Chapter 2.11. Tank plague

         That was the end of the "tank battle in the Western Ukraine", the greatest battle of the first weeks of war: complete defeat and destruction. One must suppose in was only after the Germans had collected and counted all the tanks, armored vehicles, howitzers and motorbikes abandoned on the roadside that they understood WHAT the real threat to them was.

        A modern historian founds himself in a more complex position. Those tanks exist no more: what had not been melt in German melting furnaces was later melt in factories of Urals and Zaporozhie. It's impossible to establish an exact and absolute reason for the loss of each of the five thousand tanks in the South-Western front.  However, we can put forward a rather substantiated hypothesis on the reasons for such a defeat unheard-of, even with the few documents available.

 

           As the history of defeat of the 15th Mechcorps is documented best of all, let's take it for the start in our study of the phenomenal tank "plague" which seized the troops in the South-Western front in the end of June, 1941. There were two tank divisions in the corps: the 10th and the 37th. Casualties of the 10th td in the battle of June 23 and in the subsequent combat actions with the enemy are recorded in the reports of the division and corps commanders in great detail and by day (28, p. 193-213, and 29, p. 253-275).  As to the 37th td, it had no casualties at all up the contact with the enemy on the 28th of June (as well as no casualties from enemy aircrafts). Let's put all the data we have into two tables:

 

                        10th td

KV

T-34

T-28

BT-7

T-26

Total

Number of tanks by June 22

63

38

51

181

30

363

Among them – operable and marched off

63

37

44

147

27

318

Combat losses over June 22-26

13

6

0

32

  2 (?)

53

Actual number by the end of June, 26

10

5

4

20

0

39

                        ???            

40

26

40

95

25

226

 

 

                       37th td

   KV

  T-34

  BT-7

  T-26

  Total

Number of tanks by June 22

    1

  34

  258

   23

   316

Abandoned in town Kremenets

    1

    0

    15

   10

     26

Combat losses over June 22-26

    0

    0

      0

     0

       0

Actual number by the end of June, 26

    0         

  29

  185

     7

   221

                        ???            

 

   5

    58

     6

     69

 

         Thus, the 10th tank division, the most powerful one in the 15th Mechcorps and one of the best by the level of staffing and personnel qualification in the whole Red Army, evolved into a well-worn tank battalion in five days!

Of the 318 tanks operable by June 22 only 39 remained by the end of June 26. Casualties of "unknown origin" made up 226 tanks. In only five days. Even if we make an assumption that the division commander report misses some combat losses from episodic contact with German infantry, such an inaccuracy does not explain the difference between the number of combat (53 tanks) and total (279 tanks) losses. The most impressive is the dynamics and structure of losses of three-tower T-28 which just silently disappear – probably without a single shot at the enemy. According to the report, 48-ton KVs with their 75mm armor do not exceed in survivability the light BT-7 and T-26 tanks with bullet-proof armor – which is just strange, to say at least. And the most amazing thing is that there are absolutely no comments on these outrageous facts – in either of the reports of the temporary acting division and corps commanders. 

         Situation in the 37th tank division by June 28 was much better. 221 tanks (of 316 in total) were ready for action. 26 tanks more kept waiting in the division's permanent post in town Kremenets. Three fourths of the total number of BT-7 tanks had survived the many days of stupid wandering along forest roads and were still operable, according to the report of the division commander. "Only" 69 tanks were lost without any clue.

        The loss of tanks in the 10th tank division in the battle of June 28 is specified as follows: 1 KV, 1 T-34, 7 BT-7. The 15th Mechcorps was put on the "front reserves" since morning of June 29, which actually meant continuous retreat to Dnieper river. The tank park of the 15th Mechcorps (as of July 6-8) was the following:

 

                      10th td

   KV

  T-34

  T-28

  BT-7

  T-26

Total

  Actual number by the end of June, 26

   10

     5

     4

    20

    0

    39

  Combat losses on June 28

     1

     1

     0

      7

    0

      9

  Actual number by July 6

     2

     3

     1

    12

    2 (?)

