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Appendix A.

The author of appendix A is Professor James Goff, Chairman, Geography Department, Mankato State University, Mankato, Minnesota.

Part I.
Organizational Structure Of Soviet Units. June 1941

At the start of the war on the Eastern Front (called the Great Patriotic War by the Soviets) the Soviet Union had a well-developed hierarchical military organization. Part I of this appendix reviews that organization down to the division and brigade level. See Figure 1-A for an overview of the Soviet high command structure.

Under the People's Commissariat for Defense, the country was divided into sixteen military districts, each controlling all army ground and aviation units and installations in its area (except for strategic aviation units). The three special military districts along the western border were better prepared than the rest for rapid mobilization as active field commands (fronts). Each special district controlled several armies and independent corps, along with divisions and smaller units of various branches.

On June 22, 1941, the Soviet ground forces had about 24 armies; 62 rifle, 29 mechanized, and 4 cavalry corps; 13 cavalry, 61 tank, 31 motorized, about 168 rifle, and about 30 mountain rifle divisions (about 303 divisions in all); 2 rifle and 10 antitank brigades of the Supreme Command reserve. Of the divisions, 222 were operational and 81 were in the process of formation. On January 1, 1941, the size of the Soviet armed forces was 4,207,000 men. Of these, 80.65 percent were ground troops, 8.65 percent were in the air forces, 7.35 percent were in the navy, and 3.35 percent were in the air defense forces. [318]

Most armies were responsible for defending wide segments of the border and consisted of one (sometimes two) rifle corps covering an anticipated main axis of enemy advance, a mechanized corps in tactical reserve, usually some independent rifle or cavalry divisions, a composite aviation division, and an array of support and logistical units. In the event of hostilities, each frontier army would be reinforced with one or more rifle corps held in military district reserve in peacetime. Each special military district also had a weak second-echelon army in process [Fig.1-A] [319] of formation, which should be considered the district's main operational reserve.

Rifle troops (the official Soviet term for infantry, the tsarist term for elite infantry being used to indicate the supposed superiority of Soviet units) were the backbone of Soviet combat arms. Rifle troops were organized primarily into rifle corps of 2-3 rifle divisions plus a few support and service units. In frontier armies the rifle corps generally straddled the axes of main advance in the army's sector, with divisions deployed in one echelon. In the interior of military districts were independent rifle corps at a lower state of readiness, deployed in traditional garrison towns.

The rifle division was the largest infantry unit with a fixed shtat (TO & E). At the start of the war, three different shtats were actually in use, as shown in Table 1-A. It should be noted that the "6,000" divisions in the Far Eastern Military District, and at least some divisions on the western border had a strength of about 7,000 men, intermediate between the two peacetime shtat levels.

TABLE 1-A. Rifle Division Strength Levels. June 22, 1941
Shtat Level Men Trucks Horses Rifles MMG HMG LMG
6,000 5,864 155 905 3,685 691 163 324
12,000 10,291 414 1,955 7,818 1,159 164 371
Wartime 14,483 558 3,039 10,420 1,204 166 392

The Western Special Military District had none of the mountain rifle divisions or rifle brigades. It did include units known as "fortified areas" (UR, or ukreplennyi raion), officially considered brigade-sized combined-arms units. A fortified area had variable strength, usually with 2-4 machine gun or artillery-machine gun battalions. These units were numbered and occupied a named physical installation also called a fortified area. The installations were outfitted with obstacles, pillboxes for light artillery and machine guns, and dug-in obsolete tanks.

An airborne corps consisted of three airborne brigades plus support and service units. In strength, it was actually like a division. The number of personnel qualified for parachute use is not known, but shortages of transport aircraft made large airborne operations practically impossible.

