Soviet Standard Size Military Trains

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Dann Falk
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Soviet Standard Size Military Trains

Post by Dann Falk » 02 Mar 2009 19:42

Greetings All,

I know that during WW2 the Germans used several standard size (size = number of cars) military trains, like troop, tank, supply trains and so on.

My question is, did the Soviets do this also and how many cars, on average, were in each train type? Looking at many sources, I believe the Soviets used standard trains of about 50 cars…I would really like to know if this is true not.

It makes sense to use standard train sets for planning purposes. I have information from the Russian Book “The Heroic 64th” that several rifle divisions from the 64th Army were moving from the Tula area to Stalingrad, by rail, during July 1942. The text states the 214 RD (~12,000 men) was moved using 14 trains, the 29 RD (11,840 men) used 15 trains and the 229 used 14 trains. To me this implies standard train sets per RD.

If we use an average of 50 cars per train, this yields:
50 cars X 15 trains = 750 cars to move a rifle division.

Looking at the equipment and men assigned to a RD in 1942, I think it is possible to move the combat elements of a RD using these 750 cars.

I would really like to hear your comments on this subject.

Thanks in advance for any information on this topic.

Dann

Art
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Re: Soviet Standard Size Military Trains

Post by Art » 05 Mar 2009 14:06

The measure of the train size was a number of axles, not a number of cars. The standart train IIRC consisted of 120 axles, so for two-axles cars it had 60 cars and for more heavy - less. Of course, the length also depended on railroad capacity. Typical militray train consisted of 40-50 railway cars- I've got an an overall statistics somewhere. Regarding the number of train needed to transport a unit: in summer 1941 the standart number of trains per a rifle division was 33. For mechanized units the range of dispersion was higher (evidently due to different number of tanks and other combat vehicles) but the typical numbers were 40-45 for a tank division, 50 for a mechanized, 10 for a mechanized corps HQ and corps units and 20 for a rifle corps HQ and corps units. It seems reasonable that for war-time divisions of lighter organization with less motor transport, less horses and less artillery the number of requisite trains was smaller. For example, on 14 December 1941 A. Vaslievsky issued a directive wich demanded based on previous experience to pack units transferred by railway more densely, and to reduce the number of trains per a rifle division to 16, and per a cavalry division to 9.
Image
So 15 trains to move a division is quite a realistic number.

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Re: Soviet Standard Size Military Trains

Post by Dann Falk » 05 Mar 2009 20:20

Yes, some very good information, thank you.

I did not know about the number of axles making up a train (120 axles = one train).

Also, In all the pictures I have see of Soviet trains during the war, they are all being pulled by one steam engine. At least this would work on flat ground, with more being added for hills, I think.

The directive by Vaslievsky is great! I really enjoy seeing these original documents.

I was reading a Voyenno-Istoricheskiy Zhurnal article #3 March 1986 titled "Maneuvering of Strategic Reserves in the First Period of the Great Patriotic War". The article gives some good information about the use if trains to move troops and the total number of train needed. It states a Rifle Division needed 16-18 trains and a Cavalry Division 13-14, but I'm not sure the date for these values, maybe late 1941. So this supports the lower number of trains for units as the units themselves became smaller.

Dann

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Re: Soviet Standard Size Military Trains

Post by Art » 06 Mar 2009 16:44

There is a following table with amount of military train trafficthroughout the war in "Rear services of the Soviet Armed Forces in the GPW" edited by Kurkotkin, 1977
Operative traffic
Year/Trains/Railway cars
1941 (from 22.06)/48 557/1 942 275
1942/52 580/2 103 195
1943/52 050/2 081 973
1944/60 052/2 402 057
1945 (till 30 September)/31 364/1 254 534
Totals/244 603/9 784 034
Supply traffic
1941 (from 22.06)/8 881/444 026
1942/37 210/1 860 454
1943/47 966/2 398 309
1944/66 337/3 316 859
1945 (till 30 September)/38 216/1 910 809
Totals/198 610/9 930 457

Operative traffic includes mostly trains with troops but apart from them also 47 401 trains with civilian personnel transfered for defensive works, evacuated industrial objects with personnel etc. So as one can calculate the average size of operative train was about 40 cars, and of supply train - about 50 cars. The same source gives examples of the train size for specific type of cargo. For example, it says that in the IV quarter of 1944 31 736 railway cars (793 trains) with ammunition arrived to the front and during the four months of 1945 - 44 041 cars (1101 trains). So the average size of ammunition train was about 40 cars.

