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Red Army Tank Tactics

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  • Thanks Art. I have Panzertruppen 1 and 2 I will check that out. Thanks for the links as well.
    Theo mir ist die munition ausgegangen ich werde diesen ramman auf wiedersehen uns in walhalla


    • The following report from the 146 Tank Brigade (early 1942) was a part of survey of tank operations in winter season made following a GABTU order. This particular response was of especially detailed character:
      1. Snow cover 60-80 cm deep makes movement of tanks off roads almost impossible. Only if a column consists of medium and heavy tanks movement by trails is possible provided that there is a well organized terrain reconnaissance, especially reconnaissance of swamps and streams, which as a rule stay unfrozen under snow cover and are impassible without appropriate preparation. Naturally in order to reconnoiter the route and make swamps and steams passable reconnaissance reinforced by engineer elements should be sent in advance (not later than three hours before the departure of the tank column).
      Composition of the reconnaissance is recommended as follows: two sections of sappers with saws, axes and a requisite amount of explosive, a mine-searching section with 3-5 mine detectors, and 10-12 traffic controllers (depending on the lengths of the route).
      The reconnaissance should be led by one of the staff commanders. Inclusion of one of officers of the leading unit is extremely helpful.
      The means of transportation for the reconnaissance should be a cross-country vehicle, or, if needed, a medium tank. Before departure of the tank column the commander should receive reliable information about the march route:
      a) Width of roadbed
      b) Depth of snow cover
      c) Availability of bridges and detours
      d) Descents and rises
      e) In forests – forest density and trees sickness
      The route should be regulated.
      Movement of T-60 tank due to their small road clearance is impossible without assistance of sapper units.
      However, in tank brigades when heavy and medium tanks are available, T-60 could move along track developed by them, or in part of cases could be towed (for a short distance). English Mk-3 tanks have troubles negotiating snow cover 50-60 cm deep and a rise of 15 degrees.

      2. When making marches as a part of the combined-arms unit on forest and secondary roads trains of a tank unit (battalion) are almost isolated, and expenditure of fuel on ill-passable roads and at small speeds is greatly increased. Therefore, when tank units reach their destination areas, their load of fuel is as a rule exhausted. For a timely refueling it is needed:
      a) Have fuel tanks filled
      b) Some amount of fuel should be kept in auxiliary tanks on tops and sides of vehicles (they are discarded after reaching an attack position).
      c) Have of the fuel load at combat vehicles (in units). Transportation can be made using sledges, each of them with 2-3 barrels of fuel, towed by tanks. Each company has 1-2 sledges.
      When cross-country vehicles are available fuel can be transported in barrels.
      Refueling should be made at first opportunity not waiting when tanks reach attack positions.

      3. Occupation of attack positions can be performed in two ways:
      1) Tanks go to attack positions immediately from the march
      2) Tanks go to attack positions from an assembly position. In this case route reconnaissance marks routes and determine detours of tank obstacles.
      One officer from each company should be included in reconnaissance so that approaching tanks could promptly occupy their places at the attack position without needless delay and noise.
      In the second case tank units have far larger amount of time for detailed reconnaissance of attack positions.
      It is needed to utilize information on the area from combined-arms commanders of the staff operating in this sector.
      To maintain tanks in full combat readiness on attack positions it is needed to heat tanks loaded with antifreeze for 10-15 minutes every hour. Weapons are checked and all malfunctions are fixed already at assembly positions. Therefore on the attack positions is necessary to check only movable parts and mechanisms.
      In case of malfunctions they are immediately fixed.

      4. Mk-III can negotiate snow cover 50-60 cm deep with average speed 4-5 km/h.
      T-60 negotiates 40 cm of snow.
      T-34 – 80-90 cm.
      ST-2 tractor (unloaded) – 80-90 cm.
      GAZ-AA truck (with chains) – up to 20 cm.

      5. Water lines regardless of their size form anti-tank obstacles, hence reconnaissance should focus on finding ways to crossings, ways to reach the opposite bank, sickness of ice. Approach routes to a crossing should be cleared of snow, ice near banks should lie on water, but not cave in.
      The most dangerous places are entries and exits from ice. For the T-60 tank the ice 30 cm thick is safe. For the T-34 – 60 cm. When these requirements are not met it is necessary to reinforce ice with a makeshit floor, or when the time is available – to thicken ice (*). It is necessary to have means of evacuations (tractor with a rope) at a crossing site.

      6. Snow cover thickness is determined by commander’s reconnaissance. Sites with especially deep snow should be marked with poles. Special attentions should be paid to reconnaissance of dry swamps and small bushes.
      Impassable sites should be cleared of snow.

      7. Mine obstacles were passed using sapper units. The most practical way of finding mines is a mine-detector. Unfortunately a mine-detector swiftly becomes inoperational at temperatures below minus 15-18 degrees centigrade. It is needed to have 3-5 mine detectors with each tank battalion.

      8. Operation of “ShVAK” cannon in winter conditions: a) this cannon can operate normally in winter but it has many shortcomings …..
      b) Principal causes of jams were a lack of knowledge of the cannon, its disassembly and assembly procedure by personnel.
      c) Experience demonstrates that after 2-3 days training crews can master disassembly, assembly and preparation for combat of the ShVAK cannon.
      d) When preparing ShVAK for combat it is needed:
      1. After receiving tank from factories or repair facilities - to make a full disassembly of the cannon, remove factory grease and lay winter grease
      2. To examine and clean gas pipes.
      3. When there is no winter grease available we recommend using the following grease: 80% of spindle oil and 20% of the automotive gasoline 2nd grade. Special attention to greasing moveable parts.
      4. Examination of a cannon by a tank commander before combat is mandatory.
      5. Examination of moveable parts after disassembly and greasing them at assembly.

      As for 76-mm cannon and DT machine gun they operate without failures in case of proper preparation for firing.

      9. In cold weather personnel are warmed in huts with iron stoves installed. When there are no stoves an old fuel barrel can be used for the same purpose. At longer stays it is needed to dig dugouts to enable warming of personnel and protect them from splinters of hostile artillery and mortars.

