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Numbers are known, on the 1.10.44 6,07 % were sent to penalty units, 3,81% were arrested. Others were sent to army or to industry. Since  november 1944 ex-POWs were sent directly to rear army units, not to filtrarion camps. Officers were sent to penalty units much more often than privates, 36% against 0,86%. (Russian historian Pyhalov) So you can see how myths differ from reality.

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Posted (edited)

Perhaps. And yes I know I didnt cite any sources but this is a fairly well written about subject and I.ve always read it was pretty commonplace. This WAS the army that placed blocking units to machine gun running friendlies.

If I may enquire about your sources, were they printed in the Soviet era?  Even post Soviet era there can be a lot of bias. For example here in America the general public basically that doesnt get into WW2 basically sees WW2 as a US show ignoring the late entry to the war, etc.

The officers vs privates thing is interesting of course and would make sense.

Still-

1.to really make a comprehensive argument we really should have more than one source and especially if the sources are first hand.

2. it must be remembered that from Soviet records of that time people werent just risking dirty looks in the street meaning sadly almost everything put out by official Soviet sources needs to be handled with caution as to its veracity. ( hell this is still true - when a poll of Russians asked their greatest of all time politician they named some figure from the end of Czarist times... until the survey company admitted Stalin really won but they didnt want to put him at #1; see also Kremlin use of video game stillsas proof of Western nefariousness, bla bla)  This includes memoirs at the time.  Every government including all the Western Allies also committed atrocities and propagated propaganda. The scale between the Western allies and the SU and indeed 3rd Reich however are night and day.

3. the above is especially important. the widespread looting, rape and chaos ( that the Germans did just the same as in Russia) is well documented especially once the Red Army enters Germany. Yet I have yet to see a soldiers account mentioning any of this.

4.  The percentages on liberated POWs are going to be somewhat skewed no matter what we do because most Russian PoWs didnt survive German captivity for most of the war.

 

EDIT: interesting I want to read some articles to see how I feel about the guy. I *DID* notice he went to fight for Russian backed Ukrainian rebels. Hmm..

Edited by Sublime

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58 minutes ago, Sublime said:

And yes I know I didnt cite any sources but this is a fairly well written about subject and I.ve always read it was pretty commonplace. This WAS the army that placed blocking units to machine gun running friendlies.

If I may enquire about your sources, were they printed in the Soviet era?  Even post Soviet era there can be a lot of bias.

Fair enough, but what are your sources?  If you think that German sources are more accurate regarding Soviet info than Soviet sources, I generally don't agree.

 

1 hour ago, Sublime said:

3. the above is especially important. the widespread looting, rape and chaos ( that the Germans did just the same as in Russia) is well documented especially once the Red Army enters Germany. Yet I have yet to see a soldiers account mentioning any of this.

I have seen these atrocities mentioned in quite a few memoirs from Soviet troops, generally written in the 90s.  Of course generally it was always another unit, etc. committing them, but not always.

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I agree especially on first hand German sources.

Primarily my sources from reading about the Red Army first hand was from iremember.ru

Of course Ive read Glantz,  Beevor, Zaloga and all the "famous" authors. As I pointed out Im not taking a side, the Germans had no problem executing whole families of those deemed traitorous.

When I return home Ill add more sources from my library at home - again though I never cited a specific source, which is why my post is full of IIRC and is more an amalgation of things Ive read about the subject over the years.

And I have seen about one or two interviews from the 90s where frontoviks admitted to atrocities. And gladly said the Germans deserved it. Which seems about right on the sample size of armies known to have committed atrocities, I recently saw for the first time interviews (recent) of ex German forces admitting freely to atrocities which was new to me.

I agree about most sources putting it on other units - like the Free French putting their atrocities blame on North African units.

Ill be back later with some sources but tbh I dont really have a dog in the fight and Im not gonnna troll through dozens of books for a few lines of evidence.. 

All I can say is it may be similar to Ambrose lying about things in Citizen Soldiers. Some others can get.. odd about their country.

