just a thought that came to me. So, I was checking by Facebook an hour or two ago and both Chieftain and Challenger linked to this article: Know Your Steel: KV-1 by Hunter1911. So I thought “this should be interesting” and went to check it out.
The post itself is… hmm… well, not very detailed, but it’s a forum post, not a book. However, what struck me as odd is this line in text:
“The main competition at entering mass production was the Czech model S-2 which was already being massively tested at army polygon of Kubinka with the aim of copying the good solutions.”
Uh…. what? What the hell is a S-2 tank? There was never such a thing as a Czech “S-2″ tank. So I guess the author means “Š-II”, right? I can understand how to a random person the S and Š or 2 and II might mix together, but given the fact it’s a “historically accurate” post I expected something more (Š referred of course to Škoda, while II referred to tank category: roman numbers served as identifiers thus: I – tankettes II – light/medium tanks, III – “breakthrough” tanks)
Right. So, it was the Š-II? No, it wasn’t. Hunter1911 later “explains”:
“Skoda S-II and its variants. They vere under developement from 1935-40. You may know some of them as Pz35(T).”
Alright, let’s take it step by step. There were four Š-II vehicles (well, it gets a bit more complicated later on, but lets stick to the basics): Š-II, Š-IIa, Š-IIb and Š-IIc. The names might suggest they are evolution steps of one vehicle, but it is not so, as Š-IIc and Š-IIb were built for different purpose than Š-IIa and Š-II. The Š-II (also known as Střední Útočný) was a 1934 light tank prototype. Š-IIa is the LT-35, that was lately modified to Panzer 35(t) (note that LT-35 and Panzer 35(t) are NOT identical, Panzer 35(t) was “germanized” and changes to compartment were made, there was a different radio etc.). Š-IIb was a failed prototype (somewhat bigger than Š-IIa, quite different) and Š-IIc was a medium (!) tank and was different altogether. Some of you might know it under a different name: T-21 or Turán I (which was in its first version basically just a T-21 copy with some improvements, such as the cooling mechanism and a different gun).
I find it very hard to believe that KV-1 was competing against any of these vehicles. Certainly not the early Š-II and the Š-IIb prototype. So which one was it?
Well, both the remaining tanks actually: Czechoslovaks tried to export the Š-IIa and Š-IIc to Soviet Union. In former case, no mass production was ever really intended: Soviets just wanted to have the prototype trialled so they could ehmmm… “borrow” some of the vehicle’s solution. I wrote more about that here, if you are interested. As for the Š-IIc, it was offered to Soviets actually, but they never intended for it to be mass-produced: no prototype was ever trialled in Soviet Union, only the project documentation was sent with no response.
So yes, the vehicle in question is the Š-IIa, or LT-35, but it surely was not tested for mass production. Why even compare it to KV is beyond me. Furthermore, the dates seem a bit off: Pejčoch (citing Karpenko and Magnuski) states that first prototypes were tested in September 1939, not February (page 36). In fact, the development itself began in February and I doubt it was possible to design and build a prototype within one month. This is how the first prototype looked:
Other Russian authors (Solyankin A.G., Pavlov M.V., Pavlov I.V., Zheltov I.G.: Sovetskiye tyazholye tanki 1917-1941 (Soviet Heavy tanks 1917-1941), Barjatinskij M.: Tyazholiy tank KV (Heavy tank KV)), claim this prototype KV was completed as late as on 1.10.1939.
Anyway, I expected a bit more from an historical article than messing up tank names and dates. Oh well. Of course, I could be wrong, although I cited my sources. Haven’t had time to verify eveything else in that post, but… *shrugs*