The Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions." --American Statesman Daniel Webster (1782-1852)

Saturday, October 31, 2020

My Shooting Experience...Last Weekend

 I was asked to run a Boy Scout Range for a camporee and I decided to use that as an excuse to run my new M4gery.  Well I took the rifle to the range....

  I had inserted a .22LR adapter into my rifle so I could save my 5.56 caliber stuff until after the rifle was sighted in.  Well I fired the first 10 rounds.....Then looked at the paper, totally blank, I then thought really hard then remembered that I forgot to run a boresight laser through the rifle before I left....Dangit....So I then said, "Screw it" flipped up the backup Iron sights,   Fired 10 rounds, looked at the target, good grouping, but off to one side and down....So I went up 4 clicks, and to the right 4 clicks, then right in the "bullseye".  Well at least the backup sight was zeroed in..  Well then the scouts started showing up. So I had to put the rifle up without drawing attention to it.  We got everyone together, I ran the safety briefing then they started shooting.....then "BOOM".    Lightening Hit.....So we had to stop shooting then shut down the range, it had started raining, but I was willing to keep going until the lightening and thunder hit.  Well we closed the range  and that was it.......dang.
        Several days later, I drag out my rifle, Find my laser boresight, and discover what I had forgotten, how temperamental that thing was....Sometimes that thing works.....sometimes it don't.   I see a new laser boresight in my future.....Just saying.

I separated the Rifle to make it easier to manipulate.   I decided to use my "work" flashlight, which is small and super bright to see if can project a beam down the barrel instead of the temperamental boresighter.  

Position the Upper on the range bag with the barrel facing the wall in the living room.

You see that circular light next to the clock?    Yep that is the light from the flashlight projecting down the barrel, I now have my reference to help align my optics.

You can see the "Green Dot" through the Optic and you can barely make out the light from the barrel , this pic showed me after I had already started aligning the sigh and the light from the barrel.  It was Way off.....High initially from the initial reading,    I have it in the ballpark now, but I will have to shoot it again to bring it to better alignment.

The Rifle is back together again.

I have heard that ATF is proposing a new rule, for us Rifle owners, it is a flotation device to prevent any future Canoe or Kayak accidents......I do know that it is an epidemic that is soo bad that it makes Kungflu look like the sniffles

Dang.........You know how many rifles this could have saved...? from the twin terrors of Kayaks and canoes?....Especially canoes....those things are weapons of mass destructions...The Sheer cargo capacity...

Well I am still having problems with the stupid "Service Engine Soon" light, and I had already used the "Ether" trick to look for a vacuum leak and didn't find it, but I did notice a dry rotted vacuum hose so I went to replace it hoping that it solves the problem.   It is connected to the Cannister Purge Solenoid 
Close up view...

I took the hose and went to NAPA to find a comparable size and started the installation.

Doing the Installation.....I like Zip Ties, it keeps things grouped together. Blame my Aviation background.

Everything installed and grouped.

While I was doing this, I had kids coming up the Driveway...That is a dish with Candy.....
      My problem exist still, I am annoyed...but I will solve the problem...

   We got the Firepit going as more kids came up, it is something we do every year.  I was pleased that kids were coming up for more candy despite the media scaring the crap out of people about the Kung-flu and the "New Normal".

And Finally   
   I Clipped this from "Monster Hunter Nation, Hunters Unite on Farcebook

The night had come. Midnight had passed and by the reckoning of Time the confluence was perfect. All Hallows’ Eve in 2020. The Veil was thinnest now in a year that had already worn down all other barriers.
This night the gaunt, skeletal form of mortality, robed in the black of eternity, observed his prey. She had been out of reach for far too long and her power had grown strong, the Will of the People sustaining her and protecting her. This night, however, the ledger would balance.
Mr. Black allowed himself the ghost of a smile and approached Ms. White.
A deep, somehow broguish, clearing of a throat shattered the silence. Mr. Black turned to see an old man with a good face staring at him. The man's eyes twinkled slightly beneath the shadow of his newsboy cap, his hands casually tucked into the pockets of a pair of tweed trousers. A miniscule smile curled his lips and turned his well kept white beard.
Mr. Black tilted his head in confusion. No one else should be here. No one should be able to see him. He turned back and Ms. White was gone. The opportunity squandered, irritation rising for the first time in millennia. He slowly returned his attention back to the intruder. The ledger would need a line item one way or another.
The man slowly took his hands out of his pockets and squared his shoulders, “Oh what the hell? You gotta die of something.”
Mr. Black paused. Such confidence in his presence. No fear, no begging, no denial, no anger. Just an understanding.
The man was now wearing a U.S. Army dress uniform. The glimmer in his eyes had now become a reflection of iron will and steel nerves, “now, are you sure you want to have a fight? Because I'm only gonna use my thumb.”
What nonsense was this mortal speaking?
“My right thumb,” he continued, “left one's much too powerful for you.”
In that moment an umbrella appeared in the man's hand. With that right thumb he opened it and, with many a strange sound and popping of the fabric, a mysterious flock of seagulls appeared. Squawking, fluttering, defecating, and being a general avian nuisance.
The man was now wearing a brown suit, bowtie, and tweed bucket hat. “I suddenly remembered my Charlemagne. ‘Let my armies be the rocks, and the trees, and the birds in the sky.’”
Mr. Black was now amused. How long had it been since his grim business had been anything but tedious?
The man now sported the most ostentatious of red attire, complete with a cocked hat and plume. A look one could almost call Spanish, were it not for the heavy Scottish accent of the man. But this man was no ordinary man. He could probably even be a Russian if he so chose to be so.
“When only a few of us are left, we will feel an irresistible pull towards a far away land, to fight for The Prize.”
At this Mr. Black chuckled. Actually chuckled. Mirth unheard since before time was time finally allowed to surface. His voice dry, cracked with passage of empires.
“Do you lose as gracefully as you win?”
The man, now young and lean, presenting a dashing form in a tailored tuxedo, tilted his chin up slightly and replied, “I don't know, I've never lost.”
The ledger balanced.

