NQM Soviet Orbats

Chris Kemp's Not Quite Mechanised
Orders of Battle - Eastern Front

Soviet Front HQs and Troops

Soviet divisions were organised into corps of 2 or more divisions. Corps were organised into armies or one or more corps, and armies were organised into fronts.
At corps, army and front level, progressively heavier levels of equipment are found. Remember that a front will not spread its heavy support equipment around, but will concentrate it at a point of attack.
Units such as 203mm heavy artillery battalions, bridging battalions and maskirovka units all appear at front level in NQM.

A Sample NQM Front HQ will contain models to represent :
Front Commander -  eg West Front Gen Zhukov
Front Command HQ containing :  Signals Bn, Air Army HQ, Front Artillery HQ,  Front Pioneer HQ,
Front Administrative  HQ containing : Railhead and Front Supply Depot, Repair Depot, Traffic Control Bn, Front Field Hospital, Propaganda, Commisars.
Front Level Troops : AA,  Artillery, spetznatz, Engineer, Transport, Penal battalions.
Similarly army and corps headquarters should be represented in scaled down form. Even producing fairly minimal markers for these headquarter starts to fill the real estate up in the rear areas in a most satisfactory manner.
A scene familiar to Sappers the world over. Engineers wait for their turn to put in from the assembly area. There is always someone with their jacket undone and a smoke on the go!
ZIS 5 with N2P pontoon. This model is from Phil Steele's collection.

Where it becomes difficult to try to understand the size of Soviet units, is that for some periods of the war, units were very much under strength, just as the Germans were towards the end of the war. So a unit might be called a Tank Brigade, Division , or Corps, and yet be only as strong as a western Tank Battalion. To gain a deeper understanding of the way that unit strengths fluctuated, it is well worth reading SJ Zaloga.

In our campaign, we usually assume that a Tank Brigade is 6 tanks strong at full strength, and 3 at half strength. We give a division 2 Tank Brigades, and usually assume that a Tank Corps is about the same strength as a Division. The more units we fight with on the table, the weaker we make them. It is crude, but it seems to work. At one stage in the campaign, we were fighting with a scale of 1 stand = 1 Bn, and that seemed to work too, although some players complained of the battles feeling "bland"

Soviet Infantry Division

Div HQ   1 Commander (in Gaz Jeep, on foot or horse) (s3), 1 Signals Staff Car (s3), 1 AA stand (truck, towed or horse drawn) (s3)
Div Recce Coy3 single fig recce stands, (on foot, horse or Motorcycle) (s1)
Inf Regt (or Bde)HQ x 3Comd (s3), 82mmMor (s3), SMG or NKVD (s3), 45mm or 76mm Regt Gun (s3) + limber (s3)
Inf Bn x up to 9Comd, 3 Rifles, MMG  (all s3)
Arty RegtComd (s3), 0-1 FOO (s3),  76mm Div gun (s3) + limber (s3)
Arty Regt x 0-1
Comd (s3), 0-1 FOO (s3), 122mm Howitzer (s3)+ limber (s3)
Arty Regtx 0-1Comd (s3), 0-1 FOO (s3), 120mm Mortar (s3)+ limber (s3)
MG Bn1-3 MMG (s3), Anti-tank Rifle (ATR) (s3)
Anti- Tank Bn 45mm Gun (s3)+ Limber (s3), Anti-tank Rifle (ATR) (s3)
Pioneer Bn2 Pioneer (s3), 1-2 Wagons (s3) + 0-1 Bridging Trailer (s3)
 Supply Train
  Normally fielded at corps or front level - 3 trucks (s3)
With its lend-lease transport and motorised AA, this must be a Guards Divisional HQ
Divisional Recce Company and Divisional Anti-tank Battalion
Regimental Headquarters. The Commisar is waving his pistol wildly, as usual!
Infantry Battalion, one of thousands. Peter Pig and Old Glory UK Figures
Divisional Artillery Regiment equipped with 76mm Divisional Guns. Peter Pig and converted Airfix Universal Carrier
Divisional Artillery Regiment equipped with 120mm Mortars
Divisional Artillery Regiment equipped with 122mm Divisional Howitzers. I would normally only field a lavishly radio-equipped unit like this at Corps or Front level, or perhaps in a Guards Division
Machine Gun Battalion. Peter Pig figures
Pioneer Battalion. Peter Pig figures from his WW1 range with a scratch built truck and 1/72 Airfix trailer
TO&E (Table of Organization and Equipment)

