The history of the Russian ground forces in the period of the Second World War is an of import subject, which has still non been to the full explored by historiographers today. For a long clip the paperss sing the Soviet Armed Forces has been kept classified and the Russian governments merely published propagandistic informations.
The first wholesome analytics of the Russian ground forces in the World War period appeared due to the attempts of such Russian historiographers as Victor Suvorov and Marc Solonin. In the recent old ages Russian historiography has been supplemented by a figure of Western documental publications and surveies, which covered assorted facets of the topic, supplying comprehensive histories and overviews of the affair. The information from declassified official paperss and modern Russian and Western beginnings today present a complete historical image of the Russian Army in the period of 1938-1942.
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The Russian Army in the period of World War II was known as the Workers ‘ and Peasants ‘ Red Army ( RKKA or Red Army ) . The Red Army came approximately as the Soviet Government ‘s radical reserves in the Russian Civil War of 1918-1922. Finally it grew into the national ground forces of the USSR and since 1946 was called the Soviet Army.
At the beginning of its being, the Red Army functioned as a voluntary formation, without ranks or insignia. The officers were elected by agencies of a democratic ballot.
In May 1918 a edict was passed enforcing obligatory military service for all work forces aged 18 to 40.A Regional military committees or provisionss were formed to serve the monolithic bill of exchange of the multimillion USSR.
As of the 1920 in each part able-bodied work forces were called up for active responsibility for set periods over five old ages. The first call-up period was for three months, with one month a twelvemonth thenceforth. By 1925 this system provided 46 of the 77 foot divisions and one of the 11 horse divisions. The balance consisted of regular officers and enlisted forces functioning biennial footings.
The RKKA played an of import function during all cardinal events and periods in the constitution and development of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. However, in the 1930s the Red Army became a force of major strength and hence menace to Stalin and the leading of the party. The 1930s were mostly marked by a series of purgings of the high commandment of the Army and the constitution of new units. Counter-revolutionary secret plans were invoked as the rule accusal.
Forty four 1000 high-ranking commanding officers and about 200 1000 members of their households were exiled or otherwise eliminated. At the clip of peace predating World War II the Red Army experienced losingss ne’er antecedently known in military history. In 1935, 6198 ground forces officers and forces were dismissed ; in 1937 this figure reached 18658.
These military purgings resulted in the Russian Army going literally impotent and unprepared for any sort of war. The staying commanding officers lacked experience and were incapable of doing competent, independent determinations. A military review conducted in early 1940 showed that of the 225 regiment commanding officers, merely 25 had graduated from military school ; the other 200 were reserve officer or work forces holding completed sub-lieutenant classs.
In 1938 it was incapable of traveling to war and its enemies understood it really good. In one of his addresss Adolf Hitler stated that ‘ ” The Russian military forces represent a clay giant without a caput. They have no experient commanding officers and they are ill equipped. ”
Furthermore, alternatively of being feared the Russian Army lived in fright itself. The staying commanding officers were under changeless force per unit area and menace of repressions in instance of failure or licking.
After the sign language of the Molotov-Ribentrop treaty in 1939 assorted military readyings began to be actively developed on the district of the USSR. First of all the invasion of portion of Poland was under manner and secondly, there were some intuitions as to Hitler interrupting his promiss under the Pact.
Particularly Marshall Voroshylov began to organize particular military units. Upon his enterprise by early 1939 the district of the Soviet Union was divided into 16 military and administrative units. Particular artillery units were being formed and front groups were being established.
Mobilization of the state began on September 7 1939. As of this day of the month all the bing military units were allocated a figure and were renamed consequently. All regional ground forces units became portion of the Red Army.
At the beginning of 1939 the land forces of the Red Army contained 28 units of foot corps, 100 foot divisions, 2 rifle brigades, 5 units of cavalierly corps, 25 cavalierly divisions, 2 disdainfully brigades, 4 units of armored combat vehicle corps, 24 light armored combat vehicles, 4 heavy armored combat vehicle corps and 3 chemical armored combat vehicle units. There were besides 4 motorised foot and machine gun divisions, 6 airborne brigades and 24 foot regiments.
