Welcome to Cold War Gamer, a blog I am using to record my Cold War wargaming projects. These range from fictitious Cold War hot projects to historical conflicts that took place around the globe throughout the Cold War era, all modelled and gamed in 20mm. The blog includes links to various resources useful to the Cold War Gamer.

My current projects include: Central Front; British & Soviet. South African Border War; Angolans and South Africans. Soviet Afghan War; Soviets and Afghans

Thursday 6 April 2017

ORBAT - MRR & TRR part 3a, Engineer Company

Soviet Engineer units deployed a range of engineer equipment that provided high levels of automation in support of standard field engineering tasks.  The Regimental Engineer Company included sufficient equipment to replicate the range of engineering support available at higher levels for all engineer tasks less amphibious bridging and river crossing capabilities.  This provided the supported MRR or TRR with significant organic engineer capability in support of the primary mission.  As in all Soviet combat support functions additional resources could be task organised from higher formation for specific missions as required.

I first wrote on the Soviet MRR Engineer Company a few years ago at the time I was focused on the task organised groups that the engineers form to support the regiment and did not spend much time trying to unravel the organisational knot caused by disparities in the organisational structure discussed in FM100-2-3 and Isbey's Weapons and Tactics of the Soviet Union.  Since then other sources have come to light and in addition a number of new models have been released allowing for better representation of the unit in 1/72 scale. So I thought it would be worth worth revisiting with more focus on the organisation and equipment of the company. 

Like all supporting arms the engineer assets available to a combined arms commander include:
  • The organic assets associated with the unit or formations
  • Attached assets provided by higher commanders dependent on mission and priority. These can be provided for general support or to achieve specific tasks.
Similar to the allocation of artillery assets the need for centralised or decentralised control depends on the specific operation and phasing:

Centralised control is prefered during
  • Preparation of an offensive
  • Construction of fortifications and minefields 
  • During river crossings operations
Decentralised control is prefered at the start of the offensive or in going over to the defensive. Engineer planning and advice is delivered by the Chief of Engineer Services at each level of command.

The basic goals of Soviet engineer support is to;
  • Create conditions for more effective application of the means of attack, 
  • Support the unhindered movement of friendly forces in the vicinity of the enemy 
  • Affect maneuver on the battlefield 
  • Provide defence for friendly forces from the destructive means of the enemy
and the Engineer tasks that derive from these goals are:
  • Reconnaissance of the enemy and the terrain
  • Preparation and maintenance of routes of movement and maneuver
  • Demolitions work and the construction of obstacles
  • Fortification and camouflage of positions and areas
  • Exploration for sources of water and its supply and purification
  • Measures to camouflage troop movements and operations
  • Engineer actions to eliminate the effects of nuclear attacks

Engineers are supported in the delivery of these tasks by Motor Rifle and Tank troops as required.   Not surprisingly with the Soviet army the organisation and structure of the organisation directly maps to the doctrinal tasks and goals it is set to deliver.  At Regimental level that leaves us with an Engineer company as outlined below.

This organisation is derived from a review of a number of sources;
  • FM 100-2-3 provides the main components of the structure 
  • Weapons and tactics of the Soviet Union together with Soviet Combat Engineer Support a research paper by Major J Parr written in 1978 provide the detail of the allocation of equipment to the sections and platoons as well as the view that the technical construction platoon could be replaced by two sapper platoond
  • L Graus paper Instant Russian Obstacles, FMSO, 1996 provided the view that the UMZ was deployed at regimental level. Currently I believe the UMZ was deployed in the early 1980s and I have assumed that organisational change was adopted from introduction into service.
There are a variety of conflicts amoungst the sources around the detail of the equipment holdings and the precise structure. This interpretation adapts the FM 100-2-3 view, a number of other interpretations would be equally valid.

The organisational structure shown allows the company to support the standard Soviet Engineer task groupings through which Engineers in the Soviet army delivered support to the Combined Arms Force. Composition of the main groupings are covered in the post MRR & TRR part 3 Engineers.  In outline the groupings and tasks are as follows:
  • Inzhenernoe Razvedyvatel'nyi Dozor Engineer Reconnaissance Patrol, this may be grouped with other recce units such as Chemical or Regimental or operate independently, they report on the state of roads bridges and obstacles and can work in coordination with or independently of MSDs.

  • Otriad Razvevedki i Razgrazhdeniia Reconnaissance/Obstacle Clearing Detachment, these groupings are used primarily to clear obstacles on route to enemy objectives, I assume these are formed by Combat Troops equipped with Mine ploughs and rollers and potentially supported by Sapper platoons
  • Otryad Oberspecheniya Dvizheniya Movement Support Detachments, facilitate the maneuver of the first echelon in attack, withdrawal and advance. They will normally operate in front of the main body clearing obstacles and improving routes.  They may include security elements from combat or recconnaissance units 
  • Podvizhnyy Otryad Zagrazhedni Mobile Obstacle Detachments, composed primarily of engineer troops they can be reinforced by other units including mine laying aviation assets.  They are configured to rapidly deploy mines, conduct extensive demolitions and deploy and develop obstacles to movement using construction equipment. 
Company HQ & Services

The Company HQ and Services platoon is equipped with 3 Command Vehicles a UAZ 469, BRDM2 and a BTR 60 and a fleet of 8 or 9 trucks for carrying the engineer stores of the regiment, Trucks would either be the 7.5 ton Kraz or the 5 ton Ural and the stores carried were primarily;
  • Mine ploughs, 
  • Mine rollers, 
  • MTU dozer blades
  • Water purification kit. 
  • Stores for Bridging
It is not clear if mine ploughs could be fitted by the tank crews or would need the support of an engineer section.