1  Gaz Jeep, 1 Signals Staff Car, 1 AA stand (truck, towed or horse drawn), 3(3) recce stands, (on foot, horse or Motorcycle), 15(30) Comd stands (3 Bde, 3 Arty and 9 Bn)*, 3 82mmMortars, 3(3-6) SMG or NKVD stands, 4 45mm or 76mm Regt Guns  + 5-7 limbers, 18(36) Rifle stands, 10-12 MMGs, 0-3 FOO stands,  1 76mm Div gun, 0-1 122mm Howitzer, 0-1 120mm Mortar, 2 Anti-tank Rifles, 2(4) Pioneer stands, 1-2 Wagons  + 0-1 Bridging Trailer. Normally fielded at corps or front level – 3 trucks.

* A stand may have 2 or 3 figures on it. The figure in brackets is the number of figures you will need to purchase, based on 2 figs for rifles and comd, Mortars and MMG assume you will use the numbers of crew that come with the packs that you purchase. Atk guns assume 3 crew and field artillery assumes 4 crew.

Note that the Soviet infantry division would have no forward observation officers (FOOs), early in the war, so can only pre-plan indirect artillery fire, or use direct artillery fire. As the war progressed FOOs were introduced in greater quantity.   
23 Infantry Division on parade before the Great Patriotic War
The  picture of the infantry division above deviates from the orbat. The pioneer battalion  only has 1 wagon. The brigade mortars are 120mm (the artillery commander is surely going to want them back!) The anti-tank battalion 45mm gun is towed by a captured German Granit truck. The rifle regiments can only muster two battalions per brigade, and they have no battalion command stands, so can only operate as a brigade not individually. The brigade HQs have had to make do with ATRs instead of 45mm ATk guns. Two of the three artillery regiments, are making do with 76mm regimental guns instead of the more powerful divisional gun. At least one of the divisional recce companies is over strength. (Modified December 2011)

Soviet Cavalry Division

Div HQ & Sig Sqn1 Comd (Gaz Jeep, foot or horse)(s3), 1 Signals Staff Car (s3)
Div Tank Sqn0-1 Light Tk (T-37/40)(s1) or A/C (s1-2)
Cav Regt  HQ x 3Comd, MMG,  NKVD (all stands@s3), 45mm (s3)+ limber (s3)
Cav Sqn x up to 153-5 Rifles( 0-2 may be SMG) (all stands@s3)
 Horse Arty BnComd (s3), 0-1 FOO(s3), 76mm Div gun (s3) + limber (s3)
Arty Ammo Column1-2 trucks or limbers (S3) - may be fielded at corps level
Arty RegtComd (s3), 0-1 FOO(s3), 122mm gun (s3) + limber (s3)
Anti- Tank Bn45mm Gun (s3)+ Limber (s3), 1 Anti-tank Rifle (ATR)(s3)
Pioneer Bn2 Pioneers (s3), 1-2 Wagons (s3)+ 0-1 Bridging Trailer (s3)

Note that the Soviet cavalry division would have no FOOs early in the war, so can only pre-plan indirect artillery fire, or use direct artillery fire. As the war progressed FOOs were introduced in greater quantity.   
Here the Divisional Commander is in a Rolls Royce, and the Divisional Tank Squadron only has an armoured car. The Divisional Artillery is made up from an assortment of older field pieces.

