Visit The Scenario Depot
Newest Scenarios
CMAK
A Very British Civil War
Note: this is clearly a “what-if” scenario, loosely based on the bustling miniatures war gaming off-shoot of the same name. Outstanding work has been done by Solway Crafts and Miniatures, and I credit them with the brilliance of this war gaming theme.
Background
England, May 1938 (designer note: note the in-game calendar notes “1944”; this is only to create the optics of lush green environment of the British Isles)
Weather: overcast, mild, dry
The very social fabric of Great Britain was torn during the apocalypse that was The Great War. The mightiest empire on the globe ended victorious, but at what cost? The rigid social hierarchy was shaken, and the world wide waves of social change did not stop at the English Channel. Class structure, worker’s rights, regional animosities have all brewed in the decades following the Great War. This has all been exacerbated by the crippling economic crisis of the 1930s, to which the ever cautious government responded to by constricting public spending ever more.
In May 1937, King Edward VIII of the United Kingdom married Wallis Simpson. The marriage to Wallis was not supported by Stanley Baldwin, the British Prime Minister; and King Edward refused to abdicate. This marriage left the British government, and most of the people, alienated; and public hatred for King Edward and Queen Wallis rose. Parliament was torn, and in the general election of 1937, Baldwin was defeated. The Conservative party, ripped by the issue of King Edward’s marriage, as well as economic and regional tensions, broke apart, and a large segment of the Tory support went to the British Union of Fascists. Oswald Mosley’s promise to ensure public order, and shore up the Empire, resonated with a public tired of public disturbances, strikes in essential services, and the economic malaise. The Labour party too split, with the more radical sections forming their own splinter parties which ran their own candidates. The 1937 election results saw a fractured parliament, and although only winning slightly over 200 seats, and less than 30% of the vote, the BUF formed the largest caucus in the House of Commons. King Edward VIII asked Oswald Mosely to form a government. Mosley did so and almost immediately issued “Orders of Council”, outlawing strikes, restricting collective bargaining, and establishing new offences for unauthorized public gatherings, and publishing “any article intended to alarm the public”. Any opposition was swiftly responded to, if not by the police, then by Mosely’s own BUF Blackshirts, the BUF’s paramilitary wing.
In January 1938, a protest by Dockyard workers in Liverpool was brutally crushed by the BUF and elements of the Regular Army; and violent clashes began across the country; between the Kings troops and those of several other factions. The British Civil War has begun!

Factions: The outbreak of conflict led several groups to attempt to seize the country or their own personal goals. Major factions included:
On the Right (Axis in this scenario
* The Edwardian Army – elements of the professional Army, bound to King Edward VIII.
* The Royal Navy and Royal Marines – bound by tradition and culture to remain loyal to the reigning monarch, and the majority have done so.
* The British Union of Fascists (or “BUF”) – the dominant political party, led by Oswald MOSLEY and heavily backed by German and Italian interests. Mosley has garnered considerable support in his efforts to restore order internally and restore the status of Britain’s Empire
* The Mosley Youth – a “social club” of young men, who have been drilled and armed by unknown sources, and have formed para-military units to push the BUF agenda.
* Foreign Volunteer Units: after the recruiting of numerous foreign elements to fight in the Spanish Civil War, similar detachments have been formed to back those with similar agendas in the British Civil War. Contingents from other fascist and imperialist sympathizers have been formed. Here we will see the presence of the “Hanoverian Legion”, volunteers from Germany, who are backing the Edwardian and BUF efforts
On the Left (Allied in this scenario)
* The Albertine Army – elements of the regular forces, plus most of the “Territorial Army”, backing the young Prince Albert’s claim to the throne.
* The Anglican League - A large army led by a group of bishops and archbishops, they were aligned with the Albertine Army. Many are veterans of the Great War.
* The People’s Party Army - Made up of disillusioned Labour party supporters, disgruntled workers and Spanish Civil War veterans, they are seeking to turn Britain into a Socialist state based upon Lenin's Russia.
* The Farmer’s Union: radical small plot farmers and farm working hands, seeking better pay, price subsidies, and land redistribution. They are heavily influenced by Marxist doctrine.
* The Student’s Union: like students before and after them, the university students have ramparts to thwart whomever they view as authoritarian,
* Foreign Volunteer Units: after the recruiting of numerous foreign elements to fight in the Spanish Civil War, similar detachments have been formed to back those with similar agendas in the British Civil War. Groups of Americans, Canadians, and ANZAC units have been formed; here we will see the Lafayette Battalion, formed of French volunteers, many fresh from the savage fighting in Spain.
This scenario occurs in the West Coast port town of Twaddlemore. Twaddlemore is the home base for a small Royal Navy destroyer flotilla, as well as being a mid-sized port for international commerce. Given that the United Kingdom lives or dies based on this freedom to trade overseas, the port is vital to all in this conflict. The Royal Navy, which for the most part has remained loyal to King Edward VIII, dispatched the flotilla two days ago to join the rest of the fleet, tasked with stemming the flow of foreign volunteers coming to fight for their faction of choice. Many of these foreigners have come directly from fighting for the Nationalists or the Republicans in Spain, who have endured two years of their own brutal Civil War already.
Yesterday the dock workers, who are heavily influenced by communist agents and are affiliated with the People’s Party, refused to move armaments stored in the dock warehouses. Instead, they armed themselves and fighting broke out when security staff sought to control the situation. Who opened fire first is both in dispute and a moot point at this juncture. A company of the Army’s Provost Corps was rushed to Twaddlemore by train, but a bomb was used to derail the trail just outside of town. Multiple factions are either in town currently or rumoured to be headed this way. The Telephone Exchange is the key to communicating with the rest of the country, and is clearly a goal to secure. Likewise, the docks and the armaments stored there in are also of immense value. Lastly, the mysterious new Wireless Tower being built on the south shore is of unknown value, as the work crews are from “away” and appear to be quite Teutonic in manner.
This battle will surely prove that the term “Civil War” is clearly a misnomer.
A historically fictional 'what if' look at the events leading up to the Deutsche Afrika Korps capture of Tobruk in June 1942.
SCENARIO DESCRIPTION
A meeting engagement played out in the wooded terrain of the Ardennes at the beginning of the Bulge. 60+ turns.

The Germans are trying to seize important territory: bridges, cross-roads, and towns to allow breakthrough armored thrusts. Central to this map is the village of L’Shone and its surrounding road network.

The Americans are trying to occupy the same terrain to prevent its use by the Germans.

Best played as: H2H
Second Best played as: H2H
(Not designed for vs. AI play due to mounted units)

Map edge friendly to Axis: East. Map edge friendly to Allies: West.

It is hard to believe that it was only a week ago when we first heard of “The Outbreak”. Initially it was thought to be a terrorist biological attack, with outbreaks in large cities overwhelming medical facilities. But soon it was apparent it was much more… the more we hear, the more we realize that we know very little – the cause – the prognosis – or the scale of this crisis. All remain unknown – at least to the general populace. What the “government” knows may be something else again.
You are Jack McCann, police chief in the small coastal tourist town of Shady Acres, Maine. Normally by this time of the year, your town is overrun with loud tourists from the cities of the East Coast. If only that were the case.
Four days ago a large staff of the Center for Disease Control showed up at the Town Hall, and brusquely informed the Mayor, Chuck Zeto, that the Federal Government was immediately taking control of “Shady Island”, a favourite picnic spot in the bay. This was all one-way communication, you don’t know much more other than soon thereafter a convoy of sealed trucks arrived and barbed wire was being strung across the access bridge to the island.
The National Guard has been mobilized, and your own police force has been placed under the command of the governor’s office.
And yet even now, you are not sure why. A strange illness has swept the globe, but what little news was initially released was like something from a bad movie. Now that trickle of news has stopped altogether. The official story is that a Chinese cyber attack has shut down the Internet, but this being Small Town America, there are a lot of conspiracy theories floating about.
The Mayor, Chuck Zeto, who also is the local bank manager, has asked that citizens assist in securing the town from whatever threats may arise. Given that the local National Rifle Association sponsored Chuck’s last campaign, their members were eager to show their affinity for the 2nd amendment and reaffirm their ownership of large capacity magazines and assault rifles. With some hesitation, you agreed to deputize these men, but have asked them to stay at home until they may actually be required. Their training and experience doesn’t necessarily match their enthusiasm.
You were at your office all night. You had a call from Doctor Jacobie at the hospital. Dr. Jacobie, a Vietnam war draft dodger who only returned from Canada in the 1990s, is determined to ignore what he considers a “fascist edict” that all patients in suspected cases of the “outbreak” be turned over to the C.D.C. immediately and quarantined on the Island. “It reminds me of the interment of the Japanese in 1942!” Jacobie ranted, and he said he would treat all patients as “patients, not criminals”. At that, you sent two teams of part time deputies to the hospital to deal with any issues that may arise.
The town is an important transportation hub, in that the coastal railway runs through the town. The Railway has deployed their own security at the train station, as if there is an epidemic, it is important to prevent those infected from traveling. Hopefully they have enough staff to do the job.
You remained in your office all night, and it seemed that things may be calming down, but then with a complete news black out, and the mute C.D.C. guards by the island Park, who knows? You did receive several calls from citizens overnight, reporting screams and other noises from the areas near cemeteries last night; typically the local teens will go there to drink and smoke up. Although you usually will send a Deputy to put the run on them, there are more important things to do now.
The sun is coming up, but a heavy thick fog has blankets the town. A convoy of C.D.C. relieve staff are expected in from Bangor any minute; hopefully they have some news. To allow your exhausted staff get some needed rest, two detachments of National Guard troops will be arriving, one is about 5 minutes away and a second convoy from the east in another 5 minutes after that. It will be good to get home and hit the sheets. You are so tired you feel like the walking dead.
Your phone rings. It is the security detail from the train station. Old man Codger, a elderly farmer who lives north east of town, has just shown up at the Rail station, out of breath and terrified. He is rambling about being attacked at his home, and that the only way he could escape is by setting the buildings on fire. You had better send a Deputy to go interview him. It sounds bizarre.
The phone rings again… it is Deputy Boomhauer at the hospital. He sounds quite distraught. Apparently the hospital was overwhelmed with patients overnight, and now he reports the motion detector alarms in the morgue have gone off.
At that second the switch board lights up, and several simultaneous “10-78” calls are received – “officer need assistance!”… What the?????”

This scenario is
1) Meant strictly for play against the AI. Although it one player wants to try playing the Axis/Zombies, please feel free.
2) The scenario is meant to be strictly for fun.
3) Watch you ammo loads. Shoot for the head. You only have the ammo you brought into the fight.
August 12,1944. France. SE of Argentan.
Married platoons of U.S. 5th Armored Division
night out-posts.
France, 1940 - Case Red.

Heavy Tanks of the 4th DCR must smash a hole in the advancing German line - but there are complications.
At Dornot, the U.S. Third Army's XX Corps' first attempt to establish a bridgehead on the Moselle River south of Metz met bloody failure. Two and a half miles south of Dornot the XX Corps' 10 Infantry Regiment is trying once more to establish a permanent bridgehead across the Moselle at Arnaville. Since the first U.S. troops crossed at Arnaville on the night of 8/9 September, the Germans have been launching increasingly vicious counterattacks in an effort to destroy the bridgehead and repeat what happened at Dornot.
This is an Aug 44 meeting engagement between Brit and German mech forces in Belgium. The map is based on a satellite photo of Neubruck just southeast of St. Vith.
Cassino town was destroyed by Allied Airforces on Wednesday, March 15th, along with the abby known as Monte Cassino. "The town was blown assunder and beaten into heaps of rubble, the official British history reported. Yet hundreds of bombs and thousands of shells failed to pound the town to powder, contrary to Allied expectations, nor were the surviving defenders 'rendered comatose', as planned." --The Day of Battle
Normandy - known for its rolling fields, orchards, stud farms and a good glass of cider. Sheltered from the elements which can pound the coastline this is a landscape is carpeted in apple blossom. It is here, at the heart of one of the best designated cider producing areas that you will find the Chateau les Bruyîres, an Empire period residence and 18th century manor house - run by the Wehrmacht. It is your task to put an end to this inappropriate ownership.
CMBB
The Axis launch a major attack on the Allied defenses.
Soviet vs. German Meeting Engagement. 60+ turns.
Best played as: H2H (Not recommended for vs. AI play due to mounted infantry.)

In recent weeks, this industrial center has been the scene of increasingly sharp clashes between recon units and regular forces. Both sides have traded jabs over this important airplane fabrication city. Both have moved into the town and then been forced out again. No one seems to be able to hold it. The landing gear assembly plant on the edge of town was occupied by the Red Army a few days ago and then burned and destroyed as the Wehrmacht forced them out. Much of the town lies untouched, but the workers and residents know it is just a matter of time before a major battle rages through the streets of their city…

After another bloody engagement, both sides have backed off. Again, in the still of a Sunday morning under the cover of a pounding rainstorm, both sides push forces forward to gain possession of the city.

No one is sure where the front lines lie. Is the enemy in front of you? Or is he gone?

Push forward, as so many before you have tried, and hold this town once and for all!
This is a CMBB scenario, modelling Plan Yellow in France in May 1940.
It is a "dynamic flag" scenario, on a large map that will provide many options in attack and defence.
July 1941, a german advance detachment, composed of motorized infantry with Stug support, attempts to cut off retreating russian forces.
Russians attack three German-held villages in an attempt to secure the flank of a future offensive.
July, 1944. Operation Bagration already going on since one month. The german north front runs danger to be cut off. Setting down of german troops in western direction
runs among constant attacks of soviet armoured shock forces...
43-02-01, South. SS commandos save Kleist's troops from encirclement. Fictional.
42-07-10, South. Axis forces in Group A cross the Donits to secure northern flank in the beggining of Fall Blau Operation. Semi-fictional.
October, 1942
In the northern Caucaus, along the Terek river line, the battle has been raging brutally for nearly two months. Germany's 13.Panzer-Division tasked with taking the key junction city of Vladikavkaz (Ordzhonikidze) has been stymied in it's every attempt to breakthrough.

But now, at the end of October a break has been achieved through the first mountain range and panzers are rolling along the valley near Ardon, on a back route to Vladikavkaz.

The Russians, somewhat disorganized, are withdrawing to new positions. A desperate stand is ordered to slow the German advance and buy time to set-up the new defensive positions.

Russian breakout from a Kessel against a German blocking force.
CMBO
German infantry dawn attack during the Battle of the Bulge. American infantry caught off-guard whilst lining up for chow.

VPs for casualties and German exit points only.
Before dawn on D-Day the British airbourne must destroy the gun batteries at Vierville.
Koen - A Town to conquer
*****************************************

a Couple of weeks ago the Allies have conquered one of the major towns in France.

Now the Germans broke through the American line of defense in the Ardennes and are advancing rapidly towards this town.

Can the Allied commander hold this town?
November 1944, the French 2nd Armored Division is tasked to breach the German fortified line of the Vosges mountains. This battle takes place on the second days of the attack. The different French Task forces are competing with each other in order to be the first to reach the plain of Alsace. The company team Minjonnet (part of the Task Force Massu) blocked close to Voyer in a narrow valley by German remnants of the 708. ID has to bypass quickly this resistance. The French can be sure that their old enemy is not about to ease their action !
An American WWII GI's dream come true- a "what if" American assault on Berlin AND a chance to personally bag the ol'Führer himself!
Arnhem Bridge battle. British airborne against armoured SS.
Updated Scenarios
CMAK
A Very British Civil War
Note: this is clearly a “what-if” scenario, loosely based on the bustling miniatures war gaming off-shoot of the same name. Outstanding work has been done by Solway Crafts and Miniatures, and I credit them with the brilliance of this war gaming theme.
Background
England, May 1938 (designer note: note the in-game calendar notes “1944”; this is only to create the optics of lush green environment of the British Isles)
Weather: overcast, mild, dry
The very social fabric of Great Britain was torn during the apocalypse that was The Great War. The mightiest empire on the globe ended victorious, but at what cost? The rigid social hierarchy was shaken, and the world wide waves of social change did not stop at the English Channel. Class structure, worker’s rights, regional animosities have all brewed in the decades following the Great War. This has all been exacerbated by the crippling economic crisis of the 1930s, to which the ever cautious government responded to by constricting public spending ever more.
In May 1937, King Edward VIII of the United Kingdom married Wallis Simpson. The marriage to Wallis was not supported by Stanley Baldwin, the British Prime Minister; and King Edward refused to abdicate. This marriage left the British government, and most of the people, alienated; and public hatred for King Edward and Queen Wallis rose. Parliament was torn, and in the general election of 1937, Baldwin was defeated. The Conservative party, ripped by the issue of King Edward’s marriage, as well as economic and regional tensions, broke apart, and a large segment of the Tory support went to the British Union of Fascists. Oswald Mosley’s promise to ensure public order, and shore up the Empire, resonated with a public tired of public disturbances, strikes in essential services, and the economic malaise. The Labour party too split, with the more radical sections forming their own splinter parties which ran their own candidates. The 1937 election results saw a fractured parliament, and although only winning slightly over 200 seats, and less than 30% of the vote, the BUF formed the largest caucus in the House of Commons. King Edward VIII asked Oswald Mosely to form a government. Mosley did so and almost immediately issued “Orders of Council”, outlawing strikes, restricting collective bargaining, and establishing new offences for unauthorized public gatherings, and publishing “any article intended to alarm the public”. Any opposition was swiftly responded to, if not by the police, then by Mosely’s own BUF Blackshirts, the BUF’s paramilitary wing.
In January 1938, a protest by Dockyard workers in Liverpool was brutally crushed by the BUF and elements of the Regular Army; and violent clashes began across the country; between the Kings troops and those of several other factions. The British Civil War has begun!

