History of Soviet Airborne Forces ww2

The Russian Airborne Troops or VDV (from "Vozdushno-desantnye voyska Rossii", Russian: Воздушно-десантные войска России, ВДВ; Air-landing Forces) is a military branch of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation. 

They are an elite force, on par with the Strategic Rocket Forces and the Aerospace Defence Forces. First formed before World War II, the force undertook two significant airborne operations and a number of smaller jumps during the war and for many years after 1945 was the largest airborne force in the world. The force was split after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, losing divisions to Belarus and Ukraine, and has been reduced in size.

Russian airborne forces have traditionally worn a blue beret and blue-striped telnyashka and are called "desant" (Russian: Десант) from the French "Descente".
The first airborne forces parachute jump is dated to 2 August 1930, taking place in the Moscow Military District. Airborne landing detachments were established after the initial 1930 experimental jump, but creation of larger units had to wait until 1932–33. On 11 December 1932, a Revolutionary Military Council order established an airborne brigade from the existing detachment in the Leningrad Military District.

To implement the order, a directive of the Commissariat of Military and Naval Affairs transformed the Leningrad Military District’s 3rd Motorised Airborne Landing Detachment into the 3rd Airborne Brigade (Special Purpose) commanded by M.V. Boytsov. Two further airborne brigades (the 13th and 47th) and three airborne regiments (the 1st, 2nd, and 5th, all in the Far East) were created in 1936.[6] In March and April 1941, five Airborne Corps (divisions) were established on the basis of the existing 201st, 204th, 211th, 212th, and 214th Airborne Brigades.[7] The number of Airborne Corps rose from five to ten in late 1941, but then all the airborne corps were converted into "Guards" Rifle Divisions in the northern hemisphere summer of 1942.

The Soviet airborne forces were mostly used as 'foot' infantry during the war. Only a few small airborne drops were carried out in the first desperate days of Operation Barbarossa, in the vicinity of Kiev, Odessa, and the Kerch peninsula. The two significant airborne operations of the war were the Vyazma operation of February–March 1942, involving 4th Airborne Corps, and the Dnepr/Kiev operation of September 1943, involving a temporary corps formation consisting of 1st, 3rd, and 5th Airborne Brigades.

Glantz writes: "After the extensive airborne activity during the winter campaign of 1941–42, airborne forces underwent another major reorganization the following summer. Responding to events in southern Russia, where German troops had opened a major offensive that would culminate in the Stalingrad battles, the ten airborne corps, as part of the Stavka strategic reserves, deployed southward. Furthermore, the Stavka converted all ten airborne corps into guards rifle divisions to bolster Soviet forces in the south. Nine of these divisions participated in the battles around Stalingrad, and one took part in the defense of the northern Caucasus region."

The Stavka still foresaw the necessity of conducting actual airborne operations later during the war. To have [such a force] the Stavka created eight new airborne corps (1st, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, and 10th) in the fall of 1942. Beginning in December 1942, these corps became ten guards airborne divisions (numbered 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th (formed from 9th Airborne Corps (2nd formation)), 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, two formed from the 1st Airborne Corps and the three existing separate maneuver airborne brigades). The new guards airborne divisions trained in airborne techniques, and all personnel jumped three to ten times during training, though many were from jump towers.

After the defeat of German forces at Kursk, the bulk of the airborne divisions joined in the pursuit of German forces to the Dnepr River. Even as ten guards airborne divisions fought at the front, new airborne brigades formed in the rear areas. In April and May 1943, twenty brigades formed and trained for future airborne operations. Most of these brigades had become six new guards airborne divisions (11th through 16th) by September 1943. The Stavka however, earmarked three of these airborne brigades for use in an airborne operation to cross the Dnepr River, which was unsuccessful.

