|T-26 (radio and AA)||63||0|
|Total regular tanks||21800||12223|
|T-26 (teletank controller)||61||29|
|Total special tanks||1278||542|
|T-27 tankette (regular)||2343||930|
|T-27 tankette (tractor)||182||151|
|T-27 tankette (chemical)||33||6|
So counting everything on tracks in possession of the USSR, including tractors, experiments, and training tanks, there are just short of 26 thousand vehicles, but only about 14 thousand are available in the West to fight the Germans. That's still a lot, right? Well, tanks don't fight forever. Mechanisms tend to wear out, especially with heavy use, and the Red Army put these tanks through quite a bit of use in the 1930s, from the Spanish Civil War, to action against Chinese bandits and Japan in the Far East, to the campaign in Poland, to the Winter War, not to mention training, which must be done constantly. So how many of these tanks were actually available to fight? Here's how the vehicles in the Western districts spread over the Soviet standards for repair categories.
|Tank||1st category||2nd category||3rd category||4th category|
|Total regular tanks||2145||7900||1199||979|
|T-26 (teletank controller)||-||28||1||-|
|Total special tanks||12||475||44||11|
|T-27 tankette (regular)||-||471||173||286|
|T-27 tankette (tractor)||-||63||35||53|
|T-27 tankette (chemical)||-||-||3||3|
Now, what do these repair categories mean? 1st category includes brand new tanks, 2nd category includes tanks that have been in use and are suitable for duty, including tanks that need light repairs, 3rd category is tanks that need service in regional workshops (medium repairs) and 4th is tanks that need a major overhaul at a central workshop or a factory (major repairs).
Naturally, 3rd and 4th category tanks might as well be scrap metal when it actually comes to fighting a war. First category tanks you can rely on, but second category? Well, there's a catch. See that part where tanks that need light repairs are also lumped in here? While "light repairs" includes any repairs that can be performed by the crew or the technical company, they still need parts. Something as banal as a tank that's missing a track still counts as a second category tank, effectively a functional combat ready tank, but cannot actually drive into battle. This is where things get bad. According to Shein, an inspection in the spring of 1941 revealed that a staggering 25% of category 2 tanks are not combat capable due to the absence of spare track links. And these are just track links, there are any number of small but vital parts that can render a tank combat ineffective (gun components, engine components, etc). That fearsome number up there, 25932, goes down quite a bit. By Shein's estimates, no more than 7-7.5 thousand tanks were available for battle on June 22nd, 1941, opposed by 3658 tanks and 377 SPGs (a total of 4035 vehicles).
7500 tanks vs 4035 still gives the Soviets an advantage, but even the best tank with the best crew is nothing more than a cog in the machine that is its army. As you could tell from the above paragraph, the Red Army machine wasn't exactly well oiled. For instance, according to Shein, the army's demand for 76 mm armour piercing shells was only 12% satisfied, meaning that all these fancy new tanks had nothing to shoot as this German tanker recalled. A GABTU report on the state of tanks in the Red Army (CAMD RF 38-11373-67) dated June 1st, 1941, reveals just how seriously the rapidly expanding Red Army was lacking just about everything in 1941. The deficiencies of support vehicles (for wartime) include:
- Tractors: 51,653 (plus 14,277 obsolete tractors that need replacing)
- Vehicles: 483,738
- Light and pickup trucks: 32,025
- GAZ trucks: 96,156
- ZiS trucks: 181,453
- Type A mobile workshops: 5,243
- Type B mobile workshops: 2,822
- Fuel trucks: 49,662
- Other: 116,377
- Trailers: 69,691
- Motorcycles: 56,129 (plus an unspecified number of motorcycles that are no longer in production that need replacing)
Plus the following breakdowns had to be corrected:
- Medium repairs: 6,550
- Major repairs: 5,628
- Irreparable: 198
- Medium repairs: 43,464
- Major repairs: 19,902
- Irreparable: 2,208
- Medium repairs: 3,690
- Major repairs: 588
- Irreparable: 1,463
- Medium repairs: 3,023
- Major repairs: 2,231
- Irreparable: 704
The document notes that the poor state of equipment can be blamed on "uncharacteristic activity in 1939-1940", a lack of parts (219 million rubles' worth out of 410 million rubles' worth to just maintain the existing tanks, not even to build up spares), and a lack of mobile workshops (only 38% of the required number).
As you can see, the Red Army had a notable deficiency in parts and all kinds of vehicles, most notably, fuel trucks. If you have no fuel trucks, you can forget about any kind of meaningful maneuver, which was in great demand during the chaos of 1941. Even if you do have fuel trucks, they are somewhat useless if you don't have fuel... which was another problem in the Red Army in 1941. Maksim Kolomiets says, in his lecture (7:13) "...there was another serious problem, in all military districts, but in the Baltic Military District it was the most noticeable. This was a problem with fuel. Say you have some information on fuel inventory, they say "the district has almost 100%, diesel, gasoline, etc" but there is a small nuance, a footnote for those tables, that says how much of that amount is actually present within that district. If you look at the Baltic district, there is maybe 30%. I mean, administratively, it was controlled by the district, but if you look at its real location, it's in Vladimir oblast, Kalinin oblast, Moscow oblast... etc. The 2nd Tank Division as of 18:00 on June 21st was equipped with 40% of the needed gasoline for BT tanks, 48% diesel fuel, and 48% tractor kerosene, on average 1.5 fuel loads. ... On one hand it looks like a lot, but it's really a miserly amount." Kolomiets then also talks about the ammunition shortage Shein mentioned: "The division only had one ammunition load of 76 mm high explosive shells. They did not have a single armour piercing round. Two loads for 152 mm howitzers on KV-2s, 1.5 loads of 45 mm shells for BT tanks. ... If you look at the amount of ammunition and fuel, the division was equipped for maximum one day of battle."
So there you have it. No spare parts, scarce fuel and ammunition, poor odds of evacuating tanks with even minimal damage and lesser odds still of ever getting them repaired, and this is before valuable equipment and supplies were left behind during the retreat. There is no army in the world that could, under these conditions, soundly defeat a well prepared invader.