The mechanised unit formed under Stalin ‘s run for mechanisation in 1930 was besides implemented into the ground forces. By now it was called the 1st Mechanized Brigade and consisted of a armored combat vehicle regiment, a motorised foot regiment, and reconnaissance and heavy weapon battalions.A This in bend developed into the 11th and 45th Mechanized Corps and became the first operational-level armoured formations in history. These resembled tank-heavy formations with combat support forces included so they could last while runing in enemy rear countries without support from a homeA forepart.
On 2 April 1939 the People ‘s Commissar of Defense has drafted Report a„-80259/cc, in which it was proposed that the Red Army forces in the Far East be strengthened by four foot divisions. This determinations was argumented by “ the increasing menace of unexpected onslaught from Japan ” and by the demand to outrun Japan in the build-up of forces. Therefore, the Russian armed forces were strengthened in the Far East, closer to the Nipponese boundary line.
At the same clip the Soviet military leading began developing a new system of mobilisational deployment of forces. On May 5, 1937 B.M. Shoposhnikov, Commander of the General Headquarters Army Commanders of the 1st rank has presented the People ‘s Commissar of Defense with a study, measuring the organisational development of the foot forces. This study served as a footing for the reorganisation of forces in 1938. The reorganisation aimed at the settlement of the differences between the assorted foot divisions, the munition of regular boundary line divisions and to hasten the mobilisation of forces.
In order to transport out the above, four types of foot divisions were created. These included 14 foot divisions of the Far East ( 14 thousand work forces ) , 37 regular foot divisions ( 6950 work forces, including the 36th foot division of 9000 work forces ) , 10 regular mountain foot divisions ( 4000 work forces ) and 37 foot divisions of ternary deployment ( 5220 work forces ) . Upon mobilisation the latter was to be deployed into three different foot divisions. Furthermore, at the terminal of 1938 it was provided that 172 extra foot divisions would be deployed.
Shoposhnikov ‘s study underlined that the alterations in the political clime of the universe call for a strengthening of the military machine and mobilisational readiness of the Russian foot forces. A petition for the expansion of the foot was besides included in the study.
The escalation of the Halhingol struggle and of the international crisis in Europe expedited the development of the new system of the mobilisational deployment of the Red Army. The chief thought behind the reorganisation of the land forces was to make a lasting ground forces, prepared for combat with minimum mobilizational deployment. It was proposed that all secret divisions intended for deployment in instance of mobilisation become unfastened, crystalline lasting divisions. After Stalin ‘s blessing it was decided to hold all secret divisions reformatted into lasting divisions ready for deployment.
The German run of 1940 against France besides had a great influence on the formation of the Russian military land forces. On 6 July 1940 the SovietA NKOA ordered the creative activity of 9 mechanised corps similar to those used during the abovementioned German run. Although, on paper, by 1941 the Red Army ‘s 29 mechanised corps claimed to hold no less than 29,899 tanks.A However, this was a fictious figure and there really were merely 17,000 armored combat vehicles available at the clip.
War experience prompted alterations to the manner frontline forces were organized. After six months of combat against the Germans, A the high bid of the Red Army – the Stavka – abolished the Rifle Corps intermediate degree between theA ArmyA andA Division degree because, while utile in theory, in the inexperient province of the Red Army, they proved uneffective in pattern. In January 1942, after the triumph at the Battle of Moscow, the high bid began to re-introduce Rifle Corps into its most experient formations. In July 1941 the strength of the front-line rifle division amounted to 6 1000s work forces on norm. At that clip there were besides 62 Rifle Corps. This figure, nevertheless, drastically decreased 6 Rifle Corps in 1942 as the divisions were frequently worn down on uninterrupted operations to 100s of work forces or even less. Merely by New Year ‘s twenty-four hours of 1944 had it become possible to rehabilitate the figure of the Rifle Corps and convey it up to 161.
Apart from land forces the Russian armed forces besides employed the air force. At the beginning of 1939 the air force of the RKKA had 3 divisions of particular appellation, 38 air brigades, 117 air regiments ( 10 heavy bombardment, 9 far bombardment, 27 velocity bombardment, 11 visible radiation bombardment, 13 assaulting, 43 destroying, 2 assorted, 1 exploratory survey and 1 spare ) . Through January to August 1939 8 air brigade divisions and 13 air regiments were formed and established to counterbalance for the forces moved to the Far East. Consequently the figure of aeroplanes employed besides increased. If on 1 April 1939 there were 10A 397 aeroplanes in the Russian armed forces, by 1 July that twelvemonth there were already 11A 176 and by 13 September that figure farther increased to 12A 381. By 1 October the Red Army Air Force had 48 divisions of air brigades, 136 air regiments and 93 air bases.
