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"DDR NVA Vehicles (when and how many?)" Topic

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©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
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Achtung Minen24 Jul 2017 1:23 a.m. PST

The following pages from "Die Landstreitkräfte der NVA" (Kopenhagen 2003) are some of my favorite tables in the book. They show the aquisition dates and total vehicle counts for many of the NVA's frontline fighting vehicles. I found them so useful that I thought I would share with everyone here. The pictures are a bit fuzzy, but if you zoom in you should be able to make out all of the information (otherwise, let me know and I will clarify any questions).

Note, these are the total vehicle counts. If a vehicle entry says 352 one year and 50 a few years later, that means the NVA mothballed or sold 302 vehicles in the interim years (however, I do have sources that suggest the NVA still had T-34 in storage for the third wave reserve formations even by the end of the 1980's!). Likewise, if it says 260 vehicles one year and then 960 the next, the Kdo LaSK added 700 vehicles (not 960!).

Unless an entry says "Zunehmend 19XX," you can assume the vehicle was adopted in the first year listed, or (particularly in the case of the wire-guided rockets) that this information is simply missing from these tables (although I can also look it up upon request).




Vigilant24 Jul 2017 1:47 a.m. PST

Looks like a really useful book. Thanks for the post.

Achtung Minen24 Jul 2017 2:32 a.m. PST

Of particular note is the BTR-50PK count, called SPW-50PK here. These vehicles were troop transports for the Mot. Schützen of the Panzer Divisions (they never received BTR-60 vehicles like the Mot. Schützen Divisions did).

Extra bonus: In the top right corner of the third image, you can see a picture of Panzer officers playing a wargame!

Achtung Minen24 Jul 2017 3:00 a.m. PST

Also, I just noticed that the T-55AM2 is missing… 291 vehicles were converted from T-55 models from 1986 to 1989, 50 units of which were equipped with the Bastion rocket system (Source: Panzermuseum Munster).

boy wundyr x Inactive Member24 Jul 2017 5:51 a.m. PST

Thanks for sharing this data, very helpful for my 1983 Able Archer gone wrong project.

dwight shrute24 Jul 2017 6:19 a.m. PST

I wonder which unit got the 24 BMP2 ?

Achtung Minen24 Jul 2017 8:40 a.m. PST

@Dwight, they were all assigned to 9. Panzer Division.

Achtung Minen24 Jul 2017 12:41 p.m. PST

Specifically, distributed between two Mot. Schützen companies in MSR 9 "Rudolf Renner."

dwight shrute24 Jul 2017 1:17 p.m. PST

Thx Achtung !!!

Achtung Minen25 Jul 2017 11:12 p.m. PST

@Dwight, happy to help! About a year ago I found this information so terribly hard to come by, particularly in the English language, so I went on a book-buying and research spree to learn more about the NVA. I did it mostly to sate my own curiosity, but hopefully I can make the way a little easier for others now as well!

Achtung Minen26 Jul 2017 6:02 a.m. PST

And to be SUPER specific, they were assigned to the 9th Panzerdivision, 9th Mot. Schützenregiment, 1st Battalion, 1st Company (10 vehicles) and 2nd Battalion, 4th Company (10 vehicles). Both companies, and indeed most of the regiment, was stationed in Torgelow-Drögeheide, on Pasewalker Chaussee.

I believe the remaining four vehicles were reserved for training and technical demonstrations (and, inevitably, for marching in parades, at least for the BMP-2 of the 9. MSR).

Sorry, I have collected a LOT of NVA info… I could probably dig up commanders names, if needed!

Achtung Minen26 Jul 2017 8:04 a.m. PST

@boy wundyr x, it may be of interest to you to know that the NVA had their own "Able Archer" in 1983 as well. It was called "Angriffsoperation 1983." The overall strategy is discussed in general here:


And if you can read German, there are several books that go into detail that I can recommend. Essentially, the 1983 operation principally involved the 5th Army (including the 19th and 20th Mot. Schützendivisionen of the NVA, the 138th and 221st independent Soviet tank divisions and the 9th Panzerdivision of the NVA, with support from the Soviet assault group of the 2nd Guard Tank Army) and were aimed at practicing the following strategic objectives and maneuvers:

• The destruction of first-rate enemy objects
• The rapid advance over a wide attack corridor and the rapid crossing of water obstacles
• The employment of tactical air landings
• The breakthrough of opposing defensive positions
• Practicing successive patterns of attacks by supporting formations through air and ground attack
• Determined advancing and attacking in coordination with air landings to capture target corridors and zones

boy wundyr x Inactive Member26 Jul 2017 8:47 a.m. PST

Thanks Achtung, I wasn't aware of that. Unfortunately I can't read German (other than the common military terms and certain obscenities), but I'll see what can be gleaned about where their attacks might have gone if things had really gone wrong, as it's nice to have someone other than the Soviets as opposition. It's too bad we lost our TMP member with an NVA general father, he was a great source of info and scuttlebutt.

