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  • Soviet Armor Tactics of WWII

    In doing some research in regards to Soviet armour tactics me and Errki were discussing in the Cold War tank thread, I came across this:

    http://www.battlefront.com/products/...rmorintro.html
    "To be defeated and not submit, is victory; to be victorious and rest on one's laurels, is defeat."
    --Marshal Józef Piłsudski

  • #2
    Looks interesting

    Are you planning to get this book or do you have it already, or might anyone else here have this by chance?

    The intro on your link is nice to see with some good info, but some of it seems to be a bit more about common sense at times.

    I kinda wish he had more pro's and cons after reducing the purge numbers from what was used before. Yes if that reduced number stands, the purges were less than thought, but still all of them that were perged was already in place, were'nt they, at the time. So they had all of their "connections" to the pulse of the Russian Army in all of its ways, old and new, maybe.

    Newly trained officers might be a little lost in these new positions where there were no old hands to show them the ropes for the old ways, and the new concepts.

    Key here to me would be what were all of the purged Officers train of thought on fighting this new war on the way, were they the old guard and old ways, or a more progressive bunch who would embrace and improve upon Russian tank tactics?

    I hope you see what I mean here in general.

    Experience as the war progressed, well that is to be expected is'nt it?

    The Russian training program, I have heard many things about this, some good but a lot not so good.

    Cheers, maybe if we explore some of these points here we may get somewhere, just a thought.

    Tom

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Pilsudski View Post
      In doing some research in regards to Soviet armour tactics me and Errki were discussing in the Cold War tank thread, I came across this:

      http://www.battlefront.com/products/...rmorintro.html
      You can be also interested in the Russian book "Tactic of the tank troops"
      http://militera.lib.ru/science/kuznetsov_tp/index.html

      and training movie "Rears of a tank battalion"
      http://ifolderlinks.ru/video/tyl-tan...alona-rus.html
      http://video.mail.ru/mail/dfs2176/7/797.html
      If you fire a rifle at the past, the future will fire a cannon at you.....

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by amvas View Post
        you can be also interested in the russian book "tactic of the tank troops"
        http://militera.lib.ru/science/kuznetsov_tp/index.html

        and training movie "rears of a tank battalion"
        http://ifolderlinks.ru/video/tyl-tan...alona-rus.html
        http://video.mail.ru/mail/dfs2176/7/797.html
        Большое спасибо товарищ! I'll read these when I have time.
        "To be defeated and not submit, is victory; to be victorious and rest on one's laurels, is defeat."
        --Marshal Józef Piłsudski

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Pilsudski View Post
          Большое спасибо товарищ! I'll read these when I have time.
          To dla mnie przyjemność

          I also found an interesting book in my library

          "Строительство и боевое применение советских танковых войск в годы Великой Отечественной войны"
          If you fire a rifle at the past, the future will fire a cannon at you.....

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by amvas View Post
            You can be also interested in the Russian book "Tactic of the tank troops"
            http://militera.lib.ru/science/kuznetsov_tp/index.html

            and training movie "Rears of a tank battalion"
            http://ifolderlinks.ru/video/tyl-tan...alona-rus.html
            http://video.mail.ru/mail/dfs2176/7/797.html
            The tank training video looks interesting.

            The other offerings from ifolderlinks.ru look, um, interesting.

            Comment


            • #7
              So, what does

              Anyone think about the numbers in the book about the purge in 1938.

              Old numbers per the book was 30,000 purged out of 70-80,000 Russian officers.

              new numbers as the book said discovered now 24,000 out of 79,000 Officers purged.

              Cheers, anyone, Alex??

