an 85mm gun jammed in the turret. It was rejected for having insufficient internal turret space.
russian tanks of WWII
The cover of the book which inspired this fake. It is well presented, but often inaccurate.

More mash-ups?

In a Russian film – Battle of Moscow, 1985, you might spot IS tanks with KV-1 turrets. No, this is not a rare variant of the IS as a result of some kind of battlefield makeshift conversion, in fact, this film wants to portray a variety of tanks, including the KV-1 and Tiger (or Panzer IV, it is unclear which vehicle they tried to replicate). It is often that tanks such as the KV-1 or Tiger are not available, so available tanks are disguised to look like others. In this film, we see an IS-2 tank disguised to look like a KV-1 (probably with a dummy turret), and even other Russian tanks (probably T-34s) are disguised to look like Tiger tanks. Similarly, in the recent Russian 2012 film – White Tiger, an IS-2 tank is also disguised to look like a Tiger, although it gives a laughable likeness.
Could an IS feature a KV-1 turret for real during WWII? This is highly unlikely, as the turret rings would probably not match. If the IS’ original turret were damaged, and there just so happened to be a KV-1 turret lying around, it seems very unlikely that such a conversion would be made unless the Red Army was absolutely desperate, which, by the time the IS-85 was rolling off production lines, it hardly was. What would most likely happen is that the IS tank would be sent off for repairs, or it would be abandoned, and a replacement tank would be requisitioned.
Other known movie props include: an IS-2M with a KV-2 dummy turret (Tank: Kliment Voroshilov-2, 1989), a T-44 disguised as a Panzer IV (Battle of Moscow, 1985), an IS-2 disguised as a Panther (Liberation: The Fire Bulge, 1971), an IS-3 disguised as a Tiger (unknown film), and a T-54 disguised as a Tiger (One-Two, Soldiers Were Going, 1977).
A still from the Russian film “Battle of Moscow”, 1985, showing an IS tank disguised to look like a KV-1. It was probably done with a dummy turret as opposed to a real one, hence why the turret is ridiculously over-sized and why the paint appears different between the turret and chassis. It appears as though this dummy turret has a general M1941 shape, but a M1942 gun and mantlet.

Disguised as Panzer IVs or Tigers
A still from the Russian film “Battle of Moscow”, 1985, showing Russian tanks disguised as Panzer IV or Tiger tanks.
white tiger 2
A still from the Russian film “White Tiger”, 2014, showing an IS disguised to look like a Tiger. It looks more like the Porsche design for the Tiger.
“Russian Tanks of WWII, Stalin’s Armoured Might” by Tim Bean and Will Fowler
“The T-34, the Red Army’s Legendary Medium Tank” by Anthony Tucker-Jones
“T-34-85 vs M26 Pershing: Korea 1950” by Steven Zaloga
“Battle of Moscow”, Mosfilm, 1985
“White Tiger”, Mosfilm, 2012
Fair commentary from the Tanks Encyclopedia Staff was used in the writing of this article.

Fake Tanks WW2 German Fake Tanks

T-34(r) mit 8.8cm (Fake Tank)

Fake tanks

German Reich
Medium Tank / Self-Propelled Gun – Fake

A Captured T-34 re-armed by photoshop

Clever and deceptive photoshops are one of the best ways to invent a fake tank. There are at least three reported “T-34(r) mit 8.8cm” tanks, all in German service. The first is rather popular – a captured T-34 with a Flak 88 mounted on top – the “T-34(r) mit 8.8cm Flak“.  The second vehicle is a T-34/85 with a barrel reamed to fire 8.8cm shells – the “T-34(r) mit 8.8cm (85mm Aufgehbort)“. The third is a T-34/85 rearmed with a Tiger’s 8.8cm gun – the “T-34(r) mit 8.8cm KwK 36 L/56“. It appears as though the T-34(r) mit 8.8cm KwK 36 L/56 and the T-34(r) 8.8cm Aufgehbort were inspired by the same source – an interview with a former German tank commander. The Flak 88 version appears to have developed from a different source – a modelling magazine. Whilst the Flak version never existed, and the KwK 36 variant probably didn’t exist either, the reamed version seems slightly more plausible, although the concept is still riddled with problems.