As concerns trains per unit ratio, I've got some numbers for 1942-43, I'll try to look for them.

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Re: Soviet Standard Size Military Trains

Post by Dann Falk » 07 Mar 2009 01:10

Again good information! Much Thanks

So between our two sets of data, I can summarize:

Operative traffic trains – (mostly people) = 40 cars per train.
Operative traffic trains – (moving combat units) = 50 cars per train.

Supply traffic trains – (non-ammunition) = 50 cars per train.
Supply traffic trains – (ammunition only) = 40 cars per train.

Along with this are my rough calculations, for loading a full strength 1942 Rifle Division with 11-12,000 men onto trains, is as follows:

Note: all values are approximate

Carts – 96 – 4 per train car = 24 cars
Wagons - 161 – 3 per train car = 53 cars
Horses - 601 – 6 per train car = 100 cars
Tractors - 5 – 2 per train car = 3 cars
Trucks - 117 – 2 per train car = 58 cars
Field Cars - 5 – 2 per train car = 3 cars
122mm How - 4 – 1 per train car = 4 cars (with crews)
76mm Gun – 4 – 1 per train car = 4 cars (with crews)
76mm Inf Gun - 4 – 1 per train car = 4 cars (with crews)
37mm AA - 6 – 2 per train car = 3 cars (with crews)
45mm AT - 10 – 2 per train car = 5 cars (with crews)
120mm Mort - 6 – 3 per train car = 2 cars (with crews)
82mm Mort - 13 – 4 per train car = 3 cars (with crews)
50mm Mort – 7 – 4 per train car = 2 cars (with crews)
AT Rifle - 91 – 10 per train car = 9 cars (with crews)
Medium MG - 25 – 5 per train car = 5 cars (with crews)
Light MG - 25 – 5 per train car = 5 cars (with crews)
------------------------------------------------------
Total = 287 cars

About 10,000 troops at 30 men per car = 333 cars

One unit of fire (ammunition)
Two units of fuel
Rations for 11 days
Medical supplies and equipment
HQ Staff and equipment
Fodder for horses and equipment
Water
Spare parts Total = 130 cars

(See Document #10 about moving the 64th Army to Stalingrad)
-------------------------------------------------------
Grand Total = 750 cars/15 trains to move entire division


Document No 10
From the Directive of Hq SHC of 12 July 1942 to the Commander of the 64th Army on redeployment to Stalingrad
Hq SHC has ordered:

1. To redeploy the 64th Army to the territory of the Stalingrad Military District. The redeployment is to be carried out by rail....
The unloading of all units is to be in the area of Stalingrad Station....
The troops being dispatched are to be supplied with the following! one unit of fire for ammunition, one or two fuelings, rations for 6 jays traveling and, in addition, a 5-day unloading reserve.
...Air cover for the loading and unloading areas is to be by order of the national territory air defense commander.

By authorization of Hq SHC

Chief of the Red Army General Staff
A. Vasilevskiy

(TsAMO, folio 48-A, inv. 1, file 72, sheets 11-12).

Art
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Re: Soviet Standard Size Military Trains

Post by Art » 09 Mar 2009 14:05

Dann Falk wrote: Supply traffic trains – (non-ammunition) = 50 cars per train.
Supply traffic trains – (ammunition only) = 40 cars per train.
In fact 50 cars is an average length of supply train (including ammunition trains)
The statistics on the type of cargo transported by supply trains is as follows. According to allready mentioned "Rear services.." of 9 930 thousands of cars with suppply cargo 5 431 096 were transported by orders of the center, and all the rest were transportations inside fronts or military districts made by orders of respective commands. There is a report on rear services activities of the Red Army of July 1946 which gives somehwat different figures for a different time frame - 4 970 thousands cars with supply cargo between 22 June 1941 and 9 May 1945. Of them 1 436 606 cars were carrying ammunition, 1 173 007 - weapons, equipment, munition; 1 386 016 - fuel and lubricants, 976 101 - food and forage. Of these numbers were tranported from the rear to the front:
437 358 cars with ammunition
223 085 with weapons, equipment and munition
715 436 with fuel and lubricants
556 391 with food and forage
Retunring to the train per division numbers, I've found the following examples in published directives of the General Staff:
July 1942, units transferred from the Transbaikal Front:
321 Rifle Division – 20 trains
399 Rifle Division – 20 trains
229 Rifle Brigade - 8 trains