Factions: The outbreak of conflict led several groups to attempt to seize the country or their own personal goals. Major factions included:
On the Right (Axis in this scenario
* The Edwardian Army – elements of the professional Army, bound to King Edward VIII.
* The Royal Navy and Royal Marines – bound by tradition and culture to remain loyal to the reigning monarch, and the majority have done so.
* The British Union of Fascists (or “BUF”) – the dominant political party, led by Oswald MOSLEY and heavily backed by German and Italian interests. Mosley has garnered considerable support in his efforts to restore order internally and restore the status of Britain’s Empire
* The Mosley Youth – a “social club” of young men, who have been drilled and armed by unknown sources, and have formed para-military units to push the BUF agenda.
* Foreign Volunteer Units: after the recruiting of numerous foreign elements to fight in the Spanish Civil War, similar detachments have been formed to back those with similar agendas in the British Civil War. Contingents from other fascist and imperialist sympathizers have been formed. Here we will see the presence of the “Hanoverian Legion”, volunteers from Germany, who are backing the Edwardian and BUF efforts
On the Left (Allied in this scenario)
* The Albertine Army – elements of the regular forces, plus most of the “Territorial Army”, backing the young Prince Albert’s claim to the throne.
* The Anglican League - A large army led by a group of bishops and archbishops, they were aligned with the Albertine Army. Many are veterans of the Great War.
* The People’s Party Army - Made up of disillusioned Labour party supporters, disgruntled workers and Spanish Civil War veterans, they are seeking to turn Britain into a Socialist state based upon Lenin's Russia.
* The Farmer’s Union: radical small plot farmers and farm working hands, seeking better pay, price subsidies, and land redistribution. They are heavily influenced by Marxist doctrine.
* The Student’s Union: like students before and after them, the university students have ramparts to thwart whomever they view as authoritarian,
* Foreign Volunteer Units: after the recruiting of numerous foreign elements to fight in the Spanish Civil War, similar detachments have been formed to back those with similar agendas in the British Civil War. Groups of Americans, Canadians, and ANZAC units have been formed; here we will see the Lafayette Battalion, formed of French volunteers, many fresh from the savage fighting in Spain.
This scenario occurs in the West Coast port town of Twaddlemore. Twaddlemore is the home base for a small Royal Navy destroyer flotilla, as well as being a mid-sized port for international commerce. Given that the United Kingdom lives or dies based on this freedom to trade overseas, the port is vital to all in this conflict. The Royal Navy, which for the most part has remained loyal to King Edward VIII, dispatched the flotilla two days ago to join the rest of the fleet, tasked with stemming the flow of foreign volunteers coming to fight for their faction of choice. Many of these foreigners have come directly from fighting for the Nationalists or the Republicans in Spain, who have endured two years of their own brutal Civil War already.
Yesterday the dock workers, who are heavily influenced by communist agents and are affiliated with the People’s Party, refused to move armaments stored in the dock warehouses. Instead, they armed themselves and fighting broke out when security staff sought to control the situation. Who opened fire first is both in dispute and a moot point at this juncture. A company of the Army’s Provost Corps was rushed to Twaddlemore by train, but a bomb was used to derail the trail just outside of town. Multiple factions are either in town currently or rumoured to be headed this way. The Telephone Exchange is the key to communicating with the rest of the country, and is clearly a goal to secure. Likewise, the docks and the armaments stored there in are also of immense value. Lastly, the mysterious new Wireless Tower being built on the south shore is of unknown value, as the work crews are from “away” and appear to be quite Teutonic in manner.
This battle will surely prove that the term “Civil War” is clearly a misnomer.
A historically fictional 'what if' look at the events leading up to the Deutsche Afrika Korps capture of Tobruk in June 1942.
France, 1940 - Case Red.

Heavy Tanks of the 4th DCR must smash a hole in the advancing German line - but there are complications.
Axis and Allied forces clash for a town and large hill.
This is an Aug 44 meeting engagement between Brit and German mech forces in Belgium. The map is based on a satellite photo of Neubruck just southeast of St. Vith.
At Dornot, the U.S. Third Army's XX Corps' first attempt to establish a bridgehead on the Moselle River south of Metz met bloody failure. Two and a half miles south of Dornot the XX Corps' 10 Infantry Regiment is trying once more to establish a permanent bridgehead across the Moselle at Arnaville. Since the first U.S. troops crossed at Arnaville on the night of 8/9 September, the Germans have been launching increasingly vicious counterattacks in an effort to destroy the bridgehead and repeat what happened at Dornot.
Normandy - known for its rolling fields, orchards, stud farms and a good glass of cider. Sheltered from the elements which can pound the coastline this is a landscape is carpeted in apple blossom. It is here, at the heart of one of the best designated cider producing areas that you will find the Chateau les Bruyîres, an Empire period residence and 18th century manor house - run by the Wehrmacht. It is your task to put an end to this inappropriate ownership.
US Army invades an island defended by Italian Troops.

Map is 1200x1200.
Non-Historical.
20 Battles 10 Turns each.

Play HtH (Preferred), or Allied vs. Axis AI.
Allow AI to setup units, there is no pre-planned setup for the defender yet.
Two Reinforced Infantry Companies with Armor Support clash in this typical Meeting Engagement.
engineering company attacks dug in german positions somewhere near monte cassino to capture wine stash for captain hosehead
CMBB
Soviet vs. German Meeting Engagement. 60+ turns.
Best played as: H2H (Not recommended for vs. AI play due to mounted infantry.)

In recent weeks, this industrial center has been the scene of increasingly sharp clashes between recon units and regular forces. Both sides have traded jabs over this important airplane fabrication city. Both have moved into the town and then been forced out again. No one seems to be able to hold it. The landing gear assembly plant on the edge of town was occupied by the Red Army a few days ago and then burned and destroyed as the Wehrmacht forced them out. Much of the town lies untouched, but the workers and residents know it is just a matter of time before a major battle rages through the streets of their city…

After another bloody engagement, both sides have backed off. Again, in the still of a Sunday morning under the cover of a pounding rainstorm, both sides push forces forward to gain possession of the city.

No one is sure where the front lines lie. Is the enemy in front of you? Or is he gone?

Push forward, as so many before you have tried, and hold this town once and for all!
The Axis launch a major attack on the Allied defenses.
Russians attack three German-held villages in an attempt to secure the flank of a future offensive.
Russian breakout from a Kessel against a German blocking force.
43-02-01, South. SS commandos save Kleist's troops from encirclement. Fictional.
42-07-10, South. Axis forces in Group A cross the Donits to secure northern flank in the beggining of Fall Blau Operation. Semi-fictional.
October, 1942
In the northern Caucaus, along the Terek river line, the battle has been raging brutally for nearly two months. Germany's 13.Panzer-Division tasked with taking the key junction city of Vladikavkaz (Ordzhonikidze) has been stymied in it's every attempt to breakthrough.

But now, at the end of October a break has been achieved through the first mountain range and panzers are rolling along the valley near Ardon, on a back route to Vladikavkaz.

The Russians, somewhat disorganized, are withdrawing to new positions. A desperate stand is ordered to slow the German advance and buy time to set-up the new defensive positions.

a product of HDCS

3rd SS Totenkopf arrives back at the front after its Hiatus from the front in France and is immediately thrown back into action.

Follow the swift Donet's campaign the IInd SS panzer Korps stands poised for the final push too retake Kharkov and restore the pride of the Waffen SS, but they have too cross the Mzha river first.

Alternative History : Moskow Decision
This the first of a series of fictional scenarios based on the hipotetic decision by Hitler to attack Moskow instead of Kiev during the august 1941.
The german offensive to Moskow is starting, the first task is to take the bridge over the Dnjepr between Smolensk and Viazma.
Alternative History : Moskow Decision
This the first of a series of fictional scenarios based on the hipotetic decision by Hitler to attack Moskow instead of Kiev during the august 1941.
The german offensive to Moskow is starting, the first task is to take the bridge over the Dnjepr between Smolensk and Viazma.
CMBO
German infantry dawn attack during the Battle of the Bulge. American infantry caught off-guard whilst lining up for chow.

VPs for casualties and German exit points only.
An American WWII GI's dream come true- a "what if" American assault on Berlin AND a chance to personally bag the ol'Führer himself!
Newest Maps
CMAK
a fictional Town in North Africa.
Fictional City in North Africa. Best played as a meeting
engagement.
Fictional City in North Africa. Best played as a meeting
engagement.
Version 2, church size and orientation adjusted to be in village center. Minor adjustments such as villages, small hills and ridges around the wheat fields.
Mixed terrain, woods, open fields, villages, church, river, bridges.
This is a huge (actually 5 x 4 km) map representing a piece of French countryside west of the town of Arras. It is flat (gentle slopes) and moderately populated with villages, forests, orchards and the like. It is suitable for a massive battle of regiment-sized forces (15,000 points or more).
Fictional Map, Crete, An almost compleatly dried up river bed with a ruined bridge across, 2 small hamlets on either side
The axis forces have captured the ridge east of Lieso. It´s been quiet over a month, so they have had enough time to dig deep in the ridge.

Allied forces are attacking with brutal force from east. Tuomari-Laurila has already been taken.
The axis forces are about to assault a little town called Lieso in aim to capture a road that leads through a ridge to deeper east. The allied forces are dug in somewhere around the old elementary school.
A small river splits a large map, with lots of roads and 6 bridges to control and a town also to control. This map is for meeting engagements and no side has a terrain advantage. Hopefully this will boil down to your choice of units and your game play.
CMBB
Beautiful and challenging map perfect for direct or flank approach. Fight in the woods, the streets, the buildings or inside a small factory! Great for infantery with some armor and artillerie support and IDEAL for a quick motorized assault in the middle of a foggy night.
This was a work in progress for the cancelled CM Campaigns. Maps are both operations and battles. Four maps included. One is large version (75% accurate scale) of the entire fortress of Brest Litovsk and immediate area. Others are 2 km x 2 km maps of the north and south portions of the fortress. You are welcome to use these maps as long as your credit "Bannon DC" for map creation.
1600x1600m, middle eastern front,
3 big victory locations in the middle of the map,
4 additional small flags,
medium settlement with surrounding rural areas,
some hills, woods and farmland,
a small river crossing from N to S,
prepared setup-zones for both sides,
therefor I call it battlefield-map.
Germans advance easily untill they find... A speed bump on the road to Leningrad
This Map is designed for Meeting engagements, it is set in a fictional City.
A medium town lying crosswisely to the advance direction. In and around the town gardens and fields, some bush and tree rows.
2 small rivers with some fords.
Only 1 large victory location.
Best used for meeting engagements.
Damaged large town/small city divided by a river. Contains several bridges, an old fortress, stadium, factories, railway station, and an old manor. Flags spread pretty evenly out on the map, made for a QB axis attack. IMPORTANT: ONLY FOR USE WITH UMLAUTS STALINGRAD MODS. You most use the scenario with these three mods found at www.cmmods.com:

FULL_telephonepole_umlaut
rubble_spray_umlaut
stalingrad_buildings_umlaut
Stalingrad-ish map made for Umlaut´s Stalingrad-mods.
29 2x2km maps. Various terrain; city, village, farmland, deep forests ...

They all quite beatuful ;)
I know it was UK and not USSR! but i didnt own CMAK when i made the level and i dont want to do everything over again so USSR must equal UK! its a fun level with the FJ troops in the greatest air invasion prior to D-Day.
CMBO
This CMBO map is built from a topographical map of the little town of Seville, NE of Melbourne, Australia. My idea was to lauch a Brit brigade (3 btns) across it at a German static defence screening mobile reserves.
Desiliens is an ancient Roman town. The map features the ruins of the town, an aquaduct, and the ruins of a villa on a low central hill.

The eastern side of the map is mostly woods, the west is hills and farms. It is most suitable for an assault on the town, but if the focus is shifted to the ruined villa it would be good for a meeting engagement.
Updated Maps
CMAK
Ideal for a QB ME
CMBB
This Map is designed for Meeting engagements, it is set in a fictional City.
axis winterattack on a Russian City
Please feel free to download, use or edit the map.

Screenshots can be found here:

http://worldatwar.eu/index.php?entity_sess=512x00db4fede3b24a34db2c5e9d283f162c&lang=3&location=boardshownode&boardid=51
A town with a river and lake surrounded by grainfields
Map is based on a sketch in the book > Die guten Glaubens waren< the history of the SS Polizei Division and shows a hard-fought area south of Leningrad. The Observatory was not reached by the Germans although they really tried it
This is part of a series of maps on the so-called Ladoga
Front
CMBO
Newest Members
Jamalzorg
fmondana
haggisdog
fbeck
Smitty

Scenarios  (509)
Maps  (118)
Opponents  (11111)

 

Research Area
Quick Jump:

 

Keyword Search:  
NAME MESSAGE
Prochorovka WWII's Greatest Tank Battle
MAD RUSSIAN
Senior Tester

Member #468
SUPPORTER
2010
2009
2008
2007
Joined: Oct 2003
Ratings: 14 / 1 / 0
Discussions: 138
Post #379   3474 days, 19 hours, 10 minutes, 39 seconds ago           
In the past several years there have been many inaccuracies and outright lies about the following battle in Soviet/Russian literature and mass-media. One of the most inaccurate are the memoirs of the 5th Gds. Tank Army's Commander P.A. Rotmistrov. He affirms that in the battle of Prokhorovka only his army took part. The narrowness of his outlook of the battle has had an effect on exhibits of Belgorod's and Prokhorovka's museums.

Absence of detailed descriptions of this battle has led to the long life of numerous myths of the 1950s-60s.

Myth 1:

P.A. Rotmistrov (and many others following in his foot steps) confirm that the TANK battle at Prokhorovka occurred on July 12, 1943*

At the end of July 8 1943 on the southern face of the Kursk salient the enemy managed to drive a deep wedge into the defensive positions of the Voronezh Front and to reach the army’s rear fortified line in the Prokhorovka direction. The mission of the Voronezh Front was to hinder the break-through of the 4th Panzer Army in strategic depth.

A large tank battle was imminent on the important Prokhorovka direction. In the case of success, the German panzer forces could reach the rear areas of both the Voronezh and Central Fronts. In estimation of the threat of such a scenario the Soviet Stavka transferred its strategic reserve - the 5th Gds. TA and 5th Gds. Army from the Steppe Front to the Voronezh Front. On July 9 the Voronezh Front was ordered at any price to stop the enemy's offensive on the line of the Psel river and to seize the initiative from the Germans.*

At the same time the commander of the 4th Panzer Army Col.-General Hoth in his order No. 5 specified combat missions for the final break-through of the Voronezh Front's defense: "...The 4th Panzer Army on July 10 is to expand an attack wedge by a blow in the north-eastern direction... and create conditions for further movement to the north-east.... The 2nd SS Pz.Corps smashes the enemy south-west of Prokhorovka and forces it back to the east. It captures the hills on both the Psel riversides north-west of Prokhorovka".*11 At 22:00 July 9 the commander of the 2nd SS Pz. Corps Hausser specified the missions of his divisions: "...The 2nd SS Pz. Corps after the regrouping of its troops on July 10 is to break-through in the north-eastern direction until Prokhorovka - hill 5km east from Kartashevka line annihilating the enemy troops in this area. Starting time for the offensive - 06:00"*

Taking into account an exact definition of the "battle" term and the German documents cited above, we can say, that the battle at Prokhorovka started on July 10. And that the battle had not started from the blow of the 5th Gds. TA, but from the attacks of the SS "Adolf Hitler" Panzer Division and defensive combats of its opponents - 52nd, 6th Gds. Rfl. Divisions, 183rd Rfl. Division and 2nd Tank Corps of the 69th Army.

Only on July 14 had the 4th Panzer Army stopped its attacks along the railroad and highway against Prokhorovka. Army Group "South" continued with its attacks until July 16. General Hoth changed the objectives, transferring direction of the blow performed by forces of the "Das Reich" SS& Panzer Division to the east and at the same time removing tank units of the "Totenkopf" SS Pz. Division from battle and creating a mobile reserve. *11 On July 16, the Army Group "South" had totally stopped its offensive on the entire front, fortifying the positions they had attained and then started retreating.

