Padded Tanks T-26 of various modifications from the 19th Panzer Division of the 22nd Mechanized Corps on the Voinitsa - Lutsk highway. June 24, 1941
The tank battle in the Dubno - Brody area became one of the largest during the Great Patriotic War. However, it did not receive the same popularity as the Battle of Kursk. The battle was attended by 5 mechanized corps of the Soviet South-Western Front and the German 1st Panzer Group.
The mechanized corps entered the battle separately, in parts, at different times, were defeated and suffered huge losses. However, the Soviet mobile formations were able to detain the enemy, who did not manage to break through to Kiev on the move, which made it possible to avoid the encirclement of the three armies of the Southwestern Front (SWF) in the Lvov direction.
This became one of the prerequisites for disrupting Hitler's blitzkrieg.
On June 22, 1941, the war began and the offensive of the German Army Group South.
The Germans delivered the main blow in the Sokal - Ustilug sector. The Nazis, overcoming the heroic resistance of border guards, garrisons of bunkers and suitable rifle formations of our armies, quickly developed an offensive.
Soviet rifle divisions marching towards the border were hit by a German aviation, artillery and ground forces. The divisions marched in dense columns, which at first made it possible to repel enemy attacks. But the flanks of the divisions were open, and the Germans had a numerical and qualitative advantage, which meant bypassing and encircling the enemy.
In addition, in the second half of the day, the Germans began to bring mobile formations into battle. Therefore, already on the first day of the war, the regiments of the 87th and 124th rifle divisions of Potapov's 5th army faced the threat of encirclement.
The German 4th Air Fleet bombed Soviet airfields. In comparison with other border districts, the air divisions located in the Ukraine showed the greatest resistance to the German Air Force.
This was due to several factors.
First, the balance of forces between the German and Soviet air forces was the best.
Secondly, the command of the Soviet air force of the district, represented by E.S.Ptukhin, paid much attention to camouflaging airfields.
Thirdly, the basing system of the air force of the Kiev military district was echeloned to great depths, and not all air force bases were attacked by the Luftwaffe on the first day of the war.
Mainly the air divisions, which were located directly at the border, were under attack. The problem was that the Germans knew all of our airfields, and most of the air units did not have alternate landing sites.
In addition, in the spring, the construction of new concrete lanes began, and a significant part of the airfields by the beginning of the war could not receive aircraft. Therefore, the destruction of Soviet aircraft on the ground was a matter of time. The Germans had the initiative and acted methodically. The first blow, the second, the third, and so on until the bitter end.
As a result, the Germans broke through the front at the junction of the 5th and 6th Soviet armies.
German tanks were moving in the direction of Radekhov (Radzekhov) and Berestechko.
Soviet intelligence at this time underestimated the enemy's forces in the Lvov-Dubna direction.
In particular, the appearance of the 11th Panzer Division was not noticed on the first day.
And in the auxiliary directions, where the enemy did not have a great superiority, there were even successes of our troops. The Soviet command at this time tried to stop and defeat the enemy with the help of counterstrikes.
In the evening of June 22, Directive No. 3 arrives, it noted that the enemy "having suffered heavy losses, achieved small successes", and ordered to launch a decisive offensive. The General Staff decided by strikes in the Lublin direction to encircle and defeat the main attack group of the enemy in the south. Then it was possible to help the Western Front by threatening the right wing of Army Group Center. Two armies and mobile units of the South-Western Front, supported by aviation, were to participate in the operation.
At the headquarters of the South-Western Front, where they assessed the situation more soberly, they realized that a large-scale encirclement operation with access to Lublin was impossible.
Therefore, they decided to inflict two counterattacks with the aim not of encirclement, but of routing the main enemy forces in this direction. On the left flank from the Radekhov - Rava-Russkaya line, three mechanized corps (15th, 4th and 8th) were supposed to attack Krasnostav, on the right, from the Verba region - Vladimir-Volynsky to Krasnostav, one corps (22nd ).
On the evening of July 22, a representative of the General Headquarters, GK Zhukov, arrived at the front headquarters. He approved the plans adopted by the front commander MP Kirponos.
In general, as noted by the historian A. Isaev ("From Dubno to Rostov". M., 2004), the decision was reasonable. The front's mobile formations are deployed in the direction of the enemy's main attack in order to exert pressure on the flanks and the tip of the enemy wedge.
The problem was that the Germans did not stand still, the initiative was in their hands, they had more experience.
Our mobile formations were just formed, "raw", with a shortage of command personnel, personnel, new tanks, anti-aircraft and anti-aircraft defense equipment, and so on.
German soldiers inspect the Soviet commander (radio) T-26 tank, knocked out on the Vladimir-Volynsky-Lutsk highway. In the background, on the side of the road, a damaged BA-10 armored car, a T-26 tank with a conical turret and another BA-10 are visible. Soviet equipment from the 19th Panzer Division of the 22nd Mechanized Corps
A German soldier-traffic controller directs the movement of a convoy on a street in the city of Lutsk, standing next to the destroyed Soviet light tanks BT-7.
