5th Guards Tank Division

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5th Guards Tank Division
  • 1st formation: September 1945 – June 1957
  • 2nd formation: January 1965 – June 2009
Garrison/HQKyakhta (1966–2009)
Battle honours

The 5th Guards Tank Division was an armored division of the Soviet Ground Forces and Russian Ground Forces, active from 1945 to 2009, in two different formations.

First Formation[edit]

The 5th Guards Stalingrad-Kiev Red Banner Tank Division was formed in September 1945 at Sherlovaya Gora, Chita Oblast, from the 5th Guards Tank Corps. In mid 1957 it became the 122nd Guards Motor Rifle Division.[1]

Second Formation[edit]

Structure of the 5th Guards Tank Division, late 2000s

The second formation drew its heritage from an illustrious Soviet World War II cavalry formation, the 5th Guards Cavalry Corps (Honorifics Don-Budapest Red Banner). After the end of World War II, the corps relocated from Ploiești in Romania, where it was part of the Southern Group of Forces, to Novocherkassk in Rostov Oblast, by the fall of 1945. The corps was reorganised as the 5th Guards Cavalry Division on 6 May 1946, part of the North Caucasus Military District. Its two cavalry divisions, the 11th Guards and 12th Guards, became regiments with the same numbers in the new division. A third regiment, the 7th Guards Cavalry Regiment, was renumbered from the 37th Guards Cavalry Regiment. On 6 September 1951, the division was awarded the honorific "named for E.A. Shchadenko", in honor of Soviet cavalry commander Yefim Shchadenko. On 18 November 1954 18th Guards Heavy Tank Division was formed from 5th Guards Cavalry Division.[2][3]

With the beginning of the Nikita Khrushchev era, the Strategic Rocket Forces were increasingly emphasised at the expense of the Ground Forces, and the Ground Forces were reduced and reorganized. On 5 March 1962, the division dropped the designation "Heavy" and became simply the 18th Guards Tank Division. Between 1 and 2 June 1962, the division was involved in the Novocherkassk massacre, the suppression of a strike caused by food shortages.[4] On 11 January 1965, the division was renumbered the 5th Guards Tank Division to reflect its World War II title.[5]

In April 1966, the division was transferred to Kyakhta, on the Mongolian–Russian border, to reinforce the Transbaikal Military District in the light of deteriorating relations with the People's Republic of China (PRC). On 22 February 1968, the division was awarded the Order of the Red Star. [5] By May 1970, the division was part of the 29th Army.[6] The division was expanded into the 48th Separate Guards Army Corps, as an experiment in rapid reaction units along with the Belorussian Military District's 120th Guards Motor Rifle Division, from 1982 to 1989. The three tank regiments and single motor rifle regiment of the division were expanded into two tank brigades and two motor rifle brigades, and the 1319th Air Assault Regiment and 373rd Separate Helicopter Regiment, both newly formed, were added to the corps.[7][8]

The 57th Army Corps was upgraded in status to Army level in 2003. The 29th Army was subsequently disbanded.

Adam Geibel wrote that 5th "Don" Guards Tank Division, stationed in Buryatia, had received ‘a few’ of the initial group of 150 T-90s produced.[9]

On 1 June 2009, the division became the 37th Separate Guards Motor Rifle Brigade, as part of the 2008 Russian military reform.[10] The brigade included more than 200 tracked vehicles and more than 100 wheeled vehicles in 2013.[11] Elements of the brigade fought in the War in Donbass and were located in the Northern operational area in February 2015.[12] The 37th's troops fought in the Battle of Debaltseve during this time, where their heavy equipment and weaponry was crucial to the defeat of Ukrainian forces in the battle.[13] In September 2016, a conscript from the brigade was run over by a Kamaz truck while sleeping during an exercise.[14]

Subordinated units[edit]

The division's second formation included the following units:[2]

  • 108th Tank Regiment
  • 140th Guards Tank Regiment
  • 160th Guards Tank Regiment
  • 311th Guards Motor Rifle Regiment
  • 861st Self-Propelled Artillery Regiment
  • 940th Anti-aircraft Rocket Regiment



  1. ^ Holm, Michael. "5th Guards Tank Division (I)". www.ww2.dk. Retrieved 27 May 2017.
  2. ^ a b Holm, Michael. "5th Guards Tank Division". www.ww2.dk. Retrieved 27 May 2017.
  3. ^ Feskov et al 2013, pp. 232–233.
  4. ^ Baron 2001, p. 72.
  5. ^ a b Feskov et al 2013, p. 201.
  6. ^ Feskov et al 2013, p. 571.
  7. ^ Alyohin 2009, pp. 281–282.
  8. ^ Feskov et al 2013, pp. 125–126.
  9. ^ Geibel, Adam (April 1999). "India's Latest Armour Addition – the T-90s". Defence Journal. Retrieved 28 May 2017.
  10. ^ "Войсковая часть 69647 (37-я ОМСБр)" [Military Unit 69647 (37th OMSBr)]. voinskayachast.net (in Russian). Retrieved 1 March 2016.
  11. ^ "Части 36-й армии ВВО приведены в высшую боевую готовность" [36th Army units put on high alert]. RIA Novosti (in Russian). 14 July 2013. Retrieved 28 May 2017.
  12. ^ Sutyagin, Igor (March 2015). "RUSI Briefing Paper: Russian Forces in Ukraine" (PDF). Royal United Services Institute: 3. Retrieved 6 April 2016. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  13. ^ Czuperski, Maksymilian; Herbst, John E.; Polyakova, Alina; Wilson, Damon (6 June 2015). "Putin's Secret Warriors: Russian Soldiers Sent to Fight in Ukraine". Newsweek. Retrieved 28 May 2017.
  14. ^ Lisina, Yana (27 September 2016). "Военный КАМАЗ раздавил солдата-срочника на учениях в Бурятии" [Military KAMAZ crushes conscript soldier on exercises in Buryatia]. Komsomolskaya Pravda (in Russian). Retrieved 28 May 2017.