Categories
WW2 Soviet KV-4

KV-4 (Object 224) Mikhailov

Soviet Union (1941)
Heavy Tank – Blueprints Only

The KV-4 program started in spring 1941 as the response to rumors of German heavy tank development. A design competition between engineers at LKZ in Leningrad was held, with several designs awarded, though most others were ignored. One of these was the design proposed by P.P. Mikhailov, which brought several innovative features to the table, such as tracks within the hull, conical turret, and sideskirts. Who P.P. Mikhailov was, and his role at LKZ, is yet to be uncovered.

Development

–Dear reader: A more detailed development analysis of the KV-4 program can be found in the KV-4 Dukhov article

KV-4 designs
Placement Name Drawings Mass (t) Dimensions (m) (LxWxH) Armament Crew Top speed (theoretical) Armor Reward /Rubles
1 Dukhov KV-4 82.5 8.150
3.790
3.153
-107 mm ZiS-6
– 45 mm K-20
– 2x 7.62 DT
6 40 km/h Front top plate: 135 mm
Front bottom plate: 130 mm
Side plate: 125 mm
Top and belly: 40 mm
5000
2 Kuzmin, Tarotko, Tarapatin KV-4 88 9.26
3.78
3.175
-107 mm ZiS-6
– 45 mm K-20
– 3x 7.62 DS-39
6 36 km/h Front: 125 mm
Side: 125-100 mm
Top and belly: 40 mm
3000
3 Tseits KV-4 90 8.85
4.03
3.62
107 mm ZiS-6
2x 7.62 DS-39
Unspecified flamethrower
7 45 km/h Front hul upper plate: 50 mm
Front hull bottom plate: 125 mm
Turret:130 mm
Side plate: 125 mm
Top and belly: 50 mm
2800
4 Sychev KV-4 95 – 100 9.23
4.00
3.40
107 mm ZiS-6 (F-42)
45 mm 20-K
2x DT machine guns
6 40 – 45 Turret: 135-125 mm
Hull: 105 mm
Top and belly: 40 mm
2000
4 Ermolaev KV-4 90 8.22
4.00
3.25
107 mm ZiS-6 6 35 130 mm
95 8.52
4.00
3.25
107 mm ZiS-6
45 mm 20-K
6 35 130 mm 2000
5 KV-4 Shashmurin 92 9.50
4.00
3.85
107 mm ZiS-6 (F-42) main cannon (112 or 102 rounds)
76 mm F-11 secondary cannon (120 rounds)
2x DT machine gun (400 rounds)
Unspecified flamethrower (hull)
7 35 km/h Front top plate: 125 mm
Side plate: 125 mm
Top and belly: 50 to 40 mm
1500
6 Buganov 93 7.70
3.80
3.90
107 mm ZiS-6
45 mm 20-K
6 50 km/h Front 125 mm 1000
6 Moskvin 101 9.573
4.03
3.74
107 mm ZiS-6
45 mm 20-K
6 40 km/h Front 130 mm 1000
7 Pereverzev KV-4 100 9.5
3.8
3.82
107 mm ZiS-6
45 mm 20-K
2x DT machine guns
6 39 km/h Front: 125 mm 500
7 Bykov 98.6 9.5
4.03
3.65
107 mm ZiS-6
45 mm 20-K
DS-39 machine gun
8 36 km/h Front 130 mm 500
7 Kalivod 500
N/A Fedorenko KV-4 98.65 8.10
4.03
3.70
107 mm ZiS-6
45 mm M.1938
3x DT machine guns
Unspecified flamethrower
6 35 km/h Front upper plate: 140 mm
Side plate: 125 mm
Turret: 125 mm
Top and belly: 50 to 40 mm
N/A Kreslavsky KV-4 92.6 9
4
3.225
107 mm ZiS-6
45 mm Mod.1937 20-K coaxial
3x DT machine gun
6 45 km/h Turret: 130 mm
Front hull plate: 130 mm
Front upper plate: 80 mm
Side plate: 125 mm
Rear plate: 130 mm
Top /bottom: 50 -40 mm
N/A Kruchenykh KV-4 107.7 9.13
4.03
3.78
107 mm ZiS-6
45 mm 20-K
4x DT machine guns
9 30 km/h Front: 130 mm
N/A Mikhailov KV-4 86.5 9
3.6
3
107 mm ZiS-6 (F-42)
45 mm Mod.1937 20-K (hull-mounted)
3x DT machine guns
6 50 km/h Turret: 130 mm
Hull: 130 mm
Belly and belly: 50 – 40 mm
N/A Marishkin KV-4 86.4 8.7
3.6
3.5
107 mm ZiS-6
45 mm 20-K
7 40 km/h Front: 130 mm
Upper frontal: 80 mm
N/A Pavlov & Grigorev KV-4 91 8.5
4.0
3.6
107 mm ZiS-6
45 mm 20-K
6 45 km/h Front: 100 – 125 mm
N/A Turchaninov KV-4 89.5 9.8
4.0
3.0
107 mm ZiS-6
45 mm 20-K
DT machine gun
7 35 km/h Front: 125 mm
N/A Strukov KV-4 92 8.6
4.0
3.8
107 mm ZiS-6
45 mm 20-K
6 50 km/h Front: 80 – 130 mm
N/A Unkown KV-4
N/A Unkown KV-4

The KV-4 program was born from a letter sent by the Soviet Intelligence Services to the Soviet military. This letter, sent on 11 March 1941, had information regarding a German heavy tank, weighing 90 tonnes, and armed with a 105 mm gun. The Main Directorate of Armed Forces (GABTU) was alarmed, as the heaviest tank in Soviet service was the 45 tonnes KV-1, which at the time was mechanically unreliable, and entirely unfit for production. Over at LKZ (Leningrad Kirov Factory) in Leningrad, at the SKB-2 design bureau, where the KV-1 was created, several heavier tanks had been designed, such as the KV-220 and KV-3, but these were still no match for the suspected German heavy tank.

Thus, on 21 March, the GABTU sent LKZ the original requirements for the KV-4. It was to weigh around 70 tonnes and armed with the 107 mm ZiS-6 in a turret and a 45 mm 20-K in a secondary turret. The engine was to be a 1,200 hp enhanced aviation diesel V-12 M-40. Armor was set between 130 and 120 mm at the front, sides, and rear. On 27 March, the deadline for the complete blueprints was set to 17 July.

However, by 7 April, the requirements were changed again. The KV-3 was to be revived, and its specifications vastly improved. In turn, the KV-4 would also weigh 75 tonnes, and have its armor increased to 135 mm. The deadline was also brought forward to 15 June. Most interestingly, LKZ was also assigned the development of the KV-5, a 90 tonne tank, with 150 to 170 mm of armor but also armed with the 107 mm ZiS-6. It would compete against the KV-4, with trials expected to be held in the beginning of 1942. In the meantime, until either entered mass production, the KV-3 would act as a stopgap.

Chief Designer of the program was J.Y. Kotin, who, considering the liberal requirements for the program, decided to approach the design in a unique fashion. He set up a competition between the engineers at SKB-2. For encouragement, he offered financial rewards for the top 7 best designs. By 9 May, the competition was over and the winners were announced. In total, between 24 and 27 proposals were submitted, and 11 prizes were awarded to 13 designers, as several designs were given the same spot and some designers teamed up.

First place went to N.L. Dukhov, second to Kuzmin, Tarotko and Tarapantin, and third to Tseits. Mikhailov’s design was less fortunate, and was one of the many who did not receive any awards for his creation, despite a handful of creative features.

Unfortunately, unlike some of the other competitors, so far, there is no information on who P.P. Mikhailov was, his position at LKZ, what he worked on later on, or his life in general.

Design

In terms of general layout, Mikhailov had a standard approach, with the driver in the hull front, centrally mounted turret, and powerplant package in the rear. Yet the design of these components was very bizarre. The turret was inspired from that of the KV-3, having a large conical shape. Inside, the main 107 mm gun was mounted.

Cutout side view of the design. Note the pattern of the track being forced down by the two return rollers at the base of the hull, right above the roadwheels.
Source: ASKM

The hull is where the design gets more bizarre. The tracks were pushed into the hull, a unique feature, as most Soviet (and modern Russian tanks) have them mounted outside the hull, including the KV-1. Consequently, as moving the tracks inside the hull removed significant usable space the hull, the tracks were forced down onto the roadwheels, instead of laying straight in the center of the hull. This allowed for more space, increasing the hull width in those areas where ammunition and fuel tanks would be placed. Yet the hull was still shorter than many other KV-4 designs. The front of the hull was standard for a KV tank, but the driver and radio operator compartiment were raised in relation to the rest of the hull. The rear was a single plate, stamped into shape.

The KV-4 was powered by a M-40 V12 diesel engine outputting 1,200 hp, also developed at LKZ from 1938 (after the original designer was arrested and killed). It was mounted in the rear of the hull, separated from the crew compartment by a designated firewall. The V12 power plant was coupled to the transmission and final drive, which in turn drove the sprockets. To compensate for the bizarre angling of the tracks and their incorporation within the hull, the air cooling vents had to be angled at the same plane as the tracks, from where the air housing would protrude from the hull. As for air intakes, these were mounted on the engine deck, behind the turret.

Top view drawing of Mikhailov’s KV-4. Notice how the tracks are underneath the hull, and not outside of it.
Source: AKSM

The sprocket and idler were mounted at a “normal” level in relation to the hull. This allowed for adequate angles of attack, and in turn, the off-road capabilities were unharmed by the deviation of the track path. To lower the tracks down, two guide wheels were mounted on the external side of the track. These would also allow for smoother track travel, lowering the chance of the track hitting the hull and potentially hopping out of its travel path. Furthermore, the track’s guide pins would enter the roadwheels, which in turn acted as return rollers. There were 7 roadwheels per side, sprung by torsion bars. These were far larger in diameter compared to the standard KV wheel, while the idler was the same size.

Cutout rear view of Mikhailov’s design. Note the side skirts, which act as the side armor in itself.
Source: ASKM

Crew

The crew was to be of 6, consisting of the tank commander, main gunner, main loader, driver, secondary gun operator, and radio operator. They would communicate with a 10-R intercom.

The commander, main gunner, and loader were placed in the turret, with the gunner to the left of the gun, commander to the right, and loader behind the commander. The loader had to stand up and load the shells mounted in the hull, underneath the turret and to the sides. The drawings only show a single entry/exit hatch, right above the breech of the main gun. If the commander and gunner would not have their own hatches, this would have posed a great issue, not only in emergency exit situations, but in standard service and operation of the tank, with the 3 crewmembers having to wait for the others to enter and exit. The amount of periscopes and/or vision slits is unspecified, but if it were to follow a typical KV design, the commander and gunner would receive their own rotating periscope, in addition to various fixed periscopes around the turret. In contrast to other KV designs, the commander was also the operator of the radio, allowing for direct communication with other tanks.

The driver’s position was to the left of the side of the hull, while the secondary gun operator was to the right. He was quite overburdened, having to aim, fire and load the hull-mounted 45 mm 20-K gun. The two had their own individual entry/exit hatches, situated right above their seats, in the roof of the hull. Notable is that the roof was elevated in their positions, offering more room. The driver also had a ball-mounted DT machine gun. The radio operator was likely situated further in the hull or inside the turret.