Some cavalry was organized into corps of 2-3 divisions plus supgort and service units. The rest, including mountain cavalry divisions, were directly under district or army control. Cavalry divisions were apparently organized on only one shtat, without a separate level for peacetime. [320]

The armored troops were organized primarily into mechanized corps, each consisting of two tank and one motorized divisions, plus support and service units. This organization was based on that of the German panzer corps, also used in American armored corps. Although the mechanized corps had a very strong wartime shtat (e.g., 36,080 men, 1,031 tanks, 266 armored cars), the actual strength varied widely. Only one corps in the Western Special Military District was apparently at wartime shtat, while the rest seemingly were at about half-strength. The tank brigades from which they were formed appear to have been merely redesignated, and the motorized divisions probably had not yet received tank regiments. The total tank strength of the five western border military districts was at 53 percent of shtat.

The armored forces were just starting to replace the old system of light, medium, and heavy tanks (T-28, T-36, BT, T-38, T-35) with a new system (T-40, T-34, KV). The method of assigning the new tank models made sense, however, only from the viewpoint of the Russian combined-arms doctrine, not from the German model. The new tanks were generally doled out as a battalion of fifty-three T-34s or thirty-one KVs to each tank division, rather than being used to reequip totally a few corps. In other words, in a very incompetent way, the Soviets were trying to emulate the hard-hitting German panzer corps but still could not tear themselves away from their more traditional methods of organization, which they would continue to use throughout the war. This attitude toward parceling out the new tanks was illustrative of the deep divisions within the military hierarchy in 1940 and 1941 about the use of tanks in general. These differences were brought into sharper relief after mid-January 1941 and the continuing arguments between Zhukov and Pavlov over the deployment of tanks in the western regions, particularly within the Bialystok salient.

The tank divisions were strong, with 375 tanks by shtat, but the variety of tank models in service made it difficult to keep them in operation, especially because spare parts for the older models were no longer being made. The motorized division (mistakenly called motorized rifle or motorized infantry in many Western publications) was to have 275 tanks, attainment of which goal was complicated by production problems with the new T-40 tank. Additionally, the motorized rifle regiments of both tank and motorized rifle divisions required many trucks that were not available.

Anticipating battle with large enemy armored formations, the Soviets were forming highly innovative antitank artillery brigades of the Supreme Command Reserve (RGK). These brigades were strongly equipped with antitank and antiaircraft guns and were motorized, designed [321] to thwart the advance of a panzer division. At the start of the campaign, most of them were still being formed.

Antiaircraft defense, apart from that in combined-arms units, was in the hands of the Territorial Air Defense (PVO, Voiska protivovozdushnoi oborony strany). This branch was organized administratively into PVO zones, each covering the area of a military district. Each consisted of PVO brigades and PVO brigade areas. The administrative and operational distinction between these two types of units is unclear, but their antiaircraft weapons could also serve in antitank and antipersonnel roles. In a few military districts with more important industrial concentrations, the zone controlled PVO corps or divisions. Only the fighter units assigned to the air defense of Moscow, Leningrad, and Baku were directed by the local PVO commander, and they, therefore, occupied a special position. Elsewhere, the PVO fighter aircraft were subordinated to the air force commanders of the military districts.

The air forces (VVS, Voenno-vozdushnye sily), under control of the Commissariat of Defense, had been reorganized some months before the campaign. Its units were controlled by a deputy commander for aviation within each military district. Directly under his control were several attack, fighter, and bomber air divisions and fighter divisions of the PVO. Each army also had a composite air division. Aviation technical and support functions in each military district were provided by a regional system that controlled air base activities.

The navy was organized into four fleets and several flotillas, the last serving primarily on inland waters. The major operational unit of a fleet was the squadron (eskadr'), consisting of at least one battleship or cruiser along with smaller surface units. The major permanent operational unit was the brigade, consisting of several ships or smaller vessels of the same type. Each fleet had a naval aviation component that was not part of the army's air force. Among other units, naval aviation still included some brigades, a unit abandoned earlier in the army air force. The navy also included ground branches conducting activities that in other countries would be done by the army or marines. Coast artillery was extensive, organized into area commands containing battalion-sized units. Naval infantry units had the mission of protecting naval bases and conducting small amphibious operations.

