Story Behind the Medal - Kolobanov's Medal
Five KV-1s versus forty-three German Panzers.
Welcome to Story Behind the Medal where we explore the historical background of the Epic Medals found in World of Tanks. These Epic Medals are based on real-life people and the events that shaped the wars in which they fought. Though challenging to earn in-game, the feats performed by these heroic individuals are truly astounding. Today, we’re looking at Kolobanov’s Medal.
In World of Tanks, the Kolobanov’s Medal is an Epic Medal that can only be earned during Random Battles. To earn this Epic Medal, players must stand alone against at least five enemy vehicles and win. This demanding challenge is based upon the real-life achievements of Zinoviy Kolobanov, a tank commander and veteran of the German-Soviet war who held out against almost insurmountable odds.
On August of 1941, Lieutenant Kolobanov was preparing his KV-1 to hold a defensive position along the only highway that led into Krasnogvardeysk. His KV-1, along with four other KV-1s, were the only Soviet forces in the area and as such, it was their job to attempt to stop the approaching German vanguard. The German forces consisted of the 8th, 6th, and 1st Panzer Divisions.
The Germans were preparing to attack Krasnogvardeysk from three separate locations; however, the lay of the land favored the Soviet defenders as the only path into the region would have to pass a swamp. It was in this swamp that the five KV-1s were dug in and waiting.
Knowing that the enemy forces had the advantage of numbers, Kolobanov had prepared all of his tanks with double the standard amount of munitions, two-thirds of which were armor-piercing rounds.
Kolobanov’s tactical skills were highlighted that day as he ordered his fellow tankers to hold fire until he gave the command. He did not want to risk revealing their location and numbers to the Germans.
The column of the 6th Panzer Division began streaming along the highway—directly into the line-of-sight of Kolobanov’s KV-1. As a career tanker in the Red Army with excellent classical training, the Germans were unwittingly stepping right into his perfect plan.
Kolobanov ordered his gunner, Andrej Usov, to fire at the leading tank. The shot landed, taking out the German tank in a single shot. Assuming the tank had simply hit a landmine, the Germans stopped. The trap had been sprung. Kolobanov ordered Usov to fire once more, this time at the second tank in line.
With two tanks destroyed, and not knowing from where they were being attacked, the Germans simply started shooting blindly around them. As the chaos and confusion took hold of the Germans, Kolobanov ordered Usov to destroy the trailing tank of the column. The shell landed, destroying the last tank in line. The column was now trapped.
With no room to move forward and no room to move backward, the German tanks tried to disperse. To their detriment, there was nothing but swamp on either side of the highway and many of their tanks were bogged in the soft ground. Kolobanov continued to command Usov to fire, raining down shells upon the German division. Finally, realizing the location of their sole attacker, the Germans fired back.
Showing no fear, Kolobanov continued to fire upon the Germans until his KV-1 was completely out of shells, at which point he had successfully taken out 22 German tanks and two artillery units. This wasn’t good enough for Kolobanov as he ordered one of the four reserve KV-1s to begin firing.
For the Germans, the lone KV-1 had stopped firing when suddenly another attacker was punishing their division. The second KV-1 managed to destroy a further 21 German tanks and after thirty minutes of pure destruction, 43 German tanks lay destroyed at the hands of Lieutenant Kolobanov.
As silence settled over the swamp, Kolobanov exited his KV-1 to inspect the damage. Much to the surprise of his crew, despite sustaining more than 156 hits from the German forces, their trusty KV-1 had not once been penetrated by a round.
Kolobanov’s gunner, Andrej Usov, was awarded the Order of Lenin while Lieutenant Kolobanov was awarded the Order of the Red Banner.
In World of Tanks, claiming your own Kolobanov’s Medal is an impressive and difficult accomplishment, but it pales in comparison to the real-world heroics of Lieutenant Kolobanov, who held out against over forty German tanks, ran out of shells in his KV-1, and walked away having sustained over 150 hits to his tank. So when you’re on the battlefield and facing five enemy vehicles by yourself, take a moment to think about the story behind the medal.
If you're interested in the tanks from around the world, take a look at our History of Tanks, where we talk about what went into designing and manufacturing some of the best tanks in the world.