Armor

At 86.5 tonnes, it would have been the third lightest design submitted. Yet despite its lower mass and smaller dimensions, it had the thickest plate out of all designs, regarding sheer thickness. The entirety of the turret was 130 mm thick. Measurements of the drawings reveal that the frontal turret plate was 130 mm (the mantlet had the same thickness, resulting in a cumulative of 260 mm). The turret did not have the shape of a homogenous cone, as it was angled at 75º at the front and rear, resulting in 135 mm of effective thickness, and 60º at the sides, resulting in 150 mm. The hull protection was standard, with 130 mm at the front and sides. Here, it is important to highlight that the side armor was on the external side, acting as a side skirt, a feature common on heavy tanks of the 1930s. Belly armor was 50 mm and roof and deck armor was 40 mm. The design of the turret resembles that of the KV-3, but rounder.

Wooden mock-up of the KV-3 tank in its later stages.
Source: Tank Archives

Armament

The main gun, just like on all the other KV-4s, was the 107 mm ZiS-6 gun. It was first designed by V.G. Grabin for the KV-3, after Stalin himself reached out, concerned about the armaments of the KV series of tanks. It was designed in just 38 days, based on the already existing F-42, but renamed ZiS-6. In March of 1941, the Izhora plant was tasked with building a test turret fitting the ZiS-6 in a KV-2. After tests in that summer, the gun was ready to enter production, but the tanks themselves were not ready. It has a muzzle velocity of 88 to 840 m/s and a shell weight of 18.8 kg. Ammunition appears to have been stored exclusively in the hull, underneath the turret. The gun could elevate to +20 and depress to -5. The B-420 rounds had a muzzle velocity of 830 m/s and could penetrate a 120 mm plate angled at 30° from vertical, from 1,600 m. These rounds weighed 18.8 kg.

One of the first ZiS-6 107 mm guns produced.
Source: Yuri Pasholok via Warspot

The secondary armament, a 20-K 45 mm, was mounted in the hull, with limited traverse. Its ammunition was stowed to the right of the gun, in between the track and fuel tank. It used BR-240SP AP rounds, which weighed 1.43 kg, had a muzzle velocity of 757 m/s and a (artificially calculated) penetration of 73 mm at 0 m. An unspecified flamethrower was also mounted in the hull, on the left side over the track.

Drawings of the 45 mm K-20 gun with its turret gun mount.
Source: Armored Wiki via VK.com

Scattered around the tank were three ball-mounted DT 7.62 mm machine guns, one in the hull, operated by the driver, and two in the turret, facing the rear. These would have been operated by the loader and commander, and offered some protection against approaching infantry.

Failed Program

After the competition was completed, progress on the KV-4 virtually halted. The situation worsened when Germany started their invasion of the USSR in June 1941. Work instead shifted to the KV-5, which had complete detailed blueprints by August. However, the German forces were getting closer and closer to Leningrad and the factory workers and engineers were evacuated to ChKZ in Chelyabinsk. The KV-4 and KV-5 programs were canceled, as they would not be of any immediate military use, and divert necessary funds for the war effort.

Conclusion

The entire KV-4 program ended up as a failure, but Mikhailov’s design was not considered as having any beneficial features, and was not taken in consideration or awarded in the competition. Mikhailov did add a series of interesting features, such as bringing the returning track links down, for a wider hull. But one of the most sensible decisions, and unique features of the program, was moving the tracks within the hull altogether, as opposed to having them on the outside. This allowed for a more compact tank and less overall mass.

Special thanks to Zinoviy Alexeev

P. P. Mikhailov’s KV-4 proposal. Note the cylindrical turret and sideskirts. Illustration by Pavel Alexe, funded through our Patreon campaign.
Side view of Mikhailov’s KV-4 with the sideskirts removed, showing the interior of the hull and running gear.

KV-4 Mikhailov Specifications

Dimensions (L-W-H) 9 – 3.6 – 3 m
Total Weight, Battle Ready 86.5 tonnes
Crew 6 (commander, main gunner, driver, secondary gunner, radio operator, & loader )
Propulsion 1,200 hp diesel V-12 M-40 with 4 turbochargers
Speed 50 km/h (hypothetical), 35 km/h (realistic)/td>
Suspension Torsion bar, 7 wheels per side
Armament 107 mm ZiS-6 (F-42)
45 mm Mod.1937 20-K (hull-mounted)
3x DT machine guns
Unspecied flamethrower
Armor Turret: 130 mm
Front hull plates: 130 mm
Side plate: 130 mm
Belly: 50 mm
Top: 40 mm
Total Production 0, blueprints only

Sources

Breakthrough tank KV – Maxim Kolomiets
Supertanki Stalina IS-7 – Maxim Kolomiets
KV 163 1939-1941 – Maxim Kolomiets
Bronevoy Schit Stalina. Istoriya Sovetskogo Tanka (1937-1943) M. Svirin
Tank building on the verge of common sense | Warspot.ru – Yuri Pasholok
Tank Archives: Soviet 107 mm Guns – Peter Samsonov
Tank Archives: KV-3 Mulligan – Peter Samsonov
Tank Archives: ZIS-6 Characteristics – Peter Samsonov

Categories
WW2 Soviet KV-4

KV-4 (Object 224) Fedorenko

Soviet Union (1941)
Heavy Tank – Blueprints Only

In the spring of 1941, with the alleged new of a new German super-heavy tank under development, the Soviets triggered the development of several heavy tank programs. One of them was the KV-4, or Object 224. The LKZ factory in Leningrad was tasked with developing these via a competition amongst factory engineers. One of them was S.V. Fedorenko, the SKB-2 design bureau armament specialist. Yet despite his knowledge and vast array of tanks worked on, his KV-4 design was not taken into consideration.

Development

–Dear reader: A more detailed development analysis of the KV-4 program can be found in the KV-4 Dukhov article–-

KV-4 designs
Placement Name Drawings Mass (t) Dimensions (m) (LxWxH) Armament Crew Top speed (theoretical) Armor Reward /Rubles
1 Dukhov KV-4 82.5 8.150
3.790
3.153
-107 mm ZiS-6
– 45 mm K-20
– 2x 7.62 DT
6 40 km/h Front top plate: 135 mm
Front bottom plate: 130 mm
Side plate: 125 mm
Top and belly: 40 mm
5000
2 Kuzmin, Tarotko, Tarapatin KV-4 88 9.26
3.78
3.175
-107 mm ZiS-6
– 45 mm K-20
– 3x 7.62 DS-39
6 36 km/h Front: 125 mm
Side: 125-100 mm
Top and belly: 40 mm
3000
3 Tseits KV-4 90 8.85
4.03
3.62
107 mm ZiS-6
2x 7.62 DS-39
Unspecified flamethrower
7 45 km/h Front hul upper plate: 50 mm
Front hull bottom plate: 125 mm
Turret:130 mm
Side plate: 125 mm
Top and belly: 50 mm
2800
4 Sychev KV-4 95 – 100 9.23
4.00
3.40
107 mm ZiS-6 (F-42)
45 mm 20-K
2x DT machine guns
6 40 – 45 Turret: 135-125 mm
Hull: 105 mm
Top and belly: 40 mm
2000
4 Ermolaev KV-4 90 8.22
4.00
3.25
107 mm ZiS-6 6 35 130 mm
95 8.52
4.00
3.25
107 mm ZiS-6
45 mm 20-K
6 35 130 mm 2000
5 KV-4 Shashmurin 92 9.50
4.00
3.85
107 mm ZiS-6 (F-42) main cannon (112 or 102 rounds)
76 mm F-11 secondary cannon (120 rounds)
2x DT machine gun (400 rounds)
Unspecified flamethrower (hull)
7 35 km/h Front top plate: 125 mm
Side plate: 125 mm
Top and belly: 50 to 40 mm
1500
6 Buganov 93 7.70
3.80
3.90
107 mm ZiS-6
45 mm 20-K
6 50 km/h Front 125 mm 1000
6 Moskvin 101 9.573
4.03
3.74
107 mm ZiS-6
45 mm 20-K
6 40 km/h Front 130 mm 1000
7 Pereverzev KV-4 100 9.5
3.8
3.82
107 mm ZiS-6
45 mm 20-K
2x DT machine guns
6 39 km/h Front: 125 mm 500
7 Bykov 98.6 9.5
4.03
3.65
107 mm ZiS-6
45 mm 20-K
DS-39 machine gun
8 36 km/h Front 130 mm 500
7 Kalivod 500
N/A Fedorenko KV-4 98.65 8.10
4.03
3.70
107 mm ZiS-6
45 mm M.1938
3x DT machine guns
Unspecified flamethrower
6 35 km/h Front upper plate: 140 mm
Side plate: 125 mm
Turret: 125 mm
Top and belly: 50 to 40 mm
N/A Kreslavsky KV-4 92.6 9
4
3.225
107 mm ZiS-6
45 mm Mod.1937 20-K coaxial
3x DT machine gun
6 45 km/h Turret: 130 mm
Front hull plate: 130 mm
Front upper plate: 80 mm
Side plate: 125 mm
Rear plate: 130 mm
Top /bottom: 50 -40 mm
N/A Kruchenykh KV-4 107.7 9.13
4.03
3.78
107 mm ZiS-6
45 mm 20-K
4x DT machine guns
9 30 km/h Front: 130 mm
N/A Mikhailov KV-4 86.5 9
3.6
3
107 mm ZiS-6 (F-42)
45 mm Mod.1937 20-K (hull-mounted)
3x DT machine guns
6 50 km/h Turret: 130 mm
Hull: 130 mm
Belly and belly: 50 – 40 mm
N/A Marishkin KV-4 86.4 8.7
3.6
3.5
107 mm ZiS-6
45 mm 20-K
7 40 km/h Front: 130 mm
Upper frontal: 80 mm
N/A Pavlov & Grigorev KV-4 91 8.5
4.0
3.6
107 mm ZiS-6
45 mm 20-K
6 45 km/h Front: 100 – 125 mm
N/A Turchaninov KV-4 89.5 9.8
4.0
3.0
107 mm ZiS-6
45 mm 20-K
DT machine gun
7 35 km/h Front: 125 mm
N/A Strukov KV-4 92 8.6
4.0
3.8
107 mm ZiS-6
45 mm 20-K
6 50 km/h Front: 80 – 130 mm
N/A Unkown KV-4
N/A Unkown KV-4

A letter sent to the Soviet authorities by the Soviet Intelligence Services regarding German tank development on 11th March 1941 included a section on the development of German heavy tanks. Here, 3 different models were described, a 30-tonne Pz.Kpfw.V, a 45-tonne Pz.Kpfw.VI, and lastly, a 90-tonne Pz.Kpfw.VII. Which exact tanks these were is unclear, as the real Pz.Kpfw.VII, nicknamed Löwe, did not appear in official documents until November of the same year. Previous tank designs fitting (loosely) descriptions would be the VK30.01 series, VK36.01 and VK65.01.

