Size of WW2 Red Army divisions

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Re: Size of WW2 Red Army divisions

Post by Art » 10 Oct 2010 13:07

It is not a secret that Soviet infantry units in the second half of the war experienced a chronic shortatge of personnel, and were normally well below authorized strength. As a result a sort of provisional schemes of organization were issued to deal with actual number of personnel. Zaloga and Ness in "Red Army Handbook" provides several examples of such quasi TO&Es issued by the Staff of the 3rd Baltic Front in 1944. Apparently, similar documents existed in other fronts. Here is an organization ("raschet") of a "5000-strong rifle division" I came across issued by the staff of the Leningrad Front in July 1944:
http://s47.radikal.ru/i116/1010/16/7437957cbcee.jpg

In comparison with official TO&E (04/550-04/563) organization looked as follows:
Divisional HQ 139 men authorized/139 according to “raschet”
1.Rifle regiment:
Regimental HQ 31/31
Mounted recon platoon 12/0 (completely removed)
Foot recon platoon 24/17 (assistant commander and one squad are removed)
SMG company 98/31 (one platoon remains)
AT rifle company 50/22 (one platoon remains)
Signal company 48/48
Commandant platoon 13/13
Pioneer platoon 20/14 (one squad removed)
Chemical platoon 12/9 (2 wagon drivers and one chemist removed)
Sanitary company 33/28 (5 wagon drivers removed)
Veterinary hospital 3/3
Munitions workshop 11/10 (weapons master sergeant removed)
Train workshop 3/3
Transport company 37/10
Total regimental units 395/239
Three rifle battalions, each with:
a)Battalion HQ 7/7
b)Signal platoon 10/10
c) Three rifle companies 141/60 each:
Company HQ 2, HQ platoon - 7, 2 rifle platoons x
19 men (3 squads x 6 men), MG squad – 6 men
In three companies 423/180
d)MG company 56/38 (one MQ squad with 6 men removed in each platoon)
3 platoons x 2 heavy MGs
e)ATR squad instead of platoon 23/4
f)45-mm AT platoon 17/0 (completely removed)
g)Mortar company 66/35
2 platoons of 2 squads
h)Sanitary platoon 5/5
i)Supply platoon 12/6 (ammunition squad and one cook removed)
Total battalion 619/285
In three battalions 1857/855
45-mm battery 54/33 (one platoon – 17 men and 4 riders removed)
76-mm battery 73/54 (ammunition platoon – 12 men, 4 wagon drivers, 1 scout
1 horse driver, 1 telephone operator removed)
120-mm mortar battery 64/55 (one mortar crew, 1 telephone operator and
1 driver removed)
Total in one regiment 2443/1236
In three regiments 7329/3708
2.Artillery regiment (motorized) 922/675 (17 men in each 76-mm battery, 13 – 122-mm battery, ammunition platoons in each battalion etc are removed – total 247 men)
3.Training company 98/0 (completely removed)
4.Artillery HQ platoon 37/26 (4 scouts and 7 telephone operators removed)
5.Recon company 78/62 (one squad in each platoon removed)
6.AT battalion 206/104 (1 gun battery - 29 men, ATR company with 3 platoons – 69 men
1 scout, 1 laboratory assistant, 2 drivers are removed)
7.AAMG company 97/97
8.Engineer battalion 163/121 (1 squad in each company removed)
9.Signal company 143/143
10.Chemical company 33/30 (1 squad of the degassing platoon removed)
11.Autotransport company 69/50 (19 drivers removed)
12.Field bakery 53/32 (one squad – 19 men and 6 wagon men are removed)
13.Medical battalion (7 medical orderlies removed)
14.Field workshop 11/9 (1 tailor and 1 shoemaker are removed)
15.Veterinary hospital 9/7
16.Military post station 9/9
Total division 9438/5297

From TsAMO f. 377, op. 10864, d. 94, ll.84-90ob.
Antiaircraft machinegun company (Shtat 04/578) was optional, and could be included in the division in case of a special order. Apparently another variant of "5000" division organization existed before July 1944, but it seem to be quite similar to the new one. Also from what I know organizations of divisions with 8000, 7197 and 6500 men existed. Note that this organization didn't cancel Shtat 04/550 etc which remained formally in force.

