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Number of tanks in Russian platoon

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  • Number of tanks in Russian platoon

    Hello:

    I am looking for information on the number of individual tanks in a Russian WW-2 platoon.

    So far, the only firm information I've been able to track down is:

    20 T-34/76 per platoon

    Anybody have information on:

    # of Churchill per platoon
    # of Matilda per platoon
    # of KV-1
    # of KV-2

    # of T-34/85 per platoon
    # of Su-85 per platoon
    # of Su-100 per platoon
    etc.
    etc.

    Thank you.

    -Daniel

  • #2
    The Soviet tank platoons changed size right after the beginning of the war. In June 1941 the platoon was 5 tanks for medium (T-28, T-34) and light (T-26, BT) tanks, and 3 tanks for heavy tank platoons (KVs, T-35s). In the summer of 1941, the standard medium tank platoon became 3 tanks, with a company of 3 platoons plus a command tank (10 total). This remained pretty much standard for the rest of the war for all marks of the T-34, and the American M3 and M4 medium tanks and the British Matilda, which was used as a medium tank by the Red Army.
    Heavy Tanks, like the KV models and the Churchill which was used by the Red Army as a heavy tank, used a 2-tank platoon for most of the war. Companies were 2 or 3 platoons plus a HQ tank, or 5 - 7 tanks total.
    Light tanks kept a 5-tank platoon until they were phased out in 1943. So, in the tank brigade of 1942-eqrly 1943, the T-34 companies would be 10 tanks in 3 x 3 tank platoons plus HQ tank, while the T-60 and T-70 light tanks (or the Lend Lease M3 Stuart or British Valentine) would be in 17-tank companies of 3 x 5 tank platoons plus HQ tanks.
    The self-propelled guns on the light (SU-76) or medium (SU-85, SU-100, SU-122) tank chassis used 2-vehicle platoons throughout the war. The heavy guns (SU-152, ISU-122, ISU-152) used a 2-vehicle battery, corresponding to the 2-gun batteries used by the heaviest Soviet towed artillery.
    Regardless of the number of tanks in a platoon, the Soviet manual for tank tactics at the individual, platoon, company level, makes no mention of dividing the platoon further into sections. Even the 5-tank platoons used by the light tanks were always maneuvered as a single unit, not sub-divided like the 5-tank platoons in the German or American armies. This kept the tactical burden on the most junior leaders, the platoon commanders, to a minimum. All of the combat formations in the manual are variations on the tank platoon in line: company in line, company wedge, company in platoon column, etc. This meant that for the platoon leader, every command was pretty much a variation of 'follow my tank' or 'line up on either side of my tank'.
    There is some evidence that in practice the self-propelled guns used more flexible tactics. The SU-85s and SU-100s frequently were deployed by 2-vehicle sections to support infantry or tank units, and I've seen 'discussions' in official manuals of maneuvering self-propelled units by sections or individual guns in defense and attack. The fact that almost all of the self-propelled guns mounted radios made it a lot easier to control them, and seems to have fostered more flexibility in the way they were used.

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    • #3
      Adding to the above:

      A Medium tank battalion would have 2 companies plus a battalion HQ tank (21 total). Three battalions plus 2 more for the HQ equalled a brigade (65 tanks). Three brigades and motor rifle brigade made up the 'tank corps'

      The 'mechanised corps' evolved over time but it had three motor rifle brigade plus (depending on time period) either a tank or heavy tank brigade (or equivalent, plus SP arty (SU and ISU), and TD units plus a staggering amount of towed AT assets. Where a mech corps set down its roots it usually was an immovable object.

      Heavy tank regiments consisted of four platoons and a command tank for an an average of 21 vehicles. A heavy tank brigade (usually IS-2) consisted of three regiments or 65 tanks.
      The Purist

      Words ought to be a little wild, for they are the assault of thoughts on the unthinking - John Maynard Keynes.

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