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.

30 replies on “KV-VI (Fake Tank)”

This is a very well written article…the Behemoths of course an absurd piece of fiction, never meant to be taken seriously I’d venture to say.One doesn’t need a PhD in mechanical engineering to assess the flaws in this fantasy tank…it’s clearly a cobbled together assembly from hobby scraps but such is the internet to give it 5 even minutes credence.
My compliments to the author of this article “Willkerrs” Oct 7/’15 for concise and interesting historical information debunking the “KV-VI”, Fake Tank.
Quite aside from all the immense practical problems and production issues such a monster tank would present (as listed above), I believe any “mega-tank” prototype actually constructed let alone brought into action would be well recorded.
As for the evidence….the photoshop “photos” are ludicrous, but have considerable humor value at least.
Likewise we view the well drawn graphics by the artists with scepticism. Many such artists I find have seldom if ever operated, transported or maintained heavy equipment, nor do they comprehend basics of mechanical engineering or the simple laws of physics, herein applied to tracked vehicles. Animated cartoons and comic book science has its place…as entertainment.
Constructing a false history (backstory) is a much more serious issue imho however, and that practice needs to be exposed.
Great work Tanks Encyclopedia for completely discrediting this preposterous hoax !!

Many thanks for your kind comments, it really makes all the hard work worthwhile! I’m really glad that you like the article – the aim here was to give a very detailed account on the KV-VI, because many internet articles don’t.
With regards to making stories up and whatnot, i’m all too familiar with that. I spend most of my time researching little-known tanks, such as the NI (Odessa Tank), KhTZ-16, etc, and i’ve seen so much nonsense on Russian, Polish, and Czech forums regarding them (and other vehicles), so it really makes my job harder. In fact, i’d say it’s a constant uphill battle, but we’re working hard here on Tanks Encyclopedia to get the right information. The NI is a triumph for doing such, seeing as though almost every article on it written in English uses photos of the replica. I really suggest you check it out if you like weird vehicles.

the idea of this thing is just…strange…but interesting none the less…and I must ask…are you guys still doing the “fake tanks” series?…because I know a few “well known” fakes…like the 15 gun M3 lee

We do have some articles in the works for the series. It’s had a long break due to other priorities, but we will be releasing one soon, just keep your eyes open!

One article is ready and will be published soon, and we have others in project. Due to competition between video games and the need to entertain while playing with history and facts we are not ready to see imagination declining in this aspect soon !

I presume the article you were speaking of was the Type-2 Ho-I? you guys are awesome and keep up the good work because I love reading about stuff I had no clue about prior

The power it would need to turn would be absurd. The less amounts of tracks on the ground would result in faster turning. The KV-6 with its long tracks would have a very hard time turning. The only use for it is to drive it in a straight path all the way to Berlin.

I built the KV-VI or as some would prefer the KV-6 many years ago. It was a a fun, not-to-be-taken-seriously build years before the internet made such things viral. I built the model as a fun project and made up my history as a joke. It was never to be taken serrsously or posed as a fake but once on the internet there was no control. Of course the specs do not line up with what would be mechanically possible… as I said it was a fun joke. I apologize to those that took it seriously or have reached out to me to ask about more references for a “real” tank. It was never my intention to mislead anyone or instigate a hoax. It was simply a fun, creative build to enter in a model show and I created a history as a supporting and funny document. I do appreciate the fact that it has become known worldwide. Steve Zaloga told me that many Russian modelers and armor buffs are familiar with my KV-VI and a company in China created a paper model based on my specs. To repeat this was a modleing project for fun with some creative history to amuse the poeple viewing the model…it eas never intended as a fake or hoax.
Brian Fowler

Hello, Brian. I’m very pleased to hear from you. As the author of the article, i’d like to assure you that the article too, was more or less a piece of fun to explain why the KV-VI couldn’t work in reality due to the many mechanical problems, although we did look at a scenario in which it could work – IE the Defense of the streets of Leningrad. I really enjoyed considering the idea of the KV-VI, and I certainly enjoyed writing this article, and I hope that you enjoyed reading it. It’s a great reminder that bigger isn’t always better (although it sure is a lot more exciting and cooler).
The article wasn’t meant to be any kind of personal attack on you, nor was it supposed to frame the model as an intentional hoax, it was just meant to explain why it couldn’t be and wasn’t real to those who thought it was, because a lot of people believe it. With your permission, we’d like to include a few pieces of your comment in the article, just to get your side of the story, and ensure that the vehicle is framed in the correct light. I do have a few questions, if you would be kind enough to answer them – If you remember, where did you get the name Barkov? Was it meant to be Barykov? Do you have any other photos of the model, per chance? How do you feel about all the photoshops and images being made of the KV-VI? Do you still have the model?
PS. I like the double KV-2 turret! That was a really cool addition, and must’ve taken some time and skill. Although it was the first thing that made me say “Wait a minute… This can’t be right!”