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Re: Size of WW2 Red Army divisions

Post by Kelvin » 06 Jul 2011 19:55

Art wrote:It is not a secret that Soviet infantry units in the second half of the war experienced a chronic shortatge of personnel, and were normally well below authorized strength. As a result a sort of provisional schemes of organization were issued to deal with actual number of personnel. Zaloga and Ness in "Red Army Handbook" provides several examples of such quasi TO&Es issued by the Staff of the 3rd Baltic Front in 1944. Apparently, similar documents existed in other fronts. Here is an organization ("raschet") of a "5000-strong rifle division" I came across issued by the staff of the Leningrad Front in July 1944:
http://s47.radikal.ru/i116/1010/16/7437957cbcee.jpg

In comparison with official TO&E (04/550-04/563) organization looked as follows:
Divisional HQ 139 men authorized/139 according to “raschet”
1.Rifle regiment:
Regimental HQ 31/31
Mounted recon platoon 12/0 (completely removed)
Foot recon platoon 24/17 (assistant commander and one squad are removed)
SMG company 98/31 (one platoon remains)
AT rifle company 50/22 (one platoon remains)
Signal company 48/48
Commandant platoon 13/13
Pioneer platoon 20/14 (one squad removed)
Chemical platoon 12/9 (2 wagon drivers and one chemist removed)
Sanitary company 33/28 (5 wagon drivers removed)
Veterinary hospital 3/3
Munitions workshop 11/10 (weapons master sergeant removed)
Train workshop 3/3
Transport company 37/10
Total regimental units 395/239
Three rifle battalions, each with:
a)Battalion HQ 7/7
b)Signal platoon 10/10
c) Three rifle companies 141/60 each:
Company HQ 2, HQ platoon - 7, 2 rifle platoons x
19 men (3 squads x 6 men), MG squad – 6 men
In three companies 423/180
d)MG company 56/38 (one MQ squad with 6 men removed in each platoon)
3 platoons x 2 heavy MGs
e)ATR squad instead of platoon 23/4
f)45-mm AT platoon 17/0 (completely removed)
g)Mortar company 66/35
2 platoons of 2 squads
h)Sanitary platoon 5/5
i)Supply platoon 12/6 (ammunition squad and one cook removed)
Total battalion 619/285
In three battalions 1857/855
45-mm battery 54/33 (one platoon – 17 men and 4 riders removed)
76-mm battery 73/54 (ammunition platoon – 12 men, 4 wagon drivers, 1 scout
1 horse driver, 1 telephone operator removed)
120-mm mortar battery 64/55 (one mortar crew, 1 telephone operator and
1 driver removed)
Total in one regiment 2443/1236
In three regiments 7329/3708
2.Artillery regiment (motorized) 922/675 (17 men in each 76-mm battery, 13 – 122-mm battery, ammunition platoons in each battalion etc are removed – total 247 men)
3.Training company 98/0 (completely removed)
4.Artillery HQ platoon 37/26 (4 scouts and 7 telephone operators removed)
5.Recon company 78/62 (one squad in each platoon removed)
6.AT battalion 206/104 (1 gun battery - 29 men, ATR company with 3 platoons – 69 men
1 scout, 1 laboratory assistant, 2 drivers are removed)
7.AAMG company 97/97
8.Engineer battalion 163/121 (1 squad in each company removed)
9.Signal company 143/143
10.Chemical company 33/30 (1 squad of the degassing platoon removed)
11.Autotransport company 69/50 (19 drivers removed)
12.Field bakery 53/32 (one squad – 19 men and 6 wagon men are removed)
13.Medical battalion (7 medical orderlies removed)
14.Field workshop 11/9 (1 tailor and 1 shoemaker are removed)
15.Veterinary hospital 9/7
16.Military post station 9/9
Total division 9438/5297

From TsAMO f. 377, op. 10864, d. 94, ll.84-90ob.
Antiaircraft machinegun company (Shtat 04/578) was optional, and could be included in the division in case of a special order. Apparently another variant of "5000" division organization existed before July 1944, but it seem to be quite similar to the new one. Also from what I know organizations of divisions with 8000, 7197 and 6500 men existed. Note that this organization didn't cancel Shtat 04/550 etc which remained formally in force.

Hi, Art, apart from 04/550, there were also variant like 8000, 7197 and 6500 organization like you mentioned above ?