Sean Connery Passed beyond the Rim, he was 90. He was best known for James Bond, but I liked him as Juan Sanchez Ramirez, from the Movie "Highlander" as well as "Hunt for Red October". and many other movies.

Friday, October 30, 2020

Meatspace Baby

 I have been busier than a ...You guessed it....I have a Post half completed, it will go up tomorrow afternoon, It will be about my adventures shooting last weekend.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

"Tanker" Garands...The Real Story

 I remember seeing my first "Tanker" Garand when I got out of the service and a friend of mine bought one from an "Ace Hardware" in Morrow that sold firearms and I thought it was unique, but I didn't think anything of it.  I wasn't into Garands back then, they had a couple more and I wish I had bought one for the novelty if nothing else.  I have heard that they are more difficult to shoot than a regular Garand because they are "stubbier" than a regular Garand, basically the full power out of compact package. but I really don't know.  I will have to ask someone that has one for their opinion that has one.  I saw this article on "American Rifleman and shamelessly "clipped it because it was very good and I found it very informative.

For several decades prior to the adoption of the Model 1903 Springfield rifle, the U.S. Army issued its U.S. Cavalry a carbine version of the standard U.S. Infantry rifle. The last official U.S. military carbine based on the standard infantry rifle was the Model 1899 .30-40 Krag, which had a 22" barrel as compared to the Model 1898 Krag rifle’s 30" barrel.

When the Model 1903 Springfield was in development, it was decided to equip the new rifle with a 24
" barrel that was intended to be a compromise between the shorter cavalry carbine and the longer infantry rifle. Both the infantry and cavalry were generally pleased with the new rifle, and the concept of separate arms for the two branches of the Army was over. 

Nonetheless, there was still a fondness for the carbine in the minds of some of the former cavalrymen, who appreciated its light weight and handiness. There were two prototype carbine versions of the Model 1903 Springfield rifle fabricated in 1921 by Springfield Armory for testing and evaluation, but the concept never went beyond the prototype stage. 

“Tanker” Garands Ad
“Tanker” Garands had nothing to do with tanks, and the vast majority were fabricated as commercial guns by companies such as Golden State Arms. NRA Archives

When the M1 Garand rifle was adopted in 1936, it had approximately the same overall length as the M1903, which made it suitable for issue to both infantry and cavalry units. Such was the case until America’s entry into World War II, when the concept of a shorter M1 rifle was considered.

Although the .30-cal. M1 carbine had been adopted in 1941, it was an entirely different category of arm, and it was not designed, nor intended, to fulfill the same role as the M1 rifle. The light and compact semi-automatic M1 carbine lacked range, accuracy and “stopping power” compared to the M1 Garand. As World War II progressed, it was envisioned that a shorter version of the M1 rifle would combine the Garand’s power and accuracy with the compactness of the M1 carbine.

The Jan. 20, 1944, Springfield Armory “Monthly Report of Progress on R&D Projects” stated that a modified short-barrel Garand rifle, weighing about 1 lb., 3 ozs., less than a standard M1, was fabricated by the 93rd Infantry Division and tested by the Infantry Board.

It was recognized that such an arm might be particularly valuable for paratroopers, as it was more powerful than the carbines and submachine guns currently in use. Preliminary testing revealed it had excessive recoil and muzzle blast, but it was recommended that it be developed further. The Infantry Board directed Col. Rene Studler to proceed with the project.

The task was assigned to Springfield Armory, and John C. Garand began work in January 1944. The resultant experimental arm, designated as the “U.S. Carbine, Cal. 30, M1E5,” was fitted with a specially made 18" barrel (not a shortened standard M1 rifle barrel) marked “1 SA 2-44” and a pantograph metal stock that folded neatly underneath the rifle. The receiver was marked “U.S. CARBINE/CAL. .30 M1E5/SPRINGFIELD/ARMORY/1.” It is interesting to note that it was designated as a carbine and not a rifle. 