The People's Commissariat of Internal Affairs (NKVD) had two types of operational troops trained for combat operations: The border troops guarded the international boundary zone with regiment-sized units. The internal troops had a variety of regiments designed for various internal security activities that could be used for combat emergencies. Some internal troops were organized into divisions. [322]

TABLE 2-A. Soviet Units Opposing Army Group Center. June 22, 1941 - pp.322-323 [322-326.djvu]

[327]

Part II.
Soviet Tank Strength Opposing Army Group Center, June 22, 1941

At the start of the German-Soviet conflict, the Soviet armored forces were in the midst of a major program of reorganization and reequipment. Many of the new tank divisions were apparently not much more than redesignations of the older tank brigades, equipped primarily with obsolescent tanks generally in need of moderate or serious repair. If the Soviet armored units in the Western Special Military District opposing Army Group Center had been equipped at wartime shtat (TO & E), they would have had extraordinary strength in tanks, as shown in Table 3-A.

TABLE 3-A. Shtat Tank Strength of Western Special Military District Units, June 22, 1941
Unit Number Total Tanks KV T-34 Old, Light
Mech. Corps 6 6,186 756 ca. 2,520 ca. 2,910
Cavalry Div. 2 128 - - 128
Airborne Corps 1 50 - - 50
Rifle Div. 24 384 - - 384
Total: 33 6,748 756 ca. 2,520 ca. 3,472
Note: Opposing troops of the Baltic Special Military District had a shtat of 1,143 tanks (126 KV, 410 T-34, 607 old) in a mechanized corps and 7 rifle divisions

Most Soviet units opposing Army Group Center, however, were much below shtat strength. Just before the war (apparently on June 15), the Western Special Military District's tank strength was 56.7 percent of the shtat requirements. Because no Soviet figures for the district's tank strength have been published, this percentage and the shtat totals listed in Table 3-A can be used to calculate a total strength of 3,813 (plus or minus 7) tanks.

The calculated tank strength requires some explanation. The Soviets have published data on total tank strength for only a few military districts, and none at all for the entire army. Their purpose, presumably, is to obscure the size of their tank park, which was considerably larger than that of Germany. This is surprising, because many Soviet sources state that most of their tanks were too thinly armored for contemporary warfare and that many were worn out or in need of major repair. Raw [328] figures on total tank strength thus would be very misleading. Nevertheless, those older tanks able to operate made up a sizable force and had the potential to inflict considerable damage if used in dug-in positions or against enemy infantry. They were certainly a match for German Panzer Us, though they lacked the advantage of air cover.

By contrast, the Soviets have disclosed the number of KV and T-34 tanks for many units. The probable purpose of this disclosure is to emphasize the existence of these new high-quality tanks and to indicate that they were in relatively short supply. Soviet figures presumably include those tanks officially assigned to units, whether or not they were operational. In addition, new tanks awaiting delivery or old tanks sent for repair to military district motor vehicle and armor depots were possibly counted as part of the district tank park. It is uncertain whether those assigned to schools, such as the one at Borisov, were included. The 193 T-18 (MS-1) tanks used as pillboxes in the fortified areas of the Western Special Military District were probably not included, because they had been decommissioned as tanks.

Regarding the geographic aspect of deployment. Soviet statistics take on an interesting pattern. A strong relationship exists between the strength figures published for units in a military district and the quality of Soviet armor in that area. On the one hand, in the Ukraine, where Soviet armor activity was fairly well handled and greatly retarded the German advance, relatively great detail is available on the tank strength of various units. In White Russia, on the other hand, where the mechanized corps failed to have much impact on rapid German armor penetration, details on tank strength are in short supply.

