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105th Guards Seoul Armored Division named after Ryu Kyung Soo

Originally organized as a tank battalion in October 1948, it was expanded to a regiment in May 1949 and to a brigade in early 1950, and was reported as a division despite its small strength in late 1950. The unit was initially organized with sixty T-34 tanks. As a brigade, the 105th was involved in the initial attacks on the South Korea on June 25, 1950. The attack was along the Uijongbu Corridor against the ROK 7th Division. Though the unit was considered a Brigade for sometime, its being composed of three armored regiments (with 40 T-34s each), a mechanized infantry regiment, a SU-76 regiment and a training regiment gave it the strength of a division.

During the late 1950s the 105th Tank Division, which was the KPA's primary Korean War tank unit, was only a division in name being the size of a regiment or brigade. It apparently provided a cadre for the establishment of other tank units. It appears that during the early to mid 1960s the KPA did reconstitute the 105th as a tank division and possibly established a second tank division [by the early 1970s a second tank division was confirmed by US Intelligence and was located in the Koksan region]. >The division was created in October 1948 as the "105th Armored Battalion" and increased to regimental strength in May 1949. In 1948, in Sadong, with the participation of the Soviet occupation forces, the 15th training tank regiment was formed, which was stationed in the suburbs of Pyongyang. In this unit there were only two T-34-85s, about 30 Soviet tank officers trained the Koreans. The regiment was commanded by Colonel Yu Kyong Soo, who previously served as a lieutenant in the Red Army during World War II, and later, already in North Korea, commanded the 4th Infantry Regiment. The appointment of this person to such a responsible position is due to the fact that Kyong Soo was a relative of Kim Il Sung.

In May 1949, the 15th Tank Training Regiment was disbanded, and the cadets became officers of the new 105th Tank Brigade. This part of Kim Il Sung intended to deliver the main attack on South Korea, so they did not spare either strength or funds to prepare the brigade. The 105th brigade consisted of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd tank regiments, which later received numbers: 107th, 109th and 203rd, respectively. By October 1949, the brigade was fully equipped with T-34-85 tanks. The brigade also included the 206th Motorized Infantry Regiment. The 308th armored battalion, consisting of six SU-76M self-propelled guns, supported the infantry. The brigade spent the entire spring of 1950 in intensive exercises.

By June 1950, the 105th Armored Regiment had become the 105th Armored Brigade of 6,000 men and 120 tanks. -34 tanks . His equipment - tanks, weapons and equipment - are of Soviet production. The brigade consisted of three tank regiments - 107th, 109th and 203rd, as well as the 206th motorized rifle regiment. The 83rd Motorized Regiment was also part of the division during the Korean War. Each tank regiment had three medium tank divisions of 13 tanks each. Each tank battalion had three tank companies, four tanks per company. The tankers consisted of five people. The commanders of battalions, regiments and divisions each had a personal tank. The motorized rifle regiment numbered about 2,500 people. In the SU-76, tanks were also equipped with four-man tankers.

During the first month of the war, the DPRK troops advanced nearly 200 kilometers to the south, but by mid-July 1950 it became clear that the North Korean blitzkrieg was stalled. The losses of the 105th Panzer Division of the Korean People's Army were growing, and in August its crews had to face off in battle with American tankers.

After the fall of Daejeon, the troops of the Korean People's Army (KPA) were still about 200 kilometers away from complete victory: it remained to take Daegu and hoist the DPRK flag over Busan, a strategically important port on the southeastern tip of the Korean Peninsula. Setting such a task, however, was much easier than completing it. The enemy command was building up its forces almost every day due to the transfer of more and more American units to South Korea, but the main problem was the absolute air supremacy of the US Air Force.

In the 105th KPA Panzer Division, aviation did not knock out so many combat vehicles, but the situation with vehicles was very bad. So, by the beginning of the war, the logistics company of the 107th Tank Regiment did not have time to receive all the 43 trucks assigned to it by the state, and by June 29 there were only four of them - the rest were destroyed in an air raid near Uijonbu. From the end of June, the logistics personnel had to be content with vehicles captured from the enemy, carts mobilized for the needs of the army and foot porters from the local population.

The wear and tear of military equipment began to affect, minor breakdowns began to appear, and the crews were also not cast in metal and needed a respite. As a result, on July 23, 1950, something happened that had not happened from the very beginning of the conflict - the Americans managed to repel the attack of North Korean tanks, while maintaining their position. The vanguard of the 105th Division, pursuing American units that were retreating from Daejeon, tried to break through the 8th Cavalry Regiment's screen northwest of Yondon, but three T-34s were hit by Superbazuk fire.

