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Red Army Tank Tactics

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  • Getting back on topic, the Red Army Tank tactics, it is my opinion that they learned by trial and error during the entire war and slowly became well organized in tank army and corps order of battle and the command structure as well. In the winter of 1942 - 43 they had highs (Stalingrad) and lows (Kalinin/Western Front).

    I am definitely aware now of how ruthless Zhukov could be. He even went so far as to "punish" his depleted armies and armored groupings after their failures during Operation Mars by ordering these depleted units to attack the same German defensive sectors at Rzhev, Belyi, Molodai Tud, and the Natural Vazuza River defensive belt along with the narrow corridor of advance between the Vazuza and Osuga rivers on the east side of the Rhzev salient. The Germans had 2 panzer corps with the 1st, 9th, 3rd, and 5th panzer divisions and after Zhukov opened his offensive on 25 November the 19th and 20th panzer divisions marched north into the cauldron.

    Zhukov met with Stalin, who knew from 25 November - 8 December Zhukov's armies had failed on all 3 sides of the Rhzev salient, and asked Stalin to let him renew the offensives with available reserves. Stalin, who was always offensive minded but in this case had reservations about Zhukov's proposal (he wanted to call off the offensive) was talked into it by Zhukov.

    At this time that Zhukov "re - started" the offensive a large portion of the Soviet 41st army and part of 22nd Army was trapped in the Belyi Pocket on the west side of the salient. On the east side of the salient a large portion of 20th Army was also trapped in a pocket 3 miles southwest of Osuga. On the northern bulge of the salient the 39th and 30th armies had also been thwarted in their efforts to penetrate the German defensive belts and draw German forces north to help ease the strain on the Soviet armies south of them which were almost completely surrounded.

    Zhukov was basically asking all of these worn down forces to renew their offensives and threw even more forces into the meat grinder.

    The size of the Rhzev salient was about 180 - 200 miles north to south and 130 - 150 miles east to west. This is very similar in size to the Kursk salient 4 months after the failure of Operation Mars. The Soviet defensive belts around the Kursk salient were nearly as deep as the salient itself and yet the German forces in the south (Manstein) came very close to a breakthrough while Model's 9th AOK in the north made minimal advances (Model was against the Kursk offensive and did not throw all of his panzer forces into his attack leaving reserves for the Soviet counteroffensive he knew would come).

    Although the Germans failed at Kursk they did not overextend and risk encirclement which results in high human casualties. Their most glaring loss at Kursk was all of the tanks and other equipment. As a matter of fact the Germans would have had an opportunity to encircle the Soviet 48th Rifle Corps (69th Army) if the Soviets did not have such an overwhelming disparity in reserves of men and armor to join the battle on Army Detachment Kemp/3rd Panzer Corps right flank and keep the 5 mile corridor open at the points Teterevino (west) and Shakhovo (east) between Kemph's forces and Hoth's 4th Panzer Army.

    Kursk was an example of just how much better the Germans were in mid 1943 at armored offensive tactics. They were facing far superior numbers in men and equipment and attacking main defensive belts 30 miles deep. And we all know the outcome on 12 July when the Soviets counterattacked through the Psel River corridor at Prokhoravka. Rotmistrov was compelled to attack because he knew that Stalin was aware of his superiority in armor and was craving for an overwhelming victory.

    If you have the time watch this video on the Kursk defensive system. The Soviets made the correct decision and this time they stopped the German summer offensive for the first time and resoundingly so at that. I have watched many of this You Tuber's uploads on WWII and they are all very good and pretty much on point with what really happened. He knows his s**t.








    Theo mir ist die munition ausgegangen ich werde diesen ramman auf wiedersehen uns in walhalla

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    • To be fair to the Soviet armored forces and tactics during Operation Mars it was a winter offensive which would have had some effect on maneuver. The Kursk offensive was launched under much better conditions for maneuver.

      I am going to read your chapter on Rotmistrov next. Do you go into why he counterattacked on 12 July through a narrow corridor giving the Germans tactical terrain superiority. He lost a lot of men and equipment unnecessarily. He should have continued letting the Germans grind themselves up on their advances through the excellent defensive positions.
      Theo mir ist die munition ausgegangen ich werde diesen ramman auf wiedersehen uns in walhalla

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      • Originally posted by Kurt Knispel View Post

        I think a book on KMG's would be great. I know, however, you are still writing the Katyusha book. Both of those subjects have not received the coverage they deserve. I did run across this book on Amazon and was wondering if you have a copy and if so what is your opinion on it. I also added the links for the English translated Svechin and Triandafillov books. I am interested in reading them as they have much more content then Isserson's book. Svechin's book is 374 pages and Triandafillov's is 240 compared to Isseson's 136.

        https://www.amazon.com/dp/0080312004...v_ov_lig_dp_it

        https://www.amazon.com/dp/1879944332...FF7AFXNS&psc=1

        https://www.amazon.com/dp/0714641189...v_ov_lig_dp_it
        I have all three. Bellamy is a good piece of work.

