Discussion in 'Tank Warfare of World War 2' started by misterkingtiger, Oct 30, 2005.
What were the three biggest tank battles, besides Kursk, which would OBVIOUSLY be the biggest.
Kursk wasn't a tank battle, but rather an offensive (otherwise, Barbarossa would be the largest tank battle by far, with about 25,000 tanks as I recall).
Kursk was a tank battle. Read this:
The book I took this quote from is an official book on the history of World War Two, compiled by two students from the University of Milano, one of the most prestigous universities in Europe.
Besides, an offensive can be any of four types:
1) From two points, close or far, like Orel and Belgorod, on a single point, like Kursk (Citadel)
2) From a single point, like the German frontier, to multiple points, like Leningrad, Moscow, and Kiev (Barbarossa)
3) From multiple points, like Omaha, Utah, Juno, Gold and Sword, to multiple points, like Brest, Cherbourg, Caen and Paris (Overlord)
4) From one point, like the Ardennes, to another point, like Antwerp (Herbstnebel, the German codeword for the Battle of the Bulge)
That's not all. An offensive does not have to be on a large front, as long as it is on a large scale in the way of men and material. The landings in Italy were the beginnings of an offensive, but they were nowhere as large as the opening gambits of Operation Barbarossa. If you look in the Pacific, the offensives there often took place over small, small islands, normally no more than two hundred or three hundred square miles. But they were still considered offensives.
Subsequently, a battle does not have to be on a small front or with small equipment. Look at Stalingrad, a city forty miles wide and ten miles from the bank of the Volga west. The Germans had two armies fighting for four hundred square miles of land, still only about half of the battle of Kursk. But it had the same number of armies on the German side. The only obvious change in manpower and material was that the Soviets only had one army instead of nine. And it was called a battle. So is Kursk. What I'm trying to get at here is that the terms 'offensive' and 'battle' can be interchangeable at some points.
Just because two students think it is a battle doesn't make it a battle. That doesn't have any merit in itself. Besides, what is an 'official' book on World War II? The Germans called it Unternehmen Zitadelle, i.e. a military operation. I can think of no battle which the Germans gave name to.
I don't really know what you're getting at, in your second post. Basically, you're saying that there is no difference between a battle and an offensive, however I disagree. An offensive implies that it is a strategic move, whereas a battle is tactical. By your definition, Barbarossa can be calles the greatest tank battle ever.
Besides, the German code name for the Ardennes offensive in 1944 was Wacht am Rhein.
In a manner of speaking, I guess you could consider Alamein (sp?) a tank battle.
Most of the ETO wasn't tank battle terrain. Italy/Sicily has alot of hills, mountains, and valleys. Normandy has the infamous hedgerows. Holland is low, soft ground. Rhineland, Ardennes, and Hurtgen are densely forested.
Eastern Front and North Africa has much better opportunity for larger armored formations to manuever.
First of all, the book wasn't actually written by the students. It was compiled from diaries of soldiers and officers from EVERY division of EVERY army that ever fought in the war. That's what made it an official World War Two book.
Second of all, just because it is fought on a two-hundred mile front does not make it an offensive. The book, which is, again, taking from diaries of the likes of Zhukov and Rommel and even Hitler himself, says that the Battle of Kursk is what nearly every Web site on the entire Internet says it is, a battle. :angry: :angry:
And by my definition, yes, Barbarossa is the greatest tank battle of all time. My bad. I wasn't clear enough on that.
I would like to offer some FACTS. But I don't have any. May I instead offer an opinion?
A battle is a continuous engagement, with short breaks for re-arming, re-fuelling etc, & in the case of WWII, the arrival of nightfall. It would take place on a battlefield, which whilst being fluid, would be essentially based around a fixed point or points.
An operation is on a larger scale chronologically & physically. It would be comprised of several/many battles.
An example might be Operation Venezia (Axis N. Africa offensive Summer '42) Of which "The Cauldron" was a battle.