I have represented the unit with a BRDM 2 and 3 Kraz Trucks. I decided to use the Kraz trucks primarily to differentiate the engineers from the artillery units in my collection.  The Mine rollers and ploughs are represented as separate models which can be attached to any vehicle and the MTU dozer blades I model as permanent attachments to one tank in the tank battalion.

Sapper Platoons

The sapper platoons each consist of 3 sections with each section mounted in a BTR 60 or a truck. Sections are capable of undertaking a variety of tasks including;
  • Demolitions and Cratering
  • Mine clearance 
  • General pioneer work.  
I will be representing the platoon with a single BTR 60 PB and trailer although I am tempted to use BTR 60 Ps to provide some variety.

Sapper & Mine Platoon

The third Sapper platoon in the company was also the minelaying platoon. Again these could be equipped with APCs or trucks although in this instance the APCs would be BTR 152s as the PMR 3 or PMZ 4 could not be operated from a BTR 60PB due to the rear mounting of the engine. As well as minelaying this platoon could also undertake general pioneer work, demolitions and cratering.  I am representing this platoon with 1 BTR 152, 1 PMR3 and a ZIl 131 with a UMZ scatterable mine system as discussed above.

The platoon is equipped with a first line scale of 600 mines, minefields consist of 3 rows and at a 4m spacing this load can deploy an 800m 3 lane minefield in 20 minutes. Reloading takes 10-12 minutes although exchanging the towing vehicles can speed this up.  A large minefield would comprise of a number of 200 - 300m blocks with varying orientation and arranged in depth. Blocks could be interspersed with dummy minefields which would just be ploughed. A platoon of 3 Vehicles can lay fairly significant minefields in an hour and smaller ones in 20 minutes.

Road & Bridging Platoon

The Road and Bridging platoon comprised of three sections that primarily manned specialist engineer equipment appropriate to the sections primary task, the three sections covered
  • Route maintenance and support, 
  • Bridging 
  • Obstacle and fortification construction
The Platoon deploys 11 vehicles in total so I am representing it with 4 models

Road Section

The Road section consists of two vehicles only a DIM mine clearance vehicle and a BAT-M, I am representing it with a single BAT-M.

The BAT-M can be used to develop routes using its forward blade which can be configured in a number of ways depending on the task and the onboard crane.  tasks include:
  • Grading
  • Filling Trenches and Craters
  • Clearing rubble and Snow
  • Breaching Obstacles
Whilst not primarily designed for digging work it could be deployed to develop fortifications and ditches if required, in this it would be less effective than the purpose built machinery described below. The BAT-M started to be replaced by the BAT 2 at the backend of the Cold War
  • BAT-M produced 1953 - 1972
  • BAT 2 Late 80s entered service 1988 onward, no significant change incapability
Bridge Section

The Bridge section varied between tank and Motor Rifle Regiments, Tank Regiments had 3 AVLBs and a 4 TMM truck launched bridging unit. The MRR had only 1 AVLB and the TMM unit.

The AVLBs that could be deployed included:
  • MTU-12. 11m class 50, based on T-54 chassis, production 1955
  • MTU-20, 18m class 50, based on T-55 chassis, production
  • MT-55, 18m class 50, based on a T-55 chassis, deployed in 3 minutes, production 1969 - 1983
  • MTU-72, 18m class 50, based on a T-72 chassis. deployed in 3 minutes, production 1974 - 1992
The TMM bridging sections are 10.5 m in length and together could span a 40m gap over rivers with a depth of up to 1.7m/3m depending on version. The original TMM system was class 50 whilst the later TMM3 was class 60. TMM was originally deployed in 1962 and updated in 1974. A 40m span could be deployed in 90 minutes at night. Multiple TMM sets could be applied to span longer gaps.

Regardless of regiment type I am modelling the bridge section as 1 MT-55 and one TMM.

Fortification Section

The Fortification section could be equipped with a few different vehicles in general there was either an MDK-2  or a BTM. the BTM was primarily a trench digging equipment whilst the MDK - 2 could be used to rapidly develop anti tank ditches vehicle scrapes or bunkers.  The rest of the section comprised 3 PZM trench excavators.

Digging rates were:
  • BTM between 250m - 800m per hour depending on trench depth and soil type. Trenches of 1.1/1.5m depth x 1m width could be produced in straight sections, zig zagging or waves.  
  • MDK-2 creates a trench 3.5m x 3.5m at around 30m an hour.  This seems low compared to the others. 
  • PZM can dig trenches of upto 3.5 m depth x upto 3.5m width at rates between 35m an hour to 200m an hour depending on soil type and trench size
I will be representing the section with a BTM, primarily because I have yet to find an MDK-2 in 1/72, which would be my preference, although scratch building one is looking appealing.

