Size of WW2 Red Army divisions

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Qvist
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Post by Qvist » 10 Dec 2007 17:37

Hehe, the things one have to go through before one can even begin to discuss things. Thank you. This is very interesting.

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Post by Art » 12 Dec 2007 14:39

The table was from "The operations of the Soviet Armed forces in the GPW", 1959, Vol. 4. If to be precise the overall strength figures are given for 1st January, but that would hardly make much difference. As a rule of thumb whcih can be derived from these and similar data for an average soviet front non-combat elements constituted 25-30% of the total strength. But it's quite probable that in extraordinary situations such as catastrophical defeats in 1941-42 this ratio changed darmarically. I've found some summary statistics on my bookshelf. That is a table from "The military strategy" by Sergey Mikhalyov giving an average strength of the Soviet Front for the different periods of the war. As far as I can guess based on the archival references the author gives, he simply took fronts' strength figures at the start of the major operations throughout each period and then calculated the mean figures.
Period Total strength In combat units In rifle units Average strength of the rifle division
5.12.1941-30.04.1942.....312,2....244,2.....165,5....5,7
19.11-1942-31.03.1943...345,8.....271,1.....199,1...6,0
1.7-31.12.1943...............494,7....324,6.....184,3....5,5
1.01.-31.05.1944............472,2....347,5.....186,1....5,0
1.06-31.12.1944..............541,5...383,6......262,0...6,6
1.01-9.05.1945...............739,0....492,7.....282,5....5,1
Far East 08.1945...........525,9....357,2.....256,3....9,8
All numbers are in thousands.
It's worth to pay attention that in the war against Japan Soviet divisions turne out to be very "fat". It seems that if was because the divisons on this theatre had full strength allready before the outbreak of the Far East Campaign. Moreover, when I looked through my materials I was very surprised to see that on the Far East even usual rifle division were formed according to the Guards TO&E, and that meant additional thousand men and additional equipment. For example, on 29th June 1943 the Far East Front was ordered to raise 231st and 255th RDs according to the TO&Es 04/500-04/512, on 6th July - the Transbaikl Front - to raise 275th, 278th, 284th, 292nd, 293rd RDs (TO&E 04/500 - 10 580 men) and to transfer four existing divisions to the same TO&E, on 23th July Transbaikal and Far East Fronts - to raise 298th and 300th RDs (To&E 04/500, 10 580 men) respectively.

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Post by GaryD » 13 Dec 2007 20:45

Art wrote:Period Total strength In combat units In rifle units Average strength of the rifle division
5.12.1941-30.04.1942.....312,2....244,2.....165,5....5,7
19.11-1942-31.03.1943...345,8.....271,1.....199,1...6,0
1.7-31.12.1943...............494,7....324,6.....184,3....5,5
1.01.-31.05.1944............472,2....347,5.....186,1....5,0
1.06-31.12.1944..............541,5...383,6......262,0...6,6
1.01-9.05.1945...............739,0....492,7.....282,5....5,1
Far East 08.1945...........525,9....357,2.....256,3....9,8
All numbers are in thousands.
Based on a 1982 doctoral dissertation by Col. V. G. Klevtsov at the Voroshilov Academy and available through Eastview , the average size of rifle divisions was about 5,100 in the first six months of 1944 and about 5,500 in the second six months.

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Post by RichTO90 » 13 Dec 2007 22:02

Qvist wrote:That I do not question. And then we're into the awful territory of scrounging around for reference information of which only bits and pieces are easily available, and which quite possibly is misleading. Rich! Bail us out here! :)

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Hi Qvist!

The US QM Truck Company consisted basically of 48 truck-trailer combinations with a practical load capacity of 168 short tons. Each regiment and battalion within a division also had a service company, which included a QM element. However, to show how problematic such things could be, after the armored division was reorganized 15 July 1943 it was discovered that the new organization had been pared down to such a point that it was incapable of transporting its full basic load of supply, so it proved neccessary to attach two QM truck companies to each to make up the shortfall.

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Post by Andreas » 14 Dec 2007 10:20

168 short tons is a lot, compared to the German divisional establishment, it is a bit more than 150 metric tons. A heavy column in a German division had 30 tons, a light column 15. In the 1. Welle divisions a German division had 180 metric tons in the motorised supply columns (plus 25 cbm fuel). In 3. Welle/4.Welle there were only 90/120 metric tons motorised and the other 90 metric tons horse-drawn, meaning that the effective German capacity for these divisions was less than 180 metric tons, compared to a fully motorised transport establishment.

http://www.lexikon-der-wehrmacht.de/Gli ... derung.htm

I'd say overall it appears to be a wash to me, with the advantage if there is any going to the Americans, due to their 100% motorisation on all levels, while on the German TO&E only divisional supply had at least some motorisation.

http://www.lexikon-der-wehrmacht.de/Gli ... derung.htm

All the best

Andreas

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Post by Art » 16 Dec 2007 19:11

Art wrote:I think it's worth to give an example to make it more clear
What about this one
http://rkkaww2.armchairgeneral.com/batt ... gth_45.htm
Something must be said about corps HQs. In some cases they were included in the combat strength reports, sometimes not. I can't understand whether there was any rule here.