The general lack of Soviet data regarding tank strength of units in the Western Special Military District can be compensated for by using the available and calculated data. Published data is available for tank strength in the VI, XI, and XIV mechanized corps. The VI was the only mechanized corps in the district that is listed as both combat ready and at full strength. The XI Corps supposedly had only 290 tanks, primarily because its XXXIII Tank Division was weak. This strength seems unusually low, particularly because only the XIII, XVII, and XX mechanized corps are listed as having "few tanks." In one source, the XIV Corps is stated to have only T-26 tanks, but another source says that one of its tank divisions had at least one medium tank battalion. If the above figures are taken at face value, these three corps account for about half of the district's calculated tank park. Some of the remaining tank strength could be accounted for by the rifle and cavalry divisions and the airborne corps. Although no tanks are mentioned for such units in sources covering the Western Special Military District, it is known that the rifle divisions in the Baltic Special Military District's Eighth Army [329] each had about 6-8 tanks. If each of the district's rifle divisions had 10 tanks and each cavalry division about 60, this would account for another 360 old light tanks (primarily T-26, BT, and probably some T-38s). To represent their low strength, the three remaining mechanized corps should be weaker than the XI, or each have about 300 tanks. However, the figures fall several hundred short of accounting for the district's calculated level.

Refinement of the above figures requires a closer look at the XI Corps. Its tank total seems far too low, considering it is not singled out in Soviet sources as being weak. It is reasonable to assume that its listed strength includes only those tanks actually concentrated in the corps' main sector on June 22, excluding those still en route or in for repairs. Thus, it may well have had another 200 tanks.

The VI Corps presents a problem regarding specific tank models. One Soviet source gives exact, but low, figures for its KV and T-34 tanks, yet another says over half the tank park in its two tank divisions consisted of these two models. Because one of its divisions is listed as having 355 tanks, the corps should have had about 360 KV and T-34 tanks.

The preceding analysis should be useful in interpreting the data on Soviet tank deployment opposing Army Group Center, shown in Table 4-A.

TABLE 4-A. Probable Tank Strength Opposite Army Group Center, June 22, 1941
Formation

 

NEW

OLD

Total Total KV T-34 Total T-28 BT T-26 T-38
Western Spec MD.
6th Mech. Corps
11th Mech. Corps
13th Mech. Corps
14th Mech. Corps
17th Mech. Corps
20th Mech. Corps
3813?
+100
>290
300?
+508
300?
300?
<379
360?
>27
-
-
-
-
<149
>10
>3
-
-
-
-
<230
>21
>24
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
300?
+508
-
-
-
-
-
-
30?
-
-
-
-
-
-
478
-
-
-
-
-
300?
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
rifle divisions cavalry divisions airborne corps +240
+120
<50



+240
+120
<50
-
-
-
-
120
-
-
-
-
-
-
<50
Baltic Spec MD (part of 11th Army) <465 82 30 52 <383 - - - -
Total 4278 461 179 282 1601 30 598 300 501
[330]

Table 4-A reflects a reinterpretation of the new tank strength for the VI Corps. A tally of the KV and T-34 tanks definitely assigned to the other four western border military districts and their mechanized corps shows that about 149 KV and 230 T-34 are unaccounted for. Assigning about 360 of these to the VI Mechanized Corps would give it the strength indicated in the earlier analysis. The total tank strength and its deployment is generally confirmed by German claims that, as of July 8, 1941, they had captured over 2,585 tanks in the Bialystok pocket, and through July 11 the total for both the Bialystok and Minsk pockets had reached 3,332 tanks.

The probable deployment of Soviet tanks facing Army Group Center is shown in Figure 2-A. Many of the older model tanks never actually made it into action, because they needed significant repairs. Although the map seems saturated with tanks, those assigned to rifle divisions were too susceptible to German planes and infantry antitank guns. They were also too dispersed to be much of a threat. Although several mechanized corps were properly located to block or hit the flanks of German armored thrusts along the shortest routes to Minsk, the location of the VI Mechanized Corps is puzzling. It was part of the Tenth Army, the one least likely to confront a strong armored blow. It was well located to shift toward either Grodno or Brest, but too far from either. A more reasonable location for it would have been farther east near Minsk, the probable goal of any armored thrust. If Soviet policy prevented rebasing such large formations in the west, then the new tanks it apparently received in such numbers in 1941 would have been better allocated to the newer mechanized corps in more strategic locations.