    20

 

        By the moment the report was signed by the temporary acting commander of the 10th tank division there were no more tanks in it. Not a single one. It is specified directly in the text of the report (28, page 211). There is also a table "decoding" the origin of tank losses. The first thing to see is a huge range of reasons for losses. Instead of a clear and accurate classification:

- lost in contact with the enemy (shot down)

- lost without contact with the enemy for technical reasons (broke down)

- abandoned

         report authors invented 10 tortuous kinds of reasons:

1) shot down and burnt on the battlefield;

2) broke down in mission and remained in the territory occupied by the enemy

3) did not return from the battlefield after the attack together with the crew

4) burnt down under enemy bombing (it's worth mentioning there is exactly ONE BT-7 tank in this category)

5) remained isolated by the enemy due to technical malfunction or lack of fuel

6) abandoned due to the lack of fuel and inability to get it, as the area was taken by the enemy

7) lost in action with crews

8) destroyed in repair stations due to the impossibility of evacuation on retreat

9) abandoned on retreat due to technical failures and impossibility of repair and evacuation

10) stuck at obstacles with impossibility of retrieval and evacuation

          Enemy contact losses are only points 1 and 4. The actual meaning of points 2 and 3 is not clear. If the tank was not "burnt down under enemy bombing" (point 4) and not "shot down and burnt on the battlefield" (point 1), then what are the other reasons for "not returning from the battlefield after the attack together with the crew"? A tank is not a long-range bomber which can fly deep into the enemy territory without anyone seeing it any more... And how should one understand point 2? Strictly speaking, just ANY new tank casualties since June 22 can be put into the "broke down in mission" category, and after the rushing retreat to the east (150-200 km on certain days) all the tanks without exception "remained on the territory occupied by the enemy". One should also remember that this report was composed in the end of July, 1941, hundreds of kilometers from the action scene when it was absolutely impossible to inspect the vehicles lost and to check the truthfulness of the reasons declared for the disappearance of three hundred tanks.

      For the loss statistics to gain at least some sense one should probably merge points 1 and 4 ("combat losses") , points 2 and 3 ("supposedly combat losses") and points 4 to 10 ("without contact with the enemy"). In this case we can see something like the following:

 

                        10th td

   KV

  T-34

  T-28

  BT-7

  T-26

Total

Operable and marched off on June 22

   63

   37

   44

  147

   27

  318

Combat losses

   11

   20

     4

    54

    7

    96

Supposedly combat losses

   11

     4

     4

      5

    5

    29

Without contact with the enemy

   34

     8

   36

    41

   12

  131

                        ???            

     7

     5

     0

    47

     3

    62

 

       So, two thirds of the tanks being quite operable in the evening of June 22 were lost without contact with the enemy. Among them 41 of the 63 impenetrable KV tanks in the arsenal. And finally, not a single of the 10 ingenious formulas can explain the loss of 62 tanks (which make up a tank brigade according to the staff lists of autumn, 1941). Authors of the report simply left them without a word.

        Almost all the tanks of the 37th tank division were lost in the retreat. There are no exact data as to the division's tank casualties in the single battle near Stanislavchik, by judging by the description of the combat given above the total losses could not be more than 10 or 20 tanks. After that the number of tanks reduced from two hundred to 14 for "unknown reasons". In general, no one knows where and when 80% of the tanks in the 37th td were lost.  

 

                      37th td

T-34

BT-7

T-26

Total

  Actual number by the end of June, 26

29

185

7

221

  Combat losses on June 28

 

 

 

20 (?)

  Actual number by July 6-8

2

12

0

14

???

27

173

7

187

 

          The most powerful unit in the South-Western front (by the number of tanks, with the most modern KV and

T-34 among them) was the 4th Mechcorps. There were two tank divisions in the corps: the 8th and the 32nd.

           The 8th td together with the 4th Mechcorps spent the first two days of warfare rushing about in the Yavorov-Nemirov area, where it lost 19 T-34 tanks in contact with the German infantry. The division commander's report does not tell anything about the loss of other tanks, but the division had 65 tanks in the ranks when it came into the operational command of the 15th Mechcorps commander. Where were the remaining 240 tanks of one of the most powerful Red Army tank divisions?

