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Thunder from the East
Soviet Cavalry Corps on the Eastern Front in WW II
445 pages; 26 chapters, and 10 appendixes
On the Eastern Front in WW II, Axis nations battled the USSR in a death
struggle of gargantuan proportions, which dwarfed in every way the actions
on all other fronts. There also, mobile warfighting was marked by an additional
dimension, horse cavalry combat. Across the thousands of square miles of
frontage, where over thirty million soldiers were killed in four years of war,
millions of horses also fought and died. In many instances, the cavalry army
fought the panzer army. The sharp end of that horse combat was the cavalry
divisions, units of modern horsemen beefed up with tanks, assault guns and
The Soviet Army fielded as many as 82 cavalry divisions at one time, organized into cavalry corps and armies.
Thunder from the East is the story of those large cavalry formations locked in combat to the death on the Eastern Front
in WW II. Topics discussed include: Cavalry Unit Tempo and Shock; Soviet Cavalry Corps Offensive Operations;
Historical Influences on Soviet Cavalry Corps Doctrine, Soviet Cavalry Corps-Originated Operational Art,
Soviet Cavalry at Stalingrad, and Soviet Strategic Cavalry Army.
“Soviet Operation Mars was the brainchild of the ruthless and competent Marshal Georgi K. Zhukov who would lead and
orchestrate the operation. His prestige was riding on whether or not he could roll-back or destroy the German Army
Group threatening Moscow. The Operation Mars offensive was to be launched through raging snowstorms, frequently
along narrow attack corridors flanked by forests and/or frozen swamps of the Rzhev Salient.
The German Army within the Rzhev Salient was defending itself in depth and backed up with both tactical and
operational reserves, including several powerful panzer divisions. The eight mobile divisions, which the Germans would
eventually commit in defense of the Rzhev Salient were indeed formidable (1st, 5th, 9th, 12th, 19th and 20th Panzer
Divisions and 14th and Gross Deutschland Motorized Divisions).
The German defense in depth was to be carried out within the space of a female breast-shaped geographical area,
eighty miles wide at its widest and about eighty miles deep. The primary combat area selected for the major Soviet
penetrations was only sixty miles wide.
The Soviets realized that the formidable German defenses would cost them numerous casualties so their assault armies
were beefed up with hundreds of tanks and dozens of artillery battalions. The assaults would be led by numerous
"walking dead man" penal battalions composed of criminals and those politically unreliables who threatened the
communist tyranny. Their fate was sealed by Operation Mars.”
Excerpt from Thunder from the East
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