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Red Army Tank Tactics

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  • #16
    Originally posted by Artyom_A View Post
    And a similar instruction from June 1942:
    https://pamyat-naroda.ru/documents/view/?id=454683512
    The foreword admits that an adverse impression regarding T-60 was made during the winter when a deep snow seriously limited its mobility. However, this tank can be effective when employed in accordance with its technical capabilities.
    T-60 can be employed
    1. for reconnaissance
    2. for security
    3. In offesnive combat:
    1) in the second of third line behind heavy and medium tanks
    2) in close cooperation with infantry of the motorized rifle battalions
    3) in pursuit.
    When meeting enemy tanks T-60 should open fire from covered positions against their rear or guns. When no natural cover is available T-60 should use their speed to outflank enemy tanks and open fire against their side and rear.
    4.In defensive combat:
    a) for fire from ambush and masked positions.
    b) for counterattacks in cooperation with tanks of other types against enemy tanks or infantry against enemy infantry.
    In reconnaissance and meeting engagements T-60 are employed in the same way as in offesnive combat.
    Thanks for the two interesting documents. They show the inside dynamics for changing an army in the face of catastrophic defeat.
    Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.

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    • #17
      And another curios opinion about light tanks:
      It is worth noting a small vulnerability and large combat effectiveness of T-70 type vehicles, which demonstrated their viability despite being little familiar to their crews
      https://pamyat-naroda.ru/documents/view/?id=452359856

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      • #18
        It is an interesting document, dated 1 Oct 1942 and sent from a brigade commander to General Federenko,
        Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.

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        • #19
          A curios change in the 1944 manual compared with earlier manuals and instructions was a lack of references to ramming as a tactical method. Compare

          From "Tactics of tank forces", 1940:
          Tank forces posses the following properties:
          1) High mobility
          2) Powerful fire from a standing position, short stops and movement
          3) Large impact force gained by combination of weight and speed (*)
          4) Impregnability to common small arms fire and splinters of light artillery shells
          From the 1944's manual
          Combat properties of tank and mechanized forces
          1. High operational and tactical mobility...
          2. Power of close-range cannon and machine gun fire from movement, stops and standing position
          3. Ability to exert strong moral effect on enemy
          4. Impregnability to enemy small arms fire, splinters of artillery and mortar shells, and aviation bombs, single hand grenades, partial impregnability to fire of anti-tank guns and artillery batteries.
          (*) As explained later the impact force was understood as an ability to destroy personnel, weapons and obstacles by ramming.

          In a similar way pre-war or early war manuals/instructions contained explicitly mentioned ramming, whereas in late-war and post-war documents such references all but disappeared.

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          • #20
            Interesting comparison and observation. A 1940 manual would have been worked in the General Staff from 1938-39 to 1940 which was before the T-34 fielding in the summer of 1941 and the KV prototype by Sept '.39. The medium tank series T-22 to T29 were between 25-28 tons (T-28E-32tons) and the T-32 at 19 tons. So they had plenty of weight for ramming, and it was realistic to also assume ramming if out of ammunition, much like the ramming in the Red Air Force. War experience probably revealed that ramming large weapons and obstacles would tear up tracks, temporarily taking the tank out of the battle. That temporary loss would siphon tanks from the deeper penetration and exploitation into the operational depth which often maintained the initiative by just driving further into the depth of the enemy disposition.
            Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.

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            • #21
              Originally posted by R.N. Armstrong View Post
              A 1940 manual would have been worked in the General Staff from 1938-39
              Yes, "Tactics of tank forces" was clearly based on pre-1940 organization and equipment. For comparison, the 1939 project of the Field Manual said that "Tanks have high mobility, powerful fire and a large impact force. They are protected from enemy infantry fire"
              I suppose there were similar point in the 1938 tank manual.
              These were not just some doctrine on paper as ramming of obstacles, guns, vehicles, and on occasions even tanks was widely practiced in the first part of the war. My impression is that toward the war end it became a more rare practice in accord with corresponding changes in manuals and other doctrinal instructions.
              I view that as a part of gradual transition from shock tactics to firepower tactics that occurred during the war and largely stemmed from more powerful tank armament, better observation and communications.