David Glantz wrote in 1984:
In August 1944, the Stavka formed the 37th, 38th, and 39th Guards Airborne Corps. By October, the newly formed corps had combined into a separate airborne army under Maj. Gen. I. I. Zatevakhin. However, because of the growing need for well-trained ground units, the new army did not endure long as an airborne unit. 

In December, separate airborne army the Stavka reorganized the separate airborne army into the 9th Guards Army of Col. Gen. V. V. Glagolev, and all divisions were renumbered as guards rifle divisions. As testimony to the elite nature of airborne-trained units, the Stavka held the 9th Guards Army out of defensive actions, using it only for exploitation during offensives.

114th Guards Rifle Division (from 14th Guards Airborne Division (2nd formation))

During the invasion of Manchuria and South Sakhalin Operation, airborne units were used to seize airfields and city centers in advance of the land forces, and to ferry fuel to those units that had outrun their supply lines.


6th SS Mountain Division Nord

The 6th SS Mountain Division Nord was a German unit of the Waffen-SS of Nazi Germany during World War II, formed in February 1941 as SS Kampfgruppe Nord (SS Battle Group North).

The division was the only Waffen-SS unit to fight in the Arctic Circle when it was stationed in Finland and northern Russia between June and November 1941. 
It fought in Karelia until the Moscow Armistice in September 1944, at which point it left Finland. It fought in the Operation Nordwind in January 1945, where it suffered heavy losses. In early April 1945, the division was destroyed by the U.S. forces near Budingen, Germany.

The division was formed from the units of the SS-Totenkopfverbände (concentration camp guards) to guard the border with the Soviet Union following the 1940 German occupation of Norway. In the spring of 1941, the newly formed division was moved into positions at Salla in northern Finland with General Nikolaus von Falkenhorst in command.
6th SS Mountain Division Nord
6th SS Division Logo.svg
Divisional insignia (Hagall rune)
ActiveSeptember 1941 – May 1945
Country Germany
AllegianceAdolf Hitler
BranchFlag of the Schutzstaffel.svg Waffen-SS
RoleMountain warfare
Matthias Kleinheisterkamp
Lothar Debes
During the invasion of the Soviet Union, Operation Barbarossa, the unit took part in Operation Arctic Fox. The Brigade got a new unit attached, SS Gebirgsjäger (Mountain) Artillery Regiment 6, and was now designated as a Division, the SS Division Nord. In September 1941 the division was attached to the Finnish III Corps under General Hjalmar Siilasvuo, and took up new positions at Louhi, Kiestinki. By the end of 1941, it had suffered heavy casualties. Over the winter of 1941–42 it received replacements from the general pool of Waffen-SS recruits.

Throughout the rest of 1942 and through 1943 it remained on the Kestenga front, which was quiet compared to other areas of the Eastern Front. In September 1942, the unit was renamed as the SS Mountain Division Nord. In September 1944 it was ordered to withdraw from Finland, upon the conclusion of a separate armistice between Finland and the Soviet Union. 

The division then formed the rear guard for the three German corps withdrawing from Finland in Operation Birch and from September to November 1944 marched 1,600 kilometers to Mo i Rana, Norway, where it entrained for the southern end of the country. The Norwegian Ski-Battalion unit was then left behind, in accordance with their contracts. They were merged into "SS-und-Schi-Jäger-Polizei-Battalion 506 (mot.) with app. 50% men from different German Police units in South Norway. 
The rest of the division was transferred to Germany.

The division briefly refitted in Denmark where its losses were replaced by young Volksdeutsche (ethnic Germans) who had been conscripted into the Waffen-SS and received only a brief training. The division took part in Operation Nordwind in the Low Vosges mountains of southeastern France. By 2 January, part of the division (SS Gebirgs Regiment 12 and 506th Battalion) went into action against the U.S. 45th Infantry Division, attached to 361st Volksgrenadier Division. 