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Post by Qvist » 17 Dec 2007 01:13

Thank you all - much food for thought.

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Post by Art » 18 Jan 2008 12:20

Some information showing the manpower distribution between various types of units and various branches. That is the list strength of the Read Army's arms atached as an appendix to the GKO decree "On the Red Army's strength" of 2nd May 1943
Rifle troops
Combat units (rifle corps, divisions, brigades) - 4 001 690 men
Replacement units - 1 172 935
Training units - 247 201
Total in rifle units - 5 421 826
Infantry officer's scools - 275 329
Airborne troops - 40 815
Fortified regions - 207 725
GHQ Reserve's artillery - 832 918
Rocket artillery - 129 686
Cavalry - 199 651
Tank troops - 645 061
AA Defence of the country's territory - 404 846
GHQ's Reserve's AA units - 138 298
Flamethrowing units - 16 358
Chemical units - 41 020
Signal - 267 208
Engineer - 297 316
Topographical - 15 317
Military road units - 144 708
Automobile transport - 203 527
Local rifle units - 67 833
Horse transport - 36 993
HQs of fronts and armies with service and security units - 105 314
HQs of military districts - 5 873
Local military administration - 26 509
Central administration of the Commissariat for Defence - 9 772
Control organs accepting weapons produced by the industry - 5 321
Partisan movement (central organizations) - 4 664
Political organs and political officer's schools - 50 695
Rear services not included in the arms' strength, rear officer's schools, reserve of commanding personnel - 476 398
Convalsescents's units - 81 574
Airforces:
Combat units - 129 395
Replacement units - 42 691
Ground and rear units - 345 749
Schools - 117 663
Total in airforces - 635 496
Total in the RKKA - 10 788 233
Local rifle units were the units employed for security taks. It seems that escept infantry and airforces replacement and training units are included in the arms' strength. Also it seems that the category rifle units includes the unts assigned to rifle corps' HQs.

For comparison that is the last that I know version of the distribution of the Red Army's personnel according to the prewar mobilizational plan. The document containing that table was written somewhere between 23th April and 4th June 1941 (taken from the modern edition of "The General Staff in pre-war years" by M.V. Zakharov):
Rifle troops - 3 191 524
Corps artillery - 199 638
GHQ Reserve's artillery - 242 200
Cavalry - 112 284
Mechanized troops- 1 103 682
Armored trains - 7 403
Airforces with rear units and without schools - 990 072
Airborne troops - 42 818
Anti-Aircraft Defence - 381 476
Frortified regions - 246 894
Engineer units - 112 090
Railway troops- 87 708
Chemical units - 14 763
Mortar units - 14 970
Signal - 132 839
Autotransport - 150 232
Horse transport - 6 935
Topographical - 25 389
Higher HQs - 68 862
Military transportation organs -14 486
Road exploitation units - 79 163
Local rifle units - 82 401
Central administration - 486 398
Replacement units - 768 267
Rear services (without airforces) - 525 557
Disciplinary units - 2 620
Total - 9 109 582

In addition on 4th June 1941 the government increased the war-time strength of the fortified regions by 239 556.
Last edited by Art on 18 Jan 2008 13:51, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Qvist » 18 Jan 2008 13:12

This is very interesting, much more detailed than Krivosheev's breakdown.If we try to identify the elements that were equivalent to the Ersatzheer and Luftwaffe respectively:

Equivalent to Ersatzheer:

Convalsescents's units - 81 574
Replacement units - 1 172 935
Training units - 247 201
Infantry officer's scools - 275 329
HQs of military districts - 5 873
= 1,782,912

And parts of these:
Local rifle units - 67 833 (equivalent; Landesschützen in the home rear, not equivalent: Sicherungstruppen)
Local military administration - 26 509 (equiavlent as long as they are not in the operational zone or outside the USSR)
Central administration of the Commissariat for Defence - 9 772 (in practice equivalent partly to OKH, partly to EH)
Rear services not included in the arms' strength, rear officer's schools, reserve of commanding personnel - 476 398 (schools, reserve commanding personnell and possibly some rear services equivalent)

It seems that perhaps slightly more than 2 million would be a fair estimate of the elements that correspond to the German Ersatzheer. One important piece is however missing here, namely hospitalised wounded and sick - who made up a large proportion of the EH.