The forces of the parties
From the side of the Wehrmacht, Kleist's 1st Panzer Group was at the forefront of the attack: 3rd, 14th and 48th motorized corps (5 tank and 4 motorized divisions), 29th Army Corps), infantry divisions of the 6th and 17th XNUMXst field armies.
According to various estimates, the strike group included from more than 720 to 800 tanks. At the same time, the tanks were partially commanders (without serious weapons) and light T-1 and T-2 with 20-mm cannons and machine guns.
The Southwestern Front (formerly the Kiev Special Military District) was the most powerful in the western direction.
Of the 20 Soviet mechanized corps, 8 were located here. 5 mechanized corps took part in the battle: the 8th, 9th, 15th, 19th, 22nd and 8th Panzer divisions of the 4th corps, rifle corps of the 5th 6st and XNUMXth armies.
The mechanized corps were armed with, according to various sources, from 3,4 to 3,6 thousand tanks. However, a significant part of the combat vehicles were light tanks BT and T-26. Also, the hulls had more than 400 heavy KV and medium T-34s, the appearance of which came as an unpleasant surprise for the Germans. These Soviet tanks were superior to the German models. However, the Germans were able to fend off the threat with artillery, including 88mm anti-aircraft guns.
It is worth noting that, for the most part, Soviet tankers, in comparison with German ones, had no experience of such battles. In connection with the process of reform and modernization, the creation of mechanized corps, training was minimal. There was no high-quality standard radio communication of tank groups and individual vehicles, there was no or there was a shortage of armor-piercing shells.
The motor resources of a significant part of the equipment were running out, it simply broke down on the march. The command made a number of mistakes, which worsened the situation of the Soviet mobile formations.
Destroyed Soviet tank T-26 and a dead Red Army soldier on the street in Dubno
It was especially difficult for the mechanized corps of the 5th Army, which had a large shortage of vehicles.
The maneuver of mobile units was difficult even in peacetime, and during the war the situation deteriorated sharply. These are columns of tanks, armored vehicles, cars, tractors and motorcycles stretching for tens of kilometers. The scorching sun, traffic jams and accidents inevitable in the hustle and bustle. Broken and lagged transport. Carts, horses, livestock and masses of refugees.
The columns were an easy target for enemy aircraft. It was difficult to knock out tanks from the air. But the Germans smashed the rear with might and main. Trucks with ammunition and fuel were on fire. Also, raids by the Luftwaffe reduced the speed of movement. Command "Air!", And the car drivers scatter. Then you need to disassemble the rubble from the wreckage and burning cars. The service life of many tanks was running out, they had to be left at the bases along the way. Fuel shortages quickly arose.
The strongest mechanized corps of the front, the 4th corps of Andrey Vlasov (at that time, he was one of the most promising commanders of the Red Army), was stationed in the Lvov area.
The corps consisted of the 8th, 32nd Panzer and 81st Motorized Divisions. The corps numbered 28 thousand people and was the best equipped with equipment - 979 tanks (including more than 400 T-34 and KV-1), 175 armored vehicles, more than 180 guns and mortars.
The corps was part of the 6th Army of Ivan Muzychenko, and from June 22 they began to use it in parts in defensive battles. The commander used the mobile unit to strengthen the defense of the army, although there was nothing catastrophic in its zone. On June 24, Fotchenkov's 8th Panzer Division was allocated to take part in a counterattack against the enemy. She was sent to interact with the 15th mechanized corps near Radekhov.
The 8th Mechanized Corps of General Dmitry Ryabyshev (12th, 34th Panzer and 7th Motorized Divisions) from the Stryi, Drohobych region was moved through Lvov to the Brody area in order to strike the 15th corps together with the 46th corps. motorized corps of the enemy (11th and 16th Panzer Divisions), which was advancing on Dubno.
Ryabyshev's corps (a Don Cossack who fought in the First World War and the Civil War) numbered more than 30 thousand people, 932 tanks and 172 armored cars. The almost 500-kilometer march was difficult, along congested roads, under bombing. Therefore, it was completed only in the afternoon of June 25th. On the way, the corps lost almost half of the equipment due to breakdowns and lack of fuel.
In general, if the front remained in place, this equipment could be returned to service. But in the conditions of retreat, it was lost.
As noted in the work of A. Drabkin "I fought in the T-34":
“For T-34 tanks in 1941, a 500-kilometer march would have been almost fatal. In June 1941, the 8th mechanized corps under the command of DI Ryabyshev, after such a march from the places of permanent deployment to the Dubno region, lost almost half of its equipment on the way due to breakdowns.
Soviet light tank BT-5, knocked out and burned down in Dubno.
Soviet medium tank T-34 with an L-11 cannon, produced in October 1940, knocked out by the road near the southeastern entrance to Dubno. The vehicle belonged to the 12th Panzer Division of the 8th Mechanized Corps. According to the autograph on the starboard side, the tank was hit by soldiers of the 111th Infantry Division and the Hermann Goering Regiment.
