Cavalry corps (Soviet Union)

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The cavalry corps (Russian: кавалерийский корпус) of the Workers and Peasant Red Army was a type of military formation that existed from the early days of the Russian Civil War until 1947 when the Red Army was renamed as the Soviet Army and all cavalry corps were disbanded.

The cavalry corps represented the foundation of large mobile formations in the Red Army, and most were converted to mechanised and motorised corps during the 1930s. However, due to severe loses in vehicles by the Red Army following the German invasion of USSR many more cavalry corps were raised. These corps initially included two cavalry divisions, two self-propelled artillery regiments and a signals battalion. During 1943 another cavalry division was added, and all divisions received a tank regiment.

Despite the name, for the most part the troops of the cavalry corps operated primarily as dismounted infantry, using their horses only to negotiate terrain that would prove difficult to motor vehicles, and conducting rapid raids into the rear of the enemy positions.

During the Battle for Moscow the first Guards cavalry corps was created from the former 2nd Cavalry Corps, originally of the Odessa Military District, following the Battle of Kashira to prevent German envelopment of Moscow from the south.

In the Battle for Stalingrad, three cavalry corps, the 8th (including the 21st, 55th and 112th cavalry divisions), the 3rd Guards (including the 5th and 6th Guards and 32nd cavalry divisions) and the 4th Cavalry Corps (61st and 81st cavalry divisions) participated in the counter-offensive. These varied in strength between 22,500 and 10,200 personnel, and had from 18,000 to 9,000 horses.

Between April 1942 and July 1942, the Red Army, suffering a shortage of horses, disbanded 41 cavalry divisions. The lack of horses was the deciding factor in the reduction in the cavalry units.[1]

During the Second World War the cavalry corps were used primarily as components of the Cavalry Mechanized Groups that were inserted into the breakthrough sector of the Front following an offensive, paired with either a tank corps or a mechanized corps, providing additional mobile infantry component that could escort tanks and support them against enemy anti-tank defences. Sometimes dismounted cavalrymen were used as tank desant to ensure closer cooperation between tanks and cavalry.

Corps and time of formation[edit]

Disbandment dates are from Bonn, Slaughterhouse.

In connection with the great vulnerability of cavalry from artillery fire, air strikes and tanks, the number of 1 September 1943 and was reduced to 8.

Guards Cavalry Corps (Gv.kk)[edit]

In the second half of the 20th century the cavalry corps in the Soviet Army disbanded.

Cavalry Groups[edit]


At the beginning of the war, Red Army cavalry corps had 2–3 cavalry (or mountain cavalry) divisions in each. In the corps was:

  • Personnel
    • More than 19,000 soldiers
  • Horse
    • 16,000 horses
  • Basic weapons and equipment

During the war the battle of the cavalry corps has been significantly strengthened, it began to enter:

  • 3rd Cavalry Division
  • Self-propelled artillery, anti-tank artillery and anti-aircraft artillery regiments
  • Guards Mortar Regiment Rocket artillery
  • Mortar and separate anti-tank battalions.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Walter Scott Dunn, The Soviet Economy and the Red Army, 1930-1945, p.234
  2. ^ Keith E. Bonn, Slaughterhouse, 2005, p.347

Further reading[edit]

  • Bonn, Slaughterhouse: The Handbook of the Eastern Front, Aberjona Press, 2005