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Tank army, the Soviet-German invention of the second world
Material posted: Publication date: 08-08-2013

In the middle and at the final stage of the great Patriotic war a critical role in the defeat of the enemy played a major armored associations of the red Army, who bore the formidable name of tank armies.

Received the red army's experience of warfare in the winter of 1941/42 years have shown that the absence in the composition of fronts and armies larger tank associations and connections did not allow our troops to fully solve this important problem the occurrence, as a further development of tactical success into the operational depth of the enemy defenses.

Yes and the previous experience of our opponents, the Germans showed all of their major successes on the battlefield at the beginning of the war were associated with the mass use of their tank groups. It was the Germans almost until the middle of 1943. were the world's legislators and practitioners "tank mods". Before that, they almost to the beginning of WWII literally bit by bit gathered and analyzed all that was associated with the use of the then mechanized forces.

It may seem strange but many things they learned from Soviet sources concerning the use of mechanized forces in the late 20's, mid 30-ies.

It was then that Soviet tank theorists pioneered all that is then successfully applied by the Germans on the battlefields of WWII.

For example, in the book "the Armored troops of the red Army" noted that the chief of the Armored management, Lieutenant-General of tank troops Ya. Fedorenko in November 1940 has developed the project of creation of a mechanized army, and commander of the Kiev Special military district, army General Georgy Zhukov in December proposed creating Cenomanian or mechanized army.

So the Germans with their tank groups were not pioneers in tank tactics and strategy.

While your tank group, which was assigned to the armies, the Germans first formed in the spring of 1940 (just before the beginning of the Western campaign) that's when all available 10 tank divisions they brought first in one, and in the second stage tank into three groups: Kleist, Guderian and Hoth, and it was the main tank generals of the Reich. tmpVveSXB photo major General of tanks German Reich, Guderian

This reorganization was achieved by the Germans of the importance for strengthening the force of impact the concentration of all their tank forces. When the attack on the USSR, they set up four tank groups (from December 1941 they were called "armies").

Thus, the military command of Germany, unlike the Soviet Union, not in words but in deeds has implemented now his theory of profound military operations, which amounted to maneuverable the actions of large tank groupings.

This German steel packer, acting in close cooperation with its attack aircraft literally unstoppable squall swept across Europe, destroying everything in its path and only by superhuman effort was finally stopped by the red Army on the banks of the Volga. tmpVveSXB we Must pay tribute despite the critical situation the first months of the war the red Army command at the time constantly as it is now customary to say "monitor" the situation, carefully studied the experience of all combat arms, and of course primarily mechanized. Moreover, the state of the armoured forces constantly asked himself the Supreme Commander.

Soon from March 1942 the red army began the formation of the first four is still Panzer corps, first Panzer army (3rd and 5th) were formed a little later in may-June 1942.

In late July of this year directly on the Stalingrad front with the use of field offices 38th and 28th armies were created, respectively the 1st and 4th tank army, it is true that in about a month, suddenly, why it was disbanded.

Original order of battle of Panzer army was defined guidelines on their formation and varied. Experience in the use of tank armies in the summer of 1942 in defensive and offensive operations in the Voronezh direction (5th tank army), in the district of Kozelsk (3rd Panzer army) and especially in the counter-offensive at Stalingrad (5th tank army) allowed us to make several important conclusions about their fighting capabilities and organizational structure.

For example, during THE combat use revealed that the presence of rifle divisions, tank and cavalry corps, who had various combat capabilities and mobility had a negative impact on the organization, engagement, management and logistics.

Simply put, a tank army the red Army of the sample of the summer of 1942 proved to be cumbersome, maneuverable and manageable.

This deficiency immediately saw himself the Supreme, as a supporter of the creation of tank armies Stalin in September 1942 with some disappointment said that "anything with tank armies couldn't." However, as subsequent events showed the Supreme Commander-in-chief has not abandoned tank armies and continued to have at their disposal powerful mobile armoured unit and the Association.

Reforming the armored and mechanized forces of the red Army continued for 20 December 1942 Supreme instructed the Deputy commander of armored troops of the red Army's political section, General N. And. Biryukov to develop and submit for approval proposals for the establishment by the end of may 1943 20 mechanized corps and two-three mechanized armies. Each army was planned to have two mechanized, one tank corps and means to enhance.

As you can see, it was about mechanized armies. Thus, unlike the tank armies of mixed composition, it was planned to create a completely different operational unification – an army consisting of movable joints without divisions. This structure is significantly simplified and facilitated the administration, supply and maintenance of new associations and, hence, improved the art of their combat use. tmpVveSXB

On this Stalin thought did not stop. January 19, 1943, General Biryukov receives a new task for calculation of tanks of a tank army in two ways.

Now Stalin stopped at another Union – tank. According to the first embodiment in the composition of the Panzer army were supposed to be two Panzer corps on 161 tank in each. Just army tank 322, plus 5 war machines to control the army.

According to the second embodiment in the army was supposed to have one mechanized corps (219 tanks, including 163 T-34 and 56 T-70) and two tank corps (each 208 tanks, including 131 T-34 and 77 T-70). Only army tanks 640 (430 T-34 and 210 T-70).

The second option most suit Stalin. Therefore, on January 23, he decided to have a tank army, two tank and one mechanized corps.

But it was not about one or two armies, General Biryukov was ordered to prepare the calculations and the draft resolution of t-bills by 12-15 formation of tank armies. However, the calculations carried out in the Main armored management, demonstrated the unreality of such a plan.

So, for example, to form only 10 tank armies were required to have 20 tanks and 10 mechanized corps, 6400 tanks (T-34 – 4300 and T-70 – 2100).

