Soviet Mechanised Corps (III)

Reorganisation in 1943

In February 1943, the establishment of both the Mechanised Brigade and the Mechanised Corps were moved to new establishment tables or ‘States’ (Штат). The Mechanised Corps Штат 010/290 moved to 010/418 and the Mechanised Brigade Штат 010/370-380 moved to 010/420-431. The actual difference between the two establishments was quite small and limited to some adjustments in personnel and a change in one or two sub-units. The main change was the reorganisation of transport within the Mechanised Brigade 010/420 which removed the lorries from each Motor Rifle Battalion (010/421) and formed them into 4 transport companies with a total of ninety two 1.5-tonne vehicles at Brigade level. The only vehicles left with the battalions were used for hauling weapons such as AT guns and mortars or carrying supplies, munitions or towing kitchen trailers. The new transport companies would be able to move two out of three battalions of the Brigade at any one time, given that each battalion had three rifle companies plus an AT Rifle company and SMG company. A complete Штат document has not been released at this time, however its format can be reconstructed from the changes to the Штат 0101/370 and a reconstruction can be found here:

Changes to the Tank Regiment of the Mechanised Brigade 010/420

It was around this time that the new 010/414 Tank Regiment was introduced however there is considerable evidence that the existing Mechanised Corps continued to use their 010/292 Regiments well into 1944 and the main users of 010/414 were the newly raised 7 to 9 Mech Corps. There are two charts that emphasise this point, firstly the "official" introduction of new or replacement establishment tables which seem to suggest that the establishments ran concurrently:

The changing establishment tables of Mechanised Corps

Then there are the establishment tables whose use is reported by actual units, as far as can be determined. This shows a far more complex picture as it took considerable time for units in the field to change over to new establishments even after they were promulgated. This effort at uniformity was made more complex by the wide range of tank types used in Mechanised Corps, since they received a high proportion of Lend Lease tanks, Matilda, Valentine, Sherman which required different establishment tables due to the different crewing requirements of the various types.

Tank Regiment 010/414 early

Tank Regiment 010/414 mid

However Tank Regiment 010/414 itself presents a number of problems since over time this establishment was altered and changed with quite large changes in numbers of tanks and personnel. This can create quite a bit of confusion when viewing the regiment within the Mechanised Brigade. The original regiment of February 1943 consisted of 524 personnel with thirty two T-34 and seven T-70 with a 61 man AT Rifle Company armed with 18 AT rifles. At some point in the middle of 1943, this AT Rifle Company was reduced in size to just a Platoon of 6 AT Rifles and with some other minor changes the Tank Regiment fell to 474 personnel. There is a version of the Tank Regiment 010/414 from February 1944 which shows no AT Rifle platoon and no T-70 company and has a total number of personnel of 401. However at this point of the war the newer Tank Regiment 010/465 was being introduced and this may be an attempt to bring existing formations closer in line with the newer ones.

Variations in Mechanised Brigade 010/420

The original February 1943 Mechanised Brigade 010/420 had a Motor Rifle Battalion numbering 662 personnel, an Administration Company of initially 105 and then 71 personnel and no AA Machine Gun Company (010/451) giving a total number of personnel of 3215. However by August 1943, the Motor Rifle Battalion (010/421) had been reduced to 649 personnel, small changes (removal of Deputy Commanders and Political Commissars) had been made to the Artillery Division, Mortar Battalion, AT Rifle Company, SMG Company, Recce Company and Brigade Headquarters and an additional AA Machine Company of (50-48 men) added, the result of which was that the Brigade now numbered 3,197 personnel without a tank regiment.

If this information is combined with the Tank Regiment information from above, a picture emerges of the likely variations in personnel of any Mechanised Brigade:

  • Feb Mech Bde (3215) with Tank Regt 010/292 (339) = 3,554

  • Feb Mech Bde (3215) with Tank Reg 010/414 early (524) = 3,739

  • Aug Mech Bde (3197) with Tank Regt 010/292 (339) = 3,536

  • Aug Mech Bde (3197) with Tank Regt 010/414 mid (470) = 3,667

  • Aug Mech Bde (3197) with Tank Regt 010/414 late (401) = 3,598

  • Aug Mech Bde (3197) with Tank Regt 010/465 (368) = 3,565

The reason for stressing these variations in numbers, is that these total figures are often the only number shown when reading contemporary documents.

