From detachments to corps. Pre-war construction of armored forces of the Red Army


T-18 / MC-1 - the first Soviet tank. Photo: Alan Wilson (Wikimedia Commons)


The first armored units appeared in the Red Army during the Civil War. Subsequently, the development of this direction continued and led to the emergence of full-fledged mechanized troops. In order to increase the combat effectiveness of the army as a whole and the armor forces in particular, both the material part and the organizational structure were improved.

First steps


At the very end of 1917, the Central Council for the Control of Armored Units of the RSFSR (Central Armor) was formed, which was to manage the armored forces of the Red Army. Several automobile armored units equipped with available equipment were handed over to the council. The organization was also responsible for the formation of new units and armored trains.


Tanks BT series on Khalkhin Gol

By the end of 1920, 7 armored trains, 4 armored and 4 autotank detachments served under the control of the Central Armor. Armored forces remained few, they served only 0,4% of the total number of Red Army soldiers. After the Civil War, the composition of the armored forces was revised, the states of peacetime were introduced. In addition, the development of a new structure of the armored units began.

In September 1923, armored squadrons were reduced to a tank squadron, divided into two flotilla. One of them included heavy equipment, the other - light. Already in 1925, the states of individual tank battalions, heavy and light, were introduced. Each such unit should have had 30 tanks of one type or another.

From detachments to corps. Pre-war construction of armored forces of the Red Army
One of the experienced T-34

Significant changes began later, in 1929. Then the Office of Mechanization and Motorization (UMM) was formed. Also appeared the first in the Red Army experimental mechanized regiment. During this period, the armored forces were renamed as mechanized troops.

In May 1930, the experimental regiment was expanded to a mechanized brigade. The latter included a tank and motorized regiment, an artillery and reconnaissance division, etc. The armament of the brigade consisted of 60 tanks, 32 tankettes and 17 armored cars.

Big tank program


On August 1, 1931, the Council of Labor and Defense decided to begin the so-called “A large tank program” aimed at the development of mechanized forces and the buildup of their combat effectiveness. The program provided for the development of new models of weapons and equipment, as well as a radical change in the structure and strength of troops.


Tanks of the Red Army at the parade in Moscow on November 7, 1941

In the fall of 1932, the 11th Rifle Division of the Leningrad Military District was transformed into the 11th Mechanized Corps - the first in stories RKKA. Similarly, the 45th mechanized corps was formed in the Ukrainian Military District. In parallel, 5 separate mechanized brigades, 2 tank regiments, 12 mechanized regiments, as well as mechanized divisions of rifle and cavalry divisions were created.

In the early thirties, the industry mastered the serial production of several types of light tanks and wedges, due to which it was possible to ensure the re-equipment of all new parts. Enterprises showed an outstanding pace of production. If in 1929 the first experimental mechanized regiment had only a few dozen tanks, in 1932 one mechanized corps operated more than 500. At the same time, the fleet of vehicles was not limited to tanks only. Armored cars, artillery, auxiliary vehicles, etc. were produced.


Due to the formation of new units and formations, both the number of personnel and its share in the general indicators of the Red Army increased sharply. At the beginning of 1933, 9% of the Red Army and commanders served in mechanized troops.

Quantitative and qualitative development


By the time of the formation of mechanized troops in mass production were only light tank MS-1 / T-18 and a number of armored vehicles of early designs. Already in the early thirties, the situation has seriously changed. Started the production of new equipment, own developments and licensed samples.

For several years, the whole range of necessary equipment was sent to production. Light tanks and wedges were produced, the development of medium and heavy vehicles was completed. In addition, work was already underway on more advanced projects that remained relevant until the beginning of the forties. The pace of production of machinery grew, and by 1935-36. annually at least 3 thousand tanks of all types were sent to the Red Army.


As a result of this development, in just a few years, mechanized troops increased in size and increased their combat potential. By the beginning of 1936, they included already 4 mechanized corps and 6 separate mechanized brigades, 6 separate tank regiments with rifle divisions, and 15 mechanized regiments of cavalry divisions.

In 1936, mechanized troops were converted into armored vehicles. The new name of the military branch reflected the characteristics of its materiel, goals and objectives. Along with this, the UMM of the Red Army was transformed into the Armored Command. The armored forces remained until the end of 1942.

