Kharkov 1942 – the Soviet Order of Battle

I’ve got a grand scheme to refight the whole of the Battle of Kharkov 1942 on a table. Probably using Megablitz. The first step is a historical order of battle for the Soviets.


Soviet Southwestern Direction

A Soviet Strategic Direction controlled several Fronts. “Control” is perhaps too strong a word as a direction lacked a full headquarters staff. Coordination might be a better term. In 1942 the Stavka designated Fronts as operational-strategic formations. They operated along an operational axis and contributed to strategic aims.

Southwestern Direction had two fronts: Southwestern Front and Southern Front. The vast majority of troops were within the fronts. The Southwestern Direction Commander-in-Chief, Marshall S. K. Timoshenko, retained only a small reserve.

Southwestern Direction commander’s reserve

  • 102nd Rifle Brigade – in Rostov
  • 6th Rifle Brigade – in Stroblesk

Notes for all orbats:
(Elite) A crack unit like the 3rd Guards Cavalry Corps
(Veteran) A formation with a considerable longevity of experience e.g. the 226th Rifle Division.
(E100) All troops have combat experience.
(E0, E10, E20, etc) The number is the percentage of experienced personnel with the remainder untried recruits. For example an E20 formation had 20% experienced troops. An E0 unit was untried; its first time in combat at Kharkov 1942.
(Strong) High man power compared to other units.
(Weak) Considerably understrength


Soviet Southwestern Front

The Southwestern Front contributed the bulk of the Soviet forces to Kharkov 1942. At the close of 11 May 1942 Southwestern Front had 29 rifle divisions, nine cavalry divisions, one motorised rifle division, four motorised rifle brigades, 19 tank brigades and four separate tank battalions (925 tanks). These were deployed jumping off positions for the planned Soviet offensive.