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I'll post a lost of several Ost Front books in my library to just show the variety of what I have ( and I lost a sizable portion of said collection)

Alexander Werths book from the time is very illuminating about the higher level  of the Soviets from.someone who was there at the time albeit as a western corrrespondent.

Ivan's War is another good book but concenyrated more on front line troops.

800 Days on the Eastern Front by Litvin

Absolute War by C Bellamy

The Soviet Soldier 1941 to 1945 by Rio 

My Just War by Temkin ( RA soldier)

Why Stalins Soldiers Fought by Reese

These are books that I have or read and some had to google for authors name. NOTE this isnt nearly a quarter of my collection and omits the many German accounts and many Western accounts... of course Bellamy, Werth, Reese, are Western.

Id also like to note for our Russian friends here that this isnt a condemnation of Russian soldiers or Russia, rather an observation (though IMO the practice sickens me) of what happened to liberated Soviet troops by the Soviet regime.

 

 

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Posted (edited)

 

As an edit Id like for the sake of argument present this reddit site that JK found. 

And I must admit nornally I skip JKs stuff but this was a fantastic read and basically strongly makes the argument that Pavlovs House was largely a propaganda created legend. There were other way more insanely tough battles and according to the articles author Pavlovs House was in a relatively quiet sector of the front in Stalingrad.  Again this isnt a condemnation of the Russian soldier but his government - you.ll note towards the end of the article that a Lt who was in Pavlovs House wondered where half the legends and stories etc had come from and this was only at a reunion in the late 40s.  Also the Soviets claimed the house was marked as a fortress on. Paulus' map. However German records show many buildings or note ferocious battles over many places in Stalingrad. But not Pavlovs House.  Basically Pavlovs House, the article argues, was created to showcase a multi ethnic geoup of Soviet soldoers heroically defending a building, and as an added bonus they werent all dead within a month of the battle.

 

 

EDIT:

Take Budapest! Kamen Kevinkin

Germany 1945 Dagmar Barnouw

Endkampf Stephen Fritz

Death of the Wehrmacht Robert Citino

Where the Iron Crosses Grow Robert Forzyck

Voices From Stalingrad Jonathon Bastable

Battleground Prussia Prit Buttar

SS Dirlewanger Brigade - The Black Hunters Christian Ingrao

Now do I have specific quotes? Certainly Endkampf, Battleground Prussia, and W. T. Iron Crosses Grow ( all about Crimea) certainly have relevant info. Am I going to dig up page numbers? No. So why put up a list? Especially since its only a fraction of what I own or have read? Just to hopefully show you that I have IMO a good diversity of books on the WW2 Ost Front and that you.re not just talking to some moron who watched WW2 From Space on the history channel and thinks hes an expert.

 

Edited by Sublime

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23 hours ago, Sublime said:

Perhaps. And yes I know I didnt cite any sources but this is a fairly well written about subject and I.ve always read it was pretty commonplace. This WAS the army that placed blocking units to machine gun running friendlies.

If I may enquire about your sources, were they printed in the Soviet era?  Even post Soviet era there can be a lot of bias. For example here in America the general public basically that doesnt get into WW2 basically sees WW2 as a US show ignoring the late entry to the war, etc.

It is official data. With the date 1.10.1944. I can't give you a scan of a document, but I am sure my source is correct. It was Russian language article, I didn't want to copy untranslated text.

Machinegunning running friendlies is another myth. Penalty units just stood on roads in the rear (not just behind the frontline trenches) and checked deserters, possible spies, locals. Functions of military police. The war was huge, I can't give 100% gurantee that penalty units never used their MGs against running friendly infantry. Who knows. But the standard procedure was to stop the unit, in bad case to shot "panicers" (person who agitates men to flee) Using pistol or rifle, of course, not machiengunning crowd of soldiers like in movies.

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Posted (edited)

I was always skeptical regarding Pavlov's house. A single house in a crowded urban center on a front line that spanned thousands of kilometers managed to hold off 6th Army? It's one of those tactical myths -- irrelevant to the big picture, but they make a heroic story. Most wars have their Pavlov's houses, such as the Alamo or the Battle of Kambula. This being said, I can imagine a loud night in Vegas is less exciting than a "quiet" day in Stalingrad. Much respect to the people who served there and not to the exclusion of everyone else on the lines.

