Size of WW2 Red Army divisions

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Acolyte
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Post by Acolyte » 30 Dec 2006 11:34

The Red Army’s WW II organization was a bit different that that of Western armies, which can lead to some confusion. The basic large unit was the Army, of which there were three types: infantry, tank and shock. They tended to be smaller than Western armies — an infantry army usually controlled 4-8 rifle divisions, with 6 being average. The Corps had been abolished as an echelon of command in 1941 (primarily due to lack of trained commanders and staff), so that divisions were controlled directly by the army headquarters. (The WWII Tank Corps, Mechanized Corps and Cavalry Corps were actually division-size units.) Thus the Army was intermediate in size between the Western corps and army. The next echelon of command was the Front, similar to the Western army group.

The Shock Army originated in 1942 and at first it was a temporary grouping. An ordinary infantry Army would be reinforced with extra artillery and tank units to make the initial breakthrough in an attack, after which a Tank Army would exploit the breach. Thus "shock" = "assault". By 1944, the organizaton of the Shock Army had been regularized and one was assigned to each active Front. If I recall correctly, the 3rd Shock Army remained on the postwar establishment and was part of the Soviet Army Group of Forces in East Germany until the end of the Cold War.


http://www.crwflags.com/fotw/flags/su%5Evctry.html

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Post by Art » 28 Mar 2007 16:16

And that is how the overall situation looked on 1st July 1943:
4 rifle divisions had from 3 to 4 thousands men
20 divisions 4-5 t.
43 divisions 5-6 t.
107 divisions 6-7 t.
132 divisions 7-8 t.
75 divisions more than 8 thousands
Data taken from V.Zamulin's The turn at Kursk ("Курский излом" - in russian)
The figures are given for the rifle divisions of Active Forces. There are total 381 divisions in the list, evidently the figure includes airborne divisions - according to the handbook "The combat coposition of Soviet Army" there were 376 rifle and 5 airborne divisions in Soviet Active Army on 1st July 1943, the sum is the same 381 divisions. There average strangth as can be seen from the table was about 7 thousands men.
Of course, it should be taken into account that on 1st July 1943 the average strength of the Soviet division was on one of the highest, may be simply the highest, level during the war.

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Post by GaryD » 30 Mar 2007 20:39

Art wrote:Of course, it should be taken into account that on 1st July 1943 the average strength of the Soviet division was on one of the highest, may be simply the highest, level during the war.


Not counting the beginning of the war, only on August 1, 1942 was average rifle strength higher, but there were only 280 divisions then. By the spring of 1944 the average strength had dropped to under 5,000 for 460+ divisions. From April 1, 1942 to December 1, 1944 total strength in rifle divisions fluctuated in the range of 2 to 2.8 million men.

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Post by Carl Schwamberger » 31 Mar 2007 16:52

" what were the parts of/or the division's subunits that were left out? I guess the one thing that stayed was firepower, but how did they succeeded in cutting the division's force without losing Fire Power? "

In the case of infantry formations firepower can be preserved to a point by certain economys. In the rifle company this is accomplished by keeping the automatic wepaons & mortars manned & discarding rifles. At other levels it is accomplished by doubling the tasks of support personel and reducing section or crew strength. Of course at some point this goes past the marginal return level & the firepower abruptly drops.

This sudden drop of firepower seems to occur sooner and more abruptly when the formation is attacking than in defense. partial this might be due to the faster accumulation of casualties, and part from the inevitable disoganization that acompanys an attack.

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Post by Art » 05 Apr 2007 17:40

ATH wrote:Usually, as the undermanning of frontline divisions were "institutionnalized", what were the parts of/or the division's subunits that were left out?

Sometimes in divisions that were weakend by the losses the regiments were reorganized and had only two battlions rifle instead of three. This wasas far as I can guess the normal situation in sovet forces during the assault on Konigsberg and the battle of Balaton lake in spring 1945.

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Post by Ranger6 » 26 Apr 2007 03:48

Greetings all,
I am new to the Forum, and I am working on a computer simulation (Road to Moscow for the computer game The Operational Art of War by Matrix Games.) It is division level, daily turns, with 10 km per hex.
It is a series of eight scenarios of the major phases of Army Group Center's advance to Moscow, from 22 June through the Soviet counterattack, and a What If? scenario -what if Hitler had attacked directly toward Moscow in mid August 1941.

Most of my data has come from David Glantz's Stumbling Colossus, and his excellent Atlases (basiclly photocopies of German and Soviet archival operational maps on a daily or weekly basis).

Question: What is the Forum's opinion on what percent of authorized strength I should use for Soviet divisions at various times- especially 22 June, the start of Typhoon and the start of the Soviet counterstroke in December. I realize there is not a lot of hard statistics on this, but any thoughts would be appreciated!

Rob

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Post by Art » 27 Apr 2007 16:47

Ranger6 wrote: What is the Forum's opinion on what percent of authorized strength I should use for Soviet divisions at various times- especially 22 June

Well, I think 12 thousands men is a good estimation of the average strength of a Soviet rifle division, at least as concerns those one that were engaged in combat on 22 June.