In 1939 the establishment of the Division was 4 regiments each of 5 squadrons, (Total 20) and a mechanised regiment of a tank battalion and two motor rifle battalions. Supporting arms comprised a horse artillery regiment, anti-tank battery, anti-aircraft squadron and pioneer squadron. Out of a possible (75) cavalry sabre stands, My division currently has (24)**.
There are only Four Regiments in this picture. One has a Tachanka , but is short of Sabre Squadrons. Two are more or less at full strength, and one is down to three Squadrons.

The cavalry briefly benefited from the need to absorb mechanised troops after the destruction of mechanised corps as an effective fighting force in the early stage of the war. Later it lost these forces as the mechanised forces were rebuilt.
The Divisional Pioneers, Artillery Ammunition Column and Divisional Anti-Tank Bn are all shown here. The first two troop stands from the left are Pioneers. Our Division depicted here only has two 45mm Gun Companies and an Anti-Tank Rifle Company.
1  Gaz Jeep, 1 Signals Staff Car, 0-1 Light Tk (T-37/40), 5(10) Cav Comd stands (3 Bde, 2 Arty)*, 3(3-6) SMG or NKVD stands, 4 45mm or 76mm Regt Guns  + 5-7 limbers, 45-75(90-150) Cav Rifle stands**, 3 MMGs(Tachanka), 0-3 FOO stands,  1 76mm Div gun, 0-1 122mm Howitzer,  1 Anti-tank Rifle, 2(4) Pioneer stands, 1-2 Wagons  + 0-1 Bridging Trailer. Normally fielded at corps or front level – 1-2 trucks.

**By 1941 the orbat had been reduced to the one shown at the top of the page :  15 Sqns of 3-5 stands = 45-75 Stands.  (I still have only 24 stands in my cavalry division but am bulking it out with dismounted stands).

 Soviet Tank Corps

Div HQ   Commander mounted in Gaz Jeep (s3), Signals Staff Car (s3)
Recce Bn 0-1 Lt Tank (s2), 0-1 A/C (s2), Motorcycle (s 3)
Tank Bde (Comd T-34 (s3), 0-1 T-34 (s 3) 1942) or 1 KV-1 (s2) 1941
Tank Bde 1 Comd T-34 (s3),  0-1 T-34(s 3) 1941-45
Tank Bde 1 Comd T-34 (s3) 1942 or comd T-70 (s4) 1941-2, 0-1 T-34 (s3) 1942-45
Motor Rifle BdeComd stand (s3), 3 rifle or SMG tank riders (s2-3), MMG (s3), 0-3 Gaz Trucks (s3) (up to 3 if rifles or 0 if SMG tank riders)
Anti- Tank Bde 0-1 76mm Gun (s3)+ Limber (s3)
SP Arty Regt0-1 SU-76 or SU-85 or SU-152 (s2-3) attached from army level
Mortar Regt82mm/120mm Mortar (s3) 1943 + limber (s3) Gaz Truck/Komsolets tractor
Pioneer Bn 2 Pioneer Stands (s3), 1 Gaz Truck (s3) with optional Bridging Trailer (s3)
Note that the Soviet tank corps have no Forward Observation Officers (FOO), so can only pre-plan indirect artillery fire, or use direct artillery fire.    
Author's Collection. Various, also scratchbuilds and conversions.
This pre-war Corps shows three tank brigades of 100 tanks each. Five to six models are all that were ever present after 1941
Despite calling it a corps, This was really a divisional sized unit. After the chaos of the first months of the war, the Soviets doggedly rebuilt their tank forces and authorised a new corps structure. There were a number of ups and downs before the ability of the factories to supply tanks caught up with the rate that the Soviets were losing them to the enemy.

