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What do you think was the ideal ratio of armor to infantry in an Armored Div?

Discussion in 'Tank Warfare of World War 2' started by Andy235, Feb 8, 2018.

  1. Andy235

    Andy235 New Member

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    What model of division in which army had the best ratio of tanks to infantry, artillery, AT and AA guns and support personnel? What do you think would be ideal and what nation came closest to creating a well balanced armored force? This also includes quality of the various tanks and other weapons in the division.
     
  2. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    With or without attachments? With attachments a US Infantry Division may come close to the ideal.
     
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  3. Andy235

    Andy235 New Member

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    I was thinking what the best organic arrangement would be, but the US Army did have ways of pooling resources and bulking up individual formations at a higher level of command.
     
  4. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    From what I understand US Army armored divisions tended to be a bit too light with regards to organic infantry. Rich will probably be long shortly to quote chapter and verse (he's a real expert in this area). It may also depend on whether you are talking the notional or actual force. German and Soviet late war formations for instance tended to be well under authorized strength while the US kept it's formations pretty much up to strength. I'm not very familiar with British, French, or Italian armored divisions so can't comment too much there.
     
  5. freebird

    freebird Member

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    It also strongly depends on what type of army you have, is it the German/Soviet model in which the bulk of the Army remained un-motorized, or the British model?

    The Germans reformed their Panzer divisions before Barbarossa, and so the improved version was 1 Panzer regiment to 2 panzegrenadier regiments, which proved to be an effective combination. (although many battalions were motorized by truck.)


    The British fought war as the first major power fully mechanized, later joined by the Americans. US armored divisions had 1 tank regiment and 1 infantry regiment. The British dumped the early war organization with 2 armoured brigades + support group, and the final version was similar to the Americans, 1 armoured brigade + 1 motorized brigade, although the British divisions had an extra motorized battalion organic to the armoured brigade. (Giving 4 battalions total in the division) However we have to remember that since both the British and Americans essentially motorized every infantry division, an British or American Corps that included at least one infantry division had several extra motorized brigades (regiments) available.

    So for example, British VIII Corps (O'Conner) during Market Garden had 1 armoured division, 2 infantry div, + 1 arm. & 1 infantry brigades. Total: 2 armoured brigades + 9 motorized brigades, or about 4/1 infantry to armour.

    Compare that to Panzergruppe III during Barbarossa, it had 4 Panzer divisions + 3 motorized divisions = 4 Panzer regiments and 10 motorized regiments. (However there was additional un-motorized infantry)
     
  6. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    A bit off I'm afraid. Take for instance the US 2nd Armored divison:
    2d Armored Division - Order of Battle of the United States Army - WWII - ETO | U.S. Army Center of Military History
    It lists 2 armored and 1 armored infantry regiments plus attachments minus detachments which were significant.
    The 3rd armored division was organized in a similar way but the rest were by battalions with equal numbers of tank battalions and armored infantry battalions. See:
    ORGANIC COMPOSITION OF ARMORED DIVISIONS - Order of Battle of the United States Army - WWII - ETO | U.S. Army Center of Military History
    I believe most had a least a battalion of TD's attached and possibly more infantry

    This page:
    Order of Battle of the United States Army - WWII - ETO | U.S. Army Center of Military History
    has links to the various divisions as well as a the combined page above..

    *** edit for ***
    Looking at the 1s ID is interesting as well as for a short period of time they actually had 4 tank battalions and a TD battalion attached. If I recall correctly most infantry divisions ended up with some mix of two or more TD or tank battalions attached.
     
  7. freebird

    freebird Member

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    I left out a couple of intermediate steps, the Support Group was introduced, and then discarded
     
  8. freebird

    freebird Member

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    US 2nd & 3rd were the only two US armored divisions that had an extra tank regiment attached, most had only one.
    TD's were attached but not organic to the division iirc?
     
  9. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Correct.
     
  10. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    The right mix of armour and infantry depended on the terrain and role.

    For actual combat in Europe the lwd might well be right. An American and British infantry division with an attached armoured battalions was balanced and had enough infantry to take and hold ground.