New reforms


The formation of new compounds continued for several years. By the end of 1937, there were already 28 separate tank brigades in the armored forces — 24 light and 4 heavy, differing in the composition of their equipment. In the next 1938, the armored units of the Red Army took part for the first time in battles with the Japanese army. During the same period, Soviet specialists were in Spain, including studying the experience of the ongoing war.


Based on the experience of the service and exercises, as well as taking into account the peculiarities of recent conflicts, in November 1939 a decision was made to abandon tank corps. On their basis, four separate motorized divisions were formed, 275 tanks each. Such formations had to work both independently and in collaboration with cavalry, solving the tasks of developing success in the combined arms army.

The result of military scientific work also became recommendations on the creation of fundamentally new tanks that meet modern requirements. During this period, several new projects were launched, some of which played a decisive role in the subsequent rearmament and had a significant impact on the course of the future war.

Already in July 1940, the People's Commissariat of Defense adopted a plan for the restoration of mechanized corps. Works of this kind were completed by early December. According to their results, 9 mechanized corps appeared in the armored troops of the Red Army, including 18 tank and 9 motorized divisions, as well as 2 separate tank divisions. Also appeared 45 tank brigades.


BT at the parade in Kuibyshev, November 7, 1941

The next stage of strengthening the armored forces began in February 1941. In connection with the deterioration of the military-political situation, it was decided to create another 21 mechanized corps. Their formation was completed in the spring, a few months before the start of the war.

On the eve of the war


After the formation of new tactical formations by the summer of 1941, the Red Army had 30 mechanized corps with numbers from 1 to 30. Most of them were concentrated in the western regions; in other regions, only 6 corps served.

According to the states from 1940, the mechanized corps included two tank divisions - each with two tank divisions, one motorized and one artillery regiment. The tank division relied on 413 KV, T-34, BT-7 and T-26 tanks, as well as other equipment. The motorized division of the corps used light tanks BT-7 and amphibious T-37. She also had armored cars and artillery.


Left by the T-35 crew

In this form, the Soviet mechanized corps met the beginning of the Great Patriotic War. Due to the nature of the deployment, almost all of them entered the battle in the early days and weeks of the war.

Construction results


By June 22, 1941, more than 20 mechanized corps were concentrated in the western regions of the USSR. In the border military districts alone, there were more than 12 thousand tanks, including less than 1,5 thousand of the latest T-34 and KV. Such a group of armored forces met the enemy. By the autumn of 1941, a new decision had been made and implemented to abandon the mechanized corps in favor of smaller joints. In the future, the structure of the armored forces repeatedly changed.

Thus, from the late twenties to the beginning of the forties, the Red Army and industry did a great job to create, develop and improve full-fledged and powerful armored forces. Various decisions were made, including Affected organizational structure. The result of all the work was the appearance of armored forces - numerous and developed, although not without flaws. Already the first months of the Great Patriotic War showed the importance of such construction, and in the future it became the foundation for a future victory.
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Photos used:
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  1. DrVintorez April 16 2020 18: 11 New
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    one copy: "BT at the parade in Kuibyshev, November 7, 1941" it's a t-26.
  2. chenia April 16 2020 18: 45 New
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    The idea is sound. Reaction to France (1940). They only copied from the Germans on our own scale. Yes, this is not scary either. But starting to replicate without running in the formation is a big mistake. But only in the tank regiment OShS correct.
    1. strannik1985 April 16 2020 19: 03 New
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      But only in the tank regiment OShS correct.

      The materiel of artillery regiments is to be replaced, instead of the OBS, communications regiment, aviation regiment, + other bulk communications, instead of the HMB combat engineer brigade, + corps artillery regiment (LABR), IPTABr, auto regiment or up to 4 separate battalions, etc. There are many differences.
      1. chenia April 16 2020 19: 20 New
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        To begin with, it was necessary (as we will come later) to have three battalions in the military commander, and to have three tanks in platoons. From here, the TP would have 94-96 tanks.
        And immediately MK dries up to 600 tanks (with combat support units). And from here and the hull kit "pull".
    2. Alexey RA April 16 2020 20: 31 New
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      Quote: chenia
      The idea is sound. Reaction to France (1940). They only copied from the Germans on our own scale. Yes, this is not scary either. But starting to replicate without running in the formation is a big mistake. But only in the tank regiment OShS correct.