T-34(r) mit 8.8cm Flak

This first version easily attracts the attention of modellers and tank fans alike. The idea is simple – a captured T-34 with a Flak 88 mounted on top to make an SPG. The only given history for this vehicle seems to come from Henk of Holland, a well-respected modeller. He states “This vehicle was in service with the battle group ‘Kienast’, and was used during the last battle in April 1945 in East-Sachsen [Saxony]”, although he does go on to remind us that the vehicle is fake. This battle group appears to be made up, and Henk of Holland may have obtained this information from a now-defunct internet source that cannot be traced any further.
In terms of combat, this vehicle could take on many different roles.
1. Tank Destroyer. We need only look at the well-decorated history of the Flak 88 from as early as the Spanish Civil War up until the final days of fighting in Berlin. It is almost certain that the T-34(r) mit Flak 88 would see service against the Red Army, and they knew that the T-34 and even the fearsome KV-1 could be destroyed by the Flak 88, even from long ranges. The Flak 88 was one of the most deadly and versatile artillery pieces of its time. For AT duties, its accuracy and power were realistically only matched by the Firefly’s 17-pounder gun and the Soviet 100mm BS-3 M1944 gun in the late war. The Flak 88 had a staggering effective range of just under 15,000 meters! It would simply be out of range of most enemy guns, whilst it could easily fire upon them. Apart from which, it was even given a telescopic sight for engaging ground targets, which meant that direct long range fire was done with ease.
In the Battle of France, the Flak 88 managed to destroy 152 tanks, including the Matilda II and Char B1, which the 3.7cm AT guns could not. By mounting the Flak 88 on a captured chassis, the users would have had a superb Tank Destroyer, because it would be able to quickly relocate (owing to the T-34’s rugged and reliable chassis), but deliver a knock-out blow with each shot. The Flak 88 was actually the basis for the universally-feared 8.8cm KwK 36 gun as mounted on the Tiger! The Flak 88 also had a more than agreeable gun elevation: -3 to 85 degrees, which would allow it to adopt many different firing positions, not dictated by the evenness of the ground. However, it must be noted that the Flak 88 even not mounted on a vehicle was often too tall to be camouflaged effectively, now atop a T-34 chassis, the vehicle would be approximately 18 feet tall giving it a huge profile – to put this into perspective, the Tiger was only 9 feet 10 inches tall.
2. Bunker destroyer. The Flak 88 saw prolific use mounted on vehicles at the Battle of France, with the Sd.Kfz.8 heavy tractor – the “Bunkerknacker”. Throughout the battle, the Flak 88 reportedly destroyed 151 bunkers, thus meaning that perhaps the T-34(r) mit Flak 88 could do the same job. However, the lack of protection for the crew would be problematic and could lead to casualties. Also, the T-34’s hull would not be able to take heavy punishment if it were to come up against an AT gun or any other tank that the USSR could field (excluding some lighter vehicles) at close quarters. Therefore, it may not be best suited to this role, but could certainly do so if needs be.
3. SPAAG. The Flak 88, whilst possibly better known for its anti-tank role, was originally an anti-aircraft gun. It was only turned on tanks when the 3.7cm guns were found unsatisfactory at engaging certain heavily armored tanks. However, overall it may not be worthwhile using the vehicle as a SPAAG, as the Flak 88 had a rather limited firing ceiling of just under 8000m, which meant that many aircraft could fly above this range. Seeing as though it would likely only fight against Soviet aircraft, it would be able to engage the most produced aircraft that the USSR had – the IL-2 with its maximum service ceiling of 5500m, although the Yak-9 (the second most numerous Soviet aircraft during the war) had a maximum service ceiling of 9100m, which would put it out of range in theory, although they often operated below this. Having said this, the effectiveness of anti-aircraft guns can, and was, called into question during the war, and it may not be worth using the vehicle for this role.
General problems with this vehicle would be apparent. Firstly, the gun arc would be problematic. The fact is that the T-34 chassis would not necessarily be wide enough to allow the crew manning the Flak 88 to turn the gun too far to one side, unless they welded on a platform on which to stand and operate the gun from. Standing on the T-34’s sloped sides would be a dangerous and tricky affair when handling artillery shells. The Flak 88 is a little under 8 ft (excluding the barrel), and the T-34’s chassis is only 9ft, so there would be little space for the crew to operate the gun in.
Secondly, there would also be little space to stow munitions. As seen on a scale model, it would be likely that munitions would be stowed on deck, but this can be dangerous, as they could be hit and would explode directly next to or on top of the engine compartment. It is also important to note that by doing this, there would be no space for external fuel tanks, thus significantly reducing the range of the vehicle.
Thirdly, the crew would be vulnerable to small arms fire. Despite a large gunshield on front, as with any open-cabin vehicle, enemy snipers or heavy machine guns (such as the DShK) would have little trouble making quick work of the crew, thus rendering the vehicle near useless. This is actually very important because the crew being killed by simple small arms fire is a significant risk to the overall capabilities of the vehicle, and therefore its usefulness as a viable weapon come in to question. For example, many loaders of the American M58 Ontos were killed by enemy small arms fire when reloading the external recoiless rifles. Similarly, crews of the SU-76 were incredibly vulnerable in urban combat, so good teamwork with infantry to support the tank was needed to avoid crew casualties.
Finally, the Flak 88 actually weighs roughly 1.4 tons less than a common early model T-34/85 turret (with an S-53 gun), but this weight would be heavily concentrated near the front of the vehicle, making it very nose heavy. This could stress the chassis in one particular area of the vehicle instead of giving more even distribution as with a turret. Also, top speed might be slightly lower as a result of the wind resistance from the enormous flat gunshield, but the lowered weight might roughly compensate for this. However, the bigger problem would be the center of mass being raised on the vehicle. The Flak 88 was normally fired from a secure and wide ground mount, thus the vehicle might be prone to toppling into ditches, or wobbling when firing as a result of the recoil, thus impairing aiming. This could be particularly dangerous to the crew if engaging multiple targets which are within range of returning fire, meaning that the effective rounds per minute is decreased.
Overall, the T-34(r) mit 8.8cm Flak would be comparable to the Nashorn (Sd.Kfz.164), with its 8.8cm Pak 43/1 (a gun designed by Krupp in competition with the Flak 41), generally similar construction, and similar likely roles. Of course, the Nashorn would have had one major advantage over the T-34(r) mit 8.8cm Flak, which is that it had all around protection for its crew, except for the roof. The Nashorn had a very high profile – 8ft 8in, but the T-34(r) mit 8.8cm Flak would be, as mentioned, 18 ft tall, meaning that the vehicle would be incredibly conspicuous. In fact, Nashorn production was cancelled in favor of the Jagdpanzer IV because it had a lower profile and thicker frontal armor, even despite having a less potent 7.5cm gun, so it is clear that unlike the USSR, which favored mounting the biggest guns available, Germany would favor vehicles which can be used for ambush attacks, as part of their overall defensive campaign during the late war.


This fake tank came about as a result of a single photoshop showing a T-34 chassis mounting a Flak 88 instead of a turret. This is actually a very plausible vehicle on numerous levels. Firstly, the Germans did mount Flak 88s on their own vehicles – such as on Panzer IVs, or on prime movers, such as the Sd.Kfz.8, in large numbers. Secondly, the Germans were known to mount weapons on captured vehicles in a similar manner – for example, some captured T-20 Komsomolets were modified to carry a 3.7cm Pak 35/36, a concept as seen first with the Soviet ZiS-30. Finally, after WWII, a lot of countries that used the T-34 made similar modifications – for example, the Cubans mounted a 122mm gun on a T-34/85, after cutting away some of the turret, the Syrians mounted a 122mm on a T-34 chassis by reversing the hull, and the Egyptians even made a new superstructure to fit a 122mm gun, these three designs thus showing that a modification of a T-34 into a self-propelled gun was more than possible.
However, one thing must be noted about the D-30 122mm gun – it weighed less than half of the Flak 88, in fact, it was a staggering 4.6 tons less! Whilst the D-30 was 34mm larger than the Flak 88, it was also 18 calibers smaller, and apart from which, it was a much simpler gun. Weight is particularly important when considering possible modifications to the T-34 chassis, as whilst it was a very rugged chassis, it had its limits, and such SPG modifications of the T-34 are perhaps the most the chassis could bare. Similar to the Flak 88 as mounted on a Panzer IV, the chassis would be seriously lowered as a result of the excess weight, and this is evident in photographs. Having said this, the T-34 had a weight load of 15 tons more than the Panzer IV, which might accommodate the Flak 88 with more ease.
According to Network54 forum, the photopshopped image of the T-34(r) mit 8.8cm Flak seems to have first appeared in around 2007 in a Japanese modelling magazine – “Armour Modelling“, along with a number of other ‘what-if’ models. One user, Hisato Shinohara (who claims to have even been asked to make the image for the magazine) remarked that: “We only wanted to see what sort of things we can come up with. Please look at them as an alternative way to ‘just to enjoy and be playful’. We did say that they are all fake at the end. However, come to think of it, that it was not written in English and I can see that it can be a big problem! The intention was to surprise the readers for a moment, and for this reason, it was clearly stated that they were all fake right at the beginning.
Since then, it has circulated prolifically across the internet. Often, this vehicle appears on World of Tanks and Warthunder forums, which almost certainly contributed to its popularity. In fact, since the creation of the “waffentrager research line” on World of Tanks, its popularity probably increased even more with fans demanding the companies make this tank in the game. In the last few years, the original photo of the T-34 used for the photoshop has been found and is commonly posted following any mention of the T-34(r) mit Flak 88.

