1st Guards Tank Army

military formation in the composition of the ground forces of the Russian Armed Forces

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1st Tank Army (1942 – April 1944)
1st Guards Tank Army (1944–1999, 2014–)
Great emblem of the 1st Guards Tank Army.svg
Great emblem of the 1st Guards Tank Army
Active1942–1998, reinstated 2014
Country Soviet Union (1942–1991)
 Russia (1991–1999, 2014–)
Branch Russian Ground Forces
RoleBreakthrough and Exploitation in Deep Operations
Size500–800 tanks
Part ofWestern Military District
EngagementsWorld War II

Russo-Ukrainian War

Lieutenant General Sergei Kisel
Kirill Moskalenko
Mikhail Katukov
NATO Map Symbol
1 гв
NATO Map Symbol - Unit Size - Army.svg
Military Symbol - Hostile Unit (Monochrome Light 1.5x1 Frame)- Armour (NATO APP-6).svg
The lapel badge given to veterans of the 1st Guards Tank Army

The 1st Guards Tank Army is a tank army of the Russian Ground Forces.

The army traces its heritage back to the 1st Tank Army, formed twice in July 1942 and in January 1943 and converted into the 1st Guards Tank Army in January 1944. The army fought as part of the Red Army on the Eastern Front during World War II. The army was commanded throughout most of the war by Mikhail Katukov.

It fought in the early defense during the Battle of Stalingrad, and Operation Uranus, and participated in the Battle of Kursk, Proskurov-Chernovtsy Operation, Lvov-Sandomierz Operation, Vistula-Oder Offensive and the Battle of Berlin. After the war, the army was stationed in East Germany as part of the Group of Soviet Forces in Germany.

After the end of the Cold War and the resultant withdrawal of Soviet units in Germany, the army was relocated to Smolensk, and disbanded in 1999. The army was reformed in 2014 as part of a Russian military expansion.

First Formation

The 1st Tank Army was first formed within the Stalingrad Front from the 38th Army in July 1942, under the command of Major General Kirill Moskalenko. The army was encircled and partially destroyed. It was disbanded as a result in August 1942, its headquarters becoming the Southeastern Front headquarters.

Second Formation

The 1st Tank Army was formed a second time on 30 January 1943 (order No.46021) from the headquarters of the 29th Army, under the command of famous armoured troops commander Lieutenant General of Tank Troops Mikhail Katukov, personally appointed by Stalin. The army was transferred to the North-Western Front. The 3rd Mechanised Corps (later to become 8th Guards Mechanised Corps) and 6th Tank Corps (later to become 11th Guards Tank Corps) joined it on formation, and served with the army throughout the war.[1]

It was quickly transferred to Voronezh Front for the defense of the Kursk salient's southern shoulder. It was awarded a Guards title and became the 1st Guards Tank Army in April 1944, and Katukov was promoted to Colonel General.

On 1 January 1945, the Army's principal combat formations were:[2]

* Guards Mortar Regiment (or Battalion) (Russian: гвардейский минометный полк (дивизион)) was the overt designation used for Katyusha rocket launcher units.

It participated in the Battle of Kursk, the Proskurov-Chernovtsy Operation, Lvov-Sandomierz Operation, the Vistula-Oder Offensive, and the Battle of Berlin.

The 1st Guards Tank Army was awarded the Order of the Red Banner postwar. It became part of the Soviet occupation force in Germany, known as Group of Soviet Forces in Germany, with its headquarters in Dresden. In 1968, it, along with the 11th Guards Tank and 20th Guards Motor Rifle Divisions, took part in the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, and then immediately returned to their respective garrisons.[3]

In the late 1980s the Army included the 20th Guards Motor Rifle Division, 9th Tank Division, and 11th Guards Tank Division. The headquarters was withdrawn to Smolensk, in the Moscow Military District in the early 1990s, and lost the 'Tank' from its title in 1995. In its last period within the Russian Army it comprised the 4th Guards 'Kantemir' Tank Division and the 144th Motor Rifle Division (which had been withdrawn from Tallinn in Estonia). It was disbanded in 1998.

1988 Structure

The army's composition in 1988 was (with main equipment), with honorific titles in italics:[4][5]


After a 15-year break, the Army was reconstituted in November 2014,[6] seemingly on 13 November 2014.

The army was formed as the main ground forces manoeuvre and reserve operational formation of the Western Military District, in addition to the 6th Combined Arms Army (headquartered in Saint Petersburg) and the 20th Guards Combined Arms Army (headquartered in Voronezh). It is considered the elite of the Russian Ground Forces. The army carries on the traditions of the chronologically first army of the Soviet Union to reach 'Guards' status.

It has the 2nd Motor Rifle and the 4th Tank guards divisions, which are considered the elite formations of their respective combat arms. The most decorated divisions of the Soviet Army, they were garrisoned the closest to Moscow. Due to their proximity to the capital, extra scrutiny was applied to personnel of these formations, making these posting especially prestigious.

