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  • Originally posted by R.N. Armstrong View Post
    Just looked at the evolution of Red Army Rifle Division in manpower:

    Apr '41 - 14,483
    Jul '41 - 10,859
    Dec '41 - 11,626
    Mar '42 - 12,795
    Jul '42 - 10,386
    Dec '42 - 9,435
    Jul '43 - 9,380
    Dec '44 - 11,706
    Jun '45 - 11,780

    Another effect in downsizing and streamlining, it would reduce also the span of control for commanders and staff, an indirect improvement in efficiency.
    From July 1943 up to the end of the war, those numbers were not related to the real size of divisions.
    There are no Nazis in Ukraine. © Idiots

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    • Originally posted by Kurt Knispel View Post

      Do those numbers represent the "bayonets" (combat soldiers) or the rear area support units as well?

      Would you agree that the Soviet 5th Tank Army with its 2 tank corps which was part of the southwestern fronts shock group in Operation Uranus was the first successful Soviet use of a large tank/mechanized formation?

      5th Tank Army main attack force:
      1st Tank Corps
      26th Tank Corps
      8th Guards Tank Brigade
      8th Cavalry Corps
      8th Guards Motorcycle Regiment
      16 RVGK artillery and mortar regiments
      5 rifle divisions - average strength of these 5 divisions 8,800 men (6,500 "bayonets")

      5th Tank Army had a strength of 80,000 men and 359 tanks
      The numbers are total rifle division strength.

      5th Tank Army was a disaster force structure-wise. It was too mixed in forces, during the offensive the rifle divisions lagged behind the tank corps which broke the interaction between tanks and infantry units--sustaining cavalry was an additional problem for the tank army staff. Both issues complicate command and control, coordination of efforts.

      In January after the operation, the tank armies went to a base structure of 2 tank corps, one mech corps (optional), with AA, AT, and Arty Regts, with a motorcycle regt and Gds mortar regts gradually added.
      Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.

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      • Originally posted by Nick the Noodle View Post

        Those are the exact same numbers I have. Mine are taken from the Red Army Handbook by Zaloga and Ness.
        Zaluga probably got them from the following Soviet sources: Radzievsky, Kurochkin, Malanin, Samsonov
        Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.

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        • Originally posted by Emtos View Post

          From July 1943 up to the end of the war, those numbers were not related to the real size of divisions.
          Those are probably the table of organization strength--individual reality would be above or below. See my post #543 above for author sources. But, I think they illustrate the problem of in manpower shortages, and trimming force structure augmented with weapon systems would be the solution.
          Last edited by R.N. Armstrong; 23 Jun 20, 17:06.
          Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.

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          • Originally posted by R.N. Armstrong View Post

            The numbers are total rifle division strength.

            5th Tank Army was a disaster force structure-wise. It was too mixed in forces, during the offensive the rifle divisions lagged behind the tank corps which broke the interaction between tanks and infantry units--sustaining cavalry was an additional problem for the tank army staff. Both issues complicate command and control, coordination of efforts.

            In January after the operation, the tank armies went to a base structure of 2 tank corps, one mech corps (optional), with AA, AT, and Arty Regts, with a motorcycle regt and Gds mortar regts gradually added.
            I finished that book (vol. 3 book 1 Glantz Stalingrad trilogy) last month. IIRC 5thTA - 3 of the 5 rifle divisions supported by separate tank regiments or brigades were to break through the Romanian defenses to be followed by the 2 tank corps and remaining organic divisions to exploit the breakthrough. These forces were slow to penetrate so Romanenko introduced the 2 tank corps earlier then was planned. I believe at this point in the war this was the Soviets first successful use of a large tank army. 5thTA was the largest of the 3 army's of the Southwestern Front's shock group.

            Was there any other Soviet operations with a force this large that achieved their operational/strategic objective before OP Uranus?