              Tom

              Comment


              • #8
                Since I wrote the book in question, I am pretty well qualified to comment on it...
                First, it was done from a copy of the 1944 Soviet tank platoon/company manual I discovered over 15 years ago, and before many of the other Soviet wartime documents became available. At the time (1996) though, there was simply nothing available on how the Red Army armored forces were supposed to be fighting at the tactical level - other than general comments from German memoirists, which rarely said anything about how the Soviet armor managed to win any battles! I still think it is a pretty good starting point for a discussion of individual tank, tank platoon, or tank company actions, and I also wrote/translated a companion volume on the same level of German tank training/tactics documents. The intention was to give wargamers, amateur historians, and game rules writers some guidance in understanding what was going on at the lowest tactical levels of armor actions on the 'Eastern Front'.
                Second, the figures I gave for the purges came from Reed's book, 'Stalin's Reluctant Soldiers', a study of the prewar (1930-1940) Soviet Army done from the prewar archive records, which covered a lot of the problems in training the force (among other things, about 1/3 of the training time was given over to political indoctrination, which, while it may have had some impact on morale, did nothing to make the troops tactically or technically competent). It also covered the effects of the purges, and for (I believe) the first time cited real archival figures for the numbers of officers 'repressed' - arrested, jailed, executed, etc. Reed made the point, which I simply repeated, that the real problem was not only the loss of about 1/3 of the 1936-39 officer corps, but the simultaneous increase in the size of the army from 130 division-equivalents (rifle divisions, mechanized corps, cavalry divisions) and about 1,000,000 men in early 1939 to 300+ division equivalents and 5,500,000 men in mid-1941. If you are short 1/3 of your officers because of the purge and you then increase your requirements for officers by 300-500%, you end up short 75-80% of the required officers. That leaves the trained and (presumably) competent 20-25% stretched pretty thin in 1941-42. In fact, not all of them were competent, and training replacements took nearly 2 years. Generally speaking, it was mid-1943 before the average Soviet division/brigade/corps could be expected to accomplish normal military actions and movements without screwing them up, which is what happens when the staffs of the units and their sub-units are untrained and inexperienced.
                As an interesting point, a friend and I have been researching the battles at Kalinin in October 1941 for several months now, and an interesting point has emerged from both the Soviet and German documents regarding the battle (we have a number of Soviet memoirs and small-unit reports and the German unit war diaries for the 41st Motorized Corps that originally took Kalinin during Operation Typhoon): the best Soviet units at Kalinin were all surviving pre-war divisions: 5th, 119th, 133rd Rifle Divisions that still had some elements of their pre-war staffs - units with a few years' experience and therefore much more capable of accomplishing basic military maneuvers and tasks than the divisions raised just a few months or weeks before October 1941, and under the pressure of emergency wartime conditions! In other words, a little experience and the chance to work together for a year or so, even in the 'low pressure' conditions of peacetime soldiering, make a huge difference in unit competence - especially when the alternative is a division raised and activated from reservists with a handful of active army officers in a few weeks, and receiving unit training under fire from an enemy who has more firepower and mobility than you do!

                Comment


                • #9
                  Soviet armor "tactics"? Ahem. Steamroller.


                  "Artillery adds dignity to what would otherwise be a ugly brawl."
                  --Frederick II, King of Prussia

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Thanks Sharp!!

                    I see what you mean here, the purge and the extra troop number surge added just after that really tells the story.
                    So in the end if the purge did not happen how much better would have been the Russian responce once Germany attacked if I may ask you?

                    Cheers, did you see any mention of these few trained Russian units causing more casualties to the Germans in the Kalilin battle as well, or just that they survived it more than the raw recruits?

