Establishment of a Tank Army

Донесение о боевом составе соединений и частей 2 гв. ТА [Report on the combat strength of formations and units of the 2nd Guards. Tank Army]

ЦАМО Фонд: 307, Опись: 4148, Дело: 306, Лист начала документа в деле: 4

The current state of knowledge about the force structure or establishment of Soviet Armoured and Mechanised Forces is given in Steven Zaloga’s Companion to the Red Army : 1939-1945 which gives detailed information up to brigade level and outline details at Corps and Army level. However recent releases from the Memory of the People (Pamyat Naroda) website of the Archive of the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation ЦАМО РФ have revealed a far more detailed and nuanced view that fills in may of the gaps in our knowledge.

This document is 53 images of a formal report made about every five days by the Army staff on the combat strength of the Tank Army. The report is called “Document on Combat Strength Form No.3/OA format 283x813 mm” (Донесеине щ боевом сосмаве форма №3/ОА формат 283ч813 мм) and it details the number of men, weapons, vehicles and equipment that the unit is supposed to have (the establishment or State figure (по штату) and the actual numbers available on the day (the ‘On the List’ figure (по списку). This latter figure is the number of items available but not necessarily operational as other reports will show items in short term or capital repair.

The date of the document is the 20 December 1944 which is significant as the Tank Armies had been withdrawn from active service at the end of August 1944 at the conclusion of the Lvov-Sandomir Operation and were refitted ready for use in January 1945 in the Vistula-Oder Strategic Operation and the follow on East Pomeranian Operation. So on 20 December the Tank Army would be at almost full strength ready for operations in 23 days.

As with all these reports which were added up by hand, there are addition errors so transferring the data to a spreadsheet can reveal these discrepancies. In one case the total number of tanks in the 9 Guards Tank Corps is shown as totalling 207 but when the individual entries are added up they are 65 tanks short and the 50 Guards Tank Brigade line shows no entry. So it is reasonable to assume that the 50 GTB entry was missed off. However this shows that the totals were already fixed numbers and not reliant on the detailed lines above them, especially in the case of the State figures. For this reason I have left the totals alone and only tried to work backwards to correct the missing entries rather than adjusting the total figures. Corrected entries are marked in medium blue on the spreadsheet.

There is a pdf version of the original document translated into English but it is rather large so best to email me if you would like a copy.

A Libre Office version of the spreadsheet can be downloaded from here. MS Excel should open it with no trouble so long as you have a recent version of Office.

The two pieces of information missing from this report are the State Numbers (010/418 for a Tank Corps for instance) and the details of the formations in section “Administrative Units” which are the Rear and Logistical units. However a list of these can be found in this report:

Доклад о материально-технической обеспеченности, укомплектованности и боевом составе войск 2 ТА [Report on the material-technical supply of command and combat units of 2 Tank Army] Фонд: 307, Опись: 4148, Дело: 242, Лист начала документа в деле: 1 dated 17 November.

This report lists all the units of the Tank Army with their State Numbers and includes a seemingly complete list of the Rear Units on pages 6 to 19 inclusive. It is followed by an earlier version of the “Document on Combat Strength Form No.3/OA” dated 17 November 1944. The date is important because three days later the 2 Tank Army and many of its sub-units were raised to Guards status on 20 November 1944 so the 3 Tank Corps became the 9 Guard Tank Corps, the 16 Tank Corps became the 12 Guard Tank Corps yet it is unlikely that this resulted in any altering of the State numbers.

This document is important in that it confirms the types of Tank formations in use in both the Tank Brigades and Tank Regiments of Mechanised Brigades as the large number of different types of Tank Regiments seen in these formations often confuse the overall number of tanks. In this case the Tank Brigade used Штат 010/500 (65 T-34) and the Mechanised Brigade Tank Regiments used Штат 010/465 (35 T-34) as shown below:

010/465 Separate Tank regiment of a Mechanised Brigade

Soviet armoured troops enter Lemburg (Lvov) in 1944

Soviet armoured troops enter Lemburg (Lvov) in 1944

Readers can find further research on the establishment of Mechanised Corps, Mechanised Brigades and Tank Corps and Brigades in these threads on the Axis History Forum website. As usual I have received translation help and much sage advice from the members of the forums, including Art, Gary Kennedy, GregSingh, Eugen Pinak and Nakhodchanin

Colourised photographs by Klimbim