      10. During this winter period the enemy employed tanks as mobile pillboxes by small groups, operating mainly along roads. At night tanks are withdrawn to settlements for security. At day tanks are withdrawn to forests.
      Larger tank groups were concentrated 3-5 km behind the forward line to secure flanks and junctions.
      Tank ambushes are regularly employed.

      11. New combat methods:
      a) Operations of small tank groups in close cooperation with infantry.
      Employment of 5-6 tanks with infantry riding on them (1-2 rifle platoons, a section of sappers) proved its effectiveness as a method to capture certain localities. The task of infantry riders is to consolidate success of tanks, secure them when moving through narrow passages and small rivers and also at rallying points after attaining combat tasks.

      b) When tanks are employed in large numbers for an attack of prepared hostile positions we recommend the following battle formation: first echelon of 1-2 medium tanks and up to 5 small tanks as battle reconnaissance operating supported by the second echelon composed of heavy and medium tanks.
      The third echelon consists of small and light tanks operating in close support of infantry.
      Attack of the first and second echelon is covered by 3-4 tanks deployed at flanks and acting as supporting guns.

      c) Defense of settlements
      In defense of a settlement tanks should be employed as static weapons which doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be ready to maneuver. Tanks should be deployed on probable routes of hostile tanks movement.
      Using barns to hide tanks is the most suitable method for concealment. Crews must prepare embrasures for firing. Tanks detailed to secure roads should be deployed as an ambush. A requisite stock of ammunition should be created near a tank. A shock group also a reserve is to be placed in the center of the settlement for early commitment. Ammunition and fuel should be kept near tanks, and best of all, if terrain is suitable, they are to be placed in a forest. Replenishment is to be made in short time.
      Digging tank is not always possible in winter conditions.

      d) Defense of forests
      The most effective method of employment of tanks in defense of a forest is a tank ambush. An ambush should consist of at least two tanks (one T-34 and one T-60).
      Besides its role as a combat vehicle T-60 is used also for liaison. An ambush shouldn’t be situated immediately near the road, but rather on a side. An ambush should let small hostile reconnaissance elements go into a forest and then destroy main forces with fire. It is useful for crews to know one or two parallel roads in order to retreat to a side and then reach over a parallel road the main road again to engage the enemy from the front.

      12. At temperatures minus 25-30 degrees the engine is heated by running every 1 hour for 10-15 minutes. Average daily expenditure of fuel for heating tanks: T-60 – up to 50 liters, Mk-3 – up to 60 liters, T-34 with M-17 engine – up to 90 liters, with B-2 engine – up to 75 liters. For operation in winter cooling system is filled with antifreeze. Pipes and nozzles of water radiators are isolated, radiators louvers are covered with plywood, accumulators are isolated from cold and the density of electrolyte is increased.
      Tractor kerosene is added to gasoil [diesel fuel] – up to 10 % depending on temperature.

      13. Experience demonstrated that maintenance in winter conditions is deficient. The main problem is a lack, and sometimes a complete absence of means of repair and evacuation in units. We recommend remedying this deficiency at least partly in the following way:
      a) bringing repair means – mobile repair workshops with maintenance squads – closer to combat vehicles – to companies, in order to have means for minor repair on the spot
      b) having in each tank battalion 2-3 tractors with ropes as means of evacuation which can easily tow vehicles from battlefield to repair squads, [brigade’s] repair and recovery company or repair base. Knocked-out irreparable tanks can be used as a source of spare parts.
      We don’t recommend using tanks as a means of evacuation.

      14. The best means of tank camouflage is white paint which should be renewed at least once in a week. When tanks are situated in a forest they should be kept far from roads. Tanks should be withdrawn 100-150 meters from a forest edge. In settlements tank should be placed in courtyards and partly near buildings and covered with canvass.
      Personnel should stay in vehicles most of time both for camouflage and for protection against mortar rounds and air bombs.

      Battle experience demonstrated that existing means of evacuation – ST-2 tractors cannot fully handle the task of evacuating damaged tanks from battlefield.

      The ST-2 tractor can tow two T-60 tanks, but cannot tow KV or T-34 due to limited friction with the ground.
      Using a rope of the ST-2 tractor to tow tanks stuck in swamps or streams produced positive results.
      Evacuation of a tank by another tank is possible:
      Mk-3 by T-34, T-60 by Mk-3.
      Evacuation of burnt down tanks is especially difficult since elements of their chassis are not rotatable due to fire.
      In such cases it is recommended to disconnect sprockets from the gearbox.
      It would be efficient to provide explosives for tanks in order to explode the soil in cases when strongly frozen soil hinders movement of a stuck tank (walls of ravines, river banks).

      Chief of staff of the 146 Tank Brigade major Ovsyannikov
      Military commissar of the 146 Tank Brigade’s staff battalion commissar Yershov.
      (*) by freezing additional water on it
      Last edited by Artyom_A; 01 Mar 20, 07:57.


      • An interesting part of what Artyom has posted in #350, #354, and #362 is these reports are examples of the type and depth of reporting that was ordered by the Red Army General Staff in order to capture meaningful war experiences which were collected in this reporting, analyzed by General Staff Departments which resulted in orders and directives disseminated throughout the forces for implementation. This process, established in late 1941, is how the Red Army turned itself around in the face of catastrophic defeat. This is how they beat an army that had essentially two years of combat experience in its officers and soldiers before invading the Soviet Union.

        These are excellent examples, Artyom. It took me ten years of reading everything in English and moving into the published Russian memoirs and studies (which were heavy censored) before I ran across material like this which finally answered my question to how the Red Army beat the Germans.
        Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.


        • Originally posted by R.N. Armstrong View Post
          An interesting part of what Artyom has posted in #350, #354, and #362 is these reports are examples of the type and depth of reporting that was ordered by the Red Army General Staff in order to capture meaningful war experiences which were collected in this reporting, analyzed by General Staff Departments which resulted in orders and directives disseminated throughout the forces for implementation. This process, established in late 1941, is how the Red Army turned itself around in the face of catastrophic defeat. This is how they beat an army that had essentially two years of combat experience in its officers and soldiers before invading the Soviet Union.

          These are excellent examples, Artyom. It took me ten years of reading everything in English and moving into the published Russian memoirs and studies (which were heavy censored) before I ran across material like this which finally answered my question to how the Red Army beat the Germans.

