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> KURSK - the greatest tank battle of World War 2, Video too.....
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Posted: January 17, 2008 12:00 am
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1943. KURSK - the greatest tank battle of World War 2.

Video - http://youtube.com/watch?v=gdopBrDrPcQ

In the winter and spring of 1943, after their terrible defeat in Stalingrad, clearly outnumbered and losing the initiative in the eastern front, Hitler and the German High Command were asking themselves what to do next, in the summer of 1943.

The situation was bad not only on the war front.

While Russian tank production increased to unbelievable levels, the German obsession for complex new super weapons, like the advanced but then immature Panther and Tiger tanks, largely reduced German tank production.

General Guderian, the best German armor expert and commander, said:

As interesting as these designs were, the practical result was just a reduced production of the Panzer 4, our only efficient tank then, to a very modest level...

The Battle Of Kursk

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The Battle of Kursk Bulge started on July 5th 1943. It took the Nazis the first few battles to feel the strength of the Soviet defenses. In the large-scale campaign in which four million soldiers took part and which lasted seven weeks the crucial time fell on July 12th, the day of the biggest in history tank battle, which occurred near Prokhorovka village in the Belgorod Region. Armoured Forces Marshal Pavel Rotmistrov, who commanded one of the tank armies, recalled.

“In the morning of July 12th I and a group of officers were at an observation point, from which the battlefield could be seen very clearly. In the first minutes of the battle two avalanches of tanks surged onto one another in clouds of dust and smoke. 1500 tanks on either side were in action simultaneously and the field near Prokhorovka proved too small for such a force. Locked into one huge tangle the tanks rolled into one enormous mass. Hundreds of tanks and self-propelled guns were on fire. The rumble from rattling armour and the howl of shells many of which ricocheted sideways as they hit the armour was deafening! Soldiers jumped out of burning tanks and rolled on the ground to put out flames.”

Hitler’s command pinned most of their hopes on the new “Tiger” and “Panther” tanks and the “Ferdinand” self-propelled gun. However, the Soviet tanks, which boasted a higher degree of maneuverability, knocked out the armoured Nazi monsters with utmost efficiency. The battle ended with a total defeat of the Nazi tank force, which was turned into a scrap of metal. After the Battle of Prokhorovka the Soviet troops went on the offensive and liberated Oryol and Belgorod.

The defeat of the Nazis near Kursk left Germany unable to recover from the losses. The German historian Goertliz wrote that the Battle of Kursk marked the beginning of a deadly crisis in the Nazi army.

On the occasion of the victory on the Kursk Bulge on August 5th 1943 Moscow for the first time saluted to Soviet troops. And that was quite justified, for winning the Battle of Kursk meant winning the war. The victory in the Battle of Kursk had far-reaching consequences – it brought forth the collapse of the Nazi bloc, which included a number of European countries, and led to the expansion of anti-fascist and national liberation movement in Europe.

http://www.vor.ru/English/homeland/home_041.html

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The Battle of Kursk (Russian: Курская битва) or Kursk Campaign (July 4 – July 20, 1943), also called Operation Citadel (German: Unternehmen Zitadelle) by the German Army, was a major battle on the Eastern Front of World War II and the last German blitzkrieg offensive in the east as well as the last German offensive of such scale in the war.
The exact definition of the battle varies: the Germans saw it as comprising Operation Citadel only, while the Soviets considered (and Russians today consider) it to include Citadel and the subsequent Soviet counteroffensives, Operation Kutuzov and Operation Polkovodets Rumyantsev. Overall, the campaign, which included the famous sub-battle at Prokhorovka, remains both the largest armored engagement and the most costly single day of aerial warfare to date.

Kursk is further notable for the deliberately defensive battle strategy on the Soviets' part. Having good intelligence on Hitler's intentions, the Soviets established and managed to conceal elaborate layered defense works, mine fields, and stage and disguise large reserve forces poised for a tactical and strategic counterattack typical of defensive battle plans. Though the Germans planned and initiated an offensive strike, the well-planned defense not only frustrated their ambitions, but also enabled the Soviets to follow up with counteroffensives and exhausted the German abilities in the theater, thereby seizing the initiative for the remainder of the war. In that sense it may be seen as the second phase of the turning point that began with the German defeat at the Battle of Stalingrad, whose aftermath set the scene by establishing the Kursk Salient (also known as the "Kursk Bulge"), the reduction of which was the objective of the German armies entering in July. The subsequent counterattacks retook Orel and Belgorod on August 5, and Kharkov on August 23, pushing back the Germans across a broad front. This was the first successful major Soviet summer offensive of the war.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Kursk

