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Forgotten Soviet tank from which the Germans fled from the battlefield: Fire-breathing "Klim Voroshilov"
Forgotten Soviet tank from which the Germans fled from the battlefield: Fire-breathing "Klim Voroshilov"

When it comes to the legendary Soviet tanks of the Great Patriotic War, they usually remember the "thirty-four" or "Joseph Stalin". However, researchers of military equipment agree that the list of the most effective armored vehicles can be safely replenished with the Klim Voroshilov flamethrower tank. "KV" got to the front quite raw, one of the first to meet confidently advancing Germans. And despite all its flaws, the tank was an unpleasant surprise for the Nazis. And in the most difficult battles of Stalingrad, he completely turned enemy tank crews into flight.

World War I flamethrowers and advanced designs

Basic tank KV-1

Flamethrowers were used on military fronts even during the First World War. They burned out enemy fortifications and dugouts, and struck firing points. Flamethrower weapons were highly effective not only due to the destructive effect. Fearing to be burned alive, the enemy succumbed to panic and left the position without a fight. But flamethrower weapons also had a downside: great damage was inflicted directly on flamethrowers. As soon as an enemy bullet hit a cylinder with a flammable mixture, a soldier in a second was engulfed in deadly flames. Therefore, military developers eventually came to the conclusion that flamethrowers should be installed on armored vehicles.

The armor cover made it possible to get as close as possible to the target, hit the object and remain invulnerable to enemy fire. The development of a tank gunpowder flamethrower was carried out from 1938, completed by the beginning of the 41st. The principle of ejection of a fire mixture was significantly modernized, which somewhat increased the range of flamethrowing.

Failures of flamethrower brothers and tests of "KV"

British postcard

By the summer of 1941, the Red Army tank units were equipped with flamethrower tanks developed in the 30s. But the combat experience at Khalkhin Gol and the Winter War showed that the vehicles have insufficient flame throwing range and cannot approach targets at the distance necessary for a shot. "Kliment Voroshilov" passed the first tests in the Leningrad region in the company of two-turret SMK and T-100. The military decided to send prototypes of heavy tanks to the Russian-Finnish front for testing in a combat situation.

In December 1939, the KV was transferred to an area with powerful anti-tank defenses, where the damaged T-28s were already stationed. As soon as the tank leaned out into the open space, it was strewn with 37-mm shells. "Klim Voroshilov" survived after 9 hits, while running into Finnish mines. Their power did not cause serious damage to a heavy armored vehicle. The test results impressed the developers and the military leadership, and "Klim Voroshilov" got a ticket to the front-line future.

Revolutionary armored vehicle and single battles

One of the first "KV" at the front

Work on the creation of a new heavy flamethrower tank began at the Kirov Plant in the summer of 1941. The design of the machine continued immediately after the evacuation of the enterprise to Chelyabinsk by the fall. The first prototype was ready by December, after which the armored vehicle was presented to the Headquarters and adopted. After some design improvements in February 1942, "Klim Voroshilov" with the new ATO-41 powder flamethrower began to be mass-produced.

The flamethrower was placed in the tower, being mounted in one installation with a tank cannon and a machine gun. To disguise the flamethrower tank as a linear one, the 45-mm cannon was covered from the outside with a massive casing, which created the illusion of a 76-mm gun. The main purpose of the new heavy vehicle was the destruction of enemy personnel and armored vehicles, as well as the suppression of firing points. In order to avoid the consequences of fire when a tank was hit with tanks of a flamethrower mixture inside, the crew was equipped with protective suits.

The KV became a universal tank of that war period. Being insufficiently mobile against the background of Wehrmacht vehicles, it remained invulnerable to enemy guns. At the same time, he himself hit German tanks in any projection. Fascist anti-tank artillery could not cope with the "Klim", so 88-mm anti-aircraft guns, 150-mm guns and the Luftwaffe were involved in the fight against it. History has preserved the details of the striking battle near Raseiniai of the lonely "KV" in June 1941, when one tank held back a large enemy grouping for a long time. At the same time, the armored vehicle simultaneously destroyed several tanks, anti-tank guns and an 88-mm anti-aircraft gun. In July 1942, another "Klim Voroshilov" single-handedly pulled off an impressive battle near Nizhnemitakin in the Rostov region. And how many such solo battles were left behind the scenes, one can only guess.

Flamethrower tank battalions and Stalingrad victories

Rare bridges withstood the heavy "KV" crossing

In September 1942, the only Red Army brigade, fully equipped with flamethrower tanks, retreated to Stalingrad. The unit fought with German troops, unblocking the grouping surrounded by the city. On December 14, a tank brigade launched an attack on the Verkhne-Kumsky farm, which was occupied by a German tank division. A heated battle was fought for several days, after which the fascist offensive was suppressed. The enemy failed to unite with his comrades-in-arms surrounded at Stalingrad. In that battle, 52 Soviet fire-breathing tanks opposed 80 enemy vehicles. Flamethrowing then had a particularly successful effect. German tanks, after accurate hits, instantly flashed, and the crews of still entire combat vehicles scattered in panic. A similar situation developed with the approach of the Red Army "KV" to Chikov, when, after several fiery shots, the enemy left the position without a fight.

KV served the country gloriously, becoming a strong support in the most difficult period - 1941. But military progress moved quickly, and the fire-breathing "Klim Voroshilov" became obsolete along with other types of weapons. The technical innovations of the Third Reich also did not stand still, and the moment for new developments came. So “Klim Voroshilov” was replaced by “Joseph Stalin”.

A no less famous Soviet weapon is the AK-47. And it also fanned with myths about its creation.

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