In this video I will cover several Infantry Division Layouts from World War II. Although certain parts of the content is tailored for Hearts of Iron players most of the information is military history, only the initial remarks are mostly Hearts of Iron and methodology specific, so just skip ahead on click on the annotation on the screen.
Hearts of Iron IV
Be aware though that these layouts are aimed at being as historical as possible within the Hearts of Iron division builder, thus I am not sure how well they work in HOI 4. This is first and foremost a military history channel, thus I am mainly here for the historical flavor, the German accent and not to support your ambitions in conquering the world, at least for now.
I won’t use the division builder, since I generally try to avoid any copyrighted material and it would actually make everything more complicated and time-consuming. Yet, you will get in one shot the proposed HOI 4 setup and the historical setup together, so you can basically copy it and also learn a bit about the real units too. On the homepage, you can find the proper high resolution screenshots of these layouts see the link on screen and in the description.
Methodology & Accuracy
Some words about methodology and accuracy, if you want to discuss these layout listen to this section very carefully and if you can’t wait for the layouts, you might skip ahead by clicking the button on screen.
Well, figuring out the correct layouts can be quite complicated. Here are a few reason why. You need to be aware that some divisions – especially tank divisions – changed quite considerably throughout the war, thus I usually provide a date for each layout. Another major pitfall is the naming, what one country called a regiment was sometimes something different in another, thus this it was not as straightforward as it seems. Also there were even quite some difference within each country, e.g., a German tank division in 1939 had way more tanks than in 1941, or an US Army Battalion in 1942 was usually larger than an US Army Battalion after the reorganization of September 1943, well, except for two divisions of sixteen armored divisions.
Hence my approach was as follows, it consisted of looking at the data in hearts of Iron, checking the historical division layouts then compare these information to equipment and manpower tables to see if the numbers match for different units.
This process revealed quite some interesting information about hearts of Iron too. First I looked at the data of Hearts of Iron, namely how many manpower and equipment each unit had. This confirmed my assumption that the so called support companies are more like support battalions, only the three smallest ones the engineer, AA and artillery company have 300 men, the others have 400 or even 500 men. Whereas companies were usually around 100 to 200 men. Furthermore, the number of artillery guns for an artillery battalion in game is 36, whereas in real life this was the number of three battalions at least for the German and US Army Infantry division. I don’t know if this is an error on behalf of paradox or if an artillery battalion in game actually should represent a regiment or maybe it is for gameplay balancing reasons. For this video I assume that an artillery battalion in game, is also an artillery battalion historically, if this is not the case, just divide the number of proposed artillery battalions by 3 and you should be fine.
The second step was to look at the organization of these units and the third step was to look at the number of equipment tables and compare if it matches the organization, because the organization can sometimes be misleading. As an example. although an US Army infantry division didn’t have a dedicated anti-tank battalion like a German infantry division, but it had 57 anti-tank guns whereas the German division had only a few more with 75, but some these were also part of the recon battalion, so one might argue that the US Army Infantry division should have a dedicated anti-tank unit in-game if the German Infantry division has one or both should have none.
As you can see it is a bit complicated, thus, take all the following information with a grain of salt, because I had to use a wide variety of sources of different quality and level of detail, which is problematic in itself, but additionally the chances for errors increases due the variety and amount of data. To balance this, I usually added a short explanation why or why not I went with the proposed setup and provide the basic data for my reasoning.
German Infantry Division 1940
So, let’s get started, the Allied Grand Strategy in World War II was “Germany First” and it worked out, so let’s begin with a German Infantry Division from 1940.
It consisted of an Engineer Battalion, an Anti-Tank Battalion, a Recon battalion, an artillery regiment, which consisted of a heavy artillery battalion and 3 artillery battalions, additionally a signal battalion and finally 3 infantry regiments each with 3 infantry battalions. Now the division didn’t have a dedicated medical battalion, but it had 2 medical companies, a field hospital and two medical transport columns with almost 700 men in total, thus I would say this qualifies as a medical battalion. Additionally, it also had maintenance and logistics units attached. So this unit was very well equipped, the only unit type it definitely didn’t possess was an anti-aircraft unit, the division used solely heavy machine guns for anti-air defense. Now, the German infantry division had almost 17 000 men, whereas most other divisions have less than 15 000 men, thus my proposed HOI setup would be as follows:
For support units, an engineer, anti-tank, recon, signal and medical unit. The regular 3 times 3 infantry battalions should get an addition of 2 battalions due to the large amount of men in the division and finally 4 artillery battalions.
Note that for all divisions the non-combat units: logistics, medical and maintenance are the most debatable, because in my sources this information is often not included or limited. Furthermore, their functions sometimes were performed by non-divisional units in several armies.
Source: Buchner, Alex: The German Infantry Handbook 1939-1945 (amazon.com affiliate link)
Soviet Rifle Division 1941
I hope you have your Hammer and Sickle ready, next is a Soviet Rifle Division from April 1941.