On 16 November 1939 the Head of the Main Division of the RKKA Air Force has sent Report a„-325778/cc to the People ‘s Commissar of Defense proposing that in 1940 more attending be paid to the re-armament and re-equipment of the air forces. In 1940 a particular far bombing air regiment was to be formed along with one destroyer regiment, 3 trim regiments, one regiment for particular undertakings and one acquisition regiment.
Another study was filed with the People ‘s Commissar of Defense in 1940. This study specifically addressed the demand and possibility of developing the air forces and increasing the air regiments. It was proposed that by 1943 28 air force academies be established and classs be made available for the readying and requalification of military forces.
Between 1939-1940, new units of the Red Army air forces were formed. By 1 January 1940 the air force consisted of 143 regiments ( 63 destroyers, 61 bombers, 13 attackers and 6 assorted ) . By 1 February of that twelvemonth the Soviet Air Forces had 48 air brigades at their disposal along with 149 air regiments, 49 separate squadrons, 22 spotters, 5 transporters, 101 air bases and 19 technology and air field squadrons.
The figure of air force military forces besides increased, reflecting the procedure of formation of new regiments and new air force academies. By May 1940 the air forces had 58 offices of air brigades, 188 air regiments, 160 air bases, 8 ground forces withdrawals and 18 staining withdrawals. In entire 291A 210 work forces served in the Red Army Air Force.
On 25 May 1940 the Soviet Politburo had confirmed Resolution a„- 1344-524/cc, which implied alterations to the organisational construction of the air force. It introduced a divisional organisation. The air force became composed of divisions ( 4-5 air regiments ) and separate air brigades ( 2-3 air regiments ) .
Finally three types of air divisions came about: assorted, far bombing and destructing divisions. The assorted divisions were aimed at a direct interconnectedness with the remainder of the armed forces. They were to supply support and screen for the horse and mechanised units. The far bombing division was formed with the intent of devastation of military objects and aimed at the disorganisation of the enemy ‘s support. Finally, the destroyer division was aimed at deriving laterality in air infinite and at the protection of the economic and political centres of the USSR.
By 1 September 1940 it was necessary to organize 38 air divisions ( 26 mixed, 7 long-range and 5 combatants ) , which included 163 regiments. A undertaking was set to organize another 48 regiments ( 13 long-range, 18-speed bombers and 17 combatants ) before 1 January 1941, uniting them into 12 new air divisions ( 5 mixed, 4 long-range and 3 combatants ) .A
In 1940 the People ‘s Commissar of Defence issued directives a„- 0/4/104724 – 0/4/104735/ss, telling a reorganisation of the military intelligence and the formation of 10 intelligence and 1 assorted regiments. By the terminal of 1940 the Red Army Air Force consisted of 50 air division offices, 4 separate brigade offices, 249 air regiments, 5 separate and 59 corps squadrons.A
On 23 October the People ‘s Commissar of Defence and Chief of Staff reported to Stalin and Molotov on the preparation of flight and proficient forces and on the strengthening of the Red Army Air Force. In conformity with the Government determination of 25 July 1940 by 1 January 1941 there were to be 239 air regiments and 62 hull squadrons hull, amounting to 15 672 aircrafts.A A
For this plan to be implemented at that place 98 new air regiments were to be introduced in 1941. This posed certain troubles. As a via media it was proposed to increase the figure of aircrafts in the squadron of the bing air regiments and signifier merely 20 new regiments, which would supply 19 977 active aircrafts and 3,082 modesty aircraft.A
At this point it has besides been suggested that the sum of air force military schools and academies be reduced together with the preparation aircrafts by about one 1000, comparing with 1939-1940. However, this decrease of the figure of aircraft could hold been carried out merely at the terminal off 1941.