Starting on July 16 the Soviet troops received the order of the Voronezh Front Commander N.F. Vatutin for persistent defense of their current positions. At night the 18th TC/5th Gds. TA leaving a few tanks for ambushes, was moved out of combat.

To summarise all of this information we can say that the Prokhorovka battle started on July 10. It started without the 5th Gds. TA. It was almost finished on July 15 and its culmination was on July 12, when the 5th Gds. TA joined the battle.

Using correct military terms in the Prokhorovka vicinity what took place was a MEETING ENGAGEMENT between the 18th and 29th TCs/5th Gds. TA and SS "Adolf Hitler" Pz.. Div. in Prelestnoe, sovkhoz Oktiabrsky, Yamki area and between the 2nd Gds "Tatsinsky" TC and SS "Das Reich" Pz. Div. in Belenikhino area. Simultaneously the 95th and 52nd Gds. Rfl. Divisions of the 5th Gds. Army without the 5th Gds TA's support were parrying attacks of the SS "Totenkopf" Pz. Div. in Psel river's scroll. [* scheme 9 *]

Surely, the fighting didn't stop from July 15. It were the objectives of each side which had been changed. Accordingly the forms of fighting also changed.

Such a point of view seems to be more exact, as it gives more accurate definitions and bounds of the Battle at Prokhorovka without underestimating the role of all the units which took part in this battle

Myth 2:

It involves the fact that the decisive role in the battle at Prokhorovka is assigned until now to the 5th Gds TA which allegedly smashed those panzer forces of Army Group "South". Most likely G.K. Zhukov was right to say that this is not correct *15. This statement is based on the publication of 1946 by a group of authors from the Military History Department of the Soviet General Staff where they wrote: "...Preparing the attack from the west against Prokhorovka, the German command completed their concentration of the large tank forces to the west of Prokhorovka. This consisted of the three panzer divisions of SS panzer corps ["Adolf Hitler", "Totenkopf", "Das Reich"] and partially 17th Pz. Div. [?] and the 167th Infantry Division."*16. Similar statements may be found in other official publications. Such a sources affirms that from July 11, the main forces of the 4th Panzer Army had been concentrated against Prokhorovka. The former statements about the decisive role of the 5th Gds. TA in the Army Group "South" panzer forces' "destruction" are based on such a "conclusions". But neither the "conclusion" nor the statement is confirmed by the real historical facts.

The 4th Panzer Army consisted of:

a) Five panzer divisions, including three SS panzer divisions: "Adolf Hitler", "Das Reich", "Totenkopf", 3rd and 11th Panzer Divisions.

b) One "Gross Deutschland " Motorised-Panzer Division supplied with the latest models of armament and crack troops.

c) The 57th, 255th, 332nd, and the 167th Infantry Divisions.

Sum total, the army had 11 divisions from which only 3 panzer and one infantry divisions operated on the Prokhorovka direction. The others were operating on the Oboyan direction and hadn't been regrouped. From the four divisions on the right flank the 167th Inf. Division was set as a reserve until July 8. A small regrouping had been performed only in the 2nd SS Panzer Corps.

The 167th Inf. Division had replaced the SS "Totenkopf" Pz. Division on the right flank, which was transferred to the corps' left flank. Actually neither the first nor the second divisions took part in combats vs. the Soviet 5th Gds. Tank Army. [* scheme 1 *]

Myth 3:

An opinion exists that on Prokhorovka's "Tank Field" on July 12 the 5th Gds. TA fought against the whole 2nd SS Pz. Corps supported by the 11th Pz. Division/48th Pz. Corps and the 167th Inf. Division. From the order cited above, the blow against Prokhorovka between the railroad and Psel river had been performed by the "Adolf Hitler" SS Pz. Division. Its right flank was covered by Tank-grenadier "Gross Deutschland" Regiment/SS "Das Reich" Pz. Division and left - operational detachment from SS "Totenkopf" Pz. Division. The SS "Totenkopf" Pz. Division had to make a forced crossing of Psel river and carry out an offensive along the scroll, and SS "Das Reich" Pz. Division was to be ready to expand the break-through of the SS "Adolf Hitler" Pz. Division in the eastern direction. The 167th Inf. Division also couldn't take part in the Prokhorovka operation as it had taken defensive positions at the western Lipovy Donets' riverside, covering the junction between the 4th Pz. Army and Operational Group "Kempf".

From the standpoint of the cited order, the battle at Prokhorovka, and in particular the tank combat on the famous field look a bit different from accepted point of view.

Comparing the deployment of the German panzer divisions on the operational map of the 5th Gds. TA on the Prokhorovka direction [* scheme 2 *] with the real deployment we can see that such an opinion is a MYTH!*

The first blow of the SS "Adolf Hitler" Pz. Division had been taken by the 183rd Rifle Division and the 2nd Tank Corps of the 69th Army. Later we'll see the combat development. Now it should be mentioned that the SS "Adolf Hitler" Panzer Division had been pretty well battered by the 69th Army's units and starting from July 11 also by the troops of the 33rd Gds. Infantry Corps/5th Army supported by the 2nd Air Army.

Myth 4:

This now tears down the fourth myth of the amount of armored vehicles that took part in this battle.

As it was a panzer division that was attacking in the field between the Psel river and railroad which had not more than 200 tanks and assault guns and the counter-attack having been performed by the 18th and 29th Tank Corps of the 5th Gds. TA, the number of vehicles operated at Prokhorovka's area may be estimated to be 500-550. Moreover they were echeloned in depth.

Having the width of the engagement region limited by the Psel river and railroad embankment (behind which the deep ravines of Storozhevoye were situated) to be 6 kilometers the first tank line could include only 60-70 tanks from each side. Even in the case of two line order, the number of tanks taking part in the fight simultaneously couldn't exceed 250-300.

These are myths and the realities!

Abbreviations:

A-Army
ATAR-Anti-tank artillery regiment
Div. - Division
ex. - excluding.
Gds.-Guards
Inf. - Infantry
Pz. - Panzer
Rfl. - Rifle
TA-Tank Army
TBr-Tank Brigade
TC-Tank Corps
TsAMO - Central Archive of Ministry of Defense of Russia, F-Fond, op - list, d-folder, L- page


Prochorovka Fact or Fiction


(modified 11/21/2007 14:24:34 by Mad Russian)
MAD RUSSIAN
Senior Tester

Member #468
SUPPORTER
2010
2009
2008
2007
Joined: Oct 2003
Ratings: 14 / 1 / 0
Discussions: 138
Post #383   3473 days, 1 hour, 37 minutes, 25 seconds ago        
Prochorovka is one of the best-known of the many battles on the Eastern Front during World War II. It has been covered in articles, books and televised historical documentaries, but these accounts vary in accuracy; some are merely incomplete, while others border on fiction. In the generally accepted version of the battle, the three SS divisions attacked Prochorovka shoulder to shoulder, jammed into the terrain between the Psel and the railroad. A total of 500 to 700 German tanks, including dozens of Panzerkampfwagen Mark V Panther medium tanks with 75mm guns and Panzerkampfwagen Mark VI Tiger heavy tanks with deadly 88mm cannons, lumbered forward while hundreds of nimble Soviet T-34 medium tanks raced into the midst of the SS armor and threw the Germans into confusion. The Soviets closed with the panzers, negating the Tigers' 88mm guns, outmaneuvered the German armor and knocked out hundreds of German tanks. The Soviet tank force's audacious tactics resulted in a disastrous defeat for the Germans, and the disorganized SS divisions withdrew, leaving 400 destroyed tanks behind, including between 70 and 100 Tigers and many Panthers. Those losses smashed the SS divisions' fighting power, and as a result Hoth's Fourth Panzer Army had no chance to achieve even a partial victory in the south.

While it makes a dramatic story, nearly all of this battle scenario is essentially myth. Careful study of the daily tank strength reports and combat records of II SS Panzer Corps--available on microfilm at the National Archives in Washington, D.C.--provides information that forces a historical reappraisal of the battle. These records show, first of all, that Hausser's corps began with far fewer tanks than previously believed and, more important, that they suffered only moderate losses on July 12, 1943. As those reports were intended to allow the corps commander to assess the combat strength of his divisions, they can be considered reasonably accurate. Considering that information, it seems that the Germans may have been near a limited success on the southern flank of the salient.

The number of SS tanks actually involved in the battle has been variously reported as high as 700 by some authorities, while others have estimated between 300 to 600. Even before the Battle of Kursk began, however, the II SS Panzer Corps never had 500 tanks, much less 700. On July 4, the day before Operation Citadel was launched, Hausser's three divisions possessed a total of 327 tanks between them, plus a number of command tanks. By July 11, the II SS Panzer Corps had a total of 211 operational tanks--Totenkopf had 94 tanks, Leibstandarte had only 56 and Das Reich possessed just 61. Damaged tanks or tanks undergoing repairs are not listed. Only 15 Tiger tanks were still in action at Prochorovka, and there were no SS Panthers available. The battalions that were equipped with Panthers were still training in Germany in July 1943.

On July 13, the day after the Battle of Prochorovka, Fourth Panzer Army reports declared that the II SS Panzer Corps had 163 operational tanks, a net loss of only 48 tanks. Actual losses were somewhat heavier, the discrepancy due to the gain of repaired tanks returned to action. Closer study of the losses of each type of tank reveals that the corps lost about 70 tanks on July 12. In contrast, Soviet tank losses, long assumed to be moderate, were actually catastrophic. In 1984, a history of the Fifth Guards Tank Army written by Rotmistrov himself revealed that on July 13 the army lost 400 tanks to repairable damage. He gave no figure for tanks that were destroyed or not available for salvage. Evidence suggests that there were hundreds of additional Soviet tanks lost. Several German accounts mention that Hausser had to use chalk to mark and count the huge jumble of 93 knocked-out Soviet tanks in the Leibstandarte sector alone. Other Soviet sources say the tank strength of the army on July 13 was 150 to 200, a loss of about 650 tanks. Those losses brought a caustic rebuke from Josef Stalin. Subsequently, the depleted Fifth Guards Tank Army did not resume offensive action, and Rotmistrov ordered his remaining tanks to dig in among the infantry positions west of the town.

Another misconception about the battle is the image of all three SS divisions attacking shoulder to shoulder through the narrow lane between the Psel and the rail line west of Prochorovka. Only Leibstandarte was aligned directly west of the town, and it was the only division to attack the town itself. The II SS Panzer Corps zone of battle, contrary to the impression given in many accounts, was approximately nine miles wide, with Totenkopf on the left flank, Leibstandarte in the center and Das Reich on the right flank. Totenkopf's armor was committed primarily to the Psel bridgehead and in defensive action against Soviet attacks on the Psel bridges. In fact, only Leibstandarte actually advanced into the corridor west of Prochorovka, and then only after it had thrown back initial Soviet attacks.

Early on July 12, Leibstandarte units reported a great deal of loud motor noise, which indicated massing Soviet armor. Soon after 5 a.m., hundreds of Soviet tanks, carrying infantry, rolled out of Prochorovka and its environs in groups of 40 to 50. Waves of T-34 and T-70 tanks advanced at high speed in a charge straight at the startled Germans. When machine-gun fire, armor-piercing shells and artillery fire struck the T-34s, the Soviet infantry jumped off and sought cover. Leaving their infantry behind, the T-34s rolled on. Those Soviet tanks that survived the initial clash with SS armor continued a linear advance and were destroyed by the Germans.

When the initial Soviet attack paused, Leibstandarte pushed its armor toward the town and collided with elements of Rotmistrov's reserve armor. A Soviet attack by the 181st Tank Regiment was defeated by several SS Tigers, one of which, the 13th (heavy) Company of the 1st SS Panzer Regiment, was commanded by 2nd Lt. Michael Wittmann, the most successful tank commander of the war. Wittmann's group was advancing in flank support of the German main attack when it was engaged by the Soviet tank regiment at long range. The Soviet charge, straight at the Tigers over open ground, was suicidal. The frontal armor of the Tiger was impervious to the 76mm guns of the T-34s at any great distance. The field was soon littered with burning T-34s and T-70s. None of the Tigers were lost, but the 181st Tank Regiment was annihilated. Late in the day, Rotmistrov committed his last reserves, elements of the V Mechanized Corps, which finally halted Leibstandarte.

Das Reich began its attack from several kilometers southwest of Prochorovka and was quickly engaged by aggressive battle groups of the II Tank Corps and II Guards Tank Corps. Fierce, somewhat confused fighting broke out all along the German division's axis of advance. Battle groups of 20 to 40 Soviet tanks, supported by infantry and ground-attack planes, collided with Das Reich regimental spearheads. Rotmistrov continued to throw armor against the division, and combat raged throughout the day, with heavy losses of Soviet armor. Das Reich continued to push slowly eastward, advancing into the night while suffering relatively light tank losses.

Meanwhile, on the left flank, Soviet First Tank Army elements unsuccessfully tried to crush Totenkopf's bridgehead. The SS division fought off the XXXI and X Tank Corps, supported by elements of the XXXIII Rifle Corps. In spite of the Soviet attacks, Totenkopf's panzer group drove toward a road that ran from the village of Kartaschevka, southeast across the river and into Prochorovka.

The fighting, characterized by massive losses of Soviet armor, continued throughout July 12 without a decisive success by either side--contrary to the accounts given in many well-known studies of the Eastern Front, which state that the fighting ended on July 12 with a decisive German defeat. These authors describe the battlefield as littered with hundreds of destroyed German tanks and report that the Soviets overran the SS tank repair units. In fact, the fighting continued around Prochorovka for several more days. Das Reich continued to push slowly eastward in the area south of the town until July 16. That advance enabled the III Panzer Corps to link up with the SS division on July 14 and encircle several Soviet rifle divisions south of Prochorovka. Totenkopf eventually reached the Kartaschevka*Prochorovka road, and the division took several tactically important hills on the north edge of its perimeter as well. Those successes were not exploited, however, due to decisions made by Adolf Hitler.

After receiving the news of the Allied invasion of Sicily, as well as reports of impending Soviet attacks on the Mius River and at Izyum, Hitler decided to cancel Operation Citadel. Manstein argued that he should be allowed to finish off the two Soviet tank armies. He had unused reserves, consisting of three experienced panzer divisions of XXIV Panzer Corps, in position for quick commitment. That corps could have been used to attack the Fifth Guards Tank Army in its flank, to break out from the Psel bridgehead or to cross the Psel east of Prochorovka. All of the available Soviet armor in the south was committed and could not be withdrawn without causing a collapse of the Soviet defenses. Manstein correctly realized that he had the opportunity to destroy the Soviet operational and strategic armor in the Prochorovka area.

Hitler could not be persuaded to continue the attack, however. Instead, he dispersed the divisions of the II SS Panzer Corps to deal with the anticipated Soviet diversionary attacks south of the Belgorod*Kharkov sector. On the night of July 17-18, the corps withdrew from its positions around Prochorovka. Thus, the battle for Prochorovka ended, not because of German tank losses (Hausser had over 200 operational tanks on July 17) but because Hitler lacked the will to continue the offensive. The SS panzer divisions were still full of fight; in fact, two of them continued to fight effectively in southern Russia for the rest of the summer.

Leibstandarte was ordered to Italy, but Das Reich and Totenkopf remained in the East. Those two divisions and the 3rd Panzer Division, which replaced Leibstandarte, were transferred to the Sixth Army area, where they conducted a counterattack from July 31 to August 2 that eliminated a strong Soviet bridgehead at the Mius River. Without pause, the three divisions were then transferred to the Bogodukhov sector in early August 1943. Under the command of the III Panzer Corps, they were joined by another unit, the Fifth SS Panzergrenadier Division Wiking. During three weeks of constant combat, the four divisions played a major role in stopping the main Soviet post-Kursk counteroffensive, Operation Rumyantsev. They fought Rotmistrov's Fifth Guards Tank Army, rebuilt to 503 tanks strong, and major portions of the First Tank Army, now at 542 tanks.

By the end of the month, Rotmistrov had less than 100 tanks still running. Katukov had only 120 tanks still in action by the last week of August. While at no time did any of the German divisions have more than 55 tanks in operation, they repeatedly blunted the thrusts of the two Soviet tank armies, which were also reinforced by several rifle corps.

Totenkopf repeatedly cut off and defeated all of the First Tank Army's thrusts toward the Kharkov*Poltava rail line. Das Reich threw back two Soviet tank corps south of Bogodukhov and blunted Rotmistrov's last major attack west of Kharkov, and the III Panzer Corps halted Operation Rumyantsev.

After Kharkov itself fell, however, the German front gradually collapsed. The Soviets regrouped, committed additional strong reserves and renewed their attack toward the strategically important Dnepr River. Army Group South was subsequently forced to abandon much of southern Ukraine in a race for the safety of the Dnepr. Despite the remarkable efforts of the German army and Waffen SS panzer divisions during July and August, the Germans were too weak to hold the Kharkov*Belgorod*Poltava sector after their summer losses.