Game Concepts

Usually engineer tasks other than deployment of AVLBs sit outside the scope of most games.  The level of automation deployed by the Soviet Army across all task allow this to be challenged. The obvious candidates are the more rapidly deployed capability options;
  • AVLB launched bridge
  • Single/duel Span TMM
  • Minefield breaching
  • Crater filling
  • Wire Breaching
  • Scatterable minefield deployment
In game completion of tasks;
  • AT Ditch deployment
  • initial trench system creation
  • Surface laid minefields
  • closure of gaps in obstacles
  • initiation of demolitions
Consideration may be given to an opening move of longer duration enabling the placement of obstacles at the commanders discretion or multiple moves of engineering tasks before the arrival of the enemy force or indeed the sequenced arrival of that force over a number of moves all of which would provide scope for in game Engineer play given the rate of production described above and the Soviet doctrine of deployment of obstacles on identified enemy lines of advance.  Most of these concepts would need axis of advance or points of entry to be identified to the Soviet commander an activity that could be randomised.

The understanding of the production rates also play to the development of obstacle belts within scenarios. An understanding of the wider scheme of maneuver and the associated time and space issues allow for calculation of what could be produced in the time available or allow for a degree of pre game play as part of an encounter battle for instance.

The Soviets doctrine called for the deployment of obstacle belts in front of maneuvering forces in order to achieve surprise and chemical troops smoke units would be deployed to screen the tasks from the advancing enemy forces.


You need of course to build models to represent the engineer assets and for engineering capability that includes both the equipment and the terrain items that indicate that the work has taken place.  So creation of engineer units and their employment is a reasonably labour intensive task.

The good news is that over the last couple of years the range of models to support the use of Soviet Engineers in 20mm / 1/72 has increased dramatically and includes figure as well as equipment from such companies as S&S and W Models.

A combination of relatively inexpensive resins and plastic kits will buy you the bulk of the capability with the odd high cost rein from W Models rounding out the capability along with a small amount of scratch building and a little imagination its fairly straight forward to deploy the equipment and figures. A reasonably comprehensive list of models and suppliers for this project is outlined in the table below;

To represent the impact you will of course need a range of terrain pieces including:

  • Deployed equipment bridges
  • Minefields, marked and unmarked
  • Wire obstacles
  • Craters
  • AT Ditches
  • Trenches
  • Trench systems
  • Tank scrapes
Whilst engineering activities are seldom a major focus in miniature wargaming, the Soviet doctrine that called for the rapid development of obstacles in the line of an enemy advance and in support of flank protection and the Anti Tank reserve place a different emphasis on them compared to the less dynamic concepts seen within NATO and makes them worthy of consideration for games.



BTR 60
Pioneer Battalion 11
Soviet Engineer Digging Equipment
Soviet Combat Engineer Support, US Army Institute for Advanced Soviet and East European Studies
Instant Russian Obstacles, FMSO, 1996
Soviet Engineer Equipment


The Soviet Conduct of Tactical Manoeuvre

Other Posts of Interest:

ORBAT - 1980's Soviet MRR and TRR, Part 3 Engineers
TTP - Soviet Advanced Guard and March Security
Wargames Unit - Soviet MRR, Anti Tank Reserve
Review - Model 1/72, S&S MT-55 Bridgelayer

Friday 10 March 2017

Review - Book, Todays Army Air Corps, Paul Beaver, 1987

The first thing to point out about what I think is a very handy little reference is that the title is a complete misnomer.  Written in 1987 the Today in the title very much refers to the Army Air Corps of yesterday and you will certainly struggle to find even a mention of the AH 64 which was a distant aspiration at the time of writing.  What the book does do well is provide a compact overview of the British Army Air Corps This includes:
  • A Short History of Army Flying
  • Structure and Command Arrangements
  • Regiments Squadrons and the AAC Center
  • Aircraft
  • Weapons Roles and Equipment
  • Future Programme
  • Training and Tactics

This book is an excellent snap shot of the Army Air Corps at the backend of the Cold War. The Historical section is too short to do anything but provide pointers to conflicts in which the Army Air Corps had previously played a role.  The real value to the Cold War Gamer lies in less than half the book, primarily in the sections on:
  • Structure and Command Arrangements. This section is a little thin but provides an overview of how the Army Air Corps supports the rest of the Army with both Aviation Advice, staff support and planning functions as well as the broad structure of the units and a view of the organisations that support is provided to essentially BAOR, UKMF, Special Forces and Northern Ireland.
  • Regiments Squadrons and The AAC center. This section is the first of the two absolute nuggets in this book this covers each regiment and independent squadron and in a terse paragraph summarizes location role, equipment holdings and the HQ they report to, which is immensely useful for context and scenario planning if you want to refer to the real units.
  • Training and Tactics. The second nuget is the training and tactics section which is sadly all too short and in a few pages talks through HELARM tactics with Gazelle and Lynx as they would operate in Germany.  This looks at both the Anti Armour and Recce/Air Op roles. It would have been nice to see something on Forward Air Refueling and cross FLOT (Forward Line of Own Troops) operations but the data supplied is enough to give you a basic understanding of how the Aviation assets would be used.  Its easy to forget that other missing items such as JAAT (Joint Air Attack Teams) post date this title, within the British armed forces.
The rest of the books information is useful but can be obtained easily else where, including online sources. For an out of print obscure little book it contains some very useful information. It can be picked up on Amazon, last I looked for .01p, at that price it pays for itself if you can use it to make the gaming table more stable by sticking it under one of the table legs. A thin tome but a worthwhile addition to the Cold War library if you have an interest in British aviation capability at the back end of the Cold War.

