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A Visual Examination Of The Battle Of Prokhorovka


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#1 MiloMorai

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Posted 28 May 2019 - 1723 PM

https://www.tandfonl...62.2019.1606545

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What do you think of this?


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#2 Martin M

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Posted 29 May 2019 - 0144 AM

Probably interesting, but it seems one needs a bit of training to identify anything.


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#3 Stuart Galbraith

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Posted 29 May 2019 - 0322 AM

The David Glantz book would seem to bear this out, that the Soviets misstepped and lost 2 divisions to little effect. OTOH, it didnt really change anything. The Soviet Defences were just too deep for the Germans to penetrate in the time available. Glantz says that events in italy were more important in calling off the offensive, than the Soviet counterstroke.

 

The photos are interesting. Some are smudged to hell but the ones showing the trenches are really interesting. Its strange, pretty much all luftwaffe recce photos ive ever seen look to be of relatively poor resolution, im not sure why.


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#4 Roman Alymov

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Posted 29 May 2019 - 0425 AM

Prokhorovka fields ourdays

 


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#5 Stefan Kotsch

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Posted 29 May 2019 - 0429 AM

The David Glantz book would seem to bear this out, that the Soviets misstepped and lost 2 divisions to little effect.
.  . .
Glantz says that events in italy were more important in calling off the offensive, than the Soviet counterstroke.

Tactically, the Red Army has didn't exactly cover himself in glory. But strategically Kursk was a success for the Red Army. Yes, Italy, or so. Ultimately, for the Wehrmacht in any case "the shirt had become too short". Strategically a clear failure for the Wehrmacht. I think.


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#6 Stuart Galbraith

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Posted 29 May 2019 - 0515 AM

 

The David Glantz book would seem to bear this out, that the Soviets misstepped and lost 2 divisions to little effect.
.  . .
Glantz says that events in italy were more important in calling off the offensive, than the Soviet counterstroke.

Tactically, the Red Army has didn't exactly cover himself in glory. But strategically Kursk was a success for the Red Army. Yes, Italy, or so. Ultimately, for the Wehrmacht in any case "the shirt had become too short". Strategically a clear failure for the Wehrmacht. I think.

 

 

Where I disagree with the Soviets, from what Glantz says, the Soviets lied when they said it was an counteroffensive success (which ultimately I guess it was, just not there). Their counteroffensive against the German Armour at Prokhorovka was clearly a failure. But looking at the wider battlefield, it demonstrated a success the Soviets were not usually credited with, then or during the cold war. It was a defensive battle. They maxed out defense lines far beyond what they ever had before, and it worked. Brilliantly. But of course, perhaps for their purposes, a defensive battle didnt really suit their purposes. Hence the myth of prokhorovka, where T34's were ramming Tigers, or dispatching them at barrel length. There wasnt even many Tigers at the battle if memory serves. It was mainly Panzer III's.

 

Im not knocking their success. It was just a different nature from how its been portrayed. Kursk has been written as the death ride of the Panzers. It wasnt. What it was, was far more important than that. The strategic initiative had passed from the Germans to the Soviets, and they never gave it back.

 

Yes, you are right, it perhaps might be seen as much as a Wehrmacht strategic failure. They refused to recognise they no longer had the combat power to penetrate defence lines that deep.  Perhaps they never did, it was after all a new Soviet initiative to max out defensive zones out that deep.


Edited by Stuart Galbraith, 29 May 2019 - 0517 AM.

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#7 Ken Estes

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Posted 29 May 2019 - 0515 AM

While their tank actions remained impressive, the German infantry and combat engineers were about shot out by the second or third day. Ninth Army alone had 13,000 casualties by day two. There were no mobile reserves available to exploit the few good breakthroughs that were obtained. Russian arty remained dominant and many of the German heavy AFVs were disabled by barrages. By 7 July the Ninth Army was on the defensive and only Hoth's Panzer Army had momentum left.

 

Basically, the Soviet Army leadership [surviving] had learned much at the wrong end of the German tutors. The Soviet spy network delivered handsomely and the war was already lost. Even Hitler soon referred to Kursk as a 'gamble' even before the offensive was started. 

 

For this supposedly decisive battle, of a total inventory of Tiger tanks produced by June 1943 (340), only some 147 could be assigned to units at Kursk, although five replacements arrived during the fighting. Of the paper strength of 133 Tiger tanks on the eve of battle, only ninety-seven were available on the first day of battle because of maintenance problems and difficulties in marshalling all the vehicles and equipment for a gigantic battle.