The idea of a 90-tonne German tank was alarming and the GABTU (Main Directorate of Armed Forces) would quickly request the development of a new super-heavy tank. It was designated Object 224 or, more commonly, KV-4, as called by the factory that would develop it- the Leningrad Kirov plant (LKZ) at its SKB-2 design bureau. The factory had not only designed the KV-1 and SMK heavy tanks, but also heavier variants, such as the T-150, KV-220, and KV-3.

It is important to note that the heaviest tank in service with the Soviet army at the time was the KV-1 itself, which, once the war broke out, would prove a great disappointment. This came as a result of the political rush to push it into military service, even when it was not completely ready. Thus, KV tanks suffered from constant breakdowns from the poorly designed gearbox. They were slow and crews generally preferred the T-34. The situation reached a point where Stalin himself wanted to remove it from production if the issues would not be fixed. To compound the problems with the KV-1, at the time, it was only equipped with the F-32 76 mm gun, a gun inferior to the F-34 on the lighter and more reliable T-34.

On 21st March 1941, the GABTU requested that the KV-4 would be a 70-tonne heavy tank, armed with the ZiS-6 (previously called F-42) 107 mm gun, a 45 mm 20-K secondary gun, 3 DT 7.62 mm machine guns, and even a flamethrower. Armor was to be as thick as 130 mm at the front and 120 mm at the sides and rear. The engine would be a M-40 1,200 hp V-12 engine, with 4 turbochargers. The crew was to be around 6 men. Only 6 days later, the LKZ plant was ordered to complete the blueprints by 17th July, the Izhora plant to complete the prototype turret and hull by 1st October and Plant No. 92 to deliver the necessary armament by 1st September.

However, by 7th April, the GABTU changed their minds. They would request heavier parameters for the KV-3, up to 68 tonnes and the same ZiS-6, while the KV-4 would be increased to 75 tonnes weight, armor improved to 135 mm at the front and 125 mm at the sides and rear. The deadline was also tightened to 15 June. In the same request, the GABTU requested an even heavier vehicle, the KV-5, with 170 mm at the front and 150 mm at the rear, and weight of 90 tonnes. The sudden changes in design, and the increased time pressure, as well as the pressure of Stalin’s interest in the project served to make the design process more problematic and have knock-on effects.

LKZ began work on the KV-4 on 10th April. The head engineer was J.Y. Kotin. Here, the requirements would be changed once again, placing the mass between 80 and 100 tonnes. Considering the loose specifications, Kotin approached the design in a unique manner. With approval from the factory director I.M. Zaltsman, Kotin would make the design of the KV-4 a competition between the best engineers of the SKB-2 design bureau. To encourage seriousness, the top places would even receive monetary compensation. By 9th May, the competition was over, and up to 27 different designs were submitted by over 23 different engineers. The first place went to N.L. Dukhov, who received the first prize of 3,000 Roubles. Second prize went to a design by 3 engineers working together, K.I. Kuzmin, P.S. Tarapanin and V. I. Tarotko, who split the 3,000 Roubles award. Third place went to senior engineer N.V. Tseits who received 2,800 Roubles. Another 8 designs would receive awards. However, S.V. Fedorenko’s design would not receive any awards for his bizarre but innovative design.

S.V. Fedorenko

Born in Chernihiv in 1907, Sergey Vasilyevich Fedorenko graduated from the Leningrad Polytechnic Institute in 1930. At just 23, he began working at the Krasniy Putilovets tractor plant, later renamed to Kirov Leningrad plant (LKZ). By 1937, he was head of SKB-2 artillery and armament section at LKZ. After the transfer to ChKZ in 1941, he was deputy chief designer, on which he worked on tanks like the IS-4. Post-war, he had various jobs, but would settle down for the last two decades of his life as a teacher on tanks at the KGM institute at the South Ural State University. He would pass away a few hours after holding lectures, in 1986, aged 79.

Working mostly with tank armaments and their implementation, S.V. Fedorenko was the man behind various aiming systems, tank optics, turret turning mechanisms, (he was the designer of the entire gun mount, aiming system and overall integration of the armaments on the first KV-1 U-0 prototype, which had a 76 mm gun and dual 45 mm ones) as well as the flamethrowers for the KV-8 and KV-8S. He would also work under leadership of N.L. Dukhov on the IS-4. During his career, he was awarded 2 Orders of the Badge of Honour, the Order of the Red Star, the Medal for Labour Valour, the Medal for Defence of Leningrad, and the Medal for Valiant Labour during the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945.

S.V. Fedorenko while working as a professor on tanks and armament at the South Ural State University.
Source: Sergey Fedorenko – SUSU Encyclopedia

The KV-4 (Object 224) Fedorenko’s Design

In terms of the hull, Fedorenko’s KV-4 design approach was revolutionary, barely resembling that of its forebears. Firstly, the entire front consisted of a large single upper frontal plate, akin to that on the later variants of the IS-2. As for the lower plate, it too was a single plate, stamped to form a curve connecting the upper plate to the hull belly, similar to the style used on the American Sherman tanks. The rear was also unique, with the air intake hole being narrower and composed of two welded plates, as opposed to a single, curved steel sheet, as on other KV tanks. The sides were flat and vertical, forming a simple and efficient internal volume in which to install components as well as to mount the 8 road wheels per side, sprung by torsion bars. The sprocket was in the rear and the idler in the front. Armor on the lower frontal plate was 125 mm thick, while the upper was thinner, at just 100 mm, but being angled at 45°, it had a line-of-sight thickness of circa 141 mm. The side and rear plates were 125 mm thick, but were mostly flat. The driver and radio operator sat next to each other in the hull, with the driver in the centre and the radio operator to his left. To his right, he had the fuel tanks. Direct vision slits were cut through the hull armor. The radio operator had his communication equipment on the side walls, and a ball-mounted DT machine gun in the front.

The engine was the M-40 V-12 diesel engine, with 4 turbochargers, delivering 1,200 hp. A hypothetical top speed was to be circa 35 km/h. Fuel tanks were on the right side wall, next to the driver and ammunition. The engine and fighting compartment were separated by a firewall. It was mounted rather high in the hull, which required a protrusion in the engine deck and belts for the final drive.

Multi-view plans of Fedorenko’s KV-4. The front view shows the unorthodox profile of the vehicle.
Source: ASKM
Cutout view of the hull. Note the ammunition storage racks and fuel tanks.
Source: ASKM

Turret

As an armaments implementation engineer, Fedorenko let his creativity loose when it came to the turret and armaments. The turret had a distinctive and unusual rhomboid shape, allowing for a unique weapons layout and turret positions. It was centrally mounted in relation to the hull, but it had more overhang on the right side of the hull than on the left. The main armament was mounted centrally (with regards to the turret face) and had a coaxial DT machine gun. Behind the gunner’s seat, on the rear turret face, a ball-mounted DT machine gun was added. Additionally, a flamethrower was placed in a ball mount at the ‘corner’ of the turret cheek. Next to it, the tank for ignition fuel was placed, On the opposite side, the turret slanted towards the rear, creating a curved edge. Here, a spherical secondary turret was mounted, armed with a 45 mm gun. This turret would be able to move 360° on the horizontal axis, while the gun itself could elevate to 75°, presumably with an eye to engaging airborne or highly elevated targets, such as on the top floors of buildings. The secondary turret had no gun depression due to the recoil mechanism being mounted as low into the turret as possible. This turret can be seen as similar to a ball turret found in bombers.

Frontal view of the design. Note how the hull has been made as narrow as the engine allows. This causes a significant overhang of the turret.
Source. ASKM

Crew

The tank was intended with a crew of 6, tank commander, main gunner, 2x loaders, driver and radio operator. How exactly the crew operated this turret and how they were seated is unspecified and complex. Estimation and study of the drawings can reveal some possibilities. The gunner was seated to the left of the main gun, but would also be tasked with manning the flamethrower. The first loader would load the gun and probably operate the rear-facing DT machine gun. The commander would likely sit in the secondary turret, where he would not only have better vision but also rotation independent of the main turret. He would operate the 45 mm gun by himself, as the turret is too small to allow for a second crewmember. There are no periscopes drawn in on the secondary turret, so likely eye-level vision slits were intended. The second loader was likely in a position ‘between’ the turret and hull, and would be tasked with passing the ammunition for the various armaments, which was stowed in the hull. The driver and radio operator sat in the hull, with the driver in the center and the radio operator to his left, having a ball-mounted DT machine gun at his disposal.

The bizarre shape of the turret proposed by Fedorenko. Note that the rear-facing machine gun has had the armor pushed outwards to allow for additional room in the turret.
Source. ASKM

Armaments

As required by the state, the main armament was the 107 mm ZiS-6 (previously named F-42) gun, designed by V.G. Grabin a few months prior. It was mounted centrally (with regards to the hull) in the turret, and had a DT 7.62 mm coaxial machine gun. Circa 100 rounds for the main armament were stored in a horizontal ammunition rack placed against the left wall, with 8 more being stored between the torsion bars, running across the floor. The gun had a muzzle velocity between 800 and 840 m/s. Ammunition weighed 18.8 kg and was of the one-piece (unitary) type.

Secondary armament, as required, was a 45 mm 20-K gun model 1938 placed in an independently rotating turret. This iconic weapon was used on the vast majority of Soviet light tanks, such as the BT-7 and T-26, but was obsolete for fighting tanks in 1941. Even so, it would still have had considerable fighting value against lightly armored vehicles and other soft targets, where the ZiS-6 would have been ‘overkill’. Also, with HE rounds, it could have been very effective against infantry. The gun featured an electrical trigger and vertical plane gyroscopic stabiliser. It had a muzzle velocity of circa 760 m/s, and an elevation of 75°. A total of 150 rounds were carried for this gun.

Other weapons scattered around the tank were a coaxial 7.62 mm DT machine gun, a rear-facing DT machine gun in the turret, a ball-mounted DT machine gun in the front hull and a flamethrower of unspecified type in the turret cheek, facing the front. Its implementation was interesting, as it was vaguely required by the GABTU and, as a result, many designers left it out completely.

War!

After the end of the competition, the KV-4 progress was slow and focus shifted more to the drawings of the KV-5. The situation got so bad that on 12th June, Marshall of the Soviet Union G.I. Kulik requested LKZ to speed up work. Yet, just 10 days later, the German invasion of the USSR began. Work continued at LKZ, but the heavy tanks were no longer any priority. Nonetheless, the drawings of the KV-5 were complete by the time the Germans reached Leningrad in August. Then the SKB-2 design bureau would be evacuated to the ChKZ plant in Chelyabinsk. Work on these heavy tanks would not resume.

Conclusion

Fedorenko’s design was one of the many ‘unsuccessful’ KV-4 designs, as he did not receive any placement and monetary awards, though this may seem unjustified. His turret design had one of the most interesting and unusual turret layouts, being a rhomboid. He exploited this unusual shape to mount a variety of weapons in different positions. The hemispherical secondary turret is another interesting addition that did not feature a machine gun, as commonly seen on later tanks, but a full-fledged 45 mm gun. Even the hull had its own merits, employing a flat, slanted upper frontal plate, and elevating the engine deck for a shorter overall hull length. It is safe to say that Fedorenko presented a ‘delicate’ KV-4, as opposed to many other designs which were rawer, though this seemingly did not impress Kotin or Saltzman.

The KV-4 design as drawn by S.V. Fedorenko. Illustration by Pavel Alexe, funded through our Patreon campaign.

