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In the Icebreaker series by Viktor Suvorov, he says that at the beginning of World War 2, the Soviet Union had roughly 7 times as many tanks as Nazi Germany, which had 3000-4000 tanks.

I can't remember the exact figures, but according to him the Soviet Union had between 20,000-30,000 tanks (I will edit if someone can point out the exact figures in his claim).

  • this doesn't seems that strange, Germany had almost nothing after WWI and had to build everything, the soviet union is much much larger and needs more of everything to defend its borders, they also would have had several generation of tanks. – Ryathal Jan 29 '13 at 13:24
  • There was a big tank battle on Russia's far eastern front early in WWII. – dmckee Jan 29 '13 at 18:52
  • What is often more surprising is that the Soviets had better tanks. They were not the majority of the the fleet, nor were they used well at the start, but the Germans were very surprised when they first met the T34. – matt_black Jan 30 '13 at 9:14
  • Yes, that is another part of the claims in Victor Suvorov. He also talked about the KV tanks. – sashoalm Jan 30 '13 at 9:23
  • @matt_black: at the beginning of WW2 (September 1939) soviets did not have T-34 yet. Of course at beginning of WW2 soviets and nazis were allies, they didn't start fighting between themselves until 2 years later. – vartec Jan 30 '13 at 11:13
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Answer: Yes

I am not sure that all references count the exact same type of vehicle (tank is loosly defined). But they are all in the same area of about 20000 tanks.

According to Wikipedia

The Soviet Union began and ended the war with more tanks than the rest of the world combined (18,000-22,000)

Another article cites numbers of over 25000

Figures are up until the first half of 1945 and only include new production. The Soviet Union had 25,664 or 25,481 armoured fighting vehicles on 1 June 1941 before it entered the war.

Wikipedia references the second number with a website in Russian (google translate)

A much lower number is mentioned in the article about Operation Barbarossa

Tanks (incl assault guns) 15,687

However operationbarbarossa.net says

As a case in point let us examine the Red Army’s tank park in June 1941. On 22nd June 1941 the Soviets had 23 295 tanks in service (including non-operational tanks in various states of repair in rear areas).

And

of the rather incredible 20 500 tanks lost by the Soviets in 1941, the large majority were destroyed by PaK 36s

That means to loose that many tanks you have to have these in the first place.

They list references at the bottom, but i have not been able to verify those.

(5) T. Bean, W. Fowler, Russian Tanks of WWII-Stalin’s Armoured Might, Ian Allan Publishing, London, 2002, appendix, p170. Also, S. J. Zaloga, L.S. Ness, Red Army Handbook 1939-1945, Sutton Publishing, Stroud, UK, 1998, p. 181, table 6.3. 20 500 Soviet tanks lost vs. 2 758 German tanks lost in 1941.

  • "The Soviet Union ... on 1 June 1941 before it entered the war". Soviets entered the war on 17 September 1939. As allies of nazis. – vartec Jan 30 '13 at 11:15
  • 3
    @vartec That is incorrect. Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact Quote: The Pact assured a non-involvement of the Soviet Union in a European War, as well as separating Germany and Japan from forming a military alliance, thus allowing Stalin to concentrate on Japan in the battles of Khalkhin Gol (Nomonhan). The pact remained in effect until 22 June 1941, when Germany invaded the Soviet Union. – Stefan Jan 30 '13 at 13:12
  • "the Soviet Union invaded the portions of eastern Poland assigned to it by the Pact, followed by co-ordination with German forces in Poland" – vartec Jan 30 '13 at 13:20
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    @vartec it is still not a formal alliance. It may be nitpicking, but formally it was a non-involvement pact that included trade agreements. Neither side was planning on sticking to its part anyway. See Summer deterioration of relations – Stefan Jan 30 '13 at 13:30
  • part of the reason for the different numbers is that different authors/researchers count different things. Got to keep that into account (some may not count training vehicles for examples, or those in long term storage). – jwenting Sep 18 '13 at 3:23
-1

In this recording of Hitler [translated transcript] he says that the Soviets had 35,000 tanks at the time Germany invaded Russia.

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