Likewise, I am skeptical about "blocking units". I have never heard them mentioned in specific episodes about the Eastern Front. This being said, I usually try to think for myself:

How practical are "blocking units"?

Logistically, you need a squad to handle a Maxim. Heavy watercooled beast on wheels that requires long belts of heavy ammunition and water. A valuable item that is in heavy demand, wherever there's German infantry (everywhere). Generally can't keep up with infantry and require some set-up time. 

The idea is that you deploy it in an overwatch position and mow down any friendlies retreating from enemy fire. Let us assume these are crack NKVD executioners, with little regard for their own safety. Self-preservation instinct would compel you to shoot back at whoever is sending lead your way. Machine gun nests being choice targets for mortars, MGs and marksmen.

This also means that they have perfect situational awareness, despite being focused by the Germans. They can identify each soldier, and where they are going. I'm guessing the officer helps, because it's hard to see from that Maxim. No radios: you can't possibly know if troops are retreating in the woods, somewhere.

It's also a judgement call. What if the Soviet is a messenger from battalion command? What if he was ordered to carry ammunition to the front? Let's say NKVD's order trumps everyone else's. Still, that's a lot of angry and armed soldiers and officers you will be eating and sleeping with.

You see your guys running, you shoot at them. I'm guessing this is 100 meters plus, otherwise they would be within very effective German fire. I also assume they do not have perfect aim or optics, so it will take more bursts to hit a target the farther it is away. Meanwhile, you are suppressing your own troops by sending MG rounds everywhere. Germans are likely to spot you and you just forced your defenders down.

With those snappy NKVD uniforms and the MGs on choice overwatch positions, friendly infantry know where you are. If they want to escape, they can avoid your LOS by going around or using smoke. The front is thousands of kilometers long. You can't really chase them down. They may be tempted to return fire. From their perspective, it could be a flanking German -- or so they'll say.

What if a T-34 retreats? Blocking unit anti-tank artillery batteries?

I see major tactical, strategic and moral hardships to implementing these units. This being said, cowardice in the face of the enemy is punished by every army -- in many by military tribunal (prison or execution). Soviet Union's military tribunals being the most dangerous.

The fear of the stick that is effective, not the implementation itself. That's why these stories are often brought up, but rarely cited in context. The fear of the stick was very much required in the evening months of 1942. The Soviets had mass retreats in 1941 and 1942, caused by rapid German maneuvers. These routes would happen just before, or after the pincers met and caused a "Kettle". Tens of thousands surrendering and many more routing.

With the frontline moving at blinding speeds, twisting and turning, a desperate logistical situation and the vast distances covered, I cannot believe the effective use of these blocking "units" was possible.

Stalin was a monster, and I hope no one misinterprets my skepticism as denial of the NKVD's many real crimes.

Edited by DerKommissar

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First, no DMS thanks though, I cannot read Cyrillic ( I only speak 2 languages) and Id rather keep this as a 'light' debate.

I DO believe there were blocking detachments. Do I think they had Maxims as an entire 2nd line from Finland to the Caucauses? Of course not.

I do think where heavy fighting was occurring these detachments were set up, after all they WOULD also work against Germans.  In the rear, especially the earlier years, I see it more like roving vands of NKVD arresting and or executing presumed deserters - similar to Nazi activities towards their own late war.  I dont believe Maxim blocking detachments were common but I simply have heard so many references to these detachments Im wary of simply dismissing them.  DerKommisar you make good points about the penal battalions and I think itd be more like checkpoints, etc as DMS said. However I can see blocking detachments being used say 

In attacks, especially with a clear line between the front area and what would be considered the rear.  A ravine a mile behind the lines, a river,  tree line. I honestly wish JasonC would show up and give us info from his sources. sigh.