          I agree that Art's posts have been excellent. They have been in regards to mechanized formations but the learning process in armored formations, especially as it applied to command and control - experienced commanders at the tactical and operational level, was applied in all the Red Army forces. And I can appreciate how, by reading newer available information released from the Soviet archives helped out with understanding the transformation of the RKKA. Russian author Valeriy Zamulin, who also used these new archival materials at the TsAMO RF for his trilogy on the battle of Kursk really gave me an opportunity to learn many new things about the RKKA which I otherwise would never have been aware of. His trilogy of the battle of Kursk is Soviet centric and everything is translated to the English language. I am in debt to authors such as yourself and Zamulin, as well as Artyom here at ACG, for Soviet - English translations. I am going to start a new thread on RKKA command and control problems from the Spring/Summer 1942 through the Spring/Summer 1943 period when the Red Army order to study after action reports and combat experience, established in 1941 and during the period I mentioned was enforced dramatically. During this period, the Russian author Zamulin, explains in detail how the new orders of tactical/operational practice was transformed from theory to implementation on the battlefields.
          Last edited by Kurt Knispel; 01 Mar 20, 21:49.
          Theo mir ist die munition ausgegangen ich werde diesen ramman auf wiedersehen uns in walhalla


          • Originally posted by R.N. Armstrong View Post
            An interesting part of what Artyom has posted in #350, #354, and #362 is these reports are examples of the type and depth of reporting that was ordered by the Red Army General Staff
            This survey was initiated by GABTU. Order by general Fedorenko of 31.12.1941:
            In order to generalize experience of operations of tank units in winter and utilize it in all units of the Red Army you are to submit your considerations based on battle experience by 3.1.42 with a liaison. The following questions are to be described:
            1. Performance of march - approach to attack positions by main and secondary roads and column trails. Negotiating snow cover by various types of tanks. Possibility of maneuver off roads depending on depth of snow.
            2. Methods to deliver fuel and ammunition to tanks operating outside main roads,
            3. Deployment of tanks on attack positions and methods to maintain tanks of various types in constant combat readiness.
            4. Negotiating snow cover in forests and on forest roads with information on snow thickness.
            5. Passing water obstacles by ice with information on ice thickness and methods to reinforce ice.
            6. Probing negotiability of snow cover on the spot by tank and commander's reconnaissance.
            7. Practical methods to overcome mine barriers by tanks.
            8. Conditions of crews in strong cold and long stays outsides shelters and settlements, methods to warm personnel.
            9. Preparation of weapons for combats on new types of tanks, their operations in strong cold.
            10. Peculiarity of hostile tanks actions in winter.
            11. New tactical methods of tanks in winter, tactical methods influenced by peculiarity of hostile actions in winter.
            12. Expenditure of fuel for heating various models of tanks at typical temperatures.
            13. Peculiarities of maintenance and operations in winter conditions.

            As you can see, the content and order of paragraphs of the report quoted above followed this directive.


            • Very nice piece of work. One can see from the General Staff Directive in November 1941, that the major heads of the combat forces and services forces were complying. The General Staff sent staff officers down to army level to ensure compliance with the directive to collect war experiences and pass them back to the General staff for analysis, solutions and the dissemination back out to the forces. The delay of these turn arounds was about three months depending on the subjects to be discussed in each publication.

              This example shows the initiative of Federenko, Chief of the Tank Forces, within his tank forces. At this period in the war, the Re Army was reconstructing its tank force by going back to brigade size units.

              Analysis focused on tank and mechanized corps operations from November 1942 to February 1943 when the Soviets undertook their first large scale strategic offensive in which they employed large mobile forces to conduct tactical and operational maneuver. During that period, the Soviets employed more than ten separate tank and mechanized corps, separately or in combination. These actions was a wealth of war experiences which would shape their force structure and operational concepts which is augmented in mid-1943 with tanks armies with better force composition that the early tank armies.
              Last edited by R.N. Armstrong; 02 Mar 20, 09:10.
              Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.


              • This particular survey was made by Fedorenko without participation or reference to the General Staff. Somewhat later (20 January 1943) Fedorenko ordered to submit regular after-action reports with conclusions on war experience. This experience was to be analyzed and disseminated by GABTU:
                Later GABTU established a standard form of the after-action report and a list of topics to be covered.
                In addition to regular after-action reports there were to special surveys made in 1942: on (quoted above) about employment of tanks in winter and another about employment and technical operation of tank weapons.
                Throughout the war GABTU has its own small section of war experience under various titles. The list of archival documents left by this section can be found here:
                Mostly assorted after-action reports, also maps and instructions/directives.


                • I think we both see the initiative by Fedorenko to work his Armored force as it was being built through most of 1942. The General Staff process had to wait, as noted above, before going to work on the tank and mech corps operations which was not published until the 8th volume of Collections of Materials for the Study of War Experience [Sbornik materialov po izucheniiu opyta voiny), in the August-October 1943, in the article on tank and mech corps in exploitation of the breakthrough. On the basis of their analysis, the Soviets were able to create a contemporary mobile force structure and sound concepts for its employment. In subsequent "Collections" the studies focused on specific aspects such as in Collection:

                  #9 -- "Operational March of Tank (Mech) Corps & Engineer Support of Commitment of Tank Corps in the Breakthrough;
                  #10 -- Tank Force Actions For Pursuit;
                  #11 --Tank Forces in the Defense of the Kursk Salient;
                  #12 -- Tank and Mech Units Forcing Rivers
                  #13 -- Committing into the Breakthrough 19th Tk corps;
                  #14 -- Tank Army Communications in Offensive Operations
                  #15 -- Mechanized Corps Action in the Operational Depth of Enemy Defense;
                  #16 -- 3rd Gds Tk Army in Lvov - Peremysl Operation, Engineer Support in 3rd GTA in Lvov-Pere Opn;
                  #17 -- Action of Tank and Mech Force in Operation for Encirclement and Destruction of Bobruisk Enemy Grouping, Jun '44;

                  As you can see, the Collections focused on operational level actions which would leave to the different branches the tactical details and lessons that would be sorted in their respective fields for force structure, schools/training that would support the field requirements for operations. Each volume would publish the authors of the articles who were representatives for the different branches. They would bring the tactical conclusions and solutions to the greater study at an operational level.