“Tanker” Garands

Other than the folding stock, the basic M1 rifle was essentially unchanged with the exception of the short barrel, a correspondingly shortened operating rod (and spring) and the lack of a front handguard. The overall length was 37½" and it weighed approximately 8 lbs., 6 ozs. 

The M1E5 “Garand Carbine” was tested at Aberdeen Proving Ground in May 1944. It was determined that while accuracy at 300 yds. was on a par with the standard M1 rifle, recoil, muzzle blast and flash were excessive. It was recommended that a pistol grip be installed, which was done for subsequent testing.

Photos of the M1E5 in stocks with and without the pistol grip exist, which might suggest there were two different models, but this was not the case. The folding stock had been repaired several times and it proved to be rather uncomfortable when firing. Work began on a modified folding stock, designated as the “T6E3,” to improve the deficiencies found in the original pattern, but it was not fully developed. 

M1E5 rifle without a pistol grip
This Springfield Armory archival photo depicts an M1E5 rifle without a pistol grip below a standard M1 rifle.

The M1E5 suffered from the “compromise syndrome,” as it required a trade-off between compactness and performance. It was indeed more compact than the standard Garand rifle, but the short barrel made it an unpleasant gun to fire—and the advantages were not judged to be sufficient to offset the disadvantages. Further development of the M1E5 was suspended as other projects at Springfield, such as the selective-fire T20 series, were deemed to have a higher priority. Only one example of the M1E5 was fabricated for testing, and the gun resides today in the Springfield Armory National Historic Site Museum.

Despite the concept being shelved at Springfield Armory, the idea of a shortened M1 rifle was still viewed as potentially valuable for airborne and jungle combat use. Particularly in the Pacific Theater, there was widespread dissatisfaction with the M1 carbine’s range, power and foliage-penetration (“brush-cutting”) capability. The Ordnance Dept. was not responsive to these complaints coming in from the Pacific and maintained that the M1 rifle and M1 carbine each filled a specific niche.

Nonetheless, by late 1944 the Pacific Warfare Board (PWB) decided to move forward with the development of a shortened M1 rifle. Colonel William Alexander, chief of the PWB, directed an Army ordnance unit of the 6th Army in the Philippines to fabricate 150 rifles in this configuration for testing. Since the previous M1E5 project was not widely disseminated, it is entirely possible that the PWB may not have been aware of Springfield Armory’s development of a similar rifle, and conceived the idea independently. 

Some of the shortened M1 rifles were field-tested in October 1944 on Noemfoor Island, New Guinea, by an ad hoc “test committee,” which included three platoon leaders of the 503rd Parachute Infantry Regiment (PIR) Combat Team. While the members of the test committee liked the concept of the short M1 rifle, it was determined that the muzzle blast was excessive and was compared to a flash bulb going off in the darkened jungle. The conclusion of the test report stated that the shortened rifle was “totally unsuitable for a combat weapon.”

Even while the shortened M1 rifles were being evaluated by the 503rd PIR, two of them, Serial Nos. 2291873 and 2437139, were sent to the Ordnance Dept. in Washington, D.C., by special courier for evaluation. One of these rifles was then forwarded to Springfield Armory. The guys at Springfield must have felt a touch of déjà vu, as the rifle was very similar to the M1E5 built by the armory and tested at Aberdeen several months earlier.

The major difference was that the PWB rifle retained the standard M1 rifle wooden stock rather than the M1E5’s folding stock. The M1s shortened in the Philippines under the auspices of the PWB had been well-used prior to modification, and the conversion exhibited rather crude craftsmanship, including hand-cut splines on the barrel.

Upon receipt of the PWB rifle, Springfield Armory’s Model Shop fabricated a very similar shortened M1 that was designated as the “T26.” One of the more noticeable differences was that the shortened PWB rifle had a cut-down front handguard (secured by an M1903 rifle barrel band), while the T26 rifle was not fitted with a front handguard. It had been determined that the full-length stock was superior to the M1E5’s folding stock, so the T26 used a standard M1 rifle stock. 

T26 prototype rifle
Shown above is a T26 prototype rifle manufactured in Springfield Armory’s Model Shop in early 1945 above an M1 rifle modified under the auspices of the Pacific Warfare Board in the Philippines during late 1944 and sent to the Ordnance Department for evaluation and testing. Note the near-pristine condition of the former compared to the well-used condition of the latter.

It is sometimes claimed that Springfield Armory simply put the existing M1E5 action into an M1 stock and dubbed it the T26. This was not the case, as the T26 did not use the M1E5’s purpose-made (and marked) receiver, but was made with a standard M1 rifle receiver and newly made, specially modified parts.