In 1943 a tank army orbat was also raised, containing a rifle division and two tank corps, although as with every other orbat, it varied.
For more detail see  Zaloga and Ness (1998)  Red Army Handbook 1939-1945, which is an excellent one-stop source for wargamers.
The  picture of the Tank Corps above is on pre-war Tables of Organisation and Equipment (TO&Es) despite the models being T-34 76s and 85s : There is no Engineer Battalion. The Mortar regiment has substituted a captured Raupenschlepper Ost for a Gaz truck, and is joined by two more regiments for an offensive. The Self Propelled Artillery Regiment  1 Su85 and an SU-76. The Anti-tank Brigade has  a Regimental 76mm gun instead of the later divisional 76mm gun. The Command Stand in the Motor Rifle Brigade has no transport; it will oblige a Rifle Company to ride on the back of a Tank Company, as the Command Stand takes its place in a Gaz truck. The T-34s are a pretty mixed bag, and two of them look suspiciously like KV-1 conversions. The divisional headquarters has managed to scrounge some anti-aircraft cover.

1943 onwards, 1944 onwards, 1945 onwards

Tank corps HQ. Command car (s3), Signal Van (s3), T-34 (s3).
Tank brigade x 3. 3 T-70 (s2), 3 T-34 (s3), 0 T-70,6 T-34 (s3). This is a total for all 3 brigades and a vast improvement on the state of  the tank corps in April 1942 shown below.

Motor rifle brigade HQ.  Comd (s3), 82mm mortar (s3), 120mm mortar (s3).
Infantry Battalion x 3  Comd (s3), 2-3 Rifle (s3), 0-1 SMG (s3), Truck (s3).
Artillery Regiment. 76mm gun (s2)(s1)(s3) + Limber (s3), Su76/85 (s3)(s4), SU-152 (s2), [Katushas, SU-152, are shown at army, or artillery division level. As I understand it, SU-152s were gradually replaced by SU-85s as these became available]

A Zvezda 15mm T-26 and KV-1 with a Plastic Soldier Company T-34 make the tank element of a 1942 Soviet tank corps
It should be stressed once more that these were authorised strengths, not necessarily achieved strengths. The Soviets might have flattered themselves that this was a corps, but it looked divisional-sized to the Wehrmacht.

Soviet Mechanised Corps 

Corps HQ   Comd car (s3) (in Gaz Jeep), signals staff car (s3),  0-1 NKVD sect (s1)
Corps Recce BnComd M/C (s3), 0-1  A/C (s3) - A/Cs were rarely present
Tank Brigade 1 Comd T-34 (s3), 2-4 T-34 (s 3), 1-2 T-26 or T-34 (s3) (max of 6 models in total but often 2 Lt 3 Med) 0-6 SMG tank riders (s3)
Motor Rifle Bde x 3Bde comd (s3), 82mm mortar (s3), 3 rifle stands (s3), anti-tank rifle (ATR) (s3), medium machine gun (MMG) (s3)*
Arty RegtRHQ comd (s3), 1 FOO (s1-3), 1 76mm div gun (s3) + limber (s3)
SP Arty Regt
(0-1 SU-76, SU-85 or SU152) (s3) From army
Mortar Regt)RHQ comd(s3), 1 FOO(s1- 3), 1 120mm mortar (s3) + limber (s3)
Anti- Tank Regt 1 45mm Gun (s3), 1 Limber (s3), 0-1 (ATR) (s3)
Pioneer Bn2 Pioneer Stands (s3), 1-2 Trucks with optional Bridging Trailer
*2 Trucks to transport one motor rifle Bde
Gratuitous toy shot of Don Maddox's Finnish war era Soviet tank corps lining up for a parade in Red Square. In NQM terms,  every T-35 the Soviets ever built is here with 3 models to spare!
The Soviets varied their mechanised corps to cope with the gap between what they wnted and what they had. The list above was amended in December 2011 to reflect a composite orbat dated mid to late 1942. See Zaloga and Ness (1998) Red Army Handbook 1936-1945 for the detail of the ins and outs, a summary of which is reproduced here for the 1943 onwards period:

1943 onwards, 1944 onwards, 1945 onwards.

