Welcome to the WWII Forums! Log in or Sign up to interact with the community.

Will We See another Kursk?

Discussion in 'Military History' started by GRW, Jul 6, 2013.

  1. GRW

    GRW Pillboxologist WW2|ORG Editor

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2003
    Messages:
    19,479
    Likes Received:
    2,359
    Location:
    Stirling, Scotland
    "It's 70 years since Kursk, the largest ever tank battle. Will there ever be another battle involving thousands of tanks on each side or has armoured warfare had its day?
    Before dawn on 5 July 1943 explosions lit up the Russian sky and the earth shook to a huge bombardment. As the sun rose, waves of German panzers began rolling across fields of sunflowers and wheat. The greatest tank battle in history was underway.
    The Battle of Kursk pitted almost 3,000 German tanks against more than double that quantity of Soviet heavy armour.
    Hitler delayed the offensive - codenamed Operation Citadel - to wait for the arrival of the new Panther. It gave the Russians plenty of time to dig formidable defences and concentrate their own armoured units.
    Antony Beevor, author of The Second World War, describes the battle as a "slogging match".
    The German tanks were fewer in number but far superior in armour and firepower. Tigers and the "monster" Ferdinand tank destroyer went in first, attempting to blast their way through.
    [SIZE=1.077em]One SS tank commander destroyed 22 Soviet tanks in under an hour, Beevor says. But the Russians defended with "suicidal bravery", getting in close to throw mines under the caterpillar tracks.[/SIZE]
    After eight days the German attack had run out of steam. Stalin launched counteroffensives that over the following six weeks inflicted a crushing defeat on the Wehrmacht.
    Kursk was a tipping point for the panzers, says Beevor. For the first time the Russian air force had "got its act together". Air power was emerging as a dominant factor, as became clear in Normandy the following year.
    Allied air superiority meant that the German panzers had to hide in the forests during daylight hours. The tank, like the battleship, was suddenly a sitting duck without control of the skies.
    But unlike the battleship, the tank remains a key part of most militaries. According to the International Institute for Strategic Studies there are 60,000 tanks in active service worldwide."
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-23137492
     
    blutoubtemium likes this.
  2. Otto

    Otto Rested & Resupplied with MREs. Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2000
    Messages:
    9,476
    Likes Received:
    1,626
    Location:
    DFW, Texas
    The title if the thread "Are tanks obsolete?" and the title of the article "Will there be another massive tank battle" are two very different propositions.
    *thread title has been edited from Are tanks obsolete? to Will We See another Kursk?*

    I think it's fair to say looking into the future, military operations of all kinds will make use of tracked, heavily armored, mobile gun platforms of large calibers. Obsolete? No.

    As for whether we will see masses of tanks in the sorts of melees that was the Russian front in WW2, it is probably very unlikely we will. I'm not sure that means they are obsolete though.
     
  3. urqh

    urqh Tea drinking surrender monkey

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2002
    Messages:
    9,683
    Likes Received:
    953
    If you live in Georgia Europe , you may have a good opinion on this..Russia has its own opinion.

    They are not battleships..they are far from obsolete.
     
  4. GRW

    GRW Pillboxologist WW2|ORG Editor

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2003
    Messages:
    19,479
    Likes Received:
    2,359
    Location:
    Stirling, Scotland
    Fair points, gentlemen. I've amended the thread title.
     
  5. Otto

    Otto Rested & Resupplied with MREs. Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2000
    Messages:
    9,476
    Likes Received:
    1,626
    Location:
    DFW, Texas
    I have it on good authority that the second tanks become obsolete, Von Poop will burst into flame, leaving behind a pile of track links sitting in a puddle of transmission fluid.
     
    Sloniksp and GRW like this.
  6. GRW

    GRW Pillboxologist WW2|ORG Editor

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2003
    Messages:
    19,479
    Likes Received:
    2,359
    Location:
    Stirling, Scotland
    Hope I'm not the one to tell him....
     
  7. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

    Joined:
    May 21, 2007
    Messages:
    17,344
    Likes Received:
    2,041
    Location:
    Alabama
    I don't think that there will be that much left.
     
  8. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Ace

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2008
    Messages:
    3,223
    Likes Received:
    451
    Problem with modern MBTs is that at 60t or so they are not very stratgically mobile, and tactically they are incredible fuel guzzlers, as a result are too expensive for day to day use in low intensity conflicts where you may spend days patrolling without firing a shot (try using an MBTs to escort road convoys, an MBT is close to immune to any but the most powerfull IEDs and the troops would love the additional armour ... but you will soon have no road left).

