Wednesday 26 October 2022

Tanks at Khalkhin-Gol

 "To the Chief of the RKKA ABTU
August 19th, 1939

Directorate of the People's Commissar, 1st Department

On orders of the Deputy People's Commissar of Defense, Army Commander 1st Class comrade Kulik, I send you a copy of the act on the inspection of combat and training in the 1st Army Group for your inspection and execution of necessary measures.

Deputy Chief of the 1st Department, 
Major Bibikov

Act [to certify that] I conducted an inspection of the combat and training in the 1st Army Group fighting in the region of Khalkhin-Gol during the period of July 11th-24th, 1939

1. Permanent units


Armoured units:

The 7th, 8th, and 9th Armoured Brigades are essentially armoured cavalry, more suitable for guarding borders and internal security. They did not train to fight alongside infantry and don't know how to do this. These units played a big role in the initial stages, but took heavy losses. The arrival of poorly trained reinforcements weakened them, they need to train and re-equip.

Tank units:

a) The 11th Tank Brigade was well prepared for independent action before the start of combat but did not hold practical exercises to cooperate with infantry or artillery.
The commanders of the brigade are well prepared for independent action, trained well, brave and decisive. They are respected by the troops
The brigade was given a key task on July 3rd, 1939. It handled it with honour, although took heavy losses.
As a result, the brigade received a lot of experience in fighting with infantry and artillery. It is a cohesive unit with a high morale. It needs to be refilled with personnel and receive new tanks, replacing BT-5s with BT-7s.

b) The 6th Tank Brigade did not take part in combat. It is fully equipped with personnel and commanders. It is armed with BT-7 tanks.
Corps Commander Pavlov carried out a number of exercises in cooperation with this brigade. All commanders familiarized themselves with the combat experience of the 11th Tank Brigade and Japanese tactics.
The brigade is well prepared and cohesive for fighting. It is training in cooperation with infantry and artillery.

Organizational drawbacks: the rifle/machine gun battalion and medic company are missing.


Improvements in combat training:


On the defense:

Tanks are to be places behind the defenders in small groups (up to a platoon) in ambushes to carry out small and sudden counterattacks in order to destroy the enemy coming through the first line of defense. Infantry and tanks must work on the issue of labelling their positions for our aircraft.
Keep mobile reserves in the deep rear with the goal of deflecting potential attacks by the enemy towards Buir Lake or Tamsagbulag.


Organizing cooperation:

Cooperation of infantry, artillery, tanks, and aircraft on the offensive must be organized as follows:

  1. Before the artillery bombardment, aircraft bomb the most fortified enemy positions. Secondary bombings may coincide with an artillery bombardment in order to reinforce the artillery. 12-15 minutes before the attack the aircraft bombs the second line of defense (to avoid hitting our own forces) using fighters to dive at enemy infantry and artillery that are detected.
  2. During the artillery bombardment the infantry covertly gathers to attack (if the infantry did not come up to close range at night). It is necessary to move battalion and regimental artillery out to the front lines alongside the infantry. Their objective is to destroy enemy anti-tank guns and strongholds. A small amount of reconnaissance tanks moves out along a wide front with the advancing infantry under the cover of artillery with the goal of revealing the enemy's anti-tank defenses.
  3. Battalion and regimental artillery fighting alongside infantry as well as the machine guns and snipers must take out any anti-tank guns that are discovered. These guns should also be suppressed by divisional artillery.
  4. Without fear of being struck by our own artillery, the tanks attached to the infantry overtake it and press up against the rolling barrage, attacking the enemy's front line of defense and destroying their system of fire and personnel. The cooperating infantry attacks with the tanks and artillery.
    The tanks arrival at the enemy's first line of defense is the signal for the infantry to attack.
    The infantry charges from a range of 100 meters. It is even better if the infantry uses folds in the terrain to approach to hand grenade range first.
    As a rule, tanks cooperating with the infantry should not tear away from their infantry and drive deep into the enemy's defenses without artillery support. They must roll over the first line of defense, destroying any strongholds that impede our infantry's advance."
Via Yuri Pasholok.

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