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The Red Army 1922 - 41

The Red Army 1922 - 41

From Civil War To 'Barbarossa'

by Philip Jowett and Stephen Walsh
Publication Date: 01/11/2022

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This study explores the organization, history and uniforms of the Soviet Red Army during the 20 years between its victory in the Civil War and the invasion of the USSR by Germany in 1941.

The two decades following the Bolshevik victory over the 'Whites' in the Russian Civil War saw widespread and fundamental developments for the Red Army. Nevertheless, these still left it largely unready to face Germany's Operation Barbarossa in June 1941. Having been reduced in size and planning for modernization, the Red Army of the 1920s was employed to ruthlessly crush anti-Bolshevik opposition (real or suspected) in several regions of the USSR, notably Ukraine and Central Asia, and to fight a brief border war against Chinese Manchuria.

During the 1930s, Stalin virtually 'beheaded' the army by a needless series of murderous purges of the officer class; despite this, the Red Army was victorious in clashes against Imperial Japan in the Nomonhan region in 1938 39, where General Zhukov earned his spurs. Simultaneously, the Soviet Union sent instructors and pilots to fight for the Republicans in the Spanish Civil War (1936 39).

The non-aggression pact with Nazi Germany allowed Stalin to take over half of Poland in September 1939; but a few months later his 'Winter War' against Finland demonstrated serious inadequacies in the Red Army's readiness for modern warfare, which would be shockingly confirmed in the first days of Operation Barbarossa. Using rare photos and detailed colour artwork, this study explores the interwar history of the Red Army, describing its campaigns, organization and uniforms, and focusing on the 20 years between its victory in the Civil War and the invasion of the USSR by Germany in 1941.

Warfare & defence
Publication Date:
Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Country of origin:
United Kingdom
Dimensions (mm):
Philip Jowett

Philip Jowett has been writing military history since 1997. He has published many books on the armies of Asia in the first half of the twentieth century, and has made a special study of the armies of China. He has also published on the Russo-Japanese War, the Mexican revolution and the Italian and Japanese armies of the Second World War. His most recent books are China and Japan at War 1937-1945 and Chiang Kai-shek versus Mao Tse-tung: The Battle for China 1946-1949.

Stephen Walsh

Stephen Walsh studied art at the North East Wales Institute and has worked as a professional illustrator since 1988. Since then he has illustrated a variety of books and games including Settlers of Catan.

His projects for Osprey include such diverse subjects as the battle of Otterburn, the Chinese army from 1937 to 1949, and the US Home Front in World War II.

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