           The 8th tank division lost 12 tanks in the combat near Toporouv-Lopatin on the 28th of June. This was followed by the retreat and a days-long battle near Berdichev in which a group of tanks from the 8th division participated. The 8th td commander Colonel Petr Semenivich Fotchenkov died in August 1941 in the "Uman trap". The division did not exist as a tank unit by that moment any more. However, we still have a report composed by the 8th td commander with a comprehensive and detailed answer to the questions raised above. The authors of this document were remarkably courageous to use the word "abandoned" straight from the shoulder. Let us put all the data from the report into a table: (152, page 246)

 

 

     KV

     T-34

   T-28

 BT-7

  T-26

   Total

Initial number by 22.06.1941

     50

    140

      68

   31

   36

   325

Shot down

     13

      54

      10

    2

    6

     85

Abandoned, lost in action, mired, other

     27

      51

      27

   15

   15

   135

Sent back to the factory, worked out machine hours

      8

      32

        0

     3

     5

     48

 Arithmetical balance                                                  

      2

        3

      31

   11

    10

     57

 

        Thus, the main reason for tank casualties of one of the best Red Army divisions was: "abandoned" (107 units), "lost in action" (10 units), "mired" (6 units), and some absolutely unclear "other" reason (12 units), which make up 135 tanks in total. There is also no clear answer to the question of where the arithmetical balance of 31

T-28 tanks was (tanks of this type are not listed in the summary reports of the Tank Department of the South-West Front as of July 15-17). Besides, the remaining 57 tanks are also just on the balance sheet: by the 7th of July, when the battle for Berdichev started, there were only 32 tanks listed in the 8th td… Keeping in mind this "order" in the tank units, one has to put to doubt the truthfulness of the 54 T-34 tanks shot down in two weeks of combat, since this type of tanks was virtually invulnerable by the 37mm anti-tank guns of the German infantry. This figure (54 T-34 tanks shot down of the total of 140) looks very strange against the much smaller figures of casualties (both in absolute and in relative terms) among the BT-7 and T-26 tanks, with their light bullet-proof armor.

         The situation with tank casualties in the 32nd tank division of the 4th Mechcorps was similar. There is a detailed report of the 32nd td commander Colonel E.G.  Poushkin on the combat actions of the division (28, p.181-192). The total losses suffered by the division on combat against the German infantry since June 23 to June 29 make up 23 tanks. Eleven more tanks were lost by the two tank battalions which were pushed forward to Radekhov area in the evening of June 22, where a battle against the units of the 11th German tank division took place in the afternoon on June 23. The total combat losses made up 34 tanks. These battles were followed by the retreat across Dnieper, during which the 32nd tank division had episodic battle contact with the chasing foremost units of the German motorized infantry. The exact number of losses from these minor actions is only mentioned once in Colonel Poushkin's report:

"... 10.07.41. A group of tanks of Captain Karpov (10 tanks and 2 armored vehicles) concentrated near Beizymovka and attacked the enemy in the Olshanka direction at 20:00, but had to withdraw at 23:00 without infantry support and stood on the defence 300-400 meters south of Olshanka. The next day the group fought against the overwhelming enemy in the same area and, as the result of the 32nd motorized rifle regiment having fled from the front, was completely destroyed and left on the battlefield, except for one tank..." (28, p. 185)

         So, we can "name" 43 tanks destroyed in action. We can suppose that a similar number of casualties was not reflected in the description of the division's combat actions. But the figures describing the casualties in the "Materiel allowance list" attached to the report are absolutely different. The total number of tanks lost is 269 (37 KV, 146

T-34, 28 BT-7, 58 T-26).

          However, even these phenomenal casualty rates of impenetrable tanks do not match the actual balance. Simple arithmetic tells us that the 32nd tank division should have had 12 more KV tanks after losing 37 of them. But the "Condition and amount of the materiel among the mechcorps at the front" report signed by the Head of the Tank Department of the South-Western front on July 15, 1941 tells us there were only 6 KV tanks left in the whole 4th Mechcorps (even not in the 32nd td alone!).

          The fact that most of the tanks casualties had nothing to do with enemy fire is also affirmed by the ratio of losses in personnel and combat equipment. So, according to the report of the 32nd td commander, its 63rd tank regiment lost 17 people killed and 63 wounded since June 22 to July 30, 1941. At the same time, 145 armored vehicles were lost over the same period (14 KV, 61 T-34, 42 T-26, 19 T-37, 9 BA-10) (28, p. 190). To understand the meaning of these figures one should also remember that the personnel of a tank regiment is not made of solely tank crew; thus, tankmen only make up a part of the manpower casualties specified above…

 

         The documents which make it possible to identify and detail the phenomenal "tank plague" which seized the Red Army in the first weeks of war were declassified more than forty years ago. The copy of the "Collection of combat documents of the Great Patriotic War, N 35" I worked with (which contains most of the information set forth in the previous chapters) is stamped with a blue stamp: "Declassified. The General Staff directive N 203995 of 30.11.65".