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

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            • Once the enemy defense is penetrated in depth, the infantry organic to the tank army lags behind. Consequently, the subsequent tank armies did not have organic infantry to make the penetration that was done by a first echelon rifle army/corps. There are operations in which the tank army sent forward forward detachments or a tank corps to assist the rifle units in completing the penetration, then the tank army was committed and picked up it tank units for movement into the operational depth.

              There were some operations is July-August '42 that involved a tank corps or two, but were unsuccessful.
              Last edited by R.N. Armstrong; 24 Jun 20, 07:34.
              Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.

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              • Originally posted by R.N. Armstrong View Post
                In my research on the rebuilding of the Red Army tank force, one can see the creation from tank brigades with a good teeth to tail ratio, to tank/mech tank corps with a force structure that eliminated a division level of command and staff and division assets with more support personnel, and onto the development of homogeneous tank armies with high mobility.
                Well, opinions varied:

                Secret.
                To the People's Commissar for Defense comrade Stalin
                I report my consideration regarding authorized organization of the tank brigades based on battle experience of the Kalinin Front.
                Tables of organization ....[1] of ....[2] 1942 considerably improved organization of the tank brigades compared with previous tables of organization. Presence of 30 heavy and medium tanks and 16 small tanks in cooperation with motorized infantry and anti-tank artillery fully guarantees success of our tank brigades even in action against superior enemy. At the same time battle experience demonstrates that our tank brigades very frequently do not yield due effect in battle despite seemingly all preconditions available. What is the reason of unsuccessful employment of our tank brigades?

                Let us us first address tables of organization.

                1. Tables of organization of the tank brigades for unknown reason omit the reconnaissance company, which proved itself exceptional useful, in particular the organic reconnaissance company of the 3rd Guards Tank Brigade was employed with quite good effect and not only secured sound employment of tanks on the battlefield but also combatted hostile reconnaissance by actions from ambushes. At any rate battle experience of the 3rd Guards Tank Brigade demonstrates that organic reconnaissance in tank brigades is fully necessary.

                2. One of the most difficult tasks in tank forces is the march of tank troops to the battlefield. Experience shows that a number of tank brigades (21, 35 Tank Brigades) lost their tanks before they reached the battlefield. One of reasons of losses on march is an absence of engineers in tank brigades which could reconnoiter the march route and also in some cases improve roads, reinforce or repair bridges, clear passes in minefields etc.
                In the new tables of organization engineers were completely excluded from the tank brigades which puts them in jeopardy and make them dependent on other arms.

                3. Recently formed tank brigades arriving to the Kalinin Front [71, 81 Tank Brigades] tanks didn't have radios. Absence of radio in command tanks deprives the commander of his primary means of command in combat and also complicates cooperation with artillery and air forces. Lines achieved by tanks should be instantly reported to artillery and aviation commanders cooperating with tanks. In this case signal rockets don't produce useful effect and frequently mislead own troops.
                The most dependable and effective means of information is a radio signal transmitted by a tank commander using a pre-arranged table of signals. Battle experience shows that absence of radios in tanks complicates and impairs command of tanks in combat.
                Presence of only one communication platoon in the brigade in no way can secure normal command of elements of the tank brigade. Battle experience of tank units urges having in the tank brigade a communication company of two platoons (HQ and wire platoon with 92 km of telephone cable) - total 92 men.

                4. Our new tank brigades formed under the T/O ... [3] have only two small battalions - total 46 tanks; service elements remained the same except the motor transport company which was removed from tables of organization.
                Old tank brigades had the same service elements, but had 63 tanks instead of 46, which made the brigade more enduring and lasting in combat.
                Battle experience demonstrates that in view of a very limited number of tanks in the brigade, even after suffering small losses (battle or technical) they started operate by single battalions or even single tanks which in the final run leads to even large losses and necessity to withdraw the brigade for reorganization at the moment when it became familiarized with theatre of operations and gained battle experience.
                Based on battle experience of Kalinin Front's tank forces I believe it is desirable to have tank brigades consisting of three tank battalions, instead of two - 69 tanks and one brigade commander's tank [4] - total 70 tanks.