Hi Brian, nice job! Just to let you know you’re not alone, something similar happened to a friend of mine who built an entirely ficticious Gloster Meteor PR.19: essentially a British equivalent of the U2 spyplane. His pictures and bogus history ended up on the web stripped of their explanatory article too, and he started getting calls from museums who were in turn getting calls from perplexed aviation historians. He even got a call from somebody in US intelligence! The pictures and info ended up in at least one ‘learned’ article about aerial photography and also in an add-on for the game Harpoon.
If you enjoy this sort of thing, you can find a community of like-minded souls on and

Hey Harold,
The guys at could be interested in this sort of stuff! Send them a message!

I was at the ’96 IPMS convention and I was very amused by this model, in fact it was my favorite of the whole show.

Hey guys
I know this sounds crazy but, what if the Germans were to capture the vechiles and chop and change them in to one? I know its a fake tank but if it were seen, a German customisation is my first conclusion
EmeraldBrix, out

LOL, I thought the Germans tried the dumbest stuff, but just look at that! To be honest, It wouldn’t have surprised me if these went into production. The Russians might be stupid enough to do that.

Actually, no, they were definitely not that stupid.
The Soviets gave a lot of thought to the vehicles they built, quickly phasing out dead end or overly complicated designs (see, for example, the T-50 light tank)

I remember someone made a model of this in war thunder and Phly Daily was driving it around lol 😀

In the paragraph next to the photo of the T-28 parade at the end it says “what it lacked in armor, it gained in armor and cost-effectiveness.” I do not believe this is right

Just out of curiosity, with today’s resources and technology, is there any nation in the world that could make building the KV-VI possible, regardless of practicality?

A 1:72 Model of item. The seller a Belarussian chap whose other kits I had bought, was not happy at my saying its not a real tank. In fact he claimed that as the USSR fell their existed a brief time where… well you get the picture. I have to admit I WANT It to be real but its very hard to argue with Mr Fowlers story!

From the ebay item should it get sold or removed:- btw In case I didn’t paint the picture clearly enough, the chap said his friend, an ex employee of a certain “police” force had seen the OG plans. I sent him this article and suggested some communication, maybe TE could make the first move. Certainly explosive (duff duff tsk) stuff he was saying and intriguingly the 1st reply to my fake comment came back very fast! None of which ties in with what is established in the article but still…

From the listing.
Historic comment about real tank

KV-6 – experimental heavy tank of the USSR. KV-6 was developed in 1941 by designers led by Kotin and Barkov. The tank was supposed to have three towers, each of which had to have its own type of weapon, namely (mortar, anti-tank gun and rocket mortar). A variety of weapons and thick armor would allow this tank to easily repel a variety of attacks. And the name – “ Hippopotamus ” this tank received after a conversation between the designers of the tank and Stalin. When the designers came to Stalin and told him that the three towers on the tank would make the tank too long, which would increase its turning radius too much, Stalin answered them that they did not need to deploy it, they had to be sent directly to Berlin. The design of the KV-6 tank was a combination of tanks: KV-1, KV-2, BT-5, T-60 and T-38. General information from the KV-6 tank: Crew: 16 people, height: 4.65 meters, width: 3.07 meters, length: 11.6 meters, weight: 138 tons, engine power: 1800 horsepower, top speed: 21 kilometer per hour, cruising range: 160 kilometers, armor: up to 160 millimeters, armament: two 152 mm howitzers, two anti-tank guns with a caliber of 76.2 mm, one gun with a caliber of 45 mm, two machine guns with a caliber of 12.7 mm, two Maxim machine guns with a caliber of 7.62 mm, fourteen DT machine guns with a caliber of 7.62 mm, sixteen BM-13 missiles, and two og Emet.