October 1942, units arriving on the territory of the Volga Military District:
HQs of the 1st Guards Army – 6 trains
HQs of the 1st Guards Rifle Corps - 4 trains
35th Guards Rifle Division – 14 trains
1, 41, 38, 44 Rifle Divisions – each 10 trains

As a general rule in last months of 1942 the number of trains per division was 10-14. Obviously it depended on the unit strength. Another example relating to the same 64th Army - that is the plan of Army's transfer from the Stalingrad area reported by the deputy chief of the General Staff Karponosov in the telegram of 3 March 1943:
HQs of the 64th Army with units - 20 trains
15 Guards Rifle Division - 10 trains
38 Rifle Division - 7
29 Rifle Division - 6
27 Guards Tank Brigade - 3
1111 Cannon Artillery Regiment - 2 trains
156 Cannon Artillery Regiment - 2
500 AT artillery regiment - 1
186 AT artillery regiment - 1
493 AT artillery regiment - 1
838 Artillery observation battalion - 1
245 Tank regiment - 2
230 Tank Regiment - 2
204 Rifle Division - 6
36 Guards Rifle Division - 7
422 Rifle Division - 6

One can see that the number of trains per division was rather small - between 5 and 10. I suppose it was becuase all units were far below authorized strength. The situation with other units transferred from the Stalingrad area is similar.

P.S. Some relevant discussion:
http://militera.borda.ru/?1-3-40-00000774-000-0-0

Dann Falk
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Re: Soviet Standard Size Military Trains

Post by Dann Falk » 09 Mar 2009 22:43

Thanks for the clarification about the supply/ammunition trains, with an average of 50 cars/train.

The information you gave about the transfer of units appears to verify the smaller size of units and required number of trains as the war went on.
321 Rifle Division – 20 trains
399 Rifle Division – 20 trains
229 Rifle Brigade - 8 trains
Of Great Interest to me is the information about the 64th Army! :D I am trying to write a book about the 64th/7th Guards Army during the war. This is why I was looking for facts about how many trains and cars it took to move the army from Tula area to Stalingrad, during July 1942. I only have partial information about this first move to Stalingrad.

Your new info about the 64th moving away from Stalingrad in March 43 is wonderful! I understood this type of data was around, on the web maybe, but could never find it. So, thank you very much. This gives me some hard data about the size of the assigned units and what it took to move them to the Kursk - Belgorod area. If you happen to have more data about the 64th/7th Guards Army it would be of great help to me, but please do not spend a lot of time on this.

I also looked at the link you gave and found it to be full of good info. I was estimating there were 30 men or 6 horses per train car, but the argument on the forum was going towards 40 men or 8 horses. The only question I have with the is the men would have weapons, packs, coats and other equipment with them, so 40 men in one train car would be very overcrowded. What do you think about this? That is why I estimated 30 men per car.

I also found the Ammunition capacity of a railroad car to be very revealing.

Anyway, thanks for all the good information.

Dann

Art
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Re: Soviet Standard Size Military Trains

Post by Art » 10 Mar 2009 13:34

Dann Falk wrote: Of Great Interest to me is the information about the 64th Army! :D I am trying to write a book about the 64th/7th Guards Army during the war. This is why I was looking for facts about how many trains and cars it took to move the army from Tula area to Stalingrad, during July 1942. I only have partial information about this first move to Stalingrad.

Your new info about the 64th moving away from Stalingrad in March 43 is wonderful! I understood this type of data was around, on the web maybe, but could never find it. So, thank you very much. This gives me some hard data about the size of the assigned units and what it took to move them to the Kursk - Belgorod area. If you happen to have more data about the 64th/7th Guards Army it would be of great help to me, but please do not spend a lot of time on this.
Do you mean English-language book? That would be certnainly very interesting. In principle I can scan the document if it is of interest for you. As concenrs info on 7th Guards Army I eagerly recommend the last book by V.Zamulin which contain a lot of information on participation of this formation in the battle of Kursk:
http://www.ozon.ru/context/detail/id/4269447/

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Re: Soviet Standard Size Military Trains

Post by Dann Falk » 10 Mar 2009 19:44

Yes, my book would be the first Soviet Army history in English, that I know of. I have been working on it for a long time, but only in the past few years has critical information come out of the Soviet Union/Russia that really allowed me to start writing. Information like the RR info you gave me about the transfer of the 64th Army away from Stalingrad. Other info like BSSA (Boyevoi Sostav Sovetskoi Armii) data has also been critical to my research.