      Avotfig. smile The German OSH with their variable-sized campaign groups formed for a specific task requires German personnel. The very ones that were running around the campfgupps back in Weimar times, under von Sect (the first teachings of the mechanized group in the Reichswehr were somewhere around 1927-1928).
      For our commanders, with their level of training, it is easier to immediately give the harmonious backbone of a group of heterogeneous, but constant composition, on which to strengthen the reinforcement if necessary. Alas, we have no alternative to otbr in WWII.
      1. chenia April 16 2020 21: 16 New
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        Quote: Alexey RA
        For our commanders, with their level of training, it’s easier to immediately give the harmonious backbone of a group of heterogeneous, but permanent,


        You will not believe, but this has become (and is) an element of our superiority. We did not reach such a level of tactical skill as the Germans before the end of the war (though the Germans also began to fall). But we at the level of higher tactical formations and above defeated the Germans completely (though with time).
        And even now, when SMEs are BGs (all means of amplification are present), the use is as usual. and very effective. So the Americans with their vague teams came to a permanent composition.
        Everything is not a formation for a task, but a task for a formation. By the way, calculating any event is easier. Well, and in the case of individual tasks, there are separate regiments (slightly different OSH than divisional). brigades and AK, or simply reinforcement by the senior boss of the usual formation.
      2. strannik1985 April 16 2020 23: 42 New
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        Avotfig.

        In fact, the structural differences between the prewar TP and TBR 010/500 are not so big, PP and SapR were reduced to platoons, removed 1 TB, a motorized battalion of machine gunners, a company of ZPU were added, but the number was greatly reduced: from ~ 195 to 65.
  3. Potter April 16 2020 19: 02 New
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    The formation of such a number of tank corps in 1941 (21 corps) is the biggest mistake of pre-war military construction. Not only were the hulls in the state overloaded with tanks, but they had not yet been provided with them. Industry could give the right number of tanks only in 1943. At the same time, the Navy became a victim of the massive construction of tank corps - only due to the armored factories of the NKSP, Izhora and Mariupol, it was possible to provide the tank program with armored hire.
    As a result, 29 MKs were obtained, of which half were poorly combat-ready, and 1/4 was practically not provided with tanks at all.
    If these resources were spent on the formation of rifle divisions, and tank support brigades remained in the BTV along with the 9th MK of the 1940 formation, the start of the war could be very different from the realized scenario.
    As a result, they came to the disbandment of MK, TD. and MD, and the formation of tank brigades, as parts of infantry support. And only then they went along the path of enlargement, formation of the TC, the composition of which is weaker than the tank divisions of 1940-41, but with a large number of motorized infantry.
    1. Alexey RA April 16 2020 20: 40 New
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      Quote: Potter
      The formation of such a number of tank corps in 1941 (21 corps) is the biggest mistake of pre-war military construction.

      This is just a desire to minimize the time required for the formation of MK by conducting training and coordination even in non-optimal states. You can learn the technique on mock-ups, and conduct tactical exercises on wedges. Some even carried out exercises on plywood-lined cars, and they depicted aviation as a motorcyclist. And nothing - in a couple of weeks the winners in the last World War were bent. smile
      Quote: Potter
      At the same time, the Navy became a victim of the massive construction of tank corps - only due to the armored factories of the NKSP, Izhora and Mariupol, it was possible to provide the tank program with armored hire.

      Considering the workload of Kharkov and Leningrad + delays at the Barricades, the fleet did not suffer any special victims. All the same, for the same pr.23 there were no boilers, no barrels, no SUAO. And Kharkov generally evaded the conclusion of a contract for GTZA for them. smile
      Quote: Potter
      If these resources were spent on the formation of rifle divisions, and tank support brigades remained in the BTV along with the 9th MK of the 1940 formation, the start of the war could be very different from the realized scenario.

      To do this, you need to know that the war will begin in June 1941.
      Quote: Potter
      Not only were the hulls in the state overloaded with tanks, but they had not yet been provided with them.