Regardless, it is a bit curious that the Ordnance Dept. decided to go to the trouble of having Springfield Armory make up another shortened Garand for additional testing when the M1E5, which differed primarily in the type of stock, had been thoroughly tested several months previously with less than spectacular results.

The PWB rifle, Serial No. 2437139, and Springfield Armory’s T26 were sent to Aberdeen Proving Ground (APG) on July 26, 1945, for testing. The APG report related that a standard M1 rifle, Serial No. 1,032,921, was the “control” rifle to which the shorter rifle was compared during the testing. The results mirrored those of the M1E5’s previous testing. As related in the test report:

“The rifle tested was a standard cal. .30 M1 with barrel shortened approximately six inches. This alteration was accomplished in the Philippine Islands by an Ordnance Maintenance Company and the rifle was delivered to the Chief of Ordnance by a USAFFE Board representative for the test.

“The object of the test was to compare, by observation, the muzzle flash, smoke and blast of the shortened M1 rifle, with and without the flash hider, to that of the standard rifle.


“The muzzle flash of the modified rifle, with and without flash hider, was approximately eighty (80) percent greater than the flash of the standard rifle.

“The muzzle smoke of the modified rifle, with and without the flash hider was equivalent to that of the standard rifle.

“The muzzle blast of the modified rifle, with and without flash hider, was approximately fifty (50) percent greater than that of the standard rifle.

“The recoil of the modified rifle was noticeably heavier than that of the standard rifle.”

In addition to the increased recoil and muzzle flash/blast, functioning problems related to the shortened operating rod and the location of the gas port in the shortened barrel were noted during the testing. The fact that the gas port was positioned closer to the chamber as compared to the standard M1 rifle resulted in increased port pressure, which was detrimental to proper functioning.

It should be noted that only the shortened PWB rifle, and not the T26, was discussed in the Aberdeen test report. It is reported that the T26 rifle was damaged during the testing, which is presumably why it was left out of the final report. The ultimate disposition or whereabouts of the T26 rifle are not known, although it has been speculated that it was salvaged for parts.

Somewhat inexplicably, despite the less-than-stellar results of the previous testing, including the 503rd PIR test committee’s conclusion that the modified rifle was “totally unsuitable as a combat weapon,” the concept was still of interest inasmuch as approval was forthcoming for procurement of 15,000 shortened M1 rifles. As related in the “Record of Army Ordnance Research and Development, Vol. 2”:

“In July of 1945, the Pacific Theater requested that they be supplied with 15,000 short M1 Rifles for Airborne use. A design of a short M1 Rifle was delivered by a courier from the Pacific Warfare Board. A comparative study of the sample short M1 Rifle and the M1E5 (a 1944 program to develop a short-barreled, folding stock M1, that was dropped as being of low priority) indicated a definite preference for the M1E5 action equipped with the standard stock; the rifle so equipped was designated as T26. A study by Springfield Armory resulted in a tentative completion schedule of five months for the limited procurement of 15,000 T26 Rifles; however, with the occurrence of V-J day on 14 August 1945 this requirement was dropped.”


As stated in the above documentation, the new rifles requested were to be designated “T26,” which would indicate that they were to be made to the same specifications as the T26 previously fabricated at Springfield Armory. As events transpired, however, the end of the war resulted in the cancellation of this order, and the concept of a “Garand Carbine” was dropped.

Since none of the 15,000 rifles was manufactured, there was only one T26 ever made. The M1 rifles shortened by the ordnance unit of the 6th Army in the Philippines apparently never had an officially assigned nomenclature. For lack of the better term, “Pacific Warfare Board Rifle” is undoubtedly the most appropriate designation for these rifles, albeit an unofficial one.

One of the PWB rifles, Serial No. 2291873, currently resides in the Springfield Armory Museum. The other PWB rifle, which was tested at Aberdeen in July 1945, Serial No. 2437139, has been in the West Point Museum (Catalog No. 19657) since it was transferred there by the Ordnance Dept. shortly after World War II.

According to West Point Museum officials, the only modification to the rifle since its testing by Ordnance was the substitution of the later T105E1 rear sight assembly in place of the original “locking bar” rear sight. The PWB rifle in the Springfield Armory collection appears to remain in its original configuration. It is interesting to note that at least one Springfield Armory archival photo (1964 vintage) exists that erroneously identifies the PWB Rifle in the museum’s collection as a “T26.”

There are still a number of unanswered questions regarding these rifles beyond the fate of the original T26. For example, it has not been confirmed beyond the shadow of a doubt how many of the rifles were actually fabricated in the Philippines as ordered by the PWB beyond the two known examples. While not stated one way or the other, it may be possible that the PWB waited to get word from Washington whether or not the concept met with Ordnance’s approval before proceeding with modification of the entire batch of 150 rifles.

The above-referenced report of the field testing of the short rifles by the 503rd PIR indicates that at least some additional rifles, beyond the two sent stateside, were produced. In any event, the number of shortened M1 rifles actually made during World War II as directed by the PWB almost certainly would have been no more than 150. The fact that no convincingly documented examples of the PWB-shortened M1 rifles are known to exist (other than the two mentioned above) seems to lend credence to the contention that few were actually fabricated.