For six days the SS men fought in and around the town of Wingen, finally being pushed back by the U.S. forces with most of the battle group killed or captured. On 16 January, the SS Regiment 11 surrounded six companies of the American 157th Infantry Regiment. The American troops were forced to surrender three days later, losing 482 men. Nord advanced for four more days before being stopped by American counterattacks.

                                 ZB vz 53 was a Czechoslovak mg. - Wehrmacht MG-37

The division remained on the western front after the Nordwind offensive, fighting American forces around Trier and Koblenz on the Moselle River in March. By Easter 1945 it numbered about 2,000 soldiers, including stragglers from other units. It still had six howitzers and an assault gun. The division refused to give up, and moved east to re-establish contact with other German units. 

However, as it moved, it drew the attention of the US Army by cutting American lines of communication. In early April 1945 over the course of several days the U.S. 71st Division fought a series of meeting engagements with the 6th SS Division Nord. As a result, the division was destroyed; its personnel scattered or captured.

Area of operations
Finland & northern Russia (June 1941 – November 1944)
Norway & Denmark (November 1944 – January 1945)
Western Germany (January 1945 – April 1945)
Austria (April 1945 – May 1945)

Manpower strength
June 1941: 10.373
1942 December: 21.247
1943 December: 20.129
1944 June: 19.355
1944 December: 15.000


SS Ski Jäger Battalion "Norwegen"

It was formed in February 1942 and attached to the 6th SS Mountain Division Nord (although the company was formally a police unit). By the winter of 1943 the company was designated as a combat battalion, with three full infantry companies and a staff company. For almost its entire career, the battalion was part of the 6th SS Mountain Division "Nord", fighting on the Karelian Front in Finland.

In 24-26 June 1944, nearly 100 of the battalion's soldiers went missing in action, when two of the battalion's positions (with a total of 190 soldiers) were overrun

During the winter of 1942, a Ski jäger Company, with a strength of 120 men, was formed in Finland with personnel undergoing training in the SS schools and training camps in Germany. The formation of the new Norwegian SS Skijaeger Battalion took place at military training grounds in Oulu, Finland in the autumn of 1943. The battalion CO and a four company commander were both Germans. 

A ski trooper of the 6th-Gebirgs Division Nord. He is armed with a captured Russian Tokarev rifle.
Winter War Finns get their hands on about 4 000 SVT's, the Continuation War by as much as 15 000. Finnish and Soviet cartridges for measuring and charging differences and SVT-40's often incorrectly adjusted gas piston arms, however, caused a lot of malfunctions.
                                 SVT-40 1941 Izhevsk 01.jpg
A few German enlisted men were also included in each company as a "stiffening" element. For the most part the Norwegian officers were young men who had obtained front line experience with the 5th SS Panzer Division Wiking or the "Frw. Legion Norwegen". The Norwegian Ski Battalion was strictly light-weight in nature consisting only of one staff company and three ski (or infantry/assault) companies.
SS Ski Jäger Battalion "Norwegen"
ActiveJuly 1943 – January 1945
Country Norway
AllegianceGermany Nazi-Germany
Sophus Kahrs
Each company consisted of three platoons, each with three "rifle" squads, and a fourth machine gun squad. The standard issue weapon for the battalion was the MP-40 Submachine Gun, which was the preferred weapon due to the units abilities to do Long-range reconnaissance patrol missions.

                                           Norwegian nurses

                                 Line of battle positioning, with compass and map help

In 1943 the Ski Company (Skikompaniet, the predecessor of the "Ski Battalion") was sent to the Kiestinki Front. The battalion was formed in Germany, transported to Oulo in Finland, and later reached Kuusamo. During the winter 1943/1944 the battalion counted around 700 men. As a consequence of an armistice in September 1944, the German Lapland Army, including the battalion, retreated through North Finland into Norway. 

The Norwegian daily Dagbladet wrote that the unit's soldiers were at the front in Finland until the autumn of 1944, adding that "several were sent to the end fighting in Germany and Austria.