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              • #22
                Originally posted by Artyom_A View Post
                Yes, "Tactics of tank forces" was clearly based on pre-1940 organization and equipment. For comparison, the 1939 project of the Field Manual said that "Tanks have high mobility, powerful fire and a large impact force. They are protected from enemy infantry fire"
                I suppose there were similar point in the 1938 tank manual.
                These were not just some doctrine on paper as ramming of obstacles, guns, vehicles, and on occasions even tanks was widely practiced in the first part of the war. My impression is that toward the war end it became a more rare practice in accord with corresponding changes in manuals and other doctrinal instructions.
                I view that as a part of gradual transition from shock tactics to firepower tactics that occurred during the war and largely stemmed from more powerful tank armament, better observation and communications.
                I recall a Liddell Hart quote(in his The Red Army), "...that any judgement on the Red Army should be accompanied by the date, just as we know a wine by its year. An expert who has only known "Red Army 1941' may be quite misleading about "Red Army 1943', and so on."

                In Konev's book, Sorok pyatyi, he wrote "In the fourth year of the war we thought it natural that we could perform such combat missions which, if mentally transferred to the first stage of the war, would be considered incredibly difficult and bordering on the impossible.
                Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.

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                • #23
                  How were Red Army Combat Tactics limited or enhanced by the homogeneous units used?

                  At the lower end of a divisions TOE, Red Army units tended to consist of one armour type, eg T-34. An equivalent Western tank unit might have 3 weapon systems in a tank company equivalent, eg 6pdr, 75mm and 95mm or even 75mm, 76mm/17pdr and 105mm as an example.

                  I realise ease of supplying ammunition would be an advantage, a huge one, but it does seem to limit the effective roles a tank unit can perform?
                  How to Talk to a Climate Skeptic: http://grist.org/series/skeptics/
                  Global Warming & Climate Change Myths: https://www.skepticalscience.com/argument.php

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                  • #24
                    Early and Mid war tank units usually had a mix of tank types. Heavy, light and medium in the beginning, then heavy were moved in independent regiments. T-34 was pretty efficient both against infantry and armor. When more specialised weapons were required, those were transfered.
                    There are no Nazis in Ukraine. Idiots

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                    • #25
                      An interesting aspect in the tank force structure that streamlined tank corps to tank brigade which eliminated the intervening division, thus streamlining the command.and control in resources allocation and combat management.
                      Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.

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                      • #26
                        Originally posted by Emtos View Post
                        Early and Mid war tank units usually had a mix of tank types. Heavy, light and medium in the beginning, then heavy were moved in independent regiments. T-34 was pretty efficient both against infantry and armor. When more specialised weapons were required, those were transfered.
                        A good example of specialized weapons transfer was at the end of April 1943, all self-propelled artillery regiments that existed at that time were transferred to the tank troops. This was prompted by the fact, that artillery headquarters did not have the necessary repair units to restore the self-propelled artillery mounts.

                        The tank corps had some significant changes in the second half of 1943. In August, the antitank artillery regiment and anti artillery battalion were replaced by two self-propelled artillery regiments (SU-76 and SU-152). A corps supply point was included in the tank armies' corps. Due to the inclusion of a third tank battalion in tank brigades and the replacement of light tanks by medium ones, the combat capabilities of the corps rose overall.

                        In 1944, the tank corps organization was improved mainly towards increasing its firepower, maneuverability and increasing its tactical independence. The number of self-propelled artillery in a corps rose by 14. In August, a light artillery regiment having 24 76mm was added in order to increase the firepower of the corps artillery. Substantial reorganization of the repair units. In November 1944, two repair bases were created in the corps: a mobile tank repair base and a mobile motor vehicle repair base.
                        Last edited by R.N. Armstrong; 21 Nov 18, 19:44.
                        Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.

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                        • #27
                          Originally posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
                          How were Red Army Combat Tactics limited or enhanced by the homogeneous units used?
                          Tactical instructions made a special mention that heavy (IS) tanks must be employed in cooperation with other types.
                          In attack heavy tank and SP regiments advance 400-500 meters behind the battle formations of the medium tanks by leaps from one position to another, and using the range of their guns support the attack of medium tanks with fire.
                          ...
                          To deliver fire they as a rule take positions behind covers.
                          Medium and heavy tanks (SP guns) cooperate in such a way that medium tanks advancing in the first line reveal the system of enemy anti-tank defense and enemy tanks in ambush positions.
                          Heavy tanks (SP guns) advancing behind the formations of medium tanks neutralize enemy tanks, AP guns, and anti-tank guns with their fire.
                          When meeting enemy heavy tanks and SP guns medium tank outflank them using their speed, while heavy tanks engage them from the front.
                          Naturally real practice didn't always follow these theses.
                          In general, mixing several units together was rather a rule than an exception.
                          Last edited by Artyom_A; 22 Nov 18, 03:10.