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Average Rifle Division Strengths

Post by donwhite » 01 May 2007 11:20

Charles C.Sharp ("Red Legions/Soviet Order of Battle World War II Vol.8, p.5)") mentions average rifle Divisions strengths as at 1st June 1941 for the following military districts.

Leningrad Military District - 11,985 men
Baltic Military District - 8,712 men
Western Military District - 9,327 men
Kiev Military District - 8,792 men
Odessa Military District - 8,400 men

This was despite the mobilzation of about 500,000 men in the spring of 1941 to bring all the rifle divisons in these districts up to the "12" level (12,000 men).

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Post by chekisti » 06 Dec 2007 22:57

In the comparisons of strength between German and Soviet WW2 combat divisions, the reds are always depleted and the German units are always full strength. What gives? When these units are compared, the German battle groups should be compared to the Red Army task groupings. Such a comparison should include not only personnel but also weaponry and at least armored fighting vehicle strength. Neither should the concept of unit equivalence be forgotten, for example: 3,000 men is a regimental equivalent. Don't forget unit slices either. When the number of men available for this or that division are enumerated, how many are actual frontline (foxhole strength) combatants amd how many are support troops? Crew served weapons teams, ect.?

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Post by chekisti » 06 Dec 2007 23:10

Other equivalence that is frequently forgotten includes: machine gun-equivalent to 20 infantry
sniper team-equivalent to 20-30 infantry according to the source

A platoon armed with Garands and BARs was usually outgunned by a platoon with three of four light machine guns. The American army is so married to the BAR that they still refer to their squad light machine guns as "squad automatic weapons." Such psychological habits have strang implications for fighting elan.

An American researcher has made many comparisons of relative firepower.

Neither should one forget to factor into the equation, superiority of tactics. Consider a battle drill oriented English unit versus a maneuver oriented Deutsch unit?

Then there is the superiority of vodka-inspired hordes of raw levees and penal units wave assaulting miniscule kampf gruppen.

In Vietnam combat the US forces never seemed to comprehend that NVA and VC combat units carried limited basic loads of ammunition and could not sustain fire fights for very long. Neither did the French or Americans ever systematically strike at the huge slow moving logistics tails (Peasant porters and ox carts) that frequently followed NVA combat units.

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Post by Matasso » 07 Dec 2007 12:20

It must not be forgotten that soviet TC and MC were much more often at fuull strengh or even over strengh later in the war than RD. There are several examples given by Charles C. Sharp where TC started offensive operations at over 110% of force.
The point was that soviet stripped what was not 100% useful to win.RD in 1944/45 would often have only 2 battalions per regiment at around 400 men per battalion, but retaining all the regimental combat support units at full strengh. 1 SMG coy, 1 120mm mortar company, 1 76mm inf gun battery, scout company, etc. Thus for a battalion that would only mean 6 platoons but all 6 82mm mortars, all 6 MMG, a full AT rifle platoon and the rest.

When looking at combat operations a soviet rifle corps would rate as a western division (but with more fire power). This is not true for mechanized and tank units with corps being in fact divisions, something that was recognized just after the war when Tank and Mechanized Corps were redesignated Divisions.

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Post by Andreas » 07 Dec 2007 13:35

chekisti wrote:Then there is the superiority of vodka-inspired hordes of raw levees and penal units wave assaulting miniscule kampf gruppen.
chekisti - you are a new member, so please take the time to familiarise yourself with the aim of this board. It does not exist to propagate laughable stereotypes that have no basis in reality and are bordering on the racist.

Change your tone please.

Thank you.

Andreas

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Post by Qvist » 07 Dec 2007 21:39

From Fremde Heere Ost:
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Post by Qvist » 07 Dec 2007 22:01

The ID n.A. was the reduced organisation implemented in 1944. Assuming that FHO had a fairly precise idea of the normal structure of a Soviet Rifle Division by 1944 (which I think can be expected, but it would be very interesting if someone could verify or falsify the accuracy of this information), there are some conspicuous contrasts in the structure.

They are similar in infantry strength, but the German division has much more artillery manpower (some 2.5 times more) and above all in supporting functions: Roughly 5 times as many engineer troops, almost ten times as many supply troops, almost four times as many signals troops and roughly 6 times more medical and veterinary troops.

This is hardly representative of the resources each army devoted to such supporting functions. Rather it must be the case that while the Germans placed a large proportion of such resources within the divisional framework, the Red Army to a much greater extent kept theirs at Corps and Front level. The contrast is big enough to be called fundamental - while a German division is clearly intended as a self-contained formation, the Soviet Rifle division could not be described in this way. One consequence of this is that it would be fairly pointless to compare divisional manpower strengths, as far as I can see.

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Post by Imad » 08 Dec 2007 13:16

IIRC it was the smaller complement of Soviet Rifle Divisions that led Hitler, in one of his later conferences, to dismiss reports of enemy numerical superiority as being irrelevant. I think he failed to realize that Soviet R.Ds were not self-contained units and this led to obviously flawed judgment regarding enemy troop dispositions. He did, however, come up with the remarkably accurate figure of 7,000 for the average Russian Div. which sounds reasonable when you take into account the heavy losses the Red Army was sustaining even towards the end of the war.

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