                5. For better longevity of tanks it is needed to supply them with the most needed spare parts for want of which our tanks frequently stand on battlefield for days or more or even are shipped for repair to a repair base or factory without sufficient reasons for that.

                Based on consideration cited above I ask you to give instruction to revise existing tables of organization of the tank brigade and the following amendments:
                1. Tank brigades should consist of three instead of two tank battalions - total 70 tanks including one tank for the brigade commander.
                2. The reconnaissance company of the previous organization should be retained in the tank brigades - total 107 men, 10 armored cars and 16 motorcycles, including 12 motorcycles with sidecars. If armored cars are absent they can be replaced by motorcycles with heavy or light machine gun.
                3. A sapper company should be included in the organization of the tank brigade, total three platoons (sapper, mine&demolition, and road&bridging platoon), 138 men.
                4. Communications platoon should be reformed as a communication company of two platoons (HQ and wire platoon) - total 92 men. Also, command tanks of brigade, battalion and company commanders should be equipped with radios.
                5. Numbers of the most needed parts in battalion and company spare parts kits should be increased.
                If for some reasons it is not possible to reorganize ordinary tank brigades under proposed T/O, then I request you order to reorganize at least the 3rd Guards Tank Brigade which had similar organization when it was renamed the Guards brigade.

                Attachments:
                1. Proposed organization of the sapper company/tank brigade
                2. Proposed organization of the communications company/tank brigade.
                Commander of the Kalinin Front colonel general /Konev/
                Member of the military council corps commissar /Lionov/
                Chief of staff major general /Zakharov/
                10 March 1942
                colonel Rotmistrov

                [1] 010/345-010/352
                [2] 15 February
                [3] 010/345-010/352
                [4] characteristically tables of organization in question didn't provide for a dedicated tanks for brigade commander
                From
                https://pamyat-naroda.ru/documents/view/?id=454989542

                There is little context for this letter. It remained in the files of the 3 Guards Tank Brigade and bears no signatures except Rotmistrov's. I suppose it was a draft letter written by Rotmistrov and his staff but not actually sent.
                Last edited by Artyom_A; 29 Jun 20, 14:40.

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                • Artyom, as usual, an interesting post. Noted the draft was dated 10 March 1942, hence the experience level in a tank brigade and Colonel Rotmistrov was abut six months. The operational-tactical maneuvering of Rotmistrov's brigade from October '41 to February '42, was conducted on three Fronts--Northwestern, Kalinin, and Western-- and in seven armies. Rotmistrov found it hard to recall, "how many times I went to coordinate combat actions with different rifle divisions and regiments."

                  In the paper's recommendations, the tank brigade did not go to three tank battalions until about January 1943. I cannot recall an Sapper company organic to a tank brigade. The repair and maintenance company appears in July 1943, along with an antitank battery.

                  The document is one of those moments when history lives; Romistrov's signature on the document, and it looks like the blue ink editing in para 4, "even large losses" was Rotmistrov's handwriting!!
                  Last edited by R.N. Armstrong; 28 Jun 20, 09:36.
                  Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.

                  Comment


                  • O.A. Losik, in his "Formation and Combat Use of Soviet Tank Troops During the Years of the Great Patriotic War", notes, the formation of tank troops in different conditions of the armed conflict in different periods of the war was based on "our country's economic resources and the influence of other objective factors. "...three organizational formation phases of the tank troops peculiar to this service arm clearly stand out."

                    "The first phase continued from July 1941 until early 1942. It was characterized by the transition from large units (corps, divisions) to smaller ones (brigades, regiments and battalions)."

                    "The second phase began in April 1942 and continued to the end of the year. It mainly involved the transition to forming large tank and mechanized formations and the creation of tank armies for the first time in the composition of our ground forces. At this time the necessary number of separate tank and mechanized brigades and regiments were created." This explains the delay until Jan '43 for a third tank battalion in a brigade.