T-34(r) mit 8.8cm (85mm Aufgebohrt)

The second and third version of the T-34(r) mit 8.8cm appear to be related. This version of this T-34(r) mit 8,8cm was a simple T-34/85 with a gun reamed to 8.8cm from 85mm (probably an S-53 as the D-5T saw limited production).
According to an interview with Wolfgang Kloth (a German tank commander during the war) at the 2008 AMPS (armor modelling and preservation society) international show, he discusses a Panzerbrigade in Courland, Latvia (spelled Kurland by the Germans):
There was an interesting unit in Kurland; Panzerbrigade Kurland, and they only had captured tanks. They had a Sherman and a General Lee and two T-34s. They took Russian 87mm, and took it to the ship wharf, and reamed it to 88. They shot 88 ammunition out of it. They were very inventive! Because up in Kurland, your back was against the water, you know.
The suggestion of re-boring the barrel to fire 88mm shells sounds dubious. It would be wrong to dismiss Kloth’s story based on the fact that he suggests the Soviets had 87mm guns. He did serve at Kurland, lending some credibility to the story – In 1944, he was transferred to the surrounding areas of Kurland with a Panzerjager unit until May 1945. He is the only source for this story, and this makes it hard to definitively say whether or not this story is true.
The only other way to determine whether or not this is true is to consider ballistics. There is a long standing debate on whether or not captured shells of similar or the same caliber can be fired by tanks. It is possible that the S-53 barrel could be rebored to 88mm, assuming that any ships at Courland had the right equipment, as stated in Kloth’s story. However, it is unclear whether or not the Pz.Gr. 39 shell would work in the breech of the modified S-53 gun. There is no firing chamber like with rifles in tank guns. Assuming that the casing of the shell fitted inside such a modified gun, it is possible that it would fire. However, the length and diameter of the shell case, powder charge, and tapering of the neck and shell case might need to match, too. If the shell has too much powder charge, the shell might misfire to varying degrees – It might fire inaccurately, it might blow the breech block apart and damage the gun mechanism. Finally, the ammunition used for the KwK 36 was electrically primed. Normally, shells of higher calibers have a self-contained primer which is ignited using a percussion cap – this is very different to the KwK 36 gun. This single fact means that the reaming of the S-53 gun might not have been enough to make the shells fire. It would require a drastic reworking of the gun with very complex mechanisms. For these reasons, it is almost certain that this vehicle is also a myth.

T-34(r) mit 8.8cm KwK 36 L/56

The final purported vehicle is a T-34/85 sporting an 8,8cm gun of a Tiger. This is rather unlikely. The original source for this vehicle is difficult to track down, but it appears to have come from (although the page for this vehicle on that website does not appear to exist). This website is referenced on, which talks about unconfirmed and hypothetical conversions. states (the following extract has been edited to make grammatical sense):
In July / August, 1944, at the shipyard in Libau [in Latvia, now known as Liepaja], an 8,8cm gun from a damaged Tiger I was mounted [onto a T-34/85]. From the end of 1944, this tank was used by the 12th Panzerdivision in Kurland [possibly referring to Heeresgruppe Kurland]. The tank’s color was kept the same, dark green [the source is not clear whether this is Soviet tank green, or a German green color], and a large cross was drawn on the turret for identification. The [identification number] was supposedly ’18’. The tank was [later] given the identification mark ’12’, and was given the Kurland sign [identification markings]. The crew drew eight white tanks on the barrel and wrote ‘Hi Kommet’ on it, too. However, this conversion is highly improbable.
Other sources explicitly refer to additional modifications such as a Tiger’s exterior ammo box, although did draw one on their illustration. The vehicle even appears to have made it into the World of Tanks Xbox game under the designation “T-34-88“, with the “Historical Information” stating: “For the armies of WWII, pressing captured vehicles into service was fairly commonplace. There were unconfirmed reports of a German unit refitting a captured T-34-85 with an 88mm gun. Allegedly this tank saw fighting with the 7th Panzer Division in East Prussia. Hence the concept for the T-34-88 was born.


The T-34/85 turret is hardly a likely candidate for holding such a long, heavy gun. It would probably cause the suspension serious problems – it is widely known that the attempts by the Soviet to fit a 100mm gun to the T-34/85 caused the suspension to buckle and break during firing. Secondly, there would have to be extensive and incredibly precise engineering in order to actually fit the huge gun in the T-34’s gun mount (and being able to give it any elevation or depression), something probably not available to any units outside of heavy factories of Germany. Thirdly, the gun itself was huge and complicated. In fact, the KwK 36 L/56 took up most of the internal space for the Tiger I turret. It is extremely unlikely that there would be internal space in a T-34/85 turret in which to accommodate such a large gun.
Fitting a new parts to captured Soviet tanks is not uncommon. For example, many early war tanks such as the KV-1, KV-2, and early model T-34s received new commander’s cupolas and headlights. However, fitting a new gun is somewhat more rare. It is known that a 75mm KwK 40 was fitted to a KV-1 and saw action at Kursk, but this seems to be a very rare occurrence, probably owing to the difficulty of the task. This may have inspired this monster T-34 in part.
Overall, the vehicle appears to have been inspired by the reamed T-34 that Kloth mentions in his interview. Although he explicitly states that the gun was reamed (that is, rebored), it is obvious that both of the vehicles have the same story, and it is likely that an internet source either misinterpreted the interview, or used it as inspiration for a fantasy vehicle.

