Personally-made roster of Soviet army troops. Stage I of the post details all plausible units, basically a brainstorm – Stage II will detail commanders, building and the tech tree.
Preposition 1: target period is early 1943-1944, during which the Red Army became much more established and tactically savvy, whereas the Wehrmacht was deploying its most iconic units. One side grew out of the most desperate measures (Soviet materiel shortages and mass use of expendable militia in 1941 and radical discipline enforcement of 1942-43; since 1943 the commissars held much less power) while the other hadn’t resorted to them yet (by 1945 Germans used summary execution for unauthorised retreat, had severe material shortages, political officers (Führungsoffizieren) and expendable militia (Volksturm)).
Preposition 2: don’t tell me I’m biased. I’m a Russian, and we’re all at least slightly biased when it comes to WWII. That said, everybody is.
Preposition 3: haven’t played CoH 2. It’s banned in Russia, and for good reasons I say.
“Throw it in”
There are several characteristics of Soviet infantry most people can agree on: large numbers, variably bad training (the Soviet army experienced a swelling of its ranks before the war and severe shortage of smokeless gunpowder early in the war), lack of portable anti-tank rockets (the Soviet Union began indigenous “bazooka” development in 1944, issued RPG-2 in 1949, and lend-leased Bazookas and PIATs had insufficient impact), lack of a decent General Purposed Machine Gun of the MG 34/MG 42 form-factor, but excessive amount of units armed exclusively with submachine guns.
A standard squad of six… guys. They are green as grass, but the come cheap. They start with three Mosin bolt-action rifles. Even those of them who have rifles are awful shots: they are undertrained, slightly intoxicated (100 g of vodka “for courage”), and the Mosin rifle is an ergonomic nightmare: the bolt can’t be cycled without unshouldering it, and it is factory-zeroed to be fired with the heavy “pig sticker” bayonet fixed.
Furthermore, they don’t gain experience levels and instead work like the Brits.
Their first global upgrade is “Fixed Logistics”. At 15 Ordnance and requiring only the Barracks, you’re a bastard if you don’t start by purchasing it. Because it provides the squad with a full set of rifles, helmets (purely aesthetic) and RG42 hand grenades.
Oh, and the second is “Gramophone”, a close equivalent of the US BAR upgrade – the Dyagteryov DP machine gun, one per squad. It has a flat horizontal 47 round drum magazine; Russian terminology for drum magazines is “disk” magazines, and DP’s magazine is about the diameter of a gramophone record. Giving the DP the “Button Down” ability of the Bren may be a game-breaker, though; instead, it leaves more pick-up weapon slots for scavenging (especially Panzerschreks).
The last upgrade is the “Molotov cocktail”, which allows the Riflemen to use a smaller equivalent of the Panzergrenadier grenade. The Soviets turned the Molotov into a factory-produced ordnance type, with pyrophoric (self-inflaming) mixtures removing the need for a burning cloth.
A blatant rip-off of the “Leftenant”, except that it comes with a different uniform. Starts with a Tokarev TT handgun, but wizens up at XP level 1 and grabs a PPSh submachine gun. His effects on non-Riflemen infantry are halved. He has the same abilities (Maintain Command Range, Heroic Charge), except that the destruction of his assigned squad triggers him to retreat (“one man on the field ain’t a a warrior”).
The equivalent of Wehrmacht Grenadiers, but noticeably tougher. Squad of four. Their default equipment is visually the same, but they are either veterans or serve alongside them, and are hence savvier. They are better shots with their Mosin “threeliners”, and they have an enhanced grenade attack, Molotovs by default and a Sprint ability.
Their most dangerous aspect is the two expensive, mutually exclusive upgrades. Ranged kit provides the squad with two SVT-40 rapid-fire semi-automatic rifles (which, aside from their higher rate of fire, are on par with standard Kar98K), and a PTRS-41 semi-automatic anti-tank rifle (as a standard hand-held weapon that can’t be fired on the move). Its 14.5 mm shot are a hard counter to light armour and have a chance against a Puma’s flank, and have the anti-infantry power of a sniper’s shot but normal range, no AOE and a bazooka’s accuracy. It also has the ability “Mail Slot”, which leaves the vehicle buttoned up and immobile after a precise shot kills or maims the driver. The kit, however, takes away the Sprint.