        I have in addition to the Amazon Triandafilov (editor and forward by Jacob Kipp who was another mentor for me in Soviet literature) repro's of Triandafilov's work in Russian, 1929 edition and 1936 edition (one always looks at multiple copies to compare what got through or did not get through the censorship.

        In the Svechin book you will see Jacob Kipp has an introductory essay : General-Major A.A. Svechin and Modern Warfare: Military history and Military Theory.

        You mentioned an Isserson book, probably "Architect of Soviet Victory in World War II: The Life and Theories of G.S. Isserson by Richard W. Harrison." Harrison has an excellent command of Russian and his biography is a good entry point.

        You will see in the theorists books Svechin and Isserson studied the ACW, no mention by Triandafilov, and none of them writes to a legacy from the ACW cavalry.
        Last edited by R.N. Armstrong; 24 Feb 20, 09:36.
        Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.

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        • I would like to buy the Bellamy book but its way overpriced. I'll keep checking E Bay and wait for your book to be published.

          Svechin and Triandifallov I will buy soon. There are so many good books that just came out and others being published in 2020 I have to watch my spending or wifey will give me grief.
          Theo mir ist die munition ausgegangen ich werde diesen ramman auf wiedersehen uns in walhalla

          Comment


          • Report on tactical employment of English-built Mk-2 and Mk-3 tanks and domestic-built T-60 tanks in combat conditions.

            1. 23 Tank Brigade was in constant action from 16 to 31 December 1941 and have an experience of practical employment of Mk-2, Mk-3, and T-60 tanks in combat conditions.

            2. Making march on a main road previously developed by animal-drawn vehicles doesn’t present a problem for Mk-2, Mk-3 and T-60 tanks.
            When the road is undeveloped and the snow cover is 40-45 cm deep, Mk-2 and Mk-3 can lay tracks in snow while loosing speed (Mk-2 has a good going in 3rd gear, Mk-3 – in 1st and 2nd gear). T-60 tanks without tracks laid by animal transport or medium tanks cannot negotiate the snow cover of this sickness.
            Movement of separate tank columns consisting of T-60 tanks alone without tracks laid in advance is impossible.
            Marches of above-mentioned types of tanks on secondary roads and column trails doesn’t present a problem either, and the method of their movement remains the same.
            Icy slopes at 20-25 degrees are difficult to pass for Mk-2 and Mk-3 tanks due to absence of spurs on tracks.
            T-60 on such slopes needs to be towed.
            The speed of Mk-2 and Mk-3 tanks off road with the snow cover 40-45 deep decreases to:
            a) on a flat ground – 5-6 km/h
            b) on a broken ground they are almost immobile as supported by experience of the combat at Radenki village.
            T-60 tanks even on a flat ground with such sickness of snow are almost immobile, which was supported practically in a combat at Vorobyevo village

            3. When tanks separate from main roads the main methods for supply of ammunition and fuel are:
            a) if secondary roads with snow cover blow 15-20 cm are available – by ZIS-32 and GAZ-AA trucks with chains and spurs.
            b) when there are no secondary roads or the snow cover is deeper, transportation can only be performed by animal transport on sledges...
            c) When immobilized tanks are employed in an ambush, ammunition and fuel should be transported on sledges either manually or by combat vehicles.

            4. Deployment of tanks on attack position should be made 1.5-2 hours before the attack, since a longer stay requires heating the engine every 1.5-2 hours which can draw hostile fire on attack positions.

            5. The advantage of march in a forest on secondary roads lays in the fact that the forest is a natural protection from snowdrifts and the sickness of snow is considerably smaller than on open roads.
            March of the 2nd Tank Battalion in forests proceeded without any problems, since the sickness of snow cover in didn’t exceed 25-30 cm versus 40-50 cm in an open field…
            ...
            7. Covering his retreat with rearguards the enemy in most cases lays mines on passes and roads leading to villages ... When tanks are employed in such places engineer reconnaissance is essential to mark minefields, find detours and, when possible, to clear mines.

            8. One method to warm crews when situated outside settlements or shelters is employment of canvass tents with iron stoves. For this end a tank should have a tent and a stove.
            When they are absent for a short time, crews can be warmed at louvers of the running engines, which was practiced by the 2nd Tank Battalion.