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Re: Size of WW2 Red Army divisions

Post by Art » 07 Jul 2011 14:50

There were not present in the files I've seen.

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Re: Size of WW2 Red Army divisions

Post by Kelvin » 07 Jul 2011 18:37

Thank 's Ok. :)

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Re: Size of WW2 Red Army divisions

Post by Art » 05 Apr 2018 22:22

A perceptive on Red Army's divisions of the Civil War period. Any resemblance to actual practices of WW2 is purely coincidental, as they say

Maneuverable and very mobile character of the [Russian] Civil War, very long fronts which necessitated a dispersal of forces seemingly had to determine an organization of tactical units: division - as a very light and autonomous unit, and corps as an operational unit combining divisions deployed on a wide frontage.
Instead of that a very bulky “large division” is created which corresponds more to the corps in the foreign armies, rifle brigades (divisions in fact) it comprised were incomplete tactical units, having very limited artillery and no cavalry. The main idea behind a “large division” was a desire to have a strong infantry core (27 battalions) which wouldn’t be threatened by a chronic shortage of personnel typical for a war of 1914-1918.
However, this table of organization remained just a piece of paper, and whereas the Red Army had rifle brigades built according to this table, it never had a full-strength divisions, for there were no resources to supply them with those strong means prescribed by the tables of organization.
Infantry experienced a constant shortfall of personnel, and rarely had more that 25% of the authorized strength. Consequently rifle regiments consisted of 2 weak battalions instead of 3, a rifle brigade had 6 battalions instead of 9, and a division – 18 at most, typically 15-16 and sometimes only 12 battalions (2 brigades). On the other hand this fact increased proportion of technical means compared with authorized organization (a number of guns and machine guns per a battalion and especially per 1000 men), but at the same time it also led to a larger proportion between non-battle and battle elements (disproportionally large trains and services). A the same time one can see a reverse trend in Red divisions, when all authorized units persisted but their actual strength was not more than 10-20% of the authorized strength, that is 30-40 soldiers in a company, or the number a platoon was supposed to have.
From "Organization of large combined-arms units" published in 1933.

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Re: Size of WW2 Red Army divisions

Post by tramonte » 01 May 2018 21:25

1) Any idea of Soviet HQ Artillery Brigade and Artillery Division strengths both artillery pieces, mortars and personal in summer 1944?

2) Are the strengths of 1944 Armored Brigades and Regiments same as those of Assault Gun Brigades and Regiments? I guess there was quite common 318 men strength of Assault Gun Regiment while much variance when question about SU-100, SU-85 and SU-76 AG Brigades.
"Military history is nothing but a tissue of fictions and legends, only a form of literary invention; reality counts for very little in such affair."

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Re: Size of WW2 Red Army divisions

Post by Art » 01 May 2018 22:12

tramonte wrote:1) Any idea of Soviet HQ Artillery Brigade and Artillery Division strengths both artillery pieces, mortars and personal in summer 1944?
The answer is "it depends". There were different types of artillery divisions/brigades:
https://forum.axishistory.com//viewtopi ... 9&t=141123

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Re: Size of WW2 Red Army divisions

Post by Eugen Pinak » 29 Jul 2018 10:08

Art wrote:
05 Apr 2018 22:22
A perceptive on Red Army's divisions of the Civil War period. Any resemblance to actual practices of WW2 is purely coincidental, as they say