      In September 1941, it was planned to withdraw one fully equipped MK "in the field" and drive it out "in the set" for all standard situations: march, defense, offensive. Based on the results of these exercises, the OShS MK should have been adjusted.
      1. ser56 April 17 2020 16: 22 New
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        Quote: Alexey RA
        This is just a desire to minimize the time required for the formation of MK by conducting training and coordination even in non-optimal states.

        in fact, they themselves defeated their tank troops by such a decision! and the decision is purely voluntaristic - without a miscalculation of opportunities and resources ... request
    2. Cyril G ... April 18 2020 10: 29 New
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      God be with him, with the Navy. The thing is practically useless for us, due to the fact that the Navy did not bother to timely create the appropriate tools for a land war. Examples? I have them, the proposals submitted in 1931 to the Revolutionary Military Council on the construction of landing ships of the RKKF were fundamentally ignored. Only a few hundred useless TCAs were set up, I'm not joking, TCs of the G-5 type (more than three hundred) for the whole WWII sank the Riilahti MZ and finished off the damaged TS, the remaining 22-23 reliable victories are registered for D-3 and L-L boats , and disabled EM for Komsomol members. Mustache. Regarding the multipurpose boats, the Navy pulled the NKVD out of the abyss, or rather the NKVD maritime guard, from the abyss. After all, 85 percent of Moscow Region were exactly in its composition. If something was critically lacking for us, these are primarily multipurpose ships of the 3rd rank (something based on the German AFP) and, of course, minesweepers.
      Summary - if instead of violent battleship building we would have attended to a couple of plants for the production of radio tubes and significantly expanded the production of heavy trucks, it would be more sense
    3. Eug
      Eug 25 May 2020 06: 49 New
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      Moreover, tanks of direct support were taken from the infantry to form these corps. Yes, this is a T-26 with a 45-mm cannon, but these tanks were the backbone of anti-tank defense and in the first period of the war could deliver the enemy a lot of troubles when used properly.
  4. Potter April 16 2020 19: 09 New
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    In general, the article is for dummies. As an educator, the author is a plus. There are many books and works on this subject. For me, over the past 15 years, the most interesting and complete book has appeared by E. Drig "Mechanized Corps of the Red Army in battle", which details both the history of the creation of the armored units of the Red Army and the combat path of each MK, TD and MD created before the war and fought in 1941
  5. knn54 April 16 2020 19: 19 New
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    For three pre-war pre-war years, three reforms: mechanized corps, tank corps, again mechanized corps.
    As the war showed, nothing good came out of this “whistle”.
    The Germans had tank groups in fact corps.
  6. Alexey RA April 16 2020 20: 26 New
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    Based on the experience of the service and exercises, as well as taking into account the peculiarities of recent conflicts, in November 1939 a decision was made to abandon tank corps.

    The decision was made following the results of the Polish campaign, when the mechanized corps arr. The 30s were worse for their own than for the enemy. It turned out that the extension of the mechanized corps can completely paralyze their own army rear, and then the same mechanized corps rises without fuel.
    I had to transport fuel for 5 microns in the air in Belarus (Comrade Kovalev knows). It’s good that there was no one to fight with. On the roads from Novogrudok to Volkovysk, 75 percent of the tanks were due to fuel. The commander said that he can send fuel only on airplanes, and who will organize? The organization of the rear requires knowledgeable people.
    © Budyonny
    1. strannik1985 April 16 2020 22: 52 New
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      The decision was made following the results of the Polish campaign

      In the "Tanks of the interwar period" they wrote why this happened, the TC in fact the division brigade squad, when forming the army group, they forgot (??? !!!) to give the car parts to organize the supply to a depth greater than the corps could organize on its own. As a result, from its supply stations, the building received the required exactly once, when the separation from the railway stations became more than 100-150 km, it was necessary to satisfy the needs due to trophies, and in the end to carry fuel and lubricants by air.
  7. Pvi1206 April 16 2020 21: 23 New
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    control of the state’s military machine is a super difficult task ... theorists can not always foresee everything ... practice (war) puts everything in its place ...
  8. boriz April 16 2020 22: 13 New
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    In general, right before the war, the tank forces were disorganized by reorganizations on the principle of a drunken corporal grandfather: stand there - come here. The brigade - corps - division - again the corps. And then swung right up to 30 buildings. For the sake of these 30 corps, the infantry divisions of the tank battalions were deprived, thereby reducing their stability. But instead of the hulls, they received mainly mottled, non-functional embryos. In some there are no cars, no tanks, artillery, armor-piercing 76mm shells ... It would be better to have formed a dozen more or less equipped. Only for this mockery of the tank forces of Tymoshenko and Zhukov had to be sent to the NKVD.
    1. Alexey RA April 17 2020 16: 43 New
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      Quote: boriz
      For the sake of these 30 corps, the infantry divisions of the tank battalions were deprived, thereby reducing their stability.