            10. Conducting retrograde actions the enemy had a small number of tanks in the brigade’s sector. As a rule he employs tactics of tank ambushes in villages or forests, avoiding tank combat. The enemy employs tanks to secure his retreating trains.

            11. Every settlement is converted into a strongpoint with an organized system of anti-tank fire and as rule roads leading to villages are kept under aimed fire. For this reason tanks that have limited maneuverability in winter conditions should not be employed for attack along a road unless hostile anti-tank defenses are neutralized.
            Tanks with better cross country performance should be employed off roads for envelopment. Also a reconnaissance should be made by combined-arms staffs prior to an attack in order to reveal hostile weapons, which frequently wasn’t made and led to excessive losses of tanks.
            One method to employ tanks in winter conditions when hostile forces are road-bound is ab advance to roads of hostile retreat and organization of ambushes… and also security of flanks and escort of rifle units making marches in hostile rear…
            https://pamyat-naroda.ru/documents/view/?id=454988384
            Last edited by Artyom_A; 24 Feb 20, 15:18.

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            • Thanks Art for the translation
              Theo mir ist die munition ausgegangen ich werde diesen ramman auf wiedersehen uns in walhalla

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              • Originally posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
                I've never heard of any KV's at Kursk, with the exception of a solitary command tank. Red Steamroller by R Forczyk also notes 21 Churchills on the Steppe Front at Kursk, but no KV's. It would be interesting to discover if KV-1's were actually present.
                Valeriy Zamulin, besides "Demolishing the Myth", has 2 follow up books titled The Battle of Kursk: "Controversial and Neglected Aspects" and "The Forgotten Battle of the Kursk Salient" All 3 of his books are exemplary studies of the Kursk battle. I own and have read all 3.

                The question of the presence of KV's involved in the battle was really gnawing at me so yesterday I had a day off from work and searched through his book "The Forgotten Battle of the Kursk Salient" which, since his "Myth" book focused on the Red Army operations to stop Hoth's 4th Panzer Army (48th Panzer Corps, IISS Panzer Corps) and its advance on the Prokhorovka axis, "Forgotten Battle" focuses exclusively on the Red Army operations to stop Army Detachment Kempf (3rd Panzer Corps) on the right flank of 4th Panzer Army on the Belgorod - Andeevka axis.

                I began checking the tables in "Forgotten Battle" and found the KV's. There were 24 KV - 1's in the 262nd Heavy Tank Regiment in the TO&E of the 7th Guards Army. I then checked "Myth". I know you have this book and not the other 2 but I did a quick double check of the tables and found that the 5th Guards Tank Army had 4 KV - 1's in their TO&E on 11 July (page 265 table 18). The two corps of the 5th GTA on 5 July do not list KV tanks in their respective TO&E. Table 5 (29th corps) page 56 and table 6 (18th corps) page 70. These KV's were added to the 5th GTA sometime between 6 and 11 July.

                Theo mir ist die munition ausgegangen ich werde diesen ramman auf wiedersehen uns in walhalla

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                • 129th tank brigade on Central Front had 10 KV-1.
                  There are no Nazis in Ukraine. Idiots

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                  • Let's continue. This short instruction was issued on 11 November 1941:
                    Character of actions of our tanks.
                    Reconnaissance:

                    00000146.jpg
                    1. A tank platoon with infantry is detailed for reconnaissance.
                    2. Route of movement of the tank platoon for visual observation of hostile positions from the most profitable points is determined in advance.
                    3. Actions of the platoon in reconnaissance:
                    The platoon after secretly advancing to a distance of 400-500 meters opens fire against a visually observed object and as soon as the enemy returns fire from his anti-tank guns, the tank platoon swiftly retreats behind a cover determined in advance.
                    From there following the planned route the tank platoon reaches another point of hostile positions and acts as described in the previous paragraph.
                    If at some point of hostile positions the tank platoon doesn’t meet fire of anti-tank guns then it strives to penetrate the depth of positions in order to probe hostile forces.
                    After that the direction not secured by hostile anti-tank gun fire can be utilized by a larger number of tanks (company, battalion brigade).
                    The route should be prepared in advance on a map.
                    Actions of the platoon should be swift with tanks well-prepared in material and technical respects. They shouldn’t stay for a ling time at the same place.