Maneuverable and very mobile character of the [Russian] Civil War, very long fronts which necessitated a dispersal of forces seemingly had to determine an organization of tactical units: division - as a very light and autonomous unit, and corps as an operational unit combining divisions deployed on a wide frontage.
Instead of that a very bulky “large division” is created which corresponds more to the corps in the foreign armies, rifle brigades (divisions in fact) it comprised were incomplete tactical units, having very limited artillery and no cavalry. The main idea behind a “large division” was a desire to have a strong infantry core (27 battalions) which wouldn’t be threatened by a chronic shortage of personnel typical for a war of 1914-1918.
However, this table of organization remained just a piece of paper, and whereas the Red Army had rifle brigades built according to this table, it never had a full-strength divisions, for there were no resources to supply them with those strong means prescribed by the tables of organization.
Infantry experienced a constant shortfall of personnel, and rarely had more that 25% of the authorized strength. Consequently rifle regiments consisted of 2 weak battalions instead of 3, a rifle brigade had 6 battalions instead of 9, and a division – 18 at most, typically 15-16 and sometimes only 12 battalions (2 brigades). On the other hand this fact increased proportion of technical means compared with authorized organization (a number of guns and machine guns per a battalion and especially per 1000 men), but at the same time it also led to a larger proportion between non-battle and battle elements (disproportionally large trains and services). A the same time one can see a reverse trend in Red divisions, when all authorized units persisted but their actual strength was not more than 10-20% of the authorized strength, that is 30-40 soldiers in a company, or the number a platoon was supposed to have.
From "Organization of large combined-arms units" published in 1933.
With all my respect to Krasilnikov, he certainly didn't do his research regarding this matter.
Large rifle division was created in Soviet Russia to pool few available resources (instead of spreading them between corps and 3 small divisions) and to ensure division will remain combat effective even after suffering losses/attrition. In all this respects it was a success - division worked, as advertised. And when it was absolutely necessary, rifle brigades could be made independent or moved from division to division.
Of course, in peace-time there is often a popularity of various theories of "lightness" and "maneuverability", who forget, that division is not a recon platoon - its' maneuverability is only a mean to get more divisions to fight in the right place. And the Soviet Union in the first half of 1930s is the best example of this attempts to achieve "lightness" by any means, bringing planned rifle division to the size of reinforced regiment in other armies.
Of course, they "forgot" to tell, that any independent unit/formation simply had to have some HQs, services, support units, no matter, how small. As a result, if we compare large 1918-pattern rifle division with small 1926-pattern rifle division, we will see, that 1926 division is way smaller and more mobile. BUT, if we compare 1918-pattern rifle division with 1926-CORPS, we will find out, that 1918-pattern rifle division was SMALLER. So commander required less trains/trucks to put the same 9 rifle regiments into combat in the right place.

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Re: Size of WW2 Red Army divisions

Post by FORBIN Yves » 29 Jul 2018 10:23

Better here
FORBIN Yves wrote:
24 Jul 2018 11:28
tramonte wrote:
01 May 2018 21:34
If Soviet infantry division had had strength from just 5 000 to about 10 000 men in 1944 i guess the infantry brigade might have had strength varying from 2 500 to 5 000. Am i totally wrong? Can anyone give figures of Soviet Marine Brigade personal strength of 1943 or 1944?
In theory according TOE a Soviet ID have 9400 men the Guards was in general better but some regulars was also good.
In 1945 they have 4500 - 7500 mens in general 5500 in fact a big Brigade ; in April to attack Koenigsberg IDs of the 3th Belorussian Front have 2500 ! - 4000 men they had received very few replacements, IDs used in Berlin Operation was in better conditions.

No problems for tanks in armored units but infantryman shortage proof 3 Tanks Armies in Berlin and especialy Koniev with long flanks miss infantry.

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Re: Size of WW2 Red Army divisions

Post by Eugen Pinak » 30 Jul 2018 09:12

FORBIN Yves - yep, that was the problem. Taking into account, that there were artillery, engineer, signal, HQ, supply units in the division, that left preciously little for the rifle companies - units, that actually do 95% of the battle.

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Re: Size of WW2 Red Army divisions

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 30 Jul 2018 17:33

When I look at the actual strength of the Red Army infantry division in this era, many appear to actually be heavy weapons groups with a small number of infantry. Another way to describe them would be a high ratio of supporting fire to a small assault group.

Several decades ago I found that looking at the organization of Soviet grounds forces is easier when I did not apply western or US military labels to them. When I dropped the US or British names such as platoon, squadron, company, regiment ext... & viewed the units strictly in their actual numbers and context in the larger organization it appeared much more logical.