        The problem is that declassifying and making publicly available does not mean the same thing in our country. The so-called "general public" has actually no idea (and frankly speaking, no access) of these document by today. What is interesting is that the so-called Soviet "historians" started their preparation for the moment when the truth finally comes out well beforehand. They issued hundreds of books and articles telling "to the city and the world" that Soviet tanks were extremely unreliable, primitive, well-worn and had their motor capacity worked out… And that was the reason why they went to pieces right on the march in the first days of war… 

         Unfortunately, that's not a joke. Titles making pretence to scientific depth had been replicating for four decades the myth that "three fourths of tanks required repair by the start of war", with 29% of 44% among them requiring "major overhaul". Sad to say that, but even authors of such an authoritative statistical research as the "Secrecy label removed" had no scruple to tell their readers that "there were 3.8 thousand units combat-ready" of the total of 14.2 thousand Soviet tanks in the ranks of the Army in the Field by June 22, 1941. These ravings were taken from the works of Soviet "historians" right into the monographs of certain "researchers" from the West (like the infamous American Colonel David Glantz) and came back onto the shelves of Russian bookshops as a "high-class imported product".

         At the same time the actual information on technical conditions of the Red Army tank park is known since at least 1993 (from the day of the well-known "Were combat-ready" publication by N.Zolotov and S.Isayev in the "Military history Magazine", N 11/1993). N.Zolotov and S.Isayev also disclosed the truly "elegant way" to upbuild a years-long falsification.

          The fact is that according to the Order of the People's Commissar of Defense of the USSR N15 of January 10, 1940 armored vehicles were to be broken down into the following five categories:

1. New, never been in service, and suitable to be used as intended.

2. Been in service, quite operable and suitable to be used as intended.

3. Requiring repair in district workshops (intermediate overhaul).

4. Requiring repair in central workshops and in the factories (major overhaul).

5. Unserviceable (tanks belonging to this category were taken off the books and were not listed on summary spreadsheets).

          I hope it's already obvious to my reader how he or she was gammoned: the "combat-ready" tanks were only those from the 1st category (that is, brand new tanks), with the 2nd category being identified as "requiring repair". This is about the same as identifying the cars as technically sound only if they stay on the runway in the showroom, with all the cars in the streets being announced as "requiring repair"…

         The last pre-war "Summary of condition and amount of combat vehicles as of June 1, 1941" (Central Archives of the Ministry of Defence, f.38, op.11353, 924, 135-138, 909, 2-18) tells us that there were 12,782 tanks in the ranks of five western frontier districts (without the outdated T-27 tankettes removed from operational use), of which 10,540 tanks were "suitable to be used as intended" (categories 1 and 2), which makes 82.5% of the whole tank park. Among them, 5465 tanks belonged to the Kiev special military district (the future South-Western front), with 4788 units in the 1st and 2nd categories (87.6 %).

         These figures, however, do not describe the technical condition of the tanks which directly belonged to the mechcorps of the Kiev special military district. The fact is that there were more tanks in the district than in the mechcorps. The eight (22nd, 15th, 4th, 8th, 16th, 9th, 19th, 24th) mechcorps of the Kiev special military district had "only" 4808 tanks of the total 5465. Six hundred more tanks belonged to scout battalions of rifle divisions, tank regiments of cavalry divisions, training centers, repair bases and depots. We can reliably suppose that all (or almost all) new tanks went to the mechcorps rather than to rifle divisions. This means that the percent of the mechcorps tanks "suitable to be used as intended" was higher than the district average. 

         Let us now get to technical condition estimation of the tanks in the 10th tank division of the 15th Mechcorps – the phenomenal casualties of which made up the start of this chapter. Let us once again open the "Report on combat actions of the 10th tank division at the battlefront against the German fascism" and read the following:

"…the KV and T-34 tanks were all without exception new units and had up to 10 machine hours by the start of warfare (mainly due to test runs)…

The average endurance range of the T-28 tanks was up to 75 machine hours…

Endurance range of the BT-7 tanks was from 40 to 100 machine hours...