Thus, the resolution of the SCG on January 28, 1943, provided for the implementation of an ambitious program – the creation of 10, and in the future 12 tank armies. However, the program did not meet the opportunities of the time.

Therefore, in 1943, were formed only five tank armies:

  • Directive No. 46002 the Supreme command, dated 10 January 1943 – 2-Panzer army;
  • Directive No. 46021 of the Supreme command, dated 30 January 1943 – 1 Panzer army.
  • for a Directive of the NCO No. 1124821 from February 22, 1943 – 5th guards tank army;
  • by order No. 46174 of the Supreme command, dated 14 may 1943 – 3rd guards tank army;
  • by order No. 46194 of the Supreme command, dated 26 June 1943 – 4th tank army.

20 January 1944 issued an order No. 302001 Stavka about the formation of another – the 6th Panzer army.

According to the memoirs of General N. And. Biryukov, 14-16 October 1944 a meeting was held with the participation of commanders of tank armies. At the meeting, General P. S. Rybalko raised the question of the creation of "groups of tank armies under the leadership of the commander of BT and MB front or one tank commander". However, this proposal did not find support in the Bet shape.

Despite the fact that the GKO decree provided for the formation of tank armies of uniform composition, the first two armies (1st and 2nd) were of mixed composition and of the army, which was formed in 1942, Later in the organizational structure of tank armies were made some changes, was published directives and orders concerning their combat application.

In practice, the composition of the tank armies was different, as it was determined by the directives (orders) on their formation, as well as the available forces and means.

It is known that in 64 offensive operations conducted by tank armies of uniform composition, in 32 cases they acted in a double hull structure.

Only one tank army (the 3rd guards) in the whole war had three corps (two armored and one mechanized). Organization of double-hulled tank army did not fully meet the 1943 principles of its application. By the end of the war this organization is almost outdated and almost all of Panzer army were to have three corps.

In some offensive operations, commanders of fronts for a more successful solution tank armies fighting tasks temporarily included in the composition additionally one or two corps. Thus, in the composition of the 4th tank army (hull structure) in the Orel operation included two tank corps, 5th guards tank army (part of hull) in Krivoy Rog and Kirovograd operations – mechanized corps.

Besides buildings, the structure of tank armies consisted of separate tank (mechanized) brigades and tank regiments. In the operational construction of the tank armies they usually reserve was used during surgery for the development of success, reinforcement of buildings, securing the flanks, act as the vanguard of the army and parry unexpected blows.

Tank corps, which was part of the army, by the beginning of 1944 had a staff of three tank brigades (65 tanks) and mechanized infantry brigade, three self-propelled artillery regiment (SU-152—12, SU-122—16, SU-76—21), mortar and anti-aircraft artillery regiments and other units. Just in case there were about 11 thousand people, 209 tanks (KV – 1, T-34 – 208), 49 guns, 152 guns and mortars, 8 BM-13 and 1295 vehicles. Mechanized corps consisted of three mechanized and one tank brigades, three self-propelled artillery, mortar and anti-aircraft artillery regiments and other units. The case for the state had more than 16 thousand people, 197 tanks (T-34 – 176, T-70 – 21), 49 ACS, 252 guns and mortars, 8 BM-13, 1835 vehicles. tmpt9L7W8

In General, the development of the organizational structure of tank armies in 1943-1945 was directed on increase of firepower, striking force, mobility and maneuverability of tank armies.

According to typical state of the Panzer army homogeneous composition had about 800 tanks. However, the order of battle of Panzer army was not constant, it is dependent upon a number of factors, including the environment and the tasks.

The strength of the tank army most often accounted for 43 to 50 thousand people. She had 550-700 tanks, and sometimes more. At the end of the war the Panzer army triple composition, as a rule, there were over 50 thousand men, 850-920 tanks, 800 guns and mortars, more than 5 thousand cars.

In his book "Panzer attack: the Panzer army in an offensive operation of the front experience of the great Patriotic war", army General A. I. Radzievsky results growth the number of personnel, armaments and military equipment of tank armies during the war, the average data given in the experience of 40 army offensive operations.

From these data it is known that the strength of the tank armies has increased from 35 thousand in 1942. up to 50 million people by 1945, the number of tanks and assault guns increased from 350-500 in 1942. up to 1000 to 1945, the guns and mortars with 150-200 in 1942. and to 850 by 1945.

This analysis shows that the composition of the Panzer army from 1942 to 1945 has increased by about one third on personnel, about twice on the tanks and SPGs and four times by artillery.

Compared to tank armies of mixed composition army homogeneous composition had greater striking force and firepower, and mobility due to the lack of non-motorized connections.

Increased significantly and its ability to support combat operations. The existence of separate tank and self-propelled artillery brigades were allowed to have a strong mobile reserve tank or when you need to quickly select the best squad.

A tank army, a force of the Supreme command, was intended to strengthen the fronts, which caused the main shock. They were intended to be used primarily for the development of operational success in offensive operations. It was not excluded, their application and defense.

On the basis of the reserve in fuel tanks (130-450 km), the army could advance with one refueling and extra fuel tanks to a depth of 150-250 km Army, averaging 550-700 tanks could defeat a tank corps of the enemy, numbering from 200 to 500 tanks and assault guns. The presence in the army to 850 guns and mortars allowed to create the average density in the direction of the main blow up to 50-80 guns and mortars on 1 km of front. Army artillery was able to support the attack of tanks and infantry to a depth of 4-8 km In the whole of the artillery capabilities of a tank army has been successful in its action as the mobile groups of the front.

Thus, created in the years of the great Patriotic war, all six Soviet tank armies took an active part in all major strategic offensive operations of the war, thus making a significant contribution to the common victory over the enemy. And the 6th tank army, moreover, took part in the defeat of militaristas Japan.


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