These units received the latest hardware and were thus known as the 'household' divisions of the Soviet Army. Their loyalty to the government was demonstrated by their involvement in the 1991 Soviet coup d'état attempt. The divisions retained their elite status within the Russian Army.

Today the Army is composed of:[7]

Russo-Ukrainian War, 2021–2022

In the context of the 2021–2022 Russo-Ukrainian crisis, elements of the 1st Guards Tank Army were reported to have forward deployed to the Pogonovo training ground south of Voronezh. Main Battle Tanks, self-propelled and towed artillery and long-range multiple rocket launchers (MRLs) reportedly drawn from the 4th Guards Tank Division and the 2nd Motorised Rifle Division, were reported to have been positioned in the vicinity of Voronezh.[8]

After the invasion began in February 2022, the Army took part in the Northeastern Ukraine offensive of the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, with the 2nd Guards MRD taking part in the failed Siege of Chernihiv. After 3 weeks of fighting 1st Guards Tank Army had lost 409 men (61 KIA, 209 WIA, 44 missing, 96 surrendered) and 308 units of military equipment according to Russian military documents.[9]

Commanders of the Army

  1. Katukov, Mikhail YefimovichGuard[10] ColGen, 1943–1947
  2. Belov, Yeftikhin Emelyanovich – Guard LtGen, 1947–1951
  3. Govorunenkov, Pyotr Dmitrievich – Guard GenLt, 1951–1953
  4. Yakubovsky, Ivan Ignatyevitch – Guard GenLt, 1953–1957
  5. Tolubko, Vladimir Fyodorovich – Guard MajGen, 1957–1958
  6. Ukhov, Vladimir Dmitrievich – Guard MajGen, 1958–1961
  7. Ivanovski, Yevgeny Filippovich – Guard MajGen, 1961–1964
  8. Kotsasnov, Konstantin Grigoryevich – Guard GenLt, 1964–1968
  9. Gerasimov, Ivan Aleksandrovich – Guard GenLt, 1968–1971
  10. Lushev, Pyotr Georgievich – Guard GenLt, 1971–1973
  11. Snetkov, Boris Vasilievich – Guard LtGen, 1973–1975
  12. Popov, Nikolai Ivanovich – Guard LtGen, 1975–1979
  13. Sovotskin, Roman Mikhailovich – Guard LtGen, 1979–1981
  14. Osipov, Vladimir Vasilyevich – Guard LtGen, 1981–1983
  15. Shein, Boris Pertovich – Guard LtGen, 1983–1986
  16. Tchernitsov, Anatoli Kupyanovich – Guard LtGen, 1986–1990
  17. Kolchkin, Gennadi Andreevich – Guard LtGen, 1990–1992
  18. Shevtsov, Leonti Pavlovich – Guard LtGen, 1992–1993
  19. Sosyedov, Vasili Petrovich – Guard LtGen, 1993–1995
  20. Roshchin, Viktor Mikhailovich – Guard LtGen, 1995–1999
  21. Did not exist (1999–2014)
  22. Aleksandr Chaiko – Guard LtGen, 2014–2018
  23. Kisel, Sergei Aleksandrovich - Guard LtGen, 2018–present


  1. ^ Bonn, 2005, p.351, 354
  2. ^ "1-я гвардейская Краснознаменная танковая армия". Archived from the original on 2009-10-25. Retrieved 2018-10-02.
  3. ^ Craig Crofoot, manuscript available at Microarmormayhem.com, 2007
  4. ^ "1st Guards Tank Army". www.ww2.dk. Retrieved 2020-03-30.
  5. ^ "Western Military District History". 2011-09-28. Archived from the original on 2011-09-28. Retrieved 2020-03-30.
  6. ^ "ВЗГЛЯД / Россия закрывает "черную дыру" на границе с Украиной". vz.ru.
  7. ^ Defence, Russia. "Russian Army: Military districts, units (Locations, equipment and re-armaments)". Russia Defence Forum. Retrieved 20 May 2017.
  8. ^ "Russia builds up forces on Ukrainian border". Politico. 9 December 2021. Retrieved 4 January 2022.
  9. ^ "Intelligence confirms large-scale losses of Russia's 1st Tank Army in Ukraine". 16 May 2022.
  10. ^ Military personnel of the Soviet Armed Forces, assigned to service in a guards units or formations, added to the particular rank designation the wording Guard …, e.g. Guard Lieutenant General. This tradition is continued in the Russian Federation.
  • Bonn, K.E. 'Slaughterhouse – The Handbook of the Eastern Front', Aberjona Press, 2005
  • Duncan, Andrew 'Russian Forces in Decline – Part 3', Jane's Intelligence Review, November 1996.
  • V.I. Feskov, Golikov V.I., K.A. Kalashnikov, and S.A. Slugin, The Armed Forces of the USSR after World War II, from the Red Army to the Soviet (Part 1: Land Forces). (В.И. Слугин С.А. Вооруженные силы СССР после Второй Мировой войны: от Красной Армии к Советской (часть 1: Сухопутные войска)) Tomsk, 2013.
  • Glantz, David M. 'Companion to Colossus Reborn' University Press of Kansas, 2005.
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