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                          • #28
                            Originally posted by R.N. Armstrong View Post
                            An interesting aspect in the tank force structure that streamlined tank corps to tank brigade which eliminated the intervening division, thus streamlining the command.and control in resources allocation and combat management.
                            The tank "corps" of 1942 was actually smaller than the tank division of 1941. The tank "corps" of 1945 was somewhat larger in personnel than 1941 division but smaller in terms of the number of tanks. Unsurprisingly, after the war end the "corps" was renamed as division, and "brigades" were renamed as regiments which was a more adequate naming.
                            in general in 1941 for a lack of tanks the RA abandoned large tank formation and created smaller tank brigades instead. Each brigade had only about 50 tanks, but was supposed to be a fully independent unit in tactical, administrative and supply respects. Later in 1942 a tank "corps" were created by putting a small HQ above several brigades. The corps was initially a purely tactical echelon of command, which didn't had any corps support or service units. Its brigades were still fully responsible for own supply and maintenance. Hence the name "corps" instead of "division" (in most armies the division was considered as supply and administrative echelon). This arrangement quickly proved to be inadequate, and the corps organization was gradually improved by introducing corps support units, still it wasn't fully streamlined to the end of the war. On the positive side by trial and error the Soviets have found the tank brigade organization (50-60 tanks carrying infantry riders, small support weapons, trains and maintenance elements) which proved to be highly compact and agile, although somewhat lacking in certain respects.

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                            • #29
                              Originally posted by Artyom_A View Post
                              The tank "corps" of 1942 was actually smaller than the tank division of 1941. The tank "corps" of 1945 was somewhat larger in personnel than 1941 division but smaller in terms of the number of tanks. Unsurprisingly, after the war end the "corps" was renamed as division, and "brigades" were renamed as regiments which was a more adequate naming.
                              in general in 1941 for a lack of tanks the RA abandoned large tank formation and created smaller tank brigades instead. Each brigade had only about 50 tanks, but was supposed to be a fully independent unit in tactical, administrative and supply respects. Later in 1942 a tank "corps" were created by putting a small HQ above several brigades. The corps was initially a purely tactical echelon of command, which didn't had any corps support or service units. Its brigades were still fully responsible for own supply and maintenance. Hence the name "corps" instead of "division" (in most armies the division was considered as supply and administrative echelon). This arrangement quickly proved to be inadequate, and the corps organization was gradually improved by introducing corps support units, still it wasn't fully streamlined to the end of the war. On the positive side by trial and error the Soviets have found the tank brigade organization (50-60 tanks carrying infantry riders, small support weapons, trains and maintenance elements) which proved to be highly compact and agile, although somewhat lacking in certain respects.
                              Agree, as mentioned before, when we talk about the Red Army one has to talk in terms of what vintage year. The fascinating aspect of the Red Army in WWII is that it reformed itself in the face of catastrophic defeat. Previously, the conventional wisdom was an army required a catastrophic defeat to reform itself in a period of peace.

                              Parenthetically, with the advent of information systems, an army wired with positive and negative feedback loops can change itself during the course of an operation.
                              Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.

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                              • #30
                                Originally posted by R.N. Armstrong View Post
                                "General Balck was asked whether the Russian tanks ever used terrain in their attack against him in WWII. He replied that they had used terrain on occasion, but that they more often used speed.

                                The questioner followed up: "Which was harder to defend against?"

                                Balck replied, "Speed".
                                and how it looked in practice:

                                At 13.00 17 December the commander of the 3rd company/3rd battalion/62 Mechanized Brigade lieutenant Vlasov arrived to the regiment's staff and reported the following:
                                The tank group commanded by captain Gusev with the 3rd Battalion started an attack on the dawn of 17 December from a ravine 2 km north of Shestakov. With the first light tanks with infantry riders at full speed entered Shestakov village, the infantry dismounted and started to advance past the tanks. A firefight started in the village, but soon ceased. When the infantry closed to 1.5 km from the village an unknown captain on a German car with 4 POWs drove from the village and said: "Why are you standing here, the village is already ours, go and take trophies".
                                As soon as we mounted trucks we were engaged by fire from Shestakov, at the same time German airplanes attacked and strafed us. About 60 German tanks came out of Shestakov and opened fire against our infantry. No our tanks were seen at Shestakov. The village was occupied by Germans...
                                https://pamyat-naroda.ru/documents/view/?id=455080649
                                So a dozen of tanks completely disappeared and was never seen again.

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