Saturday, March 3, 2018

8th Guards Combined Arms Army

If you look at the counter mix in the SPI Modern Battle Quadrigame, "Wurzburg," it doesn't take too much time to figure out that the unit mix represents the Soviet 8th Guards Combined Arms Army.  The units include the major elements of the 27th, 39th, and 57th Guards Motor Rifle Divisions (GMRD) as well as the 9th and 20th Tank Divisions.

There are a LOT of Soviet units here!

The 8th Guards Combined Army is the historical successor to the World War Two Red Army's 8th Guards Army, which itself was formed from the 62nd Army of Stalingrad fame.  Quite a lineage!  In Soviet doctrine, a Combined Arms Army was supposed to consist of four Motorized Rifle Divisions and one Tank Division, plus lots of interesting assets near and dear to wargamer's hearts. 

US Army manual order of battle of a "standard" Soviet Combined Arms Army.  Your may differ.

While the 8th Guards Combined Arms Army traded units over the course of the Cold War, around 1985 it had the 27th, 39th, and 57th Guards Motor Rifle Divisions (GMRD) and the 79th Tank Division, plus apparently the East German 8th Motor Rifle Division to round out the requisite number of Motor Rifle Divisions.  

I am using the 27th Guards Motor Rifle Division (GMRD) as my baseline unit as I build my Team Yankee Soviet force. A Motorized Rifle Division is a pretty powerful force in its own right, with a full tank regiment, three rifle regiments (one mounted in BMPs, the other in BTRs), an artillery regiment, another independent tank battalion, plus associated recon, engineering, air defense, etc. units.  

The "standard" Cold War Soviet Motorized Rifle Division around 1985.  Accept no substitutes!

In the game Wurzburg, the 27th GMRD has the following counters to represent it:

The tank regiment and other divisional assets are blended in with the normal motorized rifle battalions.  The 3-2-12 units have the added punch.  The 3-1-7 unit is the artillery units and the 4-0-8 is the divisional rocket launcher battalion with Bm-21s.

I think they just used the counters this way due to the 100 counter mix limit for the quadrigames.  Fulda Gap's representation of the 27th GMRD isn't much better.  Every Soviet Division had
three units, each of which was at unknown strength.  You flipped over the counter at the time of initial combat, often to great consternation or glee, depending on which side you were playing:  

Not surprisingly, the Central Front series does a better job at representing the standard Motorized Rifle Division:

All of the main units are evident here, with some added artillery to make it even more powerful/nasty. 

In The Next War the 27th GMRD is only a single counter, which makes sense in an operational level


Last but not least, "The Next War."

Within the 27th GMRD, I am using the BMP equipped regiment as my guide.  This regiment has three rifle battalions, a tank battalion, a self propelled artillery battalion and other ancillary units.
The BMP equipped units is almost a mini-division, though with a greater ratio of infantry to tanks.  

While the evidence is not conclusion, most sites I have found suggest the 27th GMRD BMP regiment (68th Guards Motorized Rifle Regiment) had BMP-2s.  This is good because I like the looks of the BMP-2 more than the BMP-1, which is still pretty neat.  The self-propelled artillery has 2S1 122mm SPGs, which is also neat.  The tank regiment is another thing.  The Soviets were changing their tank park for the umpteenth time during this period, with T-80s replacing the venerable T-64s in many of the Western Group of Soviet Forces in East Germany and Czechoslovakia.  By 1989 or so, the 27th GMRD had a full compliment of T-80s.  In 1985, this is less clear.  They may have swapped them out by then, but maybe not.  No one swaps out thousands of tanks at a rapid pace in peacetime, even in the Cold War.  I am going to make an assumption that the 27th still had some of its T-64s because a.) I can't prove it one way or the other,  b.) there isn't a good T-80 model available (I don't like the QRF one that much), and c.) the Battlefront T-64 is very neat looking.  Very neat looking and accessible trumps probability of issue.  I am currently building a company of T-64s and a BMP-2 company to use as representative forces for the the 27th GMRD.  Battlefront's Team Yankee game system doesn't exactly use company level units as its formations, but it is pretty close and I can fudge it as required.  Since I don't play tournaments, the points system is of more academic interest than in trying to force the Main River crossings at Wurzburg. The map helps provide the terrain overall situation.  Hopefully this should be interesting, and at least amusing.  Stay tuned!

Things look grim for the US 3rd Mechanized Infantry Division as the 27th GMRD begins its attack.  


irishserb said...

Nicely presented, looking forward to future posts on this.

PanzerCDR said...

Thanks. I want to have more fun with this than the usual force-on-force bash. I keep your Uwanda/Mugabia War in mind as a great example of a good story with neat miniatures (or is it the other way around?). I think you can do both; we'll see how I manage.