Most of the T-26 tanks were in good technical condition with only up to 75 machine hours…" (28, p. 207)

        Now let's get from the "machine hours" to mileage which is clear to everyone. The very modest (and an absurdly low for a high-speet BT tank) cruising speed of 10 kpm turn a "tiny" rest of 75-100 machine hours into 750-1000 kilometers. It's very little for a bus running by schedule and having to carry passengers all the day long. But that's more than enough for a tank. Actually, tanks do not live that much in wartime. A large front-scale offensive supposes an advance of 200-250-300 kilometers  One has to multiply these numbers by 1.5 or 2 (up to 500-600 km), taking into consideration the maneuvering inevitable in days-long battles. Tanks of the 10th tank divisions had motor capacity more than enough to reach Lyublin and Krakov. Actually, one could not want more. A tank surviving a large front offensive completely pays off its productions and operation. It can be wrote off or put to a major overhaul with a free heart after that…

 

  ... Finally, one can reliably state that there have never been anything like such a "mass plague" among Soviet tanks neither before summer 1941 nor after that. They turned out to be "unreliable", "inoperable" and "irrepairable" only in the first few weeks of the Soviet-German war. Before that Soviet tanks showed miracles of endurance.

         The first operational use of BT tanks took place during the war in Spain. 50 BT-5 tanks made up a tank regiment of the Republican army, which entered the battleground at river Ebro in October, 1937 after a march of 630 (six hundred thirty) kilometers in two and a half days (97). Running characteristics of the BT tanks have probably taken their severest test on Khalkhin-Gol (Mongol). End of May, 1939 two tank brigades (the 6th and the 11th) completed an outstanding 800km-long march through the burning Mongolian steppe to the future battle scene (the temperature of air those days exceeded 40 degrees; one can only have a slightest idea of what was on in the steel bodies burning hot under the sun). Here's how the Hero of the Soviet Union K.N.Abramov (tank battalion commander of the 11th brigage) describes the situation:

     "…The battle alarm for our brigade sounded on the 28th of May. We had an hour and a half to make the alert preparations. The battalion was ready for the march in 55 minutes. We had an incredibly straining and extensive 800 kilometers long march through the waterless Mongolian steppe before us… The column moved along a hardly noticeable steppe road worn by camel caravans. The road disappeared in sand here and there. We had to switch our tanks from wheeled to fully-tracked move to pass sandy and swamped areas. The well-trained crews did this job in 30 minutes".  

          By the end of May 31 the battalion fully crewed entered the destination area. The 800 kilometers long march took the 6th tank brigade a little more time (6 days). Six years after the battle on Khalkhin-Gol, in August 1945,

BT-7 tanks in the ranks of the 6th Guards Tank Army participated in the so-called "Manchzu strategic operation". Tank brigades covered 820 (eight hundred twenty) kilometers across the Great Khingan ridge (China) with the average march tempo of 180 kilometers a day (167). Only 78 (seventy eight) units of the total of 1019 tanks of all kinds were lost in the operation ! (35, p.373) The old BT units (the newest of which had been produced five years before that) stood this test, as well. Even if we assume the tanks spent all these six years on preservation their technical condition could only decline over time: rubber tubing would embrittle, seal gaskets would push up, and terminals would be corroded.

        Let us now get from the Far East back to the West. More than 3.5 thousand tanks participated in the "liberation campaign" to Poland in September 1939. Most of them were the "unreliable and falling into pieces on the run" T-26 and BT units. Not more than 12% of the total number of tanks were lost for technical reasons! Note that the battleground (the Western Ukraine) was the same as the one in June 1941, where the mechanized corps of the South-Western front were seized by the mass "tank plague".

         The story of the T-34 tank, as all the books tell us, started with two prototype tanks covering 3000 km on the route Kharkov-Moscow-Minsk-Kiev-Kharkov under their own power. They took their march along muddy spring country roads (using highways or even bridges in daytime was prohibited for reasons of secrecy). Indeed, this march was a harsh test for the vehicles – main friction disks got burnt, chips were found on transmission gear teeth, brakes got overheated. Actually, the interrepair mileage for serial T-34 tanks was set not to 3000 km (that was the fantastic figure in the technical design specification), but rather to "only" one thousand kilometers.