Grouping of Southwestern Front Forces on 11 May 1942

  • 21st Army
    • For breakthrough south of Bezludovka, so took an active part in the Kharkov operation
      • 76th Rifle DivisionE100; Veteran; Strong
      • 293rd Rifle DivisionE100; Veteran
      • 227th Rifle DivisionE100; Veteran
      • 10th Tank BrigadeE100; Veteran
      • 338th Light Artillery RegimentE100
      • 538th Heavy Artillery RegimentE100
      • 135th Artillery RegimentE100
      • 156th Artillery RegimentE100
    • Defending Spartak, Miasoedovo and Pristen sector
      • 8th Motorised Rifle Division
      • 297th Rifle Division
      • One regiment of 301st Rifle Division
    • Army Reserve
      • in Krasnaia Poliana region
        • Two regiments of 301st Rifle Division
      • In the Chuevo, Krivye Balki and Kholodnoe region
        • 1st Motorised Rifle Brigade
        • 8th Separate Tank Battalion
  • 28th Army
    • 1st echelon on a front from Izbitskoe up to but excluding Dragunovka
      • 175th Guards Rifle DivisionE0
      • 169th Guards Rifle DivisionE20
      • 244th Guards Rifle DivisionE10
      • 13th Guards Rifle Division E100
      • 84th Tank BrigadeE0
      • 57th Tank BrigadeE0
      • 90th Tank BrigadeE0
      • All 28th Army Artillery including
        • 764th Anti-tank Artillery RegimentE100
        • 266th Gun Artillery RegimentE100
        • 870th Howitzer Artillery RegimentE100
        • 7 x Other Artillery RegimentsE100
        • Separate Guards Mortar BattalionsE100
    • 2nd echelon
      • 38th Rifle DivisionE0
      • 162nd Rifle DivisionE0
      • 6th Guards Tank BrigadeE100
    • Mobile Group in the Efremovka, Volokhovka and Zakharovka region
      • 3rd Guards Cavalry CorpsVeteran; Elite
        • 5th Guards Cavalry DivisionE100; Veteran; Elite
        • 6th Guards Cavalry DivisionE100; Veteran; Elite
        • 32nd Cavalry DivisionE100; Veteran; Elite
        • 34th Motorised Rifle BrigadeE100; Veteran; Elite
  • 38th Army
    • Right flank penetration sector of Dragunovka, Peeschanoe, Piatnitskoe
      • 226th Rifle DivisionE100; Veteran
      • 124th Rifle DivisionE100
      • 300th Rifle DivisionE100; Veteran; Weak
      • 81st Rifle Division [perhaps only one regiment]E100; Veteran
      • 36th Tank BrigadeE0
      • 13th Tank BrigadeE100; Veteran
      • 133rd Tank BrigadeE100; Veteran
      • Almost all army artillery assets
        • 738th Anti-tank Artillery RegimentE100
        • 468th Light Artillery RegimentE100
        • 507th Light Artillery RegimentE100
        • 574th Heavy Artillery RegimentE100
        • 51st Artillery RegimentE100
        • 648th Artillery RegimentE100
        • 3rd Battalion, 5th Guards Mortar RegimentE100
        • 3rd Battalion, 4th Guards Mortar RegimentE100
    • Defending centre and left flank
      • 199th Rifle Division
      • 304th Rifle DivisionE100; Veteran; Weak
  • 6th ArmyVeteran
    • 1st echelon from Verkhnii Bishkin to Grushino
      • 253rd Rifle DivisionE100; Veteran; Elite
      • 41st Rifle DivisionE0
      • 411th Rifle DivisionE100
      • 266th Rifle DivisionE0
      • 5th Guards Tank BrigadeE100; Veteran
      • 38th Tank BrigadeE0
      • 48th Tank BrigadeE0
      • All army artillery assets
        • 582nd Anti-tank Artillery RegimentE100
        • 591st Anti-Tank Artillery RegimentE100
        • 8th Gun Artillery RegimentE100
        • 269th Gun Artillery RegimentE100
        • 116th Gun Artillery RegimentE100
        • 671st Howitzer Artillery RegimentE100
        • 5th Guards Mortar RegimentE100
          • 3 x Guards Mortar Battalion (1st, 2nd, 3rd)
        • 357th Gun Artillery RegimentE100
        • 209th Gun Artillery RegimentE100
        • 399th Gun Artillery RegimentE100
        • 435th Gun Artillery RegimentE100
        • 206th Separate Guards Mortar BattalionE100
    • 2nd echelon
      • 103rd Rifle DivisionE0
      • 248th Rifle DivisionE0
      • 37th Tank BrigadeE0
    • Defending right bank of Northern Donets River in the Shchurovka, Nizhne-Ruskii Bishkin sector
      • 47th Rifle DivisionE100; Veteran
      • 337th Rifle DivisionE100; Veteran
    • 269 tanks within:
      • 21st Tank Corps – In the Krutoiarka, Novopavlovka region
        • 64th Tank BrigadeE0
        • 198th Tank BrigadeE0
        • 199th Tank BrigadeE0
        • 4th Motorised Rifle BrigadeE0
      • 23rd Tank Corps – In the Aleshki, Bunakov region
        • 6th Tank BrigadeE100
        • 130th Tank BrigadeE100
        • 131st Tank Brigade
        • 23rd Motorised Rifle BrigadeE0
  • Army Group Bobkin
    • 1st echelon in the Koshparovka, Kiptivka sector
      • 393rd Rifle DivisionE100
      • One regiment of 270th Rifle DivisionE100
      • 872nd Cannon Artillery Regiment
      • 29th Heavy Artillery Regiment
      • 236th Heavy Artillery Regiment
    • 2nd echelon in the Belieaevka, Petrovskii region
      • 6th Cavalry Corps
        • 26th Cavalry DivisionE100; Veteran
        • 28th Cavalry DivisionE100; Veteran
        • 49th Cavalry DivisionE100; Veteran
        • 7th Tank BrigadeE100; Veteran
    • Two regiments of 270th Rifle DivisionE100 – In defence from Nizhniaia Plesovaia to Petrovka
  • Southwestern Front commander’s reserve
    • 277th Rifle DivisionE0 – in the novo-Nikolaevka, Volosskaia Balakleika, Blagodatnoe region
    • 343rd Rifle DivisionE100 – in Sukhoi Iar, Kune, Bugaevka sector
    • 2nd Cavalry Corps – in the Bogdanovka, Rozhdestvenskoe, Mechebilovka region
      • 62nd Cavalry DivisionE100
      • 38th Cavalry DivisionE100; Veteran; Elite
      • 70th Cavalry DivisionE100
    • 96 tanks in:
      • 71st Separate Tank Battalion – in Savintsy
      • 92nd Separate Tank Battalion – in Voronezh. Supporting 57th Army
      • 132nd Separate Tank Battalion – in Voronezh

Soviet Southern Front

The Soviet Southern Front contributed the 57th and 9th Armies to Kharkov 1942. It included several other armies but only those two were involved in the battle.