The other is the Assault Kit. Firstly, it gives them another grenade type effective against even the heaviest tanks. Then, it gives them all of them PPSh submachine guns, which are more effective than StG 44s at close range, but are less reliable at normal skirmish range. Their final gadget is the SN-42 steel breastplate, rated against 9 mm Para, allowing the Guards to stand up to German MP 40s mixed in with their rifle sections, and hence securing their close-range superiority until late in the game.
There is very little to change there: Soviet snipers used slightly modified handpicked Mosin rifles with scopes and match-grade ammunition. A late-war spotter is more likely to use a scout’s Sudaev PPS-43 SMG (cheaper, lighter, folding stock, but can’t accept a 71-round magazine). As to females, the stereotypical high percentage of them in sniper, pilot and medical roles is explained by all of them already having the training before volunteering – now-mostly defunct Soviet youth programs like DOSAAF readily provided marksmanship and pilot training to high school kids of either gender.
Nobody really remembers about the most important unit, do they? Squad of 3, two Mosin carbines, one PPS; Cut Barbed Wire. Upgrade either into Repairmen (with Overrepair) or Sappers (minefinder and remote demolition charges).
Company Commander Call-in; only one available at a time. A six-man squad from infantry (para)military units of the People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs (normal police, secret police, border guard, and yes, ships and tanks). Armed with two DPs and four PPSh’s. Distinguishable by blue elements in their service caps, and blue trousers.
Dumbly fanatical Bolsheviks. If they see someone with their ass on the ground instead of participating in the GLORIOUS MARCH OF THE UNBREAKABLE UNION TO VICTORY, they shoot that ass; troops around them are perfectly aware of that and hence are immune to Suppression (and hence don’t get the defensive bonuses) but can’t trigger Retreat. For enemies of the Union, they have the special ability Terrorize. They can do essentially the same thing to friendly structures to boost production.
Company Commander Call-in; only one available at a time. Captain and a hand-picked Guard squad, a combat-oriented equivalent of Wehrmacht Officer. Squad of six: four PPSh’s and two AVS-36 automatic (sic) rifles, a passive offensive/defensive/mobility/anti-suppression buff, smoke grenades and an artillery strike call-in.
Company Commander all-in. Squad of four, armed with PPSh’s and possess all Engineer construction and repair capabilities. Can throw a nasty satchel pack; can be quickly upgraded with SN-42’s and ROKS-2 flamethrowers.
Company Commander call-in; similar to Fallschirmjaegers in that they appear inside a building. Squad of 6, 5 Mosins, 1 PPSh, can throw Molotovs or plant remote-triggered explosives to terrorise bases and bridges.
Heavy Weapon Squads
Meet the world’s first machine gun. Very similar to the Vickers, with a liquid-cooling jacket and 7.62x54R round, but a wheeled mount with a gun shield. Noticeably less effective than an MG42, putting it at the level of the other two guns, but it doesn’t have the Browning’s AP Burst. Instead, it has upgrades.
One replaces the M1910 Maxim with a 12.7 mm DShK, as if permanently setting the weapon into AP Burst mode.
“MG Team” is the other. It increases the crew size to five, and Soviet weapon crews carry Mosin carbines. It provides enough ammo runners to shorten the reload time to 0, increasing firepower and suppression.
82 mm Mortar
A generic mortar crew, with a battalion-level 82-BM-37 and a Mosin carbine. Although, if you ask Captain Simonok or Sergeant Kalinin, it can work as an anti-aircraft weapon. 1 mm has exactly one effect: nobody’s using captured 82 mm Soviet mortar mines with their 81.4 mm launchers.
Reward Unit; replaces the 82 mm Mortar (although IRL it was replaced by the RM-38 50 mm company mortar). Yakov Taubin was a wheat milling undergrad in Odessa in 1931 who got very bored when attending the “military rally” (mandatory ROTC equivalent): the Dyakonov-pattern 40.6 mm mortar, a rifle grenade equivalent mounted on the muzzle of a Mosin-Nagant they were being taught to use, took stupidly long to reload. Taubin decided to optimise the process and created the world’s first automatic grenade launcher, and even managed to get it to the testing phase until being taken down by backroom politics of the so-called “mortar mafia”. Several launchers saw combat usage in the winter War of 1940, but the design was mostly forgotten.