T-34(r) mit 8,8cm Flak estimated specification

Dimensions (L-w-h) 5.92m x 3m x 5.4m (19.4 ft x 9.84 ft x 17.7 ft)
Total weight, battle ready 29 tonnes (58,000 lbs)
Crew 6 (Driver + 5 to operate the Flak 88)
Propulsion V12 diesel, GAZ, 400bhp (30kW)
Speed (road) 36km/h (25mph)
Range 250km (155 miles)
Armament Main: 1 x 8.8cm Flak (Probably a Flak 36). Secondary: 1 x 7.62mm (0.3in) DT machine gun
Armor 30-80mm (1.18 in – 3.15 in)

“The World’s Great Artillery From the Middle Ages to the Present Day” by Hans Halberstadt
“Flak: German Anti-aircraft Defenses 1914-1945” by Edward B. Westermann
“Panzer Commander, the Memoirs of Colonel Hans Von Luck” by Hans Von Luck
“Sturmartillerie and Panzerjäger 1939-45” by Bryan Perrett
“US Military Intelligence Report: German Anti-Aircraft Artillery” A US Military Intelligence Service report from 1943.
“Were Allied and Axis shells compatible?” A discussion on
Fair commentary from the Tanks Encylopedia staff was used in the writing of this article.
The following sources were used to trace information about the fake tank(s):
Germans Tanks of ww2
Germans Tanks of ww2

T-34 mit 88 tiger gun
Tanks Encyclopedia’s own rendition of the T-34(r) mit 8.8cm KwK 36 L/56.
T-34 mit 88 Flak gun
Tanks Encyclopedia’s own rendition of the T-34(r) mit 8.8cm Flak.
T-34/85 Beutepanzer
A typical T-34(r) Beutepanzer. From the outside, it would be impossible to tell if the gun has been reamed to fire 8.8cm shells.
T-34 mit 88mm
A photoshopped image of a T-34(r) mit 8,8cm Flak 88. This is a highly convincing image, and the only immediate giveaway for it being a fake is the fact that the chassis appears remarkably unstressed. Notice how tall the vehicle is compared to the soldiers. It would have a tall profile, making it very difficult to camouflage, and its relatively thin armor (80mm hull, and mere gunshield) would mean that if it were targeted by enemy AT guns, it would most likely be destroyed. This is unlike the KV-2, which, whilst it was a very tall tank, it had the armor to cope with the attention it received. T-34 original mit 88
The unphotoshopped T-34/85 before it was given an 8.8cm Flak. From this, we can deduce that the photoshoped image has been shortened, and the soldiers have been somewhat edited. The gun with the muzzle brake on the right has also been mysteriously edited out in the fake image for seemingly no reason. The markings on this vehicle are also unknown, and do not appear on the photoshopped image.T-34 mit 88 drawing
A drawing of the T-34(r) mit 8.8cm Flak. The Flak 88 in this drawing appears rather low, and it is possible that the artist has neglected how the gun actually works. Certain controls, such as the elevation crank would be difficult to operate by the crew, given this layout.Henk of Holland T-34 mit 88 flak
A model of the T-34(r) mit 8.8cm Flak by Henk of Holland. Similar to the above drawing, the Flak 88 in this model appears too low, and the crew would have to crouch down to operate certain controls. There also appears to be no space in which to carry munitions, and it is likely that it would need to tow a limber carrying munitions.
Henk of Holland T-34 mit 88 flak not his own
Another more detailed model of the T-34(r) mit 8.8cm Flak. It is likely that ammo would be stowed on deck, if this vehicle were real. Notice how the munitions are stacked right next to the engine compartment. If hit, the munitions might explode, thus causing a catastrophe for the vehicle and its crew.
komsomolets w 3.7cm pak mounted
A knocked out beutepanzer Komsomolets featuring a 3.7cm Pak AT gun. This is a rare modification of the Komsomolets, and it is unclear how many were modified in this manner. They appear similar in design to the ZiS-30, which featured a large gunshield, too. However, this vehicle would be more stable than the ZiS-30, as the gun was not nearly as big. Perhaps this modification helped inspire the T-34(r) mit Flak 8.8cm.
sdkfz 8 flak
An Sd.Kfz.8 with a Flak 88. Notice how the Flak 88 is significantly taller than the ones seen on the models and drawings of the T-34(r). It weighed 22 tons, but had very limited armor – only 14.5mm at most. It was 24.1 foot long, 9.2 feet tall, and 8.7 feet wide. The gunshield limited traverse of the turret to 151 degrees either side. Only ten were made and three were lost by March 1943. These vehicles first saw action in Poland, 1939, but it was in the Battle of France, 1940, in which it performed both anti-bunker and AT duties. They excelled at both, being able to destroy even the heaviest tanks that the Allies could send at them – the Matilda and Char B1. Notice that there is rather limited space for the crew to operate on the deck, and the vehicle itself is huge, making it rather conspicuous.
T-100 Egypt
An Egyptian T-34 with a 100mm BS-3 mounted in a new superstructure. There was also reportedly a D-30 howitzer version featuring a very similar superstructure. The Egyptians were particularly inventive with their design, given that they were the only ones who modified the D-30 gun mounted inside an enclosed superstructure (notably larger than the T-34/85 turret). Enclosed superstructures can be cramped, and create significant weight problems – this T-100 (Egyptian designation) at Yad La-Shiryon Museum, Israel, is almost certainly dangerously nose heavy, and the chassis appears very low. This turret and gun still probably weigh less than the Flak 88, and still they stress the chassis.
cuban t-34 d30
A Cuban T-34 with a 120mm D-30 gun mounted in a cutaway T-34/85. This modification proves that mounting a large gun on the T-34 is possible, but the BS-3 weighed less than half of the Flak 88 (in fact, roughly 4.1 tons less). The BS-3 and D-30 guns were widely exported by the USSR, and are a very common sight in armies, even today! By cutting away the turret, more space is given for the crew, and there is less weight and thus vehicle has less stress on the suspension.
Syrian t-34 d30
A Syrian modification of the T-34 to fit a 122mm D-30. Notice that they reversed the hull and fitted the gun on to the rear in order to avoid difficulty in creating a new turret or superstructure in which to house the gun. This means that the vehicle can maintain a very low profile, avoid weight problems and thus keep its maneuverability.
A scale model of a T-34 with a Tiger’s 88mm gun and ammo basket mounted on it. This is one of many scale models as seen on the internet. This one shows it to feature a more common German green color, despite other sources referring to other colors.
KV-1 kwk 40
A KV-1 with a KwK 40 gun as seen at Kursk. Conversions of guns onto captured vehicles appears to have been rare, this being the only known photograph of the modified KV-1. The monumental task of mounting a German gun onto a Soviet tank would be staggering, but it is more than possible.

Fake Tanks WW2 Soviet Fake Tanks

KV-VI (Fake Tank)

Soviet Union (1941-1942)
Superheavy Tank – Fake

The best known fake tank

The KV-VI, or KV-VI Behemoth, is one of the most famous fake tanks on the internet. A super-heavy tank project armed to ludicrous proportions, with three prototypes claimed to have been built 1941-1942, serving against the Germans near Moscow and Leningrad. This was not a hoax as many will claim, but in fact a fantasy model which was entered in a sci-fi scale model competition that has been taken out of context since it was posted on the internet back in 1997 by its creator.

Brian Fowler’s original model, as it appeared on Track-Link. Despite this being the original, there are many variations on the design from all the other illustrations of the type in the way the armament is arranged.