Mechanised corps HQ. Command car (s3), Signal Van (s3), T-34 (s3).
Tank bde. T-70 (s2), 5 T-34 (s3), 0 T-70, 6 T-34 (s3).
Motor rifle bde x 3. 3 82mm mortar (s3), 2 120mm mortar (s3), 45mm Atk gun (s3), This is a total for all 3 brigades.Probably no more than one of the brigades would be motorised, the other two marching or travelling on the back of tanks.
Artillery Regt. 76mm gun (s3), Su-76/85 (s2), SU-152 (s2), 37mm AA (s3) then shown at army level after 1943, Katushas, SU-152, are shown at army, or artillery division level.

Soviet Tank Brigade

Bde HQCommander mounted in Gaz Jeep (s3), Gaz Truck (s3),82mm Mortar (s3), SMG (s3), Anti-tankRifle (s3)
Med Tank BnComd T34 (s3)
Lt Tank BnComd T60 or T70 (s3), 0-1 T60 or T70 (s3)
Motor Rifle BnComd (s3), 2 SMG (s3), 0-1 MMG (s3)
can replace one SMG stand , Gaz Truck (s3)
Soviet Tank Brigade HQ. Peter Pig Zvezdza and Plastic Soldier Company
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 &l 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 
A Zvezda 15mm T-26 and KV-1 with a Plastic Soldier Company T-34 make the tank element of a 1942 Soviet tank corps
The brigade contained in total 1 KV-1 (s1),  1 T-34 (s2), 1 T-26 or BT (s2). 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 (s2-3). By April, 46 tanks (s4-5).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  
The Medium and Light Battalions. I couldn't find T60s or T70s, so these Japanese Vickers are standing in. The wire basket on the back of the T-34 allows me to place small dice or infantry on it.
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 (s2) 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 tanks standing in for T60s. The appearance may not satisfy the purist, but the method follows real life.
There is nothing to stop you amalgamating 3 x strength2 units into 2 x strength3 units. Tactically, the first option gives you more firepower with less staying power, and the second option gives you fewer guns with more battlefield endurance.

Soviet motor rifle battalion. Peter Pig and Old Glory UK
Throughout this period, the Motor Rifle Brigade 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 them vulnerable to destruction by determined infantry tank hunters deep inside the enemy defended positions.   
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)
I calculate 1 Strength point as being equivalent to 10 tanks, thus a model represents 20-30 tanks. You will see tanks with black pins on the back at the start of a game - it reminds me that they are at (s2) when the game starts, so only represent approx 20 tanks instead of the more normal 30.

Soviet Artillery Division

Div HQ   1 Commander (in Gaz Jeep, on foot or horse) (s3), 1 Signals Staff Car (s3), 1 AA stand (in truck, or towed or horse drawn) (s3)
Div Observation Bn3-6 FOO stands (s3), on foot, cart, or in Gaz Jeep
Light Artillery BdeBde Comd (s3), 2 Regt Comd with AAMG or ATk Rifle (s3), 2  76mm Div Gun (s3) + 2 limber (s3)
Howitzer BdeBde Comd (s3), 2  Regt Comd with AAMG or ATk Rifle (s3),  2  122mm Gun (s3) + limber (s3)*
Hvy Howitzer Bde (After Apr '43) in Breakthrough Arty DivBde Comd with AAMG or ATkRifle (s3),  152mm Howitzer (s2) + limber (s2)
BM Howitzer Bde (After Apr '43) in Breakthrough Arty DivBde Comd (s3),  203mm Howitzer (s2) + limber (s2)
Mortar BdeBde Comd (s3), 3 x Regt Comd with AAMG or ATkRifle (s3), 3 x 120mm Mortar (s3) + limber (s3)
Rocket Launcher Bde (Indep before Sep '44)Bde Comd with AA stand (s3), 3 x BM8 or BM13 Launcher(s4), or 3 x M31-12 Launcher(s4) (Sep'44 onwards)+ 6 Ammo Trucks (s4)
Gun BdeBde Comd(s3),  152mm Gun/Howitzer (s3) + limber (s3)

*After the Finnish campaign the Soviets increased the numbers of the heavy artillery arm and passed 122mm howitzers back to infantry divisions, replacing them with 152mm howitzers in the artillery divisions.