Simultaneously by the terminal of 1941 60 pilots were to be trained and prepared along with 144A 945 air technicians. In order to exemplify the trouble of this undertaking it is sufficient to remind that in 1940 there were merely 38 1000 pilots and 81A 563 air professionals. A
In conformity with Order a„- 063 issued by the Head of the Air Force on 23 April 1940 it was decided to organize and set up a long-range bombardment air power. This introduced such armed aircrafts as TB-3, DB-3 and TB-7. The divisions which had these aircrafts were known as long-range air divisions.A It was proposed that in entire 13 long-range air divisions be formed and that by 1941 the figure of combat air trades be brought up to 20 1000. It was suggested that the sum of long-range air trades should be relative to that of the combat air trades.
During the Second World War and particularly at the beginning Russia encountered much military losingss and in peculiar losingss of air trades. The principal cause for these big aircraft losingss in the initial period of war with Germany lay non in the deficiency of modern tactics, but in the deficiency of experience. While the immature pilots frequently grasped the theory taught in military academies they had no pattern as to how to wing and take air warfare.
A deficiency of support had besides been demonstrated by land support crews. Many aircrafts were destroyed before they even left the track. This was frequently due to command failure to scatter them.
This deficiency of competency of the pilots, applied scientists and proficient staff had particularly drastic effects during Operation Barbarossa. The rapid progress of the Wehrmacht land military personnels forced the Soviet pilots on the defensive, while being confronted with more modern German aircrafts.A In the first few yearss ofA Operation BarbarossaA the LuftwaffeA destroyed some 2000 Soviet aircraft, most of them on the land, at a loss of merely 35 aircraft ( of which 15 were non-combat-related ) .
The chief aircrafts of the Red Army Air Force during World War II were theA Illyushin Il-2A land assault theoretical account or the shturmovik and theA Yakovlev Yak-1, aA combatant aircraft in many fluctuations. Each of the air planes became the most produced aircraft in history in its category. The Il-2 and the Yak-1 together constituted over half of the strength of the Red Army Air Force during the World War II period.
The Yakovlef aircraft theoretical accounts brought the Air Forces of the RKKA to para with the Luftwaffe. The Yak-1 had a modern 1940 design, yet was no lucifer for the German Messerschmidt BF 109 and had much room for development. It was merely with the coming of the Yak-9 that the Soviet Air Forces were able to derive the upper manus in the skies and retain it until 1944. After the Yak-9 came the out-of-sequence-numbered Yak-3. The latter permitted non merely to derive an upper manus, but besides to raise fright in the Luftwaffe, which preferred to avoid combat with this last air trade alteration.
The other chief types of aircrafts used by the Red Army were Lavochkin combatants. Chiefly the Lavochkin La-5 was used. An interesting theoretical account was the Petliakov, the Pe-2 version of which was a twin engined attack bomber. And eventually another popular theoretical account was the Illyushin Il-4. Thismodel was really basic, but at the same clip greatly various and functional. The Il-4 bomber provided many war privileges during sky combat ot the Russian Army.
The USSR was the lone state among all the participants of World War II to originate a plan for affecting adult females in the air force. The Soviet Air Forces practiced supplying adult females with the necessary air preparation and conveying them into combat air groups.
During World War II at that place existed three regiment composed wholly of adult females: the 586th Fighter Aviation Regiment, the 587th Bomber Aviation Regiment and the 588th Night Bomber Aviation Regiment. The accomplishments of all three regiments were really high and shortly plenty the units were renamed as Guard units. These regiments were conversationally known as Night Witches. They were formed upon the enterprise of Marina Raskova, who had some great influence over Stalin.
Beyond the three official all-women regiments, single Soviet adult females sometimes served alongside aviators in otherwise all-male groups.A Women pilots, sailing masters, artillerymans, mechanics, armament specializers and other female land forces made up more than 3,000 contending members of the Red Army Air Force. They received a military and air pilot instruction alongside work forces in specially devised classs or air force academies. Finally the adult females pilots became non worse than many of their male opposite numbers.
From 1942 and until the terminal of the war Alexander Novikov served as Chief Marshal of Aviation. He is known to hold introduced several new inventions and arms systems. For case, he invented the low winging air trade technique, which allowed to run down and shoot single people on the land. This technique was so effectual and popular that the military leading allowed even for such ancient planes as the Polikarpov Po-2 to be used.