The deployment of the new model tanks raises an important question about the effectiveness of the German intelligence system. The appearance of the T-34 was an unwelcome surprise to the Germans for two reasons: first, because they had nothing comparable to it and, second, because the German standard antitank guns were ineffective against it. The T-34's speed, cross-country mobility, and sloping armor clearly put it in a class by itself. A German infantry division had 60-70 antitank guns (PAK, Panzerabwehrkanone) as standard equipment, but in the summer of 1941 nearly all of these were of the 3.7cm variety. The 5cm antitank gun was just coming into service then, but it too was ineffective against the T-34. Before the Russian campaign, a 7.5cm gun was developed that had great penetrating power, but it was not put into production because no need for it was foreseen. The two smaller antitank weapons were deemed to work well enough against the Soviet T-26 and BT tanks. Moreover, the need for powerful hauling equipment for the heavier 7.5cm gun meant it was considered not worth the effort. [331]

When the first reports of the T-34 came in from Army Group North in its first clashes with Soviet armor in Lithuania, a commission from the Army Weapons Agency (Heereswaffenamt) was hurriedly flown in to investigate. The report that emerged from this investigation called for the immediate production of the 7.5 cm PAK, but despite strenuous efforts, the gun did not reach the eastern front in large numbers until early 1942. In the meantime, as described in the text, German units dealt with T-34s by blowing them up with satchel charges or by improvising with the 8.8cm antiaircraft gun depressed into a horizontal antitank role. In the summer of 1941 the T-34 was engaged largely singularly, but the number of them encountered increased alarmingly in the fall and winter.

The appearance of the T-34 also fundamentally changed the course of the German tank-building program. Before the Russian campaign the main role of the tank was seen as antiinfantry, especially in overcoming machine gun emplacements. After the appearance of the T-34 it was realized that the most critical task was to destroy enemy armor at the greatest possible range. The success of all other combat missions depended on the suppression of the T-34. A race now began to arm all tanks [Fig.2-A] [332] with a long-barreled cannon of at least 7.5cm. Phase I of this program was to rearm the Panzer IV with a long 7.5cm gun in place of the short-barreled version incorporated in its original design (much, it must be said, against the wishes of Guderian). The "L" version of the Panzer IV was available in significant numbers by the time of the summer offensive in the south of Russia in the summer of 1942. The Germans also began crash programs to develop radically new tank designs such as the Panzer V ("Panther"), first introduced in February 1943, and the Panzer VI ("Tiger"), first introduced in June 1942.

Heinz Guderian in Panzer Leader states that his troops were much surprised and frustrated by the KV and T-34 tanks they encountered for the first time in early July. On July 3, Nehring's 18th Panzer Division was hit hard on its left flank near the Berezina River on the Smolensk highway by units from the Borisov Tank School and from Kreizer's 1st Moscow Motorized Rifle Division. Guderian himself did not see a T-34 until July 10, when he went to this area and took photos of one that had run off into a ditch. That Guderian had not seen a T-34 earlier is evidence of the sparse deployment of them in and around the Bialystok salient and evidence that the XIV Mechanized Corps' 30th Tank Division, directly in the path of Guderian's Panzer Group 2 near Brest, must have been equipped with the older T-28 medium tanks. [333]

Part III.
Order Of Battle And Deployment Of Soviet Formations Opposing Army Group Center,
September 1, 1941

By September 1, Army Group Center's sector was fairly quiet and stable, with most activity now in the sectors of adjacent army groups. As a result, most Soviet, German, and other Western sources say very little about Soviet strength and order of battle in this sector. Most order of battle has to be interpolated from order of battle known from the fighting around Smolensk (July) and the German drive on Moscow (late September). Information about Soviet order of battle in the Army Group Center area is generally less reliable for this time than for any other period during 1941.