Grouping of the Southern Front Forces on 11 May 1942

  • 57th Army
    • 1st echelon from Tsaredarovka, Krishtopovka, Novo-Pavlovka, to (excluding) Sofievka
      • 150th Rifle DivisionE100; Veteran
      • 317th Rifle DivisionE100
      • 99th Rifle DivisionE100; Elite; Veteran
      • 351st Rifle DivisionE100
    • 2nd echelon
      • 14th Guards Rifle DivisionE100; Elite; Veteran
        • One regiment in Lozovaia region
        • Two regiments in Starye Bliznetsy region
    • Three artillery regiments
  • 9th Army
    • Defending 96km front from Sofievka through Alisovka, north of Maiaki, to Brusovka
    • Right and centre flank
      • 341st Rifle DivisionE100; Veteran
      • 106th Rifle DivisionE100; Veteran
      • 349th Rifle DivisionE100; Veteran
      • 335th Rifle DivisionE100; Veteran
    • Offensive operations in the Bylbasovka, Maisaki sector
      • 51st Rifle DivisionE100; Veteran
      • 333rd Rifle Division (minus one regiment)E100; Veteran
      • 78th Rifle BrigadeE100; Veteran
      • 15th Tank BrigadeE0
      • 121st Tank BrigadeE0
      • Two cavalry divisions of 5th Cavalry Corps
      • 12th Tank Brigade of Front commander’s reserve
    • Five artillery regiments
    • One regiment of 333rd Rifle Division – 9th Army commander’s reserve in Barvenkovo region
  • 37th Army
    • Supplemented by 296th Rifle Division
  • 12th Army
    • Supplemented by 176th Rifle Division
  • 18th Army
    • Supplemented by 216th Rifle DivisionE100, Veteran – might have been part of 9th Army
  • 56th Army
    • Including 3rd Guards Rifle Corps in the army commander’s reserve
      • 2nd Guards Rifle Division
      • 76th Guards Rifle Brigade
      • 81st Guards Rifle Brigade
      • 68th Guards Rifle Brigade
      • 63rd Tank Brigade
  • Southern Front commander’s reserve
    • 24th Tank Corps
      • 24th Motorised Rifle Brigade
      • 4th Guards Tank Brigade
      • 2nd Tank Brigade
      • 54th Tank Brigade
    • 5th Cavalry Corps – supporting 9th Army’s offensive
      • 60th Cavalry DivisionE100
      • 34th Cavalry DivisionE100
      • 30th Cavalry DivisionE100; Veteran
      • 12th Tank BrigadeE100; Veteran
    • Only to be used with Stavka permission
      • 347th Guards Rifle Division
      • 255th Guards Rifle Division
      • 15th Guards Rifle Division
      • 102nd Rifle Division
      • 73rd Rifle Division
      • 242nd Rifle Division
      • 282nd Rifle Division

Typical Soviet Tables of Organisation and Equipment in 1942

Rifle Army

Soviet rifle armies in spring 1942 had a typical order of battle.

Typical Soviet Rifle Army Spring 1942

  • 5-6 rifle divisions and rifle brigades
  • 2-3 tank brigades
  • 0 or 2-3 cavalry divisions
  • Artillery regiments and battalions from Stavka reserve

Rifle Division

The Soviet rifle division of 18 March 1942 was much smaller than the 1941 version.

18 March 1942 Rifle Division

  • 1 x Recce Company
  • 3 x Rifle Regiment
    • 3 x Rifle Battalion
      • 3 x Rifle Company
    • 1 x Anti-tank Battery
      • 6 x 45mm anti-tank gun (or 57mm)
  • 1 x Engineer Battalion
  • 1 x AA Battalion
    • 6 x 37mm AA guns
  • 1 x Signal Company
  • 1 x Artillery Regiment
    • 2 x Artillery Battalion
      • 2 x Artillery Battery
        • 8 x 76mm guns
      • 1 x Artillery Battery
        • 6 x 122mm guns
  • 1 x Anti-tank Battalion
    • 3 x Anti-tank Company
      • 12 x 45mm anti-tank gun
    • 1 x Anti-tank rifle Company
  • 0-1 x training battalion
  • 0-1 x penal battalion

Rifle Brigade

Rifle brigades were truncated rifle divisions, lacking the intermediate regimental headquarters.

17 March 1942 Rifle Brigade

  • 1 x Recce Company
  • 4 x Rifle Battalion
    • 3 x Rifle Company
    • 1 x MG Company
    • 1 x Mortar Company
  • 1 x Mortar Battalion
    • 2 x Mortar Battery
      • 4 x 120mm Mortars
  • 1 x Mortar Battalion
    • 3 x Mortar Battery
      • 8 x 82mm Mortars
  • 1 x Artillery Battalion
    • 3 x Artillery Battery
      • 4 x 76mm guns
  • 1 x Anti-tank Detachment
    • 1 x Anti-tank Battery
      • 4 x 45mm anti-tank gun
  • Other small support detachments

Tank Corps

The Soviets introduced a four brigade tank corps in late April 1942. The corps relied on the cooperating army for logistical support – there was no intrinsic logistical support hence the corps could not operated at depth. Motorised infantry usually rode on the tanks they accompanied rather than in trucks.