It is apparent from their operations during the late summer that the SS panzer divisions were not destroyed at Prochorovka. This reassessment of the battle provides food for thought regarding possible German successes if Manstein's panzer reserves had been utilized as he had intended.

To what extent the course of events in Russia would have been changed is, of course, unknown, but it is interesting to speculate. If Army Group South's panzer reserve had been used to encircle and destroy the Fifth Guards Tank Army and the First Tank Army, the outcome of the war in Russia might have been significantly different. Although it was beyond the German army's capabilities to force a military end to the war by the summer of 1943, a limited victory in the south could have resulted in a delay of Soviet strategic operations for months or perhaps longer. It is doubtful, however, that this pause would have lasted long enough for the Germans to transfer enough forces to the West to defeat the June 6, 1944, D-Day invasion.

But one fact is beyond any question, regardless of the number of tanks possessed by the Germans or Soviets or what might have been possible. Due to Hausser's panzer corps' failure to take Prochorovka on July 12 and the subsequent misuse of German panzer reserves, the momentum of the Fourth Panzer Army was slowed dramatically. When Hitler abandoned Operation Citadel on July 13, the Germans' last opportunity to influence events on a strategic level in the East was lost.

It is interesting that the information regarding German tank losses at Prochorovka has not been made available before now. Due to the lack of crucial primary-source information--especially the records of the II SS Panzer Corps on the Eastern Front--there had been no evidence to correct the erroneous accounts and impressions given in previous studies of the Eastern Front.

Waffen SS formations' records of their Eastern Front operations were not declassified until 1978*1981. By that time, many of the major works about the Eastern Front had already been published. Later authors accepted the accounts of the battle as given in the earlier books and failed to conduct additional research. As a result, one of the best known of all Eastern Front battles has never been understood properly. Prochorovka was believed to have been a significant German defeat but was actually a stunning reversal for the Soviets because they suffered enormous tank losses.

As Manstein suggested, Prochorovka may truly have been a lost German victory, thanks to decisions made by Hitler. It was fortunate for the Allied cause that the German dictator, a foremost proponent of the value of will, lost his own will to fight in southern Ukraine in July 1943. Had he allowed Manstein to continue the attack on the two Soviet tank armies in the Prochorovka area, Manstein might have achieved a victory even more damaging to the Soviets than the counterattack that had recaptured Kharkov in March 1943. *

Kursk Lost Victory


(modified 11/21/2007 14:55:09 by Mad Russian)
MAD RUSSIAN
Senior Tester

Member #468
SUPPORTER
2010
2009
2008
2007
Joined: Oct 2003
Ratings: 14 / 1 / 0
Discussions: 138
Post #384   3473 days, 1 hour, 17 minutes, 29 seconds ago        
Because of the losses inflicted upon Soviet armor, the battle of Prochorovka resulted in local numerical tank superiority of at least 2 to 1 in favor of the Germans south of the Psel on 13 July. Considering that SS panzers of "Das Reich" and "Leibstandarte" and the attacks of III Panzerkorps inflicted losses on the magnitude that 5th Guards Tank Army suffered in one day of fighting at Prochorovka, this situation clearly presented an opportunity for the Germans. The nearest significant uncommitted Soviet armor was located at Kursk and consisted of the 4th Guards Tank Corps and elements of the 4th Mechanized Corps. Less than two armored corps would have been hard pressed to stop the full panzer strength of Manstein's two armies in an all out attack on Kursk. It is evident by Khrushchev's comments regarding the importance of stopping the Germans south of the Psel, that the Stavka did not have confidence in their ability to prevent the loss of the city if Manstein wasn't stopped on the river.
The losses of 1st Tank Army early in the fighting and III. Panzerkorps approach toward Prochorovka had alarmed the Soviet leadership sufficiently to force them to commit Rotmistrov's tank army, their strategic reserve. Since the primary task of this army was offensive in nature, the gravity of the situation is evident. Following the destruction of 2/3 of the 5th Guards Tank Army, the opportunity was then at hand on the day after Prochorovka to push fresh troops up to the front and break out into the flat land to the north of the Psel. It was clear to Manstein that this was the time to commit the panzer divisions of XXIV. Panzerkorps, the Heeresgruppe Sud reserve. These fresh German panzer divisions, attacking over the open steppe south of Kursk, would have been in their element and the Soviets were obviously not yet capable of defeating the Germans in a mobile battle of this type. In spite of the marked improvement in the organization, command and logistical support of the Soviet armor formations, they remained inferior to the German panzer troops.

...

By contrast, the Russians temporarily had no other significant armored reserves to commit in the immediate Prochorovka-Psel sector. That situation would be remedied within weeks, a remarkably short time, but on 13 July, a German breakthrough north of the Psel would have had little but open country between it and Kursk. The only Russian tank reserves of any size were the 4th Tank Army and the 3rd Guards Tank Army in the area north of Orel, but these forces were scheduled to be committed against Heeresgruppe Mitte. The nearest of the two, the 3rd Guards Tank Army, was nearly 100 miles away and was thus in no position to furnish immediate help on that date. A successful breakout over the Psel by 4. Panzerarmee and Armee Abteilung Kempf toward Kursk thus would have been unopposed by a Soviet strategic armored reserve. Such a German advance would have cut off the Russian armies in the western section of the bulge which included the remnants of 1st Tank Army and the 6th Guards, 40th, 60th, 65th, and 38th Armies.


Operation Citadel - Southern Shoulder

(modified 11/21/2007 14:04:57 by Mad Russian)
MAD RUSSIAN
Senior Tester

Member #468
SUPPORTER
2010
2009
2008
2007
Joined: Oct 2003
Ratings: 14 / 1 / 0
Discussions: 138
Post #385   3473 days, 1 hour, 0 minute, 55 seconds ago        
On the eve of the battle of prohorovka , 11th july, the totenkopf division had 94 tanks including 10 tigers, leibstandarte had 56 tanks including 4 tigers, das reich had 61 tanks including 1 tiger. After the battle on the 13th of july totenkopf reported 49 tanks with no tigers, leibstandarte 39 tanks with 4 tigers, and das reich reported 75 panzers including one tiger. It is not haowever clear if the tigers included in the second days report were the same ones. German Tank OOB
MAD RUSSIAN
Senior Tester

Member #468
SUPPORTER
2010
2009
2008
2007
Joined: Oct 2003
Ratings: 14 / 1 / 0
Discussions: 138
Post #386   3473 days, 34 minutes, 9 seconds ago        
Soviet Forces:


5th Guards Tank Army (Lt.-General P.A. Rotmistrov)

2nd Guards Tank Corps (Commander- Lieutenant-General A.S. Burdeinyi)
On July 01, was subordinated to the Voronezh Front HQ [1])

4th Guards Tank Brigade (Col. A.K. Brazhnikov)
25th Guards Tank Brigade (Lt. Col. S.M. Bulygin)
26th Guards Tank Brigade (operated together with the troops of the 69th Army) (?) (Col. S.K. Nesterov)
4th Guards Motorised Rifle Brigade
46th Guards Tank Regiment [1]
1500th Anti-Tank Artillery Regiment [1]
755th Separate Anti-Tank Artillery Battalion [1]
273rd Mortar Regiment [1]
1695th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Regiment [1]
79th* Separate Motorcycle Battalion
51th* Separate Field Engineers Battalion


84 T-34, 4 Mk IV "Churchill", 52 T-70, except one brigade (26th?) - 44 tanks, operated with the troops of 69th Army.

*-These numbers are given for the end of the war.

2nd Tank Corps (Commander- Lieutenant-General A.F. Popov)**

26th Tank Brigade (Col. P.V. Piskarev)
99th Tank Brigade (Lt.-Col. L.I. Malov)
148th Tank Brigade
58th Motorised Rifle Brigade ....

**-composition on Dec., 1942

In the previous days of battle lost much tanks and had: 35 T-34, 4 Mk IV "Churchill", 46 T-70.

2nd Tank Corps. Subordinated to Voronezh Front HQ.


OOB specification from [1] for August 01, 1943:

26th Tank Brigade
99th Tank Brigade
169th Tank Brigade
58th Motorised Rifle Brigade
15th Guards Tank Regiment
1502nd Anti-Tank Artillery Regiment
269th Mortar Regiment
307th Separate Guards Mortar Battalion
1698th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Regiment
83rd Motorcycle Battalion

The 2nd TC operated together with the 2nd Gds. TC vs. SS Panzer Division "Das Reich".

The 2nd Gds. TC started attacks at 10:00 am. The 2nd TC was left in defense. Until noon the soviet offensive was stopped by German aviation and rocket launcher's fire. At 15:00 SS panzer division launched a counter-offensive and forced soviet troops to retreat 2 km on 5km of front line.

Losses of the 2nd and 2nd Gds. TCs were 85 tanks(47%) (44 of them irreparable).


5th Guards Mechanised Corps (Gen.-Major B.M. Skvortsov)

10th Gds. Mechanised Brigade (Col. I.B. Mikhailov)
51th Gds. Tank Regiment (Col. D. Ja. Klinfeld)
11th Gds. Mechanised Brigade (Col. N.V. Grishchenko)
54th Gds. Tank Regiment (Major V. P. Ryazantsev)
12th Gds. Mechanised Brigade (Col. G.Ya. Borisenko)
55th Gds. Tank Regiment (Lt. Col. Goldberg, from Aug - Lt. Col. P.K. Zhuravlev)
24th Gds. Tank Brigade (Lt. Col. V.P. Karpov)
52th Gds. Tank Regiment
53th Gds. Tank Regiment
104th Gds. Anti-Tank Artillery Regiment (Major F.Z. Babachenko)
1447th Self-Propelled guns Artillery Regiment (Major F.V. Gajdash)
409th Separate Gds. Mortar Battalion
2nd Separate Gds. Motorcycle Battalion (Capt. V.P. Kuzmin)
4th Separate Gds. Armored Battalion
68th Separate Gds. Field Engineer Battalion (Capt. A.V. Turetskov)
737th Separate Anti-Tank Artillery Battalion [1]
285th Mortar Regiment [1]


There were 105 tanks in the 10th Gds. Mechanised Brigade and 24th Gds. Tank Brigade. In memoirs of the 5th Gds. Tank Army Commander - P.A. Rotmistrov he wrote that these brigades were used in the evening of July, 12 vs. panzer SS "Totenkopf" division, but some later works on the contrary say that they were not used that day.

SS Panzer Division "Totenkopf" was fighting against the 42nd, 52nd, 95th, 97th Gds. Rifle Divisions of the 5th Gds. Army. In the backs of the 5th Gds. Army the weakened 31th Tank Corps of the 1st Tank Army (50-64 tanks) stayed, but it also hadn't been used that day.


18th Tank Corps (Gen.-Major B.S. Bakharov till July 25,1943)

110th Tank Brigade (Lt.-Col. M.G. Khljupin)
170th Tank Brigade (Lt. Col. V.D. Tarasov -till July, 13, 1943 then - Lt. Col. A.I. Kazakov)
1st Btln. - Capt. Isaev
181st Tank Brigade (Lt. Col. V.A. Puzyrev)
1st Btln. - Major Garibyan
2nd Btln. - Capt. Skripkin
32th Motorised Rifle Brigade
36th Gds. Separate Tank Regiment [1]
292nd Mortar Regiment
? - Anti-tank Artillery Regiment (76 mm guns)
? - Anti-tank Artillery Regiment (57 mm guns)
1694th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Regiment
30th Gds. Mortar Regiment
1000th Anti-Tank Artillery Regiment (data on Aug 01) [1]
736th Separate Anti-Tank Battalion (data on Aug 01) [1]

68 T-34, 58 T-70, 18 Mk IV "Churchill"


29th Tank Corps (Lt.- Gen. I.F. Kirichenko)

25th Tank Brigade (Col. N.K. Volodin)
31st Tank Brigade (Col. S.F. Moiseev)
32nd Tank Brigade (Col. A.A. Linev)
53th Motorised Rifle Brigade
108th Anti-Tank Artillery Regiment
1446th Self-propelled guns Artillery Regiment [1]
38th Separate Armored Car Battalion (on July 01. No such one on Aug. 01)
747th Separate Anti-Tank Battalion [1]
271st Mortar Regiment [1]
75th Mtcl. Btln [1]

122 T-34, 70 T-70, 11 SU-122, 9 SU-76

The 18th TC together with the 29th TC were ordered to start an offensive to the line: Andreevka - the grove North to the sovkhoz "Komsomolets". The next target was to capture enemy in Krasnaya Polyana, Bolshie Mayachki, Krasnaya Dubrava region. The attack started at 08:30 am.


18th TC:

Attack direction-South outskirts of Vasilievka, hills 220.4, 252.4, 251.2.

Attack order:

1st attack echelon - the 181st, 170th Tank Brigades (the nearest target-Malye Mayachki, the next target - hill 251.5, Krasnaya Polyana (181st), Krasnaya Dubrava (170th).)

2nd attack echelon - the 32nd Motorised Rifle Brigade together with Artillery group (292nd Mortar Regiment, 76mm ATAR, 57mm ATAR) and the 36th Separate Tank Regiment (after the 170th brigade. Main task: covering the right flank of the corps. Target - Sukhaya river).

3rd attack echelon - the 110th Tank Brigade and recon group. Target was to reach to the hill 251.2 at the end of a day.

As there were three deep ravines from the left bank of Psel river to the railroad Belenikhino-Prokhorovka the tanks of the 1st echelon had to attack the strongly fortified sovkhoz "Oktiabrsky" settlement. At 12:00 Oktiabrsky was captured*.

(At the same time in memoirs could be seen the statement, that the 170th Tank Brigade (~65 tanks) was totally destroyed in 5(!) minutes.)

On 12:00 troops of the corps were fighting on the line: 181th Brigade -Andreevka- hill 241.6; 170th brigade - the ravine South-East to Mikhailovka. 32nd Motorised Rifle Brigade was attacking Andreevka.

At the end of the day troops of the corps reached the line: 200m East to Bogoroditskoe's church, South outskirts of Vasilievka, Andreevka, 2 windmills of Prelestnoe, northern side of ravine. At the South-Eastern side of ravine-Andreevka, sovkhoz "Oktiabrsky".

The most strong defense was marked at hills 217.9, 241.6.

At the end of the day German troops performed an counterattack from Kozlovka-Greznoe and Kozlovka-Polezhaev with the powerful aviation support.

The troops of the corps took on defensive status.

The 32rd Motorised Rifle Brigade, 110th Tank Brigade, 36th Gds. Tank Regiment - Vasilievka, Mikhailovka, Prelestnoe.

181st Tank Brigade - Petrovka vicinities.

170th Tank Brigade -Petrovka (excluding), Beregovoe.

1694th Anti-Aircraft Regiment's positions-Beregovoe vicinities.

Artillery fire line - Vasilievka, sovkoz "Komsomolets", Psel river, road Veseliy, Polezhaev, sovkhoz "imeni Voroshilova"

*-The most discussible task, as in the same time the 32nd Tank Brigade of the 29th TC reported an assault on this settlement and the 53rd Motorised Rifle Brigade of the same Corps managed (as it reported) not only to capture, but also to leave this sovkhoz!


29th TC:

The target of the 29th Tank Corps was operating together with the 1529th Self-Propelled Gun Regiment and 76th Gds. Mortar Regiment (Rocket launchers) to break defense line: the grove 1 km to the North to sovkhoz "Komsomolets" and to capture enemy forces for the end of the day in Luchki, Mayachki, Pokrovka region.

Attack order: 32th Tank brigade, 31st, 25th Tank Brigades, 53th Motorised Rifle Brigade together with the 271st Mortar (?) Regiment. The troops of the corps attacked in the direction to sovkhoz Komsomolets, Teterevino, Pokrovka

The landscape forced soviet tanks to stay on the road Prokhorovka-Belenikhino that lead to the lower defense of the flanks.

In spite of powerful defense, Soviet tanks (32nd, 25th brigades) had reached sovkhozes "Oktjabrsky" and "Stalinsk" vicinities where they were stopped.

The troops location on 11:00: 500m North-East to sovkhoz "Oktiabrsky", 500m North-East to sovkos "Stalinsk", 500m South-East to Storozhevoe.

32th Tank Brigade: Attacked along the railroad to the front of 900m to sovkhos "Komsomolets", sovkhoz, "Oktiabrsky", Pokrovka. Met a powerful anti-tank defense. Covered by its infantry and the infantry of the 53th Motorised Rifle Brigade, took the defensive positions in a region of hollow 1.5 km to "Oktiabrsky".

31th Tank Brigade: Was moving after the 32th Brigade from 1 km south to Barchovka on "Oktiabrsky". Had many losses from German aviation. At 10:30 reached "Oktiabrsky" but was stopped by aviation. At 15:40 repelled a German counter-attack. Lost 24 T-34, 20 T-70, 62 men.