The vehicle originated as a model built by Brian Fowler in 1995 by using parts from two Tamiya KV-2 kits, two Tamiya KV-1E kits, an AER T-38, an Italeri BT-5, an Italeri Katyusha, a Zvezda T-60, and Dragon tracks. Three KV hulls were cut and welded together with epoxy glue, the central dual-KV-2 turret’s pedestal was made using a shaving cream lid, and most of the details such as the DTs, ladders, and flamethrowers were carefully scratch built.

Photos of the KV-VI model were posted on the Track-Link website in 1997, alongside a fake history, some specifications and a set of reference books (none of which actually exist and are spoofs of real books – EG. “Dreadful Din on the Eastern Front” is a spoof of “All Quiet on the Western Front“, and “The Behemoths are Burning” is a spoof of “The Tigers are Burning“). The original page can be seen on their website.

In recent years, the KV-VI’s popularity can largely be attributed to the cutaway illustration by VonBrrr on Deviantart in 2010, which is used very often when discussing the KV-VI. Similarly, with the proliferation of easy-to-use photoshop technology, some historical-looking photos also appear often, supposedly of the KV-VI. These photos and the originals can be found in the gallery present on this article. Some other illustrations and photoshopped images often float around the internet, and it is likely that more will appear in the future.

The fake history

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, new facts have surfaced about the secret weapons developed by the Red Army during WWII. One of the most fascinating of these was the KV-VI Behemoth. In July 1941, Stalin learned of a single KV-II that had held off the entire 6th Panzer Division for more than a day [at the Battle of Raseiniai on 24th June]. With the incredible success of this single tank, Stalin ordered a crash [quick] program for a land battleship based on the KV-II design. It was to have three turrets and be very heavily armed and armored and able to defend itself against all types of attack. The project was given to the joint team of Kotin/Barykov. When the designers complained to Stalin that the insistence on three turrets made the vehicle too long to have an acceptable turning radius, Stalin’s answer was: “It doesn’t need to turn, it will drive straight to Berlin.”

The final design became known as the KV-VI “Behemoth”. The KV-VI was a multi-turreted tank using components of the KV-I and II, BT-5, T-60, and T-38. The use of existing tank designs was necessary because of pressure from Stalin and the strains put on Soviet industry by the German invasion. Because of its massive weight, the tank was equipped with wading devices permitting it to traverse rivers up to 9 feet deep. The team also designed a removable observation tower that could be used to direct the fire of the howitzers and rockets while the tank was in a turret down position.

Operational History
The first prototype was completed in December 1941 and was rushed into the defense of Moscow. In its first action during a dense winter fog, the rear turret accidentally fired into the center turret. The resulting explosion completely destroyed the vehicle. The second prototype was completed in January 1942, and was sent to the Leningrad front. This one had indicators installed to show when another turret was in the line of fire. In its initial attack on the Germans, the tank broke in half when crossing a ravine. A spark ignited the leaking flamethrower fuel and the resulting explosion completely destroyed the vehicle.

The third prototype had a reinforced hull and was also sent to the Leningrad front in early 1942. It did manage to shoot down three German aircraft. In its first ground engagement, the KV-VI was firing on German positions when coincidentally all of the guns fired from the 3 O’clock position a the same time. The tremendous recoil tipped the tank into a ditch and the severe jostling set off the 152mm ammunition, which completely destroyed the vehicle. After these failures, Stalin cancelled the project, and many of the design team members spent the rest of their lives in the Gulags of Siberia. The KV-VI was nicknamed “Stalin’s Orchestra” by the few Germans that encountered it because of the variety of weapons it deployed.

Brian Fowler’s Legacy

Since the release of this article, there has been an email correspondence with the original creator of the KV-VI article, Brian Fowler. He has kindly provided some additional photos of the original model, and a personal insight on the legacy of the KV-VI. He has made many prize winning models (both national and regional), but none have gained the sheer fame (or infamy) of the KV-VI. He said that the KV-VI was built as a bit of fun after building some very accurate and detailed models that required substantial research, and was entered in a sci-fi scale model competition – it won the following awards: “Best Sci-Fi IPMS Buffcon Show, 1996“, “1st place, Hypothetical, Noreastcon, 1997“, “1st place IPMS National Show, Columbus, 1997“, and many more awards from regional shows. In fact, it was so popular, it even made it onto the April Fools cover of Boresight in 2008. The KV-VI even attracted the attention of Steven Zaloga, who said “Your tank is famous with Russian modellers… They don’t know you, but they know your tank.

The KV-VI was not an intentional hoax, and he had hoped that the fake books would tip off the readers that it was a fake tank, what with them being spoofs of real books, but “unfortunately my humor is a little too subtle for some“. Furthermore, Fowler said “The KV-VI was the most fun I ever had building a model, as it allowed me to be much more creative and imaginative, coming up with a cool looking design and not having to correct kit errors or 100% accurizing.” With regards to the spreading of the KV-VI on the internet, he said “It gives me personal satisfaction that many around the world enjoy it for what it is, and I regret what has happened on the internet that leads many to be fooled or believe it was a hoax.

T-35 and KV-VI
Probably the most famous photoshopped image purported to show a KV-VI prototype during a parade in the Red Square. Besides the fact it looks quite different from other illustrations of the type, it is actually just several T-28s on parade photoshopped to look as one vehicle. The original photo can be seen on the right.

Another photoshopped image alleged to be the KV-VI. Again note that it does not look similar to any of the other representations. The original photo of the KV-1 M1939 can be seen on the right.

KV-VI Sir-Zora-Crescent
KV-VI by Sir-Zora-Crescent, 2013, taken from deviantart. Despite being clearly fake, this image at least appears faithful to the original model.

Perhaps the most famous cut-away illustration of the KV-VI made by VonBrrrr. The design varies from the original in having an extra BT-5 turret, having the T-60 turret armed with 2 x 20 mm (0.79 in) guns instead of machine-guns and replacing the center T-38 turrets with a single T-70 one.

A side illustration of the KV-VI, as it appeared in Shpakovsky’s Tanks. Unique and paradoxical.

World of Tanks Render of the KV-VI
A render of the KV-VI made by an unknown World of Tanks EU forum member. Please note that this is not an official Wargaming render, despite the arrangement and logo.

Photos of Brian Fowler’s original KV-VI model. Courtesy of Brian Fowler.



100_1524 - Copy


KV-VI with tower observation
Previously unseen photos of the KV-VI model before painting. It shows that there was an observation tower for the dual KV-2 turret, and these components are stowed on the hull.

KV-VI now
The KV-VI as it stands now, in a display cabinet. Below is a DML T-35, which it dwarfs!