Organisation of Mechanised Corps in 1943

Starting in February 1943, Mechanised Corps comprised of three Mechanised Brigades (010/420-431) including Tank Regiments (010/414) and either the original Tank Brigade 010/240 or the newer Tank Brigade 010/270 together with a varied selection of supporting units. As has been shown above, there were Mechanised Brigades of several different sizes and Tank Regiments of several different sizes which makes it difficult to produce a definitive table of a typical Mechanised Corps for 1943. As time went on there was a move towards greater uniformity and these differences began to reduce although they were never finally eliminated before the end of the war. Using this information it is possible to compile a ‘typical’ Mechanised Corps organisation for any particular date as has been done below for August 1943. Below the table are a selection of organisation tables for the major sub-units.

Mechanised Corps August 1943      
unit state personnel tanks/SP guns
Corps Command 010/418 115  
Mech Bde 010/420-430 010/414 3667 39
Mech Bde 010/420-430 010/414 3667 39
Mech Bde 010/420-430 010/414 3667 39
Tank Bde 010/270 1164 53
Armoured Car Bn 010/289 112 7
SP Artillery Regt RVGK SU-152 010/454 273 13
SP Artillery Regt SU-76 010/455 259 21
SP Artillery Regt SU-122 010/453 255 17
Gd Mortar Division 08/83 244  
Mortar Regt RGK 08/106 327  
AA Artillery Regt 010/451 397  
Sapper Bn 010/562 491  
Communications Bn 010/561 164  
Company chemical. Protection 010/563 50  
RVB Repair Bn 010/415 210  
Company for delivery of fuel 010/388-B 74  
Medical-Sanitary Bn 010/566 102  
Field Bakery 010/567 94  
Workshop for repair of uniforms 04/215 11  
Field Office of State Bank 04/16 3  
Field Post Office 014/97-A 5  
Aviation Link 015/204 12  
    15363 228

010/420-431 Mechanised Brigade (Feb) with 010/414 Tank Regt (mid)

Guards Mechanised Corps

The first two Guards Mechanised Corps were formed by NKO Order 00220 of 22nd October 1942 and initially they used a series of States starting with 04/500 for the Corps, 04/551 Guards Mechanised Brigade and 04/552 for the Guards Tank Brigade. These were clearly a conversion of the standard Guards Rifle Division establishments and by November they had been converted to 010/520. The Mechanised Brigades were converted to the standard 010/420 around March 1943 and the Tank Brigades to 010/270 between May and August while the Tank Regiments continued in service until March 1944 when they were replaced by 010/465. This was obviously an attempt to raise larger Mechanised Corps which was abandoned around the start of 1943 as regular Mechanised Corps started to change their names to Guards. Only 1st, 2nd, 4th and 6th Guards Mechanised Corps were raised as such and only the first two had this special organisation with higher numbers of personnel. The other five Guards Mechanised Corps were promotions of existing Corps who kept their original establishment.

A note on the formation of ten Tank Armies

This is an example of researchers being led astray because of the forward planning by army administrators. The plan to raise Tank Armies was promulgated by GKO Resolution “On the formation of Ten Tank Armies” № GOKO-2791ss of 28th January 1943 at the Kremlin, Moscow. This laid out in detail the units and sub-units of both the Tank Armies and their Tank and Mechanised Corps. This was used as a primary source for the establishment of Mechanised Corps, however as is now apparent, this list shows the new and as un-yet finalised 010/420-431 Mechanised Brigade which would only be published the following month rather than the current 010/370-380 version. This draft version used a total of 3,739 personnel and so included the new 010/414 Tank Regiment which would appear in February or March, rather than the then current 010/292 Tank Regiment.