                    Tom

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      We are digging into the German records now for exact casualty figures, but overall, by the time they finished defending their bridgehead at Kalinin, the units in 41st Motorized Corps (1st Panzer, 36th Motorized Divisions) had front-line ('combat' strength) battalions that were between 30 - 40 % of their authorized strength. The steady attrition since 22 June had put almost 2/3 of the 1st Panzer Division's officers on the casualty list, either permanently or temporarily, and those kinds of losses among the leadership are simply impossible to replace quickly - possibly one reason why 1st Panzer Division was left in the north in reserve throughout 1942, and never rebuilt for further offensive operations.
                      Not only did the 'prewar' divisions stand up to the German offensive better, they accomplished things that the newer divisions could not do. When one of the 'new' divisions tried to establish a bridgehead over the Volga to menace the German supply line, the Germans wiped out the bridgehead with elements of a single infantry regiment. On the other hand, when one battalion of the 133rd (prewar Siberian division) blocked the supply road to the spearheads of the German drive on Torzhok, all the available elements of the 41st Corps could not get them off that road in FIVE DAYS of trying! Hard core.
                      Another thing that has come out of the research is the serious difference in Soviet/Russian morale and combat effectiveness at Kalinin in October compared to some of the earlier battles in the summer of 1941. 5th Rifle Division with less than 2000 men left and a bunch of People's Militia worker's battalions in the city kept the Germans busy 'clearing' Kalinin for a week (contrary to the 'popular' histories based on German sources, which imply that the city was seized by one battalion in a single day!). One tank commander, a sergeant captured in the 21st Tank Brigade's raid into the German rear, strangled a German guard and escaped back to Soviet lines - now, that's the kind of troops you want fighting for you! They don't know when they are beaten, and keep damaging the enemy after the enemy thinks the fight is over...

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Great stuff sir!!

                        Where there any other pre-war divisions like this that performed as well that you know of for the Russians that did'nt get "purged" out to much?

                        I don't know to much on this purge besides in general with Stalin and his ways and phobia's. Was there something going on at all that led him to this extreme action in the officer core, or just one of those things with Stalin?

                        I wonder if the Germans would have made it to the outskirts of Moscow if the purge did'nt happen?

                        Cheers, I bet the Germans took notice after they met and fought these guys at Kalinin!!

                        Cheers, thanks again!!

                        Tom

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          One way to start looking at it is in terms of killing efficiency. From 22 June to 30 August the Germans lost approx 400,000 men killed, wounded, captured. If fewer officers purged means a 25% increase in killing effciency (& no guarantee this is automatic) the would the German loss increase to 500,000 in tat 9-10 weeks?

                          Another might be in distance advanced. Would a 25% increase in combat effciency though fewer purged officers mean a reduction of 25% in the German advance.

                          (Rhetorical Question Alert )

                          Of course this all assumes the Purge was nuetral in the removal of competent vs incompetent officers. From 1940 through early 1942 Marshall purged thousands of officers from the mobilizing US Army. 70% of the General officers by some counts. No one questions that the leaders dismissed were inferior for reasons of health or competency. Perhaps Stalins purge did infact remove a significant portion of underperforming leaders? Is the assumption of performance nuetrality for Stalins purge valid?

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Carl Schwamberg View Post
                            Of course this all assumes the Purge was nuetral in the removal of competent vs incompetent officers. From 1940 through early 1942 Marshall purged thousands of officers from the mobilizing US Army. 70% of the General officers by some counts. No one questions that the leaders dismissed were inferior for reasons of health or competency. Perhaps Stalins purge did infact remove a significant portion of underperforming leaders? Is the assumption of performance nuetrality for Stalins purge valid?
                            Quite the opposite may be true. One of my favorite quotes is from Marshal Budyenny: when one of his staff officers complained that the purge was wiping out 'everyone', Semyon replied: "Don't worry, they're only shooting the smart ones!".
                            The perception even at the time was that the 'best and the brightest' were the ones being purged. More specifically, the purge seems to have fallen most heavily on the middle range of officers: the ranks of Captain through Colonel in which all the trained and experienced staff officers were found. The loss of that mass of training and experience, far more than the loss of commanders, was I think what most negatively effected the combat capability of the Red Army in 1941: without a trained and experienced staff, even the best commander and most motivated troops cannot function well.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              So they did take

                              "the best and brightest" in the purge, was there any specific criteria that they "fit" to be purged by chance (or just maybe political/who you knew perhaps as well, or didn't know for those in power in the Stalin era????)?

                              Cheers, looking forward to more of your insights on this part of the topic!!

                              Tom

                              Comment

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