         In the January cold of 1943 during the "Don" offensive Soviet tank brigades covered more than 300 kilometers through the snow-covered Don steppe and defeated large German forces of the "A" Army group which had broken through to the oil-bearing zones of Mozdock and Grozny in summer 1942. In summer 1944 during the "Bagration" operation (defeat of the German "Center" army group in Byelorussia) the 5th Guards Tank Army covered 900-1300 kilometers through roadless forests and swamps with an attack tempo up to 60 kilometers per day and total engine life consumption of 160-170 hours (167, p.227). In May 1945 tanks of the 3rd and 4th Guards tank armies covered more than 400 kilometers from Berlin to Prague. They did their march through mountainous and wooded terrain in five days – without significant technical losses. The legendary "thirty four" fought its way through all the war and remained in the ranks of many armies all over the world till the middle of the 50ies. Captured Soviet tanks and light "Komsomolets" artillery tractors did their service in the Finnish army till 1961! With no spare parts, no operational manual, amidst the Finnish snows and swamps… 

           But the most surprising proof of reliability and survivability of Soviet machinery's can be obtained through analysis of casualties of Red Army mechcorps in the summer of 1941. Not tanks casualties, but rather casualties in motorcars.  

          Let's open the report of the 10th tank division commander once again. There were 864 operable trucks and tank-cars on the division's list by the start of war. 613 of them went across Dnieper to Piriatin. A great result! Almost three fourths of the initial car park covered at least 500 kilometers (the report states it was 3000 kilometers) from the border to Dnieper – on bumpy country roads, under continuous strikes of enemy aircrafts, without any repair services and spare parts. One would also add the "lack of fuel" one to the "compulsory Soviet list of reasons" for the defeat, but that is not the way it happens, so there is nothing left than to admit that there was fuel for the trucks.

          If 613 of 864 cars came to Piriatin, then there must have been casualties. Arithmetic gives us the figure of 251, the report contains a list of reasons for the loss of 293 motorcars. One of the reasons for this discrepancy could be dozens of passenger cars in the division apart from the trucks. But let us not look for faults in these insignificant details. Another thing is more important: what were the reasons for the loss of cars?

         "210 vehicles were lost in combat, 34 vehicles with their drivers remained on the territory isolated by the enemy due to technical faults and the lack of fuel, 2 vehicles were destroyed in the repair station due to impossibility of evacuation with the general retreat, 6 vehicles were stuck on obstacles due to impossibility of evacuation, and 41 vehicles were abandoned at retreat due to technical faults and impossibility of repair."

           So, 77 vehicles at most were lost due to technical faults, which makes less than 9% of the initial total amount. This is an astonishing technical reliability rate. What are those "ultrareliable and off-highway" vehicles? The report answers this question exactly: 503 units of GAZ-AA and  297 units of ZIS-5.

        A GAZ-AA "Gazik" is the former Americal Ford-A. A simple and cheap low-end truck. A simple and cheap for the beginning of the 20ies, when it was developed and put into production. By the start of the 40ies it could already be placed into a technical museum. Front axle on a single spring across the frame, back axle hangs upon two half-spring "stumps", a carburetor with no air filter (just a hole for air intake –and nothing more). It was only a deep track pit that could hold such a vehicle on a straight move with its "furious" 40 km per hour. The "gazik" driver would put his car for repairs every two or three runs from the kolkhoz field to the town elevator: pulling over crankshaft babbit bearings, washing up the "suction" carburetor, etc. And this shabby thing was more reliable, passable and protected against air attacks than armored tracked vehicles some of which (like BT-7 and T-34) could be considered the best tanks in the world by all mobility criteria?

          Is it possible to draw any far-reaching conclusions based on casualty data of a single division? Of course it isn't, so let us go further. The 37th tank division of this very 15th mechcorps. The exact number of motorcars in the ranks by the start of warfare is specified neither in the division commander's report nor in the report of the temporary acting corps commander. There are only complaints stating that "the motorized rifle regiment was severely understaffed with motorcars". On the 15th of July, 1941 the division in Piriatin had the following materiel on the list: "T-34 tanks – 1 unit, BT-7 tanks – 5 units, BA-10 armored vehicles – 10 units, wheeled vehicles – 173 units". One hundred seventy three motorcars. And only 6 tanks out of 316.

         Let's look into the commander's report of the 32nd tank division of the 4th mechcorps. Of the total amount of 420 motorcars of all types (passenger cars, trucks, special cars, tank-cars) 133 were lost (28, p.189-192). That makes 32% of the initial amount. Remember the tank casualties: 269 out of 323.

         The 18th Mechcorps of the Southern front. Just like other units of the Southern front, it joined the battle actions and was defeated several weeks later than the mechcorps of the South-Western front. The 18th mechcorps still existed by the end of July. It has only 43 BT tanks and 19 T-26 tanks in the ranks, and apart from that – 100 passenger cars and 1771 trucks and special motorcars, with 1230 "ultrareliable" GAZ-AA among them.