    Still if you look at the Arab Israely conflicts of 1967 and 1973 the numbers of tanks involved where not that far from Kursk figures and if you look at the average tank size even closer.
     
  9. Totenkopf

    Totenkopf אוּרִיאֵל

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2007
    Messages:
    1,460
    Likes Received:
    89
    I think that the fighter-bombers launching rockets at any German brave enough to to day driving on roads was a good way of foreshadowing how ground warfare itself is becoming "obsolete". In the case of the Taliban tech level against US tech... the Taliban don't have advanced jew fighters launching AGMs at the Abrams rolling around, but rather we have insurgents getting blown or shot into Hamburger whenever a strafer catches them in the open. Against a technologically equal foe however I'd see it as way different. Since the inception of the guided missile, and especially today when they can fly often faster then a human reacts, the side that has air power in a pitched battle can destroy MBTs and APCs very fast. Imagine what would happen if Kursk was to be set up again today and picture the insane amount of causalities inflicted on the ground if it was missle-armed jet aircraft flying around while 3 million men fought it out on the ground.

    I find it interesting to contemplate how long a war between tech-parity nations could even last, when weapons have become far more lethal since WW2, and many western armies have relatively small professional armies with small reserves behind them. How long could the battle last, and how many causalities would be sustained, if 50,000 Germans of today and 50,000 Russians of today met in a the plains of Russia? How quickly could Germany replace their costly Leopards if they fought a modern (smaller) Kursk?
     
  10. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2002
    Messages:
    22,301
    Likes Received:
    1,050
    Location:
    Kotka,Finland
    Considering the air to land missile technology with laser marking, and the technology involving the modern two-man rocket launchers I´d doubt that. Just like massive cruisers can be destroyed with one missile like Exocet. They are not totally useless but to use in large numbers forget it. For instance Soviet tanks were destroyed in large numbers in Croatia and Serbs had at least with tanks not much success if the opposition had the weapons.
     
  11. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2009
    Messages:
    4,617
    Likes Received:
    1,657
    Location:
    God's Country
    Totenkopf, I think you greatly over estimate the ability of air power, especially where the two sides enjoy technological parity. For every weapons system there are counter-measures. I think that in the scenario you suggest, you'd see virtual swarms of MANPADS in the airspace above the battle area. Untrained Afghani's took a heavy toll on Soviet aircraft using minimal numbers of "Stinger" missiles (best estimate is @500 though some questionable sources quote the number as high as 2,000. It is probable that the higher number includes SA7 and "Blowpipe" missiles supplied earlier to the Mujahideen. These latter two types did not fare well because of the need for a much higher level of operator training.) Cruise missiles or drones would be striking the enemy airfields from which your air sorties would be launched, greatly reducing the numbers of available sorties. Air superiority fighters would further pare down the number of ground attack aircraft available. No one weapons system rules supreme, it takes a combined arms package to be successful. Any area where there is a weakness will be exploited by the enemy.

    Gentlemen, I also think that for comparative purposes the total of @8,000. tanks/AFV's is over stated when comparing Kursk to more modern actions. First of all the 8,000 number is not for one battle but a campaign or series of battles, which lasted from 5 July, when Germany launched Operation Citadel until 23 August when the Soviet counter-offensives ended, Operation Kutuzov and Operation Polkovodets Rumyantsev. If we look at the largest single tank engagement of the campaign it would be the battle of Prokhorovka, where approximately 300 German and 600-800 Soviet tanks/SPAT/Assault guns were involved. There is the the Battle of Chawinda, during the India-Pakistan War where 225 Indian tanks engaged 282 Pakistani tanks. Then there was the Battle of 73 Easting in the 1st Gulf War. Now if we look at only tanks and consider the entire operation not just an isolated battle, as is most often done with Kursk, the 1991 Gulf War closely equals the Kursk battles. Coalition Forces fielded at least 3604 tanks, this does not include tracked vehicles such as the M-551 Sheridan or any of the AT configured Bradley, etc. This does not include Iraqi tanks involved which were even more numerous. Since the Kursk figures always include fully tracked, armored, vehicles such as SPAT guns or assault guns, which are not technically tanks, the 8000 tank figure for Kursk is over stated.
     

Share This Page