Tuesday 22 September 2015

Special Worker Tank Brigade

The Worker and Peasant Red Army wasn't called that for nothing. So many factory workers wanted to fight that special measures had to be taken.

"State Committee of Defense
Decree GKO-98ss issued on July 11th, 1941
Moscow, Kremlin

On the formation of a special tank brigade from specialist tankers from NKSM factories.

The State Committee of Defense approves the proposal of the People's Commissar of Medium Production comrade V.A. Malyshev and GABTU chief comrade Ya.N. Fedorenko to form a volunteer tank brigade of specialist tankers from the Kirov factory, factory #183, and other NKSM factories, and decrees that:
  1. Comrade Malyshev and comrade Fedorenko must form the Special Tank Brigade according to the list in attachment #1 by August 25th, 1941.
    The Special Tank Brigade will be filled with volunteer specialist tankers (mechanic-drivers, gunners, radio operators) from NKSM factories. The commanding and political staff will be provided by the People's Commissariat of Defense, by the GABTU suggestion.
    The Special Tank Brigade will be gathered at the factories, and must be in Moscow by August 25th, 1941.
  2. The proposal of comrade Malyshev that the vehicles for the Special Tank Brigade will be produced above quota is approved.
  3. GAU must supply all the necessary armament and optics to the NKSM for this purpose. Commissar of Armaments comrade Ustinov must ensure that they are produced above quota.
  4. Produce above quota and send to NKSM, as requested:
    1. People's Commissariat of Shipbuilding: armoured hulls, turrets, armoured components.
    2. People's Commissariat of Electronics: radios and communication devices.
  5. Name the Special Tank Brigade established as a result of this decree "NarKomSredMash Special Tank Brigade".
Chair of the State Committee of Defense
I. Stalin"

What a creative name. Let's see what's inside this tank brigade.

"Units of the NarKomSredMash Special Tank Brigade of the Reserve of Supreme Command
  1. Organization
    1. Brigade command
    2. Regular units
      1. Command company
      2. Motorcycle company
    3. Special units
      1. Heavy tank battalion
      2. Medium tank battalion (2)
      3. AT gun squadron
      4. AA squadron
    4. Supply units
  2. Personnel
    1. Senior commanders: 114
    2. Intermediate commanders: 102
    3. Junior commanders: 423
    4. Soldiers: 844
    5. Total: 1483
  3. Materiel and Transport
    1. Materiel
      1. Heavy tanks: 22
      2. Medium tanks: 63
      3. Armoured cars: 16
      4. T-34 with 57 mm gun: 12
      5. 37 mm AA gun: 12
      6. Mounted machineguns: 10
      7. DP machineguns: 34
      8. AA machineguns: 3
      9. 5-AK radios: 4
      10. RB radios: 11
    2. Transport
      1. GAZ-61 cars: 2
      2. Light cars: 5
      3. "Pickup" cars: 3
      4. "Pygmy" cars: 10
      5. GAZ-AA trucks: 8
      6. GAZ-3A trucks: 3
      7. ZiS-5 trucks: 171
      8. ZiS-32 trucks: 15
      9. ZiS-3A staff cars: 1
      10. ZiS-3A entertainment cars: 1
      11. GAZ-AA ambulances: 4
      12. ZiS-5 gasoline cisterns: 32
      13. ZiS-6 oil and water transports: 4
      14. ZiS-5 mobile refrigerators: 1
      15. A-GAZ-3A mobile workshops: 7
      16. Type B ZiS-6 mobile workshops: 3
      17. GAZ-AA PZS mobile recharge stations: 3
      18. Disinfection GAZ-AA: 1
      19. Compressor mounted on ZiS-5: 2
      20. Stalinets-2 tractors: 6
      21. Voroshilovets tractors: 6
      22. Motorcycles with sidecar: 49
      23. Motorcycles without sidecar: 7
      24. Car trailers: 6
      25. Kitchen trailers: 10"
Well, that's quite the list there. Among the many vehicles, you may have noticed one of my favourites, the T-34-57 tank destroyer, a whole 12 of them. If these tanks were actually built, that increases the number of these rare tanks to 27 in total.


  1. Good info there, was the brigade definitely formed? And did it see action?
    I presume the TOE would be:
    Heavy Tank Bttn: 3 Companies@ 7x KV-1, Bttn HQ: 1x KV-1
    2 Tank battalions@ 31x T-34/76
    1 Anti-tank "Squadron": 3 batteries@ 4x T-34/57
    1 AA "Squadron: 3 batteries@ 4x 37mm M39 AA
    Bde HQ AA Platoon: 3x 12.7mm AAHMG, 3 trucks
    Motorcycle Company: CHQ: 8x combinations
    3 platoons@ 4 rifle squads, 13x combinations, 9 LMG
    16 armoured cars implies either a platoon of 5x Ba-10 in each tank battalion, and 1 in the Bde HQ signals unit perhaps; or a full company of 16 somewhere.

    Given the state of regular tank brigades at the time (July-Aug 1941) this one is particularly well equipped (of course, heavy tanks could be T-28M2 and medium tanks T-26S so we don't know for sure) but an interesting one to add if it ended up being fielded.

    1. Very impressive, on paper. In reality a large number of those medium tanks would indeed be T-26es and BTs. I don't have any information about the brigade's use in combat.

  2. I assume the "heavy tanks" would be KV-1's, but by "medium tanks", is it T-28's, 34's or a mixture?

    Also, the T-34-57 was classified as a tank destroyer?

    1. Exclusively T-34s, T-28s would only be available from repair bases and would not officially be included in any newly created unit.

      Yes, the T-34-57 was a tank destroyer.