Today's Army Air Corps @ Amazon

Sunday 5 March 2017

ORBAT - NATO's Northern Army Group, 1 BR Corps Deployment

The 1 Br Corps deployment zone sits between Hanover in the North to Einbeck in the South. Deployed to the North is 1 GE Corps and to the South covering the more broken terrain of the Harz Mountains and the Saurland is 1 Be Corps.  The detail of NORTHAGs deployment was previously covered here.

The Corps area is dissected by the Rivers Weser and Leine and has the Harz mountains on its Southern boundary and the Teutoburger Wald to its rear.  The city of Hieldesheim sits in the center of the Corps area of responsibility with the ground to the south of Hieldesheim being more broken and to the North more open.  The Corps sits astride an Axis of Advance to the Ruhr industrial conurbation.

The Corps concept of operations saw a covering force fighting a delaying action from the Inner German Border back to a Main Defensive Position that sat forward of the River Weser and across the River Leine.  The covering force battle would buy time for the preparation of the MDP and potentially the deployment of units from the UK if this had not happened in transition to war.  To the rear was the reserve Division with the primary task of launching a counterstroke into the advancing Soviet Armies once the main axis of advance had been identified and this would create the conditions for a counter offensive by the NORTHAG reserve to restore the Inner German Border.

  • The Covering Force was provided by 2 Armoured Reconnaissance Regiments from 1 and 4 Divisions together with 644 Squadron AAC.  The Recce Regiments at this time were 1st The Queens Dragoon Guards and The 16/5th Queens Royal Lancers. They were effectivly under command 1 Br Corps in this phase.
  • The Northern MDP Division was provided by 1st Armoured Division covering the more open ground South of Hanover and North of Hildershiem.
  • The Southern MDP Division was provided by 4th Armoured Division deployed in the Southern part of the corps area covering the more broken around the Sibbessa gap.  
  • The Parachute Regiment Group deployed to Hildershiem in the centre of the area and I would imagine they intended to stay put regardless of the developing situation.  Hildersheim and the Parachute Regiment Group came under command of 1st Armoured Division.
  • Corps Reserve was provided by 3rd Armoured Division. The corps reserve supplied its reserve Brigade to enable the withdrawal of the covering force through the main defensive position by securing crossing points over the Rivers forward of the Leine.  Once the covering force had withdrawn 3rd Division's reserve Brigade would join the rest of the Division West of the Weser and launch its counter stroke.
  • The Corps Rear area was secured by 2nd Infantry Division, which also included 24 Airmobile Brigade which would primarily be used for counter penetration tasks into the forward areas and could be deployed in support of either the MDP or Covering Force Battle. Of Interest during Ex Lionheart in 1984, the German 53 Heimatschutz Brigade reinforced 2nd Division and 24 Brigade (at the time a Mech (W) Brigade) was released for deployment else where.
  • The Rear Combat Zone and Communication Zone sat behind the Corps rear boundary.

Behind the forward deployed Corps of NORTHAG sat III US Corps, once it had completed its deployment from the US it would conduct subsequent operations to restore the line of the Inner German Border.

By the close of the Cold War NORTHAG reserve included a multinational Airmobile division that included:
  • UK 24 Airmobile Brigade
  • Ge 255 Luftlande Brigade
  • Be Para Commando Regiment
Over the duration of the Cold War I suspect this plan changed a number of times but this is what I intend to use as the operational context for games involving my British forces.

The Essentials of the 1 BR Corps plan were therefore:
  • Covering Force - Recce and 644 Squadron AAC Forward
  • Main Defensive Position Battle including Divisional Covering Force and Divisional counter attacks/penetration.
  • Counter Penetration by 24 Brigade (88/89) after formation of Brigade and prior to move to multinational Airmobile Division.
  • Counter Stroke - 7 Panzer Division & 3rd Armoured Division
The unifying purpose being to achieve the destruction of the first operational echelon between the R Weser and the R Leine.
UK based components would deploy during transition to war or in the opening stages of the conflict, these included.
  • 3rd Armoured Divisions Recce Regiment
  • 4th Armoured Divisions 19 Infantry Bde
  • 665 Sqn AAC
  • 2nd Infantry Division

My intent is to set a number of Scenarios within the 4th Armoured Divisions area of responsibility primarily as it had a slightly more diverse force structure than 1 Armoured Division deployed in the more open ground to the North and therefore holds a little more variety in the type of actions and forces that can be used.  19 Brigades deployment area around Bockenem is shown on the map below.

The Divisions were tailored in their task organisation to their areas of responsibility. The 4th Armoured Division included 2 Armoured Brigades and an Infantry Brigade.  The table below outlines exactly what this meant in terms of the detailed composition of the different divisions in 1 Br Corps.

