5th Guards Tank Army (Soviet Union)
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|5th Guards Tank Army|
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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
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 the 29th Tank Corps, the 5th Guards Mechanized Corps, the 994th Night Bomber Aviation Regiment, artillery and other smaller units.
Battle of Kursk
In 1943, it played a significant role in the Battle of Kursk, being one of the formations tasked with the counterattack at the Battle of 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. Early in 1944, it took part in the reduction of the Korsun-Cherkassy Pocket.
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.
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. This reduction in strength coincided with the hospitalization of the 5th GTA's commanding general, Vasily Volsky, for tuberculosis. 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.
After the war, Rotmistrov wrote a memoir and history of the unit, The Steel Guards.
- 31 October 1946 – 28 October 1948: 5th Guards Separate Tank Division or 5th Guards Mechanized Division (mobilisation)
- 28 October 1948 – 29 April 1957: 5th Guards Mechanized Army
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. 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.
In June 1992 the army was taken over by Belarus, and on 12 August 1992 renamed 5th Guards Army Corps.
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. However, later in 2001, the headquarters of the Ground Forces of the Armed Forces of Belarus was established on its basis.
The following officers commanded the army.
- Marshal of Tank Troops Pavel Rotmistrov (22 February 1943 – 8 August 1944)
- Colonel General Mikhail Solomatin (9 August 1944 – 18 August 1944)
- Colonel General Vasily Volsky (19 August 1944 – 16 March 1945)
- Lieutenant General Maxim Sinenko (16 March 1945 – January 1946)
- Colonel General Mikhail Solomatin (January-26 April 1946)
- Lieutenant General Pavel Poluboyarov (27 April 1946 – 23 March 1949)
- Lieutenant General Mikhail Panov (23 March 1949 – 17 September 1951)
- Colonel General Mikhail Katukov (17 September 1951 – 23 June 1955)
- Lieutenant General Pyotr Kalininchenko (23 June 1955 – 16 April 1958)
- Lieutenant General Vladimir Smirnov (13 May 1958 – 7 May 1960)
- Lieutenant General Semyon Kurkotkin (7 May 1960 – 28 January 1965)
- Lieutenant General Boris Likhachev (28 January 1965 – 13 November 1967)
- Lieutenant General Saltan Magometov (13 November 1967 – 2 December 1969)
- Lieutenant General Mikhail Zaitsev (2 December 1969 – 11 August 1972)
- Lieutenant General Valery Belikov (11 August 1972 – 20 May 1974)
- Lieutenant General Vitaly Saltykov (3 June 1974 – 5 November 1976)
- Lieutenant General Ivan Gashkov (5 November 1976 – July 1979)
- Lieutenant General Pyotr Ledyayev (July 1979 – 1982)
- Lieutenant General Vyacheslav Khaydorov (1982–1984)
- Lieutenant General Valery Fursin (1984–1987)
- Lieutenant General Anatoly Ushakov (1987–1989)
- Major General Valery Lagoshin (1989-2 May 1991)
- Lieutenant General Stanislav Rumyantsev (3 May 1991 – 12 September 1992)
- "5-я гвардейская танковая Краснознаменная армия" [5th Guards Tank Army]. tankfront.ru (in Russian). Retrieved 2016-02-25.
- Combat composition of the Soviet Army, 1 August 1943.
- Soviet General Staff, Combat composition of the Soviet Army, March and April, 1945
- "Biography of Colonel-General of Tank Troops Vasilii Timofeevich Volskii – (Василий Тимофеевич Вольский) (1897–1946), Soviet Union". www.generals.dk. Retrieved 2016-02-25.
- Holm, Michael. "5th Guards Tank Army". www.ww2.dk. Retrieved 2016-02-25.
- Feskov et al 2004
- 'Commander outlines reform of Belarusian Ground Forces,' Zvyazda, Minsk, in Belarusian, 2 October 2002, p.2, via Lexis-Nexis.
- "Юбилей прославленного объединения" [The Anniversary of the Famous Association]. www.mil.by (in Russian). Archived from the original on 25 February 2016. Retrieved 2016-02-25.
- "5-я гвардейская танковая армия. Памятник освободителям Знаменки" [5th Guards Tank Army Liberators Monument Znamianka]. www.shukach.com (in Ukrainian). Retrieved 2016-02-25.
- Glantz, David M. 'Companion to Colussus Reborn' Univ. Press of Kansas, 2005.
- Yegorov, P.Y.; Krivoborsky, I.V.; Ivlev, I.K.; Rogalevich, A.I. (1969). Дорогами побед: Боевой путь 5-й гвардейской танковой армии [Road of Victory] (in Russian). Moscow: Voenizdat.
- (in Russian) army history