    But that wasn't really what armoured formations were for. They were supposed to be to sustain mobile operations and fight opposition they might meet, including defeating enemy armour. .

    The German early war panzer division had four panzer battalions and four infantry battalions mounted on motorcycles. The Germans also had a combat engineer and recce battalions that could be used as infantry. In 1941 the number of panzer battalions was halved to double the number of divisions giving a ration of two panzer battalions to four infantry (and two others) SS formations had two armoured and six infantry battalions.

    British early war armoured formations - and the US heavy division had 2 armour to one infantry. The late war British had four and four, while the US light armoured division was three and three - forming four and three armour/infantry task forces respectively. The British had two brigade HQ. This was fine for pursuit or encounter battles such as Arracourt or .El Alamein and Tunisia.

    There wasn't enough infantry in either British or US Armoured divisions to sustain fighting in close terrain. During 1944-45 a US infantry regiment or infantry brigade might be added to an armoured formation. 4 AD needed an extra infantry regiment to relieve Bastogne. In Op Bluecoat 31 July-4 Aug in VIIth British Corps the British Guards and 11th Armoured Divisions gained an infantry brigade from 3rd and 15th Infantry divisions, which in turn each gained an independent armoured Brigade. So the VIIth corps fought with four divisions each with one armoured brigade and two infantry brigades - not a million miles from the German late war german Panzer division. The 2nd NZ division fought in Italy with the same ratio: one armoured and two infantry brigades. They were very happy with the structure and had a very good reputation as a fighting formation.

    In 1942 the British experimented with the idea of replacing an infantry brigade in each infantry division with an armoured Brigade. This left the division too weak in infantry for every phase of war, as discovered on the battlefield in Tunisia. One of the objectives of Ex Spartan in March 1943 was to test the idea - and it didn't work. So if you ever wonder what the British Army was up to in the long years between Dunkirk and D Day at least one activity was a pointless re-organisation ;)

    So the answer to the OP is 1:2 or 3 since the Panzer divisions and Allied armoured divisions were augmented to this ratio.
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2018
  11. Terry D

    Terry D Active Member

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    Just thought I would throw in my two cents here. When seriously bored I like to design notional WWII armies with TOEs, etc. I have a design for a heavy type armored division in which the ratio of armor to inf is just about even or the inf just a bit ahead, and that seems to be the ratio both the British and American armies arrived at in 1944 so I think it realistic. Reference has been made above to the 2nd NZ Div having two inf bdes and one armd bde in 1944 in Italy. That the Kiwis did, but they later converted some recce, MG, and motor inf units to standard infantry to give the 2nd NZ Div three infantry brigades as well as the armor. So, what you have then is basically a standard triangular infantry division with a serious armored punch as well. The assault organization adopted by British 2nd Army for the opening phase of NEPTUNE was similar with an armored brigade allotted to each of the assaulting infantry divisions (3rd, 3rd Canadian, 50th). The 50th Div was extra large with four infantry brigades plus the armor.
     
  12. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    The ETOUSA General Board recommended returning to regiments and discarding the combat command organization. Each of three regiments would be comprised of a four-company tank battalion and two three-company armored infantry battalions. Division artillery was to be three 105mm and two 155mm howitzer battalions. A two-battalion engineer regiment and a six-troop cavalry squadron rounded out the organization.
     
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  13. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    As I pointed out the terrain and role makes a difference. In the Normandy assault and beachhead battles ashore, and in Italy the tempo and terrain meant that infantry bore the greatest burden. The 1:1 or even 1:2 ratio wasn't enough. Indeed in italy and NW Europe the British converted armour and anti tank units into infantry to relieve infantry in static warfare.

    In mobile operations the NZ Division needed its recce as recce and its anti tank gunners.

    Logistics plays a part. If you only have a set about of supplies per day how much of the infantry do you need to send forwards? 1:3 is then a luxury. The vehicles to move two extra motor brigades of infantry gobble up the fuel that could have kept the tanks moving.
     

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