It consisted of an a signal battalion, a medical battalion, a supply battalion, an Anti-tank Battalion, an anti-aircraft battalion, a Light Artillery Regiment with 2 battalions, a sapper battalion, one Howitzer Regiment with 2 battalions and 1 heavy battalion, a recon battalion and 3 infantry regiments with 3 battalions each. Yeah, this one seems to tick off all boxes. Yet, in total the division had only around 14500 (14454) men.
But let’s take a closer look at the data, now the number of five artillery battalions sound impressive and the firepower is also clearly more than that of the US and German unit. The number of heavy artillery above 150mm is the same, yet whereas the US and German units use 105 mm guns, the Soviets used 122mm howitzers although 4 less, but additionally they had several 76mm howitzers and cannons, which means that the firepower in artillery at least equal if not greater than the German division. Furthermore, the total number of 54 anti-tank guns is lower than the German division, but similar to the US setup.
Based on this data my proposed HOI setup is as follows:
For support units, an engineer, medical, recon, signal and logistical unit. Then the regular 3 times 3 infantry battalions, to these add one anti-tank and one anti-aircraft battalion. Finally, definitely 4 if not 5 artillery battalions.
Source: Sharp, Charles: Soviet Order of Battle World War II – Volume VIII
US Army Infantry Division 1943
Time for a little bit of freedom, so let’s look at the US Army Infantry division layout from July 1943. It consisted of a Medical Battalion, an Engineer battalion, a divisional artillery unit with a heavy artillery battalion and three artillery battalions. And finally 3 infantry regiments each with 3 infantry battalions. In total this division had around 13000 men.
Now, here is the problem the US Army division had a recon unit, a signal company, a quartermaster company and a maintenance company, but all these units had less than 200 men unlike the German units before. Yet, looking at the data I realized that the division in total had 57 anti-tank guns, which was just short of the 75 from the German division that had some in deployed in their recon battalion, hence my proposed HOI setup is as follows:
For support units, an engineer, an optional anti-tank and a field hospital unit. Then the regular 3 times 3 infantry battalions and finally 4 artillery battalions. Now, the German recon unit consisted to large part of cavalry and only a few armored cars, whereas the US unit had halftracks and 13 armored M8 cars, thus only could also argue that a recon unit could be added as an additional support unit.
Source: Stanton, Shelby: Order of Battle of the US Army in World War II
British Infantry Division 1939
Next up something for those people that love tea, the British Infantry Division in 1939 of the British Expeditionary Force. Now the British unit names were a bit different, they used the names Brigades and Regiments, although those units were usually had the manpower of Regiments and Battalions, I will use the original names, but symbols that are closing in representing their actual strength.
The division consisted of a Division Cavalry Regiment that was mechanized, an Engineer Battalion, a Divisional Artillery Unit that consisted of 3 field artillery regiments and one anti-tank regiment, furthermore a Supply Unit and a medical unit. And finally 3 infantry Brigades each with 3 infantry battalions. In total the division had a bit short of 14000 men.
Based on this information my proposed HOI 4 setup would be:
For support units, an engineer, a medical, a recon, an anti-tank and a logistics unit. Now, although the number of anti-tank guns was only 48, the unit had a large amount of anti-tank rifles and the French provided anti-tank guns for the British divisions, thus an anti-tank unit seem justified. Then the regular 3 times 3 infantry battalions and finally 3 or maybe 4 artillery battalions, because the British division fielded 72 field guns of the 18 and/or 25 pounder type. Furthermore, the unit was quite well motorized and even mechanized with 140 Bren carriers, thus one actually could replace the regular infantry with motorized or mechanized infantry.
Source: Nafziger (Note: that it lists 147 pieces of the 25mm anti-tank gun, a number that seems completely off and likely is, because it was a French anti-tank gun and I doubt they received so many of them.)
Japanese Infantry Division 1940 Standard B
Now the war situation may not necessarily develop to your advantage, nevertheless let’s look at the Japanese Infantry division Standard B around 1940, note that these division varied to a certain degree.
It consisted of an engineer regiment, a transport regiment, a recon or cavalry regiment, Division medical services, a field artillery regiment with 3 field artillery battalions and three infantry regiments with 3 battalions. Note that these artillery battalions were equipped with 75mm guns, thus having far less firepower than all other nations. Yet, these divisions had a very high amount of manpower, depending on the setup between 18000 to 21000 men, thus even outnumbering the German division by far.
Based on this data my proposed HOI setup is as follows:
For support units, an engineer, a medical, a recon and a logistical unit. The regular 3 times 3 infantry battalions should get probably an additional 6 battalions. Finally, I think one artillery battalion or at most 2 battalions considering the rather weak firepower of the 75mm howitzer in contrast to the equipment of other nations.
Source: Rottmann, Gordon: Japanese Army in World War II – Conquest of the Pacific 1941-1942
Italian Infantry Division 1940
Everyone loves Pizza, but I only can offer you one slice, time to look at the Italian Infantry division of 1940.
It consisted of an engineer battalion, a legion of fascist militia that consisted of two battalions, a regiment of artillery with light gun battalion, a light howitzer battalion and a regular howitzer battalion, finally two infantry regiments, which consisted of three battalions each. Yes, only two infantry regiments, this was the so called binary division layout the Italians used. It also had an anti-tank company, but in total just 24 anti-tank guns. In total this division had 13000 men. (In terms of artillery it had 12 guns with 100mm and 24 with 75mm.)