KV-4 (Object 224) Fedorenko specifications

Dimensions (L-W-H) 8.10 – 4.03 – 3.70 m m
Total Weight, Battle Ready 98.65 tonnes
Crew 6 (Commander, Gunner, Driver, Radio operator, loader, & turret mechanic/loader assistant)
Propulsion 1,200 hp diesel V-12 M-40 w/ 4 turbochargers
Speed 35 km/h (hypothetical)
Suspension Torsion bar, 8 wheels per side
Armament 107 mm ZiS-6 (F-42) (110 rounds)
45 mm M.1938 20-K
3x DT machine guns
Unspecified flamethrower
Armor Front upper plate: 140 mm
Front lower plate: 125 mm
Side plate: 125 mm
Turret: 125 mm
Top and belly: 50 to 40 mm
Total Production 0, blueprints only

Sources

Breakthrough tank KV – Maxim Kolomiets
Supertanki Stalina IS-7 – Maxim Kolomiets
KV 163 1939-1941 – Maxim Kolomiets
Confrontation – Ibragimov Danyial Sabirovic
Bronevoy Schit Stalina. Istoriya Sovetskogo Tanka (1937-1943) M. Svirin
Gunsmith S.V. Fedorenko (famhist.ru)
About the forgotten creators of Soviet armored power. (historyntagil.ru) – S.I. Pudovkin
German Lion | Warspot.ru – Yuri Pasholok
Tank building on the verge of common sense | Warspot.ru – Yuri Pasholok
Large caliber for large HF | Yuriy Pasholok | Yandex Zen – Yuri Pasholok
Tank Archives: Soviet 107 mm Guns – Peter Samsonov
Tank Archives: KV-3 Mulligan – Peter Samsonov
Tank Archives: Heavy Tank Costs – Peter Samsonov
Tank Archives: ZIS-6 Characteristics – Peter Samsonov

Categories
WW2 Soviet KV-4

KV-4 (Object 224) Shashmurin

Soviet Union (1941)
Heavy Tank – Blueprints Only

The KV-4 program was launched in the spring of 1941 as a response to the rumor of a German super heavy tank. Thus the LKZ factory in Leningrad was set to design a heavy tank capable of challenging the alleged German tank. A design competition was started, with over 20 different tanks presented by engineers at LKZ. One of them was N.F. Shashmurin, who presented a vehicle with a KV-1 trurret over a casemate which housed the 107 mm ZiS-6 gun. For this design, he was awarded 5th place in the competition. However due to his personal disputes with the chief engineer, J.Y. Kotin, he did not participate in the development of the KV-5.

Development

–Dear reader: A more detailed development analysis of the KV-4 program can be found in the KV-4 Dukhov article

KV-4 designs
Placement Name Drawings Mass (t) Dimensions (m) (LxWxH) Armament Crew Top speed (theoretical) Armor Reward /Rubles
1 Dukhov KV-4 82.5 8.150
3.790
3.153
-107 mm ZiS-6
– 45 mm K-20
– 2x 7.62 DT
6 40 km/h Front top plate: 135 mm
Front bottom plate: 130 mm
Side plate: 125 mm
Top and belly: 40 mm
5000
2 Kuzmin, Tarotko, Tarapatin KV-4 88 9.26
3.78
3.175
-107 mm ZiS-6
– 45 mm K-20
– 3x 7.62 DS-39
6 36 km/h Front: 125 mm
Side: 125-100 mm
Top and belly: 40 mm
3000
3 Tseits KV-4 90 8.85
4.03
3.62
107 mm ZiS-6
2x 7.62 DS-39
Unspecified flamethrower
7 45 km/h Front hul upper plate: 50 mm
Front hull bottom plate: 125 mm
Turret:130 mm
Side plate: 125 mm
Top and belly: 50 mm
2800
4 Sychev KV-4 95 – 100 9.23
4.00
3.40
107 mm ZiS-6 (F-42)
45 mm 20-K
2x DT machine guns
6 40 – 45 Turret: 135-125 mm
Hull: 105 mm
Top and belly: 40 mm
2000
4 Ermolaev KV-4 90 8.22
4.00
3.25
107 mm ZiS-6 6 35 130 mm
95 8.52
4.00
3.25
107 mm ZiS-6
45 mm 20-K
6 35 130 mm 2000
5 KV-4 Shashmurin 92 9.50
4.00
3.85
107 mm ZiS-6 (F-42) main cannon (112 or 102 rounds)
76 mm F-11 secondary cannon (120 rounds)
2x DT machine gun (400 rounds)
Unspecified flamethrower (hull)
7 35 km/h Front top plate: 125 mm
Side plate: 125 mm
Top and belly: 50 to 40 mm
1500
6 Buganov 93 7.70
3.80
3.90
107 mm ZiS-6
45 mm 20-K
6 50 km/h Front 125 mm 1000
6 Moskvin 101 9.573
4.03
3.74
107 mm ZiS-6
45 mm 20-K
6 40 km/h Front 130 mm 1000
7 Pereverzev KV-4 100 9.5
3.8
3.82
107 mm ZiS-6
45 mm 20-K
2x DT machine guns
6 39 km/h Front: 125 mm 500
7 Bykov 98.6 9.5
4.03
3.65
107 mm ZiS-6
45 mm 20-K
DS-39 machine gun
8 36 km/h Front 130 mm 500
7 Kalivod 500
N/A Fedorenko KV-4 98.65 8.10
4.03
3.70
107 mm ZiS-6
45 mm M.1938
3x DT machine guns
Unspecified flamethrower
6 35 km/h Front upper plate: 140 mm
Side plate: 125 mm
Turret: 125 mm
Top and belly: 50 to 40 mm
N/A Kreslavsky KV-4 92.6 9
4
3.225
107 mm ZiS-6
45 mm Mod.1937 20-K coaxial
3x DT machine gun
6 45 km/h Turret: 130 mm
Front hull plate: 130 mm
Front upper plate: 80 mm
Side plate: 125 mm
Rear plate: 130 mm
Top /bottom: 50 -40 mm
N/A Kruchenykh KV-4 107.7 9.13
4.03
3.78
107 mm ZiS-6
45 mm 20-K
4x DT machine guns
9 30 km/h Front: 130 mm
N/A Mikhailov KV-4 86.5 9
3.6
3
107 mm ZiS-6 (F-42)
45 mm Mod.1937 20-K (hull-mounted)
3x DT machine guns
6 50 km/h Turret: 130 mm
Hull: 130 mm
Belly and belly: 50 – 40 mm
N/A Marishkin KV-4 86.4 8.7
3.6
3.5
107 mm ZiS-6
45 mm 20-K
7 40 km/h Front: 130 mm
Upper frontal: 80 mm
N/A Pavlov & Grigorev KV-4 91 8.5
4.0
3.6
107 mm ZiS-6
45 mm 20-K
6 45 km/h Front: 100 – 125 mm
N/A Turchaninov KV-4 89.5 9.8
4.0
3.0
107 mm ZiS-6
45 mm 20-K
DT machine gun
7 35 km/h Front: 125 mm
N/A Strukov KV-4 92 8.6
4.0
3.8
107 mm ZiS-6
45 mm 20-K
6 50 km/h Front: 80 – 130 mm
N/A Unkown KV-4
N/A Unkown KV-4

On 11th March, 1941, the Soviet Intelligence Services provided a letter to the state discussing the development of German tanks. One of the subsections focused on development of heavy tanks, and showcased 3 main types; a Mark V weighing 36 tonnes and armed with a 75 mm gun, a Mark VI weighing 45 tonnes and armed with a 75 mm gun and 20 mm, and finally, a Mark VII, weighing 90 tonnes and armed with a 105 mm gun and dual 20 mm guns.

This was slightly bizarre, as, during the spring of 1941, the Pz.Kpfw.VII, commonly known as the Löwe, did not exist. It would only appear in documentation in November. Other German heavy tanks however existed, such as the VK30.01, VK36.01 and VK65.01. What exactly was ‘discovered’ by Soviet agents remains a mystery and may have been little more than speculation.

The Soviets only had the KV-1 in service as anything even remotely close to the above mentioned German tanks. Yet the KV-1 was armed with rather lacklustre guns, the 76 mm F-11 and later F-32, and its gearbox would prove very unreliable. The original gearbox was designed by N.F. Shashmurin, but Kotin favored N.L. Dukhov’s gearbox, which proved to be a disaster. Other Soviet heavy tanks, the T-150 and KV-220, were still under development when the news of new German heavy tanks came in. Even so, their development would not continue, as the improvements in armament and armor they would have brought were not seen as significant enough. With hindsight, the KV-220, with its 85 mm L-30 gun and 100 mm of armor, would have been on par with the German Tiger tank entering production in August 1942, well over a year later.

Naturally, the prospect of even more heavily armored and armed German tanks potentially coming out raised an alarm at the GABTU (Main Directorate of Armed Forces), which did not have a heavy tank on par with these parameters. As a result, on 21st March, the GABTU released a set of requirements for a new tank which was to receive the index Object 224 and general name KV-4. This would have a weight of around 70 tonnes, armed with an 107 mm ZiS-6 gun in a fully rotating turret, and a coaxial 45 mm gun. Additionally, at least 3 DT 7.62 mm machine guns and potentially a flamethrower had to be added. Armor was to be 130 mm at the front and 120 mm at the sides and rear. The engine for this new tank was to be one capable of producing 1,200 hp. Unfortunately, there were no engines powerful enough at that moment, so temporarily, a 850 hp V-2SN would be used. The crew was supposed to be of 6 men; commander, gunner, driver, radio operator, and 2 loaders. On 27th March, GABTU requested that the blueprints be finished by 17th July.

However, by 7th April, the requirements were changed. The armor was increased to 135 mm and 125 mm to the front and sides, respectively. With increased armor, the prospective weight of the vehicle was increased to 75 tonnes. Submission date for the blueprints was also brought closer, to 15th June, nearly a month earlier than had been asked for previously and indicating the urgency of the work at hand. It was also on this day that the KV-3 requirements were improved, and the KV-5 was born. Both the KV-4 and KV-5 were expected to enter testing in 1942.

It was the LKZ, Leningrad Kirov Plant, headed by I.M. Zaltsman, that was tasked with designing the new heavy tank. LKZ had previously worked on the SMK, KV-1, T-150 and KV-220 heavy tanks, but none came to the sheer mass and size that the KV-4 had to reach. The lead engineer of the project was J.Y. Kotin. The Izhora plant had to construct a turret and hull prototype, while plant No.92 was tasked with supplying the main gun

Work at LKZ started 3 days later, on 10th April. Since it was an entirely new project with relatively loose requirements, J.Y. Kotin decided to make the general design of the tank a competition between the engineers at the SKB-2 design bureau. The result was that over 24 designs were submitted by 9th May. First place was awarded to N.L. Dukhov, receiving 5,000 Roubles. Shashmurin received the 5th place, with an award of 1,500 Roubles.

