Tuesday 14 January 2014

Fedorenko's Tank Guide

We've seen what German guides on tank tactics, now it's time for a Soviet one. There are some interesting points mentioned here that the German documents don't contain.

"On the issue of tank unit combat, to Front and Army tank commanders, and commanders of tank Corps.

Combat experience in 1942 showed that front and army tank commanders did not understand the principles of using large tank units in modern war. For example, the 22nd Tank Corps was split into separate brigades, and assigned to infantry divisions, which sent them into battle piecemeal at the right flank at Kharkov, as a result of which, the Front tank commander could not direct the corps. This led to the 21st and 22nd corps being discovered by the enemy long before entering battle. Directions for either corps from the Front commander were absent.

Until the People's Commissar develops instructions for tank combat, I order that:
  1. The Tank Corps is the largest tank unit, and is meant for achieving operational level objectives.
  2. The Tank Corps is subordinate to the Front commander, and completes front-wide objectives, acting together with other types of armed forces.
  3. Assigning a tank corps to armies and splitting them up as infantry reinforcements is forbidden. The tank corps is to cooperate with infantry, but it can never forget its main objective, the Front.
  4. In offensive operations, the tank corps is to deliver a deep assault, divide the enemy's forces, surround them, and destroy them, acting with aviation and other types of forces.
  5. In order to maintain the force of the tank corps for combat in operational depth, using the tank corps to break through heavily reinforced positions is forbidden. The tank corps, with the aid of artillery, aviation, infantry, and sappers, can destroy field fortifications.
  6. The tank corps is allowed to move 40-50 km into enemy lines, provided it is being followed by a second echelon. Frequently, the situation demands that after penetrating 15-20 km, the enemy's forces must be surrounded and destroyed with aid from other types of forces.
  7. The tank corps must be ready for 24 hour per day combat for 3-4 days.
  8. The successful completion of objectives depends on the experience of officers, junior command staff, and privates, on internal cohesion of companies, battalions, and brigades, on air support, and on correctly practised cooperation with artillery, assault aircraft, sappers, and other types of forces.
  9. When the tank corps reaches operative depth, it must establish communications with airborne troops and partisans.
  10. In defense, the tank corps counterattacks enemy forces that penetrated our line, especially tanks and motorized infantry. In this case, the attacks are not delivered head on, but from flanks and the rear.
  11. In any case, the tank corps' most decisive ally is the element of surprise.
  12. Due to this, any regrouping and movement must be done at night. If it is not possible to avoid maneuvers in daytime, do them with small groups of 3-5 tanks.
  13. When selecting the direction of attack, pay attention to the terrain. It must allow for mass use of tanks.
  14. If there is a unidirectional railroad, it is forbidden to use it for transfers over a distance of more than 50 km.
  15. When planning a tank corps sized operation, especially in operational depth, keep in mind supplies of fuel and oil, ammunition, food, repairs, and evacuations. 
    1. The corps should carry the following:
      1. Oil and fuel: 3 resupplies
      2. Ammunition: 2-3 resupplies
      3. Rations: 5 daily portions
    2. Tank crews carry with them the following: 2-3 cans of meat or smoked sausage, ham, concentrated pea soup, bread or biscuits, sugar, tea or water in thermoses.
  16. The corps commander, Front tank forces commander, and Front military council are responsible for correct use of tank corps in battle and their material and technical well-being."
CAMD RF 500-12462-93

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