 
As Dennis Showalter asserted in his masterly assessment of the Kursk Campaign, the
Red Army demonstrated three points at the outset:
The Soviet ability at all levels to conceal their strength and their dispositions even
as the battle developed; maskirovka did not stop at zero hour … The Soviet ability
to disrupt German timetables … Finally, Kempf’s experiences in particular suggested
that the Germans’ ability to work inside what today would be called the Red Army’s
“observe, orient, decide and act” loop was a diminishing, when not a wasting, asset.

Showalter, Armor and Blood (2013), p. 105

 

The Soviet Army had learned too well from its masters of 1941. It was now able to
anticipate German moves and make assessments to counter them. It was only a matter
of time before they proved capable of executing a sustained offensive campaign.
It was still a close-run thing from the Russian viewpoints. The German forces
had advanced too far in each sector on the first day. Reserves had been thrown into
counterattacks earlier than anticipated, demanding their replacement from higher
headquarters. In similar fashion to the Russian actions against the German Ninth
Army pincer, Marshal Vatutin sent his armor reserves forward: two corps of
the First Tank Army and two Guards tank corps to confront the advancing XLVIII
and II SS Panzer Corps.

Edited by Ken Estes, 29 May 2019 - 0703 AM.

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#8 Stuart Galbraith

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Posted 29 May 2019 - 0520 AM

What was airpower like in this battle? I seem to recall the Luftwaffe had also shot its bolt, and their ability to influence the land battle was less than it had been previously?


Edited by Stuart Galbraith, 29 May 2019 - 0520 AM.

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#9 MiloMorai

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Posted 29 May 2019 - 0534 AM

Here you go Stuart.

http://www.oocities....66/lwkursk.html

http://www.oocities....ul42.html#May43


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#10 Stuart Galbraith

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Posted 29 May 2019 - 0542 AM

 

Cheers for that.

 

On the face of it, that really doesnt look much for such an important offensive?


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#11 Ken Estes

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Posted 29 May 2019 - 0717 AM

They really were out of gas. Two field armies had surrendered in early 1943: Sixth Army at Stalingrad and Italo-German African Army at Tunisia. The weakened German Army in the East Front now lacked most of its allies, the Italians and Hungarians withdrawing their forces from Russia and Romania reducing its contingent. Finland, as always, conducted a war almost unrelated to German plans and objectives. The difference was Hitler himself. A victory against Russia in 1943 would not only rally his wavering allies, but also might move Turkey more into the Axis orbit. Also, if there was ever to be a negotiated peace with Stalin, it could best proceed from some advantages, yet to be determined. So, the manifest need for an offensive remained with little debate, but the question was where this would be.

 
The salient left in the aftermath of the winter struggles bulged to the west between the Army Groups Center and South. A battle of annihilation successfully fought there would pinch out a considerable expanse of recently lost territory and would inflict losses upon the Russian forces, rendering them less able to counter further moves against revived German forces on a shorter front. Unfortunately for the Germans, the entire scope and sufficient detail of the German planning became known to the Russians early enough to construct a fortified zone within the Kursk salient, which posed hitherto unknown concentrations of defensive forces with minefields, obstacles, and fortifications the likes of which had never been encountered in Russia. Successive delays imposed by the German command in order to increase the numbers of new weapons, especially Tiger and Panther tanks, into their forces simply bolstered the strength of Russian defensive positions and reinforcements, including forces now concentrating quietly on the flanks of the Kursk salient for a timely counteroffensive once the German assault had been stopped.By July, the Kursk defenses presented up to six successive zones of defense, each of which had several components to a depth of some fifty miles to the rear. There were even two more positions constructed in the Steppe Front, extending the depth of defenses to some 200 miles. In all of these, multiple entrenched and fortified positions hid almost a million men in their trenches, blockhouses, and bunkers, fronted by some 640,000 mines and backed by 20,000 guns and mortars, 300 rocket launchers, and 3,300 tanks. Tactical training included the latest wisdom on how to stop the Tiger tanks and other machines about to enter use, based upon previous experience in the year—firing at tank tracks with anti-tank guns and field guns; firing artillery barrages; and creating fire pockets where anti-tank guns could bear on the lesser armored flanks of the advancing tanks instead of their frontal armor. Above all, camouflage, concealment, and deception ruled in the salient. The Germans were attacking against forces superior in numbers of men and every type of equipment between 2.5 and 1.5 to 1 favoring the Red Army and supporting aviation. All the Germans could hope for was that tactical skills and determinations of the individual soldier and his commanders might carry the day. At Kursk, however, there would be too much time taken at each phase of the operation, with little opportunity to gain any lasting advantage.

Edited by Ken Estes, 29 May 2019 - 0719 AM.

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#12 Mobius

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Posted 29 May 2019 - 0802 AM

In each of the months leading to Kursk the Soviets built 1400 T-34s.  Losing 285 in an attack is a drop in the bucket.

Those photos are a good reference.  I had to build a map of the battlefield and didn't have a good idea of where the anti-tank trench was.

Plus Google Earth has good coverage of that area plus street views of some of the minor roads.


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#13 Stuart Galbraith

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Posted 29 May 2019 - 0809 AM

Yeah, I found they had some good coverage of Eastern Ukraine after the MH17 shootdown. That wasnt too far away.


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#14 Ken Estes

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Posted 29 May 2019 - 0935 AM

One thing Kursk did to the Russians was to snap them out of their tank quality vs quantity dead end. The slaughter of T-34s by long 75mm and 88mm cannon made their tactics rather suicidal. 

 

The fighting power of the Tiger tank gained much respect from the Russians during
the Kursk fighting. Almost everywhere, Tiger tanks were reported on the move as well
as Ferdinands, far in excess of their limited numbers it would appear. In a similar
fashion to what U.S. and British Commonwealth troops would report on the Western
Front, any box-like tank shape became a Tiger, and in the east, any assault gun might
be reported as a Ferdinand or Elefant. After Kursk, the Russians remained in no doubt
that their T-34 mainstay medium tank was seriously outclassed and obsolete in face
of the German armor fielded in 1943. Having been content to produce the greatest
number of tanks of all types thus far in the war, the search began for at least better
tank cannon that could penetrate German tanks at greater than suicidal distances. In
December, a new three-man turret mounting an 85-mm gun went into production on
the T-34 medium and KV-1 heavy tank, and work accelerated on a new heavy tank
employing a 122-mm cannon derived from an existing field gun. The resulting IS-2
heavy tank began production in early 1944, but in limited numbers for designated
breakthrough regiments. As an interim measure, the Russians began production of
76-mm high-velocity ammunition with tungsten sub-caliber penetrators in February
1944 for the older T-34s that perforce remained a backbone of the Army.
 
The brief period of the Tiger’s battlefield dominance experienced in 1943 would
therefore eclipse in time; however, the prospects for the German Army in the Russian
Front turned worse much faster. On January 1, 1944, the Red Army had 24,400 tanks
on hand (including 10,300 light tanks). Throughout the remainder of that year, the
German Army faced them with no more than 1644 tanks on hand, with no more than
1,404 operational. The German Army would lose 641 Tiger I tanks in the Eastern
Front from December 1943 to November 1944, representing 48 percent of the Tigers
built through production ending that August.

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#15 KV7

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Posted 29 May 2019 - 0953 AM

Why didn't the Soviets make more use of the plentiful infantry and artillery they had, rather than engaging in a tank on tank clash ?


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#16 Stuart Galbraith

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Posted 29 May 2019 - 1001 AM

They did, at least in the initial defensive battle. I seem to recall reading (perhaps again in Glantz) they had entire companies (battalions even) setup of Anti Tank Riflemen. Individually they were not much cop, en mass, they would do a lot of damage to even heavy tanks. And the initial defensive actions were undertaken by ordinary rifle divisions, which paid a heavy price for the delay they gave.

 

The idea seem to be to use the infantry to mop them up like blotting paper, kill the accompanying infantry, channel the enemy thrust lines, then attack the tanks later in the flank with some Tank Corp (really divisions). Which all worked, certainly in the North. In the the south too, except for the unfortunate mistiming at Prokhorovka. If they had really hit the German advance in the flank as planned, possibly it really would have been as epic as Soviet propaganda later sold it. No matter, as others have said, they could afford it.

 

 

Thanks also for that Ken, thats interesting. So what kind of percentage of Tigers I's did they ultimately lose in the East?


Edited by Stuart Galbraith, 29 May 2019 - 1002 AM.

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#17 KV7

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Posted 29 May 2019 - 1023 AM

Did they have and use RPG-43 ?


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#18 Martin M

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Posted 29 May 2019 - 1026 AM

so tell me please, where does any of us see a tank on any of the fotos ?   I can see spots and blotches. They could be tanks if you were used to anaylizing such fotos.


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#19 Mobius

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Posted 29 May 2019 - 1226 PM

 

 As an interim measure, the Russians began production of

76-mm high-velocity ammunition with tungsten sub-caliber penetrators in February
1944 for the older T-34s that perforce remained a backbone of the Army.

 

It was most likely before then.

From the post Kursk tests on the Ferdinand.

 

 

September 24th, 1943.

Trials against an 88 mm SPG "Ferdinand" show the following results:
Effectiveness of firing:
76 mm mod. 1942 ZIS-3. The subcaliber shell makes a penetration 27 mm in diameter from 400 meters. The depth of the indentation is 100 mm. The destructive power is the same as of the 45 mm subcaliber shell.

 

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#20 Martin M

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Posted 30 May 2019 - 0126 AM

so nobody else does either  :glare:


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