The 15th Mechanized Corps of Ignatius Carpezo (10th, 37th Panzer and 212nd Motorized Divisions) was located in the area of Brody.
It consisted of over 33 thousand people, more than 730 tanks (including about 130 T-34 and KV) and 150 armored vehicles. On June 23, the corps, without the 212nd division left for the defense of Brod, was moved to Radekhov.
On June 22, an advance detachment of the 10th Panzer Division (one tank and one motorized rifle battalion) occupied the settlement. In the morning, the troops of the German 11th Panzer Division approached. A fight ensued, which lasted until the middle of the day. For the first time, German tankers felt the impact of 76-mm guns from T-34 tanks.
But the forces were unequal, ammunition began to run out. Ours retreated, the Germans occupied Radzekhs.
Developing an offensive on Berestechko, the Germans ran into the combined T-34 detachment.
A non-commissioned officer of the 11th Panzer Division, later a historiographer of the formation, Gustav Schrodek recalled:
“Our hearts contract: fear, horror, but maybe also joy, because finally we can show ourselves. Did they see us? Do they take us for their own? Our forces are equal ... And as soon as they approach a distance of about 100 meters from our cannons, the "dance" begins. We are sending them the first shell. Rumm-mm! The first hit to the tower. Second shot and another hit. The lead tank, which I got into, calmly continues its movement. It's the same with my platoon mates. But where is the superiority of our tanks over the Russian tanks, which has been proclaimed for so long ?! We were always told that it is enough just to "spit" from our guns! "
At 15 o'clock, Radekhov was attacked by the 20th tank and 10th motorized rifle regiments of the 10th tank division. All other parts of the corps were still on the march. And the 37th division, which was already going out to the battlefield, generally turned in the other direction, towards Adam, due to rumors that enemy tanks had appeared there.
The mess was caused by the corps corps Carpezo himself. It is clear that part of the 10th division, and without artillery, could not repulse Radekhov.
The Germans, on the other hand, had several dozen 34-105-mm howitzers against our T-150s, hitting from closed positions, guns from 50-mm anti-tank guns to 88-mm anti-aircraft guns.
The 22nd mechanized corps of Semyon Kondrusev (19th and 41st tank, 215 motorized divisions) had 24 men, 650-700 tanks, 50-80 armored vehicles. Most of the vehicles were light BTs and T-26s. The corps was in the stage of formation, it was "raw". Due to the lack of command personnel and equipment, some units were not ready. The corps made a march more than 200 km north of the city of Rivne.
On June 24, the 19th and 215th divisions launched an offensive north of the Vladimir-Volynsky-Lutsk highway. Semenchenko's 19th Panzer Division, which included only light tanks (according to various sources, about 160-225 vehicles), lost a significant part of the tanks during the march due to bomb attacks and breakdowns. Then she ran into the anti-tank defenses of the German 14th Panzer Division in the area of the villages of Voinitsa and Alexandria. The division lost most of its vehicles. Corps commander Kondrusev died, Semenchenko was wounded.
The remnants of the Soviet troops withdrew to Rovno.
The 41st Panzer Division of the 22nd Corps did not participate in this battle. She received the task to go to the Kovel area. On the way, she came under fire, got stuck in a swampy area, then retreated to the border of the river. Stokhod.
The 9th mechanized corps of Konstantin Rokossovsky (20th and 35th tank, 131st motorized divisions) included about 300 light tanks T-26, BT and T-37/38, 70 armored vehicles. At the beginning of the war, the corps was stationed in the area of Novograd-Volynsky, 200-250 km from the border.
On June 24-25, the 131st motorized division took up defensive positions in the Lutsk region. The division was reinforced with a motorcycle regiment of the 22nd Mechanized Corps and two artillery divisions of the 19th Panzer Division of the same corps.
On the 26th, Rokossovsky's troops fought heavy battles in the Lutsk area with units of the German 13th Panzer Division. The Germans took Lutsk and tried to break through to Rovno.
The 19th mechanized corps of Nikolai Feklenko (from the 40th and 43rd tank and 213rd motorized divisions) numbered 22 thousand people (about 2/3 of the state), about 450 tanks and 26 armored vehicles. The corps headquarters was located in Berdichev.
On the evening of June 22, the corps began to move and was aimed at the Dubna direction. Feklenko's corps, together with Rokossovsky's 9th corps, was supposed to defeat the enemy in the Mlynov, Dubno area. The units went to the Rivne region under the blows of German aviation.
On the morning of June 25, the advanced units of the 40th division engaged the 11th German Panzer Division.
German soldiers examine a 34 Soviet T-1940 medium tank with an L-11 cannon from the 12th Panzer Division, abandoned in the Dubno area.
German soldiers inspect a Soviet T-34-76 tank captured on the streets of Dubno.
To be continued ...