KV II Heavy Tank
The numbers: 11 sprues with 412 parts, 17 of which are not used, and two options for tracks, vinyl and link-and-length injected plastic. Due to the fact that a couple of the sprues are duplicated, several of the smaller parts, like lifting hooks, have extras included, which is nice considering the carpet monster in my house is always hungry.
A nice feature is the box, as shown in the photograph. The box art (separate photo included) is nice and will be a help in deciding which way the tracks run, but the box is very sturdy and will be re-used at my house for spare parts.
The plastic itself is very nicely detailed; seams are reasonable and there is no flash. The number and placement of injector pin marks are about what you’d expect, mostly hidden on the inside. The injected tracks have some that will have to be dealt with if you choose that option. Purists will want to thin the hull fenders, and it is an easy job due to the engineering put into this kit.
The instructions are printed such that the steps are out of order when you put the pages together, but there is a section showing the sprues and a great layout of the parts – and as the steps are numbered, there is no impediment to a speedy construction. Sub-assemblies are marked clearly and you can build this kit pretty quickly by skipping ahead and working the turret and hull simultaneously.
The lower hull builds up from 4 pieces in step 1 and the suspension arms go on in step 2. I find this suspension is much easier to get all the road wheels straight, even though the arms are separate, as compared with certain other kits which have over-engineered the process. Klimenti Voroshilov’s suspensions are pretty simple things, and don’t need to be made more complex. Road wheels, drive sprockets, and idlers all assemble with a poly cap inside, which is found on the sprue with the vinyl tracks. Each road wheel is four parts.
There is a nice little top of the engine included, in case you want to leave the hatch for the mid-hull engine compartment open. Both transmission compartment hatches, the driver’s hatch, and the turret hatch are all nicely and correctly detailed, and can be working hatches. My photos show them about half-open.
Next come the tracks, and this is the kit’s only disappointment. The vinyl tracks come in two sections, and the connecting mechanism is the old hot-knife method. The tracks themselves are nicely detailed, but the connecting piece itself is short and it’s not easy to join the track segments without a seam. The connection points are easy to pick out in my pictures. The link-and-length tracks are very nice and will build up well and, for my money, there’s no difference or advantage from the detail viewpoint to the use of either one.
The major disappointment in the tracks comes from the fact that there is no allowance for track sag in either option. Track sag is a major feature with the KV chassis, and the technology exists to provide length-and-link tracks with sag pre-molded. Out of the box, this kit can only reproduce it if you use the vinyl tracks and create it yourself. As this means accepting two obvious connection points, I would recommend sourcing aftermarket tracks. This kit is nicely detailed and goes together well and merits either metal tracks or an injected set with sag molded in. For contest purposes, aftermarket tracks would be necessary.
The lower hull is finished up in steps 6 &7 and mates to the lower hull in step 8. I had just a bit of a mismatch with the lower glacis; this is an easy fix to get it to line up straight. The fiddly bits go onto the hull in steps 9 and again in 19, once the turret is complete.
The 152mm howitzer is replicated in steps 10-12 and it is a beauty. My photos don’t do it justice. It is a shame that there is so little interior detail in the turret other than the gun, as it should be shown off. There is a large rear door which can be posed open. I can only hope some manufacturer will put out a turret set, as this turret would be a fine place to put it – it’s big. The complicated mounting into the front of the turret is well-replicated here.
The periscopes and ventilation details on the inside of the turret roof are nice; putting the turret together from the four walls, the floor and roof are a challenge but it will go together if you are careful. I found clamps were necessary. This happens in step 17.
Step 18 is the turret exterior and, at this scale, the injected handholds are just fine. I found no need to replace them with wire, and the gun will sit at a slightly depressed angle, which is consistent with my references. The gun barrel itself is composed of three circular sections and the muzzle is hollow, but with no rifling. This eliminates the seam down the length, and I’m betting a more careful application of Mr. Surfacer than I made will take care of the joins. The last step is the remaining fiddly bits, and there is even a glass front for the single headlight.
The large storage boxes are a four-piece sub-assembly, and I found all three boxes were left with a gap where the hinge line should be. This will need to be fixed for contest entries, as all my references show the boxes in place, only the placement on individual vehicles varying a bit. A noticeable strength of this kit is a length of vinyl tow chain with a two piece injected eye for each end, of just the proper length to drape from the fender down to the eye on the lower portion of the hull front. It looks a lot better than thread or an injected tow rope.
I painted the outside of the finished product with the usual ModelMaster Russian Green acrylic, then sprayed over it with a 20% diluted green to break up the monotone effect. In retrospect, I should have diluted by 35-40% for a vehicle this large. The interior was painted rattle-can white. I have no references showing painted slogans on a KV-II, but if you want to use the decals provided (“For Russia!”), they are thin, react well to solvents, and settle down well. There is almost no texture on the turret to interfere with your creative efforts. I used a filter of oil paints in thalo blue, viridian green, alizarin crimson, and some cadmium hues on top of the overspray to break up that monotone effect, but the photos don’t show the effort. I began applying some raw umber pin washes, but once the kit details were enhanced enough to show in the photos, I decided to wrap and print this review.
In summary, this is a well-designed, well-engineered, and in general well-fitting kit of an interesting vehicle. Detail is very good, ease of construction above average, and would make a great addition to your build list. It has contest potential, and it screams for an aftermarket interior. The only downside is the tracks, and replacement sets should be easily available on the aftermarket.
My thanks to Dragon Models USA for the kit and to IPMS/USA for the opportunity to build it. It would be an enjoyable build for even an intermediate modeler and would be a nice kit for a novice to build when moving up from snap-together kits.