                    "The third phase, which began in 1943, continued until the end of the war. Its distinguishing feature was the creation of tank formations with a new composition, further improvement of the existing tank (mechanized) formations and units and the appearance of certain new organizational forms in the troops."

                    This is why dates are important when talking about the Red Army; it was in dynamic transition in all its combat arms, combat support and combat service support through the war years.
                    Last edited by R.N. Armstrong; 28 Jun 20, 09:58.
                    Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.

                    Comment


                    • Originally posted by R.N. Armstrong View Post
                      In the paper's recommendations, the tank brigade did not go to three tank battalions until about January 1943.
                      Formally a variant of the T/O of the tank brigade organic to the tank corps adopted in May 1942 provided for 65 tanks (44 T-34, 21 T-60/70) in two tank battalions. But that was just one of many variants of organization, I guess there was something like a dozen of different tables of organization for the tanks brigade at one point.
                      I cannot recall an Sapper company organic to a tank brigade
                      Because there was none. I read much similar stuff, there were the same wishes at the end of the war (a sapper company, a recon company, more infantry, more tanks etc).
                      As for the tank brigade of 1942 - it was neither fish nor flesh. It was too small for independent operations while redundant for direct support of infantry. A large number of small units was uneconomical in terms of command, communications, supply and maintenance. The same applies to tank brigades in early tank corps. At least three different types of tanks even in the smallest independent units were a huge headache for supply and maintenance. T-60 and T-70 were clearly inferior tanks which were not needed in such numbers they were produced historically and were frequently relegated to secondary roles like gun tractors, mobile observations posts, static pillboxes, intercommunication vehicles, evacuation of wounded etc. KV tanks proved unsuitable for mobile operations for reasons of weight, limited mobility and reliability; and it took more than two years to understand it. T-70s were neither good in that role either, they consumed almost as much fuel per milage as T-34 while being inferior in almost any other respect. In general, it would be more effective to separate units meant for independent operations and maneuver from those meant for infantry support. The first had to be stronger and have a larger allotment of support elements than tank brigades and tank corps of 1942 and mostly equipped with T-34s or probably Valentines.

                      Comment


                      • For comparison, another opinion from the 3 GTBr, but this time (September 1942) commanded by Vovchenko instead of Rotmistrov
                        - tank reserve is essential, but cannot be detached with only two tank battalions in the brigade. Proposed organization of the heavy tank brigade: three battalions x three companies x 5 KV tanks. Total 16 KVs and 5 small tanks in a battalion. Total 50 heavy tanks in the brigade. Small (aka light) tanks should be used for intercommunication.
                        - rocket launchers are needed as a means of mobile support of tanks. It is proposed to introduce a rocket battalion (M-8 or M-13 launchers) in the brigade.
                        - anti-aircraft guns forced hostile bombers to drop bombs from high altitudes thus decreasing damage inflicted by bombing. The brigade needs an anti-aircraft battalion (two batteries) instead of one existing battery.
                        - Motorized rifle battalion should be increased in size and armed with automatic weapons. Each tank battalion should have one infantry company of 60-70 men employed as tank riders and for close security of tanks.

                        https://pamyat-naroda.ru/documents/view/?id=454989545

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                        • Yuri Pasholok has a different opinion about the usefulness of T-60/70. According to him, there were few other options at hand.
                          There are no Nazis in Ukraine. © Idiots

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                          • 179 Tank Brigade, September 1942 (after Kozelsk operation of the West Front)