So essentially the 4th Armoured Division was a Mechanised Division with 1 Mech (T) Brigade, 1 Mech (W) Brigade and an Armoured Brigade.  The organisation of the 4th Armoured Division was as follows:

The Unit composition and equipment distribution of the Combat and Combat Support units around 1988/89 were as follows:

  • 16/5th Queens Royal Lancers, Divisional Recce Regiment (CVR(T))
  • 4 Regiment Army Air Corps (Lynx/Gazelle)
  • 45 Field Regiment RA (FH70) 19 Bde (Assumed)
  • 26 Field Regiment RA (M109/Javelin) 11 Bde
  • 49 Field Regiment RA (M109) 20 Bde
  • 35 Regiment Royal Engineers (FV 432)
  • 11 Armoured Brigade; 

  • 5th Inniskilling Dragoon Guards (Chieftain) 
  • 3 Royal Anglian (FV 432)
  • 2 Queens (FV 432)

  • 20 Armoured Brigade; 

  • 15/19 Hussars (Challenger)
  • 4/7th Royal Dragoon Guards (Challenger)
  • 1 Royal Regiment of Wales (FV 432) replaced by 1 RIRISH in 1990 (Warrior)

  • 19 Armoured Brigade; 

  • 1 Kings Own Scottish Borderers, (Saxon)
  • 2 Royal Anglian, (Saxon)
  • 1 Staffords, (Saxon) 
  • Royal Hussars (Chieftain, Less 1 Sqn to UKMF)

  • Engineers and artillery would tend to be attached to the brigades, recce squadrons could be attached to brigades but tended to operate as a divisional asset along with the AAC Regiment. Additionally the division would have a squadron from 32 Armoured Engineer Regiment with troops being attached to brigades as required.

    The Divisions operational concept had the Armoured Brigade and the Armoured Recce Regiment deployed forward as a covering force. The Armoured Recce Regiment being initially under command of 1 Br Corps as a component of the Corps covering force.  The 2 Mechanised Brigades then developed and manned the Main Defensive Position with the covering force withdrawing back into reserve where it would be reconstituted by replacement crews and vehicles from the Armoured Delivery Regiment. The AAC regiment would take a very active role in counter penetration as the ground lent itself well to HELARM anti tank ambushes. I expect it would have been active in both the divisions covering force battle and the MDP battles.

    19 Brigade the Mech (W) Brigade would deploy in the North of the area around the Bockenem bowel at the entrance to the Sibbessa gap and 11 Brigade, the Mech (T) Brigade to the South around Bad Gandershiem and Seesen20 Brigade would provide both the covering force and the reserve.  



    M136 Exercise Picture Archive
    British Army Units since 1945
    Fire and Furry Cold War Orbats and Modern Resources
    Staff Rides 1Br Corps Material and Maps


    The Royal Armoured Corps in The Cold War
    The British Army in Germany, an Organisational History 1947 - 20
    British Army of the Rhine,  TJ Gander
    The Royal Engineers, TJ Gander
    Other Posts of Interest:

    Sunday 12 February 2017

    ORBAT - Soviet Divisional Units, Part 2 MRD Artillery Regiment

    This post looks at Artillery support within the Division and specifically at the composition of the Divisional Artillery Regiment, how the capability changed over the period and how it might be represented within games and scenarios.

    The organic components of Divisional Artillery units were  broadly consistent across both the MRD and TD however their detailed composition varied, these Artillery units included:
    • Artillery Commander and his Staff
    • Artillery Regiment
    • Frog Battalion
    • Anti Tank Battalion (not in TD)
    • Artillery Battalions of subordinate MRR/TRR
    Whilst in other armies air defence would be a component of the Artillery in the Soviet Ground Forces this was a separate arm of Service.  The Anti Tank Battalion's deployment and grouping have been considered in an earlier post and I'll leave the Frog Battalion for another day.

    Equipment and Organisational Change

    The composition of the Divisional Artillery Regiment and the amount of organic artillery available to the Division varied significantly over the period from the 1970s through to the end of the 1980s and whilst my focus is on the 1980s it's worth understanding this as it accounts for a variety of conflicting information presented across the various sources which can lead to confusion if the general pattern of transition is not understood.

    In the 1970's the MRD's Artillery Regiment comprised two battalions of towed 122mm D30 Howitzers  and 1 battalion of towed 152mm D1/D20 guns, in a TD this was 3 Battalions of towed 122mm D30 guns. Each regiment included 3 Batteries of 6 Guns and most units used trucks as the gun tractors.

    By The end of the Cold War units would have an Artillery Regiment equipped with self propelled guns, in MRD's this could include 3 battalions of 2S3, in TD's 2 battalions of 2S3 were more likely.  In both cases batteries were of 8 guns and the regiments included an MLRS Battalion also of 3 batteries of 8 Launchers. The 8 gun and 8 launcher batteries seem to have been largely confined to GSFG.

    The MLRS units were incorporated into the divisional Artillery Regiments in the mid 70s and 2S1 and 2S3 started to be introduced to replace the towed guns and howitzers from around 1973.  As individual Regiments transitioned from the D30/1/20 /MLRS mix through the introduction of initially a mix of 2S1 and 2S3 and then to all 2S3 units this created the conditions for a variety of Orbats to exist within the divisions of any particular Army or Front at a given point in time.  The limiting factors on the transition and the principal cause of the variability being the rate of production and the sheer size of the Soviet ground forces, of note 2S3 production did not complete until 1993.

