Eastern Express KV-1S, KV-8 & KV-85
This Russian manufacturer has to date released three versions of the late-series KV heavy tank. My local model shop here in the UK had stocks of them at £16.99 which is cheaper than Tamiya and Dragon prices but more than Italeri would cost. Steve Zaloga has already built up the KV-1S and photos are here on this site, this is by way of an in-the-box review of the kits.
Typical of modern productions, this is basically one set of moulds
designed to have different sprues included to cover several versions. All three have
approximately 250 parts moulded in various shades of grey plastic with flexible tracks
which are moulded as two lengths per complete track. The subjects covered are all of the
lightened KV series which had reduced armour
thickness to increase its speed. All the kits have the same hull and suspension parts, the hull comes with separate parts for the bow machine gun and the hole for the hull hatch "flashed over" to allow it can be opened up or left depending on the subject. Crew and engine deck access hatches can be depicted open and crew hatches have basic detail inside but no attempt is
made at interior parts and no crew figures are included. Four identical sprues carry suspension arms, roadwheels and various small details, this gives some spare or left-over parts. Two complete sets of roadwheels are included, covering both types used on the KV-1S series and these may be useful for modelling rebuilt earlier marks based on the old Tamiya kits as many seemed to have used more than one type on one vehicle. Standard of detailing is good, many small parts such as lifting hooks are moulded separately and the turnbuckle arrangement for attaching the tow hooks is well done, tow rope eyes are included though tow ropes themselves are not included. Detailing for the cast texture on the turrets and various weld seams is good and not overdone. Moulding is as good or better than other current Russian suppliers but there are a few sink holes in annoying places.
The first two kits are basically the same plastic parts with different boxes, instruction sheets and decal options. A few optional parts are used or not as required. Kit 35000 depicts the KV-1S gun tank with 76mm gun. It comes with decals for four tanks, a fully-marked vehicle of 5th Separate Guards Zaporozhe Heavy Tank Regiment in late 1942 which is the subject of plate E in New Vanguard 17 though it should also have the number 555 stencilled on the turret rear, two different 26th Tank Regiment vehicles for winter 1944 and Berlin 1945 with the latter being plate G in the New Vanguard which shows it should have more air recognition stripes, and a vehicle of 6th Tank Regiment in 1943. Kit 35101 for the KV-8S Flamethrower is basically the KV-1S one, the plastic parts are the same and the instructions tell you to use the different mantlet. Flamethrower tanks used the 45mm tank gun with a larger diameter outer sleeve fitted to make it look more like a 76mm. The same gun barrel part is used but the instructions say to cut it 15mm shorter. Extra work to depict the original vehicle's gun style could be done with a little care and some suitable hollow tubing. The decal sheet is different to the KV-1S version, giving markings for two subjects. One is the 235th Flamethrower Tank Regiment as in New Vanguard 17 plate F and the other is a winter-painted vehicle of 502nd Flamethrower Tank Regiment.
Kit 35102 for the KV-85 has a totally different turret sprue. This was the
last version of the KV and mounted the larger 85mm gun. As such it was equivalent to the
T-34-85 but not as widely used as that tank. Only about 130 were built before the IS
series first with 85mm and later 122mm guns were introduced. Its hull did not have the bow
machine gun so kit parts for that are not wanted. The area where the hull hatch was fitted
on earlier tanks may need some work, the "flashed over" area has a noticeable
sinkmark. Reinforcing it underneath with filler or opening the area up and filling with
thick plastic card should soon fix that. Hull side extensions which on the real vehicle
were needed to allow for a bigger turret ring are included on the turret sprue, along with
the larger turret which has separate hatches. Markings are given for two tanks, a 14th
Tank Regiment one complete
with Guards banner and a plainer vehicle listed as 30th Tank Regiment. These look like good kits which will give modellers the chance to build the later KV series and fill another gap in the range available. Tamiya's kits depicted the earlier marks so there is no duplication. Kit box side illustrations show an the SU-152 self-propelled gun version still to come in the series. Recommended reference is New Vanguard 17, "KV-1 & 2 Heavy Tanks 1941-1945" by Zaloga, Kinnear and Sarson and several Concord photo studies will be useful as well.
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