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Re: Size of WW2 Red Army divisions

Post by Art » 30 Jul 2018 19:14

Heavy weapons were reduced proportionally to personnel. In the last part of the war a regular rifle regiment had 1200-1500 men instead of authorized 2500 (shtat 04/551), 4 120-mm mortars instead of 7, 12-18 82-mm mortars instead of 27, 4-6 45-mm AT guns instead of 12, 18-25 medium machine guns instead of 36, 50-80 light machine guns instead of 162. 50-mm mortars (18 in the original TO&E) were mostly discarded altogether. Moreover whenever large losses were suffered a part of heavy weapons became "frozen" - they were formally on strength but were not actually used for a lack of men to serve them. At the same time divisional artillery was more or less close to the authorized strength, at least as far as the number of barrels is concerned.
Several decades ago I found that looking at the organization of Soviet grounds forces is easier when I did not apply western or US military labels to them. When I dropped the US or British names such as platoon, squadron, company, regiment ext... & viewed the units strictly in their actual numbers and context in the larger organization it appeared much more logical.
As far as allocation of weapons is considered Soviet organization was broadly similar to the others. We have light machine guns and possibly light mortars in rifle companies, medium machine guns, AT guns, and medium mortars on a battalion level; infantry guns and AT guns on regimental level, and field artillery in divisions. Details could vary but the general principle was the same.

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Re: Size of WW2 Red Army divisions

Post by Art » 30 Jul 2018 20:29

Here are characteristic quotes regarding infantry and heavy weapons

Lieutenant general Berzarin (CO 39 Army) giving a presentation on battle experience in January 1944:
We still don't have a real infantry combat. Our infantry doesn't maneuver, it only advance straight ahead in one predefined direction. For example, an infantry unit had to seize a patch of bushes. It encountered two enemy machine guns and stopped in front of them. They started reporting that they met two machine guns. Company (and platoon) commanders didn't take measures to handle the problem with own forces. It turns out that they had only sub-machine-guns and there were no weapons to seize the objective. So they call artillery fire from guns of all types and calibers, while light an medium machine guns stayed idle at dumps, because sub-machine-guns are easier to carry, they need less care, and commanders simply ignored this problem. That is why we don't have a capability to maneuver either in a platoon and company or in a division.

Infantry weapons - machine gun, grenade, rifle should be fully employed. That is what we need to do to make infantry capable of fighting. Otherwise no amount of artillery rounds would be enough. A typical report provides a characteristic example: "Enemy group of 30 men was trying to probe out forward line but was dispersed by artillery fire". Think about it - what a valor to repulse a group of 30 men with artillery. Instead they had to be offered a free pass and destroyed or captured in depth of our defenses. Such things happen because we used to substitute infantry combat with artillery firepower.
....
In the coming period we must liquidate all these deficiencies...light and medium machine guns should be put on their proper places. I consider it normal to have in a regiment of 500 bayonets 100 or not less than 20% of men armed with light machine guns.

https://pamyat-naroda.ru/documents/view/?id=150101822

A report on battle experience of the 39 Army reiterates the same point
Automatic infantry weapons were not given a due respect. In some units automates and machine guns are kept rusty or contaminated with dirt. In one regiment only two light and two heavy machine guns were ready for combat, and the balance were kept at dump. One division having 230 light and 38 medium machine guns employed in battle 8 light and 10 mediums. Another division having 185 and 26 medium machine guns employed 3 light and 2 heavy.
https://pamyat-naroda.ru/documents/view/?id=113679857

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Re: Size of WW2 Red Army divisions

Post by Art » 03 Aug 2019 17:33

I've discovered a curious thing:
1) a proportion between officers and enlisted men was continuously skewed throughout the war
2) a relative shortfall of officers was generally much smaller than shortfall of enlisted men

A pre-war TO&E of the rifle division (040/400) provided for 1129 officers out of the total strength of 14 483 (7.7%). By December 1942 (04/550) that percentage increased to 10%. Actual percentage was even larger than TO&Es. A sample of 23 divisions of the Leningrad Front in June 44 shows 11% of officers in the total strength. Examples from the year 1945 give 12-14%. As for comparison with TO&Es the same 23 divisions from the Leningrad Front had 90% of the authorized number of officers, 65% of NCOs, and 71% - of privates. In other words a lack of officers was much less a problem than a lack of enlisted men. Which looks quite counter-intuitive.

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Re: Size of WW2 Red Army divisions

Post by Art » 04 Aug 2019 12:25

An average from 64 rifle divisions in April 45 gives the following numbers:
703 officers (14%)
1247 NCOs (25%)
3036 privates (61%)
4979 men total (100%)

Or as a % of the authorized strength:
about 86% of officers and 50% of NCOs and privates.
In other words a nearly full complement of officers to command a half of authorized enlisted men.

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