    The broad roll out following acceptance in 1971 as outlined by Zaloga was:
    • From 1973 1 2S3 battalion to each MRD Artillery Regiment: A MRD could include 2 D30 battalions and 1 2S3 battalion
    • From 1973 1 2S1Bn to each Cat 1 TD: A TD Could include 12S1 and 2 D30 battalion 
    • From mid 70s 1 122mm D30 battalion was replaced by 2S3 in TDs: TDs could include 1 2S1, 1D30 and 1 2S3 Bn 
    • Cat 1 MRD received 6 battalions of 2S1 two in the Artillery Regiment and 1 in each of the maneuver regiments:  MRD Artillery Regiments could have a composition of 2 2S1 battalions and 1 D1/20 or 2S3 battalion. (this also rather defeats the view of BMP units having 2S1 battalions and BTR units having D30 equipped battalions)
    • Cat 1 TD received 6 battalions of 2S1 taking them to 3 2S1 battalions or 2 2S1 and 1 2S3 battalion. 
    • Additional 2S3 battalions were deployed releasing 2S1 Battalions to the maneuver regiments
    • All this did not happen as a simple sequence and the different policies and deployments interacted with each other unpredictably.

    So what does this mean from the Wargames perspective, there were a lot of options, it was a big army, the role out did not complete before the economic impacts at the back end of the Cold war began to hit.  You have a lot of choice, my late period Divisional Artillery Regiment has one 2S1 battalion and two 2S3 battalions. For operations the Soviet Army task organised units into Artillery Groups which introduced a lot more variation and are discussed further below.

    The weapons thrown up by these changes were re used, initially they increased the Regimental artillery from a battery to a battalion and as towed assets in these units were replaced with Self propelled platforms then the size of Army and Front Artillery brigades were increased. The quantity of organic Artillery in the division including the regimental Artillery units therefore increased from a likely minimum 78 Guns in the 70's to  a maximum 192 guns by the end of the Cold War.

    The broad equipment change time line over the period with respect to Artillery equipment looks like this:
    • 1963 D30
    • 1966 PSNR 1 Ground Surveillance Radar
    • 1971 2S3 entered production
    • 1972 2S1 entered production
    • 1973 first deliveries 2S1/2S3
    • 1974 ACRV IV 12 Series Vehicles
      • IV13 Battery fire direction centre, 
      • IV 14 Battery Command Vehicle with PN44 night sight and D11M-1 Laser range finder,
      • IV15 Battalion Command vehicle with additional radios, 
      • IV16 battalion Fire Direction Centre with Field Artillery computer
    • 1975 SNAR 10 Target detection and fire adjustment
    • 1975 PRP 3 with PN 61 Image Intensifier, D11 Laser Range Finder, IV 520 Fire Control , Computer, dismountable D13 LRF (I think this came later), RL 126 ground surveillance radar
    • 1975 2S3M upgraded loader increased rate of fire
    • 1976 PSNR-5
    • Late 70s DK-1 Dismountable LRF Sage Gloss at Regiment and Division
    • 1980's 9M28 Rocket Grad P (Airburst)
    • 1980 PRP 4 as PRP3 but with PN 71 Thermal Imager a D14 LRF and PSNR -5 ground Surviellance radar
    • 1983 ACRV upgrade
    • 1986 152mm PGM 2K25 Krasnopol complex deployed by 2S3. The 122mm Kitalov 2 complex was a post Cold War system deployed in 2002
    • 1987 2S3M1 Gunsight and data terminal to receive display command information from IV 13
    • 1988 PRP 4M

    So not dissimilar to Western developments with the principal areas of change being:
    • The Introduction of Self Propelled Guns.
    • The Introduction of dedicated Command and Observation Post vehicles specifically equipped for role.
    • The development, deployment and improvement of target acquisition systems including radars, lasers, and night observation systems.
    • The development, deployment and improvement conventional munitions to include PGMs and sub munitions.
    • The development and deployment of data systems for processing and passage of command and fire control data.

    A wide range of munitions were available for both 122mm and 152 gun systems for the 2S3 these included:
    • OF-540 HE
    • OF-25 HE Frag
    • BP-540 HEAT-FS
    • Br-540B AP-T
    • OF-38 Krasnopol Laser Guided
    • S1 Illuminating
    • ZH3 Smoke
    • and Nuclear Warheads with a 2kt yeild

    The impact of all these changes were quite considerable in terms of the effectiveness of Soviet Artillery the impacts included;
    • Increased protection of the gun crews, 
    • More rapid displacement between fire positions, 
    • Reduced time into and out of action, 
    • Improved target acquisition 
    • Increased range, of munitions and target acquisition capability
    • Reduced time to resolve targets at greater ranges
    • Increased speed of transmission of artillery data reducing engagement times and data errors.
    • Increased speed of processing fire missions, through use of fire control computers
    • Improved Lethality, both through munitions developments higher rates of fire and the increase in size of the fire unit from battery to battalion.
    These increases in the scale efficiency and overall destructiveness of Soviet Artillery over the period and acted as a significant counter to NATO proliferation of handheld anti tank weapons and enabled the Soviet Army to reduce its doctrinal dependence on nuclear weapon use.