Artillery Divisions were unique to the Soviets, and reflected a need to control artillery as effectively as possible, with limited trained manpower. As skill levels increased,  Soviet handling of artillery became less dependent on direct fire, and more effective in the support of an attack. Mortar Battalions became Mortar Regiments in 1942, taking advantage of the mortar's simplicity, ease of manufacture and use .  The Germans learned to fear Soviet artillery, and to take extremely careful measures in defence in order to prevent destruction before attacks (Zaloga & Ness, 1998). 

This TO&E above is a composite Orbat based on a strength of 30 guns per model (Modified April 2008 and again in December 2011 to rationalise tank and artillery model ratios at around 10 per strength point.)

Total NQM Gun Strengths:

Artillery Division (Dec '42). 2 76mm gun (s3), 2 122mm howitzer (s3), 1 152mm gun-howitzer (s3), 2 120mm mortar (s3), 6 tractor limber (s3).
Breakthrough Artillery Division (Apr '43). 2 76mm gun (s3), 2 122mm howitzer (s3), 1 152mm howitzer (s3), 1 152mm gun-howitzer (s3), 3 120mm mortar (s3), 1 203mm howitzer (s2), 10 tractor limber (s3).
Heavy Gun Artillery Division (Jun '43). 4 152mm gun-howitzer (s3), 4 tractor limber (s3).
Gun Artillery Division (Oct '43). 1 76mm gun (s3), 3 152mm gun-howitzer (s3), 4 tractor limber (s3).

Towed 122mm Soviet Artillery with Scratchbuilt tractors. Author's collection.
This picture simply shows 2 regiments of towed 122mm field guns in a dug-in position. Behind are two of several of my scratch-built balsa wood and card artillery tractors.
RVKG 1941 Anti tank Brigade. 2 Anti-tank rifle (s3), 2 76mm divisional gun (s3) + limber (s3), 2 85mm AA/anti-tank gun (s3) + limber (s3). These were all disbanded in 1941 in favour of artillery regiments, which were all lost outside the gates of MOSCOW in winter 1941.

RVKG 1941 Anti tank Regiment. 76mm divisional gun (s3) + limber (s3) or 85mm AA/anti-tank gun (s3) + limber (s3).

RVKG (Apr '42) Anti-tank Brigade. 2 Anti-tank rifle (s3), 76mm/57mm/45mm gun (s3) + limber (s3). This orbat remained until late 1943 with 30 76mm regiments and 1 85mm regiment being formed.

Anti-aircraft (AA) regiments went through several iterations as Stavka juggled with effectiveness against high and low flying aircraft. They formed orbats for airfield defence regiments without transport, and mobile regiments. For simplicity I only have one AA orbat :

PVO Anti-aircraft Division. 37mm Anti-aircraft gun (s3) [2 by 1943], 12.7mm DShK MG (s3), 85/76mm AA gun (s2), quad 48 MG (s3) [1942 only]. 1-0 of any of these weapons can be present in a division, each with a limber (s3) if mobile, or without if an airfield defence division.

Independent Mortar Regiments appeared from army, corps and RVKG in calibres of 120mm, 160mm heavy and 107mm mountain : all as 1 tube (s3) + limber (s3), or as …

Independent Mortar Brigade. 4 tubes (s3) + limber (s3). I have not modelled the headquarters as these would appear at corps and front level.

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