Besides material Ive read I do have 3 extremely strong arguments for this -

General Order No 227 " Not One Step Back"

Stalins own words - " The R Army is the only army in the world where running away is more dangerous than attacking" (paraphrased)

Penal Battalions.  These very much so existed in the East, and as wasteful to resources as it was they were used and guarded etc.  Now TBF I have NOT read this in Russian sources however German sources claim penal battalions were used to clear minefields and make heavy weapons expose themselves.  Im kind of doubtful about this, however that doesnt mean Im under any illusions that these men werent sent on suicide missions and often terribly equipped.

 

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Regarding blocking detachments, I believe HSU Loza is an extremely credible source, since he describes having his tank unit being dragooned into one. The frontoviki had broken under a Panzer attack and were running away, His unit first put warning MG fire over their heads, and when that failed, started shooting in earnest, until the PBI started turning around. Happily, the slaughter of their own was but brief. Really shook him and his men. Mind, that was regular Red Army in the blocking detachment role, operating under NKVD orders. The account is in his excellent DEFENDING THE SOVIET MOTHERLAND and happened, I believe, when he commanded a Matilda II formation as CO of an elite Lend-Lease unit. The Russians put their best tankers in them because the LL tanks were more technologically sophisticated than the Russian tanks. Loza seems to have spent his entire war in LL tanks, culminating in the M4A2 76 mm, the more heavily armed version of the beloved diesel powered Emcha. 

Regards,

John Kettler

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JK Ive read accounts from Loza on iremember.ru never had the chance to read his book.

Distinctly remember his accounts were among the better on the site and distinctly remember his stories (on the site, when I read them) were in a LL unit - shermans though.  His account on the site was anecdotal to a short period he only discussed a period of the war and a story or two - not his entire experience IIRC.

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Posted (edited)

Speaking of Hero of the SU what exactly warranted this award?  Yes obviously some great act of heroism but its not equivalent to a MoH or VC for US and Britain respectively as you see Russian Field Marshalls being awarded it. And Stalin had one - Im going to check but does anyone know what he got his for? Or what supposedly for more like?

 

 

EDIT: on a list of recipients which has why they were awarded it, for Stalin there is only an award date. I think he got it just for breathing. Also noted that they gave them out to foreigners and Soviet citizens for almost anything. One of Trotskys assasains got one after 20 years in Mexican prison. Cosmonauts got one for each space flight. Brezhnez apparently got a few just for birthday presents. It seems that the medal steadily declined in importance or meaning over time... It also seems that whilst some men truly won that title other people got it under somewhat... silly circumstances for the highest award in the nation.  For example you dont see Medal of Honor or Victoria Cross recipients whose claim to fame was say setting a record for a long distance flight ( one was awarded to a Soviet woman for doing a long solo flight in 38) nor would you see ( as much as trump would love for it to happen) a US president getting one for his 70, 72, and 75th birthdays...( Trump would probably have a parade for himself. and would probably present it to himself. sorry i coudnt resist the two trump comments)

Edited by Sublime

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21 minutes ago, Sublime said:

Speaking of Hero of the SU what exactly warranted this award?  Yes obviously some great act of heroism but its not equivalent to a MoH or VC for US and Britain respectively as you see Russian Field Marshalls being awarded it. And Stalin had one - Im going to check but does anyone know what he got his for? Or what supposedly for more like?

ctp1804-star-smile-stickers.jpg

I always saw the Hero of the Soviet Union to be a civilian award. The Red Star was more military-focused. Unlike the Moh or the VC (Commonwealth, as well), more akin to the Iron Cross, the same individual can get multiple, and, therefore, a higher honour. The history behind all these medals has always been interesting, to me. Often, medals and their requirements are changed from one war to the next. The Soviets tossed all the pre-revolution medals, and came up with new ones -- but then took a few back during WW2 (order of Suvorov, Nevsky, etc.).

2 hours ago, John Kettler said:

Regarding blocking detachments, I believe HSU Loza is an extremely credible source, since he describes having his tank unit being dragooned into one. The frontoviki had broken under a Panzer attack and were running away, His unit first put warning MG fire over their heads, and when that failed, started shooting in earnest, until the PBI started turning around. Happily, the slaughter of their own was but brief. Really shook him and his men. Mind, that was regular Red Army in the blocking detachment role, operating under NKVD orders. The account is in his excellent DEFENDING THE SOVIET MOTHERLAND and happened, I believe, when he commanded a Matilda II formation as CO of an elite Lend-Lease unit. The Russians put their best tankers in them because the LL tanks were more technologically sophisticated than the Russian tanks. Loza seems to have spent his entire war in LL tanks, culminating in the M4A2 76 mm, the more heavily armed version of the beloved diesel powered Emcha. 

Regards,

John Kettler

Aye, that makes more sense to me. LL tanks shipped with fancy radios -- as opposed to early Soviet models. Especially for a commander of an elite unit, a fancy radio is more important than caliber of the gun, speed of the tank or thickness of the armour (although the Matildas were tough little cookies). I can imagine enforcing discipline is easier with a tank -- especially with a good BESA MG. NKVD can just call them on their imported radio (much safer).

I believe later-model Valentine tanks served in Operation Bagration. I do think CM titles need more Matildas and Valentines. They are some of my favourite tanks and they practically served everywhere around the globe.

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@DerKommissar I think in a moment of idiocy my brain combined HSU with the Red Star when I posted and recollected pictures of Soviet officers or Politicians in dress out fits. Plus Ill be the first to admit I dont know a whole lot abt the SU ranks and medals system just a working knowledge..

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Der Kommissar,

Believe it was a lot more than a radio and included such things as complex drivetrains and transmissions, precision fire control instruments, turret drives, etc. Shermans added gyrostabilizers to the fiddly equipment maintenance list, too.Have read recently the T-34 turret drive motors weren't reliable, and the manual gearing was poor, too, interfering with delivering accurate fire quickly. All of these are very taxing for a society which overall was still rural and largely unmechanized. Your choices were pretty much truck drivers and kolkhoz tractor drivers if you wanted someone to drive and do the primary maintenance on a tank. There's also the whole learning curve on an unfamiliar and demanding tank. Given these things, it made sense to put such relatively scarce hardware in the hands of those who could make the most of it. Believe both Matildas and Valentines were still in combat service during OPERATION BAGRATION, though my memory's hazy. What I do know is this issue has been discussed, in depth, earlier.

Sublime,

Loza's writing is a gold mine of grog goodies. I've read the two articles which were on IRemember.ru when it was English useful and the one book I named. Want COMMANDING SHERMAN TANKS IN WAR, BUT IT'S A LOT MORE MONEY THAN THE BOOK I HAVE. Here's Loza's personal war story (in terse form) and his long string of military awards, each of which has a hyperlink explaining it. This is from his Wiki. Believe he got his HSU the right way, but in Drabkin's PANZER KILLERS, one of the interviewees noted there was what he called "manufacturing HSUs" going on, in order to boost morale. Basically, what was happening was that the achievements of several-many would be credited to one crew, with the awardee usually being the gun commander, but I saw no indication in Loza's writings that he was a medal chaser at all. Notice, too, he spent 3-4 months in the hospital after being wounded. Major owie! Notice, too, his battalion broke into Vienna by itself and was in action for a day until the rest of the brigade caught up. Sounds exciting. Botched the book title for the one I own. It's FIGHTING FOR THE SOVIET MOTHERLAND, not as indicated. Keep making that mistake and have no idea why.

It seems also that Loza was severely wounded in a run-in with a Tiger tank while in Vienna battles circa April 9-10, 1945 putting him out of action until almost AUGUST STORM, which began August 9, 1945. 4 months hospitalized.

"Loza graduated from the Saratov Tank School in 1942. From August 1943, he fought in combat and was wounded. He was awarded the Order of the Patriotic War 2nd class on 13 September.[2] After leaving the hospital in November, he was appointed chief of armaments of the 233rd Tank Brigade's 1st Battalion. In late January 1944, he fought in the Korsun-Shevchenkovsky Offensive.[3] Loza received the Order of the Red Star on 22 April 1944.[4] He was awarded the Order of Alexander Nevsky on 23 February 1945.[5] By 1945, he was a captain commanding the 1st Tank Battalion of the 46th Guards Tank Brigade, equipped with the M4 Sherman.[3] His tank battalion was reported to have captured trains loaded with ammunition, two warehouses and an artillery workshop with 14 guns, as well as 4 Panther tanks on railway platforms on 23 March on the way to Veszprém. On the same day, the battalion fought an action against a German tank column, reportedly knocking out 29 tanks and self-propelled guns, capturing 20 and destroying 10 vehicles. It also reportedly killed 250 German soldiers. After advancing 100 kilometers, the battalion broke through to Vienna on 9 April, holding there for a day before the arrival of the rest of the brigade. After the end of the war against Germany, the brigade was transferred to the Transbaikal Front.[6] In August 1945, Loza fought in the Soviet invasion of Manchuria. On 30 September 1945, he received the Order of the Red Banner.[7] He was awarded the title Hero of the Soviet Union and the Order of Lenin on 15 May 1946 for his actions during the Vienna Offensive.[1][8]"

Loza has his own tank in WoT and his own tank, TC figure and special characteristics in FoW. A Google search under Kapitan Dmitriy Loza (SU885) will kick up all sorts of fasconating details, including combat in a driving January snowstorm. Left out a link because providing one might get me into trouble.

Regards, 

John Kettler

 

 

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3 hours ago, HUSKER2142 said:

Most likely will be restored.

Well yes of course. I am sure the lessee agreement said it had to be returned in original condition. :)

Very cool pictures.

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What is curious is why the Russian navy would go to the trouble of recovering WW2 tanks from the bottom of the Barents Sea.  What else did the ship carry??

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@HUSKER2142 OMG, an M3 Medium! Restoring it will be tough. Looks like it's missing the top turret, and I can imagine most of the internals are long wrecked.

I do not know where they can find replacements. I hope that they do -- it's a unique piece, for sure.

1 hour ago, Erwin said:

What is curious is why the Russian navy would go to the trouble of recovering WW2 tanks from the bottom of the Barents Sea.  What else did the ship carry??

Must have been secretly looking for Evlis Pressley's underwater rock & roll kingdom.

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On 7/20/2018 at 5:58 PM, Erwin said:

What is curious is why the Russian navy would go to the trouble of recovering WW2 tanks from the bottom of the Barents Sea.  What else did the ship carry??

The official message from the Ministry of Defense of Russian Federation, it is necessary to search for a waybill in archives.

The operation involved a diving boat "Ivan Shvets" and a new multifunctional logistic support ship "Elbrus". It is planned that in the near future the specialists of the Northern Fleet will begin restoration of one more unique armored car, and rescuers will continue their work on the "Ballot" transport, assessing the possibility of lifting other historical exhibits.

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2 hours ago, HUSKER2142 said:

possibility of lifting other historical exhibits.

Aha.. they are after sunken gold.  Either up north or training for other locations.  Did you see the movie "Black Sea"?

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7 hours ago, Erwin said:

Aha.. they are after sunken gold.  Either up north or training for other locations.  Did you see the movie "Black Sea"?

No, I did not watch this movie. I'll look at weekend of following.

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It’s a very small thing compared to AFVs, but having lend-lease jeeps, White scout cars and half tracks available would make a big difference for conducting recce on the big maps.

The T-70 is just not a good recce platform and carrying out recce on foot on a 3km x 3km map is laborious. 

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13 hours ago, DougPhresh said:

It’s a very small thing compared to AFVs, but having lend-lease jeeps, White scout cars and half tracks available would make a big difference for conducting recce on the big maps.

The T-70 is just not a good recce platform and carrying out recce on foot on a 3km x 3km map is laborious. 

Never actually used a T-70 for recon. I generally found myself with these BA-64s, a relatively newer Soviet vehicle and a dedicated scout. They're really fast, good off-road, equipped with radios and have a protected, but open-topped, turret. It's like a smaller German 222. My only gripe with it is it's too tall, lost a few to AT guns.

There's also the GAZ jeep, which is my preferred recon. It usually carries forward observers. The White scout car would be a neat addition (really good scout car), as well -- I remember reading that the Soviets loved them. Not sure about halftracks, they're kind of slow and maneuver awkwardly.

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