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Top level operative formation created for accomplishing concrete operational objective, usually in group with other fronts in strategic, large scale operations. For example, four fronts were engaged in Bagration. A front alone could be used only in the tactical operations. In many cases the fronts were set for the specific operation and dismantled after that. The list of armies assigned to the specific front varied in course of war and depended on the objectives. In the end of the war a front included 5-9 armies (70+ divisions), 3 tank armies, 2 air armies and 5 independent tank corps. In The Battle for Berlin a front engaged 800,000 men, 12,000 guns, 3,600 tanks and SAU, 3,000 aircraft.
Click to see a table with listing of fronts. Excel97 format.
Another top level formation. Could include absolutely everything, practically a construction set. Take [obtschevoiskovaya or All Arms] general purpose army, add a tank corps ( tank armies were mobile unit of the front) better two, mixed in heavy guns units from the Reserve of the Supreme Command (RGK) plus Katjusha units plus assault units plus independent units. The result would be an army, the strike power of which was operationally multiplied. Some armies were called the Shock Armies from the date of creation.
The power of army varied in course of the war from the army, which could barely defend itself, to the gate crushers.
The creative approach might be illustrated by the example of the 7th Army during the Finnish/Winter war. The power of this army equaled all other engaged armies taken together.
All Arms Army and Shock Army should not be confused with a Tank Army, which, while being a mobile group at the disposal of front, was tasked to enter breakthrough in the sector of the specific All Arms Army in the advance operations/alternatively, close the gap at the enemy's breakthrough.
The most known clash between tank armies performing the opposite tasks is Prokhorovka.
The special equipment was collected in the independent (sometimes referred to as separate) units at the disposal of front commander or in the Reserve of the Supreme Command (RGK). That allowed to move them quickly where needed to be used more effectively. Although polar in tasks, independent regiments of heavy tanks (regiments of breakthrough) formed from IS-2's, were much alike to their German counterparts.
The independent/separate units had close similarity to the, for example, heavy battalions of Tigers.
Units of heavy guns, Katjushas, minesweeper tank regiments, assault units, etc. could be attached to any army for accomplishing specific task and/or adding punch to the storm armies.
The units were to have stronger structure of supplying and repair facilities as they could not rely on, say, facilities of the division.
The independent units could be assigned formally to any Army.
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