NQM Soviet Tank Brigade

Brigade HQ

Corps scale orbat (CSO) in Red

Comd mounted in Gaz Jeep + SMG (C2)

Gaz Truck + 82mm Mortar + Anti-tank Rifle (S3)

Comd mounted in Gaz Jeep with Atr (C3)



Medium Tank Battalion

Comd T-34 (C3)


Comd T-34 (C3)

Light Tank Battalion

Comd T-60 or T-70 (C3)

0-1 T-60 or T-70 (F3)

T-60 or T-70 (F3)


Motor Rifle Battalion

Comd + 0-1 MMG  (CS2-3)

2 SMG + Gaz Truck (F3)

Infantry stand in Truck (F3)

This battalion can be portrayed with troops glued into the trucks, or as regular infantry bases, or as bases that fit into the trucks and can be deployed. You could count the truck base as a strength point as shown in the picture below, or just remove it when the infantry are deployed. It does not matter if the commander is grouped with the fighting stand or the support stand. As long as your opponent knows what is intended, that’s fine.


Soviet Motor Rifle Battalion

The BT and T26 tank appeared in about equal numbers (16 brigades of each). Much rarer were the T28 (3 brigades) and T35 (only one battalion of a maximum of 3 models (s3) in a mixed brigade with T28s). As the war progressed the Soviets changed TO&Es (Tables of Organisation & Equipment) frequently as new tanks became available, and old ones were destroyed or became obsolete. It was not until well into the war that the equipment program caught up with losses. It would be fair to say that you could be justified in fielding just about anything, but beware of introducing stuff too early in the war, and check to see just how common some of the equipment really was. At one stage, some 15% of Soviet armour was reportedly lend-lease

Tank Brigade  – Sep 1941 to Mar 1942 

SovTkBdeApr42The brigade contained in total :

1 KV-1 (F1)

1 T-34 (F2)

1 T-26 or BT (C2).

In CSO this would be 1 tank model (F2-3)

You can see that in anyone else’s army this is 5 strength points of tanks – a strong company or weak battalion! Some Brigades lacked the KV-1s.

The low point was reached in Feb ’42 with a TO&E of a mere 27 Tanks (F2-3) (CSO F1). By April, 46 tanks (F4-5). The problem was that operating light medium and heavy tanks in the same brigade just didn’t work. This led to the TO&E being reorganised in Summer ’42 to create as far as was possible, all-medium tank brigades. 

Tank Brigade – July 1942  

Tank Brigade – July 1942

This is the orbat shown at the top of the page. Although the intention was to field all-medium battalions, not enough mediums existed, and light tanks filled the gaps until destroyed or replaced.

Tank Brigade – November 1943

Medium Tank Brigade (or an entire understrength tank corps). Peter Pig and Old Glory UK

3 T34s (C2 + F2 + F2)  (CSO F1) these may be T34-76 or T34-85, or a mix of the two. Some brigades were being designated as heavy and contained KV1s.

Some brigades contained lend-lease (some 16% of all Soviet tank production),  or even captured enemy tanks (only ever small numbers) – keep one to annoy your opponent if he becomes too cocky. Better still, capture one from him and be prepared to lose one of your own in return :O)

In our campaign, the toys available dictate what appears in the Tank Brigades, so my lend-lease is made up of my Western Desert force, and you will see MkVI light and Vickers tanks standing in for T-60s. The appearance may not satisfy the purist, but the method follows real life.

There is nothing to stop you amalgamating three strength-two stands into two strength-three stands. Tactically, the first option gives you more firepower with less staying power, and the second option gives you fewer guns with more battlefield endurance.

Throughout this period, the motor rifle battalion stayed reasonably constant, except that there was an increase in provision of SMGs to the infantry, and and increasing tendency for them to ride into battle clinging to the tanks as “tank desantny“. This was a desperate tactic, and casualties were high. Combat would “strip” tanks of their infantry, and leave the tanks vulnerable to destruction by determined infantry tank hunters deep inside the enemy defended positions.   I allow desantny to ignore losing the firefight, take any hits as immediate permanent casualties and then close assault with any survivors.

Soviet Tank DesantnyTank Riders - Desantny in Action

I calculate one strength point as being equivalent to ten vehicles, thus a model tank represents twenty to thirty tanks. You will see tanks with black pins on the back at the start of a game – it reminds me that they are at (F2) when the game starts, so only represent approx twenty tanks instead of the more normal thirty. Infantry bases are normally one strength point each, with three combining to make a single (F3) or (S3) stand. Sometimes the truck base they travel in adds a single strength point as in the MMG + truck (S2) example above. Sometimes the truck base is a single (L1) stand carrying three bases, forming a (C3) or (F3) stand transported in an (L1) stand.

Nowadays (2018) rather than putting pins on, I usually start with 3 pins of any colour on the stand, and remove them when a permanent loss is made. If not using pins, I have a small 6mm die in a frame showing the strength face up. Instead of putting red pins on, I place an explosion marker or casualty marker by the stand.


The tank strengths above are all derived from S.J. Zaloga’s Soviet Tanks and Combat Vehicles of World War Two (ISBN 0-85368-606-8)

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