A recoil-operated 40.8 mm low-velocity machine gun with a 5-round non-detachable magazine, it is equipped with a wheeled mount a la M1910 Maxim. It has poor accuracy in mortar role and its rounds are noticeably weaker. However, its most shocking quality is its competence as both a direct and indirect-fire weapon; it retains the mortar’s standard barrage by simply firing a clip on full auto at 100 RPM, but can’t lay down a smoke barrage. The 40.8 mm cartridges have barely enough propellant for the action to cycle and the weapon is near-silent; that allows it to be loaded into a building and still fire like a machine gun team.
45 mm AT
A light, compact AT gun that isn’t much use against a modern panzer. It has, however, the ability to bust a tank’s track, it can unlock the ability to camouflage, and it’s cheap and can be dragged to the frontline quickly. Its German equivalent has an APDS round instead.
The backbone of the Soviet artillery corps, the first field gun to be produced on a conveyor, cheap but very versatile. On one hand, it’s a mediocre 76.2 mm anti-tank gun; on the other, it can fire an indirect HE barrage.
A.k.a. “Stalin’s hammer”. Commander Call-in. A specialized anti-fortification 203 mm howitzer on a motorized tracked mount. Fires via special ability, at short range, with predictable results. Its crew of four can be gunned down by the enemy, though, and the weapon can be captured.
Maxim Gun Nest
A cross between the US variant (garrisonable, no Pop value) and the Brit variant (it has a roof and is reclaimable).
ML-20 152 mm Howitzer-Cannon
Unlock via Company Commander; similar to the British 25-pounder (87.6 mm) and comes with the Counter-Battery mode ability.
From this point onwards, some stuff will almost certainly deserve to be trashed.
Note that, by default, the Reds get no half-tracks. No APCs, actually – and there come the Panzergrenadier units of the Wehrmacht.
The Light Vehicle
This basic vehicle is produced from the barracks. You may be thinking of the US Army Willys Jeep, and you’re dead on. It’s a Willys Jeep, lend-leased to the Soviet Army; WWII caught the USSR before modern all-wheel-drive trucks were put into mass production, so some of the 3000+ truck models provided by the US automobile industry became the foundation of Red Army’s mobility (most of them sucked mud and ate dust, though). The Willys Jeep was one of them; it also came with a cool NKVD-style leather coat.
However, I’ve been thinking of a more extensive variant of Panzer Elite’s Kettenkrad: a basic vehicle that varies per Company Commander. The Willis is the base unit. So, here go the preliminary commanders.
The Combined Offensive commander gets the DUKW, which has the same machine gun, but is slower, amphibious and can carry 3 squads/14 people. Amphibious strike groups hounded the Germans to no end.
The Armoured Assault commander gets the BA-64, which has a comparable machine gun, but decent armour. And it can capture points. Whoops.
The “Political Operations” commander gets a more “politically correct” GAZ-64 with a DShK gun and the ability to plant booby traps.
Early to mid-war light tank, armed with a TNSh-1 20 mm autocannon. Upgradeable with a Tank Commander.
An attempt to remedy the big hole in the Soviet troop roster, this Combined Offensive Commander Call-in is that lend-leased familiar half-track (in unfamiliar Soviet paint) with all the capabilities of a half-track, except there is no Maxson upgrade but there is a permanent M2 gunner.
Affordable core tank of the Soviets. At the start, it is slightly behind the Panzer IV, including the cost. It has quite good hardware: thick, sloped armour, and a 76.2 mm tank gun that is equally effective against infantry and tanks (German tank guns are smaller in calibre and hence have higher penetration but lower splash damage), and two 7.62 mm machine guns. However, it has no dedicated commander crewmember, very bad vision range limiting its performance in frontal skirmishes, and is starkly vulnerable to the flanks due to its Christie-type suspension. The bad vision can be remedied by the Commander Tower upgrade. Also, at XP Level 2 it gets semi-improvised spaced armour.
The Soviet Army’s most expensive global upgrade is T-34-85, an all-around buff-up to all pre-existing T-34-76. It has thicker armour all around, a pre-included commander and tower, an all-around more potent 85 mm gun. The old upgrade is rendered obsolete; instead, it can get a third machine gunner on the roof (weaker than MG42 or M2), and an Armoured Assault commander can upgrade it into an OT-34, replacing the hull machine gun with an ATO-42 flamethrower. It also has the enhanced APDS shell, but no smoke launchers.
