Военная история → Soviet Order of Battle WWII (2): "School Of Battle". Soviet Tank Corps and Tank Brigades January 1942 to 1945
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Soviet Order of Battle WWII (2): "School Of Battle". Soviet Tank Corps and Tank Brigades January 1942 to 1945
By Charles C. Sharp
Publisher: Nafziger Collection 2005 108 Pages
PDF 7 MB
By January 1942, the mechanized forces with which the Soviet Union began the war a bare six months earlier were gone. Of the mass of tank, mechanized, and motorized rifle divisions that went into battle, a handful of survivors were left. Of the mechanized corps, the largest tank formations in the world in June 1941, not one remained. Of the 22,600 tanks in the army on 22 June, 20,500 had been lost. No other army in the world had such a huge investment in mechanized forces before the war. No other army had lost such a huge amount of armor in so short a time - nor would any army, even the Soviet Army, ever suffer such a loss again.
If there was a bright spot in this cavalcade of disaster, it was that throughout 1941's melancholy medley of massacres at the hands of the better trained and better-led German panzer force, the Soviet Army had managed to keep some tank forces in battle. At the very end of the year, in fact, the surviving armor spearheaded counter-attacks at Tikhvin in the north, Rostov in the south, and a counter-attack at Moscow 's suburbs that turned into a major winter counter-offensive. This resurrection was made possible by 'de-evolving" the tank force back to its roots in the 1930s'. The Soviets had started with mechanized brigades , and they went back to the separate tank brigade and tank battalion in late 1941.
There were 76 tank brigades and 100 separate tank battalions in the Soviet Army by the end of 1941, plus 7 tank divisions - 4 in the Far East, where almost 3000 tanks remained to keep a wary eye on the Japanese in Manchuria. On 1 January 1942 there were 7700 tanks in the Soviet Army tank units, but of these only 1400 (600 KV, 800 T-34) were modern heavy or medium tanks, while 6300 were light tanks, and the majority of those either obsolete T-26 and BT types in the Far East, or new T-60 tanks mounting only a 20mm cannon.
While the winter battles west of Moscow were waged throughout January and February 1942 by a steadily-dwindling armored and infantry force (the Soviets lost 1,150,000 men and 1386 tanks between December 1941 and April 1942 in the fighting west and northwest of Moscow) , the Soviet High Command began a massive build-up of tank forces. This process would continue to the end of the war and beyond, and its progress is very nearly the story of the progress of the Soviet Army from Moscow to Berlin.