KV-VI supposed specifications

Dimensions (L-W-H) 15.6 x 3.3 x 4.65 m (51ft 4in x 10ft 10in x 15ft 3in)
Total weight, battle ready 138 tons (276,000 lbs)
Armament 2 x 152 mm (6 in) L20 howitzers
2 x 76.2 mm (3 in) L32 guns
1 x 45 mm (1.77 in) Model 37 gun
2 x 12.7 mm (0.5 in) DShK machine-guns
2 x 7.62 mm (0.3 in) Maxim machine-guns
14 x 7.62 mm (0.3 in) DT machine-guns
16 x BM-13 rocket launchers
2 x Model 1933 flamethrowers
Armor 7 to 160 mm (0.28 – 6.3 in)
Crew 15
Propulsion 3 X V-2 engines(600 hp)
Speed 21 km/h (13 mph)
Range on/off-road 160/70 km (98/43 mi)

An email correspondence with Brian Fowler, creator of the KV-VI
“KV-1 and KV-2 Heavy Tanks” by Steven Zaloga

“Armored Champion: The Top Tanks of World War II” by Steven Zaloga
“Soviet Tanks and Combat Vehicles of World War Two” by Steven Zaloga and James Grandsen
“World War II album, volume 9: Soviet heavy tanks” by Ray Merriam
“Russian Tanks of World War II, Stalin’s Armoured Might” by Tim Bean and Will Fowler
Fair commentary from the Tanks Encyclopedia Staff was also used in the writing of the “Reality” section of this article.


Superheavy projects have never worked

A short history lesson in Soviet tank designing is needed to explain the absurdity of the KV-VI. The idea of a land battleship is not something uncommon with interwar Soviet tank projects, but almost all of them had been abandoned before WWII began, such as the Tank Grotte, T-35, SMK, and T-100. Even more conventional superheavy tank projects (if such words can be used in the same sentence) designed during the war like the KV-3, -4, and -5 never left the drawing board, although this was for a variety of reasons, including the problems with weight, cancellation of the 107mm gun project, and fall from favor of heavy tanks. Heavy and superheavy tanks had proven too expensive, inefficient, with their low mobility and huge structural problems due to their sheer weight. In fact, the only real success from any of these heavy and superheavy projects comes from the SMK, which was redesigned into the KV-1 in 1939.

In the history, it is suggested that the team was headed by Kotin and Barykov. Barykov was part of the experimental OKMO design bureau since 1930, and handled projects such as the T-41 superheavy tank, T-35, T-29 (experimental upgrade of the T-28), the T-111 breakout tank, and the T-100 superheavy tank, as well as other more conventional projects such as the T-26 and T-50. The OKMO design bureau was broken up during the Great Purge by the start of WW2, and Barykov’s name does not appear on any further projects.

Kotin, on the other hand was busy with other projects during the time in question. These include, but are not limited to: the T-60/70/80 series, the real KV series, and the IS series – he would never have time to supervise such a large project. It is true that Kotin had a history of working with multi-turreted tanks, as some of his first work focused on improving the T-28, and he oversaw the design team of the SMK prototype, but this is not the full story. Even before the war, Kotin was apprehensive about tanks with more than two turrets, but Stalin was not. Stalin was heavily involved in military affairs even in 1938, and tank designs were often presented to him and a committee of his advisers. According to Tim Bean and Will Fowler’s “Soviet Tanks of World War Two, Stalin’s Armoured Might” (which lacks proper source citation, and therefore may be untrue), when the SMK and T-100 wooden models were presented at a meeting of the State Defense Council on 4th May, 1938, Kotin argued against having three turrets, because he knew that it severely undermined the mobility of both prototypes. Stalin agreed, and reportedly responded by ripping a turret off of one of the models whilst shouting “Why make a tank into a department store?!

joseph kotin
Joseph Kotin, who was said to be the leader of the KV-VI project, was a real tank designer, and perhaps the USSR’s most successful and prolific.
Frequently enough, Stalin seems to have been willing to listen to his engineers and field commanders on matters such as this, so the suggestion that he would overrule his engineers, as mentioned in the fake history, is unlikely. Once both SMK and T-100 vehicles had been modified to have two turrets, prototypes were produced and were sent out for testing at Kubinka in May 1939. Kotin and his assistant, A. Yermolayev were now beginning to think that having two turrets was still too many. They remarked that the crew compartment was cramped, and there were still weight problems. Acting without any higher approval, Kotin set his team to work on a single-turreted SMK which would become known as the KV-1.

SMK mine
The SMK tank is covered in snow, having been knocked out by an AT mine in August, 1939. It was not recovered for two months as a result of its weight. A T-100 prototype tried to tow it away, but to no avail.
Once the plans for the KV-1 were presented to Stalin, they were approved for trials alongside the SMK and two T-100 prototypes in the Winter War. It was there that the SMK was destroyed by a landmine, and the T-100s proved ineffective as a result of poor mobility, although one was later converted into the SU-100Y. It was the KV-1 prototype which excelled (except for the problems faced against heavy bunkers at the Mannerheim Line, thus leading to the creation of the KV-2). This success of a conventional heavy tank was effectively the end of the line for any multi-turreted tank designs; it is clear that Kotin would never allow such a project to take off.

T-100 tank
The T-100 tank. It was a similar design to the SMK, but nevertheless, its construction was different. Both were considered too bulky and unreliable to warrant production, and they were less than half the weight of the purported 138 tons of the KV-VI!

Loss of faith in heavy tanks in 1942

However, heavy tanks were not necessarily favored by Stalin after the early stages of the war, due to reports of their effectiveness, or lack of. It is true that at the very beginning of the war, the KV-1 was the most formidable tank that the Red Army fielded, but this quickly changed by 1942 as a result of the Germans upgunning their Panzer IIIs and IVs in order to deal with this threat. The report of the KV tank at Raseiniai as mentioned in the story is true, but Stalin was also hearing scathing reports from Soviet generals such as Pavel Rotmistrov of their overall performances as a result of their mobility and outdated gun.

The Red Army needed mobility to chase down retreating panzerdivisions and close gaps in broken Soviet defenses as quickly as possible, something which the T-34 gave. The T-34/76 was arguably a superior vehicle to the KV-1, at least for the purposes of the Red Army, as it featured the same gun, but it was much more mobile, it was cheaper to produce, and the lack of armor was compensated for by the numbers in which the T-34 could be fielded in – simply put, what it lacked in armor, it gained in mobility and cost-effectiveness.