The tanks had to be withdrawn, and the 3rd KPA Infantry Division was instructed to take Yondon - even the counterattacks of the American light tanks M24 "Chaffee" did not force the North Korean command to re-engage parts of the 105th division. The crews of "thirty-fours" again went into battle on the night of July 26 - and again the Americans managed to push back the attackers. History repeated itself on July 31 near Geumcheon, when North Korean tanks deployed to attack the positions of the 7th US Cavalry Regiment came under an air attack in open terrain. 13 vehicles were damaged of varying severity, and six were burned down.

The rain of awards that poured down on the division in late July and early August helped to restore the morale of the personnel. On July 27, the 105th Panzer, 3rd and 4th Infantry Seoul Divisions became Guards. In August, by a decree of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly, Divisional Commander Ryu Kyung-su, who became Lieutenant General, was awarded the title of Hero of the DPRK, and many officers and crew members were awarded orders.

By the beginning of August, the situation became close to critical. In the first five weeks of fighting, losses in tanks and self-propelled guns exceeded 50% - according to the testimony of captured North Korean tankers , only about 40 T-34-85 remained on the move. The rest were either destroyed or, for the most part, out of order and required repair, but there was no supply of spare parts from the very beginning of the war. The cannibalization of equipment began, but this did not always save: so, according to the estimates of the senior technician-lieutenant Li Jong-jin of the 107th tank regiment, only two tanks out of every 10 were in order.

On the night of August 8, under the cover of fire from tanks pushed to the shore, the North Korean infantry crossed Naktong in two sectors north of the city of Wegwan. The sappers quickly set up the ferry, the flooring of which was below the water level - so that it would not be broken by American aircraft during the day. Part of the tanks of the 105th division crossed to the left bank and dispersed in the wooded hills near the town of Tabudon, and for the thirty-fours they were tearing off shelters, and everything was masked by pine branches. On August 15, the division received a long-awaited replenishment - from the 208th training tank regiment in Sadong, 21 T-34-85s arrived. The training of newly arrived tankers, however, turned out to be questionable: in many cases it took less than a month, and, for example, radio operators did not know how to maintain stable communication, and the crew commanders did not know the volume of their tanks' fuel tanks and fuel consumption.

By the end of August, the Americans concentrated significant forces on the Busan bridgehead - there were about 600 tanks with 90-mm and 76-mm guns alone. According to American data, this was a fivefold superiority, according to Soviet data, tenfold. Nevertheless, the command of the KPA decided to attack. On the evening of August 31, North Korean troops crossed Naktong again and over the next eight days were able to advance eastward at a distance of 5 to 15 kilometers.

Infantry units this time were assigned to the newly formed 16th and 17th tank brigades, each of which had approximately 40 T-34-85s. The 105th Panzer Division did not participate in the September battles, being in the command reserve at Kumcheon. By this time, the 107th regiment consisted of 14 tanks, the 203rd - nine, according to the 109th there is no data, but there, apparently, there were about 10 of them.

During June-September 1950, the North Korean tactics of using tanks underwent significant changes, primarily due to the appearance in the theater of military operations of new types of weapons, American ground forces and the US Air Force. So, if at the beginning of the war, "thirty-four" played the role of a battering ram, guaranteed to break into the enemy's defenses, then after a month they were most often assigned the function of fire support for the infantry. Somewhere from mid-July, tanks moved mainly at night or in bad weather, and deviations from this rule most often resulted in losses.

During October 1950, the 105th division was actually re-formed in the north of the DPRK, having received replenishment with personnel and military equipment, but there was no longer the same quality of crews or the number of tanks. In terms of the number of thirty-fours, the division was equal to the pre-war regiment, and, apparently, in late October - early November, a large number of Chinese tankers were poured into the divisions.

The division was again thrown into battle on November 6 to repel the offensive of the Americans and South Koreans in the zone of operation of the 1st KPA Army Group and Chinese People's Volunteers. Within a few days, the 105th suffered heavy losses and was withdrawn deep into the rear to the territory of Manchuria for reorganization.

After that, neither North Korean nor Chinese tanks were ever used in groups of more than 3-4 vehicles until the very end of the war. The 105th division was reorganized into a mechanized division and during 1951 several times allocated personnel and equipment, which allowed the KPA command to form four brigades and one mechanized division. By 1952, there was almost no one left in the 105th division who started the war as part of it.

Lieutenant General Ryu Kyung-soo back in August 1950, when the division was withdrawn to the front reserve near Geumcheon, took command of the 3rd KPA Infantry Division, and in January 1951 was appointed commander of the 3rd Army. After the war, he became a member of the Central Committee of the Korean Workers' Party, held high command positions in the Armed Forces of the DPRK and, according to the official version, died on November 19, 1958 from a brain disease.

On May 23, 2001, the 105th Guards Armored Seoul Division was named Ryu Kyung-soo. Currently, the division is equipped with the Cheonmaho-216 and Songun-915 tanks, which are produced at the Ryu Kyung-su tank plant located in Xingheung.

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Page last modified: 30-06-2021 11:42:31 ZULU