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"History knows no greater display of courage than that shown by the people of Soviet Russia." - Henry L. Stimson US Secretary Of War

Henry L. Stimson - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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dead-cat
Posted: January 17, 2008 09:27 am
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QUOTE

“In the morning of July 12th I and a group of officers were at an observation point, from which the battlefield could be seen very clearly. In the first minutes of the battle two avalanches of tanks surged onto one another in clouds of dust and smoke. 1500 tanks on either side were in action simultaneously and the field near Prokhorovka proved too small for such a force. Locked into one huge tangle the tanks rolled into one enormous mass. Hundreds of tanks and self-propelled guns were on fire. The rumble from rattling armour and the howl of shells many of which ricocheted sideways as they hit the armour was deafening! Soldiers jumped out of burning tanks and rolled on the ground to put out flames.”

that is yet again a fairy tale invented by Rotmistrov. that myth has been repeatedly debunked in a most detailed way in Zetterling&Franksson's "Kursk 1943, A Statistical Analysis".
There were no 1500 tanks at Prokhorovka.
The actual number of tanks is determined by what is considered "the battle of Prokhorovka".
There were no Panthers at Prokhorovka. Not a single one. The only unit to receive Panthers until Citadel was the "Grossdeutschland" division, which was nowhere near. Prokhorovka was fought by the II-SS Panzerkorps.
There were no more than 15 Tigers present.
The ratio of losses was hugely against the soviet forces.
And the reason why Adolf aborted "Citadel" was "Husky" and the subsequent action on Italy which swallowed the replacements for the eastern front.
in absolute numbers, 1943 was the worst year for the soviet army.
QUOTE

While Russian tank production increased to unbelievable levels, the German obsession for complex new super weapons, like the advanced but then immature Panther and Tiger tanks, largely reduced German tank production.

to the "unbelivable" production levels:
in 1943 the SU produced
5,391 light tanks
17,192 medium tanks
1,458 heavy tanks
to a grand total of 24041. assault guns are included.
In the same year, they lost about 23500.

also in 1943, germany produced:
1811 light tanks
11106 medium tanks (counting the Panther chassis as medium too)
740 heavy tanks (Tiger&Ferdinand)
to a grand total of 13657. assault guns also included. they lost about 8000 (need to check the exact figure) in that year (on all fronts).

The Tiger model did already reach maturity during mid 1943, so it wasn't "unreliable" anymore.
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guina
Posted: January 17, 2008 01:23 pm
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Dead-cat is absolutly corect.Furthermore,at the end of the day,at Prohorovka,the russians left the field of batle ,leaving the germans to blow up all the russian tanks left on the field ( 90 %) Only 16 german tanks werw a total loss,the rest were repaired.So it was a german tactical victory.
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dead-cat
Posted: January 17, 2008 07:13 pm
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on july 23rd, the II-SS Panzerkorps reported as total loss:

5 Pz. III
23 Pz. IV
3 Tiger
5 StuG
these are for the period 5-23rd july. of which at least 19 were destoryed before Prokhorovka. so the "utomost efficiency" caused the (total) loss of about 17(!) tanks.

the 5th tank army reported the loss of 222 T34, 89 T-70, 12 Churchill and 11 assaut guns up to july 16th as total write-off.
all figures from "Kursk 1943, A Statistical Analysis" by Niklas Zetterling and Anders Frankson.
a "total defeat" looks a bit different.
QUOTE

In the winter and spring of 1943, after their terrible defeat in Stalingrad, clearly outnumbered and losing the initiative in the eastern front, Hitler and the German High Command were asking themselves what to do next, in the summer of 1943.

i wonder how Mannsteins re-capture of Kharkow in march 1943 fits into this.
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Imperialist
Posted: January 17, 2008 08:24 pm
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2 SS Panzer Corps lost around 300 tanks in the Prohorovka battle.
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dead-cat
Posted: January 17, 2008 09:00 pm
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said who?
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Imperialist
Posted: January 17, 2008 09:17 pm
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QUOTE (dead-cat @ January 17, 2008 09:00 pm)
said who?

