Thursday 10 August 2017

KV Visibility Diagram

The issue of visibility was a known sore spot in early war Soviet tanks. The commander's cupola was not a popular feature until the T-50, but it took until 1942 for such a cupola to be developed for the KV-1 and T-34 tanks. The book Tank Observation Devices documents the improvement in observation range between the KV-1 and its successor, the KV-1S.

The dead zones of the KV-1 tank were as follows:
  • Driver's large observation slit: 3.6 m
  • Driver's small observation slit: 6.7 m
  • Driver's periscope: 6 m
  • Turret observation slits: 6.5 m
  • Turret periscopes: 4 m

The dead zones of the KV-1S tank are as follows:
  • Driver's large observation slit: 9 m
  • Driver's small observation slit: 12 m
  • Driver's periscope: 7.5 m
  • Turret observation slits: 23 m
  • Turret periscopes (front and rear): 17 m
  • Commander's cupola: 28 m, 18 m, 14 m, 11 m, 9 m, depending on the observation device.


  1. Wow, I had no idea the KV was as bad as that. The tank commander is blind in some important zones.

    1. Yup, there were two 360 degree periscopes, but the visibility was far from ideal.

  2. The craptastic visibility was a key reason that Manstein was able to get things stabilized after Stalingrad.... The Russian would attack and Balk would move his unit (all 6 or 8 of them) in behind an entire battalion and just kill them and they couldn't figure out where the incoming fire was coming from. Killed about 3 battalions worth of tanks that way..... pretty nuts.

    1. White Tiger wasn't a documentary.

    2. Please confirm you're joking

    3. Peter,

      Straight from vonMellinthen's book. (which admittedly has incredible Nazi bias)