The Extraordinary Development of the Russian Tank Arm

Friday, July 29th, 2011

The extraordinary development of the Russian tank arm, von Mellenthin says, deserves the very careful attention of students of war:

Nobody doubts that Russia can produce a Seidlitz, a Murat, or a Rommel — several of their generals in 1941–45 were certainly on that level. But this was more than the development of a few gifted individuals. In this case an apathetic and ignorant crowd, without training or natural aptitude, was endowed with brain and nerves. In the fiery furnace of war the tank crews of the Red Army were elevated far above their original level. Such a development must have required organization and planning of the highest order; it may be repeated in other spheres — for instance in their air force or submarine fleet, whose progress is furthered by the Russian High Command by every available means.

From the days of Peter the Great to the revolution of 1917, the armies of the Tsar were massive, cumbersome, and slow. In the campaign in Finland, and during the operations of 1941–42, the same criticisms could be made of the Red Army. The rise of the Russian tank arm has changed all that. Today, any realistic plan for European defense must visualize that the air fleets and tank armies of the Soviet Union will throw themselves upon us with a velocity and fury far eclipsing any Blitzkrieg of World War II. Europe is threatened by a torrent of steel, controlled by men whose spiritual outlook is not far removed from that of Attila or Genghiz Khan.

That’s from Panzer Battles, published in 1956 — and written from the safety of South Africa.


  1. AAB says:

    You’ve probably run across WW2 ballistics charts before but I ran across this stonkingly good collection of WW2 gun penetration statistics in a single pdf document. It’s got all kinds of data (from real life tank vs tank battles, ballistics charts, wargames data etc), from every major WW2 country, and every kind of anti-tank device (tank guns, artillery, rockets, mines etc). It’s 43 pages long and available here:

    [Isegoria, I searched your website to try and find a suitable post to put this reply in (e.g. one about tank battles) but couldn't find a more suitable one than this.]

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