25th Tank Brigade: Followed by the 122mm and 76mm self-propelled guns batteries attacked in the direction to Storozhevoe, Ivanovskiy vyselok, Teterevino, hills 228.4, 246.3, 218.3. Were taking drumfire from the forest North-West to Storozhevoe and east outskirts of Storozhevoe and lost many of the tanks. On 10:00 the residuals of tanks returned to the hollow in 1.5 km South-West to Storozhevoe (6 T-34, 15 T-70) and set in defense on unnamed hills 0.6 km south-east to Storozhevoe. Two German counter-attacks were parried. Total losses: 26 T-34, 24 T-70, 67 men.

53rd Motorised Rifle Brigade: Attacked since 09:00. At 11:00 reported about capturing "Stalinsk", Storozhevoe, "Oktiabrsky". after enemy`s counter-attacks was forced to retreat 0.5 km east to "Oktiabrsky", South-East outskirts of Yamki.

1446th Self-propelled Gun Artillery Regiment: Supported by the 1st and 6th batteries of the 25th Tank brigade, 2nd, 3rd, 5th - 32th Tank brigade. 11 guns were lost and damaged .

The reported total corps losses:

Used forces: T-34 - 122, T-70 - 70, SU-122 - 11, SU-76 - 9.

Total losses: T-34 - 95, T-70 -36, SU-122 - 10, SU-76 - 9

Irreparable losses: T-34 - 75, T-70 - 28, SU-122 - 8, SU-76 - 6.

The other troops of the 5th Gds. Tank Army

6th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Division

1st Separate Gds. Motorcycle Regiment

678th Howitzer Artillery Regiment

994th Light Bomber Aircraft Regiment

108th Anti-Tank Artillery Regiment

689th Anti-Tank Artillery Regiment

377th Separate Engineer Battalion

4th Separate Signals Regiment


Specified from [1]:

6th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Division

146th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Regiment

366th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Regiment

516th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Regiment

1062th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Regiment

678th Howitzer Artillery Regiment

689th Anti-Tank Artillery Regiment

76th Gds. Mortar Regiment

53rd Gds. Separate Tank Regiment

1549th Self-propelled gun Artillery Regiment

1529th Self-propelled gun Artillery Regiment (on August 01. No such on July 01)

1st Separate Gds. Motorcycle Regiment

994th Light Bomber Aircraft Regiment

377th Separate Engineer Battalion

Some Airborne divisions also took part in this battle (e.g. the 9th Gds. Airborne Division/33rd Inf. Corps/5th Gds. Army)


Abbreviations:

TC- Tank Corps

Gds. TC - Guards Tank Corps

ATAR-Anti-Tank Artillery Regiment



Soviet OOB

(modified 11/21/2007 14:03:43 by Mad Russian)
MAD RUSSIAN
Senior Tester

Member #468
SUPPORTER
2010
2009
2008
2007
Joined: Oct 2003
Ratings: 14 / 1 / 0
Discussions: 138
Post #387   3473 days, 31 minutes, 47 seconds ago        
Prochorovka: A Battle History

Early on July 12, Leibstandarte units reported a great deal of loud motor noise, which indicated massing Soviet armor. Soon after 5 a.m., hundreds of Soviet tanks, carrying infantry, rolled out of Prochorovka and its environs in groups of 40 to 50. Waves of T-34 and T-70 tanks advanced at high speed in a charge straight at the startled Germans. When machine-gun fire, armor-piercing shells and artillery fire struck the T-34s, the Soviet infantry jumped off and sought cover. Leaving their infantry behind, the T-34s rolled on. Those Soviet tanks that survived the initial clash with SS armor continued a linear advance and were destroyed by the Germans.

When the initial Soviet attack paused, Leibstandarte pushed its armor toward the town and collided with elements of Rotmistrov's reserve armor. A Soviet attack by the 181st Tank Regiment was defeated by several SS Tigers, one of which, the 13th (heavy) Company of the 1st SS Panzer Regiment, was commanded by 2nd Lt. Michael Wittmann, the most successful tank commander of the war. Wittmann's group was advancing in flank support of the German main attack when it was engaged by the Soviet tank regiment at long range. The Soviet charge, straight at the Tigers over open ground, was suicidal. The frontal armor of the Tiger was impervious to the 76mm guns of the T-34s at any great distance. The field was soon littered with burning T-34s and T-70s. None of the Tigers were lost, but the 181st Tank Regiment was annihilated. Late in the day, Rotmistrov committed his last reserves, elements of the V Mechanized Corps, which finally halted Leibstandarte.

Das Reich began its attack from several kilometers southwest of Prochorovka and was quickly engaged by aggressive battle groups of the II Tank Corps and II Guards Tank Corps. Fierce, somewhat confused fighting broke out all along the German division's axis of advance. Battle groups of 20 to 40 Soviet tanks, supported by infantry and ground-attack planes, collided with Das Reich regimental spearheads. Rotmistrov continued to throw armor against the division, and combat raged throughout the day, with heavy losses of Soviet armor. Das Reich continued to push slowly eastward, advancing into the night while suffering relatively light tank losses.

Meanwhile, on the left flank, Soviet First Tank Army elements unsuccessfully tried to crush Totenkopf's bridgehead. The SS division fought off the XXXI and X Tank Corps, supported by elements of the XXXIII Rifle Corps. In spite of the Soviet attacks, Totenkopf's panzer group drove toward a road that ran from the village of Kartaschevka, southeast across the river and into Prochorovka.

The fighting, characterized by massive losses of Soviet armor, continued throughout July 12 without a decisive success by either side--contrary to the accounts given in many well-known studies of the Eastern Front, which state that the fighting ended on July 12 with a decisive German defeat. These authors describe the battlefield as littered with hundreds of destroyed German tanks and report that the Soviets overran the SS tank repair units. In fact, the fighting continued around Prochorovka for several more days. Das Reich continued to push slowly eastward in the area south of the town until July 16. That advance enabled the III Panzer Corps to link up with the SS division on July 14 and encircle several Soviet rifle divisions south of Prochorovka. Totenkopf eventually reached the Kartaschevka­Prochorovka road, and the division took several tactically important hills on the north edge of its perimeter as well. Those successes were not exploited, however, due to decisions made by Adolf Hitler.

After receiving the news of the Allied invasion of Sicily, as well as reports of impending Soviet attacks on the Mius River and at Izyum, Hitler decided to cancel Operation Citadel. Manstein argued that he should be allowed to finish off the two Soviet tank armies. He had unused reserves, consisting of three experienced panzer divisions of XXIV Panzer Corps, in position for quick commitment. That corps could have been used to attack the Fifth Guards Tank Army in its flank, to break out from the Psel bridgehead or to cross the Psel east of Prochorovka. All of the available Soviet armor in the south was committed and could not be withdrawn without causing a collapse of the Soviet defenses. Manstein correctly realized that he had the opportunity to destroy the Soviet operational and strategic armor in the Prochorovka area.

Hitler could not be persuaded to continue the attack, however. Instead, he dispersed the divisions of the II SS Panzer Corps to deal with the anticipated Soviet diversionary attacks south of the Belgorod­Kharkov sector. On the night of July 17-18, the corps withdrew from its positions around Prochorovka. Thus, the battle for Prochorovka ended, not because of German tank losses (Hausser had over 200 operational tanks on July 17) but because Hitler lacked the will to continue the offensive. The SS panzer divisions were still full of fight; in fact, two of them continued to fight effectively in southern Russia for the rest of the summer.

Leibstandarte was ordered to Italy, but Das Reich and Totenkopf remained in the East. Those two divisions and the 3rd Panzer Division, which replaced Leibstandarte, were transferred to the Sixth Army area, where they conducted a counterattack from July 31 to August 2 that eliminated a strong Soviet bridgehead at the Mius River. Without pause, the three divisions were then transferred to the Bogodukhov sector in early August 1943. Under the command of the III Panzer Corps, they were joined by another unit, the Fifth SS Panzergrenadier Division Wiking. During three weeks of constant combat, the four divisions played a major role in stopping the main Soviet post-Kursk counteroffensive, Operation Rumyantsev. They fought Rotmistrov's Fifth Guards Tank Army, rebuilt to 503 tanks strong, and major portions of the First Tank Army, now at 542 tanks.

By the end of the month, Rotmistrov had less than 100 tanks still running. Katukov had only 120 tanks still in action by the last week of August. While at no time did any of the German divisions have more than 55 tanks in operation, they repeatedly blunted the thrusts of the two Soviet tank armies, which were also reinforced by several rifle corps.

Totenkopf repeatedly cut off and defeated all of the First Tank Army's thrusts toward the Kharkov­Poltava rail line. Das Reich threw back two Soviet tank corps south of Bogodukhov and blunted Rotmistrov's last major attack west of Kharkov, and the III Panzer Corps halted Operation Rumyantsev.

After Kharkov itself fell, however, the German front gradually collapsed. The Soviets regrouped, committed additional strong reserves and renewed their attack toward the strategically important Dnepr River. Army Group South was subsequently forced to abandon much of southern Ukraine in a race for the safety of the Dnepr. Despite the remarkable efforts of the German army and Waffen SS panzer divisions during July and August, the Germans were too weak to hold the Kharkov­Belgorod­Poltava sector after their summer losses.

It is apparent from their operations during the late summer that the SS panzer divisions were not destroyed at Prochorovka. This reassessment of the battle provides food for thought regarding possible German successes if Manstein's panzer reserves had been utilized as he had intended.

To what extent the course of events in Russia would have been changed is, of course, unknown, but it is interesting to speculate. If Army Group South's panzer reserve had been used to encircle and destroy the Fifth Guards Tank Army and the First Tank Army, the outcome of the war in Russia might have been significantly different. Although it was beyond the German army's capabilities to force a military end to the war by the summer of 1943, a limited victory in the south could have resulted in a delay of Soviet strategic operations for months or perhaps longer. It is doubtful, however, that this pause would have lasted long enough for the Germans to transfer enough forces to the West to defeat the June 6, 1944, D-Day invasion.

But one fact is beyond any question, regardless of the number of tanks possessed by the Germans or Soviets or what might have been possible. Due to Hausser's panzer corps' failure to take Prochorovka on July 12 and the subsequent misuse of German panzer reserves, the momentum of the Fourth Panzer Army was slowed dramatically. When Hitler abandoned Operation Citadel on July 13, the Germans' last opportunity to influence events on a strategic level in the East was lost.

It is interesting that the information regarding German tank losses at Prochorovka has not been made available before now. Due to the lack of crucial primary-source information--especially the records of the II SS Panzer Corps on the Eastern Front--there had been no evidence to correct the erroneous accounts and impressions given in previous studies of the Eastern Front.

Waffen SS formations' records of their Eastern Front operations were not declassified until 1978 - ­1981. By that time, many of the major works about the Eastern Front had already been published. Later authors accepted the accounts of the battle as given in the earlier books and failed to conduct additional research. As a result, one of the best known of all Eastern Front battles has never been understood properly. Prochorovka was believed to have been a significant German defeat but was actually a stunning reversal for the Soviets because they suffered enormous tank losses.

As Manstein suggested, Prochorovka may truly have been a lost German victory, thanks to decisions made by Hitler. It was fortunate for the Allied cause that the German dictator, a foremost proponent of the value of will, lost his own will to fight in southern Ukraine in July 1943. Had he allowed Manstein to continue the attack on the two Soviet tank armies in the Prochorovka area, Manstein might have achieved a victory even more damaging to the Soviets than the counterattack that had recaptured Kharkov in March 1943.



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


This article was written by George M. Nipe, Jr. and originally appeared in the February 1998 issue of World War II magazine. For more great articles subscribe to World War II magazine today!


Prochorovka

(modified 11/21/2007 13:47:02 by Mad Russian)
MAD RUSSIAN
Senior Tester

Member #468
SUPPORTER
2010
2009
2008
2007
Joined: Oct 2003
Ratings: 14 / 1 / 0
Discussions: 138
Post #388   3473 days, 26 minutes, 9 seconds ago        
Prokhorovka,

10-15 July

As Field Marshal von Manstein had predieted, the Kursk offensive had been delayed so long that it was now jeopardized by Allied action in the West. Half a continent away, on 10 July 1943, American and British forces landed on the southern coast of Sicily. Hitler had always been sensitive about the defense of the Mediterranean, and this new threat immediately forced him to consider redistributing his strategic reserves, in particular his vital II SS Panzer Corps. At first, Army Group South's progress on 10 July prompted Hitler to order, "Operation Citadel will be continued." Still, given Model's failure to penetrate the northern flank of the Kursk Bulge, the Sicilian invasion ultimately helped doom Operation Citadel.' Indeed, the battles of Kursk and Sicily posed a severe dilemma because Germany's strategic reserves were sufficient to meet only one of the two challenges.' While Hitler decided how to deal with the new threat in the West, however, the Battle of Kursk reached a erescendo. The struggle was most conspieuous in the vicinity of Prokhorovka.

The armored clashes around Prokhorovka have attained almost legendary status as the greatest armored combat of World War II, and perhaps the greatest of all time. While the nature and consequences of the Prokhorovka tank battles were no doubt momentous, hindsight has permitted myth to inform legend. After the titanie battle ended, the Soviet vietors had every reason to inflate and elevate the grandeur of their feat, and they did so with abandon. On the other hand, shock and embarrassment conditioned the Germans, in particular, and historians, in general, to accept the inflated scope and consequences of the Prokhorovka battles. Hence, history has recorded that between 1,200 and 1,500 tanks eclashed on the fields of Proldiorovka.

The true number, however, while still impressive, was considerably lower.Given the attrition of the penetration battle, by 10 July the 11 SS Panzer Corps' strength had fallen to fewer than 300 tanks and assault guns, and Army Detachment Kempfs III Panzer Corps numbered fewer than 200. On the Soviet side, General P. A. Rotmistrov's 5th Guards Tank Army eventually controlled five corps totahng 830 tanks and self-propelled guns. lf the definition of this battle is broadened to inelude the nearby Panzer Corps and 1st Tank Army, the total concentration of armor along the southern flank of the Kursk Bulge was probably fewer than 2,000 combat vehieles. Of these, around
1,250 (830 Soviet and 420 German) fought along the long eastern flank of the Kursk Bulge and about 572 met on the field of Prokhorovka itself.

Moreover, Prokhorovka was not the single titanic struggle of legend. In reality, it was a confused and confusing series of meeting engagements and hasty attacks, with each side committing its forces piecemeaL The terrain around Prokhorovka, while relatively open to mechanized operations, was divided into compartments by the Psel and Lipovyi Donets Rivers and adjacent ridge lines. The II SS Panzer Corps'axis of advance led northeastward along both banks of the Psel River, with one division (Totenkopf with 103 tanks and assault guns) advancing north of the river and two divisions (Leibstandarte and Das Reich, with 77 and 95 tanks and assault guns, respectively) advancing south of the river directly against Prokhorovka. Rotmistrov's tank army defended both approaches, and his corps also stretched far to the south to cover the advance of the III Panzer Corps from the Belgorod region. As a result, the fighting in the narrow plain adjacent to the rail line and main road immediatelywest and south west of Prokhorovka involved elements of two German panzer grenadier divi sions and three equivalent Soviet tank and mechanized corps.

Even more important to the overall outcome of the Battle of Kursk was the vicious struggle that took place between 10 and 14 July along the 'III Panzer Corps' left flank. Overshadowed by the momentous events along the Prokhorovka axis and now almost wholly forgotten, the battle conducted along the flanks by Katukov's reinforced 1st Tank Army distracted the 'CQ(XVIII Panzer Corps and prevented it from supporting the northeastward lunge of the II SS Panzer Corps, with fatal consequences for the Germans.

1st Tank Army versus XXXXVIII Panzer Corps

10-11 July

On the night of 9-10 July, General Katukov's hard-pressed Ist Tank Army tried to reorganize its defenses from the Psel River to the Oboian' road and southward along the Pena River in accordance with Vatutin's instructions. General Getman's 6th Tank Corps, with Colonel Chernov's weakened 90th Guards Rifle Division and the remnants of the 3d Mechanized Corps' 1st and lOth Mechanized Brigades, defended along the Pena River on the 1st Tank Army's right flank, with Getman's forces facing east and south. Although German forces had already penetrated menaeingly westward into Katukovs defensive front just north of Verkhopen'e, Katukov took comfort from the fact that his defenses were now backed up by the fresh 184th and 204th Rifle Divisions, which were dug in to his rear. In addition, his corps, which had been reduced to a combined strength of roughly 100 tanks, was now backed up by the reinforeing armor of the lOth Tank Corps, also positioned to his rear (with about 120 tanks and self-propelled guns) .

In Katukov's center, General Krivoshein's shattered 3d Mechanized Corps now defended along the Oboian' road, backed up by elements of Colonel D. F. Dremin's fresh 309th Rifle Division, the newly redeployed armor of General Kravehenko's 5th Guards Tank Corps, survivors of the 67th Guards Rifle Division, and heavy antitank support provided by Vatutin. On the 1st Tank Armys left flank, General Chernienko's 31st Tank Corps clung grimly to defenses eastward to the banks of the Psel River, also backed up by riflemen of the 309th Division and remnants of the 51st Guards Rifle Division. Soviet armor in the sector from the Oboian' road to the banks of the Psel River numbered no more than 300 tanks and self-propelled guns.s By the evening of 9 July, Vatutin transferred control of the 5th Guards Tank Corps, 10th Tank Corps, and 204th Rifle Division from the Voronezh Front reserve to the 1st Tank Army. The stage was set for the bitter fighting that would follow.