                  Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.


                  • The 7th Guards Army Military Council determined the main task for the armored and mechanized forces in the forthcoming operations (Voronezh Front opposite Army Detachment Kempf/3rd Panzer Corps) with Order No. 00143 from 1 April 1943 demanded that the armored and mechanized forces be used only as a mobile reserve for launching counterattacks against enemy penetrations.

                    Commander of 7th Guards Army M. S. Shumilov nominally split all of the tank units and formations into 2 groups (there was no formal order for this), attached a self propelled artillery regiment to each group, and directed each of the groups to cover the army's flanks.
                    Theo mir ist die munition ausgegangen ich werde diesen ramman auf wiedersehen uns in walhalla


                    • An example of after-action reports in early 1942. Synopsis of the original document, commonplaces and details are omitted:

                      Report on operations of tank brigades of the South Front in February 1941

                      I. Operations of the tank forces were affected by winter and terrain conditions. Strong winds typical for South Ukraine created snowdrifts impassable for wheeled transport and sometimes even for tanks. For this reason T-60 tanks were withdrawn from combat lines and stayed in rear areas for training. Lack of spare parts and evacuation hampered evacuation and recovery of damaged tanks. After first battles or even after a long march only a limited number of operational tanks were left in brigades.

                      Brigades were normally attached to rifle or cavalry divisions. Frequent shifts of attachment – new division initially didn’t have experience of handling tank units, didn’t assign detailed tasks, and didn’t provide time for deployment, reconnaissance and organization. Infantry commanders frequently don’t consider technical limitations and assigned impossible tasks or forget about time for rest and maintenance. Example: tanks of 3 TBr remained on battlefield day and night from 24.2 to 5.3.
                      Instances of night tank attacks were unsuccessful, since observations, aimed fire or tank driving in unfamiliar terrain are impossible in darkness. Example: in a night attack 3 TBr lost 2 T-34 stuck in snow and 1 knocked out. Night security by infantry is needed to provide rest for tank crews.

                      II. Coordination with combined-arms units, when sufficient time is available, - by briefings, joint reconnaissance, agreements with infantry, artillery, and cavalry commanders. Frequently this stage is omitted, and coordination is made only by requests of artillery fire. As a result good cooperation in the first stage of combat, when wire communications are available and own and hostile situation is known, becomes deficient further on. Artillery OPs are too far from battlefield. Examples: artillery opens fire too late, communications with artillery become broken leading to losses. Coordination with air force is absent, very weak cooperation between neighbor units. Tank-infantry teamwork is also very weak. Infantry attacks with tanks too bunched-up and walking in full height but hits the ground as soon as hostile machine gun or mortar fire is opened and don’t advance behind tanks anymore. Examples: tanks enter villages but stay alone as infantry stays behind them and don’t consolidate their success.

                      III. Offensive as a rule was proceeded by reconnaissance by combat or observation performed by a brigades’ recon company or motor rifle battalion. In open steppe terrain it is possible to discover enemy weapons and movements. Example: observation of the 131 TBr revealed positions of 5 AT guns and 2 machine-guns, a subsequent attack achieved success with little losses.
                      During attack reconnaissance by observation and single tanks which lure hostile AT guns into opening fire.
                      Attack positions normally occupied at night after a daytime reconnaissance. A noise of engines discloses tank deployment.
                      Frequently supporting units are late in deployment. Example: 131 TBr deployed to attack on H-hour, but as other units didn’t yet deploy, the attack was postponed and the brigade had to go back to an initial area. Presence of our tanks was disclosed to the enemy.
                      Normally tanks attack toward hostile positions forward of the motor rifle battalion. When strong natural or artificial obstacles are present or detailed information on hostile defenses is absent, tank advance behind motor battalion supporting it with fire and securing its flanks. Example: 4 Gu.TBr attacked settlements with tanks only after infantry captured their edges.
                      When many tanks are available tank units form two echelons and sometimes a small reserve. When the brigade’s tank strength is weak, tank form one line. In attack tanks advance with infantry or at short distance forward and provide support by firing from short halts. When infantry is stopped by hostile fire tanks usually stop as well and open fire from standing positions with large expenditure of ammunition and little effect. If tanks try to press attack forward infantry stays still and separates from tanks which have to return back. Infantry commanders do not allow withdrawing tanks to defilades. When an attack fails and infantry is checked tanks are not employed elsewhere but instead have to stay on the same unchanging direction. Example: 131 TBr repeated frontal attacks day after day on the same villages from the same directions and suffered large losses. Success was attained by units that employed a daring maneuver in combination with aggressive actions of infantry. Example: 130 TBr employed infantry transported by tanks. When approaching a hostile-occupied settlement infantry dismounted and supported by a part of tanks initiated combat. The rest of tanks with infantry riding on them blocked hostile retreat routes from the settlement and destroyed the garrison with limited own losses. Large spoils were captured by 130 TBr in a surprise attacks on Gavrilovka and Yazykovo stations. Loss of these stations entailed hostile retreat from the towns of Barvenkovo and Lozovaya, since his communications were severed. Stretched communications and large snowdrifts impeded pursuit. Attack as a rule was checked in front of the next settlement and thus pursuit halted.

                      1. Battalion commanders need 4-5 hours of daytime for reconnaissance, organization and orders before an offensive.
                      2. One should utilize maneuverability of tanks, and abandon aimless halts under hostile fire. If attacks fails tanks should retreat to defilade and attack should be resumed from a different direction where anti-tank defenses are weak.
                      3. Lack of sufficient number of radios on tanks hampers control and coordination between arms. Wide employment of signal rockets by signalers picked from motor rifle battalions is necessary.
                      4. Transportation of elements of the motor rifle battalions on tanks should be practiced in offensive.

                      Meeting engagement wasn’t employed. Marches were normally conducted at night. At daytime route and destination area (normally a settlement) were reconnoitered. Roads were cleared of snow by local civilians. Trucks moved with headlights turned on. Compoasition of the column: first motor rifle battalion with detached security and recon elements, brigade HQ, then tank battalions.