The first prototype was completed in 1941 and was immediately sent to defend Moscow. In the very first battle, which took place in heavy fog, the rear tower accidentally shot through the middle tower, which completely destroyed the tank.

The second copy of the KV-6 was completed in the winter of 1942, it was sent to the Leningrad Front. The same prototype, unlike the first, had special indicators that avoided the cross of the central tower from the back of the tower. And the next KV-6 in the first battle, breaking the moat, broke in half. The spark that occurred during the fracture set fire to the flamethrower fuel, and this provoked an explosion of shells, which completely destroyed the tank.

The third prototype was made with a reinforced hull so as not to break through the moat, and was sent to the Leningrad Front in the winter of 1942. The third KV-6 was already more reliable, he managed to shoot down several German aircraft and conduct continuous shooting for three hours, but the strong recoil of howitzers ultimately led to the detonation of 152-mm shells, which completely destroyed the tank. After such a failure of this tank, Stalin closed the project.

КВ-6 — экспериментальный тяжелый танк СССР. КВ-6 разрабатывался в 1941 году конструкторами под руководством Котина и Баркова. Танк должен был обладать тремя башнями, каждая из которых должна была обладать своим типом орудия, а именно (мортира, противотанковая пушка и реактивный миномет). Разнообразное вооружение и толстая броня, позволяли бы данному танку с легкость отражать разнообразные атаки. А название-”Бегемот” данный танк получил после беседы конструкторов танка со Сталиным. Когда проектировщики пришли к Сталину и сказали ему что три башни на танке сделают танк слишком длинным, что слишком увеличит радиус его поворота, Сталин ответил им что не нужно его разворачивать, нужно направить его прямо на Берлин. Конструкция танка КВ-6 представляла из себя комбинацию танков:КВ-1, КВ-2, БТ-5, Т-60 и Т-38. Общие сведения от танке КВ-6: Экипаж: 16 человек, высота:4,65 метров, ширина: 3,07 метров, длина: 11,6 метров, масса: 138 тонн, мощность двигателей : 1800 лошадиных сил, максимальная скорость: 21 километр в час, запас хода: 160 километров, бронирование: до 160 миллиметров, вооружение: две 152-миллиметровые гаубицы, две противотанковые пушки калибром 76,2-миллиметров, одна пушка калибром 45-миллиметров, два пулемета калибром 12,7-миллиметров, два пулемета Максим калибром 7,62-миллиметров, четырнадцать пулеметов ДТ калибром 7,62-миллиметров, шестнадцать ракет БМ-13, и два огнемета.

Первый опытный образец был достроен в 1941 году и сразу же был отправлен на защиту Москвы. В первой же бою, который проходил в сильном тумане, задняя башня случайно прострелила среднюю башню, что полностью уничтожило танк.

Второй экземпляр КВ-6 был закончен зимой 1942 года, его отправлен на Ленинградский фронт. Этот же прототип, в отличии от первого, имел специальные индикаторы,которые позволяли избежать прострела центральной башни со стороны задней башни. И очередной КВ-6 в первом же бою, преодолевая ров, сломался пополам. Искра возникшая при переломе подожгла топливо огнеметов, и это спровоцировало взрыв снарядов, что полностью уничтожило танк.

Третий опытный образец, был сделан с усиленным корпусом, чтобы не переломится через ров, и был отправлен на Ленинградский фронт зимой 1942 года. Третий КВ-6 был уже более надежным, ему удалось сбить несколько немецких самолётов и вести непрерывную стрельбу в течении трёх часов, но сильная отдача гаубиц в конце-концов привела к детонации 152-миллиметровых снарядов, что полностью уничтожило танк. После такого провала данного танка Сталин закрыл проект

In what world would this work? the firepower would knock the tank on its side and only 75 mm of armor?!?! This could get taken out by a panzer III or IV.

This was an enjoyable read! Thanks for the extensive write-up.

The KV-6 has now also snuck into Multi Turret Academy, an arcade indie game on Steam, where it features as the final enemy — ironically enough it is probably the least frightening of all three “bosses” because it is so easy to outmaneuver.

I mention it here just in case the author would like to add this to the list of fiction/media where the tank makes an appearance. After having played, and knowing that the Soviets have come up with a wide range of creative projects in terms of tank design, I was curious as to whether this beast might have actually existed in some form (even if only as a concept), so this article was both fun and educational. Truly, the original creator has left a legacy with this model!

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