Sunday 16 February 2014

Blockade KVs

In the fall of 1941, Leningrad was surrounded by a blockade of German and Finnish forces. Its warehouses burned, its food stores ran low, its citizens were starving, but it was still home to the Kirov factory, and it had to keep working no matter what.

The following is a telegraph conversation between G.M. Malenkov and A.A. Kuznetsov.

"November 19th, 1941

Kuznetsov here.

Malenkov here. Hellow. As you can see, the evacuation of Kirov factory equipment is delayed. We have a question for you. Is it possible to, in short time, revive KV production in Leningrad? Comrade Zaltsmann told us that you have about 300 sets of stamped armour, and enough unstamped armour for 200 sets, as well as diesel engines, and it is also possible to find M-17 engines. How much KV armour do you have? Do you have a lot of manufactured components? Zaltsmann says about 50 units. What are your thoughts on restoring KV production in Leningrad in general?

Hello, comrade Malenkov. Kuznetsov here. My reply: I don't know how many diesels we have right now, I have no data, and the supplies are being used to restore KVs coming back from the front. Whatever M-17 engines were had were placed in KV tanks when we were not receiving diesels. We have 30 assembled KV hulls, and the Stalin factory is working on assembly, but our equipment was packed up for shipment, and we cannot produce components. As for manufactured components, we have enough for about 30. We have nothing against KV assembly at the Stalin factory. Keep in mind that Izhor factory equipment, including steel rolling equipment, has been evacuated, and the production of more hulls is no longer possible. The Martin ovens and steam powered equipment are not working due to a lack of fuel oil and constant artillery fire (the front is 3 km away). It is possible to unpack equipment and get it working at the Stalin factory, but keep in mind that most workers tasked with assembling KVs have been evacuated. That is all.

Is it possible to discover how many diesels you have, and how many M-17 motors? If it is difficult right now, we will speak tomorrow on these issues. Also, answer these questions: are you building mortars? What kind? How many guns are you building, how many machineguns, and what kind?

Answer: On the issue of KV production and remaining diesel and M-17 engines, allow me to reply today. I will wait for your call.


As for mortars, we produce 50 mm, 80 mm, and 122 mm, 70-80 per day total. Also regimental guns, 18-20 per day. The front is fully supplied with mortars and regimental guns, if anything, we are overproducing them. If you send us a Douglas [transport plane], we can send out the extras regularly.

How many guns and mortars do you have in reserve that you can supply us with?

I do not have that data right now, allow me to answer along with data on KV production.

What about machineguns? Do you make Maxim guns?

We make Maxim guns using spare barrels for other machineguns. We can only make 1-2 per day. We make 180 PPDs per day.

Do you remember how many 122 mm mortars you make per day?

At least 20-25. On some days, up to 40, but factory #7 that made these mortars was damaged by bombs, and the production decreased, but in the next 3-5 days, repairs will be made, as we are doing all that is possible to rebuild the factory. That is all.

Have you thought about production of KVs with the equipment of Kirov and Izhor factories, given that the equipment has been moved to Ladoga, but not further? You can put it anywhere you deem optimal, but we must know exactly how many diesel engines and how many M-17 motors you have, as well as how much armour you have in stores. Think about it this evening, and we will talk on the wire. Have you started producing rifles?

We have not started producing rifles.

I hear progress at the front is slow, is that true?

True, in fact, there is no progress at all. Advancing units are cut down.

Have you moved even one KV across?

We are attempting to move KVs tonight, having organized three crossings with our best civil engineers. They proved themselves with their crossings for medium tanks, which transported 14 tanks at once.

Good, that is all."

According to everything I could find, there were indeed no remaining M-17 engines in Leningrad. The Kirov factory in Chelyabinsk was in possession of 100 such engines, 22 of which were installed in a tank. Of those, 19 were sent to the army, 2 to a training battalion, and one to reserves (CAMD RF 38-11355-886).

Factory #371 documents hold more information on what it is they actually did.

"6. Production of KV components.

From the first days of the war, and until February 1942, the factory produced individual components of the KV tank. These components were:
  • Turret
  • Gearbox
  • Side reductors
  • Main friction clutch
The turret armour plates were mechanically processed, welded, and the final assembly was processed again. Supplier factories also supplied the factory with blueprints and armour plates. For other aforementioned components, their parts were produced locally. Final assembly took place at the Kirov factory.

7. Assembly and repairs of KV tanks.

From February 1942 to the end of 1943, the factory produced new KV vehicles and repairs, mainly major repairs. Most components were produced and assembled at our factory. Some components, such as the hulls, engines, tracks, were supplied by other factories. The amount of newly produced vehicles was small. The factory was mostly concerned with repairs. Over 200 vehicles were repaired over the indicated period, most of them passing through major repairs. These vehicles included burned up vehicles, the repair of which was difficult, as such vehicles have all control mechanisms, engine parts, and transmission parts destroyed, and they must be replaced. Our factory fixed all vehicle components, with the exception of engines, which were repaired at the Kirov factory."

As time went on, production increased.

"Order of the People's Commissar of Tank Production #559s
July 29th, 1942

On the delivery of KV parts and assemblies to factory #371 (Leningrad)

To fulfil the GOKO order #2118 from July 28th of this year, I order that:
  1. In order to produce 25 KV tanks in August, the director of the Kirov factory (comrade Mahonin) must deliver 25 sets of KV parts and assemblies above quota to factory #371 (Leningrad), before August 5th of this year, according to the attachment.
  2. The director of the Kirov factory (comrade Mahonin) and chief of the NKTP transport department (comrade Kosolapov) must consider that the GOKO order decreed that:
    1. NKPO (comrade Hrulev) must supply means for transportation of the aforementioned items until the Lavrovo station on the Oktyabrskaya railroad.
    2. The command of the Leningrad Front must supply means for transportation of the aforementioned items to factory #371 (Leningrad).
  3. The director of factory #255 (comrade Moroz) must supply the Kirov factory with:
      1. GT-4563A generator: 25 units
      2. RRT-4576 relay regulator: 25 units
        for the transport to Leningrad above quota.
  4. The director of the NKTP dispatch service, comrade Vorobeichik, is tasked with control over the execution of these orders.
Deputy People's Commissar of Tank Production of the USSR, P. Sernov"

1 comment:

  1. This is really interesting.
    Like, a lot.
    Thanks for posting.