          The 2nd Mechcorps of the Southern front lived longer than the others. As of August 1, the corps had 136 tanks (26% of the initial amount) and 3294 motorcars (87% of the initial amount) on the list (152, p. 412, 415).

          Let us now get to the summary data. For that purpose we'll turn to the most official source of all: the already mentioned "Secrecy label removed" collection of statistical documents. Its authors did a great job. The fourteen pages enlist casualties in arms and military equipment by each year of war. Tanks apart from guns, 122-mm howitzers apart from 152-mm howitzers, etc. Casualty rates in the second half of 1941 are terrific: 73% of tanks, 70% of antitank guns, 65% of mounted machineguns, 61% of mine throwers... And only 33% of the total amount of motorcars! (35, p. 352-363).

          How could that be? Primitive "gaziks" and the slightly better ZIS cars proved to be many times as reliable as tanks? More reliable than armored motorcars build on the base of these very ZISes? Plywood cabs were firmer than steel-armored case? And there seemed to be enough gasoline for timely departure from the territory occupied by the enemy... A car is not a horse, and definitely not a Red Army soldier – it won't move without gas on plain words.

          But maybe we just miss something important? Maybe there is some "law of war" unknown to amateurs according to which combat survivability of plywood cars exceeds that of the armored tanks?

          These doubts kept me restless until I opened the "Turn at Moscow" monograph by Reinhardt well-known to professionals (171, p.381). The last pages of the book by the "beaten Hitler general" contains a table with figures depicting casualty rates of Wehrmacht in arms and military equipment (including motorcars) in the Eastern front in 1941. And my last doubts went away. No miracles: motorcar casualties in an army at war are many times higher than tank losses:

 

    tanks

motorcars

   k=

Red Army

 20.500

 159,000

    8

Wehrmacht

   2.831

 116,000

   41

 

         The difference in numbers is dramatic. Let us for some time leave alone the question of why the losses in the Red Army being on retreat exceed the losses of the attacking Wehrmacht. One can find or invent plenty of "objective" reasons for that. But there are 41 lost motorcars for each lost tank in Wehrmacht, with only 8 in the Red Army. And this is the average figure for the second half of 1941. However, if we look at the structure of casualties of the mechcorps of the South-Western front in the first three weeks of war (while there still were tanks), the amount of motorcars lost almost equals the amount of lost tanks, or the casualties in tanks may even be higher in absolute terms.

         The answer is very simple. The Wehrmacht was fighting. Yes, they were fighting to plunder a foreign land, under the orders of an inhuman regime. But the German army did fight, and it tried to save its tanks first and foremost. The Red Army turned into a crowd of armed escapees from the very first hours of war, and for these "escapees" the troglodytic "gaziks" were much more valuable than the most modern world-best tanks.

 

Mark Solonin became the first who dared to say: But the emperor has no clothes! The very first step, the simplest comparison of the number of airplanes, announced as being destroyed on land (800 units), with the total number of Soviet AF, deployed on the Western USSR borders (more than 8.500 units), as well as a comparison of the number of airfields being attacked (66) with the total number of airfields in the Western military districts (613), knocks over like skittles. However, the content of a 600-page long research "At the Airfields That Seemed to Be Asleep is much deeper; questions which the author is asking, are much more complex than unmasking of obvious nonsense.
Every step, every try as well as a documented, fair and unprejudiced answer to these three issues lead the researcher to a deadlock of unsolvable, at first sight, contradictions. Why Stalins empire, after years of preparation for the Big War, having concentrated all resources of the richest country in the world, and, finally, having amassed the biggest army size in the world, suffered a crushing defeat in the summer of 1941? Why Stalin, who didnt believe his closest comrades, did believe to Ribbentrops signature in the non-aggression pact? Why the Soviet Union utterly militarized totalitarian empire found itself to be the only participant of the WWII, which started mobilizing its Armed Forces not before the start of combat actions (as did everybody else) and not even on the date of Hitlers invasion, but only on the second day of the war, on June 23, 1941? Why hours before the German invasion fighter regiments of Soviet AF received a day-off, while surface-to-air divisions were withdrawn to the far home front airfields? These are among the questions that will be addressed in my book.
Copyright Mark Solonin
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