This technique was merely a little part of what the RKKA Air Force could make. Over the class of the Second World War the Russian military and Air Force developed much experience, edification and high quality. In one strategic operation entirely, theA Yassy-Kishinev Strategic Offensive, theA 5th and 17th Air Armies and the Black Sea Fleet Naval Aviation aircraft achieved a high quality in aircraft over theA LuftflotteA and theA Royal Romanian Air Force, leting about complete freedom from air torment for the Russian land military personnels.
As with many allied states inA World War II the Soviet Union received western aircraft byA Lend-Lease. Lend-Lease aircraft from the US and UK accounted for about 12 % of entire Soviet air power. Among such aircrafts were theA P-39 Airacobras, A P-63 Kingcobras, A Hawker Hurricanes, A Curtiss P-40A Kittyhawks andA A-20 Havocs. Soviets in P-39s scored the highest single putting to death sums of any pilot of all time to wing a U.S. aircraft.
In entire during the Great Patriotic War some 157A 261 aircrafts were produced with over 125 1000 of them being combat types. By the terminal of the war Soviet one-year air trade production reached 40A 241.
The navy took portion in all major actions and violative at the Eastern Front. After the beginning of theA Second World War, many crewmans and naval guns were sent to assist theA Red Army. Soviet naval forces and commandment had particularly of import land functions in the conflicts forA Odessa, Sevastopol, A Stalingrad, A NovorossiyskA andA Leningrad.
In 1941 the Soviet fleet was composed of 3 battlewagons, 7 patrol cars ( including 4 modernA Kirov-class patrol cars ) , 59 destroyer-leaders and squadron-destroyers ( including 46 modernA Type 7 destroyersA andA Type 7U destroyers ) , 218 pigboats, 269 gunman boats, 22 patrol vass, 88 minesweepers and 77 pigboat huntsmans. The fleet besides included a scope of smaller, but no less of import vass.
Similarly to how land and air forces were invariably spread outing and turning the fleet was besides under changeless development and addition in Numberss. Orders and Directives were drafted and adopted by the People ‘s Commissar of Defense, supplying for the building of 219 vass including 3 battlewagons, 2 heavy and 7 light patrol cars, 45 destroyers, and 91 pigboats.
At the clip of World War II Soviet fleet was still utilizing pre World War I ships. Among the latter were sails and battlewagons. There were besides some ships the building of which began in foreign and sometimes enemy states. For case, the Italian-built destroyer Tashkent or the Lutzow ship began to be built before the struggles.
During the war, many of the vass inA the Waterss near LeningradA andA NikolayevA were destroyed. The chief methods were either from aircrafts or by mines. The Soviet Navy besides received captured Rumanian destroyers, every bit good as an old Royal Navy battleshipA and a US navy cruiserA Milwaukee. Sometimes the Soviet ground forces would get these war goods for themselves and sometimes they would interchange ships and portion parts of the captured goods among the Alliess.
However, Soviet ships were besides damaged. In peculiar in the Black Sea, many ships were damaged by minefields and the air forces of the Axis powers.
Despite amendss the Soviet Navy helped support naval bases and convey them supplies, while the latter were under besieging. The naval forces besides conducted many emptying operations of these naval bases and helped raise besiegings of assorted towns and metropoliss.
In the Baltic Sea, after Tallinn ‘s gaining control, surface ships were blockaded in Leningrad -A KronstadtA by minefields, where they took portion inA anti-aircraftA defence of the metropolis and barrage of German places. The operations in the Baltic sea were possibly some of the most hard 1s and demanded great degrees of resourcefulness from the Russian naval forces officers.
One illustration of Soviet resourcefulness was the state of affairs with the battleshipA Marat. This was an ageing pre-World War I ship used in the Second World War, yet sunk at ground tackle in Kronstadt ‘s seaport in 1941. For the remainder of the war, the non-submerged portion of the ship remained in usage as a grounded battery.
Another specialness of naval military activities in the Baltic Sea was the usage of pigboats. As the Baltic Sea provided a simple and speedy transition to Eastern Europe it was apparent that the defence in this portion was to be increased. As a consequence by utilizing pigboats the Russian military forces were able to interrupt Axis pilotage of the Baltic sea, therefore forestalling them from traveling any farther.