      What have you reduced?
      PAULOV. Unfortunate fate befell us in the Red Army - and during any war befall - our division tanks. You will excuse my harshness, but I must say bluntly: all that was stated that tanks were necessary in order to teach interaction, today it turned out to be a bluff, no interaction was taught. More than 7 thousand tanks are scattered across divisions and they did not play any role. They were helpless. Battalions of the rifle division, twin T-37 tanks with T-26 - Kutzai organization, low-power T-37 tanks are not able to walk on Malomalsky mud. These battalions, part of the infantry divisions, had no effect. And let them say, let me correct, if I incorrectly say that they were most often turned to the guard of the headquarters of regiments and divisions.
      VOTE. Correctly.
      PAULOV. But this amounts to about 7 thousand tanks. The same battalions that operated from the brigade, they always acted correctly and did the most, because the actions of these battalions were constantly monitored by the headquarters of the brigades.
      (...)
      What am I talking about? In addition to the fact that it is now necessary to restore all tank brigades and make appropriate reorganizations by restoring urgently tank brigades, at least at the expense of tanks of rifle divisions. Today, in the Kiev Military District, there are 14 tanks in four tank brigades. The war sold them apart, tank brigades scattered. I must bluntly say that if mobilization is going on, our KOVO brigades are not ready. The tanks of these brigades are now returning from the Leningrad Military District.

      According to the results of the Northern Fleet, it turned out that the tank battalions of rifle divisions are completely unworkable because of the inability of the rear of the division to provide repair of tanks and because of the inability of the command and staff of the division to plan the use of these same tanks. Own tanks sd did anything - guarded headquarters, artillery positions, columns in the rear. And the NPP had to deal with the OTB allocated from the TBR - because of which the TBR of the border districts were not combat-ready.
      Quote: boriz
      It would be better to form a dozen more or less staffed.

      To do this, in mid-1940 you need to know that the war will begin in a year. According to our plans, there was enough time for the formation of 8 MK “first line” and 8-10 MK “second line”.
    2. Cyril G ... April 18 2020 10: 33 New
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      Zhukov’s victories in the middle and end of the Second World War do not atone for the blame that lies with him and Tymoshenko for the 1941 disaster.
  9. Kot_Kuzya April 17 2020 00: 13 New
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    Just insanity in the tank division to keep 400 tanks, and in the corps of 1000 tanks. Such a whopper, in principle, cannot be normally controlled, especially in the Red Army, where 90% of the tanks did not have radio communications. It would be ideal to have a tank division with one tank regiment in the amount of about 100 tanks (in a platoon of 3 tanks, in a company of 10 tanks, in a battalion of 32 tanks, in a regiment there are three tank battalions), two motorized rifle regiments on trucks and two artillery regiments: howitzer artillery a regiment (24 122 mm howitzers and 12 152 mm howitzers) and a cannon regiment (20 76 mm divisional guns in the likeness of IPTAP) on a mechtyag. Such a tank division would normally be controlled and could act well both in defense and offensive thanks to the abundance of artillery in its composition and motorized infantry.
    1. Alexey RA April 17 2020 16: 54 New
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      Quote: Kot_Kuzya
      It’s just insanity to keep 400 tanks in the tank division, and 1000 tanks in the corps.

      All claims are for intelligence. According to her data, there were a total of 375 tanks in heavy panzerdivisia (63 TT, 210 ST, 48 LT, 54 OT), and in the ordinary - 580 tanks (170 ST, 410 LT).
      Against this background, 400 tanks are still few. smile
      Quote: Kot_Kuzya
      It would be ideal to have a tank division with one tank regiment in the amount of about 100 tanks (in a platoon of 3 tanks, in a company of 10 tanks, in a battalion of 32 tanks, in a regiment there are three tank battalions), two motorized rifle regiments on trucks and two artillery regiments: howitzer artillery a regiment (24 122 mm howitzers and 12 152 mm howitzers) and a cannon regiment (20 76 mm divisional cannons in the likeness of IPTAP) on a mechtyag.