                      At night halts all-around defense is organized in settlements. Tanks are deployed on direction of expected hostile attacks, and camouflaged from ground and aerial observation. One sentry from a crew stays with each tank. Motor rifle battalions sends security posts to 1-2 km from a settlement Main defense line is either on the edge of the settlement of 400-500 meters forward. Motor rifle battalion detaches one duty unit; other troops rest and warm themselves usually neglecting fortification works.
                      Tanks are employed in defense by firing from standing positions or as a shock group for counterattacks. Tank ambushes proved effective in defense. There were cases when tank ambushes opened fire prematurely and disclosed themselves. Anti-tank rifles of motor rifle battalions are only effective from a range of 100-200 meters.
                      1. In winter conditions settlements become centers of defense.
                      2. A settlement should be organized for defense utilizing any buildings when the situation requires that.
                      3. Tank ambushes should be practiced.
                      4. In open terrain hostile forces should be allowed to close to a 200-300 meters distance from a settlement and than destroyed by surprise fire and counterattacks.
                      5. Approaches to the forward line or settlements should be mined.

                      IV. The enemy utilizes settlements as centers of resistance adapting buildings for defense. Approaches are mined. Small-arms fired is opened against our infantry while anti-tank weapons keep silent and only open fire when our tanks approach to 100-300 meters. At night the enemy waits until our forces advance to a close distance, illuminate areas with flare and opens intensive fire.
                      In offensive the enemy tries to find and bypass centers of resistance or find weak spots. Frontal attacks are avoided. Tank attacks are launched at utmost speed and at short depth. When halting tanks open intensive fire. If an attack fails then tank immediately withdraw and resume attack elsewhere. Attacks made by groups of 3-10 tanks. Sometimes tanks tow guns or sledges with infantry which dismounts within zone of effective small-arms fire.

                      V. Motor rifle battalions are employed for reinforcement of rifle divisions or brigades in decisive sectors. Frequent neglect of attached battalions by combined-arms commanders resulted in heavy losses. Employment as riders on tanks in pursuit. When employing tank riders meticulous reconnaissance and observation and rapid dismounting are necessary, since the enemy inflicts heavy casualties by small-arms fire. Special training of motor rifle battalions for riding and dismounting tanks is necessary.

                      VI. Anti-tank and anti-aircraft defense.
                      Meticulous camouflage of tanks and trucks at halts and bivouacs. Ability for prompt camouflage after a march is still lacking. Tank should constantly maneuver on the battlefield to avoid effect of hostile aircraft. At Yelizavetovka 9 German airplanes attacked KVs, while ignoring T-34s. Two KVs received direct hits. Each tank brigade should have an anti-aircraft battalion which is to be deployed close to the forward line.
                      For anti-tank defense AT batteries of motor rifle battalions or rifle units should be positioned close to the second echelon of tanks or should be towed by tanks.

                      VII. Reconnaissance prior to combat is conducted by foot scouts of section-to-platoon strength from the motor rifle battalion or reconnaissance company in the direction of attack and on flanks. In combat - reconnaissance by observation and by tanks. Hostile camouflage and tendency to open fire from close ranges only reduce effect of reconnaissance as hostile weapons are difficult to spot. Combined-arms formations don’t provide sufficient intelligence information to tank units.
                      Tank reconnaissance in combat – by specially designated tanks that advance at the distance of visual observation from main forces and draw fire of hostile weapons. This method is troubled by limited observation from a tank and noise of a running engine. Specially designated observers from the motor rifle battalion are needed who would designate targets by rockets. Reconnaissance on flanks in combat is essential.
                      Tank brigades don’t receive reconnaissance data from our aviation.

                      VIII. [Troop morale]

                      IX [Evacuation and recovery]
                      Large technical losses in January-February. Typical breakdowns: leak of radiators, leak of gases from cylinder head, breakdown of gearbox and the main clutch of KV tanks and others. Causes were production defects and deficient training of crews arriving with tanks from factories. In many cases on a way from detraining stations tank stuck, slipped into ravines, or drowned due to inexperience of crews.
                      Snowdrifts made employment of T-60 tank impossible and they were withdrawn to rear and took no part in combat.
                      T-34 and especially KV could negotiate snow only at reduced speed, thus increasing effect of hostile weapons. For this reason KV tanks suffered heavier losses than T-34. Due to lack of evacuation tractors damaged tanks were evacuated by combat vehicles which entailed wear and technical breakdowns. Small-scale repair has to be performed not further than 5-6 km from battlefield and is further hindered by a lack of spare parts.
                      X. [Analysis of own tank losses]

                      Combat losses of tanks in February are explained by a large strength of hostile infantry in anti-tank weapons and maneuverability of tanks and anti-tank weapons. Insufficient reconnaissance, small tempo of attack, and repeated frontal attacks from the same direction further increase losses. Lack of evacuation means leads to damaged tank being abandoned on battlefield at retreat. Losses reach 20-30% or even in [abortive] attacks, especially on fortified positions.

                      1. Attacks on fortified points without powerful artillery preparation should be prohibited.
                      2. Combined-arms commanders should be prohibited from keeping standing tanks on battlefield and repeating tank attacks from the same direction.
                      3. Supply of evacuation means and spare parts should be given the same attention as combat vehicles.

                      XI. [Analysis of hostile losses]
                      Largest losses in surprise attacks. Lack of tractors prevents evacuation of trophies, only operational trucks are utilized. Any attack must end in pursuit to achieve complete destruction of hostile forces.