Having said this, not all generals agreed with Rotmistrov, and there was a real division in Soviet leadership over heavy tanks. Many saw the KV-1 as one of the greatest assets to the Red Army at the time, because it could be used to break through enemy lines, and defend against some of the heavier German attacks, relatively unscathed. In fact, the KV-1, in theory, had a much longer ‘life expectancy’ than a T-34 because of its superior armor, but on the other hand it could not always perform the same crucial roles. So, even despite the KV-1’s qualities over the T-34, it was clear that the T-34 was rapidly gaining favor with Soviet leadership, so in order to keep heavy tanks in production, a compromise was needed – a compromise that was an absolute disaster.

Enter the KV-1S  – an attempt at trying to balance the armor of a heavy tank, and the speed of a medium tank. Unsurprisingly, this ambitious project could hardly do either, leading to its cancellation in late 1943, just a year after production started! It was as expensive as the KV-1, but gave combat results no better than the T-34 due to its similar armor, but still inferior speed.

The success of the KV-1 and the T-34 were based on their respective extreme qualities (speed for the T-34, and armor for the KV-1). The medium and heavy tank classes were very different things – any balance between these two extremes would not, and did not, give the desired effect.
By 1943, at least 43 heavy tank designs and proposals were rejected, even though the majority seemed conventional and sound designs, thus showing the lack of faith that most in the Soviet leadership had in heavy tanks. Also remember that many of these projects would feature the then-experimental 107mm gun – a project developed at Leningrad which was canceled, due to fears of Germany capturing Leningrad.
This was not the end of the heavy tank, of course. Thanks to lobbying from the NKTP (People’s Commissariat of the Tank Industry of the USSR), and as well as the need to combat new German heavy and medium tanks, heavy tank production was finally saved by the introduction of the IS series, and the KV-85 stopgap – modern, well-designed, and from a time when the USSR was on firmer footing in the war.

Based on this information, it is clear that if the KV-VI project were to exist, nobody would support it. Top engineers (such as Ginzburg, Kotin, Yermolayev, etc) would see it as near technically impossible and exceptionally unreliable. Generals and commanders would probably just consider it a bunker moving at a snail’s pace, which would be of little use to the Red Army, as it would not be able to fall back to defensive positions, or be moved into a new position with ease – the Germans could simply flank the vehicle as a result of their refined armored warfare tactics, owing a lot to their prolific use of radio. Above all, it would take so long to complete and it would cost so many resources that it would wipe out Soviet tank production, probably meaning that the Wehrmacht would be able to break Soviet defenses before the vehicle would be complete.

Lack of resources

One key problem of making a wartime project of this scale is that the USSR needed tanks in vast quantities. This is for three reasons. Firstly, the sheer size of the Eastern front required the USSR to field vast numbers of AFVs to simply keep the land covered! Secondly, during late 1941 and early 1942 the Soviets were desperate to get as many armored vehicles to the front as possible in order to replace the rapid losses incurred by the Germans – the sheer need for AFVs meant that even semi-armored vehicles and tractors were being converted in order to supply more tanks to the troops. This improvisation was not just comprised of field conversions, but it was done through serial production with three different vehicles – the Odessa Tank (Na Ispug), KhTZ-16, and ZiS-30 – needless to say, this is a hallmark of a desperate industry. Thirdly, during the period in question, most tank factories were being relocated to the safety of the Urals, which seriously disrupted Soviet industry, and would mean that a huge project like this would be disrupted beyond completion due to logistics alone.

In these conditions, it is extremely unlikely that even with all the support from generals, engineers, and politicians, the Soviets simply could not have wasted time, resources, and skilled workers on developing even one such vehicle, let alone three. In fact, even if Soviet factories were not disrupted by relocation, they may not have even been well-equipped enough for such a project – there was a huge lack of resources, especially in Leningrad, which was under siege, so much so, that they had to cancel a highly promising, and conventional armored car design that was due to enter mass production, the BA-11.
More costs and problems are prevalent when the logistics of creating such a vehicle are considered. Turrets and guns would have to be delivered from many different factories. These include, but are not limited to: the BT-5 parts coming from Kharkov Komintern Locomotive Plant, the Katyusha rocket launchers from Voronezh Komintern Plant, the KV parts from Leningrad Kirov Plant or Chelyabinsk Tractor Plant (after 1941), and the T-60 parts from GAZ in Moscow, or Leningrad Kirov Plant.
Based on this information alone, a wartime superheavy project of such proportions would be a sheer impossibility.

The design makes no sense

Coming back to the design of the KV-VI, the most ludicrous feature is the armament. With no less than 5 guns, 16 rocket launcher rails, 2 flame-throwers, and 18 machine-guns. The twin 152 mm (6 in) gun turret is especially dubious. The original KV-2 turret could only be traversed on relatively level ground, and it also posed stability problems as it was, while the KV-VI is supposed to have two of those guns, which are also pictured to be independently aimed. This is why 152mm guns were never used on turreted Soviet tanks again, for example, the late war SU-152, and ISU-152 used casemate 152mm guns, because they made the vehicle more structurally sound.
Even the flamethrowers are a peculiar weapon to put on the KV-VI, as these close ranged weapons which would have been very hard to use given the limited mobility of the vehicle.

The idea of mounting a turret on another turret is rather impractical. This arrangement would have made it necessary to mount a traverse engine on top of the first turret, thus making the tank top heavy and cramped further, or traverse the upper turret by hand, which was very slow. Secondly, any movement of the lower turret would have impaired the aiming of the upper turret, which throws the practicality into question. Thirdly, if the upper turret were to fire, it would have greatly stressed the turret mounting of the lower one and could alter the shape, if not eventually break the turret ring. Finally, in order to fix any of the aforementioned problems, it would take years, if not decades of precise engineering with a vast budget and expansive team of engineers that would never have been available to the USSR during the war or even before.
A big problem with the placement of turrets and weapons is the location of the BM-13 rocket systems. The sketch from DeviantArt shows it to be placed on top of a BT-5 turret, which is placed on top of a giant KV-1 turret (although in the original model, it is just placed on top of a single KV-1 turret). It would be difficult to reload the rocket system as it is placed much higher than on other vehicles such as a ZiS truck or a turretless T-60 tank. According to the model, a large piston controls the elevation of the BM-13 systems which is connected to the KV-1 turret. This is simply not possible, as there would be little space in which to mount such a large piston inside the lower KV-1 turret, especially as space is needed for the crew members, gun, and ammunition. There also appears to be no space for storing rockets, except for on the exterior of the tank where on the model, a wooden crate can be seen. This is a practice sometimes done by tanks that have little space for ammunition, such as an ISU-152, but this was rather dangerous, as the munitions could be hit and could, at best, unusable, or at worst, detonate.