Unfortunately, much confusion surrounded the actual winner of the KV-4 competition. This was caused by a segment in N.F. Shashmurin’s memoirs, from which readers interpreted that he had won. This is incorrect, as his design had received 5th place, for which the 1,500 Rubles award was given. Below is the relevant translation. It must be noted that, throughout his memoirs, titled ‘50 years of Confrontation’, Shashmurin makes a series of mistakes and inaccuracies, but this is to be expected, as he wrote it in 1987, 50 years later.

Having received, along with other leading employees at the design bureau (SKB-2), the task of developing a project for such a cyclops*, obviously multi-turreted, I, without sharing the same optimism considering the previous circumstances (multi-turreted, how long ago have we given up on the ‘Muir & Mirrielees’**, crumbled by the SMK) made a ‘knight’s move’. Basically, the turret was removed, and the process as when installing the M-10 152 mm on the KV-1 was repeated, that is, a casemate superstructure on the hull. And since a new, practically super-heavy KV-3 had already been created,*** I decided to not be smart about the ‘supernova’ tank. Having dropped the turret, the process was repeated from previous high-power self-propelled guns, but this time with a 107 mm Grabin gun. Notiyfing in an explanatory note that, under specific conditions, the gun can be removed and instead a rifle squad of infantrymen can be placed in the fighting compartiment. This option was not accepted, as the requirements were not met – (it required) higher protection, weight between 80 – 100 tonnes, turreted (multi-turreted) gun placement. To avoid an unnecessary confrontation, I complied. Considering that a superheavy tank cannot be a (true) tank, to fulfil the specified protection parameters, (I) had to invest into about 90 tonnes, kept the casemate mounted main gun, and installed a serially produced KV-1 turret on the now shortened (casemate) roof. It ended up that I.M. Saltzman really liked the variant, (given its ‘sensibleness’, or as he put it, ‘versatility’) and I received the second prize with the amount of 1000 Roubles.**** That was great. I bought my wife a fur coat with this money.

– Nikolai Fedorovich Shashmurin, extract from ‘50 years of Confrontations’.

*Referring to ancient Greek mythology where Odysseus blinds the giant cyclops Polyphemus.
**Scottish-owned Trading company in then St. Petersburg, started by Muir and Mirrielees, famous for its two devastating fires.
***Probably referring to designs by his fellow engineers.
****Documents from the time prove him wrong. He had in fact received 5th place and 1,500 Roubles.

Interestingly, Shashmurin disliked the KV-4, not only his own creation, but the entire program. According to historian Dr. Gennadiy Petrov, who knew Shashmurin personally, he had written on the back of his drawings the letters Б.С. (B.S.) acronym for Бред сумасшедшего, translating to “delirium of a madman”. This unconfirmed, but plausible detail gives insight to Shashmurin’s long-lived jealousy and dislike for J.Y. Kotin, Chief Engineer at LKZ. His strong feelings were made public again in a magazine interview taken by Sergey Ptichkin in the 1990s, which was mostly aimed at answering questions regarding the shortcomings of the KV-1, though the KV-4 was once again mentioned. A translated extract:

“Instead of eliminating the identified defects (of the KV-1) at the Kirov plant, they (in regards to the GABTU, I.M. Zaltsman and J.Y. Kotin) began to design a series of armored mastodons: KV-3 weighing 65 tonnes, KV-4 – 80 tonnes, KV-5 – 100 tonnes! Regrettably, we showed clear signs of technical madness much earlier than in Germany, where only at the end of the Second World War they tried to create weapons of retaliation like the ‘mouse’ tank, weighing 180 tonnes.* The first days of the Great Patriotic War only confirmed that the KV-1 in the form in which it was produced, was not fit for fighting, since it did not have a reliable powerplant. So there was this tragic paradox; the armor was strong, but it was not a fast tank. It would seem that faith itself pushed for an urgent modernization of the KV, for the replacement of the inoperable gearbox**, but, alas, in the most difficult time for the country, from the end of the summer of 1941 to the spring of 1942, we continued to spend huge material resources and human forces for further scientific and technical research. In the autumn of 1941, an attempt was even made to remove the KV-1 from production and replace it with the KV-3, a powerful, but completely “raw” and unnecessarily heavy machine.”

– N.F. Shashmurin, extract from ‘Soviet Warrior’, interview by Sergey Ptichkin, 1990s.

*With hindsight this is wrong, German superheavy tank development started long before WWII, more or less simultaneously with Soviet superheavy tank projects. However, in pre-internet, post-Soviet Russia, this was not common knowledge.
**The iconically unreliable gearbox and transmission of the KV-1 was a sensible spot for Shashmurin, as he had designed the original gearbox, but the production gearbox was designed by N.L. Dukhov.

In a way, Shashmurin was conservative in regards to tank design. From his post-war works, he made it clear that he preferred a more controlled testing and development of the KV-1, which was more or less rushed into production. He had wished for modernising and improving its faults. He liked the KV-1S but greatly despised the KV-13, which he considered redundant, despite the fact that he was its Chief Designer, after the death of N.V. Tseits, which Shashmurin once again blamed Kotin for. He was also Chief Designer of the IS-2, which he believed was a very worthy tank and should have been upgraded and improved upon, instead of rushing new tanks into production like the IS-3 and IS-4, which he called “impressive but unreliable”.

In hindsight, Shashmurin was correct in this regard. Oddly though, he was very proud of the IS-7, of which he was Chief Designer, and claimed Western tanks would not match its capabilities for decades, and blamed its cancellation on Khrushchev’s* obsession with rockets and missiles.

(*Nikita Khrushchev, First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union 1953 – 1964)

Prototype of the SMK, the tank for which N.F. Shashmurin designed the torsion bar suspension.
Source: TsAMO via Maxim Kolomiets

N.F. Shashmurin

Born in 1910 in what was called at the time St. Petersburg, Nikolai Fedorovich Shashmurin started his engineering studies at the Leningrad Polytechnic Institute in 1930, and graduated in 1936. By 1937, he had started to work at LKZ as an engineer for both the SKB-2 design bureau and the VNII-100 research institute. He designed important elements of mechanical components, such as torsion bars and transmissions. Likewise, he worked on the development of the majority of LKZ wartime developed tanks, such as the SMK, KV-1, KV-1S, KV-13, KV-85, IS, and IS-2. Postwar, he worked on tanks like the IS-7 and PT-76, as well as various tractors (LKZ partly resumed civilian tractor production).

By the 1970s, he was a PhD in technical sciences and worked as a professor at the Leningrad Polytechnic Institute. He died in 1996, aged 86. During his career, he received 2 Stalin Prizes, the Order of Lenin, the Order of the Red Star, and the Medal for Victory over Germany during the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945 (II Degree).

N.F. Shashmurin in the 1930s. He was an important part of many tanks developed at LKZ.
Source: Bronetechnikamira.ru

Shashmurin’s design

Original layout

If his memoirs are to be believed, Shashmurin originally intended to have an enclosed casemate for the main armament, without the additional turret. The casemate would have also been taller, resulting in something akin, a parallel he drew himself, to the KV-1 with M-10 152 mm howitzer. This suggests a much taller casemate to what was used on the final design. The driver and radio operator were likely placed within the fighting compartment, instead of being ‘pushed out’. He had also intended that the gun could be removed and a rifle squad of infantrymen be carried instead. However, this variant was not approved as it was ‘too light’, did not have at least one turret-mounted armament and the armor was too thin.

Final design

When designing his final KV-4 proposal, Shashmurin had a different approach. As per the original state requirements, the main gun had to be mounted in a fully rotating turret, but after the additional requirements (some of which were contradicting with each other) set by the GABTU, several designers decided to install the 107 mm ZiS-6 main gun in a limited traverse mount.

Shashmurin, however, would decide to add what appears to be a KV-1 mod.1939 turret on top, armed with an L-11 76.2 mm gun. The fighting compartment was moved towards the centre of the hull and morphed with the engine compartment, which was kept more or less identical to the previous KV series of tanks. His design would have been a colossal vehicle. Weighing in at 92 tonnes, it would have also been the longest KV-4 designs, at 10 meters long including the barrel.

The blueprints of the KV-4 drawn by N.F. Shashmurin. They provide extensive detail to technical specifications of the vehicle, including internal and external views.
Source. ASKM

The type of armament layout Shashmurin decided upon had a series of advantages and disadvantages over methods employed by other engineers. Firstly, the KV-1 style turret allowed for engaging armored vehicles completely independently of the 107 mm main gun. In addition, the usage of a readily available turret in combination with a simple casemate construction meant the production cost would have been significantly lower compared to that of many large KV-4 proposals. The silhouette of the tank was also lower.

Having a limited main gun traverse significantly decreased the battle value of the 107 mm gun, although horizontal traverse was kept at an acceptable range of 15° to both sides. Nonetheless, other issues were created by this weapon arrangement, such as an extra crewman and a cramped interior complicated coordination and communications. Also, the lack of the coaxial 45 mm gun meant that there was no way to range in the main gun, leading to longer target engagement times and more ‘wasted’ 107 mm shells.

Other than the superstructure and upper hull, Shashmurin kept his design simplistic in terms of the lower hull. Most components were identical and reused from the previous KV series of tanks. The idler was in the front, sprocket in the rear, and 9 road wheels on each side, sprung by torsion bars. The engine used would have been the aviation diesel 4x turbocharged M-40 V-12 1,200 hp engine, partially developed at LKZ after the original designer was arrested in 1938.

Armor was, for the most part, straightforward. The frontal facing elements were 125 mm thick, with side and rear plates also at 125 mm thick. The lower plate was bent into a rounded shape. Top and roof plates were all 40 mm, while belly plates were 50 mm up to the first 3 wheels, from after which they decreased to 40 mm. The rear was stamped in the classic KV style, with a curved cover of the cooling intake.

KV-1 turret mystery

As aforementioned, there was, seemingly, a KV-1 turret added on top of the main superstructure. Yet what model this was is a mystery. From the side, it appears to be an original turret from 1939 and 1940, with rounded edges. However, the top view brings additional details of the turret. Instead of being mostly flat, aside from the rounded edges and rear bustle, the turret bustle angled inwards sharply, resembling the turret of the T-28 and T-35A. The implementation of a L-11 gun is equally strange. As early as 1940, this gun was replaced with more powerful 76 mm guns. The pig nose gun mantlet was also kept. To the right of the gun, on the same axis, a 7.62 mm DT machine gun was mounted. Likewise, a DT machine gun was mounted at the back of the turret, in a ball mount.

In terms of armor, it is unclear if Shashmurin kept the original KV-1 turret armor values of 75 mm all around the turret. If this was the case, it would have made it more vulnerable compared to the rest of the vehicle.

Side view of the KV-1 turret. Note the clear L-11 gun with its iconic gun mount.
Source. ASKM
Top view of the KV-1 turret. The sides are not flat, but rather curve towards the rear, like on a T-28 turret. Note the coaxial DT machine gun.
Source. ASKM

Crew

The crew consisted of 7 men. The driver and radio operator were seated in two protrusions from the main casemate, with the main gun barrel between them. Study of the blueprints shows that the two would have had plenty of space all around. Further inside the casemate were the main armament’s gunner and loader. In many KV-4 designs, two loaders were dedicated to manning the ZiS-6, however, as the ammunition was placed close by and there was no coaxial armament, it required only one loader. In the KV-1 turret, another gunner and loader were seated, manning the L-11 gun. Inside the turret was the commander as well, a position which would have offered great vision. Nonetheless, commanding the tank would have been a true challenge. The commander had to prioritise and coordinate target acquisition and engagement of both guns. He was completely isolated from the driver and radio operator, who relied upon the commander for orders. Additionally, as is the case with many turretless AFV, the main gunner and driver had to have good communication and synchronisation for engaging targets. This communication was provided by a 10-R intercom.