                      XII. [Tank gunnery, fire control and observation]
                      Crews mostly employed fire from standing positions, from halts and more rarely from a moving tank. The last - mostly during combat in settlements.
                      In attacks on prepared positions single tanks expended a load of gun ammunition in 2-3 hours. Average expenditure in the tank brigade is 1 load per day. Expenditure of machine guns ammunition is smaller – 0.3-0.5 load per day as our tanks mostly deliver fire from long ranges - 80[800?]-1500 meters where machine gun fire is ineffective.
                      Fire on tanks is opened beginning from 1500 meters, but is most effective at ranges below 600 meters. At anti-tank guns – from 400-600 meters and usually they don’t disclose themselves at larger distances. Fire from a machine gun at weapons and personnel – from 400-600 meters.
                      Lack of effective methods to control fire. Usually tanks follow direction of fire of commanders’ tanks. Designation of targets for artillery is equally ineffective.
                      Observation from a tank: from a periscope by a commander and from slits by other crewmen.
                      As a rule prewar crews are sufficiently trained to assume other’s duties if needed. Crews arriving from factories don’t have requisite training. At nighttime crewmen keep watch at tanks by shifts; hence any crew member should be prepared to open fire from a tank.
                      Tank weapons are reliable and powerful. The weak spots are a gun mask and a mounting of hull machinegun which can be penetrated by a 37-mm round. The enemy knows that at aims specifically at this spot.
                      Rate of fire from a 76-mm gun is 5-6 rounds per minute and is limited by a lack of space in a turret.
                      Optical devices are good, yet 15 TBr noted lack of gun sights accuracy at ranges above 800 meters. Periscope’s head should be protected with an armor cap. A special device for clearing the periscope during rain or snowfall is needed.
                      Fire and observation are usually made using the periscope sights, since the field of view of telescope sights is too small.

                      General conclusions
                      1. The principal deficiency in employment of our tanks is neglect of and inability to maneuver.
                      2. Cooperation with infantry, artillery and aviation is not sufficiently rehearsed especially in process of combat.
                      3. A search of practical methods to control fire and movement of tank units on the battlefield is needed.
                      4. Stavka’s order No.057 of 22 January 1942 should be instilled into battalion commanders of all arms and its exact execution should be secured.

                      Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the South Front for armored and tank forces
                      Lieutenant general of tank troops Shtevnev

                      Military Commissar of the HQ of armored and tank forces of the South Front
                      Senior battalion commissar Valuyev
                      Last edited by Artyom_A; 08 Mar 20, 05:58.


                      • And a similar report from the next month (March 1942). The points repeated from the previous reports are omitted :
                        Report on experience of operations of tank brigades on the South Front in March 1942

                        I. As a rule tank brigades are assigned tasks by army staffs 1-3 days before combat, and by division commanders - 0.5-6 hours before combat. Frequently no time is left for preparations. Before large offensive operations tasks are assigned not later than on D-1. Time for preparation is sufficient.
                        Communications between tank brigades and rifle divisions, especially by radio are deficient (lack of means and expertise). Lack of coordination, example: 2 TBr attacked Lipovka village three times on 20-22.3.42. Each time the village was occupied by tanks, but infantry of 295 Rifle Division didn’t join them.
                        II. Experience demonstrated that when tanks operate with infantry riders from the motor rifle battalions with support by fire from attacking infantry better results are obtained then when they are bound to foot infantry. Example: 12 TBr crossed the

                        River and captured 5 villages in short time on 2.3.42. Support of artillery, and direct fire guns. Own aircraft attacked a hostile flanking battery. Organization of coordination by the 12 TBr:

                        1. Brigade staff is placed with the staff of the rifle division
                        2. A plan table is developed together with the division’s staff
                        3. During combat the brigade commander stayed at the command post of the division commander, his deputy – at the artillery CP.
                        4. The tank battalion commander conferred with a supported infantry unit’s commander. Officers from the brigade staff were assigned to battalions for assistance and control. When not with his tanks, the battalion commander was at the CP of supported rifle regiment or battalion.
                        5. Brigade maintained communications with supported division and neighbors by own resources.
                        A negative example: a newly formed 63 Tank Brigade lost all its tanks on 8, 14 and 16 March. Lack of infantry training for actions with tanks, weak reconnaissance, no marking of tank routes, artillery OP too far from the frontline.
                        1. Before attack area of operations should be thoroughly reconnoitered. Hostile weapons and OPs should be disclosed and destroyed by artillery fire.
                        2. Tank attack: surprise, employment of tank infantry and sapper riders. Specially picked assault groups for operation with tanks.
                        3. Simple and effective signals for communications with infantry and artillery arranged in advance. Artillery OPs on the forward line and must displace in process of combat.
                        4. Practical training of infantry with attached tank units before the operation.

                        III. Offensive.
                        Still limited number of tanks in brigades: losses, lack of replacements, T-60 tank are withdrawn from combat. Successful local operations:
                        - 12 TBr on 2.3.42. Meticulous reconnaissance and preparations. Communications with artillery by radio and rockets. Tanks with infantry riders advanced to hostile positions utilizing hidden approaches and launched a surprise attack. Artillery opened a barrage with a start of attack then shifted fires forward. Fire on call from tank battalions. Infantry closely followed tanks.
                        - 6 TBr on 11.3.42. Meticulous reconnaissance. Contrary to previous experience tanks attacked at full speed (up to 40 km/h) not bound to own infantry. Tanks entered Yelizavetovka village, own infantry joined them only 1.5-2 hours later.
                        Conclusion: when good reconnaissance is available tanks should penetrate hostile positions at high speed using fire from movement and not waiting to infantry to follow.

                        IV. The enemy surrounds villages with snow walls up to 5 meters thick. Embrasures in the snow wall are connected with houses by communication trenches. Buildings on the forward line are converted into pillboxes. AT guns are installed in brick buildings. Buildings are connected by trenches. Reserves are created even in small units. Fighting for every house. Aviation called against own attacking units. At evening counterattacks by tanks and small groups of infantry are launched against our exhausted units. Counterattacks are supported by strong artillery and mortar fire. Tanks attack aggressively our infantry and cavalry, when meeting our tanks they become very cautious. In the sector of the 56 Army our tanks penetrated the MLR but were separated from infantry and destroyed in depth by flanking fire and AT weapons.

                        V. Organic motor rifle battalions operate with tanks in a more coordinated manner than usual infantry. A part (equipped with automatic weapons and mortars) is employed as tank riders in attack.

                        VI. Several cases of direct hits of tanks by bombs dropped from low-flying aircraft. 6 TBr employed trucks with machine guns mounts deployed at the frontline. Surprise opening of fire against aircraft, then a change of position (hostile artillery and mortar fire is opened at the old position).
                        121 Tank brigades employed groups of 1-3 tanks to reinforce anti-tank defense of rifle units. Where these groups were present hostile tank attacks always failed.