    The Divisional Artillery Regiment

    The Organisation of the Divisional Artillery Regiment is outlined in the diagrams below, TD's would generally only deploy two battalions of 2S3.  Both Isbey and FM 100-2-3 contain detail on the composition of the various Sub Units.

    From a Wargames perspective the main elements that we might want to represent will be rules dependent, from my point of view these are:
    • Command and Control Battery
    • 2S3 Battalions
    • BM 21 Battalion
    • Target Acquisition  Battery
    • Regimental Aid Point
    The gun battalions and BM 21 battalions are  broadly similar organisation and include:

    For my games I use a vehicle scale of 3:1 so I represent the battalion as 3 batteries with each battery containing:

    • A supply truck, either a Zil 131 or a URAL 4275, 
    • A command vehicle either an IV 12 Series COP/FDC (2 batterys per battalion) or a BTR 60 PU radio vehicle (1 battery per battalion and effectively representing the Battalion HQ). 
    • 2 firing platforms 2S1/2S3 or MLRS depending on the unit type.  
    From the battalion I deploy two OPs using the ACRVs as theoretically this organisation could generate seven OPs if required:

    • 4 from the COPs (IV13/15) 
    • 1 from the PRP 
    • 2 additional flanking OPs which would be created on an Ad Hoc basis from battery staff and vehicles.
    The Regimental Command and Control Battery

    A BTR 60 Command Wagon represents the 3 ACVs admittedly 2 are MTLBus but I have a lot of them in the unit already. Other than that I have added 1 UAZ 469 and 1 Gaz 66.  I also included a PRP 3 which might seem a bit strange.  

    One of the things I wanted to resolve within the HQ was the representation of PRP 3. Because of the way the PRPs are distributed with three sitting  in the Regimental Artillery battalions (one each) and three in the divisional Artillery battalions (one each) and one in the Target Acquisition Battery.  You end up with no representation of the vehicle due to the 3:1 vehicle scale, which is a shame as its a good looking wagon. Technically two would be deployed within the division (at 3:1) to accommodate this I added one to the Regimental HQ and one to the Target Acquisition Battery

    The Target Acquisition Battery

    It's a bit of a challenge to work out what's going on here and with this organisation having components that would sit in the off board force and the onboard force it needs to be divided up.  This is how I viewed it;
    • Recce Platoon @ 2 BTR 60/70/80 + 2 LRF - represented by 1 BTR 60
    • Comms Platoon @ 1 UAZ 452 Compute, 3 UAZ 469, 3 Gaz 66 - 1 UAZ 469, 1 Gaz 66
    • Surveillance Radar Platoon @ 1 SNAR 10, 1 PRP3, 1 Counter Mortar Radar - represented by 1 SNAR 10, 1 PRP 3 (see above for explanation).  The SNAR 10 would normally be deployed along side Artillery COPs.
    • Sound Ranging Platoon @ 4 Gaz Vans, This example of the 1B19 Complex provides a view - 1 Van
    • Topo Survey Platoon - not represented
    • Met Survey Platoon - not Represented
    • Radar Platoon - 3 radar direction finder, 3 Gaz 66 - 1 Gaz 66 and a PSNR -1 or 5
    So In Summary 1 BTR 60 ACV, 1 UAZ 469 & Gaz 66, 1 SNAR 10, 1 GAZ VAN, 1 GAZ 66 + Radar.  I have found no source data that attributes the number of vehicles to the platoons within the Target Acquisition Battery so have applied some thought and generated the answer. If anyone knows of better data on this I would be grateful for any pointers as to a more accurate representation. 

    Regimental Medical Point

    FM 100-3-2 covers the Regimental Medical Point under the MRR and I have assumed its the same for all regiments.  The core of this is a treatment section and one or two collection sections. I assume of the four Ambulances available three are in the collection section and one in the treatment section and the other sections all collocate with the treatment section. I have gone for a three vehicle representation of a Gaz 66 for the Treatment section and 1 UAZ 452 for each collection section.


    Krasnopol was a Precision Guided Munition(PGM) for 152mm Artillery pieces deployed in the late 80s. PGM's effectively allowed artillery firing in the indirect fire role to engage point targets such as vehicles or field defences.  This was achieved through laser target marking and steerable control surfaces on the projectile allowing for in flight course correction.  The amount of correction possible  was limited so the round had to be lobbed into the right space relative to the target and the observer for the whole thing to work. Rounds were provided for all the major 152mm systems in Soviet service. The complex consisted of the OF 39 projectile and a D15 Laser Target Designator together with a couple of command devices one for the gun line and 1 for the OP.

    Getting the round in the right place at the right time from the right direction to acquire the illuminated target was critical to success, as was the need to limit the time the target had to react. All this required a degree of thought to be applied to the process, as such engagement zones needed to be recced and engagements planned. This required a degree of preparation of the target zone and the gun line which would improve hit probability and reduce the effectiveness of any target counter measures.  Clearly more Ad Hoc engagement would lead to a lower probability of hit.