Armaments

The main armament used was a ZiS-6 (F-42) 107 mm gun, designed by V.G. Grabin between December 1940 and early months of 1941. It had a muzzle velocity of 800 to 840 m/s. Ammunition was one-piece and weighed 18.8 kg. The breech lock was mounted vertically and was semiautomatic. It could allegedly penetrate 115 mm of armor at 1,000 m. Gun elevation was of +13° and depression of -4°, while horizontal traverse was 15° to both sides. Ammunition was stowed vertically, with circa 112 or 102 (according to Shashmurin’s blueprints) rounds stowed inside. Armament in the turret was the L-11 76 mm gun, used on the first production variants of the T-34 and KV-1. It had a muzzle velocity of 610 m/s and a shell weight of 6.5 kg. Its gun elevation was +26° and depression was -7°. Around 120 76 mm rounds were stowed horizontally in the hull. Additionally, there was a coaxial DT 7.62 machine gun and one ball-mounted in the back of the turret, with +25° and -15°. A flamethrower was also mounted in the radio operator’s location, in a ball mount, with ’20 shots”.

Unlucky Cyclops

The KV-4 program as a whole was unsuccessful. After Dukhov’s design was named as winner, work should have started on detailed blueprints, allowing for the other factories involved to start prototype production. However, by the deadline (15th June), the blueprints were not submitted. Just a week later, on 22nd June, 1941, Nazi Germany attacked the Soviet Union. Work continued at the SKB-2 design bureau, especially on the KV-5, but the KV-4 seems to have been forgotten. By August, German forces were approaching Leningrad, and SKB-2 was evacuated to ChKZ. Work on these heavy tanks would not resume.

With the KV-1 engaging in full-fledged battles, its weaknesses were immediately apparent. It suffered countless gearbox failures, was slow and bulky and crews preferred the T-34. The situation was so bad that it was threatened to be put out of production. Hearing about the gearbox disaster, which he expected, Shashmurin was furious. Kotin would adopt his design, not after a fair share of arguments, for the gearbox of the KV-1S, a very well liked development of the KV-1. Shashmurin would later head the development of the KV-13 and IS as well.

Shashmurin’s KV-4 design was even less successful. While he did receive the 5th place in the competition, none of his design features would be reapplied in the KV-5. It was indeed one of the more distinctive and unusual designs, though its combat value would have been questionable.

Final variant of Shashmurin’s KV-4. Illustration by Pavel Alexe.

KV-4 Shashmurin specifications

Dimensions (L-W-H) 10.00 (9.50 without barrel) – 4.00 – 3.85 m
Total Weight, Battle Ready 92 tonnes
Crew 7 (Commander, main Gunner, turret Gunner, Driver, Radio operator, main loader & turret loader) )
Propulsion 1,200 hp diesel V-12 M-40 with 4 turbochargers
Speed 35 km/h
Armament 107 mm ZiS-6 (F-42) main cannon (112 or 102 rounds)
76 mm F-11 secondary cannon (120 rounds)
2x DT machine gun (400 rounds)
Unspecified flamethrower (hull)
Armor Front top plate: 125 mm
Side plate: 125 mm
Top and belly: 50 to 40 mm
Total Production 0; blueprints only

Sources

Breakthrough tank KV – Maxim Kolomiets
Supertanki Stalina IS-7 – Maxim Kolomiets
KV 163 1939-1941 – Maxim Kolomiets
Confrontation – Ibragimov Danyial Sabirovic
50 years of Confrontation – Nikolai Fedorovich Shashmurin
Soviet Warrior (magazine), 1990 – Sergey Ptichkin
Bronevoy Schit Stalina. Istoriya Sovetskogo Tanka (1937-1943) M. Svirin
About the forgotten creators of Soviet armored power. (historyntagil.ru) – S.I. Pudovkin
German Lion | Warspot.ru – Yuri Pasholok
Tank building on the verge of common sense | Warspot.ru – Yuri Pasholok
Large caliber for large HF | Yuriy Pasholok | Yandex Zen – Yuri Pasholok
In the shadow of the Leningrad grandees | Warspot.ru – Yuri Pasholok
Tank Archives: Soviet 107 mm Guns – Peter Samsonov
Tank Archives: KV-3 Mulligan – Peter Samsonov
Tank Archives: Heavy Tank Costs – Peter Samsonov
Tank Archives: ZIS-6 Characteristics – Peter Samsonov

Categories
WW2 Soviet KV-4

KV-4 (Object 224) Dukhov

Soviet Union (1941)
Heavy Tank – Blueprints Only

Tank design in the 1930s Soviet Union was a period of great experimentation and versatility, with designs ranging from jumping and flying tanks to super heavy multi-turreted ones. Yet as the Soviet tank industry matured, tank designs became more sensible and, by the late 1930s, some very promising vehicles were in development, such as the T-34 and KV-1. Nevertheless, with tensions rising in Europe after the German invasion of Czechoslovakia, Poland, and then France through the Benelux, Soviet engineers had to fall back to some older drastic ideas. One of these was the KV-4, one of the most curious heavy tank programs in Soviet tank history, as it involved a competition between dozens of designers.

Development

KV-4 designs
Placement Name Drawings Mass (t) Dimensions (m) (LxWxH) Armament Crew Top speed (theoretical) Armor Reward /Rubles
1 Dukhov KV-4 82.5 8.150
3.790
3.153
-107 mm ZiS-6
– 45 mm K-20
– 2x 7.62 DT
6 40 km/h Front top plate: 135 mm
Front bottom plate: 130 mm
Side plate: 125 mm
Top and belly: 40 mm
5000
2 Kuzmin, Tarotko, Tarapatin KV-4 88 9.26
3.78
3.175
-107 mm ZiS-6
– 45 mm K-20
– 3x 7.62 DS-39
6 36 km/h Front: 125 mm
Side: 125-100 mm
Top and belly: 40 mm
3000
3 Tseits KV-4 90 8.85
4.03
3.62
107 mm ZiS-6
2x 7.62 DS-39
Unspecified flamethrower
7 45 km/h Front hul upper plate: 50 mm
Front hull bottom plate: 125 mm
Turret:130 mm
Side plate: 125 mm
Top and belly: 50 mm
2800
4 Sychev KV-4 95 – 100 9.23
4.00
3.40
107 mm ZiS-6 (F-42)
45 mm 20-K
2x DT machine guns
6 40 – 45 Turret: 135-125 mm
Hull: 105 mm
Top and belly: 40 mm
2000
4 Ermolaev KV-4 90 8.22
4.00
3.25
107 mm ZiS-6 6 35 130 mm
95 8.52
4.00
3.25
107 mm ZiS-6
45 mm 20-K
6 35 130 mm 2000
5 KV-4 Shashmurin 92 9.50
4.00
3.85
107 mm ZiS-6 (F-42) main cannon (112 or 102 rounds)
76 mm F-11 secondary cannon (120 rounds)
2x DT machine gun (400 rounds)
Unspecified flamethrower (hull)
7 35 km/h Front top plate: 125 mm
Side plate: 125 mm
Top and belly: 50 to 40 mm
1500
6 Buganov 93 7.70
3.80
3.90
107 mm ZiS-6
45 mm 20-K
6 50 km/h Front 125 mm 1000
6 Moskvin 101 9.573
4.03
3.74
107 mm ZiS-6
45 mm 20-K
6 40 km/h Front 130 mm 1000
7 Pereverzev KV-4 100 9.5
3.8
3.82
107 mm ZiS-6
45 mm 20-K
2x DT machine guns
6 39 km/h Front: 125 mm 500
7 Bykov 98.6 9.5
4.03
3.65
107 mm ZiS-6
45 mm 20-K
DS-39 machine gun
8 36 km/h Front 130 mm 500
7 Kalivod 500
N/A Fedorenko KV-4 98.65 8.10
4.03
3.70
107 mm ZiS-6
45 mm M.1938
3x DT machine guns
Unspecified flamethrower
6 35 km/h Front upper plate: 140 mm
Side plate: 125 mm
Turret: 125 mm
Top and belly: 50 to 40 mm
N/A Kreslavsky KV-4 92.6 9
4
3.225
107 mm ZiS-6
45 mm Mod.1937 20-K coaxial
3x DT machine gun
6 45 km/h Turret: 130 mm
Front hull plate: 130 mm
Front upper plate: 80 mm
Side plate: 125 mm
Rear plate: 130 mm
Top /bottom: 50 -40 mm
N/A Kruchenykh KV-4 107.7 9.13
4.03
3.78
107 mm ZiS-6
45 mm 20-K
4x DT machine guns
9 30 km/h Front: 130 mm
N/A Mikhailov KV-4 86.5 9
3.6
3
107 mm ZiS-6 (F-42)
45 mm Mod.1937 20-K (hull-mounted)
3x DT machine guns
6 50 km/h Turret: 130 mm
Hull: 130 mm
Belly and belly: 50 – 40 mm
N/A Marishkin KV-4 86.4 8.7
3.6
3.5
107 mm ZiS-6
45 mm 20-K
7 40 km/h Front: 130 mm
Upper frontal: 80 mm
N/A Pavlov & Grigorev KV-4 91 8.5
4.0
3.6
107 mm ZiS-6
45 mm 20-K
6 45 km/h Front: 100 – 125 mm
N/A Turchaninov KV-4 89.5 9.8
4.0
3.0
107 mm ZiS-6
45 mm 20-K
DT machine gun
7 35 km/h Front: 125 mm
N/A Strukov KV-4 92 8.6
4.0
3.8
107 mm ZiS-6
45 mm 20-K
6 50 km/h Front: 80 – 130 mm
N/A Unkown KV-4
N/A Unkown KV-4

On 11th March, 1941, the GABTU (Main Directorate of Armoured Forces) was informed by the Soviet Intelligence services of the existence of new German heavy tank projects. The report, naturally, was a mixed bag of real information and rumours. It is important to note that, while the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany were more or less allies during this period, tensions were high and any sort of technological advancement of the opposition had to be met with a proportional (or, in this case, disproportional) response.

The document received was titled “The direction of development of the German armed forces and changes in their state” and discussed several tank projects. When it came to heavy tanks, a chart presenting 3 tank models was shown:

  1. Mark V (36 tonnes, 75 mm gun, 2x machine guns, ≤ 60 mm of armor)
  2. Mark VI (45 tonnes, 75 mm gun, 20 mm gun, 3x machine guns, ≤ 70 mm of armor)
  3. Mark VII (90 tonnes, 105 mm gun, 2x 20 mm gun, 4x machine guns, unknown armor)

The report also mentioned, based on unconfirmed information, 72 tonne French tanks (possibly the Char 2C, which weighed 69 tonnes) present at the occupied Renault factory, in addition to 60 and 80 tonne tanks being built at Škoda and Krupp.