The working title is: "The 64th/7th Guards Combined Arms Infantry Army During The Great Patriotic War"

To answer your question, yes please scan and send that document to me. I also know there are other railroad related documents about loading onto trains, stations, route, and timetables....they all would be helpful. If you had them on hand, send them along too, but please do not spend much time on this. I only ask because I never know what information someone might have right at hand.

As for the book: “Forgotten battle of the fiery arc” by Valerie Zamulin... this is one that I must pick up. Thanks for pointing it out to me.

Dann

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Re: Soviet Standard Size Military Trains

Post by bf109 emil » 06 May 2010 10:31

Dann Falk wrote:Yes, some very good information, thank you.

I did not know about the number of axles making up a train (120 axles = one train).

Also, In all the pictures I have see of Soviet trains during the war, they are all being pulled by one steam engine. At least this would work on flat ground, with more being added for hills, I think.

The directive by Vaslievsky is great! I really enjoy seeing these original documents.

I was reading a Voyenno-Istoricheskiy Zhurnal article #3 March 1986 titled "Maneuvering of Strategic Reserves in the First Period of the Great Patriotic War". The article gives some good information about the use if trains to move troops and the total number of train needed. It states a Rifle Division needed 16-18 trains and a Cavalry Division 13-14, but I'm not sure the date for these values, maybe late 1941. So this supports the lower number of trains for units as the units themselves became smaller.

Dann
axles per train in the soviet union was only have the issue as the number of ties, which could bear the load of a train dictated the weight the track could accommodate. The issue of a poor rail bed also fractured into the load a train carried...
If the length of the track one has under one's control is important, so too is the question of "how good is the rail line itself?" Again, poor Soviet construction standards played a key role in the German decision making process. Whereas German and most western rail bed construction methods contained a multi-tiered rock and gravel foundations - Soviet rails were almost always sitting only on a bed of sand covered occasionally with rocks to minimize the inevitable dust clouds. The western regions of the Soviet Union suffered a great rock shortage. To make matters worse, the vast majority of the Soviet rail ties were made of untreated pine. This meant that their weight capacity fell way below German railway norms (38kg/m for Soviet lines vs. 49kg/m in Germany).

Soviet rail ties were also placed further apart than American and German norms (approximately 1.440 ties per km in the Soviet Union vs. 1.500 ties per km in Estonia, 1.600 ties per km in Germany and 2.000 ties per km in the United States). This too added to a lower overall transportation capacity of the Soviet rail line.
http://www.feldgrau.com/dreichsbahn.html

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Re: Soviet Standard Size Military Trains

Post by Jon G. » 09 May 2010 10:01

bf109 emil wrote:
axles per train in the soviet union was only have the issue as the number of ties, which could bear the load of a train dictated the weight the track could accommodate. The issue of a poor rail bed also fractured into the load a train carried...
That only really becomes an issue if you're trying to run rolling stock built to different standards on the network - in casu, running German stock on re-gauged Soviet lines. The Soviets built their rail lines according to their needs, and presumably knew how much weight their tracks could carry. 'Poor' does not enter the picture until you start comparing with other rail systems.
...To make matters worse, the vast majority of the Soviet rail ties were made of untreated pine. This meant that their weight capacity fell way below German railway norms (38kg/m for Soviet lines vs. 49kg/m in Germany).
The Feldgrau article author seems to be confusing weight of track with capacity of track. Namely, standard German S-49 track weighed 49 kilograms per meter, whereas Soviet track apparently weighed 38 kg/m.

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bf109 emil
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Re: Soviet Standard Size Military Trains

Post by bf109 emil » 09 May 2010 18:44

That only really becomes an issue if you're trying to run rolling stock built to different standards on the network - in casu, running German stock on re-gauged Soviet lines. The Soviets built their rail lines according to their needs, and presumably knew how much weight their tracks could carry. 'Poor' does not enter the picture until you start comparing with other rail systems.
Is this not what Germany did with numerous tracks in the Soviet Union as move one rail outwards to accommodate the standard German gauge.