Soviet units and stragglers were still breaking through to the east to rejoin Soviet forces and, on a day-to-day basis, were being rebuilt into operational units. Soviet command and control had improved since July, but some divisions still may have been functionally controlled by an army different from the one to which they were officially assigned. Some chaos is evident from the fact that, shortly after September 1, there were two 160th rifle divisions, which coexisted until one became a guards unit.

Attempting to make Table 5-A accurate specifically for September 1 causes ambiguities. By this time, corps headquarters in the "operational army" (those forces subordinated to active fronts) had generally been eliminated. The operational army was now receiving many newly mobilized rifle and cavalry divisions and the just-formed tank brigades. These new formations were apparently being allocated to armies on a day-today basis. Some units in Table 5-A may not have been formally allocated until a few days after September 1, and some other units that do not appear may actually have been allocated by them, but still en route.

The newly mobilized rifle divisions (generally numbered higher than 240th) were organized according to the July 29 shtat 04/600-16, with significant reductions in manpower, materiel, and organizational complexity. Existing divisions apparently adjusted to this shtat by attrition rather than by planned reorganization, except for the removal of surviving howitzer regiments and antitank battalions from some divisions. The motorized divisions, having lost their tanks and trucks, had been or were being converted into rifle divisions. The surviving pre-June tank divisions were being inactivated or converted into tank brigades. In July, new tank divisions had been formed on a reduced shtat (217 tanks), formed primarily by reorganizing units of the mechanized corps in the [334] interior military districts. Several of these had been deployed to the Army Group Center sector, and because of combat losses, several had already been converted into motorized rifle divisions (retaining their numerical designations, which conflicted with those of some existing rifle divisions). The many cavalry divisions formed during the summer were weak (strength less than half the prewar shtat), but were needed because tank production was too low to provide an adequate mobile force. Newly produced tanks were given to the armored brigades, which had just started forming in August and were just starting to reach the front. [335]

TABLE 5-A. Soviet Units Opposing Army Group Center. September 1, 1941 - p.335-339 [335-339.djvu]

[340]

Bibliography For Appendix A

SOVIET SOURCES

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Dorofeev, M. "O nekotorykh prichinakh neudachnykh deistvii mekhanizirovannykh korpusov v nachalnom periode Velikoi Otechestvennoi voine." Voenno-istoricheskii zhurnal, March 1964, pp. 32-45.

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Germany. Heer. Generalstab. Operations Abt. Fremde Heere Ost (IIC). Der Feldzug gegen Sowjet-Russland. Vol. 1, Operalionen Sommer Herbs! 1941. Berlin(?), 1942(?). [341]

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Germany. Heer. Heeresgruppe Kurland. Der Feldzug gegen Die Sowjet-Union der Heeresgruppe Nord: Knegsjahre 1941-1943. Vol. 1 (1941). (1944?)

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OTHER WESTERN SOURCES

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- . The Soviet High Command: 1918-1941. London: Macmillan, 1962.

Grove, Eric. Russian Armour: 1941-1943. London: Almark, 1977.

Lundstrom, John. "The Great Retreat: The Soviet Army 22 June - 1 December 1941." Part I. Little Wars, Vol. 1:4 (Sept.-Oct. 1976), pp. 4-12; Part II, Little Wars, Vol. 1:3 (Dec. 1976), pp. 4-15; Part III, Little Wars, Vol. 1:4 (Feb. 1977), pp. 8-15.

Madej. V., and Stanton, S. "The Smolensk Campaign." Strategy and Tactics 57 (July-Aug. 1976): 4-19.

Seaton, Albert. The Russo-German War, 1941-1945. New York: Frederick A. Praeger, 1971. [342] [343]

Appendix B