Breast badge “For Excellent Tank Weapons Fire” was instituted by the Order of the People’s Commissar for Defense of the USSR No.2 of January 03, 1936 and was aimed at moral incentive and improvement of fighting spirit of Soviet tank crew members.
Design and statute of the badge were approved by the head of the People’s Commissariat of Defense Kliment Voroshilov on July 25, 1935 followed by endorsement on September 01, 1935 by the Commission under Presidium of the Central Executive Committee of the USSR, the highest governing body of the Soviet Union in the interim of the sessions of the Congress of Soviets.
The badge was issued to soldiers and officers who served with armored units of the Workers’ and Peasants’ Red Army (RKKA), showed superb tank weapons (gun and machine gun) fire theoretical knowledge and excellently completed all the preparatory and test tasks within the scope of corresponding courses in presence of a certification committee. They also had to demonstrate excellent knowledge and preservation of tank weapons and perfect fail-safety. Excellent performance in training and exemplary discipline of tankman were indispensable conditions for presentation of the badge.
Decoration with the badge “For Excellent Tank Weapons Fire” was performed by the Order of the head of the Armored Fighting Vehicles Department (AFVD) of RKKA upon nomination of unit commanding officers conveyed through heads of Armored Fighting Vehicles troops of corresponding military districts.
Initially AFVD was created on November 03, 1929 by Decree of the Revolutionary Military Council, the supreme military authority of the USSR, as Mechanization and Motorization Department of RKKA from the cadre of three subdivisions: Motor unit of Military-Technical Department of RKKA, Mechanical Traction unit of Artillery Department of RKKA and Inspection of Armored Troops. In accordance with the Order of Revolutionary Military Council No.615 of November 18, 1929, head of AFVD was simultaneously put in charge of mechanized troops of RKKA and reported to People’s Commissar for Military and Naval Affairs of the USSR. According to the Order of the People’s Commissariat of Defense No.0128 of June 26, 1940, AFVD of RKKA was renamed Chief Armored Fighting Vehicles Department (CAFVD) of RKKA. Twelve years later, classified Decree of the State Defense Committee No.GOKO-2589s dissolved CAFVD and reorganized it into two new departments: Chief Department of Formation and Combat Training of Armored and Mechanized Troops of the Red Army and Chief Armored Department of the Red Army.
During its twelve-years existence AFVD (CAFVD) of RKKA was headed by the following high-ranking Soviet military commanders:
- Komandarm (abbreviated from “Commander of the Army”) of the second rank (a Lieutenant General or full General equivalent) Innokentiy Halepskij (November 1929 – April 1936);
- Komdiv (abbreviated from “Division commander”, a Major General equivalent) Gustav Bokis (April 1936 – June 1937);
- Komcor (abbreviated from “Commander of the Corps”, a Lieutenant General equivalent) Dmitry Pavlov (November 1937 – June 1940);
- Lieutenant General of Armored Troops Yakov Fedorenko (June 1940 – December 1942).
Awardee could be deprived of the badge in case of negligent performance and care, malpractice in use of the tank weaponry and accidents that occurred through his fault. In such cases the badge together with an award certificate were taken away from its holder and were to be kept at the unit headquarters.
Breast badge “For Excellent Tank Weapons Fire” had a shape of the red enameled five-point star with two elongated lower arms. Each arm bore divergent rays and was had thin brass edge. Lower part of the badge showed white enameled round shooting target with black enameled bull’s eye bordered with a wide red enameled rim. The latter bore an inscription “For Excellent Fire” (“За отличную стрельбу”) executed in capital gilt letters. An emblem showing stylized light infantry single-turreted tank Т-26 facing right and crossing natural obstacle at an angle of eighteen degrees was superimposed on the upper part of the badge just above the target and was fixed by two rivets or prongs, depending on a manufacturer.
Reverse of the badge was either flat or had counter-relief. Decorations bore serial numbers engraved with burin at reverses.
The badge was manufactured of Tombac and hot enamel of three colours: red, white and black.
Breast badge “For Excellent Tank Weapons Fire” measuring 45x34 mm was worn on the left side of the breast and was attached to the tunic with screw soldered to the reverse and round nut.
The badge was presented together with hard cover award certificate signed by the head of AFVD (CAFVD) of RKKA.
Badges were manufactured and awarded in 1936-1941. Decorations discontinued in 1941 as the Great Patriotic War began.