Yakov N. Fedorenko was born 22 November 1896 in Tsareborisovo, near Moscow, the son of a longshoreman.
Highest rank achieved: Marshal of Tank Troops, 1944
Fedorenko joined the Red Army in 1918 and served as a commissar of an army staff and as commander and commissar of an armored train. In the 1920s, he completed the Higher Artillery Command School (1924) and commanded a battalion and regiment of armored trains. As the Red Army moved to mechanization, Fedorenko became an early tank commander at regimental and brigade level. He graduated from the Frunze Academy in 1934.
By June 1941, he held the rank of general lieutenant of tank troops and had been Chief of the Automotive-Tank Department for a year. In December 1942, Fedorenko was named commander in chief of Tank and Mechanized Forces (simultaneously a Deputy Minister of Defense) with responsibilities for raising, equipping, and training tank formations for commitment to armies and fronts.
From time to time, the Stavka sent Fedorenko to the front as a Stavka representative to plan and coordinate the most effective employment of tank and mechanized forces in key operations. In that role, Fedorenko participated in the seminal battles of Moscow, Stalingrad, and Kursk and is credited with helping to instill the tactics and operational art of deep operations by mobile tank and mechanized forces.
Following the war, Fedorenko remained in position as commander in chief of Tank and Mechanized Forces until his death on 26 March 1947.