It has been postulated, however, that the dearth of existing specimens can be explained because the shortened rifles were destroyed or re-converted to standard M1 rifle configuration after the “Garand Carbine” program was dropped. Unless further documentation is forthcoming, this will probably remain the subject of conjecture and debate. 

“Carbine” designation
Note the “Carbine” designation within the receiver markings on the M1E5.

Some claim to have run across, or own, one of these fascinating arms, but since converting a standard M1 to PWB/T26 configuration is not an overwhelmingly difficult gunsmithing task, and since there is no known roster of PWB rifle serial numbers, confirming the provenance of such a rifle is virtually impossible. There are a number of known fakes around including one with impressive, but totally bogus, “Pacific Warfare Board” markings on the receiver. The odds of one of the PWB rifles surviving and being smuggled home are all but nil.

Nevertheless, hope springs eternal and a number of individuals are certain they have a genuine example. Without some sort of convincing documentation, which almost certainly will not exist because any PWB rifle “on the loose” would be stolen government property, such a claim must be approached with much skepticism. A good rule of thumb to remember is: If it’s not in the Springfield Armory or West Point museums, it’s not a genuine Pacific Warfare Board rifle. 

The shortened M1 rifle was one of those things that looked good in theory but didn’t work out so well in actual practice. With the conclusion of World War II, the U.S. military closed the chapter on the concept of a “Garand Carbine.”

The “Tanker Garand” Emerges

Despite its rejection by the American military, the idea of a Garand rifle shorter than the standard M1 was later resurrected in the civilian sector. The genesis of these rifles began in the early 1960s when some enterprising individuals acquired large quantities of surplus military firearm parts, including a significant number of M1 rifle receivers that had been “demilled” by torch-cutting.

Among the most notable of these was Robert E. Penney, Jr. Penney and his associates began to produce rifles, primarily standard-length M1 Garands, for the civilian market using these surplus parts, including some of the welded and re-machined torch-cut receivers. Examples were made in both .30-’06 Sprg. and .308 Win.

Penney was apparently aware of the World War II-era experimental shortened M1 rifles and decided a rifle in such a configuration would be a good addition to his company’s product line. The imaginative term “Tanker Garand” was coined for these rifles, presumably to give the impression (totally erroneous) they were military arms made for use in tanks. Despite being a fantasy appellation lacking any basis in reality, the name stuck.

Since genuine military M1 rifles were not readily available to civilians during this period, the ersatz Garand rifles, including the novel “Tankers,” sold relatively well. When the supply of the surplus components began to be depleted, Penney was faced with the prospect of manufacturing new parts. Such items as receivers, bolts and operating rods would have been prohibitively expensive to produce. Faced with this daunting prospect and declining health, Penney stopped manufacturing and sold the company.

Pacific Warfare Board Rifle, Commercial “Tanker Garand” Rifle

While he was one of the pioneers in the field, it should not be inferred that Penney’s firm was the only one to make the so-called Tanker Garands. Several commercial firms, and even some individual gunsmiths, have continued to turn out similar arms to this day, either using existing G.I. M1 receivers, “demilled” receivers welded back together or newly made cast receivers. The workmanship can vary from extremely professional to downright shoddy.

Some people are enamored with the neat-looking little rifles, but this ardor often cools a bit when a few rounds are fired and the muzzle blast and recoil are experienced. Many owners of “Tanker Garands” found out what the Ordnance Dept. and the 503rd PIR test committee discovered in 1944-1945, and decided to become former owners when firing their pet guns proved to be less fun than originally imagined.

Nonetheless, some civilian shooters are not particularly bothered by the increased muzzle blast and recoil, and they continue to enjoy the neat little guns. In any event, these commercially shortened Tanker Garand rifles are not, and never were, military arms but are an interesting part of the fascinating story of the Garand.

While the concept of a “Garand Carbine” never went beyond the testing stage by the American military, it nevertheless illustrates how our armed forces continued to seek ways to improve the arms issued to our fighting men during the greatest conflict known to mankind

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

The Soviet Rifle Corp from WWII

 I ran across this article surfing the web and it was a good explanation of the Soviet Rifle Corp, It would have been a good addition when I was doing my assorted blog posting for all my Red Storm Rising post that I did several years ago and I enjoyed immensely.  The Soviets didn't change their structure much since WWII.   It worked well to defeat the Fascistsi invaders and they figured it would serve the Rodina well since.  They have upgraded the structure since the fall of the Soviet Union, but I don't know of the extent, I am no longer in the loop.     

From my stash of Manuals I have.

For many in the Wehrmacht, the Red Army was for the entire war a poorly-understood force. German intelligence had some idea of how large the Red Army was at various points during the war, but German misconceptions about the Soviet forces have endured in the popular imagination, lending vague notions of "red hordes" and overwhelming numerical superiority.