The authors of these two books:

http://www.greenwood.com/catalog/C4894.aspx

http://www.greenwood.com/catalog/CAK%252f.aspx

The ratio of 16 lost vs. 300 killed would be stunning. That would be close to 2000% efficiency. We would be talking about the great turkey shoot at Prohorovka if that were so.
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dead-cat
Posted: January 17, 2008 09:55 pm
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unfortunately, as many otherswho based themselves on Carell/Rotmistrov (who took the estimations of his commanders for granted) they have been proven wrong.

according to BA-MA RH21-4/118 KTB 1a
"Tagesmeldungen und Nachmeldungen von II.SS-Panzerkorps zu Pz.A.O.K.4" (from Zetterling & Frankson)
the 2.nd SS Panzercorps reported operational, the following number of tanks:

july 11: 294
july 12: data from 1.SS div. is missing
july 13: 254
july 14: 266
july 15: 261
july 16: 292

daily fluctuations are caused by combat and other losses and tanks returning to "operational" from field workshops.
at no point did the 2.SS Panzercorps even field 300 operational tanks, much less loose 300.

QUOTE

The ratio of 16 lost vs. 300 killed would be stunning. That would be close to 2000% efficiency. We would be talking about the great turkey shoot at Prohorovka if that were so.

i said
the 5th tank army

which comprises:
5th guard mech corps
18th tank corps
29th tank corps
53rd tank reg.
1549th SU reg.
2nd tank corps
2nd guard tank corps
1529th SU reg.

not all of them were comitted against the 2.SS Panzercorps.

unfortunately the book, which quotes Krivosheev for soviet casualties and equipment losses, does not defalcate losses for each corps.

up until Prokhorovka not only units from the 2nd SS Panzercorps faced units from the 5th tank army (and took losses) so the ratio is, according to Zetterling 54 tanks and assault guns written off, vs. 334 on the soviet side (5th tank army), which is about 1:6.
german equipment losses were not particularuly heavy during the offensive phase of Citadel since they were able to recover damaged equipment, while the soviets usually were not. which is why i dwelled on "written off".
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Imperialist
Posted: January 17, 2008 11:04 pm
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QUOTE (dead-cat @ January 17, 2008 09:55 pm)
at no point did the 2.SS Panzercorps even field 300 operational tanks, much less loose 300.

The Corps consisted of 3 Panzergrenadier divisions.

Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler had 100 tanks and 30 assault guns (operational units)
Das Reich had 127 tanks and around 30 assault guns (operational units)

I could find no data for now on the third one - Totenkopf - but it would likely stick to the pattern. And the total would give around 300 tanks.

take care
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Alexei2102
Posted: January 17, 2008 11:53 pm
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II SS Panzer Corps, commanded by SS Obergruppenfuehrer Paul Hausser. Hausser`s three SS panzer grenadier divisions --- the 1-st (Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler), 2-d (Das Reich), and 3-d (Totenkopf) --- had a line strength of 390 tanks and 104 assault guns between them, including 42 of the Army Group`s 102 Tigers.
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dead-cat
Posted: January 18, 2008 07:41 am
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at no point during the entire Prokhorobka battle all of them were operational.
the loss report shows 36 tanks lost until july 23rd. for the entire corps.

i'd like to see a primary source attesting the 300 tanks loss.
the Panthers at Prokhorovka, 1500 tanks clash, "largest tank battle in history", "decesive soviet win", "destruction of the Panzer arm" myth has been exhaustively perpetuated by soviet literature and found no backing in german reports, which are available to everyone in Freiburg.
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guina
Posted: January 18, 2008 07:48 am
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guina
Posted: January 18, 2008 07:50 am
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Posted: January 18, 2008 09:34 am
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QUOTE (dead-cat @ January 18, 2008 07:41 am)
at no point during the entire Prokhorobka battle all of them were operational.

The numbers I posted represent the named divisions' operational units at the start of July. Operational as in able and active, not held back undergoing repairs.
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dead-cat
Posted: January 18, 2008 09:59 am
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below the comparision of total tank strenght (operation+in workshops) for the 3 divisions , vs. reported operational (excluding tanks in workshops) on july 4th, the first day of "Citadel":

1st. SS.
july 4th:
available: 151
operational: 149

2nd. SS.
july 4th:
available: 178
operational: 149

3rd. SS.
july 4th:
available: 165
operational: 153

available: 494
operational: 451
at the start of the campaign.
from then on, defects and combat damage brought the available tanks strength gradually down to below 300 until the start of Prokhorovka , july 12th, when the entire corps reported 294 operational just a day before.
the difference to 494 are by no means write-offs. until july 12th, the 2nd SS wrote off 19 tanks and assault guns as total losses.

actually, 300 is the approximative total tank loss for the entire german force involved in Citadel for the period of 5-23rd July.
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