Achtung Minen26 Jul 2017 9:40 a.m. PST

Sorry, I meant to post the Google Translate version:


The auto-translator MANGLES the first sentence of the article, but it is otherwise serviceable. The first line should go:

"Had Siegfried Lautsch dished the dirt two and a half decades ago, he could have easily had his life ended with a bullet in the back of the head. After all, for the Stasi and the KGB, traitorous transmission of information was no game."

Anyway, if you were a fly on the wall in NVA headquarters during an "Able Archer gone wrong" scenario, all you would have needed to understand the conversation in German would be common military terms and obscenities. The East Germans would be losing, and badly ; )

nikolas93ts28 Jul 2017 9:58 a.m. PST

Achtung Minen, thank you for sharing this very impressive read.

What I found interesting is SU-76M being in service as late as 1968, and I would dare to guess in indirect fire role.

I say that because ISU-152 was kept in Soviet Army service as late as 1972, mostly in indirect fire role (they were equipped with dial sights, the range was ~15km) until enough 2S3 came in service, although it was a stop-gap measure with some limitations, for example, the gun elevation angle was not high, and therefore it could only fire in a relatively flat arc. Secondly, ammo load was low for such role and extra shells had to be placed near the SPG, and once the ammo rack ran dry, it took about an hour to replenish it. Alternatively, the shells could be handed to the loader one by one, further reducing already a non-exceptional rate of fire, resulting in lower effectiveness. Possibly open-topped SU-76 was better fitting for this role than other SPGs, at expense of firepower and reliability, but DDR didn't have anything better anyway.

Is there a chance of discovering more on SU-76M role in NVA?

Achtung Minen28 Jul 2017 3:12 p.m. PST

@nikolas93ts, this website has some good info: link

I'll dig through my book sources as well, but that website says that the SU-76M was principally assigned to the 6th and 11th Mot. Schützendivision and were actually used in a direct-fire role, either to replace missing tanks to fill out the order of battle or in anti-tank companies, until they were eventually replaced by sufficient numbers of T-34/85 and the new T-54 in 1957 and 1958.

Achtung Minen28 Jul 2017 6:25 p.m. PST

A little more info on the early usage of the SU-76M:

The HVA (Hauptverwaltung Ausbildung, or "Main Administrative Training"—one of the main state security organs from the early days of the DDR alongside the Volkspolizei) had 19 vehicles which were used purely for training purposes (organized into three "artillery Panzerjäger" "schools," which was later reduced to a single school by the end of 1950). In May and June of 1952 another 150 vehicles were added, making 169 total. The final 40 vehicles were added to the newly formed KVP (Kaserniete Volkspolizei, or garrisoned people's police… the precursor to the NVA and the first true military formation of the DDR) in August and September of 1952, making 209 total. In 1953, the KVP was organized into two territorial administrations (Pasewalk in the north and Leipzig in the south, which were the precursors to MB V and MB III armies of the LaSK Kdo of the NVA). Each of these policing districts had two "state of readiness" police divisions and one mechanized readiness police division. Each infantry police division had an "SFL and Panzer" regiment (with 1 battalion of three SFL companies) and three infantry regiments each with an SFL company of 6 SU-76M. The mech (aka Panzer) divisions each had an SFL regiment as well. Note, the KVP also used 23 SU-100 and 46 SU-85 in the mech divisions.

Achtung Minen28 Jul 2017 8:33 p.m. PST

All the information I have seems to indicate direct-fire roles for the SU-76 in NVA service. When the NVA was established out of the KVP in 1956, the SU-76M stayed on in the infantry division's tank regiment (which, like the KVP organization, was called a "Panzer/Selbstfahrlafetten-Regiment" and consisted of two SU-76M batteries and five Panzer companies). The treatment of the self-propelled guns as a "tank" asset alone should suggest a direct-fire role.

This formation only existed in the short-lived NVA "Infanteriedivision" however, which were gradually switched over to the new "Mot. Schützendivision" following the Soviet example in 1956. Thus, the SU-76 should have been dropped from the new Mot. Schützendivision's Panzer regiment, which consisted purely of tanks and was not a hybrid tank/SPG formation.