Even though the structure of these forces has been made available by Russian sources, it remains a little known topic of the Second World War. Significant among the obscuring factors is the sheer number of formations fielded by the Soviets. Even their largest field force, the fronts, would be difficult to list from memory. Likewise, the situation for combined-arms armies and, further down, rifle corps is even more problematic because of their quantity.

The rifle corps are not well known, and a misconception lingers that the Soviets abolished the echelon of rifle corps in late 1941 for the duration of the war. While it is true this command echelon almost disappeared from the Red Army during this period, it did not vanish completely, and was in fact rebuilt from late 1942 forward as the wartime structure of the Soviet forces matured.

A complicating factor is the varying interest in different periods of the war. It is only recently that more interest has been shown by historians in the final struggle for Germany itself. A key part of this struggle was the military structure of the combatants, and the Soviet Army was by far the largest land force in the field by 1945.

This document identifies the rifle corps of the Soviet Army during the period January to May 1945 ("period of interest"), and brings out statistical data to dispel some of the anonymity which inhibits a better understanding of the Soviet forces. The source for this data is overwhelmingly the official order of battle of the Soviet Army (Boevoi sostav Sovetskoi armii).

General Comments

The corps fielded by the Soviet Army were significantly smaller than their western counterparts in terms of personnel strength. This aspect was driven by two factors. The first was the relatively smaller size of component divisions. The second factor keeping the strength of the Soviet corps relatively low were the comparatively few attached supporting units.

Depending on divisional strength, by mid-1943, rifle corps ranged in strength from 12,000 to 24,000 men (Glantz 179). Another document depicts the strength of rifle corps (attachments included) in mid-1944 as between 20,000 and 30,000 men (Connor B1). This may be compared to the roughly 100,000-man strength of a U.S. corps in late 1944 in northwest Europe. In terms of personnel strength, a rifle corps was roughly equivalent to a U.S. infantry division (some 15,000 not including attachments).

Complicating the assessment of the Soviet rifle corps in 1945 was the differentiation between regular rifle corps, light rifle corps, and guards rifle corps. The light rifle corps (126th and 127th) were made up of specialized brigades and employed in rough terrain. The guards rifle corps numbered forty in total and often had more attached supporting units than their regular counterparts. (Glantz 179). Notably, guards rifle divisions were not always subordinated to guards rifle corps and guards rifle corps often had regular divisions subordinated to them. This document takes note of unusual situations concerning such subordination issues.

Finally, the Soviets employed other kinds of corps. Tank and mechanized corps were truly division-sized units made up of brigades. Artillery corps were specialized units. Cavalry corps, like rifle corps, had subordinated divisions, but were typically smaller in personnel strength. These distinctions are important because they reflect on the part of the Soviets a flexible understanding of the concept of a corps as an echelon of command.

Numbers and Distribution

For the period of interest, the Soviet Army fielded 174 rifle corps. Of these, 40 were guards rifle corps, numbered one through forty. The remainder were regular rifle corps, numbered one through one hundred thirty five. Of note is that in December 1944, the 99th Rifle Corps was retitled the 40th Guards Rifle Corps and apparently not formed again before the end of the Russo-German War. Of the 134 regular rifle corps, two (126th and 127th) were light rifle corps of a different structure.

All of the guards rifle corps were committed in action against the Germans, although the 37th, 38th, and 39th Guards Rifle Corps were held in VGK reserve until March 1945. Twenty of the 134 regular rifle corps were subordinated to commands not engaged in operations against the Germans. These twenty were the 2nd, 4th, 5th, 12th, 13th, 17th, 26th, 31st, 34th, 39th, 56th, 58th, 59th, 66th, 82nd, 85th, 86th, 87th, 88th, and 131st. Thus, in action against the Germans were 112 regular rifle corps, two light rifle corps, and 40 guards rifle corps.

With a typical corps commanding three rifle divisions, the distribution of the rifle corps among the fronts in action against the Germans was a function of how many rifle divisions were subordinated to any given front. Nevertheless, it is illuminating to view at a glance the distribution of rifle corps among the fronts (fronts are listed north to south) and the VGK Reserve. This distribution is shown in Table One.


Front             Jan-45 Feb-45 Mar-45 Apr-45 May-45
Leningrad            7      7      4     28     25
2nd Baltic          11     12     25      -      -
1st Baltic          15     11      -      -      -
3rd Belorussian     18     21     30     27     12
2nd Belorussian     19     23     14     14     18
1st Belorussian     21     21     21     21     24
1st Ukrainian       22     22     23     23     26
4th Ukrainian        8      8     10*    10*    13*
2nd Ukrainian       13     12     15     12     12
3rd Ukrainian       11     12     12     15     15
VGK Reserve          9*     5*     0      3      9
Totals             154    154    154    153    154

Notes to table.
1. "*" indicates the figure includes the two light rifle corps.
2. The 1st and 2nd Baltic Fronts were deactivated and their forces transferred to other fronts.
3. On 1 April 1945, the 14th Rifle Corps was subordinated to the Belorussian-Lithuanian Military District.