General von Knobelsdorff of the XXXKVIII Panzer Corps had deteeted the weak junction between the Soviet 6th Tank and 3d Mechanized Corps, and during the night lie concentrated his forces to exploit this weakness. His aim was to destroy the menaeing Soviet force along his flank while continuing his northward drive along the Oboian' road. He assigned the flank task to the Grossdeutschland and 3d Panzer Divisions and the Oboian' thrust to the 1 Ith Panzer. What von Knobelsdorff did not know, however, was that his forces could not do both. The combined annor strength of his corps had eroded to 173 tanks and assault guns (including 30 Panthers) and the Grossdeutschland Division and its attached lOth Panzer Brigade had fallen to 87 "runners."

Beginning at 0330 hours on 10 July, Grossdeutschland Division fought a bitter battle through the groves and ravines northwest of Verkhopen'e (see Map 17). The attack smashed the defenses of the Soviet 200th Tank Brigade and forced General Getman frantically to shift his forces to his threatened left flank. in rapid succession lie moved elements of his 112th Tank and 6th Motorized Rifle Brigades and 60th Heavy Tank Regiment into the threatened sector, and they were immediately sucked into the vortex of a confused meeting engagement with Grossdeutschland's advaneing armor. Every advantage acerued to the Germans for, unlike their foes, they knew where they were going.

Grossdeutschland's reconnaissance battalion, with supporting assault gun and half-track battalions, lunged on through the gloom of dawn and seized Hill 247 along the Kruglik-Berezovka road. This severed Getman's communications with the rear and the supporting 10th Tank Corps and threatened the viability of his entire force. Simultaneously, the armor spearhead of Grossdeutschland, Panzer Group Strachwitz, supported by the division's Fusilier Regiment, captured Hill 243 after a vicious three-hour battle during which the Germans took heavy losses, including Colonel Graf von Strachwitz, who was wounded, from intense Soviet flanking fire.

Despite his frantic efforts to halt the German flank attack, Getman's tank corps was desimated in the heavy and confused fighting. When they went into combat along the corps' flank, the 200th Tank Brigade and the 6th Motorized and 112th Tank Brigades went into battle in piecemeal fashion and were cut into even smaller units and almost destroyed before darkness permitted their remnants to withdraw. By the evening of 10 July, the 3d Panzer Division joined the fray, sending its seventy-tank armored nueleus through Verkhopen'e and southward toward Berezovka into the midst of the 6th Tank Corps' defenses. As a result, the 6th Tank Corps had become virtually combat ineffeetive, with no more than thirty-five tanks and ten antitank guns surviving.10

A Soviet classified account graphically portrayed the 6th Tank Corps'fate on 10 July:

Isolated and broken up tank groups of the 200th and 112th Tank Brigades were eneircled in the region north of Berezovka, where, during the course of the day, they fought with enemy tanks and infantry. Only at night were they able to link up with the main force of the 6th Tank Corps. As a result of the combat on 10 July, the 6th Tank Corps suffered heavy losses and counted in its ranks only thirty-five tanks and ten antitank guns. Having withdrawir to the line Novoselovka 2-Noven'koe, the corps halved its defensive front (from twenty to ten kilometers) and again restored its smashed defenses."

General Getman recounted in detail the heroic deeds of his defeated corps and summed up the action as follows:

Many of our soldiers and commanders fell heroically in the five days of ferocious battle. Hundreds of corps' soldiers were wounded and evacuated to the rear. We suffered especially heavy losses in equipment. By the end of 10 July, not more than fifty tanks, more than one half light, remained operational and three batteries of antitank guns, two in the 6th Motorized Rifle Brigade and one in the 22d Tank Brigade. Reinforeing units-the 60th Tank, and the 270th and 79th Guards Mortar Regiments, and two batteries of self-propelled guns, as well as the subunits of the 1st and lOth Mechanized Brigades, which were operating with us, were also considerably weakened.

Nevertheless, the corps continued to resist the enemy. Having littered the field of battle with hundreds of his burned and destroyed tanks and

guns and thousands of bodies, the enemy succeeded in pushing our lines back several kilometers. His attempt to seize fĂĽlly the village of Noven'koe and advance further in a northem and western direction failed. Meeting organized fire resistance, lie ceased his attacks at nightfall. But, certainly, only so that lie could renew the attacks in the morning with new force. Understanding this, we prepared for the new battle."

General Katukov was more laconie about the day's events, writing in his memoirs:

Finally, the Hitlerites succeeded in penetrating to the northwest and reaching the population points of Noven'koe and Novoselovka 2. Clearly, they were attempting to eneirele the 6th Tank Corps and 90th Guards Division, which were defending southwest of Verkhopen'e. On Shalin's map [the army chief of staffl it was clear how the blue erayon line enveloped the positions of our forces from the northeast. 1 ordered the forces to withdraw to the west and, together with the lOth Tank Corps and the 184th Rifle Division, to ereate a dense defense. As a result of these measures, the enemy attack misfired on the army's right flank.

Unlike his corps commander, however, Katukov failed to mention his armys grievous losses.


Prochorovka Tank Battle

(modified 11/21/2007 13:44:19 by Mad Russian)
MAD RUSSIAN
Senior Tester

Member #468
SUPPORTER
2010
2009
2008
2007
Joined: Oct 2003
Ratings: 14 / 1 / 0
Discussions: 138
Post #389   3472 days, 23 hours, 27 minutes, 19 seconds ago        
German accounts graphically underscore the severity of the struggle. A history of the Grossdeutschland Division noted:

The dark of the night slowly passed over to the gray of the rising lOth of July. At about 03.30, the tanks of Panzer Group Strachwitz at Point 1.8 southwest of Novoselovka spotted the enemy tanks they had heard during the night in the water-filled valley before them. Soon afterward the first armour-piereing shells began falling: a battle between steel giants began this day of fighting on the southern front of the Kursk bulge. By 04.00 the first enemy tanks could be seen burning on the battlefield; but painful gaps had also been smashed in our own ranks. One of 11 Battahon's command tanks took a direct hit in the turret which killed Unteroffizier Konig. The rest of the erew, some of them wounded, were able to eseape from the tank. Oberst Graf von Strachwitz was also injured, by the recoil of the breech, while destroying an enemy tank and had to hand command of the Panzer Regiment GD to Hauptmann von Wietersheim.

Major Franz, the commander of Grossdeutschland's assault gun battalion, related how, during the ferocious combat, in desperation the Soviets again employed their Katiusha multiple rocket launehers in direct fire:

Widely separated, the assault guns of the two batteries drove at full speed toward the village [Kruglik]. At first there was no defense at all. At 300 meters from the village-I already had the impression that the enemy had left the field-1 suddenly saw fiery arrows coming toward us from the outskirts of Kruglik. Before 1 could figure out what they were there were explosions directly in front of the mass of advaneing assault guns. The vehiele next to nie, 1 believe it was Wachtmeister Brauner of 1st Battery, began to stream smoke. Thank God it turned out to be orte of the smoke eandles that every assault gun carried. The vehiele had taken a direct hit in the bow plates but suffered no damage. The explosion and the effect of the projectile revealed that we were under direct fire from a Stalin Organ, the first time we experienced something like this in the campaign. Darkness slowly settled over the battlefield while the assault guns destroyed the Stalin Organ and the nests of resistance which repeatedly flared up at the outskirts of the village. The planned surprise attack misfired, nevertheless we-the armoured reconnaissance battalion and the assault gun battalion together-had once again achieved more than was expected of us.

The XXXXVIII Panzer Corps Chief of Staff von Mellenthin cryptieally summarized the action, later writing.

After a week of hard and almost uninterrupted fighting Grossdeutschland was showing signs of exhaustion and its ranks had been thinned out considerably. On 10 July this division was ordered to wheel to the southwest and elean up the enemy on the left flank. The panzer regiment, the reconnaissance detachment and the grenadier regiment were to advance towards Height 243.0 and to the north thereof; they were then to seize 247.0 to the south of Kruglik and move southward from there to the small forest north of Beresowka [Berezovka] where the Russians were holding up the 3d Panzer Division, strong formations of the Luftwaffe were to support this attack....

Supported by the splendid efforts of the Luftwaffe, Grossdeutschland made a highly successful advance; heights 243.0 and 247.0 were taken, and Russian infantry and armor fled before the panzers and sought refuge in the wood north of Beresowka. Trapped between Grossdeutschland and the 3d Panzer, it seemed as if the enemy on the left flank had at last been hquidated, and the advance to the north could now be resumed. On 11 July the 48th Panzer Corps issued orders for the units of Grossdeutschland to be reheved by the 3d Panzer Division during the night; Grossdeutschland was to assemble astride the road south of Height 260.8 [along the Oboian' road], and to stand by for an advance to the north.

Significantly, Mellenthin added, "In view of the breakdown of Model's attack, a successful advance in this quarter offered the only hope of vietory." Within twenty-four hours, von Mellenthin's hopes would be dashed, for, as Katukov had predieted, the battle on the flanks had not yet ended.

On 11 July the 3d Panzer Division and arriving infantry from the 33,2d Infantry Division eleared Soviet forces from the Berezovka region, forced the 71st Guards Rifle Division westward from Rakovo and Chapaev along the Pena River, and closed up to the Soviet 184th Rifle Division's defenses extending southward from Noven'koe to Melovoe on the Pena. The tattered remnants of the 6th Tank Corps filtered through the 184th's lines. Meanwhile Katukov, with Vatutin's approval, shifted his lOth Tank Corps into new assembly areas around Noven'koe to bolster the sagging defenses on the 1st Tank Army's right flank and to prepare for new counterattacks against the XXXXVIII Panzer Corps. The 219th Rifle Division, newly arrived from thefront reserve, joined the lOth Tank Corps to round out Katukov's new shock force. To facilitate command and control, Vatutin subordinated all rifle forces from the Psel River to the Pena River (the 184th, 219th, 204th, and 309th Rifle Divisions) to General Chistiakov's 6th Guards Army and placed many of these forces under the operational control of Katukov's Ist Tank Army.

Meanwhile, Grossdeutschland tested Soviet defense lines around Kalinovka and regrouped its armor in preparation for the renewed northern thrust. The remnants of the 6th Tank Corps and the 90th Guards Rifle Division, the latter now down to less than 40 pereent of its original strength, mithdrew westward through defense lines manned by the 184th Rifle Division, while the Soviet 204th Rifle Division and supporting armor fended off German probes toward Kalinovka and Kruglik.

Late on 11 July, von Knobelsdorff began implementing his plan for a northern thrust in conjunetion with the II SS Panzer Corps' drive on Prokhorovka. Grossdeutschland's history outhned von Knobelsdorffs intent:

The divisional orders issued during the night of 11/12 July 1943 were in keeping with this notion. Elements of the Panzer-Grenadier Division GD were relieved by units of 3d Panzer Division in their former positions and were transferred to the front of the attack lane in the area of Point 260.8 [along the Oboian' road] and to the north. The plan was for a continuation of the attack, primarily by the tanks and panzer-fusiliers, on 12 July in the direction of the Psel River, the last obstacle in front of Oboyan. It was learned from the division's neighbor on the right, 11 SS Panzer Corps, that its spearheads had already erossed the river.

Thus, von Mellenthin's last hope was about to materialize.

Along the Oboian'road, on 10 and 11 July, the Ilth Panzer Division, supported on its left by the Grossdeutschland Division's Fusilier Regiment, had inched forward against stiffened Soviet resistance. Count Schimmelmann's panzer group of the 11th Panzer Division seized Hill 260.8, and the Fusiliers took Hill 244.8 on the road itself While bending, however, Soviet defenses failed to break, and by the end on 11 July, the 1 Ith Panzer Division concentrated its efforts on consolidating its positions from the Oboian' road to Kochetovka and conducted reconnaissance forays forward to test Soviet defenses. All the while, the division extended its right flank and relieved elements of the Leibstandarte Division, which was regrouping its forces eastward for the decisive drive on Prokhorovka. By nightfall on 11 July, the 11th Panzer waited expectantly for Grossdeutschland's panzer group to concentrate on its left flank along the Oboian' road and for the successful lunge at Oboian', which it believed would follow.

A German account later poignantly recorded the opportunity at hand:

The highest point on the approaches to Oboyan had thereby been reached and, at the same time, the deepest penetration made into the Russian front. From the high ground one could see far into the valley of the Psel River, the last natural barrier this side of Kursk. With field-glasses the towers of Oboyan could be made out in the fine haze. Oboyan was the objective.

It seemed mithin arm's reach. Barely twelve miles away. No distance at all under normal circumstances for a fast formation. Would XLVIII Panzer Corps make this last leap?

According to Hoth's carefully worked out timetable the following should now have happened: XLVIII Panzer Corps to strike towards Oboyan and seize the erossings over the Pssel. Its bulk to wheel eastward and-before thrusting on Kursk-to defeat, jointly with Hausser's SS Panzer Corps, the enemy strategic armoured forces approaching across the strip of land of Prokhorovka. That was Hoth's plan."

However, General Vatutin too was actively formulating new plans to thwart Hoth's and von Knobelsdorffs designs within the context of an even greater counterstroke ultimately designed to "encircle and destroy the main German grouping penetrating to Oboian' and Prokhorovka." Specifically:

The main concept of this operation consisted of delivering concentrie blows against the enemy grouping with the forces of the 5th Guards and lOth Tank Corps, together with, the 6th Guards Army's 22d Guards Rifle Corps, in the general direction of lakovlevo and with the 5th Guards Tank Army and the 5th Guards Army's 33d Guards Rifle Corps in the general direction of Gresnoe, IakovIevo, and Bykovka. The left flank 23d Guards Rifle Corps of 6th Guards Army and the right flank 32d Guards Rifle Corps of 5th Guards Army were to deliver a secondary strike in the general direction of Pokrovka. With part of its forces, 7th Guards Army was to deliver a secondary blow on Razumnoe.

Characteristically, these offensive plans, scheduled to be implemented on the morning of 12 July, reflected Vatutin's unremittingly offensive mindset. Despite the damage done in previous days to his once-mighty 6th Tank Corps and the remainder of his tank army, on 11 July Vatutin issued new orders to Katukov that mirrored his unrequited audacity:

Having in your composition the 6th, 10th, and 31st Tank Corps, the 3d Mechanized Corps, the 5th Guards Stalingrad Tank Corps, the 204th and 309th Rifle Divisions, and reinforeing artillery units, using part of your forces prevent the enemy from penetrating northward of the Kruglik01'khovatka line, and with your main forces, attack from the line Aleksandrovka 1-Noven'koe in a general southeastern direction in cooperation with the 6th Guards Army with the mission of seizing Iakovlevo and Pokrovka and, jointly with the 6th Guards and 5th Guards Tank Armies, eneirele the penetrating [enemy] mobile group and subsequently exploit success to the south and southwest.

This order prompted a massive regrouping of Voronezh Front forces to contain the German advance and to ereate the shock groups designated to launch Vatutin's two major counterstrokes. In the 1st Tank and 6th Guards Armies' sector, Kravchenko's 5th Guards Tank Corps relocated to assembly areas forward of Aleksandrovka in the rear of the 184th Rifle Division. General Burkovs 10th Tank Corps shifted to its right into assembly areas near Noven'koe, where it formed up to attack with the 219th Rifle Division's infantry. The remnants of Getman's 6th Tank Corps remained in combat in support of the 184th Rifle Division and then reforrned to the rear to support the 5th Guards'and 10th Tank Corps'attack. The shock group mustered just over 200 tanks. Vatutin's remaining forces, including about 150 tanks, were defending from the Psel River to west of the Oboian' road. These elements of the 204th and 309th Rifle Divisions and the 3d Mechanized and 31st Tank Corps were to defend in place and then join the counterstroke when and if German forces attempted to withdraw southward. At the same time, the two corps of General Zhadov's 5th Guards Army moved forward from positions along the Psel River, which they had occupied the day before, and prepared to support Vatutin's counterstrokes.

Thus, the most important and, subsequently, most apparent aim of Vatutin's counteroffensive was to halt the German advance on Prokhorovka and, hence, German seizure of Oboian' and Kursk. However, the counterstroke Vatutin planned and carried out against the XXXXVIII Panzer Corps' left flank, although subsequently masked by the "noise" and furor of the Prokhorovka battle, was equally important, for it denied the Germans the opportunity of adding Grossdeutschland Division to their main attack on Oboian'and Kursk. This, in no small measure, conditioned the Gen-nan setback at Prokhorovka and the overall failure of Operation Citadel.