Nevertheless, Kopenhagen (in "Die Landstreirkräfte der NVA") still gives the numbers of SU-76 by 1957 as 98 vehicles in MB V and 106 in MB III (35 of which were in 4. MSD, 69 in 11. MSD and 2 lone vehicles in 7. PD). That's a total of 204 out of 209 original vehicles… in actuality, it probably took a few years to replace all the SU-76M with new tanks like the T-54 (in any case, the MSD were always lower priority for receiving new gear in comparison to the Panzer Divisions).

I have more books still coming in the mail which may shed more light on the subject. If they do, I'll post here.

Achtung Minen09 Aug 2017 12:51 p.m. PST

Just a quick update, the first of several books arrived today (Die Panzer der Nationalen Volksarmee: Typenatlas NVA) and it also confirms that the SU-76M was used "in the place of missing Panzers and were also to be used in anti-tank rolls." Which is to say, direct fire! Interestingly, the authors say that the NVA predominately used towed artillery pieces until the introduction of the 122mm S21 Gvozdika and the 152mm 2S3 Akatsiya in 1981 and 1979, respectively.

nikolas93ts25 Sep 2017 12:12 p.m. PST

Achtung Minen, that is a gold worth amount of information, thank you!

Do you possible have any similar information about the IS-2 and units which operated them? Kaserniete Volkspolizei planned to purchase 144 but only 47 were eventually acquired, as they were replaced by more modern types and slowly withdrawn into reserves or training academies by early to mid 1960s. Apparently 7th and 9th Panzer Division each operated 19 of these tanks, which leaves 9 (more or less company size) unaccounted for. Sounds logical that those tanks were used for training, but maybe you can shed some more light on the subject.

Thanks again!

nikolas93ts30 Sep 2017 6:26 a.m. PST

bumping this up

Achtung Minen30 Sep 2017 8:58 p.m. PST

Nikolas, thanks for bumping… I indeed did miss your question. There are a couple of sources I can check, but the most detailed one might be Kampfpanzer der NVA (Siegert and Hanske 2011), which has a long 15-page section on IS-II in the NVA. I'll translate the most relevant section (on page 65 and 66), since it isn't that long, but if you want nuts and bolts information (including ammunition types, technical data etc.) let me know. In any case, it mostly confirms what you have found.

Introduction and Use
From October 1952, the Panzer type IS II was introduced into the KVP, whose military structure included among another things medium and heavy tank regiments. These IS II's were delivered first to the heavy tank and self-propelled gun (SFL) regiments of the KVP. Originally, a regiment was intended to be equipped with 47 heavy tanks and 22 SFL 100's. In total, 144 tanks were planned for the KVP, but only 47 were actually supplied. The IS II was deployed in the heavy tank companies, such that only a single heavy tank regiment could be fully equipped. A heavy tank company was made up of 5 IS II's. Since a battalion had four panzer companies in its organization, a heavy panzer battalion was thus made up of 21 tanks.

These 47 tanks were transferred with the founding of the NVA and were deployed in the newly formed 7th and 9th Panzer divisions. Since no further IS II's were introduced, only the 14th Panzer regiment (7.PD) and the 21st Panzer regiment (9.PD) could form heavy tank companies. Each of these regiments deployed 19 tanks. The remaining nine IS II's were sent to the training battalions and schools. Both partial and complete maintenance overhauls** were undertaken by the repair facility at Neubrandenburg (RWN).

** The German military term here is mittleren and Hauptinstandsetzungen, the former essentially meaning worn and damaged parts were replaced, while the latter meant the vehicle was entirely disassembled and rebuilt.

Then there is a short section about how the IS II was meant to be replaced by the T10 (which never happened) with the remaining models rebuilt and put to other uses. The IS II remained in the NVA organization until 1958 and it continued in the training units until 1963. There is also a table that describes the eventual fate of every IS II in NVA service.

Wilfried Kopenhagen's Die Landstreitkräfte der NVA seems to offer some more information. The July 1957 tables show 19 IS II tanks in MB V (i.e. 9.PD) and 21 in MB III (i.e. 7.PD). July 1960 has 22 tanks in MB III (which may contradict the first book, but the first book does indicate later on that the IS II's only started to be reassigned starting in 1962).

Is there a specific question you had in mind?

nikolas93ts04 Sep 2018 2:02 a.m. PST

I find it curious that T-55A was adopted that late, at least according to this book. I am aware practical difference was minimal, but it means so many were delivered quite late.

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