From the Top
November of 1941 was a difficult time for the Soviet Union. The Germans were pushing to Moscow, only tens of kilometers away. Battles were fought on the approach to Tula. Rostov-on-the-Don was lost. Factories evacuated to the east were just beginning to produce tanks. The Chelyanbinsk Tractor Factory, renamed ChKZ (Chelabinsk Kirov Factory), became the only factory to produce heavy KV tanks. Tankograd first managed to ship over 100 tanks this month, as its numbers were boosted by workers and engineers evacuated from Leningrad.
In these difficult times, a project of a quite unusual vehicle with hardly any analogues in tank building worldwide appeared. The first mention of this tank on the KV-1 chassis is made in P.F. Solomonov's report about his trip to Chelyabinsk, dated November 28th, 1941. The goal of this trip, initiated by GAU, was the investigation of the issue of gun supplies for the KV-1 tanks. Aside from supply issues, the report had room for experimental works, which included the following:
"On Iosif Vissarionovich Stalin's orders, the Kirov factory is developing a mount for a KV tank with 1 F-34 gun and 2 45 mm guns (barrels without recoil mechanisms), with recoil mechanisms for the triplex taken from the ZiS-5. There is no 360 degree traverse, the traverse is +/- 7.5 degrees or +/- 15 degrees, depends on how the ammunition racks are placed. Ammunition capacity: 300 rounds (100 per gun), in addition to which there are 3-4 machineguns.
In December, 1/5 KV tanks are to be equipped with these triplexes."
It could be imagined that the factory namedropped Stalin as a cover, but this is not the case. The fact that Stalin was the initiator of this project is mentioned in many documents. In addition, the GKO decree that relates to the KV-7 is written in Stalin's trademark pencil.
The situation with the KV-7 was different, and the project was very different from what was proposed at Nizhniy Tagil. As with the "bunker buster" from the Urals, work was split between ChKZ and UZTM. SKB-2 in Chelyabinsk designed the chassis, supervised by G.N. Moskvin. OKB-3 at UZTM designed the weapons. Work on the gun system, developed by engineers N.N. Efimov and K.N. Ilyin began in November of 1941 and finished on December 10th. F.F. Petrov was the chief designer of this system, indexed U-13. A significant part was played by L.I. Gorlitskiy, who arrived from Leningrad and became the chief of the artillery design bureau at the Kirov factory.