Luftwaffe:

Combat units - 129 395
Replacement units - 42 691
Ground and rear units - 345 749
Schools - 117 663
Total in airforces - 635 496

Plus:
Airborne troops - 40 815
AA Defence of the country's territory - 404 846

And some of these:
GHQ's Reserve's AA units - 138 298

This would seem to put air force strength at slightly above 1 million, which is much, much less than the Luftwaffe, whose strength at this time was creeping towards the 2 million mark. Here too there are the hospitalised, but this is a more marginal phenomenon than with the army. Also it may be that VVS rear services does not encompass everything equivalent to LW rear services, such as signals units, transport units and so on. But the combat units figure is also quite low compared to the Luftwaffe Flying troops. All in all, the Air force strengths seem strikingly low compared to the fact that the VVS was, unless I am much mistaken, fielding more aircraft than the Luftwaffe was.

Irritatingly I seem to lack data points for both EH and LW for this period (will look some more, it may be that DRZW 8 has it), but they must both have been somewhere in the 2 million region, with the EH perhaps as much as up to 2.5.

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Post by Art » 18 Jan 2008 16:05

Qvist wrote: Replacement units - 1 172 935
Training units - 247 201
Infantry officer's scools - 275 329
That is only the part of replacement and training units belonging to rifle forces. Then to be accurate some part of replacement units was under control of the Operational Army - one replacement regiment in each army responsible for handling replacements and training of draftees from the frontline zone. The same could be the case for training units.
Local military administration - 26 509 (equiavlent as long as they are not in the operational zone or outside the USSR)
AFAIK they couldn't be outside the USSR's territory by definition (though not sure about Tuva republic). These are "military commissariats" well known to every Russian male below 27. They were (and remained to be now) responsible for registration of citizen liable for military service, organization of regular drafts and mobilization etc.
It seems that perhaps slightly more than 2 million would be a fair estimate of the elements that correspond to the German Ersatzheer.
Not a full equivalent, see above.
Also it may be that VVS rear services does not encompass everything equivalent to LW rear services, such as signals units, transport units and so on.
They must include all units responsible for mantainance of combat elements: signal, transport, repair, ordnance, etc.
But the combat units figure is also quite low compared to the Luftwaffe Flying troops. All in all, the Air force strengths seem strikingly low compared to the fact that the VVS was, unless I am much mistaken, fielding more aircraft than the Luftwaffe was.
Part of combat aircraft belonged to Navy Airforces (not shown here as all the other Navy units) and Anti-Aicraft Defence Forces. But anyway the figure 130 thousand seems to be small given the fact that VVS together with Long-Range Aviation mustered in the Operational Army alone something like 10 thousands planes by 1st July 1943. One need to check TO&E of the aviational regiments and divisions to give the answer.
This is very interesting, much more detailed than Krivosheev's breakdown.
I didn't remeber that he has something like this. I've checked the book. there is a table here showing the losses suffered by varios arms and branches of the Red Army in 1943-45 in the absolute numbers and in percent of the average monthly strength. If we divide the first number by the second we''ll recieve the average strength for the period 1943-45 (in thousands):
Rifle & Airborne troops - 2 673
Fortified Regions - 81
Cavalry - 125
Tank&Mechanized - 432
GHQ Reserve Artillery - 565
Rocket Artillery - 96
GHQ Reserve AA troops - 168
Flamethowing - 12
Signal - 154
Engineer - 191
Military Road - 150
Autotransport - 96
Others (incl replacement, training, AAD, rear) - 1 317
Airforces - 394 206
The total is about 6,5 millions, indicating that these are the figures pertaining to the Operational Army only. At the same time the decree of 2.05.1943 provided the breakdown for the Red Army as a whole.

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Post by Qvist » 18 Jan 2008 17:18

That is only the part of replacement and training units belonging to rifle forces. Then to be accurate some part of replacement units was under control of the Operational Army - one replacement regiment in each army responsible for handling replacements and training of draftees from the frontline zone. The same could be the case for training units.
Ah, that was inattentive of me. So, the equivalent elements for f.e. tank troops would be part of the tank troops figure then, or? Incidentally, the system you describe for handling draftees from the frontline zone is in many ways quite similar to what the Germans started doing in 1945. As the front reached the Reich territory, the Field Army commands essentially absorbed the EH's functions (and units) in the operational area.
AFAIK they couldn't be outside the USSR's territory by definition (though not sure about Tuva republic). These are "military commissariats" well known to every Russian male below 27. They were (and remained to be now) responsible for registration of citizen liable for military service, organization of regular drafts and mobilization etc.
Right, understood. In that case they are wholly analogous to functions carried out bythe EH in the German system.
Not a full equivalent, see above.
No, and the differences in classification still makes that impossible.
Part of combat aircraft belonged to Navy Airforces (not shown here as all the other Navy units) and Anti-Aicraft Defence Forces.
The German counterpart to the aircraft of the AA Defence forces would be in the Luftwaffe.
But anyway the figure 130 thousand seems to be small given the fact that VVS together with Long-Range Aviation mustered in the Operational Army alone something like 10 thousands planes by 1st July 1943. One need to check TO&E of the aviational regiments and divisions to give the answer.
Yes, that's what I thought too. And there is nothing very obvious to account for it that I can think of, except (with regard to the overall Luftwaffe strength) that much more men on the German side were devoted to AA defence. I will try to come back with some more precise breakdown figures.
If we divide the first number by the second we''ll recieve the average strength for the period 1943-45 (in thousands):
Exactly! These were the figures I was referring to.