The DT machine guns are also placed in unorthodox places – the sides of turrets. This is only seen on very early Soviet tanks, such as the T-12 and T-24, as well as armored trains. The usefulness of fixed DT machine guns is dubious even on conventional tanks (which is why they were not featured on post-war tanks), and it is unlikely that they would be able to effectively engage and track a moving target, as the turret would traverse too slowly. Apart from which, these would be an unnecessary weak point which would also cramp the already overloaded turrets.

What looks like some kind of KV-VI is just an MBV-2 armored train at the Leningrad front. The USSR had many built before the war (as a result of successful use during the Russian Civil War), but many were lost in 1941. This is an early train, as the later ones featured T-34/76 and KV-1 turrets.

The KV-VI was purportedly powered by 2 or 3 KV-1 engines with 500 hp each, and that would have given a power-to-weight ratio of 11 hp/ton. While that is not exactly abysmal, the sheer track length and narrowness of the vehicle would have made turning the KV-VI similar to the way a train turns. Traversing, that is turning on the spot, would have been highly improbable if not downright impossible. The 2 or 3 such engines would have also taken a lot of space, and it is not clear where they would have been mounted. Based on the model, an engine was present behind each turret, but getting their power to the rear drive wheels would have required a transmission which is probably not feasible even today.
There were few, if any, bridges at the time which would have been able to sustain the 138 tons of the KV-VI. Crossing any kind of hill or ravine would have over-stressed the chassis to the point where it was very likely to break in two, which would have also made river wading impossible – despite the fake history suggesting that wading devices were fitted. Also, the ground pressure was abysmal, meaning any attempt to cross a river would have left the tank stuck in the mud almost instantly.

Another peculiarity is the fact that the number of weapons greatly outnumbered the number of crewmen, which stood at just 16, including the driver and a commissar. They had to aim, load, and fire 5 guns, 18 machine-guns and 2 flamethrowers mounted in 7 turrets. Having a crew which could fully man every gun would perhaps number as many as thirty men. This would be impossible to control by one single commander, and the vehicle would have to work more like a naval battle ship, meaning that a commissar (who acts as a ‘supreme commander’) would have to give general orders (such as which direction or when to commence fire), and each section would need a dedicated commander in order to control which guns fire where. This would require multiple radios or intercoms, and it is imperative that all of these advanced electronics are maintained in perfect working order, or the vehicle could face a disaster.

Lack of sources and other holes in the story

A more fundamental concern with this vehicle is the fact that there have been no purported reports from the Wehrmacht about this vehicle. If there were three prototypes sent to Moscow and Leningrad, it would be incredibly conspicuous. Explanations could be made up for why this is so, such as considering that the Germans knew about the SMK prototype in Finland, but they wrongly called it the T-35C, this might suggest that German intelligence was far from perfect, and could lead to an overlooking of the KV-VI (and even this suggestion is incredibly ropy). However, this is a different situation all-together – the KV-VI would dwarf the SMK, and Germans themselves were reported to have faced off against three prototypes at Moscow and Leningrad, some of the busiest fronts of the entire war. This should have cast immediate doubt on the KV-VI as a real tank before even considering how unbelievable the vehicle itself is.
A final and fundamental mistake is the way the name is spelled. No Soviet tanks, from the early T-18 (1928) to today’s T-14 (2015), have had Roman numerals in their designations. With regards to the real KV-6, it is speculated that there are at least two candidates for the KV-6 name, one being a KV-1 with a flame-thrower installed in the hull (according to Henk of Holland), while the other is a version of the KV-7 self-propelled gun (the KV-6 featured a 76mm and twin 45mm guns, whereas the KV-7 had twin 76mm guns) according to Steven Zaloga in “Soviet Tanks and Combat Vehicles of World War Two“. However, the KV-6 index seems to be unknown, and any documentation may have gone missing during the war.

Could the KV-VI work?

It is difficult to entertain the practicality of the KV-VI, but perhaps it would have been best suited to defensive combat along a paved road, as paved roads would cause the fewest problems for moving this land-ship, and it could never be mobile enough to be an effective assault weapon. It would require a long, even, and accessible road. Perhaps the most suitable and nearest at that time would have been Nevsky Prospekt, in Leningrad, which is nearly six kilometers long. However, German boots never set foot in Nevsky Prospekt, but if they were to do so, the KV-VI could demolish entrenched positions on either side of the road at the same time. This could possibly have been appealing to Soviet leadership, as at Stalingrad, mere floors of buildings were fought over for days.
Kirov Plant in Leningrad would logistically be the best candidate for where this vehicle would be built, as it was very close to Nevsky Prospekt, and it spent the early war building KV tanks, but the blockade meant that there were few resources with which to build tanks. If Leningrad was able to get sufficient resources (which is an exceptionally big ‘if’) the KV-VI could possibly be sent along Stachek Prospekt passing by the Naval Triumph Arch, then on to Staro-Petergofskiy Prospekt, along Sadovaya Street, past Sennaya Square, and up to Nevsky Prospekt. It could then use the Palace Grounds to turn around, if necessary. Alternatively, the KV-VI could be sent via barge along the Neva River up to a temporary dock at the Admiralty Embankment or Palace Embankment, leading directly onto Nevsky Prospekt.
Instantly, problems with these theories arise. Firstly, the KV-VI would be incredibly vulnerable to any German aerial attacks, especially as the Red Army did not field any vast numbers of SPAAGs (or even fighter aircraft with which to defend against aerial attacks) during the war with which to defend such a high profile target. However, if the KV-VI were able to shoot down German aircraft, such as mentioned in the fake history, then it may be able to defend itself against lighter aerial attacks for a short time. Secondly, the assumption is that there would be sufficient resources for making the KV-VI, a suitable barge, and a temporary landing dock, which would, of course, never be possible at Leningrad until after the siege was broken, and even the probability of a barge or ship which can transport 138 tons being available is small.
Thirdly, the KV-VI making its way to Nevsky Prospekt via road would be incredibly difficult if any of the roads were bombed out, as it would need plenty of road space and a path that is as straight as possible. Also, the tram lines on Nevsky Prospekt would need taking down, or else face being destroyed by the KV-VI.
Finally, when several KV-2 and KV-1 tanks, a BM-13 Katyusha mounted on a T-60, and a few other light tanks would be far more efficient to design, build, battle, easier to transport, etc the KV-VI seems like a pointless endeavor in every manner – its only benefits would be its propaganda value, and its psychological impact on German soldiers.
Nevsky Prospekt
Nevsky Prospekt as pictured during the war. It may have been one of the few places the KV-VI might see any real effective service, had it been invaded, and if the KV-VI were real.

KV-VI super heavy tank
Illustration of the KV-VI By Tanks Encyclopedia’s own David Bocquelet.