Activities of the Soviet Navy in the Arctic sea were slightly less than in the two seas described above. Here the Navy deployed Northern Fleet Destroyers and smaller trades. These vass participated in the anti-aircraft andA anti-submarineA defence of AlliedA convoysA carry oning lend-lease lading transportation.
During World War II it was non merely the ships and aeroplanes used by the RKKA that were inherited from the period of the First World War. Most machinery, arms and other military equipment was in desperate demand of reparation or instead replacing. The force per unit area placed on mills and military contrivers to demo production Numberss besides led to a state of affairs where the bulk of armoured vehicles were obsolescent theoretical accounts, critically missing in trim parts and support equipment, and about three quarters were delinquent for major maintenance.A
By June 1941 there were merely 1,475 T-34 armored combat vehicles and KV series armored combat vehicles available to the Red Army. Furthermore these were excessively dispersed along the forepart to supply adequate mass for even local success.A
To set this into position, theA 3rd Mechanized Corps in Lithuania was formed up of a sum of 460 armored combat vehicles ; 109 of these were newer KV-1s and T-34s. This corps would turn out to be one of the lucky few with a significant figure of newer armored combat vehicles. However, theA 4th ArmyA was composed of 520 armored combat vehicles, all of which were the disused T-26, as opposed to the authorised strength of 1,031 newer medium tanks.A This job was cosmopolitan throughout the Red Army.
On the eruption of war the Red Army deployed mechanized corps and armored combat vehicle divisions whose development have been described antecedently. The German onslaught battered many badly, and in the class of 1941 virtually all territories and administrative and military units were disbanded.A It was much easier to organize smaller forces, and separate armored combat vehicle brigades and battalions were substituted.
It was late 1942 and early 1943 before larger armored combat vehicle formations of corps sizeA were fielded in order to use armour in mass once more. By mid 1942 these corps were being grouped together into Tank Armies whose strength by the terminal of the war could be up to 700 armored combat vehicles and 50,000 work forces.
As may be seen from the above the Soviet Army was decently equipped and good functional. What it lacked in the beginning was a good bid unit able to do fast, independent determinations and to move. Unfortunately the purgings carried out by Stalin in the 1930s led to a state of affairs where the ground forces turned out incapable of making anything that depended on their ain appraisal. Stalin ‘s Fear of being overthrown and his yearning for totalitarian control has left the state about defenseless in the face of war.
All the high ranking and experienced military leaders and ground forces commanding officers were purged, exiled or executed. Their households were besides eliminated. Therefore the state was left with no military elite, commanding officers or work forces, coming from a military background and educated consequently.
The immature work forces appointed to commanding places in the ground forces came from anyplace but military backgrounds. They lacked assurance and experience. They exercised bid under huge force per unit area from the party leading and lived in fright of being repressed for their errors.
These work forces were weak and easy manipulated. This suitable Stalin, but posed great jobs for a state at war.
In the beginning of World War II the USSR was non far behind in footings of industrialisation and the equipment of the armed forces. The 5 twelvemonth programs introduced by Stalin were paying off. And although the Numberss presented in the official Government statistics were by and large of a propagandistic nature, the industrialisation degree reached by the Soviet Union was impressive.
However, the great developments of the industrial capacity of the state were non sufficient to fit the 100s thousand of work forces one time imperative mobilisation was under manner.
The entire absence of competent military bid and the deficient equipment of the ground forces made the USSR appear weak in the eyes of its enemies. This premise was proved by the licking of the Red Army during the war with Finland in 1939 and by the assorted lickings suffered by the USSR in the early periods of the Second World War.
However, as the war progressed the immature military commanding officers began deriving experience faster than expected. This is explained by their fright of repressions for licking, loss or other errors.
The advanced attacks, new tactics and techniques proposed by the immature coevals of commanding officer finally helped the Soviet Army withstand hard challenges and utmost state of affairss.
The RKKA remained for about a century the largest ground forces in the universe and the most feared military force. The few errors made at the beginning of the Second World War about ne’er came approximately once more. The ground forces was kept as a lasting unit and the policy of the state as a whole was formulated chiefly in conformity with military demands and demands.