                        VII. Sappers are included in scout parties to detect minefields. Scouting mostly at night. Hostile weapons are detected by flashes. Engineer reconnaissance is of utmost importance. Examples: tank attacks failed where reconnaissance failed to detect lack of crossings over rivers and streams.
                        Recon companies of tank brigades are not capable to perform long-range reconnaissance for an absence of combat vehicles. Inclusion of T-60 tanks and armored cars is needed.

                        IX. During March 290 tanks were shipped for repair following a plan of evacuation developed by the front HQ. Evacuation as mostly performed by ChTZ-65 tractors. 3-4 tractors are needed to tow KV tank on a flat ground, and 6 on a slope. T-34 tank – 2-3 and 3-4 tractors respectively. Evacuation from battlefield – by combat vehicles.
                        Spare parts are mostly taken from vehicles shipped for factory repair (lack of spare parts supply). An order was given recently to stop dismantling tanks shipped for repair, since the front has a powerful repair base at
                        Voroshilovgrad which could provide factory-level repair for almost all tanks.

                        X. In March destroyed and knocked out by gun fire: 18 KV, 18 T-34, 2 T-60, by aviation – 2 T-34, by mines – 2 T-34. Most heavy losses are caused by weak reconnaissance and coordination with infantry and especially artillery. Repeated attacks against the same point brings heavy losses: 63 TBr lost 4 KV, 11 T-34 and 3 T-26 in three days. Having ample time for preventive maintenance and rest is important for reducing losses. Example: 12 TBr usually had 3-4 days after combat for tank maintenance and suffered no irreparable losses.

                        XII. Based on experience best results are obtained when fire is conducted from a short halt. A distance between halts should be crossed at the highest possible speed.

                        General conclusions:
                        1. The outcome of the battle is decided by well organized and constant cooperation of tanks with infantry, artillery, and aviation. Hence tactical exercises of tank units with supported combined-arms units are mandatory.
                        2. Tank should be employed after thorough reconnaissance and organization of cooperation with infantry, artillery and aviation, after artillery preparation, in a surprise manner and in massed numbers. Tanks should be formed in depth (echelons).
                        3. A tank unit should be attached a recon air groups and have a special air force liaison officer at its CP. Constant patrolling of fighter airplanes.
                        4. The number of tank battalions in the brigade should be increased to 3-4. The present tank strength only suffices for 1-2 days of battle, after which only 5-10 tanks are left in a brigade.


                        • Artyom, again, great stuff. Your #370 post for Southern Front in February 1942, can generate points of discussion in the first paragraph. A key factor in recovering tanks (and other military equipment) is holding the battlefield. If you lose the ground, in a hot fight, there is no time and puts your maintenance personnel and equipment at risk.

                          Drop out rates early in the war is another symptom of the inexperience in the Red Army tank force. The German Panzer force learned a lot from their bloodless drives into Czechoslovakia and Austria. They learned where to place maintenance teams in the march column and what parts were necessary to have on-hand in those teams to quickly recover dropouts and have them on the road again.
                          Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.


                          • They talked about a combination of factors: season, terrain, inexperience of young crews, low production quality, the need to use tanks to tow other vehicles etc. Organization of maintenance was described comprehensibly already in pre-war manuals/textbooks

                            Here is the order No.057 mentioned in the previous text:

                            Order of the Stavka of Supreme Command

                            Moscow, 22 January 1942
                            On combat employment of tank units and formations

                            War experience demonstrated that there are still a number of large shortcomings in employment of tank forces which result in our heavy losses in tanks and personnel.
                            Excessive, unjustified losses in tank forces with little combat effect occur because:
                            1. Cooperation of infantry with tank formation and units in combat is still poorly organized. Infantry commanders assign tasks hurriedly and generally. Infantry in attack lags behind and doesn’t consolidate localities captured by tanks. In defense it doesn’t secure tanks positioned in ambushes, and in withdrawal it doesn’t warn commanders of tanks units about a change in situation and abandons tanks to their own devices.
                            2. Tank attack is not supported by our artillery fire, tank support guns are not utilized, as a result combat vehicles are destroyed by fire of hostile anti-tank artillery.
                            3. Combined-arms commanders are too hasty in commitment of tank units – they are thrown to battle immediately from the march by parts, not leaving them even time for basic reconnaissance of hostile forces and terrain.
                            4. Tank units are employed by small elements or even by single tanks, which leads to dissipation of force, loss of liaison between detached tanks and a parent brigade and inability to supply them in combat. Infantry commanders to attain their limited tasks use these small groups of tanks in frontal attack, not allowing them to maneuver, thus increasing losses of combat vehicles and personnel.
                            5. Combined-arms commanders care little about technical conditions of attached tank units – they frequently made them march over long distances, neglect the problem of evacuation of incapacitated vehicles, and assign combat tasks without regard of the time spent by tanks in battle without maintenance, thus increasing already large losses of tanks.

                            Stavka of Supreme Command orders:
                            1. Tank brigades and tank battalions are to be employed in combat as a rule as whole units and in close cooperation with infantry, artillery, and aviation. Commitment of tanks to battle without prior reconnaissance of infantry, artillery and tank commanders is not to be allowed.
                            2. Every instance of wrong employment of tank forces, abandonment of tanks on hostile territory, and neglect of measures to evacuate them is to be investigated and culprits are to be prosecuted.
                            3. In order to increase authority and responsibility of heads of automobile&tank departments of armies and chiefs of automobile&tank forces of fronts, Stavka appoints the first deputy commanders of armies, and the second – deputy commanders of fronts. Commander in chief of direction should have a deputy for automobile and tank forces with three liaison officers of tank specialty.
                            4. Tables of organization of the automobile and tank forces department-directorate of fronts and armies are to be modified as to introduce two deputies: first for combat employment of tank forces, the second - for supply, maintenance and operation of combat and auxiliary vehicles.
                            5. Assistant front commanders for automobile and tank forces are to be excluded from tables of organization.
                            This order is to be disseminated down to battalions or equivalent units.

                            Stavka of Supreme Command
                            J. Stalin
                            A. Vasilevsky
                            First publication in "Collection of combat documents, Issue 5"
                            Obviously the order was initiated or even written by Fedorenko or someone from his staff.