April 1942 Tank Corps

  • 1 x Motorise Rifle Brigade
  • 3 x Tank Brigade
    • 1 x Recce Company
    • 2 x Tank Battalion
      • 1 x Heavy Tank Company
        • 5 x Kvs
      • 1 x Medium Tank Company
        • 8 x T-34s
      • 1 x Light Tank Company
        • 10 x T-60s
    • 1 x AA Battery
      • 4 x 37mm AA guns
    • 1 x Motorised Rifle Battalion
      • 2 x Motorised Rifle Company
      • 1 x Mortar Company
        • 8 x 82mm Mortars
        • 6 x 14.7mm anti-tank rifles [Glantz says 14.7cm but that is unlikely]
    • 1 x Repair detachment
    • 1 x Transport detachment
    • 1 x Medical platoon
  • 1 x AA Regiment
  • 1 x Guards Mortar Battalion
  • 1 x Armoured Car Battalion

Motorised Rifle Brigade

Motorised Rifle Brigades were organic to the Soviet Tank Corps of April 1942.

Motorised Rifle Brigade

  • 1 x Recce Platoon
  • 3 x Motorised Rifle Battalion
    • 3 x Motorised Rifle Company
    • 1 x Mortar Company
      • 6 x 82mm Mortars
    • 1 x Anti-tank Company
      • 4 x 45mm anti-tank gun
    • 1 x Anti-tank Rifle Company
      • 18 anti-tank rifles
  • 1 x AA Detachment
    • 3 x AA Battery
      • 4 x 37mm AA guns
  • 1 x Anti-tank Rifle Company
    • 18 anti-tank rifles
  • 1 x Artillery Detachment
    • 3 x Artillery Battery
      • 4 x 76mm guns
  • 1 x Mortar Battalion
    • 1 x Mortar Battery
      • 4 x 120mm Mortars
    • 2 x Mortar Battery
      • 6 x 82mm Mortars [Glantz says “88mm” but that is unlikely]
  • Medical
  • Logistical

Cavalry Corps

By 1942 most Soviet cavalry formation were Light Cavalry Corps.

February 1942 Light Cavalry Corps

  • 3 x Cavalry Division
    • 3 x Cavalry Regiment
      • 4 x Sabre Squadron
      • 1 x MG Squadron
      • 1 x Artillery
        • 7 x 76mm field
        • 2 x 45mm anti-tank
  • 1 x Tank Brigade or Motorised Rifle Brigade
  • 1 x Recce Battalion
  • 1 x Engineer Battalion
  • 1 x Mortar Regiment
  • 1 x AA Battalion
  • 1 x Cavalry Artillery Battery
    • 8 x 76mm guns
    • 8 x 120mm mortars
  • 1 x Anti-tank Battalion
    • 8 x 76mm guns
    • 8 x 120mm mortars
  • 1 x Signals Battalion
  • 1 x Guards Artillery Battalion

The Soviet Heavy Cavalry Corps has supporting elements. The 3rd Guards Cavalry Corps in 28th Army was this configuration.

Cavalry Corps (Heavy)

  • 3 x Cavalry Division
    • 3 x Cavalry Regiment
      • 4 x Sabre Squadron
      • 1 x MG Squadron
      • 1 x Artillery
        • 4 x 76mm field
        • 4 x 45mm anti-tank
        • 16 x 50mm mortar – four to support each Sabre Squadron
  • 1 x Motorised Rifle Brigade
  • 1 x Recce Battalion
  • 1 x Engineer Battalion
  • 1 x Mortar Regiment
  • 1 x AA Battery
  • 1 x Cavalry Artillery Battery
    • 8 x 76mm guns
    • 8 x 120mm mortars
  • 1 x Anti-tank Battalion
    • 8 x 76mm guns
    • 8 x 120mm mortars
  • 1 x Signals Battalion

Artillery Regiments

The Stavka provided each army with the artillery necessary to support it offensive or defensive mission.

Various Artillery Regiments

  • Light Artillery Regiment
    • 24 x 76mm guns
  • Heavy Artillery Regiment
    • 28 x 122mm howitzers
  • Gun-Artillery Regiment
    • 18 x 152mm guns
  • Anti-tank Artillery Regiment
    • 16-20 x 45mm or 76mm guns
  • Rocket Artillery Regiment
    • 3 x Rocket Artillery Battalion
      • 8 x BM-13 (or BM-8) multiple rocket launcher (katiushas)

References

Glantz, D. M. (1998). Kharkov 1942: Anatomy of a military disaster through Soviet eyes. Ian Allan.

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