Now, my sources on this one are a bit varied, I have good German source with the overall numbers and high-level organization, but for more detailed information I rely on the Handbook on the Italian Military Forces from 1943, which was created by the US Military Intelligence during the war, so it might not be 100 % accurate, but so far these handbooks are usually quite reliable in terms of unit organizations.
Based on this information my proposed HOI 4 setup would be:
For support units, an engineer unit and with three eyes closed an anti-tank unit. For infantry, we use the 2 times 3 infantry battalions and add an additional 2 battalions, but maybe a third or even fourth, because the total number of men is similar to that of an US Army infantry division, which had way more support units. Finally, I think one or maybe two artillery battalions, because in total there were 24 guns with 75mm and 12 howitzers with 100mm present.
Source: Schreiber, Gerhard: S.56-62, in Deutsche Reich und der Zweite Weltkrieg, Band 3; Germany and the Second World War – Volume 3: The Mediterranean, South-East Europe, and North Africa 1939–1942 (amazon.com affiliate link)
Soruce: Handbook on the Italian Military Forces, August 1943, Military Intelligence Service – TME 30-420
French Infantry Division 1940
Well, after some Pizza, who doesn’t want to enjoy a baguette? So, let’s look at a French Infantry division of 1940:
It consisted of a recon group, a field gun regiment with 3 battalions, a howitzer regiment with one heavy howitzer battalion and a regular one, 3 infantry regiments with 3 battalions each. Additionally, there were several anti-tank companies with a total of 58 anti-tank guns and 2 engineer companies, which were originally organized in a battalion but reorganized in 1939.
In total the division had around 17 500 men. But note that in this case my sources are quite sparse and of limited quality.
Hence my proposed HOI 4 layout is as follows:
For support units, an engineer unit, an anti-tank unit and a recon unit. The regular 3 times 3 infantry battalions should get an additional 3 battalions, because the division has more men than the German division and also less support units. For the artillery battalions, I think three are in order, because it had 36 field guns with 75mm, 12 howitzers with 105mm and 12 howitzer with 155mm.
Source: Sumner, Ian; et. al: The French Army: 1939-45
Polish Infantry Division 1939
So, in case you want to go into space, here is the Polish infantry division organization for 1939. In this case my data is way more limited than with the previous divisions, especially in terms of the support units, so keep a bit more salt ready.
The division consisted an Engineer Battalion, a light artillery regiment consisting of two light artillery battalions and one regular artillery battalion. Yet, it also had a small detachment with bigger guns, but overall it couldn’t compete with the US or German division in this regard. And as usually it had 3 infantry regiments each with 3 infantry battalions. It had several medical units, but I have no numbers, nevertheless I assume it would be sufficient for a medical battalion. Similar to the German division the Polish division has more than other countries with around 16 500 men.
The division had quite many companies attached, like several anti-tank, a bicycle, an MG, and a cavalry company. Thus, one could argue that these units qualify together as a recon and/or anti-tank unit, although the total number of anti-tank guns was only 27 guns, which is less than half of the US Infantry division anti-tank guns. Based on that data my proposed HOI setup is as follows:
For support units, an engineer, a medical, maybe a recon and with two eyes closed an anti-tank unit. The regular 3 times 3 infantry battalions should get two additional battalions, 2 artillery battalions and maybe a third artillery battalion.
Ellis, Johen World War II – A Statistical Survey – The Essential Facts & Figures for All the Combatants, Edition: 1995 reprinted with corrections
Romanian Infantry Division 1941
And the last division layout for this video, the setup of the Romanian Infantry Division of 1941.
It consisted of a recon battalion, an engineer battalion, a field artillery regiment with 2 light battalions and a regular battalion, an artillery regiment with a light field artillery battalion and regular battalion and 3 infantry regiments with 3 infantry battalions each.
Additionally, it had an anti-tank and anti-aircraft company, furthermore each of the regiments had an anti-tank company, but these units were usually not sufficiently equipped. In total it would be around 30 anti-tank guns. About the signal and medical units, my source for the layout on the Romanian units is good, but it doesn’t include any non-combat units. Yet, since the author notes that the communication and many equipment was quite poor, one can assume that there was no state-of-the art signal unit present and the medical services were probably lacking. The division in total was a bit short of 17 000 men, thus it is quite a large force, especially considering the low numbers of additional units. (Source: Axworthy, Mark: Third Axis, Fourth Ally: Romanian Armed Forces in the European War, 1941-1945, p. 39-42)
Based on this information my proposed HOI 4 setup would be:
For support units, an engineer, a recon and with two eyes closed an anti-tank unit. The regular 3 times 3 infantry battalions should get probably an additional 3 battalions. Finally, I think two artillery battalions, because in total there were 36 field guns with 75mm and 16 howitzers with 100mm present.
Source: Axworthy, Mark: Third Axis, Fourth Ally: Romanian Armed Forces in the European War, 1941-1945
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