5th Guards Tank Army (Soviet Union)

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5th Guards Tank Army
Soviet Guards Order.png
Active 1943–1992
Country  Soviet Union
Branch Soviet Army
Type Armored
Garrison/HQ Bobruisk (1946–1992)
Engagements

World War II

Decorations Order of the red Banner OBVERSE.jpgOrder of the Red Banner
Commanders
Notable
commanders

Pavel Rotmistrov Mikhail Panov
Mikhail Katukov
Semyon Kurkotkin

Mikhail Zaitsev

The 5th Guards Tank Army (Russian: 5-я гварде́йская та́нковая а́рмия) was a Soviet Guards armored formation which fought in many notable actions during World War II. The army was formed in February 1943. Until the aftermath of the Vilnius Offensive in July 1944, it was commanded by Pavel Rotmistrov.

Its organisation varied throughout its history, but in general included two or more Guards Tank Corps and one or more Guards Mechanized Corps. It was considered an elite formation. Under Red Army doctrine of deep operations, Tank Armies were primarily to be used for large-scale exploitation of major offensives. Once a breach in enemy lines had been made by other units (typically Shock Armies or combined-arms armies), the tank army would be inserted into the gap to drive deep into enemy territory, attacking rear areas and seizing major communications centers to disrupt the enemy reactions. Tank armies were expected to penetrate up to several hundred kilometers into the enemy rear.

After the war, the 5th Guards Tank Army moved to the Belorussian Military District. It was downsized to division size in late 1946 and became a mechanized army in 1948. The designation "5th Guards Tank Army" was restored in 1957. The army was taken over by the Belarus Ground Forces in June 1992 and became an army corps two months later. The 5th Guards Army Corps was disbanded in 2001. Its headquarters became the headquarters of the Belarus Ground Forces.

World War II[edit]

The 5th Guards Tank Army was formed on 25 February 1943 based on a Stavka order of 10 February 1943. It was part of the Reserve of the Supreme High Command (Stavka Reserve). The army included the 3rd Guards and 29th Tank Corps, the 5th Guards Mechanized Corps, the 994th Night Bomber Aviation Regiment, artillery and other smaller units.[1]

Battle of Kursk[edit]

In 1943, it played a significant role in the Battle of Kursk, being one of the formations tasked with the counter-attack at Prokhorovka. Subordinated to the Steppe Front, at Kursk the Army controlled the 18th Tank Corps, 29th Tank Corps, 2nd Tank Corps, 5th Guards Mechanised Corps plus smaller units with a total of approximately 850 tanks.[2] Early in 1944, it took part in the reduction of the Korsun-Cherkassy Pocket.

Operation Bagration[edit]

In June 1944, the 5th Guards Tank Army was used as the main exploitation force during the Soviet summer offensive, Operation Bagration. The formation was committed to an attack along and parallel to the main Moscow–Minsk road, following initial breakthroughs by the rifle divisions of 11th Guards Army, and was instrumental in completing the encirclement and destruction of German forces at Minsk. It was then employed in the third phase of Operation Bagration. High casualties in this campaign, however, led to the unit's commander Lieutenant-General Pavel Rotmistrov being relieved of command and replaced with Vasily Volsky.

Baltic Offensive[edit]

Late in 1944, the 5th Guards Tank Army was committed against 3rd Panzer Army as part of the Baltic Offensive, pushing the German forces into a pocket at Memel. It was then moved south and took part in the East Prussian Operation as part of Konstantin Rokossovsky's 2nd Belorussian Front; driving to the coast at Elbing, it successfully cut off the Wehrmacht forces in East Prussia in what became known as the Heiligenbeil pocket.

However, by March 1945, the 5th Guards Tank Army was being drawn down, with the subordinate 10th Tank Corps moved first to direct subordination of the 3rd Belorussian Front and then the STAVKA Reserve by 1 April 1945. This left the 5th Guards Tank Army with a single tank corps, the 29th, under its control.[3] This reduction in strength coincided with the hospitalization of the 5th GTA's commanding general, Vasily Volsky, for tuberculosis.[4] Volsky did not return to the army (he died in February 1946) and Major General Maxim Sinenko [Синенко Максим Денисович] took command from 16 March 1945 to the end of the war.[1]

After the war, Rotmistrov wrote a memoir and history of the unit, The Steel Guards.

Cold War[edit]

In July 1945, the army was relocated to Slutsk. In February 1946, it moved to Bobruisk.[5]

  • 31 October 1946 – 28 October 1948: 5th Guards Separate Tank Division[6] or 5th Guards Mechanized Division (mobilisation)[5]
  • 28 October 1948 – 29 April 1957: 5th Guards Mechanized Army[5]

On 20 May 1957 the 5th Guards Tank Army was reformed from the 5th Guards Mechanized Army. It was stationed in the Belarussian Military District until 1992.[5] Throughout the postwar period it had an almost constant composition of three tank divisions – the 8th Guards (Osipovichi) and 29th Tank Division (former tank corps) (Slutsk, and the 193rd Tank Division (Bobruisk). The headquarters was located in Bobruisk. On 21 February 1974, the army was awarded the Order of the Red Banner . In August 1979, the 84th Motor Rifle Division (a mobilization unit) was attached to the army at Marina Gorka. It was disbanded in 1987.[5]

In 1990 the 8th and 29th Tank Divisions were disbanded. The 30th Guards Motor Rifle Division, from the former Central Group of Forces replaced these units.

Belorussian Army[edit]

In June 1992 the army was taken over by Belarus, and on 12 August 1992 renamed 5th Guards Army Corps.[5]

The 5th Guards Army Corps was still active in September 2001, when the Belarus Minister of Defence, General Lieutenant Leonid Maltsev, congratulated the remaining Belarus Guards units on 60 years of existence.[7] However, later in 2001, the headquarters of the Ground Forces of the Armed Forces of Belarus was established on its basis.[8][9]

There is a memorial to the soldiers of the 5th Guards Tank Army at Znamianka, Kirovograd Oblast, in Ukraine.[10]

Commanders[edit]

The following officers commanded the army.[5]

Notes[edit]

  • Glantz, David M. 'Companion to Colussus Reborn' Univ. Press of Kansas, 2005.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]