WWII experimental secret weapon- Russian land battleship KV-VI tank

Please note that this is a fake / hoax / invention by an artist.


Photo story (Clockwise from top left): (1) Cutaway illustration of the Russian land battleship KV-VI tank design based upon visual and written technical information from 1941 (2) Voroshilov with Stalin and others in January 1934 (3) According to mainstream media, nothing ever came of the KV-VI design, however, there are myths of 3 prototypes which were built but got destroyed in frontline. Side view of the third prototype pictured here. 

Soviet politician and military officer Kliment Yefremovich Voroshilov, popularly known as Klim Voroshilov became one of the leading military executives in the Red Army. The series of heavy soviet tanks, Kliment Voroshilov or KV tanks, were named after him. Russian based television network RT’s informative website about Russia, Russiapedia reported on him.

Voroshilov was born on 4th February 1881 in south east Ukraine. At the age of 7, he had to work in the neighboring mines due to extreme poverty. At the age of 12, he went to a local school where he finished only two grades. Afterwards, he worked in a factory where he was influenced by Marxist ideology and joined the workers’ club. Due to his participation in strikes in the factory, he was fired.

For 5 years he moved from one place to another doing part time jobs and studying works of Marx and his other followers.

Voroshilov worked in a locomotive factory in 1903. He was arrested in 1905 due to leading workers’ movements. His fellow workers protested this and ensured his freedom. He was part of the Bolshevic movement in subsequent years. After Tsar was toppled, he became the Chairman of Regional Parliament of his native Lugansk region in 1917. In 1918, Voroshilov’s labor brigades were heroically defending the Kharkov industrial center from German and Austrian forces’ attacks.

Klim Voroshilov was an active figure in setting up the red army. He aided Stalin and Red Army fight against the troops still loyal to the Tsar in 1918. He fought in the Russian Civil war and in the Polish-Soviet War. He contributed greatly in the Red Army’s victory in the Civil War. He was elected to the central committee of communist party in Russia in 1921 and stayed in the Party’s top body for 40 years till 1961.

He was appointed to the top military post in the country in 1925. He became the Commissar for Defense in 1934 and Marshal of the Soviet Union in 1935. He played a central role in Stalin’s political oppression in the 1930s. Voroshilov personally signed 185 execution lists during the execution or incarceration of thousands of high ranked officers.

Voroshilov commanded the Soviet troops during the WWII Winter War from November 1939 to January 1949. Overall incompetence and his poor planning are held responsible for the approximately 185,000 casualties suffered by the Red Army during that time in Eastern Finland.

In September 1939, thousands of Polish army officers were captured and initially Voroshilov argued to release them but later signed the order for their execution. He was made commander of the Northwestern Soviet troops in June 1941. He commanded the Leningrad Front in September 1941.

During the German advances to cut off Leningrad, Voroshilov displayed significant personal bravery by defying heavy shelling at Ivanovskoye and by counter attacking armed only with a pistol against German tanks.

The KV series tanks were known for their very heavy armor protection during the first year of the German invasion of USSR. They were totally immune to the 3.7cm KwK 36 and howitzer type 7.5 cm KwK 37 guns mounted on early Panzer III and IV tanks. Until upgraded guns were developed by the Germans, the only way to defeat a KV tank was with a point blank range shot to the rear of the KV.

However, KV tanks were expensive, so cheaper T-34 medium tanks were produced which performed well enough in practical sense. KV tanks were also extremely heavy. By 1942, the KV’s armor lost its invincible status due to development of German 75 mm guns and long barreled 50 mm guns. Instead of the 76mm gun of the KV-1 heavy tank, the KV-2 Heavy Artillery tank had 152mm howitzer installed.

There were dozens of later designs of KV tanks, most of which got no documentations of being ever built. One very interesting design was the Object 226, Russian land battleship KV-VI tank called “Behemoth”. Though there is no documented proof of a prototype being ever built, the photo of the design is found in some websites.

Historically, an order was placed to the Chelyabinsk Tractor factory in June 1941 to build prototype of KV-VI based on KV-1. The inspiration to build such a gigantic land battleship came from the news that a single KV-2 heavy artillery tank held off an entire German tank division for 24 hours. Stalin was inspired by the success of his heavy tanks and ordered the design of an even greater tank.

The design was given to the Kotin-Barkov team who initially stated that the three turrets would make the tank structurally unstable and too long with a huge turning radius. Stalin supposedly responded by telling them “It doesn’t need to turn, it will drive straight to Berlin”.

The behemoth’s design included two turrets carrying 76.2mm cannons and another central turret equipped with 156mm cannons. There were secondary turrets with 44mm and 12mm cannons as well, most probably for anti aircraft use.

Two 600 horse power or 441.3 KW engines were required to power the Russian land battleship. Still the maximum speed was only 13 miles per hour.

The Russian land battleship KV-VI could carry 15 crewmen and a Commissar. It was 51 feet 4 inches long, 10 feet 10 inches wide and 15 feet 3 inches high. It weighed 138 tons and had maximum armor of 160mm. It was supposedly given the nickname “Stalin’s Orchestra” by the few Germans who encountered the “prototype” because of the variety of weapons it had.

There are myths of 3 prototypes being built but getting destroyed in frontline without major successes and forcing Stalin to shut down the project to focus on mass production of smaller T-34 tanks which proved to be a war winning decision for Russia. However, both Stalin and Hitler had the common belief that giant behemoth tanks would be invaluable to the war effort and the future of tank warfare.

Video story: Documentary on WWII largest tank warfare between Nazi Germany and Soviet Union during the battle of Kursk from July-August 1943

Mohammad Rafi Saad

Mohammad Rafi Saad is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE