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Prokhorovka - 68th Anniversary

Discussion in 'Eastern Europe' started by George Patton, Jul 11, 2011.

  1. Erich

    Erich Alte Hase

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    8th Kompanie Tiger 1's operated with the Das Reich Division at Kursk on the 14th of July it had 4 operational Tigers on hand. on the 15th it had 8 on hand as it went after hill 242.7. The Panthers forming a new Panzer regiment were brought forward in August of 43 to defend the Mius river sector where it performed well............... check out George Nipes book as it's materails is drafted right off Sylvester Stadlers excellent book on the battle and front in German " Die Offensive gegen Kursk 1943 "
     
  2. Paul Errass

    Paul Errass Member

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    RKT looks like Jopp Fick from das Reich.
     
  3. IRu

    IRu Member

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    Thank you, George Patton. Great photos and they are matched very well. If you do not mind, I will write below about the battle in detail.From which it came, as was held and the end. Sorry,if this has been described on the forums. So.
    What was before.
    In January 1943 the Battle of Stalingrad ended. Immediately after this (January - March 1943) Red Army started a successful offensive in the direction from Voronezh city to Kharkov city and reached it . Kharkov was freed. Kursk city (which is north of this area) was also released from the troops of the Wehrmacht. In March 1943, a Army Group "South" (Manstein) struck back in the direction from Kharkov to Voronezh and back part of the lost positions. In particular, Kharkov was again occupied by the Germans. As a result of these two front-line operations there was formed a ledge. It was 120 kilometers to the west. At the base of the protrusion was about 200 kilomiters. Kursk was approximately in the middle of this ledge. In March, the Wehrmacht began to prepare a plan of local operations to eliminate this bulge. April 15, Hitler adopted it as a plan "Citadel". The General Staff of the Red Army divined theirs intents. I do not think that it was difficult. And then both sides began to prepare. The Red Army had been strengthening the defenses on the northern and southern flank of the bulge. Wehrmacht stepped up their strength here. Both sides had have enough time. The operation began only on July 5.
    The purpose of the Wehrmacht (as in the "Citadel") - punched front on the northern and southern flank of the projection (ledge cut) and surrounded parts of the Red Army. The northern and southern parts of the Wehrmacht were supposed to meet in Kursk. I think that the Wehrmacht`s Generals do not really believe in this goal, but understand that they can cause great damage to the Red Army at this point and after that it will be unable to broad offensive operations.
    The purpose of the Red Army was - to keep the defense, exhausted (drain) of the enemy and then begin to counter-attack. The strategic goal - to free the city Orel, Kharkov, Poltava, Kiev and other Ukrainian cities. The Central Front of the Red Army held the defense on the north of ledge. The Voronezh Front of the Red Army kept the defense on the south of ledge. The Steppe Front was behind them. It was planned to be used for an offensive.
    During.
    As was planned, Operation Citadel began on July 5 with the German offensive. One of the mistakes of the General Staff of the Red Army was that they believed that the main strike will be done from the north. But as far as I know, most of the Wehrmacht's Panzer divisions were concentrated in the southern part of the ledge.Thus, the offensive began. The Germans struck in three divergent directions on both parts of ledge. This process you can look at the animated map here: :: (You can select one of the three maps: a plan of action the Germans, the battle in the north of ledge, the battles in the south of ledge. By selecting one of the map, each time press FF, in order to see events for each day.)
    Gradually, the Germans managed to break through the defense in several places and they began delving deep into the echelons of the Red Army. They were more likely near the Prokhorovka station.
    About Prokhorovka in general.
    The battle, which all reported as the largest tank battle, took place in the southern part of the ledge, July 12, near the Prokhorovka. I ought to say (and above it have already said) that propaganda has done much to create several profitable myths. A special commission led by Malenkov, charged with investigating the circumstances of this battle, and the investigation files is still nowhere to be published. Apparently they still are not subject to declassification. In Russia, this battle is investigated in detail by two historians: Lopuhovsky and Zamulin. But even their point of view largely diverge. However, due to the fact that many military reports, intelligence reports and reports on the fighting can be freely read already in the archive (as an example, some of them available at the site -) now becomes clear what happened on July 12. If I would be in short: The official losses of the Red Army`s tanks have been underestimated and the loss of German tanks was overestimated. In addition, the number of tanks, involved in battle directly near Prokhorovka were exaggerated. The fact is that at the same time and just before the time the tank battles took place in other places (but not too far from the Prokhorovka).
    Prokhorovka`s events in details.
    By July 10-12, in several parts of the front was created threatening situation for the Red Army. Therefore, parts of the Steppe Front, began move to fighting without waiting for a general offensive. So, July 6, 5th Panzer Army under General Rotmistrov was ordered to make a three hundred kilomiters march to the Prokhorovka station and take up defensive at the line Prokhorovka - Veseloe.
    The 5th Panzer Army included:
    - 18 Panzer Corps
    - 29 Panzer Corps
    - 5th Guards Mechanized Corps
    Besides this, it was added:
    - 2nd Guards Panzer Corps
    - 2nd Panzer Corps (it's not a bug, it's different parts of the Red Army)

    In general, on July 11, the 5th Panzer Army had tanks and self-propelled artillery:
    T 34 - 436
    T 70 - 301
    MK 4 / Churchill - 25
    SAU 122 - 22
    SAU 76 - 15
    Total - 799
    Besides this, in that moment (July 11), it has about 100 machines were on the march and 25 - in repair.

    The 5th Guards Army under General Zhadov moved from the Steppe Front too. It was ordered to take up defensive positions norther of the 5th Panzer Army.
    At the time, when the 5th Panzer Army was marching to the area Prokhorovka, German troops were already deployed in the area Prokhorovka.
    On the German side in this area were:
    - II SS Panzer Corps (1st SS Division Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler; 2nd SS Panzer Division Das Reich; 3rd SS Division Totenkopf)
    - III Army Corps (It moved on 15 kilometers south from Prokhorovka).

    According to my data II SS Panzer Corps had:
    Pz.II - 4
    Pz.III - 93
    Bef.Pz. III - 21
    Pz.IV - 95
    Pz.VI «Tiger» - 15
    StuG - 58
    T-34 - 8 (It were former Red Army`s tanks. Sometimes I met reference that it were Pz. V "Panther", but Russian source say there were not "Panther" in Prokhorovka).
    Total - 294
    III Army Corps had 119 tanks and self-propelled artillery.
    But on July 12, 3rd SS Division Totenkopf (122 tanks and self-propelled artillery ) acted north Prokhorovka (against the 5th Guards Army by General Zhadov).
    Thus, from the German side, directly in Prokhorovka were only 172 tanks and self-propelled artillery. (In the intelligence bulletin of Voronezh Front on 13 July (up July 12) refers to the offensive forces of up to 250 German tanks.)
    So, both parties (the 5th Panzer Army and II SS Panzer Corps) on July 12, in the morning, must were to advance. It so happened that independently of each other, they were ordered to advance towards each other.
    But there was a big difference. What I do know from the military documents. General Rotmistrov did not reconnaissance before the battle. In the advancing Red Army had no air support. And some of the documents note that there was not any artillery preparation before the battle from the Red Army.
    As I understand Paul Hausser (Commander of II SS Panzer Corps) knew that it was a large number of tanks concentrated against him. So, in the morning July 12, German tanks did not immediately go on the attack, but first, from a big distance and ambush, began to shoot the advancing troops of the 29th and 18th Tank Corps of 5th Panzer Army. In addition, the Germans had a strong air and artillery support. Then the Germans counterattacked. Rotmistrov got to fight the rest part of the 5th Panzer Army. Germans began to defend. And so. And it lasted all day - on July 12. All this happened on a site approximately 5-7 km wide. The details of the battle described many times and I think it was really scary.
    As a result, in the evening, the two warring parties were virtually at the same locations that were in the morning.
    The most terrible thing - it's the loss of tanks in the Red Army.
    29 Panzer Corps lost 153 tanks (199 took part in the battle).
    18 Panzer Corps lost 84 tanks (149 took part in the battle).
    2nd Panzer Corps 22 - 52.
    2nd Guards Panzer Corps 54 - 138.
    5th Guards Mechanized Corps 15 - 66.
    As I said, the loss of the German tanks was exaggerated. The most common number - 350 German`s tanks were shot down.
    However, I am inclined to think that the Germans had been put out of action no more than 50 tanks, most of which were recovered. But despite this, the next day the Red Army began the counter-offensive.

    Reasons of heavy losses the Red Army.
    1. Tactical errors: lack of intelligence, lack of interaction with aircraft and artillery.
    2. Low qualification of tank crews.
    3. The main tank, T-34, has ceased to be the most powerful tank. Its armor protection has become vulnerable from the new German tanks.

    Thanks to you all, who had enough patience to read this ))
     
  4. Fury 1991

    Fury 1991 New Member

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    I've always understood that only the Leibstandarte made it to Prochorovka. That Das Reich and Totenkopf got held up. It's also well documented that the Soviets always inflated figures for propaganda purposes.
     
  5. 4th wilts

    4th wilts Member

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    Stalin,I believe never really acknowledged the help the allies lend/lease program helped them,but it seems that Churchill tanks,Sherman's,?and the trucks etc,really helped in these battles of 1943 and onwards.This allowed the soviets to concentrate on Larger numbers of tanks,T.D,s and Arty.Have we any idea of what the average soviet soldier,or laterly generals and marshalls thought of lend/lease equipment they received.? Are there any accurate O.O.B,s for the soviet units that used lend/lease armour,Aircraft etc,not only during Kursk,but throughout the war.?cheers.
     
  6. Fury 1991

    Fury 1991 New Member

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    While I am certain the Land Lease helped some, I believe we have exaggerated how much. Soviet industry was very capable and they proved they could develop good weapons as the war progressed. Alot of people in the West do not like to give the Soviets the credit they deserve. Notice in alot of books almost every Soviet photo is a propaganda picture while that is never said about German or even American photos. Give me a break. It can be a squad of soldiers running into obvious artillery fire and Western sources like to consider it propaganda. The Soviets fought a war that lost them 30 million people. They also destroyed around 80% of the Wehrmacht. I'm going to say they did not need to implement much propaganda. The fact is they took the German's best shot and defeated them on the battlefield. At the end of the war they had the biggest and best Army in the world. No need for propaganda.
     
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  7. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    I've seen people both over estimate teh effect of Lend Lease and underestimate it. Those that overestimate it often point to the quantities of weapon systems without looking at what percentage of the totals they were or when they came into service. Those who underestimate often also concentrate on the latter but compare often at a very high level (i.e tanks without specificing types). From what I can tell Lend Lease was not critical to stopping the Germans especially in 41. It had considerably more import in Soviet offensive operations later in the war. Just how important it was is rather difficult to determine as the primary impacts seem to have been logistical. This is not just trucks and trains but explosives and explosive components, clothing, boots, and food not to mention manufacturing equipment. IMO without Lend Lease the USSR would still have survived the war, on the otherhand it's not at all clear to me they would have made it to Berlin and almost certainly wouldn't have made it their in May of 45.
     
  8. rkline56

    rkline56 USS Oklahoma City CG5

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    Fair enough Chiwv. Well said.
     
  9. IRu

    IRu Member

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    The share of lend-lease in the total amount, produced in the USSR during 1941-1945 years:
    locomotives - 71%
    cars - 64%
    Aluminum - 55%
    Copper - 46%
    aviation gasoline - 40%
    track - 36%
    explosives - 36%
    tires - 30%
    sugar - 30%
    machines and the press - 23%
    aircraft - 11%
    tanks - 11% (1807)
    guns and mortars - 2.7%
    firearms - 0.75%
    This is not a complete list of supplies. In addition, there were radars, radios, lots of food.
    I don't want to offend somebody and I know about the exploits and heroism of convoys PQs, but, despite this, I don't think it was a decisive contribution to victory.
    In my opinion more important was the political readiness of the U.S., Britain and other countries to go to war against Hitler. And not only willing to act, but also the actions themselves. Example:
    July 10, 1943 the Allies landed in Sicily. July 13, 1943, Hitler stopped the Kursk offensive. Moreover, he withdrew the 2nd SS Panzer Corps, which defeated the 5th Panzer Army of Rotmistrov from the Eastern Front to Western front.
    I think that if Hitler had not kept forces in Europe against a possible invasion of England, and would direct them against Russia, we would have a much more difficult.


     
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  10. Erich

    Erich Alte Hase

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    actually only the 1st W-SS was pulled back entirely and sent off on a goose chase to Italy. Das Reich was effective with it's first use of its Panthers Ausf D and the rest of it's Armor and Pak in the defensive role along the Mius river. In essence the W-SS were wasted at Citadelle overall and for no gains
     
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  11. Fury 1991

    Fury 1991 New Member

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    I just want the Russians/Soviets to get the respect they deserve. They paid for it in blood.
     
  12. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

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    You also have to remember on the Soviet side that the T70's present are all but worthless as tanks. On paper they are about equal to a Pz III. But, the reality is that with a two man crew, no radio or intercom system, few vision devices and, just generally a bad layout they are little more than targets on the battlefield. A Pz III is more than capable of dealing with one even with the 50/42 gun. Its something to remember given the number present.
     
  13. rkline56

    rkline56 USS Oklahoma City CG5

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    No doubt they did pay a heavy price. The men fought very well and ground down a cunning and strong adversary. The Western world owes a great deal to those men for their courageous struggle in defeating the common enemy; and the Red Army deserves unanimous praise for their victories at Stalingrad, Leningrad etc. and for stopping the offensive at Kursk - Prokhorovka.

    Hopefully politics can continue to evolve to the point that The West, Russia and Asia can put this global hegemony treatise on a path for the common good of all people. The end of the Berlin Wall and the Soviet Bloc is a very good precursor so I believe much progress has been made. Infinitely good for all of the World's People ehh? We stand on the precipice of major global developments and it is difficult to see exactly which scenario will unfold. We can only hope and pray that cooler heads prevail and the great positive leap forward can occur. What do you think?
     
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  14. Erich

    Erich Alte Hase

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  15. Erich

    Erich Alte Hase

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    I had totally forgotten about this older link from 2002 by some major noted authors and Ron Klages who has since passed onward sadly whom was a German Panzer experten in my regards.

    2 pages full of intelligent information and still speculation abounds just as to how many Soviet tanks were knocked out or should I state also the useage of Bren carriers shot up by Hs 129's. I also own M. Peggs very good book on the ground attack A/C and as mentioned on the link not specific enough in "kills" details but the attack angle for Hs 129 pilots was very low to the ground making it almost impossible with accuracy the advantage of confirmation of armor knocked out. Of importance the 80 + kills that has been used over and over again in past works was the days total on the battlefield for all attrition both by Lw A/C and Panzers. Also please note the comments made by a former member of Rüdels unit about Rüdel himself. Anyway enough of me and here is the interesting link for all :

    Tank Busting Aircraft at Kursk - The Dupuy Institute Forum
     
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  16. yan taylor

    yan taylor Member

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    I salute the dead on both sides from this historic battle, a battle that in my mind should have not been fought, the Russians knew about the attack through ultra and other sources, it was also an obvious place to counter attack in the first place, and the Soviets after laying down some of the deepest lines of defense ever laid also had the cheek to shell the Germans before they even started, the result victory to the Russians.
     
  17. gerrym

    gerrym New Member

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    On Google Earth there there are amazing street level views of the many, many movements of tanks. You can even often see the actual tank tread marks left in the ground from all those many years ago and not just in towns but way out in the country. Some of the views look pristine and unspoiled since the war. By zooming out you really get a good view of the whole area. Ground zero for the battle is really awesome. Thank you Google Earth.
     
  18. gerrym

    gerrym New Member

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    Hi Everyone,

    I Google Earth in the Prohorovka and have seen many, many tank tracks in the area. Is there a way I can decipher German tanks from Russian? Is there a map that shows the exact area of the battle. I know there is a large memorial at the site but I have no idea the placement of the participants. Can someone please help me? Thanks

    Gerry
     
  19. Smiley 2.0

    Smiley 2.0 Smiles

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    What stood out the most to me about Kursk and Prokhorovka was a suicidal tactic used by the Russians that had a fair impact on the battle. At times when their tank was either out of shells or was badly damaged, the tank commander would rush his tank up to the German tank and ram into it, most likely disabling or damaging the German tank. it was a suicidal tactic but either way, hats off to the brave tank commanders who sacrificed their lives in that brave of a fashion.
     
  20. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    Which is a myth,spreaded in the west by the charlatan Martin Caiden .
     

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