However, beware! Historians have a way of muddying the waters in this respect, and my opinions listed above can not safely be applied to all operations/battles. For instance, history has named it the battle of El Alamein, and some of it's parts operations 'lightfoot' & 'supercharge'. Here, the battle is the bigger part & the operations, the smaller.
F.W.I.W I think that "Kursk" was an operation (Zitadelle) & that it's biggest battle was Porokohova (sp).
As for answering the original question, I'm sorry, I don't have enough data on the No of tanks involved in the biggest battles to put forward any suggestions. I'll leave that to others.
Diaries are useful to get the feel of how a life in a division was like, but owing to their nature, they are subjective, and shouldn't be used as sources for factual information of this sort. Although they are more credible than memoirs and autobiographies, they are still highly inaccurate.
Furthermore, just because a phrase is used in common language doesn't make that phrase true. The official name of the offensive was Unternehmen Zitadelle. In addition, I am quite certain that none of the diaries refer to it as the battle of Kursk, considering that said diaries would be in German or Russian. The translation may say battle, but we can't know what the original phrase was unless we have access to view the original material from which it was taken. In translations, it is often nessecary to take some liberties, just like it is often seen that translations are uniformed in regards to certain terms, for ease of reading.
In regards to what most websites say, most websites are notoriously flawed, so I wouldn't regard that as a reliable source, or even a source as all.
I agree with your characterization David however you left out the next step up from operation which is a campaign. Unfortunately there is little agreement regarding where battles, operations and campaigns overlap and many historians use the terms interchangeably which muddies the waters even more.
In the case of Kursk, since it involved two frontal assaults on triple Russian lines a long distance from each other in order to capture a central city, snip off a portion of the Russian army, and destroy that portion in a subsequent encirclement, I would say it is an offensive. It has multiple phased objectives involving separate actions in separate places. Like David said, an example of a battle within the scope of Zitadelle would be Prokhorovka.
The official German name for the Ardennes Offensive (please stop calling it the Battle of the Bulge, that was an after-the-event observation by Churchill and not an actually used name) was Herbstnebel until the last few weeks before the offensive when it was changed to Wacht am Rhein. I have seen this change dated late November 1944 and December 12th 1944, I do not know which is accurate. What I do know for sure is that, like Zitadelle, this offensive had several phased objectives including the taking of the Meuse bridges at Huy, Namur and Andenne, the caturing of Antwerp and Brussels and a subsequent battle to reduce an encircled 21st Army Group.
The Germans renamed Herbstnebel Wacht am Rhein two days before it occured. And Churchill wasn't the only one that called it the battle of the Bulge. The soldiers and commanders of the First Army called it the battle of the Bulge because of the way it bent back the American line.
Gentlemen. thank you for your kind words.
I deliberately ommitted mentioning campaigns, to avoid muddying the waters further.
Roel, thank you for the correct spelling of 'Prokhorovka'!
That would have to have been at the December 12th conference, four days before the offensive began. Either way, both names are correct but need to be correctly applied to the periods in which they were used.
I know why Churchill called it this, but I have never heard anyone else using the phrase after he did so (which was in late December 1944 when Allied leaders planned to throw the Germans back: "erasing/snipping off the bulge"). Do you have any source for your claim that 1st Army soldiers called the offensive "Battle of the Bulge"?
Even so, I still prefer calling the operation the Ardennes Offensive.
Prokhorovka and the siege of Bastogne (ARDENNES OFFENSIVE) both used massive amounts of German, Russian and American tanks. They both saw large amounts of tanks destroyed. But isn't everyone missing EL ALAMEIN :roll: :lol: :roll: :lol: :roll: :lol: :kill:
This is like saying the battle for Kiev was Operation Barbarossa. Terrible.
AAAH! PSYCHO DYSLEXIC DAY!!!
If you look at my other post you will see I mentioned it.
meh. true. :roll: :roll: The Germans and Allies wasted how many tanks in that one battle? Sometimes I wonder how many babies had no chance of being made after the war.
You could take it as misterkingtiger simply highlighting that the siege of Bastogne happened during the Ardennes Offensive...