Cold War tank formations

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NATO and the Warsaw Pact

During the Cold War, NATO and the Warsaw Pact both had large tank formations present in Europe.

The following gives the number of armoured formations and tank strength as of 1981/1982 for Warsaw Pact and NATO member countries. These include formations and vehicles deployed outside Europe, such as in North America or the Asiatic USSR.

NATO[edit]

Grand Total: 30,711+ Tanks

West Germany[edit]

Leopard 1 during REFORGER- Exercise 1983
Leopard 2A4
M48 A2C
German Army Formations
  • 6 Tank Divisions (Panzerdivisionen)
  • 4 Armored Infantry Divisions (Panzergrenadierdivisionen)
  • 1 Mountain Division (Gebirgsdivision)
  • 6 Home Defense Tank Brigades (Heimatschutz – Panzerbrigaden)
  • 6 Home Defense Armored Infantry Brigades (Heimatschutz – Panzergrenadierbrigaden (not complete)
  • 1 Airborne Division (Luftlandedivision)
Number of tanks[1]
MBTs In reserve On order Other
1,200 M48 A2C/A2GA2
2,437 Leopard 1 A2/A3/A4
150 Leopard 2
770 Kanonenjagdpanzer
350 Raketenjagdpanzer
- - -

Total: 3,787 tanks [2]

(Total: 4,907 including Jagdpanzer)

USA[edit]

A M60A3 in Langgöns, Germany
M1A1
Formations
  • 4 Tank Divisions
  • 6 Mechanized Divisions
  • 4 Infantry Divisions
  • 1 Airborne Division (incl. 1 Tank Battalion)
  • 1 independent Tank Brigade
  • 4 independent Infantry Brigades
  • 3 Cavalry Regiments (Reconnaissance)
  • 3 Tank Battalions Marines
  •  ? Tank Battalions National Guard (Reserve)
Number of tanks

Total: 12,320 tanks (min. 330 for training only)[3]

France[edit]

AMX-30
Formations
  • 6 Tank divisions (divisions blindées - the 2nd, 7th, 10th in France, the 1st, 3rd and 5th in West Germany)
  • 4 Light Armoured Divisions - the 6th, 9th, 12th, 14th
  • 2 Mechanised Infantry Divisions - the 8th and 15th
  • 1 Airborne Division - the 11th
  • 1 Alpine Division - the 27th
Number of tanks[4]
MBTs In reserve On order Other
1,259 AMX 30 - 145 AMX 30 340 AMX 13 light tanks

Total: 1,868 tanks [5]

United Kingdom[edit]

FV4201 Chieftain
Formations
Number of tanks[6]
Tanks In reserve On order Other
900 FV4201 Chieftain MBT
(60 in Reserve)
300 Centurion MBT stored 240 FV4030/4 Challenger MBT 271 tracked armoured reconnaissance vehicles

(FV101 Scorpion and Scimitar)

Total: 1,901 tanks and armored cars[7]

Before the 1980s.

Earlier units included the Conqueror tank (1955-1966) and FV4101 Charioteer (TA 1950s) Initially containing 3 armoured divisions, the BAOR was reformed by 1960 into 3 mixed divisions and additional brigade groups. Then in the 1970s, as 4 smaller Armoured divisions before reorganization as 3 Armoured divisions in 1981-83.

Turkey[edit]

As of 1981/83:

Formations
  • 1 Tank Division
  • 2 Mechanised Infantry Divisions
  • 14 Infantry Divisions
Number of tanks[8]
MBT In reserve On order Other
3,000 M48 Patton
500 M47 Patton
- 70 Leopard 1A3 MBT -

Total: 3,570 Tanks[9]

Italy[edit]

Leopard 1
M-47 Patton I

As of 1981/82:

Formations
  • 1 Tank Division
  • 3 mechanised Divisions
  • 2 independent mechanised Brigades
  • 4 independent motorised Brigades
  • 5 Alpini Brigades
  • 1 Airborne Brigade
Number of tanks

Total: 1,620 tanks[10]

Netherlands[edit]

As of 1981/82:

Formations
  • 1 armoured division
  • 2 mechanised divisions (1 of which reserve)
Number of Tanks

Total: 924 tanks

Denmark[edit]

As of 1981/82:

Formations
Number of Tanks

Jutland

Zealand

  • 106 MBT Centurion tank MK.V & MK.V2 with 105mm L7A1 gun (40 in each Brigade x2 and 26 in Reserve units)
  • 40 Centurion tank MK.III with 84mm gun (Anti-tank Squadrons in Light-Battlegroups x4)
  • 18 light tank M41 Walker Bulldog (Recon Battalion)

Bornholm

Total: 388 tanks

Belgium[edit]

As of 1981/82:

Formations
  • 2 Armoured Brigades
  • 2 Mechanised Brigades
  • 1 Reserve Mechanised Brigade
  • 1 Para-Commando Regiment
Number of tanks

Total: 766+ tanks

Canada[edit]

As of 1981/82:

Formations
  • 2 Mechanized Brigades
  • 2 Motorized Brigades
  • 1 Airborne Regiment
Number of tanks

Total: 114 tanks

Norway[edit]

As of 1981/82:

Formations
  • Independent Armoured Squadrons
Number of tanks

Total: 186 tanks

Portugal[edit]

As of 1981/82:

Formations
  • 1 Tank Regiment
  • 2 Cavalry Regiments
Number of tanks

Total: 64+ tanks

Greece[edit]

As of 1981/82:

Formations
  • 1 Armoured Division
  • 2 Independent Armoured Brigades
Number of tanks[11]
MBT In reserve On order Other
170 AMX 30
800 M48 Patton
150 M47 Patton
190 M24 Chaffee
- -

Total: 1,310 tanks

Spain[edit]

An M48 Patton tank of the Spanish Army on display at the El Goloso Museum of Armored Vehicles

Members of NATO from 30 May 1982:

Formations
  • 1 Armoured Division
  • 1 Mechanised Division
  • 3 Armoured Cavalry Brigades
  • 1 Light Cavalry Regiment
Number of tanks

Total: 830 tanks

Warsaw Pact[edit]

Grand Total: 71,700+ Tanks

USSR[edit]

T-64A
T-72
Formations

As of 1981/82 the Soviet Ground Forces had:

  • 46 Tank Divisions, including six Tank Armies with four tank divisions each.
  • 119 Mechanised Infantry Divisions
  • 6 Airborne Divisions
  • 1 Naval Infantry Division
  • 3 Naval Infantry Brigades
Tank strength

Total: 57,670 tanks[12]

East Germany[edit]

As of 1981/82:

Formations
  • 2 Tank Division
  • 4 Mechanised Infantry Divisions
Number of tanks
  • 1,500 MBT T-54 / T-55 / T-72 (further 1600 tanks stored)
  • 120 Reconnaissance tanks PT-76

Total: 1,620+ tanks[13]

Poland[edit]

Polish T-55
PT-76 amphibious tank

As of 1981/82:

Formations
  • 5 Tank Divisions
  • 8 Mechanised Infantry Divisions
  • 1 Amphibious Assault Division
  • 1 Airborne Division
Number of Tanks

Total: 4,010 tanks[14]

Czechoslovakia[edit]

As of 1980

Formations
  • 7 Tank Divisions (2 on full numbers, 3 on reduced numbers, 2 created by mobilization)
  • 8 Motor-Rifle Divisions (3 on full numbers, 2 on reduced numbers, 3 created by mobilization)
Number of Tanks as of year 1980

Total in 1980: 4,223 tanks[15]

Bulgaria[edit]

As of 1981/82

Formations
  • 5 Tank Brigades (in Sofia, Kazanlak, Karlovo, Sliven and Aytos)
  • 8 Motor Rifle Divisions
Number of Tanks

Total: 2,400 tanks

Hungary[edit]

As of 1981/82

Formations
  • 1 Tank Division
  • 5 Motor Rifle Divisions
Number of Tanks

Total: 1,100 tanks

Romania[edit]

As of 1981/82

Formations
  • 2 Tank Divisions
  • 8 Motor Rifle Divisions
Number of Tanks

Total: 1,500 tanks

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ Armed Forces 1981/82 Page 73
  2. ^ Armed Forces 1981/82 Page 73
  3. ^ Armed Forces 1981/82. Page 20
  4. ^ Armed Forces 1981/82 Page 76
  5. ^ Armed Forces 1981/82 Page 76
  6. ^ Armed Forces 1981/82 Page 84
  7. ^ Armed Forces 1981/82 Page 84
  8. ^ Armed Forces 1981/82 Page 102
  9. ^ Armed Forces 1981/82. Page 102
  10. ^ Armed Forces 1981/82 Page 90
  11. ^ Armed Forces 1981/82 Page 102
  12. ^ Armed Forces 1981/82
  13. ^ Armed Forces 1981/82 Page 54
  14. ^ Armed Forces 1981/82 Page 57
  15. ^ Francev, Vladimir."Ceskoslovenske tankove sily 1945-1992". page 135. Grada Publishing, 2012. ISBN 978-80-247-4029-4

References[edit]

  • Armed Forces 1981/82 In: The Military Balance of the International Institute for Strategic Studies London (Bernard & Graefe Verlag, Munich 1982.)
  • Ferdinand von Senger und Etterlin (1983). Tanks of the World. London: Arms and Armour Press. 
  • John Weeks (1981). Armies of the World. London: Jane's Publishing Company Ltd.