Now with poor bedding, less ties, what can be deemed an inferior method of attaching rails to ties cause track conditions to hamper heavier German locomotives and rail cars already loaded within German specifications of railways and now having to use improved Soviet railway track and tie/bedding?

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Re: Soviet Standard Size Military Trains

Post by Jon G. » 10 May 2010 01:58

bf109 emil wrote: Is this not what Germany did with numerous tracks in the Soviet Union as move one rail outwards to accommodate the standard German gauge.
Inwards.
Now with poor bedding, less ties, what can be deemed an inferior method of attaching rails to ties cause track conditions to hamper heavier German locomotives and rail cars already loaded within German specifications of railways and now having to use improved Soviet railway track and tie/bedding?
I have no idea what you're trying to say, sorry.

Yes, in comparison to German standards, Soviet rails were lighter, the sleepers were spaced further apart from one another, and the rail-bed was generally inferior to German standards, at least for main lines. The flip side is that Soviet rail lines had more free clearance around their tracks (google "loading gauge") thanks to the larger gauge, and they could use locomotives and rolling stock which were physically larger, but also with more wheels to accomodate the accompanying weight. Note how Soviet military trains were apparantly measured in number of axles, whereas German military trains would frequently be measured by their weight.

The point, which you seem to have missed, is that your relativist approach (by comparing German railroads to Soviet railroads) is irrelevant to someone talking about the standard size of Soviet trains.

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Re: Soviet Standard Size Military Trains

Post by bf109 emil » 10 May 2010 07:50

Now with poor bedding, less ties, what can be deemed an inferior method of attaching rails to ties cause track conditions to hamper heavier German locomotives and rail cars already loaded within German specifications of railways and now having to use improved Soviet railway track and tie/bedding?

I have no idea what you're trying to say, sorry.
http://www.feldgrau.com/dreichsbahn.html

from the above source.
Only the Kharkhov to Moscow double track line was placed onto a proper bed. The rest of the soviet rail network was placed onto sandy beds, or the ties were simply tapped lightly into the existing ground. The lower the engineering standard of the railway bed, the lower the amount of weight which could traverse same.
Whereas German and most western rail bed construction methods contained a multi-tiered rock and gravel foundations - Soviet rails were almost always sitting only on a bed of sand covered occasionally with rocks to minimize the inevitable dust clouds. The western regions of the Soviet Union suffered a great rock shortage. To make matters worse, the vast majority of the Soviet rail ties were made of untreated pine.
The way a rail is attached to a tie is also of great importance to speed limits and weight allowances. Soviet rails were attached to the tie with plain spikes. German norms called for the rails to be attached with an angled washer/base plate and screw type tie-downs. Angled base plates allow one to increase load factors and rail speeds. Because of the Soviet rail line construction technique, Soviet cargo and weight capacities were often reduced way below the official allowances. On many sections of track, German locomotives were proscribed from operational activity because of their greater weight and stress factors per kg/m.
some other issues between German trains and railways and ones used in the Soviet union.
the majority of the Soviet rail line network was the same as it had been for the Czars armies 20 years earlier. In some regions of the Soviet Union, single track rail lines existed for no apparent reason.
Signals and rail safety efforts were primitive when compared to German or western European standards. Except for large urban areas, few switches were electrically operated.
Soviet coal was not of optimal quality locomotives even by Soviet standards. A number of the larger Soviet rail yards contained coal-processing plants which soaked the Donets coal in (bunker) oil before it was suitable for use in locomotives. Frequently, wood was used as a substitute for coal, especially in the northern regions of the Soviet Union.

Soviet water for locomotives was also not of optimal value. For example, on the rail line between Dniepropetrovsk and Stalino, at each of the 11 water towers, a separate additive had to be mixed with the water to prevent boiler scales from forming in the locomotives.

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Re: Soviet Standard Size Military Trains

Post by Jon G. » 10 May 2010 07:56

bf109 emil wrote:
I have no idea what you're trying to say, sorry.
http://www.feldgrau.com/dreichsbahn.html

from the above source.
1) You already gave the link once, along with snippets of quote, thank you very much.
2) How relevant do you think it was to the Soviets that German-standard trains could not run on their network?

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