A Soviet second-gen tank destroyer (the first gen would be one of the German Marders, with no Soviet equivalent; second-gens are the StuG series or are inspired by them), a T-34 hull with thick frontal armour and a casemate-mounted 85 mm naval anti-aircraft cannon, similar to the infamous German 88. Built to support standard T-34-76s it has no problem combating Pzkpfw IVs, but has no machine guns. Got your T-34s to ‘85s and have Tigers on the horizon? Call SU-100s.
Reward Unit, replaces SU-85. A T-34-76 with a ZiS-4 anti-tank cannon. Inherits the T-34’s drawbacks and can’t even get the command tower, but it has a rotary turret, and ZiS-4 is a cut-down variant of ZiS-2, which, while having such a weak 57 mm HE shell that it’s usually overlooked (meaning no splash damage), has the penetration of the British 17-pounder, and a high rate of fire.
Only a handful of tanks were outfitted with this extremely rare gun, and Soviet military records are uncertain of whether these tanks saw action.
Call-in for the Armoured Assault commander. A buffed-up variant of the SU-85 with a larger gun (guess of what calibre?), and an optional roof gunner.
Assault gun mostly similar to the SU-85. Its 122 mm cannon is designed to combat infantry and fortifications and can send a three-round-burst over distance.
Reward Unit, replaces SU-122 with a self-propelled gun combining a T-70 light tank and a ZiS-3, sacrificing raw power and protection for line of sight and versatility.
KV series tanks
KV-1 is a heavily-armoured glacier equivalent to the Churchill due to it using the same gun as T-34-76; KV-2 replaces it with a huge 152 mm howitzer. The problem? The KVs were destroyed or phased out by Stalingrad, and the role of the KV-1 was mostly occupied by… Churchill infantry tanks. Combined Offensive commander call-in, cheap meat-shield with a mine plough and smoke grenade launchers.
Whether or not it’s an armoured Assault-specific call-in or a production unit has to be paralleled by the Tiger. Both are heavily armoured monsters, but Iosif Stalin uses a 122 mm gun with a slower rate of fire, and has both a third standard machine gun in the rear of the turret and a DShK on the roof.
If we make the Tiger a production unit, then this is the Reward Unit for campaign completion. Probably on Hard. Because it’s a design revealed on the Allied Victory parade in September 1945 with the same huge gun, but thick, ridiculously sloped and extremely durable armour. It’s tough enough to cause the King Tiger to rely on flanking tactics.
Combined Offensive Call-in. An IS-2-based 152 mm heavy assault gun, comes with a roof-mounted HMG. The gun is a monster, which can fire either an arced HE round, or a direct and extremely lethal HEAT shell that caused the ISU-152 to see widespread anti-tank use.
Armoured Assault Call-in, one at a time. Red Army armour commanders preferred to use more comfortable lend-leased or captured tanks as their command vehicles – and the Sherman provides a real commanding view, and has the offensive capability of a T-34-76. Has a passive buff aura and the Maintain Command Range ability.
Company Commander Call-in. A rocket launcher rack on the chassis of a six-wheel Studebaker truck. Very devastating, but very fragile.
Platforms for airstrikes, and description of airstrikes. And before you demand reconnaissance, beware that the Soviet Air Force takes requests in written form and don’t allow direct pilot-to-ground contact.
A heavily armoured dedicated ground-attack fighter. Any run consists of saturating an area with 7.62 mm bullet, 23 mm autocannon shells, and 8 anti-tank rockets. Trying to put AA into the area won’t stop the “Betonflugzeug“.
A more costly but potent Soviet equivalent to the Ju-87 Stuka. The two are similar in their mode of attack – they’re dive bombers so they can deliver a single precise strike and don’t fear AA on the way in, but once they begin the attack run the target is easily identified – but Pe-2 is a fast, twin-engine craft. A Stuka can drop one 250 kg bomb and annihilate the annoying machine gun nest; a “peshka” can drop four FAB-250s or even two 250’s and two 500’s, and so cause terrible, terrible damage to a base production structure.