On the one hand, the Germans had indeed begun development of several heavy tanks, such as the 30-and 36-tonne projects (VK30.01(H) and VK36.01(H)). A month after the original Soviet report, in May, the Germans decided that, for 1942, the armor of future heavy tanks had to be improved. This would consist of 100 mm of frontal armor and 60 mm at the side. In terms of heavier vehicles, the VK.65.01 appeared in January 1939.

Interestingly, the Pz. Kpfw. VII, commonly known as the Löwe, with its many variants and stages, would not appear until November of 1941, with development starting in December. Mentions of a tank armed with a 15 cm L/40 existed earlier on. This begs the question on what the Soviet report was based on. It was very likely a combination of several tank designs and proposals, alongside rumours and speculations, likely cherry picked to sound as alarming as possible.

To put things into perspective, during this period, the best heavy tank in Soviet service was the KV-1, armed with the 76 mm L-11, meant as a stopgap until the introduction of the F-32 gun, which was not a significant improvement anyway. These guns were seen as problematic, especially by armament designer V.G. Grabin, but the political rush to push the KV-1 into production and military service left it with considerable faults and problems, including the armament and the infamous gearbox, which, it must be noted, was designed by N.L. Dukhov himself. The most important aspect of the KV-1 was its armor, with 90 mm at the front of the turret and 75 mm at the front of the hull. By 1941, the Soviets had several improvements of the KV-1 in the works, including the T-150 and KV-220, which brought more armor and better armament. With hindsight, the KV-220, with its 85 mm F-30 gun and 100 mm of armor all around, would have been (on paper) on par with the German Tiger I, which entered production only in August of 1942, 1.5 years later. It seems it would have been rather reliable, running 967 km with the V-5 700 hp engine (only needing 2 idlers, a torsion bar, 6 idler axles replaced and shearing 2 teeth in the transmission and destroying the eyelet of the clutch) after the 2 V-2N supercharged experimental engines broke.

Nonetheless, the Soviet authorities did not take the report lightly and immediately ordered work on an even heavier tank. It was expected that the gun used would be the 105 mm Flak 39. The Soviets had previously purchased this gun in 1940 for testing and, after firing trials, it was noted that a tank required 130 mm of armor or more to withstand fire from it. The Kirov Leningrad plant’s SKB-2 design bureau was tasked with the design of the new tank. At the same time, they were working on the KV-3, at the time a 50-tonne heavy tank, already superior to any German tank at the time. The Kirov plant had also worked on the T-150 and KV-220 tanks, which were further developments of the KV-1.

Technical requirements

Design and technical requirements were given only 10 days after the initial report, on 21st March, 1941. The new super heavy tank was named KV-4 (the acronym KV stands for Kliment Voroshilov, People’s Commissar for Defense of the Soviet Union until 1940) and received the GABTU designation Object 224. It was to weigh around 70 to 72 tonnes, with a frontal armor of 130 mm, side armor of 120 mm, and 40 mm on the belly and top. The main armament was to consist of the ZiS-6 F-42 107 mm gun. It was meant to have a full traverse range of 360° (though a handful of designs would mount the gun in a casemate with limited traverse). Elevation was to be between 15° to 17° and depression between -2° and -3°. Secondary armament would consist of 3 DT machine guns; one coaxial, one in the turret bustle and one at the front of the hull. Mounting of a 76 mm ZiS-5 gun was also desired as an alternative to the ZiS-6, though this was eventually dropped. A flamethrower was also mentioned for protection against approaching infantry.

The powerplant was meant to be a 1,200 hp engine, with the tank reaching an estimated top speed of 35 km/h. However, since there were no such powerful engines available at the moment, the 850 hp V-2SN was to be used as a temporary fix. For the KV-5 (and potentially the KV-4 as well), mounting 2 V-2SN was also considered until the M-40s were ready. Eventually, LKZ managed to produce 58 M-40 engines by August. Another variant was considered, the M-50, giving out 1,000 hp, which was meant for torpedo boats. The fuel was meant to last for 10 hours of continuous driving, in conditions between -40° and 40° Celsius. The gearbox had to be an automatic planetary type and the brakes had to hold up the tank’s weight on a 45° slope angle. The crew was to be composed of 6 men: Commander, gunner, loader, turret mechanic (loader assistant), driver, and radio operator, with the last two in the hull.

On 27th March, the Council of Ministers of the USSR released the plans for the development of the heavy tanks, presenting the deadlines of the development process. The LKZ plant was to provide drawings by 17th July, Plant No. 92 to deliver a 107 mm ZiS-6 and 76 mm ZiS-5 by 1st September and Izhora plant in Leningrad to build the hull and turret by 1st October. In terms of powerplants, the V-2SN and M-40 engines were considered. From a letter dated 30th May, the development (from blueprints to prototype testing and improvement) of the KV-4 was expected to cost 3,100,000 Roubles, while the KV-5 was estimated at 3,600,000 Roubles. Just the construction and factory trials of the KV-4 were estimated at around 1,800,000 Roubles. To put this into perspective, the production of a single KV-1 was around 295,000 Roubles (May 1942).

In an interesting turn of events, by 7th April the plans were changed entirely. The KV-3 program was revitalized, with the weight increased to 68 tonnes, armor increased to 120 mm and mounting a 107 mm gun. Consequently, in a letter to LKZ factory director I.M. Zaltsman, the KV-4 requirements were increased to a weight of 75 tonnes, 135 mm (some sources claim as much as 140 to 150 mm) of armor on frontal areas, and 125 mm on the sides and rear. The deadline for the blueprints was brought forward to 15th June. The hull and turret were expected on 15th August. Simultaneously, the KV-5 was brought to life. It was to be a response to the so-called ‘Pz.Kpfw.VII’, with a mass of 90 tonnes, frontal armor 170 mm thick, and 150 mm thick on the sides. It was to be built by 10th November.

The turrets had to be of welded and stamped construction, as castings at these thicknesses were not technologically possible at the time. Another issue with the armor was the connection. The Soviet armor industry could barely handle welding 75 mm armor plates, let alone anything above 125 mm. This issue was partially solved on the KV-5 (which got further into its developmental stage), where steel rods would be pushed and welded in holes drilled through the two armored plates, which in turn would be laid onto one another.

The main gun required between 70 and 80 rounds of ammunition. To top it all off, in a letter from the chief or the Main Auto and Armour Directorate of the Armoured Forces to the LKZ and Izhor factories, the prototypes of KV-4 (and KV-5) were expected to be completed and enter the testing phase by 1942.

Connecting pins for the large steel plates. This system was used on the KV-5, and likely on the KV-4 as well. The German Maus used them as well. Note, however, that the Soviet counterparts did not use interlocking plates, but rather L-shaped connections.
Source: Andrew Hills

Drawing competition

Work began on the KV-4 at Kirov on 10th April. The head designer was J. Y. Kotin. Considering that the tanks were to be designed from scratch, Kotin decided upon doing a competition. After getting Zaltsman onboard, they decided to even give prizes for the best designs. Most of the engineers at the Kirov SKB-2 design bureau would participate in the competition. No details were given about the layout, prompting a variety of unique and creative designs. However, a bit of confusion seems to have risen regarding specific details, as the specifications set up at LKZ did not entirely match the ones requested by the GABTU. The mass was set between 80 and 100 tonnes, armament consisting of the ZiS-6 107 mm and a 45 mm gun mod.1937, with the second gun meant for zeroing in the main gun and for dealing with softer targets. The Soviet military allegedly requested a flamethrower as well, but some designs lack it.

By 9th May, the competition was over and the winners were announced. Between 24 and 27 different designs were submitted (excluding different variations of the same design). In first place came N.L. Dukhov, who received 5,000 Roubles. Second place was given to a design made by 3 engineers, K.I. Kuzmin, P.S. Tarapanin, and V. I. Tarotko, who received 3,000 Roubles to be split between them. On third place came N.V. Zeits, who received 2,800 Roubles. The list continues to the 7th spot, with many places having several designs. Unfortunately, some designs have been lost to time, and some designs have unknown authors, or some lost drawings. From the 11 ‘winning’ designs, only Kalivoda’s project is missing blueprints. Kotin himself received 3,100 Rubles for leading the engineering team.

Designer name Place Prize received (Rubles)
N.L. Dukhov 1 5,000
K.I. Kuzmin, P.S. Tarapanin and V. I. Tarotko 2 3,000
N.V. Tseits 3 2,800 (2,000 according to another archive document)
L.E. Sychev 4 2,000
A.S. Ermolaev 4 2,000
N.F. Shashmurin 5 1,500
K.I. Buganov 6 1,000
G.N. Moskvin 6 1,000
L.N. Pereverzev 7 500
V. Bykov 7 500
Kalivoda 7 500

Other engineers who presented designs but did not receive any awards were F.A. Marishkin, S.V. Federenko, M.I. Kreslavsky, V. Pavlov and D. Grigorev, P. Mikhailov, G. Turchaninov, N. Strukov, and 2 other unnamed designers.

Despite the exciting competition, the progress was slow. By 12th June, 3 days prior to the deadline, Marshal of the Soviet Union G.I. Kulik sent a letter to LKZ demanding the speed-up of the design process. Yet the drawings were never submitted. Just 10 days later, on 22nd June 1941, German forces began their invasion of the Soviet Union.

The GABTU decided that the KV-3, which was in an advanced stage, would continue development and be implemented as a stopgap measure until the KV-4 and KV-5 were ready. These two would be tested against each other and the winner would be produced. Development of the KV-5 continued until August, albeit at a much slower rate, when the Germans had already reached Leningrad. The workers and engineers at LKZ, including SKB-2, were moved to ChKZ in Chelyabinsk.

KV-4 SPG

In a decree dated 18 April 1941, from the Council of Comissars, a KV-4 based SPG was mentioned, having 60 mm of armor and a lengthened KV-4 chassis (why lengthening the chassis was deemed necessary is a mystery). It was to be armed with a 107 mm gun using a 152 mm ML-20 mod.1937 howitzer gun mount, and was to have a muzzle velocity of 1100 m/s, developed and produced at plants No. 172 and No.92. Theoretical calulations from the time gave the armament a penetration of 188 mm, angled at 30° from 1000 m. Later calulations reduced the muzzle velocity to 1020 m/s. The first experimental guns were expected by 1 July. Work was carried on in parrallel to the Object 212 and SU-B-13 SPGs, but the KV-4 SPG never reached the blueprint stage.

N. L. Dukhov

The winner of the KV-4 competition, Nikolai Leonidovich Dukhov, was born in 1904 in Veprik, in modern day Ukraine. He was behind several Soviet tank projects. In his first years as an engineer, he worked at the Putilovets tractor factory, on the Universal tractor. In 1936, he worked on his first tank project, a modernization of the T-28. A few years later, his team at the LKZ (Kirov) SKB-2 design bureau was responsible for designing the KV-1 heavy tank. After the Siege of Leningrad, SKB-2 was moved to ChKZ, from where he continued designing tanks. Other noteworthy tanks designed under his leadership were the KV-1S, KV-2, KV-85, KV-13, IS, IS-2, IS-3, and IS-4.

