Friday 6 September 2013

Tank Riders

You frequently see photos of Soviet infantry riding on tanks into battle. Just how many people could you fit on one tank? The "Short tactical-technical manual" published by the People's Commissariat of Defense has the answer! The following are the official numbers of how many riders would fit:

KV-1 and KV-1S: 15
T-34: 12
T-70: 6
Matilda: 6
Valentine: 6
M4A2: 6
M3 Light: 6

The Sherman, despite having similar dimensions to the T-34, can only sit half as many men. That is because there are no surfaces above the tracks to stand on, and not nearly as many handles to hold on to.

Of course, official numbers didn't stop creative arrangement of larger number of infantry. Here you see 8 soldiers riding on a T-70 instead of the "official" 6:

This kind of trick would only work on very good terrain. The front soldier has nothing to hold on to, and, if the tank shakes, too much, will fall off. 8 seems to not be the limit of Soviet ingenuity. According to CAMD RF 38-11355-1420, a T-70 carried 20 men into battle at Kudinovo. The report rightfully complains about insufficient amounts of things to hold on to when carrying that many. Sadly, there is no photo of that, but there is a re-enactment!

The manual also has some data for trucks:

GAZ-AA 1.5 ton truck ("polutorka"): 10-12
ZiS-5 truck: 16-20
ZiS-6 truck: 16-20


  1. How many tank desantniks could the IS-1/2 carry into battle?

    1. Probably the same as KV-1, considering they were about the same size (and same series of tanks).

  2. Flames of War rules allow for in principle unlimited stacking of infantry squads into trucks and the like on the grounds that in a pinch the room can *always* be found; I'm starting to see the merits of the argument. :P

  3. The Soviets weren't trying hard enough with the Sherman! This photo from Okinawa shows a pretty large number of infantry riding on one to take the town of Ghuta - definitely as much as twelve and possibly closer to twenty - I can't tell if some of the bulges are knees or other soldiers' helmets: