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Author Topic: Communist Korean War Armour?  (Read 1523 times)
Big Insect
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« on: 05 October 2020, 09:12:55 AM »

As I progress (slowly) with the proposed BKCIV Korean War supplement I am finding that for a relatively short and relatively recent conflict, there is a lot of unsubstantiated misinformation about the arms used by various of the combatants.

Leave aside the oddity of some other sets of wargames rules/list that have the US forces using Stuart light tanks (for example) - which they did not - although other sources also claim that the North Koreans and PVA did (or did they?) - the issue of the communist armour is also very blurred.

That the main communist tank was the Soviet supplied T34-85 - used by both North Korean and PLA/PVA forces - is not in doubt but I am discovering sources claiming that the North Koreans used both ISU-152s and also IS-2 M1944 (PVA) along with M4A2E8 76 mm with HVSS Sherman Emcha (ex-US lease-lend WW2 stock) as well.

That SU-76s and SU-100's were used is not in doubt as there is US photographic evidence of US Marines inspecting a destroyed North Korean SU-100 and records of captured SU-76s.
But I am in serious doubt about the IS--2 - as records indicate that the PLA only obtained the 60 that they had between 1950 & 51 but surely if they were deployed in Korea there would have been a much greater 'fuss' made about them from the UN side of things.
Likewise, with the ISU-152 these would have been prized assets if indeed they were ever deployed in Korean - but were they used in combat or just in their artillery role (if they were there at all)?

All thoughts & comments welcomed

Mark

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ianrs54
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« Reply #1 on: 05 October 2020, 10:13:06 AM »

Mark since the Chinese were in theory civiklian volenteers the PLA deployed no armour to Korea. All the types you have mentioned were in service with PLA, as were Type 89's  taken from the Japanese, although they may have been scraped by 1950, but were certainly in use during the civil war. To balance Korean lists I have often inculded SU-76 and T34/85, using the pretext they have been borrowed from the NKA (and yes I know that all NKA armour was dead by end of 1950). The use of M5 Stuarts by UN forces is possible, but very unlikley. The French certainly had them, but in Indo-China, not Korea. South Korea only had M8 Greyhounds as far as I can tell. We used Churchill Crocs - nom flame trailer, Cromwells, and Cent 3, the US took M24, M26, and a few M46, alongside M4A3E8, and M4A3 105 + flamethrowers. The Canadians (Priincess Patricas Lt Horse) arrived witrh M36 which wwere rapidly swaped for Easy Eights.

Remember - photographic evidence is always suspect.

Cheers Ian S
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Big Insect
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« Reply #2 on: 05 October 2020, 10:59:58 AM »

Helpful - as always - Ian  Cheesy
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Matt J
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« Reply #3 on: 05 October 2020, 11:33:23 AM »

I've seen docu footage 'reportedly' of Chinese infantry in Korea charging across fields with M5's in support. But not read any accounts of them used against UN forces.

Similarly IS-2, a few stories of them being used against British positions, also stories of ones being found knocked out, but nothing concrete.

On saying that my Chinese forces will have both available  Cheesy (I'm assuming they'll be in the lists?)

Matt
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Big Insect
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« Reply #4 on: 05 October 2020, 12:14:39 PM »

I have also read that PVA infantry formations, towards the end of the war, had T343-85s attached to them - in very small number - but again getting any kind of solid intelligence to prove that is proving surprisingly difficult.

As to whether the Chinese forces will have IS-2s in the list - for now I will "plead the 5th" but if they do it would be in very low numbers  Cheesy
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fsn
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« Reply #5 on: 05 October 2020, 05:20:20 PM »



https://www.quora.com/What-if-IS-2-or-IS-3-tanks-rather-than-T34-85s-had-faced-American-Pershing-tanks-in-the-Korean-War-in-1950

IS2's ...  but low numbers. 20?
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sultanbev
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« Reply #6 on: 05 October 2020, 06:12:22 PM »

From a source I've forgotten, Chinese translated into English I believe:
The Chinese, according to the Chinese, deployed elements of the 2nd Tank Division into Korea:
"2nd Tank Division, November 1950:

Division HQ (Commander Xiao Feng, Political Commissioner Wang Shiren)

- Recon Battalion.
- Engineering Battalion
- AAA Battalion
- Transport Battalion
- Medical Battalion
- Communication Company
- Military Police Company
- Repair and Maintenance Depot
- Field Hospital

3rd Tank Regiment
4th Tank Regiment
Motorized Infantry Regiment (former 258th Regiment)
Mobile Artillery Regiment (former 306th Regiment) "

"Korean War Period:

On November 11th, 1950, two Soviet Tank Regiments; one from the Ukraine Security Guards and the other from the Moscow Guards arrived in Xuzhou and transferred their equipment to the 2nd Tank Division en masse. Both the 3rd and 4th Tank Regiments received 30 T-34 tanks, six IS-2 heavy tanks, four ISU 122mm self-propelled guns, and two T-34 armored recovery variants each. The Mobile Artillery Regiment received one battalion of twelve ISU-122 and two battalions of twelve 76.2mm field guns and soon they were dispatched to the Korean War. Much as had been the pattern during the Chinese Civil War, in Korea the 2nd Tank Division was not employed as a whole unit, but rather split out to serve as infantry support units performing fire support tasks.


2nd Tank Division’s 3rd Tank Regiment, AAA Regiment, and Engineering Regiment entered Korea on May 30th, 1951 and saw action by June as a support element of the 39th and 43rd Army. They claimed two tank kills and one damaged in 18 engagements but were almost wiped out by UN forces at the same time. The 3rd Tank regiment left Korea on July 20th 1952 and returned back to Xuzhou on August 1st. The following year the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Company of the 3rd Tank Regiment took part in the 1953 National Day Parade in Tiananmen Square.

The 4th Tank Regiment arrived in Korea on June 27th 1952 as a replacement for the 3rd and had a better combat performance while supporting the 23rd and 38th Army. As an example, in eight engagements Tank Number 215, a T-34, claimed five tank kills and one damaged. In addition, it was credited with 26 bunkers, nine artillery pieces and one truck destroyed. As a result, Tank 215 was honored as a “People’s Heroic Tank” in July 1952 and is currently in display at the Tank Museum in Beijing.

Both the Motorized Infantry Regiment and Mobile Artillery Regiment were deployed to Korea on Feb 15th, 1953, and served as mobile defense units to guard against a possible UN amphibious or airborne operation into China’s supply route into Korea and saw no action. On May 1953, they were ordered to the front to support the 23rd and 24th Army during the Battle of Seoul. The AAA Regiment returned back to Xuzhou on May 19th 1954, and the Mobile Artillery Regiment on December 9th 1954. On March 30th, 1955, the Motorized Infantry Regiment took on elements of 13 companies from the 12th, 20th, and 57th Army to reconstitute its former strength. It was placed under the command of Jinan Military Region on July 1st, 1955. "

in addition, elements of the 1st Armoured Division were committed:
1st, 2nd Armoured Regiment, 1 Motorised Regiment in about May 1951
Also committed was the 6th Independent Armoured Regiment about this time.

"Elements of PLA 3rd Tank Division arrived in Korea in June 1952. Its 4th, 5th and 6th Tank Regiments relieved 1st, 2nd and 3rd Tank Regiments in June, while its 2nd Independent Tank
Regiment relieved 1st Independent Tank Regiment in October."
https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Chinese_People%27s_Volunteer_Army_order_of_battle&oldid=910212156

The Chinese did use M5A1 Stuarts, taken from the Nationalists, but it is not known they used them in Korea. The footage of them in action is also reported as from the civil war.

Perhaps you should be distinguishing between Chinese and North Korean armour, rather than lumping them together as "communist". I presume you're doing separate North Korean and Chinese lists?
Photographic evidence shows the Is-2 the Chinese received were a mix of Is-2 and Is-2m, although that probably doesn't make any difference in BKC/CWC terms.

In BKC terms, a Chinese Tank Regiment would be:
RHQ CV8 (T-34/85)
1 Battalion: 1x Is-2 (2 if you want to be generous!)
3 Battalions@ (1 optional HQ CV7)
  3 Companies@ 1x T-34/85
1 Battery: 1x ISU-122

Like the North Koreans, they over-reported the unit sizes, a battalion being a mere 10x T-34/85 in the Chinese case. Although doctrinally they seem to have allocated them out as infantry support, so a whole unit of Chinese armour would be rare.

Mark
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Sunray
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« Reply #7 on: 05 October 2020, 08:24:52 PM »

Have you tried the CIA?  I kid you not!

Their Korean War intel documents are now declassified and on line.  www.cia.gov
A student's essey I was marking quoted such a reference in the footnotes.    Smiley

« Last Edit: 05 October 2020, 08:27:21 PM by Sunray » Logged
Big Insect
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« Reply #8 on: 05 October 2020, 10:19:22 PM »

Perhaps you should be distinguishing between Chinese and North Korean armour, rather than lumping them together as "communist". I presume you're doing separate North Korean and Chinese lists?
Photographic evidence shows the Is-2 the Chinese received were a mix of Is-2 and Is-2m, although that probably doesn't make any difference in BKC/CWC terms.
Like the North Koreans, they over-reported the unit sizes, a battalion being a mere 10x T-34/85 in the Chinese case. Although doctrinally they seem to have allocated them out as infantry support, so a whole unit of Chinese armour would be rare.

Mark


Thanks Mark, the intention is to produce separate list for the PVA and the later 'official' PLA force, as well as North Koreans (& North Korean guerrilla forces). And with the UN - whilst 90%+ of the forces were US we'll produce separate lists for the other UN nations that can be added as allied contingents to the US lists - or which can be fielded seperately along with the various South Korean formations. So lots of interesting variety.

Cheers
Mark
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Big Insect
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« Reply #9 on: 05 October 2020, 10:20:36 PM »

Have you tried the CIA?  I kid you not!

Their Korean War intel documents are now declassified and on line.  www.cia.gov
A student's essey I was marking quoted such a reference in the footnotes.    Smiley

Excellent idea - although a lot of their Intelligence was so way off as to be almost fantasy  Cheesy
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sultanbev
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« Reply #10 on: 05 October 2020, 10:40:17 PM »

Yes, looking at this one
https://www.cia.gov/library/readingroom/document/cia-rdp82-00457r009700460008-1

considers the 2 Chinese armoured divisions to be equipped with:
260x KV-1, 300x KV-2, 300x T-38 medium tanks whatever they are(!), 100x MT-21 light tanks, 150 flamethrower and rocket tanks  Grin Grin Grin Grin

Later it says the CHinese deployed into Korea:
120x T-34, 160x SF-24 tanks (?), 200x LF-18 light tanks (Huh?) and 80x KV-2.

 Cheesy
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Ithoriel
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« Reply #11 on: 06 October 2020, 12:10:05 AM »

"T-38 medium tanks whatever they are"

Russian WW2 era amphibious recon tanks. 1500 made apparently. Mostly armed with the 7.62mm DT machine gun, some were upgraded to carry the 20 mm ShVAK cannon.

https://military.wikia.org/wiki/T-38_tank
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Sunray
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« Reply #12 on: 06 October 2020, 08:44:16 AM »

"T-38 medium tanks whatever they are"

Russian WW2 era amphibious recon tanks. 1500 made apparently. Mostly armed with the 7.62mm DT machine gun, some were upgraded to carry the 20 mm ShVAK cannon.

https://military.wikia.org/wiki/T-38_tank


Well clarified ! Ithoriel is on the ball.

 Yes, any "agency" primary source such as early CIA should be treated with caution.  Intelligence agencies play their own games and their own agenda. We learned that in Ulster.

 If however they had photographic images taken in Korea killing grounds with date/location it would be neat.  I recall when researching weapons for Leon I came across a US Military G2 report which was on the money.  It was early war, so only T34/85s featured.   In the latter stages of the war, MTBs were reduced to static artillery.
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hammurabi70
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« Reply #13 on: 06 October 2020, 06:01:36 PM »

considers the 2 Chinese armoured divisions to be equipped with:
260x KV-1, 300x KV-2, 300x T-38 medium tanks whatever they are(!), 100x MT-21 light tanks, 150 flamethrower and rocket tanks  Grin Grin Grin Grin

Later it says the CHinese deployed into Korea:
120x T-34, 160x SF-24 tanks (?), 200x LF-18 light tanks (Huh?) and 80x KV-2.

 Cheesy

Can anyone manage an English translation of this?
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Ithoriel
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« Reply #14 on: 06 October 2020, 07:12:33 PM »

80 KV-2s .... of the 203 produced? Given the number abandoned due to mechanical failure or lack of fuel and those knocked out, during the Great Patriotic War, I'd be surprised if there were 8 left to send, let alone 80!. 
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