                            • Originally posted by Artyom_A View Post
                              They talked about a combination of factors: season, terrain, inexperience of young crews, low production quality, the need to use tanks to tow other vehicles etc. Organization of maintenance was described comprehensibly already in pre-war manuals/textbooks

                              Here is the order No.057 mentioned in the previous text:

                              First publication in "Collection of combat documents, Issue 5"
                              Obviously the order was initiated or even written by Fedorenko or someone from his staff.
                              Artyom, another good post.

                              I had exposure to the "Collection of Combat Documents". I think it ran to 33 volumes. I did not have time to copy the series, like the "Collection for War Experience". I did however make copies of parts of documents which were relevant to operational level (corps and above) tank forces. I did in fact have your posted document from Volume #5. I don't where these volumes would be accessible to military historians.

                              There was another interesting collection, "Collection of Tactical Examples ". I only have about a six-inch file of examples--again on tank forces.
                              Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.


                              • From various after-action and experience reports of the 121 Tank Brigade (Bryansk Front, then South Front), March 1942
                                - For two weeks (6-22 October 1941) the brigade continued screening actions on a broad front behind the Seim River. Defense was based on wide employment of scouting by the recon company and well organized communications. Assistance of partisans and local civil population. Main crossings over the Seim River were defended by tanks and motor rifle battalion, the rest of the sector was secured by a mobile reserve of 2-3 tanks and 20-30 men on trucks. Hit-and-run actions of small scouting groups (10-12 men). Deception measures: feint concentrations of tanks using sound of tractors, feint concentrations of personnel using shuttling of single trucks, feint crossings over the river. Night harassing shelling of towns using tanks with 76-mm guns and two attached guns.
                                - Retreat from Lgov to Kursk in late October 1941: tanks transported by railroads, wheeled transport had to make a 50-km march moving along rails, since normal roads were not passable. Speed of the march – 10 km/h or more. Vehicles were strongly worn by movement over railroad sleepers; about 20% had suspension springs broken. Conclusion: march on a railroad is possible after reconnaissance and spreading sand on sleepers to flatten the track.
                                - From Kurks a small group of remaining tank was transported by railroad to Yefremov. Wheeled vehicle made a march on roads which were almost impassable. Loaded trucks sunk in mud axes-deep, bundles of straw laid on road didn’t help a lot, logs were laid on some road sectors to improve passability. 5-6 oak planks were attached to driving wheels of trucks. Three available tractors were not sufficient to tow stuck vehicles. In addition to about 300 vehicles of the brigade there were more than 1000 trucks from other units marching on the same road. Trucks were mostly towed using muscle power. The march tempo was sometimes as low as 4 km per day. After German captured
                                Kursk panic spread along the column, some trucks were set on fire by their personnel. The brigade managed to extricate its column from the “mud trap” and even picked up vehicles abandoned by other units. The wheeled column arrived to Yefremov on 12.11 - two weeks after the march started.

                                - experience of defense of villages in November 1941: sufficient number of infantry is requisite, otherwise hostile forces infiltrate flanks and rear of tanks
                                experience on the South-Front:
                                - Missions were usually assigned to the brigade by the rifle division commander after the brigade commander presented him an assessment of situation and proposals regarding tanks employment. No contradictions ever developed. Coordination with other arms: by personal liaison, brigade commander was positioned on the CP of the supported rifle divisions with operations group and communication means (radios, telephones, motor vehicles). Battalion adjutants were positioned at HQs of rifle regiments. Plan table was compiled before combat, when sufficient time was not available – planning by marks on maps and records in a notebook. Communications with artillery and infantry – by color rockets. Artillery fire could be called by brigade commander from the observation post via an artillery officer normally present there. Tanks and armored cars were occasionally used to transmit messages.
                                - Reconnaissance: by combination of night scouting and daylight observation from static observation posts. Reconnaissance on flanks was widely utilized to get in touch with neighbors’ situation. For tanks in combat observation toward flanks is mandatory. Intelligence was obtained using partisans (especially in October 41), agents behind the lines, telephone lines to occupied territories. SOP developed for route reconnaissance in advance.
                                - In attack own infantry is timid and advances behind tanks slowly and reluctantly. Frequently infantry attacks are stopped cold by hostile fire some 200-400 meters from the edge of the village. On one occasion tanks entered a village, infantry advanced to the village’s edge only several hours later but retreated when 5 German tanks counterattacked, leaving tanks to their own devices. In another case on H-hour infantry deployed 1.5-2 km from an attack objective, as a result the attack failed. Deployment of infantry at attack positions a short distance from the objective is necessary. Every time when German tanks (even a couple of them) appear own infantry retreats, hence constant close support of our infantry by tanks in attack is necessary. Better security in defense is needed. On one occasion two German tractors towing a damaged Pz-IV tank accidentally drove in a village where our tanks were positioned without alerting security posts of infantry. The tank was captured and repaired.
                                - Own artillery couldn’t neutralize German artillery which concentrated its fire on tanks with start of attack.
                                - In atttack tanks were employed as one compact group. Sometimes a small tank reserve was detached in order to counter hostile tactics of counterattacks. Usually small groups of 3-4 hostile tanks counterattack our flank using terrain defilades. A tank reserve is necessary to react to them without stopping the attack. In attacks on villages tanks mostly carried infantry riders (25-30 men) from the motor rifle battalion
                                - Tank brigade shouldn’t be bound to the sector of a supported rifle division but should be free to bypass obstacles and employ flanking maneuver when necessary.
                                - Deception: feint concentrations of tanks at night using sound of moving trucks and tractors. ”Concentrations” drew strong hostile fire.
                                - In defense the brigade is deployed on a 10-12 km frontage by small groups (3-4 tanks) in villages which is not fully tactically correct. In case of a strong hostile attack such a deployment would lead to failure. However, in the present situation it is unavoidable in order to counter hostile tank attacks. Our infantry due to its limited strength in anti-tank weapons and ability to use them retreats every time when German tanks appear. On the other hand hostile tanks are very cautious and break attack and fall back once a single tank is knocked out. Thus, a presence of 3-4 our tank can secure solid defense of a village.
                                - The brigade employed two captured tanks with good results and surprise to the enemy. As of 28.3.42 the brigade has 4 KV, 5 T-34, 1 Pz-III, and 1 Pz-IV operational.
                                Last edited by Artyom_A; 15 Mar 20, 02:18.


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