No less critical to the success of the German offensive and the fate of Vatutin's counterattack plans was the situation east of the Northern Donets River, where General Breith's III Panzer Corps struggled to fulfill its offensive promise.

Prochorovka Tank Battle


(modified 11/21/2007 13:41:58 by Mad Russian)
MAD RUSSIAN
Senior Tester

Member #468
SUPPORTER
2010
2009
2008
2007
Joined: Oct 2003
Ratings: 14 / 1 / 0
Discussions: 138
Post #390   3472 days, 23 hours, 26 minutes, 58 seconds ago        
III Panzer Corps versus 7th Guards Army

10-11 July

The first six days of the German offensive had been expensive and frustrating for General Werner Kempf and his Army Detachment. Try as it might, Kempf's force seemed unable to penetrate deeply and rapidly through the dense fortifieations of the Soviet 7th Guards Army. Its failure to do so deprived the II SS Panzer Corps of its flank support, disrupted its full concentration along the Prokhorovka axis, and threatened the viability of Hoth's offensive plans.

Kempfs problem was similar to, but more severe than, von Knobelsdorffs. While the XXXXVIII Panzer Corps'attention was constantly distracted by the endless battles along its left flank, Kempf's force had to contend with nearconstant threats to both its flanks. On its left flank, Soviet forces held the salient anchored on the Northern Donets and Lipovyi Donets Rivers north and east of Belgorod, and the 19th Panzer Division had to divert significant forces to support the 168th Infantry Division, which was inehing its way northward from the eity along the banks of both rivers. Simultaneously, Kempf had to defend his inereasingly long right flank southward to Maslovo Pristan' against ever more aetive Soviet forces. These twin flank threats denied Kempf the opportunity to concentrate Breith's critical armor for a decisive thrust to the north and Prokhorovka. Moreover, Kempfs slow northward progress required the II SS Panzer Corps to use its 167th Infantry and Das Reich SS Panzer Grenadier Divisions to proteet its long and unproteeted light flank along the Lipovyi Donets River, where Soviet armored forces were still most aetive.

Vatutin eapitalized on this situation. He ordered Shumilov's 7th Guards Army to maintain pressure against Kempf s flank east of the Northern Donets and to prepare even stronger counterattacks for 12 July. General Kriuchenkin's 69th Army, now reinforced with the entire 35th Guards Rifle Corps, took over responsibility for defense between Prokhorovka and Miasoedovo, east of Belgorod. Kriuchenkin employed successive defense lines to block the III Panzer Corps' forward progress, while lie orchestrated the tricky staged withdrawal of his forces from the Northern Donets salient north of Belgorod.

Accordingly, the 69th Army's 92d Guards, 94th Guards, and 305th Rifle Divisions, with modest armor and antitank support, contained the III Panzer Corps' spearhead 6th Panzer Division around Melikhovo. By the end of 10 July, Soviet defenders had used a mixture of antitank ditehes, antitank guns, mines, and artillery to reduce the 6th Panzer's armored strength to only 47 funetioning tanks, out of an original total of over 100.24 Try as it might, the 6th Panzer could not break out northward until it received support from either the 7th or 19th Panzer Divisions or both, yet these divisions were tied down in fighting along Kempfs flanks.

To the south the 7th Panzer Division covered Kempfs long western flank to Miasoedovo and lent support to Corps Rauss's infantry divisions, which were under renewed pressure. This pressure, already heavy in the Rzhavets region, where the 72d Guards and 213th Rifle Divisions were launching nearly constant attacks, also materialized near Batratskaia Dacha, where Shumilov's 15th Guards Rifle Division went into action. Rauss's 320th and 106th Infantry Divisions had already suffered losses totaling over 40 pereent of their original strength, and the newly arrived 198th Infantry had its hands full dealing with the threat posed by the Soviet 15th Guards' attacks. In combination, these actions kept the 7th Panzer tied down for days, helplessly out of supporting range of the 6th Panzer.

While the 6th and 7th Panzer Divisions were stalled at and south of Melikhovo, the 19th Panzer Division and the 168th Infantry eleared Soviet troops from the eastern bank of the Northern Donets River. They were assisted in this effort by Kriuchenkin's 10 July order to his 375th and 81st Guards Rifle Divisions. Kriuchenkin had instructed these two divisions to disengage, withdraw from the region south of the Lipovyi and Northern Donets Rivers, and turn over their defensive sector south of Gostishehevo to the 89th Guards Rifle Division. This shortening of lines permitted Kriuchenkin to ereate reserves to contend with a German advance northward from Mefikhovo, which Kriuchenkin knew was inevitable.

Late on 10 July, at von Manstein's urging, Kempf finally orchestrated a rather desperate effort to break the stalemate east of the Northern Donets River. Slipping elements of the 7th Panzer Division northward to occupy 6th Panzer positions around Mefikhovo, lie concentrated the latter for a northward dn*ve in coneert with an advance along the eastern banks of the Northern Donets by 19th Panzer Division. At dawn on 11 July, the 6th Panzer struck, with the Tigers of the 503d Panzer Detachment in the vanguard. While the 19th Panzer lunged northward along the left bank of the Northern Donets through
Khokhlovo and Kiselevo to Sabynino, the 6th Panzer advanced twelve kdometers northward and seized Kazach'e. This headlong advance by massed Tiger tanks tore through the Soviet 305th Rifle Division's defenses and wedged into the prepared defense line of the 107th Rifle Division, ten kilometers to the rear.

In addition to unhinging Kriuchenkin's defenses, Kempfs audacious thrust rendered untenable the 89th Guards Rifle Division's defenses south of Gostishchevo. In desperation equal to that which propelled the Germans forward, Kriuchenkin threw his already battle-searred 81st Guards Rifle Division into combat to block the German northward advance and ordered the 89th Guards to withdraw to new defenses just south of Gostishehevo. Kriuchenkin knew his situation was precarious. While lie had held Kempfs force at bay for several days, and Kempfs armored spearheads were still twenty-five to thirty kilometers from Prokhorovka, lie doubted that his remaining reserves (the threadbare 375th Rifle Division) could halt further German advances. Soviet records describe Kriuchenkin's subsequent decision:

To liquidate the existing penetration, the 69th Army commander made the decision to regroup his forces on the night of 12 July and to withdraw some formations to new defensive positions. After regrouping in accordance with this plan, by dawn on 12 July, the army formations occupied the following positions: the 93d Guards Rifle Division continued to defend its positions along the Rozhdestvenka-Druzhnyi line [southwest of Gostishchevol; the 89th Guards Rifle Division, having left no more than two battalions with antitank guns on the front from Kalinin to Petropavlovka, occupied defenses along the front Kiselevo-Krivtsevo; the 81st Guards Rifle Division occupied defenses along the western bank of the Northern Donets from Krivtsevo to Rudinka; the 92d Guards Rifle Division with the 96th Tank Brigade occupied a prepared defense line along the front Vypolzovka-NovoAlekseevskĂĽ Vyselok; the 107th and 305th Rifle Divisions occupied defenses along the line Razumnoe ravine-Gremiach'e; the 94th Guards Division with the 31st Antitank Brigade occupied defenses along the fine Shhakhovtsevo Mazildno-Sheina-Ushakovo, with one rifle regiment and a regiment of the 31st Antitank Brigade in second echelon along the line Ploskoe-Novoselovka, along the eastern bank of the Koren' River. To the left, 7th Guards Army's 15th Guards Rifle Division continued to defend along the line Sheina (excl.) Solovev State Farm.

Despite these elaborate defensive preparations, Kriuchenkin knew lie could not successfully contain a renewed German assault. Therefore, late on 11 July, he appealed to Vatutin for help. The call for help came none too soon, for early on 12 July, the III Panzer Corps continued its desperate drive northward toward Prokhorovka.

Prochorovka Tank Battle

(modified 11/21/2007 13:40:08 by Mad Russian)
MAD RUSSIAN
Senior Tester

Member #468
SUPPORTER
2010
2009
2008
2007
Joined: Oct 2003
Ratings: 14 / 1 / 0
Discussions: 138
Post #391   3472 days, 22 hours, 20 minutes, 30 seconds ago        
A Topographical map of Prokhorovka.



Topo Map of Prokhorovka
MAD RUSSIAN
Senior Tester

Member #468
SUPPORTER
2010
2009
2008
2007
Joined: Oct 2003
Ratings: 14 / 1 / 0
Discussions: 138
Post #392   3472 days, 14 hours, 41 minutes, 53 seconds ago        
The Battle of Kursk: Myths and Reality


The Battle of Kursk is one of the most familiar battles of the Eastern Front. Those casually acquainted with the Second World War usually know of only two battles between the Soviets and the Germans: Stalingrad and Kursk. Unfortunately, knowledge of the Battle of Kursk is only just now being improved. Despite a growing number of good analyses available to the public, the myths of Kursk are hard to put to rest. This essay will hopefully help this cause.



Background to the Battle


The Kursk salient that the Germans hoped to surround and destroy was a result of the battles in the winter and spring of 1943. After the Soviets surrounded Stalingrad and forced the Germans out of the Caucasus, their offensive did not stop. It continued westward, taking important cities such as Rostov and Kharkov. However, the Red Army overextended itself, and was ripe for a counterattack. The riposte destroyed many of the Soviet units and cleared much of the territory they had taken. This included Kharkov, but not much of the territory north of the city. Hence the Soviet salient protruding into German lines. The overall operational idea was to pause to rest and refit the forces that had participated in Manstein's counterattacks, to wait for the development of new equipment (Panther tanks, Elefant tank destroyers, and some other weaponry), and to build up new units. Then launch the attack to destroy the salient. The code name for the operation was "CITADEL".

From these plans, it is clear that CITADEL was purely operational. Even a complete German success would not have fundamentally changed the strategic situation on the East Front. At most, it would have delayed subsequent Soviet offensives, but it is hard to argue that a German success would have prevented them, or created some sort of long-term stalemate to allow the Germans to turn and defeat the Western Allies (the US and the UK). It simply was not big enough, although it surely represented the largest operation that the German Army could have launched. In fact, once launched it became clear that even CITADEL was outside the scope of what the Germans could accomplish.


Myths of CITADEL

There is a tremendous amount of misunderstanding about how CITADEL progressed. This misunderstanding is fueled by oft-repeated, but false, descriptions of the combat that took place. Perhaps no other author has contributed as much to these myths as Martin Caiden. His book, The Tigers are Burning, was published in 1973 and quickly became a bestseller, and was a "selection of the month" for various book clubs. Due to its popularity it was reprinted in 1980. It is fairly safe to say that the main, if not only, source of information on CITIDEL for western readers was Caiden's book. This is unfortunate, because although his book is exciting to read (it ranks with Tom Clancy's best thrillers), it is almost entirely wrong. It is so wrong, that I have seen it stocked in the "fiction" section of used book stores, which is entirely appropriate.

Caiden's book is the product of Soviet propaganda. With no access to Soviet archives, and since he did no archival work in the (accessible) West German archives, it was inevitable that Caiden would be fooled. Indeed the predicable result was a foolish book. Why did Soviet propaganda need to inflate the significance of the Battle of Kursk? Why did it need to inflate the scope of the battle and the losses the Germans took? Because at the tactical level, the Red Army suffered greatly. Some units were almost completely wiped out. In order to justify the losses they took, particularly in the battle in front of Prokhorovka, the Soviets inflated the size, power, and losses of the German forces. Caiden, unable and unwilling to filter this deception out, simply spiced up the descriptions and inserted the Soviet figures directly into his book.

Only lately, in the last 10 years or so, have we been able to gain a balanced analytical perspective on CITADEL. As a result, it is time to do some "myth busting".

Myth #1:
CITADEL was one distinct battle, primarily between tank forces of both sides. Wrong! CITADEL was gigantic, both in terms of the forces involved and the areas fought over. And while the armored units of both sides did much of the glamorous fighting, ultimately the operation was won and lost by infantry divisions. Most of the division-sized units employed by both sides were infantry, not armored. Regarding the size of the operation, the "front lines" of CITADEL stretched for hundreds of miles, and the territory fought over spanned thousands of square miles. While some areas saw rather high concentrations of troops, CITADEL hardly follows the popular picture of units wedged together, with no room to maneuver. The size of the operation ensured that CITADEL was not "one battle". Considering that the Germans used three armies, one on the north portion, two on the south, it is baffling to think that some people envision CITADEL as a tactical fight.


Myth #2:
The battle at Prokhorovka was the largest tank battle in history. This is probably the most-repeated claim about CITADEL. It is also misleading and almost certainly wrong. The typical claim is that the battle at Prokhorovka was massive, involving two thousand tanks. While a significant battle, it was nowhere near as large as the myth supposes. One way people arrive at inflated numbers is to assume that all three SS Panzergrenadier divisions participated. In fact, only one, the Liebsstandarte Adolf Hitler (LSSAH) fought this battle. The other two were on the flanks of the LSSAH (Totenkopf on the left, and largely across the Psel River, and Das Reich on the right) and were fighting their own separate battles. At the time of the battle, LSSAH had already been in combat for about a week and was substantially depleted. By July 11th and 12th, the two main days of the battle, LSSAH was down to about 100 tanks, assault guns, and tank destroyers (not including observation tanks). The Soviet units that participated in the battle at Prokhorovka were the 18th and 29th Tank Corps, along with a separate detachment under General Trufanov. These units combined were able to field about 421 tanks, assault guns, and tank destroyers. So, contrary to the popular claims of "thousands" of tanks fighting it out in front of Prokhorovka, we have about 517, of which 455 were actually "tanks". I have provided data for the number of on-hand (that is, ready to fight) armored fighting vehicles for July 10, 11, and 12. Note that these numbers fluctuate for a variety of reasons: temporary losses due to damage, permanent losses due to destruction, and returns from repair shops.

Given these numbers, it is not likely that the battle at Prokhorovka was the "largest tank battle in history". In fact, it is smaller than a battle that took place between the French and the Germans in 1940. In front of Gembloux on May 14-15, two full-strength Panzer divisions (each with about 300 tanks) squared off with two full-strength French Light Mechanized Divisions (each with about 260 tanks).


Myth #3:
Russian tanks rammed German ones. This fanciful notion has Soviet tanks, knowing that their guns would be ineffective against the tough German armor, close to point-blank range and begin to ram German tanks to knock them out. Hogwash! There is in fact no evidence of this. It never appears in any reports, German or Soviet. The stories of tank ramming typically focus on KV tanks ramming Tigers. Considering there were a grand total of 1 KV tank (most certainly a command tank) and only 4 Tigers, this is incredibly unlikely. Rather, these stories are a product of embellished accounts, and propagandized Soviet versions designed to "play up" the fierceness of the battle so as to justify their losses. Note too that hardly any of the German AFVs present (just the 4 Tigers) had armor that would be able to consistently withstand Russian firepower. The only documented instance of tank-ramming I am aware of is in Normandy, when a British Sherman rammed a German Tiger.


Myth #4:
Prokhorovka was the "death ride of the Panzers" because the Germans lost so many tanks.

Traditional western sources, citing propagandized Soviet accounts, place tank losses at Prokhorovka for both sides at about 1200. Considering the fact that less than half that number even participated in the battle, this number is ridiculous. If it was anything, it was the death ride of the 29th Tank Corp, which experienced a 75% drop in its number of on-hand AFVs in one day. In fact, the Germans barely noticed the effects of the battle at Prokhorovka, while the Soviets had several units rendered ineffective in a matter of hours. Simply put, the Germans put a licking on the Red Army. I have provided data for the number of "damaged" and "destroyed/abandoned" AFVs July 10, 11, and 12.


This hardly reveals a "death ride" for the Panzers. The LSSAH permanently lost a grand total of 7 AFVs. A further 25 were damaged and sent to repair shops, only 1 of which was a Tiger (note that no Tigers were destroyed). The Soviets, on the other hand, permanently lost at least 134 AFVs, more than 19 times the losses of the Germans. A further 125 were temporarily lost due to damage. Therefore total AFV losses due to combat at Prokhorovka come out to 32 German against 259 Soviet. It is no wonder the Soviets had to inflate the size and losses of the German force; they were beaten badly.


Myth #5:
The weather at Prokhorovka was clear and dry. Most popular accounts of the battle at Prokhorovka feature swirling tank battles kicking up enormous clouds of dust. Nothing could be further from the truth. We already know that there were no swirling tanks battles at point blank range. Nor was there dust. The ground was waterlogged, and the weather during the battle featured occasional thunderstorms. According to the reports of LSSAH, July 9th was "dreary and rainy" and July 10th featured "heavy showers which hampered [the] division's movements". For July 11 and 12, the division reported that there were "heavy downpours which severely hampered combat operations" and that the roads were "in very poor shape". These are hardly the conditions that would allow for huge clouds of dust to be kicked up!