                            Proposed changes in the brigade organization:
                            1. Recce company of three platoons instead of a recce platoon, equipped with armored cars and means of communications. The present recce platoon can at best feel the forward hostile line, but is not sufficient for other tasks (reconnaissance of terrains, flanks, neighbors, active reconnaissance)
                            2. Sapper company (three platoons) instead of a sapper platoon. Missions:
                            a) clearing routes in offesnive
                            b) assistance to tanks in negotiation of natural and artificial obstacles
                            c) assistance in evacuation of immobilized tanks
                            d) building foxholes and dugouts for brigade HQ
                            e) evacuation of weapons and ammunition from the battlefield
                            One sapper platoon couldn't handle all these tasks
                            3. Increase of the brigade staff
                            4. Anti-tank battery should be equipped with self-propelled semi-armored guns. Truck-towed guns are separated from tanks by small arms and mortar fire.
                            5. Tank battalions:
                            a) Addition of reconnaissance officer and one radio-equipped tank as mobile observation post.
                            b) Additional radios and communication vehicles in the HQ platoon
                            A third company (armored carriers) should be introduced in the tank battalion. Tank riding infantry is not always effective.
                            6. Motorized rifle battalion:
                            a) Battalion HQ similar to the tank battalion HQ
                            b) Communication platoon is introduced (a radio section, a wire section and a messenger section)
                            c) anti-tank rifles in a rifle company are combined into a platoon commanded by an officer for more massed employment
                            d) additional 3 messengers in the company HQ and 2 messengers in the platoon HQ. Thus, total company strength is increased to about 130 men.
                            e) introduction of anti-tank rifle platoon and HQ section in the tank riding company similar to the rifle company
                            f) all RBS radios (intrabattalion communications) are replaced with 6PK or RB radios
                            Thus, the battalion strength is increased to some 500 men, the battalion becomes more flexible, maneuverable and batter controlled.
                            7. DShK machine guns replaced with automatic anti-aircraft guns
                            "All proposed changes are dictated by immediate battle experience and wishes of participants of battles"

                            https://pamyat-naroda.ru/documents/view/?id=454916782

                            Comment


                            • Originally posted by Emtos View Post
                              Yuri Pasholok has a different opinion about the usefulness of T-60/70. According to him, there were few other options at hand.
                              I'm not saying that they couldn't be employed for some auxiliary tasks (communications, reconnaissance etc) but they couldn't perform tasks of "tanks" in normal sense of the world and didn't justify resources needed for production, maintenance, crews training etc. So again, they were needed in such numbers.
                              More (badly needed) trucks produced by the GAZ in lieu of ersatz-tanks seems a better option to me. Then, an armored tractor capable of towing a 76-mm gun would be a veritable Über-vehicle in 1941 or 1942 and would make a killer combination with tanks. A tracked self-propelled anti-aircraft vehicle was another thing desperately needed. Even continuation of "Komsomolets" tractor production would be valuable.

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                              • Originally posted by Artyom_A View Post
                                Formally a variant of the T/O of the tank brigade organic to the tank corps adopted in May 1942 provided for 65 tanks (44 T-34, 21 T-60/70) in two tank battalions. But that was just one of many variants of organization, I guess there was something like a dozen of different tables of organization for the tanks brigade at one point.

                                Because there was none. I read much similar stuff, there were the same wishes at the end of the war (a sapper company, a recon company, more infantry, more tanks etc).
                                As for the tank brigade of 1942 - it was neither fish nor flesh. It was too small for independent operations while redundant for direct support of infantry. A large number of small units was uneconomical in terms of command, communications, supply and maintenance. The same applies to tank brigades in early tank corps. At least three different types of tanks even in the smallest independent units were a huge headache for supply and maintenance. T-60 and T-70 were clearly inferior tanks which were not needed in such numbers they were produced historically and were frequently relegated to secondary roles like gun tractors, mobile observations posts, static pillboxes, intercommunication vehicles, evacuation of wounded etc. KV tanks proved unsuitable for mobile operations for reasons of weight, limited mobility and reliability; and it took more than two years to understand it. T-70s were neither good in that role either, they consumed almost as much fuel per milage as T-34 while being inferior in almost any other respect. In general, it would be more effective to separate units meant for independent operations and maneuver from those meant for infantry support. The first had to be stronger and have a larger allotment of support elements than tank brigades and tank corps of 1942 and mostly equipped with T-34s or probably Valentines.
                                When I read the engineer/sapper company request, I immediately thought for fording, ferrying, and with augmentation bridging some streams and small rivers.
                                Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.

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