After 1948, he was involved in the Soviet nuclear program, being deputy chief designer at KB-11 (since 1992 known as the ‘Russian Federal Nuclear Center’) and participated in the development and testing of the RDS-6s thermonuclear hydrogen bomb, with a yield between 400 to 500 kt. In 1954, he became chief director and supervisor at branch No.1 of KB-11, which still bears his name to this day. He led it until his death in 1964, at just 59 years. He received 3 Hero of Socialist Labour medals, 4 Lenin Orders, 5 Stalin Prizes, the Lenin Prize, the Order of Suvorov, the Order of the Red Banner of Labour, the Order of the Red Star, the medal for Labour Valour, the Medal For the Victory over Germany in the Great Patriotic War 1941–1945, the Medal for Valiant Labour in the Great Patriotic War 1941–1945, the Jubilee Medal 30 Years of the Soviet Army and Navy, and the Jubilee Medal 40 Years of the Armed Forces of the USSR.

Nikolai Leonidovich Dukhov, one of the most important Soviet tank designers of the Second World War, in charge of designing some of the most iconic Soviet tanks, like the KV-1.
Source: Wikipedia.ru

Dukhov’s design

Dukhov presented at least 4 drawings of his proposal, one side view of the entire tank, one cutout top view of the turret, one partial cutout of the hull and one showing the automated round lifting system. The design was very similar to the KV-220, a tank designed with L.E. Sychev and B.P. Pavlov (both of whom submitted KV-4 designs), but much larger. The hull was essentially an up-armored and lengthened KV-1 hull, with 8 wheels per side, sprung by torsion bars. Other details and components remained mostly identical to those of previous prototypes and of the KV-1 mod.1941. The exact number of return rollers is unknown, but comparing to previous designs, 4 appears most likely. Curiously, the rear engine deck plate was angled downwards, similar to the KV-1S. His design was the lightest of all KV-4 designs, estimated at ‘just’ 82.5 tonnes.

The single KV-220 prototype, armed with an 85 mm F-30 gun. It served as a basis for the KV-3 tank, and as a great inspiration for Dukhov and his KV-4 drawings.
Source: Tank Archives, colorized by Smargd123

One of the engines considered was the M-40 aviation diesel engine, developed at LKZ (after the original designer, A.D. Charomsky, was arrested in 1938, during the Purges). It had an output of 1,000 horsepower (later improved to 1,200) with 12 cylinders arranged in a V-shape, and 4 TK-88 turbochargers. There was also an upgraded version, the M-40F, delivering up to 1,500 hp. The other engine considered was the V-2SN, which was an upgraded variant of the classic V-2 12 cylinder engine. It was boosted with a turbocharger to 850 hp. With such a powerplant, Dukhov expected his design to reach an optimistic 40 km/ top speed.

Side cutout view of Dukhov’s KV-4. The similarities to the KV-220 are very clear.
Source: ASKM

The turret designed by Dukhov was also similar to the KV-220, with the main difference being that the frontal plate (mostly covered by the mantlet) was angled, as opposed to flat like on previous KV tanks. A total of 4 plates were used for the turret, with the frontal plate angled at circa 20° and 130 mm thick. The side armor plate would have been circa 125 mm thick and stamped into shape. The rear plate was flat and 125 mm thick. On top of the main turret, a smaller turret was added armed with a DT machine gun. This turret had circa 3 vision periscopes for the commander. Another 4 periscopes were scattered around the turret to give vision to the rest of the crew members.

Top view of the turret, with view of the two guns and turret floor.
Source. ASKM

In terms of placement of the 6 crewmen, the driver and radioman were placed in the hull, in identical positions to other KV series tanks. The gunner was seated to the right of the 107 mm gun, while the commander was standing behind him, operating the cupola. As for the loaders, one was seated to the right of the 45 mm gun and was tasked with loading it and lifting ammunition for the 107 mm. The other loader was standing behind the main gun and had the task of loading the main gun. They used a 10-R intercom for communication between each other.

Top view of Dukhov’s hull, the front of the hull has been cut out. The ammunition loading system can be seen, using special components holding the shells by the ends.
Source: ASKM

Armament

The KV-4 used the F-42 ZiS-6 107 mm as the main gun. It was designed by the iconic V.G. Grabin at factory No.92. First appearing in documentation in December 1940 as the F-42, but renamed to ZiS-6 in March 1941. The gun was ready by 14th May, taking only 38 days to design according to Grabin himself, after both Marshal of the Soviet Union Kulik and Stalin spoke to Grabin about the issue, though a phonecall between Grabin and Stalin revealed that the gun had to be designed in 45 days. Plant No-92 was forced to work ahead of schedule, and on 27th May, sent a gun to LKZ for mounting on the KV-2 for testing. Yet the Izhora plant, tasked with making the turret for the test ring, using a KV-3 gun mount, was progressing very slowly. On 18 June, Marshal Kulik had to intervene (again), for the Izhora plant to finish the turret. Testing finally began on 25th June and ended on 5th July. After the initial test, faults were fixed, and the gun was deemed ready for production. Serial production began at the New Sormovo plant in July. But, according to Grabin’s memoirs, the lack of cooperation and work from the tank factories was a large dissapointment.

The production of the ZiS-6 increased daily. But there was still no sign of the tank for which the gun was intended. Even after the beginning of the war, the Kirov plant did not deliver a single tank. The lack of the new tank forced us to limit production and eventually, cancel it. It is difficult and embarrassing to write about this, in those days when everything that could shoot, even museum pieces, were sent to the front, around 800 gun barrels had to be sent back to the melting furnace

– V.A. Grabin, extract from his memoirs.

In September, the ZiS-6A was discussed for the KV-4, which involved the mounting of a 45 mm gun coaxially, but it remained just an idea, mostly because of the abandonment of the KV-4.

The KV-2 fitted with an 107 mm ZiS-6 and the KV-3 gun mantlet in June 1941.
Source: Thinky via WT forums

In terms of technical data, the ZiS-6 had an muzzle velocity of 800 to 840 m/s. Ammunition was one-piece and weighed 18.8 kg. The breech lock was mounted vertically and was semiautomatic. It could allegedly penetrate 115 mm of armor at 1,000 m.

Regarding secondary armament, Dukhov fitted his design with a coaxial 45 mm mod.1937. With a muzzle velocity of 750 m/s, it would be used for ranging in the main gun, while also engaging targets that would not require the main 107 mm gun. Loading would be done by any of the two loaders. There was no firing mechanism designed for it, but it was likely fired independently from the main gun by the gunner. The tank also had at least two DT machine guns, one mounted in a ball mount in the hull, and the other in the secondary turret on the top of the main turret. Ammunition for it was stowed in the hull, on both sides of the turret ring.

Dukhov had envisioned 2 ways to load the main gun. The first was the classic way, by simply lifting the ammunition stored in the floor of the tank’s hull. There must have been a form of turret floor, as the entire hull floor was peppered with ammunition. This was in no way a simple endeavour, but with two loaders, it was a realistic task. The second option was a semiautomatic loader system, which had a system that would lift up the shells from the hull to the same level to the gun breech, from where the loader could load them in. The shells would be lifted by a chain-like system, in-line with the gun breech. These would be stored across the hull, and would have been required to be placed manually in the lifting system.

View of the loading layout and system proposed by N.L. Dukhov for his KV-4.
Source: ASKM

German invasion

Even after the German attack on the Soviet Union, work on tanks continued at LKZ. For the KV-5, the engineers who had received the top places in the KV-4 competition (except the 3 in second place) would work together on the KV-5. This gained traction and blueprints were being drawn, including the turret, hull and running gear components. As for the KV-4, there was barely any progress. Dukhov’s design was awarded as the best, but what this truly meant for the KV-4 is all speculation. Whether Dukhov’s would have been the main layout of the final KV-4 prototype is unknown. Work continued on the KV-5 and KV-3 until August, by which time the Germans were quickly approaching Leningrad. To deal with this, the SKB-2 design bureau was evacuated to ChKZ in Chelyabinsk. There, work on the KV-4 and KV-5 would not resume, as they were seen as a large waste of time and money when the Soviet Union needed tanks yesterday.

With the KV-1 seeing combat against the Germans, it was truly confirmed how unprepared for service it truly was. Dozens of reports came in about transmission and gearbox failures, the vehicle being too heavy and slow, and crews preferring the T-34. The situation got so serious that Stalin himself said that, if the issues would not be fixed, the KV production would be discontinued. This obviously came as a serious blow to LKZ engineers, which immediately began improving the KV.

Additionally, the conspired German heavy tanks never came. Thus, all unnecessary heavy KV projects were left behind and work was focused on improving the KV-1. The work eventually resulted in the heavily praised KV-1S, experimental KV-13 and, finally, the iconic IS.

The KV-4 designed by Dukhov, as represented in the MMO World of Tanks by Wargaming.net.
Source: Wargaming.ne

Conclusion

Arguably one of the most interesting Soviet heavy tanks of the Second World War, the KV-4 was not just a massive vehicle, but also involved the interesting competition tactic which would not be applied again by Soviet designers. This brought a variety of interesting and unique ideas. However, no matter how advanced or revolutionary the KV-4 designs were, the entire program was simply too expensive and worthless, especially once the Soviets had entered war against the Axis. The program was not without its merits.

Dukhov’s KV-4 incorporated an efficient and trialed design into what was seen as the most successful KV-4 variant. It was the lightest, simplest, and almost a natural evolution from the KV-220. Equally interesting, he envisioned a partially automated loading system, with shells being lifted to the level of the gun breech. This gave him the victory against all the other engineers, but it was to no avail.

The KV-4 as designed by N. L. Dukhov. Illustration by Pavel Alexe.

KV-4 Dukhov’s variant specifications

Dimensions (L-W-H) 8.150 – 3.790 – 3.153 m
Total Weight, Battle Ready 82.5 tonnes
Crew 6 (Commander, Gunner, Driver, Radio operator, loader & turret mechanic/loader assistant)
Propulsion 1,200 hp diesel V-12 M-40 with 4 turbochargers
Speed 40 km/h (hypothetical)
Suspension Torsion bar, 8 wheels per side
Armament 107 mm ZiS-6 (F-42)
45 mm Mod.1937 coaxial
2x DT machine guns
Armor Front top plate: 135 mm
Front bottom plate: 130 mm
Side plate: 125 mm
Top and belly: 40 mm
Total Production 0; blueprints only

Sources

Breakthrough tank KV – Maxim Kolomiets
Supertanki Stalina IS-7 – Maxim Kolomiets
KV 163 1939-1941 – Maxim Kolomiets
Confrontation – Ibragimov Danyial Sabirovich
Bronevoy Schit Stalina. Istoriya Sovetskogo Tanka (1937-1943) M. Svirin
About the forgotten creators of Soviet armored power. (historyntagil.ru) – S.I. Pudovkin
German Lion | Warspot.ru – Yuri Pasholok
Tank building on the verge of common sense | Warspot.ru – Yuri Pasholok
Large caliber for large HF | Yuriy Pasholok | Yandex Zen – Yuri Pasholok
Tank Archives: Soviet 107 mm Guns – Peter Samsonov
Tank Archives: KV-3 Mulligan – Peter Samsonov
Tank Archives: Heavy Tank Costs – Peter Samsonov
Tank Archives: ZIS-6 Characteristics – Peter Samsonov