      For mehtyagu forget. In the Red Army there are only two tractors that are suitable for GABTU in speed on the march - Komsomolets and Voroshilovets. Other crafts were best described by the commander of 6 MK, Major General Khatskilevich:
      Three howitzer regiments in 84 howitzer guns could support artillery, but artillery does not always need it, it does not always need our artillery assets, especially since we have the artillery of the STZ-5 tractor, which delay movement. Our artillery, armed with these tractors, has little mobility and lags behind wheeled vehicles and tank units. (From the Presidium: 30 km per hour). M. G. Khatskilevich: Theoretically, this is so, but practically it does not give such speed. (From the Presidium: He does not pull this system.) M. G. Khatskilevich: Yes, he does not pull this system.

      Moreover, the plant knew about the drawbacks of the STZ even at the prototype stage - but did not take any measures to eliminate it, against the background of a general deficit of traction, the army would take such a thing.
      "There is a unique number of disadvantages on all your transport vehicles."
      "When I showed our technical staff the technical conditions for the installation of the tractor, then their hair stood on end."

      © A. Ulanov - TsAMO f.38.o.11386.d.53 "Transcript of a meeting of STZ designers with spacecraft representatives on the operation of STZ-5 machines."
      1. Kot_Kuzya April 17 2020 23: 42 New
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        For mehtyagu forget. In the Red Army there are only two tractors that are suitable for GABTU in speed on the march - Komsomolets and Voroshilovets.

        It was possible to use ZIS-5 trucks. This is in any way better than horse traction, and they are much cheaper than specialized tracked tractor movers.
      2. strannik1985 April 18 2020 08: 08 New
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        For mehtyagu forget. In the Red Army, there are only two tractors that are suitable for GABTU in speed on the march

        There are at least two exits, the first - as they did in reality, howitzers were replaced by mortars and divisional guns (MinPolk 36 120-mm mortars, LAP 24 76-mm DP, MinBattalion and LADn in the MSBR), ersatz, but better than nothing.
        The second is to suspend and put the GK (sponge rubber) wheels on the 122 mm howitzer model 1910/30, it has a combat weight of 1466 kg, i.e. it is possible to tow the Zis-5 / Zis-6, M-30 on similar wheels It was carried at a speed of up to 60 km / h (at higher speeds, the wheels began to burn).
    2. Cyril G ... April 18 2020 10: 35 New
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      6 "howitzer busting.
      1. Kot_Kuzya April 18 2020 11: 20 New
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        Well, it is possible without the M-10, then the howitzer artillery regiment will consist of two divisions of 12 M-30 howitzers. But when breaking through the enemy’s defense, it will be necessary to give the RGK artillery regiments with 152 mm guns (M-10 or ML-20 not important) to tank divisions to break into the enemy’s defense. The 122 mm howitzers are pretty weak for this task.
        1. strannik1985 April 18 2020 19: 20 New
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          Well, it is possible without the M-10, then the howitzer regiment will consist of two divisions of 12 M-30 howitzers.

          It will not work with the M-30, the weight is too large. For a medium-caliber high-speed artillery tractor (new M-30, M-10, M-60 systems), an engine of at least 140 hp is needed, which was not there until the Gaz-203 unit appeared. Even for old-style systems, if they are adapted to high-speed carriage, an engine of ~ 100 hp is needed, but it was not there either.
  10. Bersaglieri April 17 2020 11: 41 New
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    MS-1 was not the first. The first was Reno-Russian - The Commander for the Freedom of Comrade Lenin, and a few more ekheplyar of the screwdriver assembly. MS-1 was the first large-scale.
  11. ser56 April 17 2020 16: 16 New
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    "In connection with the worsening military-political situation, it was decided to create another 21 mechanized corps. Their formation ended springth, a few months before the start of the war. "what nonsense? request
    1. denplot April 17 2020 17: 04 New
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      Finished, on paper. Saturate them with hp and technology did not have time. Some parts generally had only a number and all.
  12. Tritebemalo 2 July 2020 21: 23 New
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    Another v..ser from Ryabov Cyril. We chew, chew, chew again, burp, and chew again ... He is sick of him specifically, is recognized in the first paragraph.