Span of Control

Span of control is the number of subordinate elements controlled by higher management. As the Soviet Army, to the corps echelon at least, was dominantly a force of triangular organization, one may define a rifle corps as having a "normal" span of control of three rifle divisions. Again, the two light rifle corps do not conform to this standard because their subordinate units were brigades and not divisions. In examining the span of control, therefore, the sample includes 112 regular rifle corps and 40 guards rifle corps that were committed in action against the German forces.

- Regular rifle corps

Span of control
(divisions) Jan-45 Feb-45 Mar-45 Apr-45 May-45
     0         2      0      0      0      0
     1         1      2      2      1      0
     2        23     19     28     18     22
     3        83     87     76     91     86
     4         3      4      4      2      4
     5         0      0      2      0      0
% that are
"normal"      74%    78%    68%    81%    77%

"Normal" average for period: 76%

Thus, for the period of interest, on average, three-quarters of the regular rifle corps had a span of control of three rifle divisions, while guards rifle corps, on average, had a span of control of three divisions over four-fifths of the period of interest.

- Guards rifle corps

Span of control
(divisions) Jan-45 Feb-45 Mar-45 Apr-45 May-45
     2         4      4      1      3      4
     3        30     32     38     33     32
     4         6      2      1      4      4
     5         0      2      0      0      0
% that are
"normal"      75%    80%    95%    83%    80%

"Normal" average for period: 83%

Cohesiveness of unit subordination

This aspect is reviewed in two ways. The first examines how stable was the subordination of rifle divisions to rifle corps. The second examines how stable was the subordination of rifle corps to higher headquarters.

- Cohesiveness of subordination: division to corps

This was reviewed in groups by front as the fronts existed on 1 January 1945. The subordination of all rifle divisions (as grouped under fronts) was checked for the five months of the period of interest. Subordination of a division to the same rifle corps for a period of four months or more was deemed a significant relationship. By fronts (as the order of battle existed on 1 January 1945), the following number of rifle divisions were subordinated to the same corps for a period of four consecutive months or more.

Front (Divisions     Four months   % of
in January 1945)       or more    sample

Leningrad       (18)     16         89%
1st Baltic      (44)     22         50%
2nd Baltic      (31)     16         52%
3rd Belorussian (54)     50         93%
2nd Belorussian (63)     50         83%
1st Belorussian (63)     55         87%
1st Ukrainian   (66)     30         45%
4th Ukrainian   (25)     20         80%
2nd Ukrainian   (39)     14         36%
3rd Ukrainian   (33)     17         52%

The figures for the 2nd and 3rd Ukrainian Fronts do not include the 9th Guards Army and its nine rifle divisions. This army was released from VGK Reserve in March 1945 and served with both fronts. Its nine divisions remained subordinated to the same three corps until the end of the Russo-German War. man War. r.

The lower stability percentages for the Baltic Fronts were strongly influenced by their disbandment during the period of interest. These actions forced the reorganization of command relationships, and in many cases, divisions were transferred to other corps, sometimes more than once, during the period of interest. Of minor note is that the 145th and 378th Rifle Divisions, ultimately subordinate to the 1st Baltic Front on 1 January 1945, were both disbanded in March 1945.

An interesting aspect of the table is that it highlights the stability of divisional subordination to corps in the Belorussian Fronts, particularly when compared to the Ukrainian Fronts.

- Cohesiveness of subordination: corps to all-arms (or guards- or shock-) army

Again, a measure of four or more consecutive months was deemed a significant relationship. Only subordination relationships for forces in contact with the Germans or in VGK Reserve were assessed.

Regular rifle corps: 86 of 112 (77%)
Guards rifle corps: 32 of 40 (80%)

As may be seen, the stability of the corps to army subordination relationships was very high. Transfer of corps between armies was an exceptional event.

Guards Formations

Discussion of the guards divisions and corps is necessary as there are aspects of their deployment and relationship that are not immediately obvious. Guards units were formed by re-titling an existing regular formation that had distinguished itself in battle. Certainly, the definition of good battlefield performance extended beyond physical courage, else it is unlikely that so many guards armies and corps would have been formed, as these were headquarters units only.

An important realization is that regular units were routinely subordinated to guards headquarters units. Thus, regular rifle corps were found in guards armies, and regular rifle divisions were found in guards rifle corps. While there were guards armies with only guards rifle corps and guards rifle corps commanding only guards rifle divisions, this was hardly a standard arrangement. By way of example, in January 1945, 14 of the 40 guards rifle corps commanded regular rifle divisions as a part or all of their subordinated rifle divisions. In the same month, 33 of the 40 guards rifle corps commanded two or more guards rifle divisions. In one exceptional case, 14th Guards Rifle Corps did not command any guards rifle divisions during the entire period of interest. In April 1945, of 112 regular rifle corps, 12 were subordinated to guards armies, while five regular rifle corps (21st, 60th, 76th, 107th, and 120th) were subordinated to guards armies for the entire period of interest.

