Russian Military Mapping A Guide to Using the Most Comprehensive Source of Global Geospatial Intelligence

Pages: 188
Publication Year: 2005
  • $295.00
ISBN: 0974297313
  • $195.00
ISBN: 9781879944503

A comprehensive overview of Russian military topographic maps and related publications. Russian Military Mapping is the English-language translation of the current edition of a basic manual used in the Russian armed forces to introduce Russian officers to topographic and other special maps. This book is a major contribution to the literature of understanding and interpreting Russian (or Soviet) topographic maps.

This manual contains material systematized into the following major sections: general information on the Earth’s atmosphere, weather and climate, winds, and concepts of time; basic data on topographic and special maps; description of terrain types and their tactical properties, and procedures for maintaining the commander’s working maps.

The appendices contain several types of reference data, sample topographic and special maps, tables of symbols used for topographic maps, and some conventional designations and abbreviation used in combat documents.

Publisher's Foreword

Preface to Russian Edition

Chapter 1. Parts of the Geographic Environment

1.1.    The Earth's Atmosphere
1.2.    Weather and Climate
1.3.    Winds
1.4.    Time
1.5.    Length of the Day

Chapter 2. Topographic and Special Maps

2.1.    General Information on Topographic Maps
2.2.    Map Gridding and Nomenclature
2.3.    Numerical and Linear Scales of a Map
2.4.    Geographic Coordinates on a Map
2.5.    Rectangular Coordinate Grids on Topographic Maps
2.6.    Depiction of Relief on Topographic Maps
2.7.    The Earth's Magnetic Field. Magnetic Deviation and Convergence of Meridians
2.8.    Symbols Used on Topographic Maps
2.9.    1:25,000 to 1:1,000,000 Topographic Maps
2.10.    Special Maps
2.11.    The Commander's Working Map
2.12.    Tactical Symbols
2.13.    Meteorological Elements
2.14.    Assessing Terrain as an Element of the Battlefield Environment
2.15.    Terrain Orientation and Targeting


1. Reference Data

2. Sample Topographic and Special Maps
2.1.    1:25,000 Topographic Map
2.2.    1:50,000 Topographic Map
2.3.    1:100,000 Topographic Map
2.4.    1:200,000 Topographic Map
2.5.    1:500,000 Topographic Map
2.6.    1:1,000,000 Topographic Map
2.7.    1:10,000 City Plan
2.8.    1:25,000 City Plan
2.9.    Geographic Survey Map
2.10.    Aeronautical Chart
2.11.    Marine Chart
2.12.    1:100,000 Terrain Variation Map (Operationally Corrected)
2.13.    1:100,000 Geodetic Data Map
2.14.    1:25,000 River Segment Map
2.15.    1:100,000 Mountain Pass and Passage Map
2.16.    1:100,000 Water Source Map
2.17.    Aerial Photograph with Coordinate Grid
2.18.    Photomontage
2.19.    Photographic Plan
2.20.    Photomap

3. Symbols for Topographic and Special Maps
3.1.    Symbols for 1:25,000-1:200,000 Topographic Maps
3.2.    Symbols and Characteristics of Labeled Features on 1:200,000 Maps
3.3.    Symbols for 1:500,000 and 1:1,000,000 Topographic Maps
3.4.    Symbols for Terrain Variation Maps
3.5.    Symbols for Geodetic Data Maps
3.6.    Symbols for River Segment Maps
3.7.    Symbols for Mountain Pass and Passage Maps
3.8.    Symbols for Water Source Maps

4. Abbreviations for Labels on Topographic Maps

5. Some Objectives That Can Be Achieved Using Topographic Maps
5.1.    Angles, Headings, and Their Relationship on the Map
5.2.    Determination of Magnetic and Grid Azimuths
5.3.    Determination of Rectangular Coordinates
5.4.    Determination of Geographic Coordinates
5.5.    Determination of Absolute and Relative Elevations of Terrain Points
5.6.    Construction of Visibility Charts and Determination of Intervisibility
5.7.    Determination of Invisibility Fields
5.8.    Determination of Steepness of Slope

6. Some Symbols Used in Combat Documents

7. Meteorologic Symbols

8. Some Abbreviations Used in Combat Documents

9. Alphabetic Subject Index


By Boris Michev, Maps & Geospatial Information Librarian, Cornell University, published in The Globe, Number 65, 2010, p. 46.

After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, a large number of Soviet topographic maps found their way to various markets in the West. As a result, many libraries and map collectors own copies that are both valuable and hard to use. Valuable because they are the main if not the only topographic maps available for some countries, and hard to use because of the enormous amount of symbols which are difficult to identify and interpret. Therefore, the initiative of East View Cartographic to translate the Russian Army cartographic manual is both timely and welcome.

Published in 2003 in Russian as an updated edition of a topographic and special maps manual for officers and for students at Russian and Soviet military educational institutions, this work represents a major contribution to the understanding and interpretation of Russian topographic maps. Most of these maps have only recently been declassified and making the manual available in English will undoubtedly facilitate further research into Russian military cartography.

The manual is organized in four sections: general information on the Earth’s atmosphere, weather and climate; basic data on topographic and special maps; description of terrain types and their properties with an assessment of battleground pros and cons; and procedures for maintaining the maps. The short Chapter 1: Parts of the Geographic Environment contains very basic information and is clearly aimed at novices—there are basic definitions of geographic concepts, climate and weather phenomena, and time that seem at junior high school level. Chapter 2 Topographic and Special Maps is a more comprehensive overview of cartography concepts and various types of maps. The real value of the manual, lies, however, in its appendices.

There are nine appendices: reference data, sample topographic and special maps, symbols for topographic and special maps, label abbreviations for topographic maps, usage of topographic maps, symbols in combat documents, meteorological symbols, abbreviations in combat documents, and an alphabetical subject index. Perhaps the most interesting one is Appendix 2, Sample Topographic and Special Maps, which includes topographic maps and city plans in various scales, geographic survey maps, an aeronautical chart, a marine chart, a terrain variation map, a geodetic data map, a river segment map, a mountain pass and passage map, a water source map, an aerial photograph with coordinate grid, a photomontage, a photographic plan and a photomap. The issue with complete comprehension of course is the fact that all notations are in Russian with no transliteration or translation provided. For abbreviations one can use Appendix 4, assuming some basic knowledge of the Cyrillic alphabet, where it becomes clear that Бет. is Concrete (dam material) and бет. is Concrete plant.

Appendix 2 captures another major issue with the manual, as well. For those interested in Russian cartography itself, it serves as nothing more than a teaser—there are sample maps, indeed, but it is not clear of what they are samples. Further, the manual is billed as “a guide to using the most comprehensive source of global geospatial intelligence,” yet none of the identifiable maps is ‘global.’

For those interested in being able to read Russian topographic and special maps, the manual presents its most valuable information in the Appendices devoted to the symbols and abbreviations, especially those used in combat documents. It is these that make investing in building Russian military map collections a worthwhile proposition.