    Krasnopol was allocated in sets, each set included;
    • 50 Rounds 
    • The shot synchronization system
    • The LTD.  
    A battalion might be allocated 4 sets for a total of 200 rounds.  Common practice seemed to allocate one battery as the Krasnopol Battery and one platoon within that battery as the Krasnopol Platoon .  This platoon would carry 140 of the 200 rounds with the remainder being spread across the rest of the battalion. One LTD would go to each Battery COP and 1 to the Battalions mobile reconnaissance post (PRP 3).

    In order to engage the OP had to position between the target and the gun line within a 15 degree arc and within 7kms of the target.  Rounds would be fired in succession into the target area either on command of the OP or every 30 seconds.

    Krasnopol seems like very useful addition to the indirect fire inventory of the Divisional Artillery Regiment and one which makes the deployment of the related COPs a consideration from both a task organisation perspective and enabling targets to be engaged. I can think of a number of scenarios where It would be interesting to explore the impact of this such as the deployment of the Anti Armour Reserve at divisional or regimental level and the deployment of the Advance Guard.

    Artillery Groups and Control of Fires and Units

    With the Artillery assets at its disposal the division artillery staff would form a Divisional Artillery Group (DAG) and a number of Regimental Artillery groups (RAG).  The Division would be allocated assets from Army and Front and allocate assets to its subordinate Regiments enhancing the organic capability.

    RAGs would generally only be composed for the units in the first echelon. The implication from the Xenophon lessons on Divisional Artillery is that all the divisions artillery assets would be allocated between the DAG and the first echelon RAGs. RAGs for the 2nd echelon units would be composed prior to that echelon being committed effectively being withdrawn from the first. The staff planning data for these add hoc groups were:
    • DAG 4-6 Units
    • RAGs 3-4 Units (For lead Echelons only)
    Clearly these would be impacted by the priority of the axis of advance (main or secondary) and the type of operation, advance, breakthrough or pursuit.

    Battalions would be allocated fire units from RAG as required this would generally be when acting as an advanced Guard, Forward detachment or for an assault. The composition and distribution of non organic assets has been covered in earlier posts on the MRR and Non Divisional Artillery Units which contain examples of such groupings and provide a view on the range of units from which these elements might be drawn.

    In addition reinforcing fire from the Army Artillery Group and the Front Artillery Group could be superimposed by the higher headquarters as it saw fit or as part of a fire plan.

    Groupings and hence control of the Artillery units would change with the different phases of the Plan.  In general the DAG would retain control in the preparatory fire phase, then resources and control would shift to the RAGs for the Assault phases before being transferred to the 2nd Echelon as they were committed.  Fire Units Ammunition and Time slots could all be held in reserve.

    I aim to explore this further in a TTP post about the deployment and use of divisional artillery after I have digested some more of the data in the Xenophon archive.

    Wargames Representation

    Whilst the Divisional Artillery Regiment does not easily lend itself to most peoples idea of a 20mm table top action there are a number of ways its assets can be included in games, although I do admit that you have to try hard. There are a number of mechanisms which allow exploration of their use and role, these include;
    • Direct incorporation into the onboard elements as a focus of the scenario an example might be penetration of NATO forces into the depth of the divisional defence where Reserves and Artillery elements might be the core components of the Soviet Force. Such games can be built as stand alone scenarios or be components of a mini campaign.
    • Representation as off board support providing the Divisional wrap of supporting fires and Air Defence, in this instance the elements needing to be represented would be limited to on board Target Acquisition components.   
    • Representation on subsidiary boards enabling aspects of the depth fire battle to play out using Air, Artillery, Air Defence and follow on Maneuver assets as part of a larger game. Personally I like this approach and a variety of additional commands can be generated around the Artillery, Air and Air Defence aspects allowing examination of both deep and rear operations, both of which had significant impact on the outcome of the engagement being fought.  Without additional players the scope is more limited as there is a significant amount of thinking needed and additional game mechanics to play through that would otherwise consume too much time.
    • Linked Games, pre game play and mini campaigns offer approaches to resolving the issues outlined in the subsidiary board approach and if the number of players are limited offer a way to explore elements of Deep and Rear opps.  The detail of the sequencing of the games then becomes the major challenge.
    • Smaller Scale, heresy so not considered further :). Not my particular poison but alternative scales 1:300/600/700 offer the opportunity to develop these aspects in a more manageable space both from a cost and storage perspective, my problem is I am far to in love with the joys of 20mm to go there.

    What gets represented and how the support is applied is a key component of designing the scenario and something for the TTP post and some scenario ideas I have been working on.  Both the Big games covered on the blog the Wisenberg Counterattack and Storming the Weidhouse Gap contained significant artillery components. 

    Models and Availability

    Having identified that you want to build something as challenging as an Artillery Regiment and you have managed to convince your self that it will get the odd outing. Sourcing the models isn't always easy, the table below outlines a range of suppliers for the vehicles required to represent in whole or part the Divisional Artillery Regiment.

    Whilst the coverage of the vehicle fleet is fairly complete now with the release of conversion sets by S&S for the BTR series vehicles some of the ground equipments will require scratchbuilding if they are to be represented, notable ones include:
    • Counter Battery Radars
    • D15 Laser Target Designator
    • DK-1 Laser Range Finder (Imagery of this is proving a challenge to find)
    where I have already written a review of the relevant models they can be found here:


    Other Posts of Interest