Conversely, guards rifle divisions and corps were routinely subordinated to regular headquarters units. Of 121 guards rifle divisions subordinated to rifle corps (employed against German forces) in January 1945, 27 were subordinated to regular rifle corps while 94 were under the command of guards rifle corps. While a strong tendency existed for guards rifle divisions to be subordinated to guards rifle corps, this was often not the case. In another exceptional case, 20th Rifle Corps commanded two guards rifle divisions during the entire period of interest, while the 3rd, 25th, 27th, 30th, 32nd, 37th, 41st, 49th, 50th, 64th, 96th, 101st, 105th, 107th, 114th, and 130th Rifle Corps all commanded at least one guards rifle division during the entire period of interest.

Subordination of guards rifle corps shows a similar tendency, but not absolute rule, to subordination to guards armies. In April 1945, 25 of the 40 guards rifle corps were subordinated to guards armies, while 18 guards rifle corps were subordinated to guards armies for the entire period of interest. 12 guards rifle corps were subordinated to all-arms or shock armies for the entire period of interest.


The official order of battle is an informative document that offers various insights into Soviet organization and that removes some of the anonymity caused by the large size of the Soviet forces. The document makes clear the scale of Soviet rifle unit force generation, and the dominant commitment of this force to the struggle against Germany.

Review of the 1945 data confirmed the strong tendency of rifle corps to exhibit triangular organization, as well as a strong cohesiveness in terms of the subordination of divisions to corps, and corps to armies.

The data also demonstrated a strong tendency of regular rifle units to be subordinated to regular headquarters and, likewise, for guards rifle units to be subordinated to guards headquarters. Where mixing of guards and regular formations occurred, it raises a question as to how the presence of the different formations impacted the overall performance of corps and armies.

A discussion of rifle corps organization as well as tables of corps subordination and division counts follow for those interested in a closer look at the raw data.


Rifle Corps (Connor B1)
3 rifle divisions
1 artillery brigade (guards corps)
1 artillery regiment (regular corps)
1 self-propelled artillery regiment
1 guards mortar (rocket artillery) regiment
1 anti-aircraft artillery battalion

1 sapper battalion
1 signal battalion

Strength: 20,000 - 30,000 men

Note that actual organization varied widely due to operational requirements. The structure shown above represented a formal standard of organization that was not always met, even as late as the end of the Russo-German War. Some examples from April 1945 illustrate the varying availability of support units.

Army      4S   23    5  11G   2S   33    6   1G   40   9G ([S]hock, [G]uards)

Corps      2    1    3    0    3    3    2    3    1    0

Corps      0    0    0    3    0    0    0    1    0    3

Units    1,0  1,2  1,0  3,4  2,3  5,0  1,0  2,3  1,0  4,0 (brigades, regiments)

Units    0,1  0,1  0,0  1,2  0,1  0,2  3,0  0,0  0,0  0,3 (brigades, regiments)

S-P Artillery
Regiments  0    0    3    2    4    2    1    3    0    3

Army refers to all-arms armies. Corps refers to rifle corps.

Particularly impacting the availability of artillery units was the allocation in some cases of artillery divisions and rocket-launcher divisions. Viewed in a different way, there were 112 regular and 40 guards rifle corps employed against the Germans or in VGK reserve in January 1945. Supporting elements (not counting the assets of artillery or rocket launcher divisions) for the same group of forces were:

Artillery Brigades 65
Artillery Regiments 56
Artillery Battalions 12
Rocket Brigades 10
Rocket Regiments 93
S-P Artillery Brigades 6
S-P Artillery Regiments 121
AA Regiments 147*
AA Battalions 63

* - There were also 54 anti-aircraft artillery divisions, typically of a four-regiment structure.

It is clear that in some cases, but not in all cases, assets were adequate to meet the formal corps establishment.


Connor, William M. Analysis of Deep Attack Operations Operation Bagration Belorussia 22 June-29 August 1944. Publication. United States Army. Fort Leavenworth, KS: Combat Studies Institute, 1987.

Glantz, David M. Colossus Reborn. Lawrence, Kansas: University Press of Kansas, 2005.

Boevoi sostav Sovetskoi armii, chast’ 5 (ianvar’ - sentyabr’ 1945 goda) [The combat composition of the Soviet Army, part 5 (January - September 1945)], Moscow, Voenizdat, 1990.

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Written by Bill Wilson. If you have questions or comments on this article, please contact Bill Wilson at: betio_tarawa@yahoo.com.

About the author:
Bill Wilson is a military history enthusiast whose interest is the organization of the military forces of the Second World War. He served in the U.S. Army in Germany during the Cold War and currently resides in Europe.