Myth #6:
German forces were heavily supplied with Panthers, Tigers, and Elefant tank destroyers. While the Germans did decide to delay their attack so that more new weapons, such as the Panther and the Elefant, would be available, these weapons were not present in large numbers. A grand total of 119 Panthers went into battle with the Gross Deutschland Division (GD) on July 5th. After 65% of those went out of action, either damaged or destroyed, on the first day they ceased to play a crucial role in the remaining week's worth of combat. Note that there were absolutely no Panthers available to any other unit besides GD. The paintings and drawings of Panthers in battle at Prokhorovka are absolutely wrong: none of the three SS Panzergrenadier divisions used Panthers at Kursk. A total of 90 Elefants were available, and all of them were used by the 9th Army to help its divisions crack through the defensive lines on the north face of the Kursk salient. Despite the Soviet accounts which have Elefants participating in practically every battle on the north and south faces, Elefants were used only by the 9th Army, and only on the north face (primarily in the German assault on the town of Ponyri). Most of them were lost in the first few days of the fighting. Tiger tanks were equally rare. On the entire south face of the salient, only 89 Tigers started the battle. About half of these were in the heavy battalions of the three SS Panzergrenadier divisions and the GD. These four divisions started with 12 to 15 Tigers each, but by the second or third day of fighting, they were down to about 4 to 6 operational Tigers each. This situation remained until the end of the fighting. Popular drawings and paintings of waves of Tigers rolling toward the Russians are pure fantasy. The battle where Tigers are supposedly present in droves, at Prokhorovka, featured just 4.



Myth #7:
Hitler called off CITADEL because the Americans and British landed on Sicily and the Germans needed to shift forces to the western front. This component of the overall myth of Kursk is undoubtedly due to western authors trying to increase the otherwise paltry contributions of the western allies in 1943. In actual fact, the German units on the southern face of the Kursk salient received new orders to renew their attacks several days after the landing on Sicily. Hitler called off CITADEL not because a couple of British and American divisions were attacking a strategically insignificant island in the Mediterranean, but because the Soviets had (1) blunted and stalled the German CITADEL offensive, and (2) launched their own massive offensives on the flanks of the German attack. These attacks soaked up reserves the Germans had planned on using to complete the destruction of the Kursk salient. Without them, the Germans were too weak to continue CITADEL and they began withdrawing their units.


Myth #8: The Germans almost won, or they could have won. Some authors would have us believe that the Germans could have won at least a partial victory in CITADEL. Certainly the Germans were not decisively defeated in CITADEL. While the 9th Army bogged down almost immediately on the north face, it was only forced back due to Soviet attacks on the German 2nd Army, protecting its flank and rear. On the south face, the Germans had won nearly every tactical battle, including at Prokhorovka. George Nipe has argued that given these tactical victories, the Germans could have continued to destroy the armored forces of the Soviet Union, and that Hitler called off CITADEL too early. Nipe offers no evidence that: (a) the Germans could have continued to win Prokhorovka-style battles; (b) the Germans could have continued moving forward at all; (c) that the XXIV Panzer Corps could actually have been committed. Let's examine these problems is turn.

While Prokhorovka offered the Germans a tactical victory, operationally it was a death knell for CITADEL. The 9th Army's advance had already stalled several days earlier. And even though it was defeated in the space of two days, the arrival of the 5th Guards Tank Army signaled the fact that the Russians were committing their armored reserves, and that from July 11 on the Germans would have to content with these. It is doubtful that the Germans could have continued to defeat these reserves, given the context of the problems with the rest of the operation. Even if a few more tactical battles were won, to what end? CITADEL, as an operation, had failed before the battle at Prokhorovka; there was no way that the north and south face could meet to encircle the Soviet forces. Continuing to attack would have wasted resources.

It is doubtful that the Germans could have kept moving forward at all anyway. The north face had degenerated into static warfare before the Germans even got through all the defensive lines. On the south face, the Germans enjoyed some forward progress, but at a tremendous cost. Loses in AFVs, vehicles, and men were high enough to soak up a significant portion of the offensive power of the German armored divisions. Further, the attack had been launched with insufficient infantry forces. The salient that the armored units pushed forward could not be adequately protected due to a lack of infantry divisions. Thus, the German offensive was contained and stalled. Having the three SS Panzergrenadier divisions move forward after the battle at Prokhorovka would have made things worse, not better, for the Germans.

Finally, Nipe identifies the XXIV Panzer Corps as an "uncommitted reserve" that Manstein could have used to force the attack forward, at least on the south face. This is only technically true. The XXIV Panzer Corps, made up of the 17th, 23rd, and SS-Wiking Panzer divisions was theoretically available as a reserve, to be used once a breakthrough had been achieved. This force was not useable for two reasons. First, no operational breakthrough had actually been achieved. Due to the depth and flexibility of the Soviet defenses, the German attack never achieved anything close to operational maneuver, despite the fact that it steadily moved forward on the south flank. There simply was no space to commit the XXIV Panzer Corps. Second, the Soviet attacks to the south of the Kursk salient, along the Mius river, required the commitment of this reserve. As part of the overall Soviet operational plan for the Summer of 1943, the Red Army would absorb the (obvious) German attack while simultaneously launching its own attacks against the 2nd Army (to the left and behind the 9th Army on the north face) and to the south of Kharkov (to outflank the 4th Panzer Army and Army Group Kempf). Given that the German lines had been stripped to provide reinforcements for CITADEL, the XXIV Panzer Corps was committed to blunt these southern attacks. As armored units were pulled out of CITADEL, they too were committed in a defensive role along the Mius. Had CITADEL been continued with the commitment of the XXIV Panzer Corps, the German lines along the Mius would almost certainly have been decisively penetrated, leading to operational disaster for the Germans. As it was, the Soviet attacks still forced the Germans out of the Ukraine, even with the use of Panzer forces on the defensive.


Conclusion

The myth of Kursk has been surprisingly resilient. Some of this undoubtedly is due to how long it remained unchallenged. Powerful counterarguments have only been published in the last 10 years or so. Even these are somewhat inaccessible: since they've been published by specialty presses they have high price tags and do not show up on the average bookstore's shelves.

It is certain that CITADEL failed and in no way were the Germans positioned to even score a partial victory. The Germans did not fail, however, due to a defeat at Prokhorovka. There was no "death ride of the panzers" on July 11 and 12. Nor was there a very big battle on those dates. It's time to put to rest the fanciful notions of waves of Tiger and Panther tanks riding across the dry, dusty plains to do battle with Soviet tanks at point-blank range.

It just didn't happen.

Some parts of this essay (maybe even all of it) may be at odds with what you have read or heard about the battle of Kursk. As a result, you may be skeptical of what I have written. I urge you to use this as an excuse to "dig deeper" into the history of the battle. As an aid, I suggest the following reading list:



Glantz, David, and Jonathan House. 1999. The Battle of Kursk. University Press of Kansas.

Newton, Steven. 2003. Kursk: The German View. DaCapo Press.

Zetterling, Niklas, and Anders Frankson. 2000. Kursk: A Statistical Analysis. Frank Cass.

For German and Soviet data on the south face, consult the Kursk Operation Simulation and Validation Exercise (KOSAVE) prepared by the U.S. Army Concepts Analysis Agency.


Myths and Facts about Kursk



(modified 11/24/2007 04:29:44 by Mad Russian)
MAD RUSSIAN
Senior Tester

Member #468
SUPPORTER
2010
2009
2008
2007
Joined: Oct 2003
Ratings: 14 / 1 / 0
Discussions: 138
Post #393   3472 days, 14 hours, 1 minute, 53 seconds ago        
Tanks at Prochorovka

German AFV"s On Hand and Operational

................July 10th........ July 11th........July 12th

PzIII:..........11.....................12...................12

PzIV:..........42.....................48...................32

PzVI Tiger:..4........................3.....................3

Marder III:..20......................19....................19

StuG III:.....20......................10...................20

PzI:............2.......................2......................2

PzII:..........4........................4.......................4

Total:........109....................99.....................92



Soviet AFV"s On Hand and Operational

18th Tank Corps


................July 10th........ July 11th........July 12th

KVI:..............0......................0.....................0

Churchill:......18....................18....................8

T-34:.............50....................68..................26

T-70:.............49....................58..................35

SU-122...........0......................0....................0

SU-76.............8......................8....................7

Total:...........125....................152.................76


29th Tank Corps


................July 10th........ July 11th........July 12th

KVI:..............1......................1.....................2

Churchill:.......0......................0......................0

T-34:............122...................123..................20

T-70:.............82....................81..................29

SU-122..........11...................12....................3

SU-76.............8......................4....................0

Total:...........224....................225.................58




Trufanov


................July 10th........ July 11th........July 12th

KVI:..............0......................0.....................0

Churchill:.......0......................0.....................0

T-34:.............35...................35...................27

T-70:..............9.....................9.....................6

SU-122...........0.....................0......................0

SU-76.............0.....................0.....................0

Total:............44.....................44...................33




German AFV"s Out Of Action Due to Damage

................July 10th........ July 11th........July 12th

PzIII:...........0......................0....................0

PzIV:...........0.....................12....................0

PzVI Tiger:...0......................0.....................1

Marder III:...0........................1.....................0

StuG III:.....2.........................9.....................0

PzI:............0.......................0......................0

PzII:...........0.......................0......................0

Total:..........2....................22......................1




Myths and Facts about Kursk




(modified 11/24/2007 04:30:17 by Mad Russian)
MAD RUSSIAN
Senior Tester

Member #468
SUPPORTER
2010
2009
2008
2007
Joined: Oct 2003
Ratings: 14 / 1 / 0
Discussions: 138
Post #394   3470 days, 8 hours, 34 minutes, 4 seconds ago        
As the 60th anniversary of "Battle of Kursk", the following data appeared in the "Voenno Istoricheskii Arkhiv (Military history archives) 2003/No. 03 & 2003/No. 12".


29th Tank Corps
11 July 1943
120 T-34s, 81 T-70s, 12 SU-122s, 8 SU-76s
Total: 221

16 July 1943
42 T-34s, 47 T-70s, 4 SU-122s, 6 SU-76s
Total: 99

18th Tank Corps
11 July 1943
68 T-34s, 58 T-70s, 18 Mk-IVs
Total: 144

16 July 1943
45 T-34s, 44 T-70s, 9 Mk-IVs
Total: 98

2nd Tank Corps
11 July 1943
35 T-34s, 46 T-70s, 4 Mk-IVs
Total:85

16 July 1943
31 T-34s, 32 T-70s, 5 Mk-IVs
Total: 68

2nd Guards Tank Corps
11 July 1943
84 T-34s, 52 T-70s, 3 Mk-IVs
Total: 139

16 July 1943
35 T-34s, 18 T-70s, 0 Mk-IV
Total: 53

5th Guards Mechanized Corps
11 July 1943
120 T-34s, 56 T-70s, 10 SU-122s, 7 SU-76s
Total: 193

16 July 1943
57 T-34s, 33 T-70s, 9 SU-122s, 6 SU-76s
Total: 105

Total Tanks Available 11 July: 782

Total Tanks Available 16 July: 423

Drop in Available Total: 359


Note that the Mk-IV is the Soviet designation for the British Churhill tank which they equipped their heavy tank units with at the time. It is NOT the German PzIV tank.

Soviet Tank Stregths at Prochorovka



(modified 11/24/2007 04:46:02 by Mad Russian)
MAD RUSSIAN
Senior Tester

Member #468
SUPPORTER
2010
2009
2008
2007
Joined: Oct 2003
Ratings: 14 / 1 / 0
Discussions: 138
Post #395   3469 days, 21 hours, 20 minutes, 32 seconds ago        
OPERATION "ZITADELLE"

Prior to Operation " Zitadelle " the schwere Panzer-Kompanien were all authorized to be converted to the new organization, with 14 Tigers per company. Most of these reinforcements had already arrived at the front in May with plenty of time to train their crews and conduct tactical exercises. The 3.Kompanie/Panzer Regiment 505 was the exception; it didn't arrive at the front with its 14 Tigers until 6 July, after the start of the offensive.

In preparation for the offensive, tests were conducted on the ability of the Tigers to cross anti tank ditches and streams. one such test, conducted on 2 June to determine the Tiger's ability to cross a stream bordered by a swampy area, was reported as follows:

It was concluded that the Tiger couldn't cross swampy barriers of this type. If the width of the swampy area was greater than the length of the Tiger, it was impossible to get through. If the width of the swampy area was shorter than the Tiger's length, a crossing under favorable conditions (favorable approach, flat banks, swamp not deeper than the height of the roadwheels) was perhaps possible but uncertain.

To aid themselves in crossing such barriers, schwere Panzer Abteilung 505 had converted most of their PzKpfw III into " Bruekenmaterialtraeger " as was discovered by the Armee command which responded to this innovative action as follows: " ...This type of modification on Panzers is strictly forbidden. It must be ensured that the dismounted turrets will again be attached to their Panzer chassis. "

In spite of General Guderian's advice that Tigers should be employed concentrated in a schwere Panzer Abteilung , on 4 July 1943, one Kompanie from the schwere Panzer Abteilung 503 was attached to each of the 6th , 7th , and 9th Panzer Divisions . Therefore the only Tigers concentrated in greater than company strength were the two companies in schwere Panzer Abteilung 505 under Heeresgruppe Mitte .

On July 1943, the commander of sPzAbt.505 , Hauptmann Graf Kageneck, reported the problems with mines and poor tactical handling that his scattered unit encountered.

III.Panzer Korps reported the loss of 13 Tigers in one Kompanie that had started out with 14 Tigers on the morning of 5 July 1943. Nine Tigers fell out due to mine damage. It would take two or three days to repair each one of them. The reasons for this extraordinary high loss rate from mines was:

1. From the start, there wasn't a single map available showing the location of mines that had been laid by the German units in front of the bridgehead. two completely contradictory mine plans were available, and both were incorrect. Therefore, two Tigers ran onto our own mines directly after setting off. Another two Tigers hit mines during further advances across terrain that was shown on the map to be free of mines.
2. Mine clearing was sloppily conducted, so that three additional Tigers fell out due to mines after being shown supposedly mine-free gaps. After this, 120 mines were lifted from an area shown on the map to be free of mines.
3. The eighth Tiger drove onto mines when it attempted to move into position against an enemy tank attack reported on the left flank. Eight Tigers fell out for two or three days as a result of carelessness or tactically incorrect employment. Therefore, during the period they were not available for their actual purpose, fighting enemy tanks and heavy weapons.

Dissatisfied with how the Tigers had been employed by the units to which they were attached, General der Panzertruppen Breith, commander of the III.Panzer Korps, issued the following directive on 21 July 1943:

Based on experience in the recent battles, I issue the following instructions for the cooperation of Tigers with other weapons:

1. As a result of its high performance weapon and strong armor, the Tiger should be used primarily against enemy tanks and anti tank weapons and secondarily - and then only as a a complete exception - against infantry targets. As experience has shown, its weapons allow the Tiger to fight enemy tanks at ranges of 2,000 meters and longer, which has especially worked on the morale of the opponent. As a result of the strong armor, it is possible to close to short range with the enemy tanks without being seriously damaged from hits. Still, the Tiger should not attempt to start enemy tanks at ranges over 1,000 meters.
As often as the situation allows - which was possible very often during the recent battles - prior to employment of Tigers the terrain should be scouted with the primary purpose of determining the possibility of crossing rivers and streams, bridges, and marshlands. Kompanie and Zugleaders and also Panzer commanders may not shy from dismounting and performing scouting patrols on foot in order to prevent the entire unit from getting stuck in difficulty terrain. In connection with this, unnecessary losses of Tigers on mines could have been prevented. The same applies to the other types of Panzers.
A known weakness of the Tiger is caused by the location of the commander's cupola on the left side of the turret. The commander can't see an extensive area close to the right side of the Tiger, which presents a threat from the opponent's tank hunter teams. Therefore, it is well known that it is necessary for other troops to protect the Tiger from this threat.
2. During the attack on 5 July in a sector of the Korps front, lack of knowledge about our own mine fields worked out to be detrimental to our Tigers. Therefore, the forward Kampfgruppen should plan to constantly have sufficient Pioniere not only to clear away obstacles but also to clear mine fields.
3. I forbid employment of Panzers, especially Tigers, under Kompanie strength. For defense, Panzers are to be consolidated into attack groups that are to be sent in as planned counter strikes. After completing a counter strike, these Panzer groups are to be immediately pulled back to return to the disposal of the sector or division commander. Dispersal of Panzers in the main battle line or guarding other weapons by day and by night must not occur.



Tigers at Kursk

Quick Jump:

Home :: Join :: Author's Login :: Modfy Your Profile :: Who's Who? :: Chat :: Help/About :: Reference Material :: VL Planner :: Contact
Opponent Finder :: Scenario Finder :: Scenario Upload :: Scenario Design Tips :: Research Area :: Scenario Discussion :: Map Finder :: Map Upload

Combat Mission - Beyond Overlord/Barbarossa To Berlin/Afrika Korps is a registered trademark of Battlefront.com
Advanced Squad Leader is a trademark of Avalon Hill Games, Inc., a Hasbro affiliate
Additional Material, Copyright ©2017 Gary Krockover

Log In