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Post by Art » 19 Jan 2008 13:10

Qvist wrote:Ah, that was inattentive of me. So, the equivalent elements for f.e. tank troops would be part of the tank troops figure then, or?
Yes.
the system you describe for handling draftees from the frontline zone is in many ways quite similar to what the Germans started doing in 1945. As the front reached the Reich territory, the Field Army commands essentially absorbed the EH's functions (and units) in the operational area.
Well, Soviet armies had replacement units in their disposal allready from the start of the war, however to right to conscript draftees and train them in their replacement units was granted to them not earlier than in the beginning of 1942 (it was a Stavka's directive issued IIRC in January 1942). The decision was caused mainly by logistical considerations, i.e. the need to avoid unecessary traffic between the front and the rear. AlsoiIt should be mentioned that the front-line commanders practiced the mobilization of draftees directly to combat units, despite regular promises of central authorities to turn off their heads for that.
The German counterpart to the aircraft of the AA Defence forces would be in the Luftwaffe.
Definitely. I just want to say that the AAD forces had their one combat (Flieger) units in addition to 140-thousands combat units controlled by VVS RKKA

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Re:

Post by Kelvin » 09 Sep 2010 19:42

Matasso wrote: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.

Mat
Hi, Mat, how the Tank Corps had 110% strength ? you mean manpower or number of tanks and SU ?

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Re:

Post by Kelvin » 10 Sep 2010 13:58

Art wrote:
Qvist wrote: 1) Do you know how exactly "combat troops" were defined?
2) Is the average divisional strengths combat troops or overall personnell?
Gary has allready answered. It's the strength of rifle, cavalry, tank andartillery units. What is important it's not the analogue of Kapmftstärke or Gefechtstärke - the whole strength of independent combat units was added to the sum but not the strength of combat emlements of these units. For example, if the corps had tree rifle divisions, their strength was included in the combat strength, but the strength of the corps signal battalion was not (at the same time the strength of artillery or tank units subordinated to the corps was). It should be said, that the as far as I know, the estimation of the strength of the combat elements of the units was not used in the reporting practice as widely as in the German Army. Sometimes so called "bayonets" were mentioned, but according to my impression it was a very vague term, and I'm not sure that in every moment of time and in every units it meant the same. Moreover, it seems that the bayonet strength was not systematically reported to higher HQs unlike combat strength.
Additionally, 12 Infantry guns versus 27.
Yes, but infantry guns were outside artillery regiment. It should be added that according to TO&E the soviet division had much more mortars. It's seems however, that these numbers remained mostly on paper as well as the personnel strength. First of all, by the end of the war the light mortars were for the most part excluded from the divisions and other units. Then the real number of medium and heavy mortars was normally far less then the authorized number. I have copied out some numbers:
On 1st June 1943 the rifle and cavalry divisions/brigades had 36 739 82-mm mortars, while the TO&E number was 45 150. The same numbers for 120-mm mortars were 9587/11 744
On 1st January 1944 - 27 560/ 45 583 82-mm and 8 053/12 092 120-mm
1st June 1944 26 585/45 479 82-mm and 8 582/12 263
For 1st January 1945 the authorized numbers are not given, but there is no reason to expect that they seriously differed from the previous ones. The actual numbers - 30 189 82-mm mortars, 9 166 120-mm
1st May 1945 26 164 82-mm mortars and 8 658 120-mm.
Source: A.Shorokorad "The native mortars and rocket artillery"
The production of the mortars (especially 82-mm) was seriously curtailed during 1943 and that led to the decrease in the absolute numbers. The brief look on the data on the divisioanl strength available to me gives the similar conslusion - it was quite normal for the rifle division to have 50 82-mm mortars or even less.
Soviet Rifle division had twelve 122mm howitzer in its artillery regiment but I see some sources that Soviet rifle division lacked prime mover to tow its 122mm in the late stage of the war (all motor vehicles concentrated in TC, MC and artillery division) , so Soviet heavy firepower also depended upon 120mm mortar. So in actual Soviet rifle division, they really had 122 mm howitzer in its artillery regiment ?

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Re: Size of WW2 Red Army divisions

Post by Art » 12 Sep 2010 14:45

Yes, normally they had.

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