                    Attack:
                    1. Mobility of tanks should be used for maneuver and movement.
                    2. Fire against hostile infantry, tanks, and artillery is to be delivered only from stationary covered positions.
                    3. Attack is made by combination of movement and fire from stationary positions. Movement serves to approach to an effective distance of tank fire and to take advantageous positions relative to the object. Fire – to destroy the object.
                    4. Movement is executed from one cover to another. At the last covered position advantageous in respect to effective range and situation the tanks halt and deliver aimed fire.
                    5. Attacking hostile tanks are met only by fire from stationary covered positions and no case by fire from tanks in movement.
                    For this end advantageous position on the direction of probable movement of hostile tanks are chosen in advance.
                    At these positions the tanks zero in.
                    6. Movement of tanks from one covered position to another is secured by aviation. Aviation directs tanks to objects of attack.
                    7. Tank attack should be supported by fire of accompanying anti-tank guns on self-propelled mounts. (*)
                    8. Tanks are usually followed by motorized infantry.
                    9. In case of poor observation and broken terrain movement of tanks by bounds is preceded my reconnaissance executed by motorized infantry reinforced with anti-tank guns.

                    Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the South-West Direction
                    Lieutenant general Tamruchi

                    (*) Probably meaning ZIS-30 self-propelled guns.
                    https://pamyat-naroda.ru/documents/view/?id=114800662

                    It's curious to see almost literal reiteration of theses from German manuals. Compare (German training instruction for a tank company of 1939 as quoted by T.Yentz):
                    "...
                    6. The attack is executed utilizing mutual supporting fire by continuously alternating between fire and movement. Movement serves to carry fire on and into the enemy. Panzers are not to fire on the move. Firing when stationary is more effective and therefore should be attempted.
                    ....
                    44. Firing is more effective from stationary Panzers. Panzers that aren't being fired on, and have a good field of fire, fire when halted. "

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                    • All of the KV tanks of the 262nd Heavy Tank Regiment in the 7th Guards Army were used as part of the defensive belts prior to the German Kursk offensive on the right flank of 7th GA. They were dug in as immobile firing positions in the anti tank strong points. They were situated in the 81st Guards Rifle Divisions sector opposite the German bridgehead at Mikhailovka on the Northern Donets River just south of Staryi Gorod.

                      Art, are there any late 42 - early 43 Red Army instruction manual's for defensive tank tactics?
                      Theo mir ist die munition ausgegangen ich werde diesen ramman auf wiedersehen uns in walhalla

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                      • Maybe The KV tanks were used as dug in immobile firing weapons on account of their weight caused by the thickness of their armor which made them slow and cumbersome in maneuver and prone to mechanical failure.


                        I read in Richard's book Red Army Tank Commanders (pages 51 and 52) that Katukov, on 17 September 1942, received orders to report to the Kremlin to meet with Stalin. At this meeting Stalin asked Katukov "how are our tanks" and Katukov replied that "the T 34 fully acquitted itself in battle, and the tanker's put great trust in it. But the heavy KV, T 60 and T 70 were not liked". Katukov went on to say "the KV, comrade Stalin, is very heavy, slow moving, and, as you know, unmaneuverable. They overcome obstacles with great difficulty while the T 34's do it with ease. The KV's break bridges and generally cause unnecessary troubles. And the armament of the 76mm gun is the same as that on the T 34. So what's the combat advantage on the heavy tank?"
                        Theo mir ist die munition ausgegangen ich werde diesen ramman auf wiedersehen uns in walhalla

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                        • Originally posted by Artyom_A View Post
                          It's curious to see almost literal reiteration of theses from German manuals. Compare (German training instruction for a tank company of 1939 as quoted by T.Yentz):
                          Still searching the web for the German instruction manual with no luck. Here is a good video from the same You Tube author of Red Army Panzer defense in my above post.



                          Theo mir ist die munition ausgegangen ich werde diesen ramman auf wiedersehen uns in walhalla

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                          • The T60 and T70 seemed so vulnerable IMO. Wasn't the KV2 a beast tho?
                            SPORTS FREAK/ PANZERBLITZ COMMANDER/ CC2 COMMANDER

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                            • The KV 1 and 2 were both beasts but they had too many problems. The KV 2 more so then the KV 1.

                              Read this link. https://tanks-encyclopedia.com/ww2/s...oviet_KV-2.php
                              Theo mir ist die munition ausgegangen ich werde diesen ramman auf wiedersehen uns in walhalla

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                              • Originally posted by Kurt Knispel View Post
                                Still searching the web for the German instruction manual with no luck.
                                Jentz in "Panzertruppen" Vol.I gives a translation of the training directive for the light and medium tank company from the year 1939. A similar directive from the previous year (1938) for the light company is available online:
                                https://wwii.germandocsinrussia.org/...inspect/zoom/6
                                The same folder contains a report "Employment of tank units in combat combined-arms battle" which is the most coherent exposition of the German doctrine I've seen to date.
                                https://wwii.germandocsinrussia.org/...inspect/zoom/6

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