The tank Battle of Prokhorovka, the largest battle in military history fought by armoured formations of Wehrmacht and the Red Army. Military history is a Humanities discipline within the scope of general historical recording of armed conflict in the history of humanity Wehrmacht (literally "defense force" was the name of the unified Armed forces of Germany from 1935 to 1945 The Red Army ( Russian: Рабоче-Крестьянская Красная Армия R aboche- K rest'yanskaya K rasnaya A rmiya It occurred on July 12, 1943, and was the pivotal battle of Operation Citadel, the German offensive to encircle Soviet forces in the Kursk salient, also known as the Battle of Kursk, of the Great Patriotic War. Events 1191 - Saladin 's garrison surrenders ending the two-year Siege of Acre. Year 1943 ( MCMXLIII) was a Common year starting on Friday (the link will display full 1943 calendar of the Gregorian calendar. The Battle of Kursk (Курская битва refers to a series of German and Soviet operations on the Eastern Front of World War II Nazi Germany and the Third Reich are the common English names for Germany under the regime of Adolf Hitler and the National Socialist German Workers The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR was a constitutionally Socialist state that existed in Eurasia from 1922 to 1991 History KurskOld2jpg|thumb|200px|Pre-1917 view of Kursk]] Archaeology indicates that the site of Kursk was settled in the fifth or fourth century B The Battle of Kursk (Курская битва refers to a series of German and Soviet operations on the Eastern Front of World War II The term Great Patriotic War (Великая Отечественная война Velikaya Otechestvennaya Vojna) is used in Russia and some other
From July 4-11, 1943 Generaloberst Hermann Hoth's 4.Panzer-Armee, spearheaded by the SS-Panzerkorps, had fought through 10-15 miles of Soviet defenses consisting of high-density minefields, entrenched infantry and anti-tank guns arranged in elaborate kill zones (see pakfront). Hermann "Papa" Hoth ( 12 April 1885 - 25 January 1971) was an officer in the German Military from The 4th Panzer Army (German 4Panzer-Armee) was before being designated a full army the Panzer Group 4 ( Panzergruppe 4) a German Panzer The IISS-Panzerkorps was a German Waffen-SS armoured Corps which saw action on both the Eastern and Western Fronts during World A land mine is an Explosive device designed to be placed on or in the ground to explode when triggered by an operator or the Proximity of a vehicle person A trench is a type of excavation or depression in the ground Trenches are generally defined by being deeper than they are wide (as opposed to a wider Gully or Ditch Anti-tank refers to any method of combating military Armored fighting vehicles notably Tanks The most common anti-tank systems The Pakfront was a defensive military tactic developed by the German forces on the Eastern Front during the Second World War.
By the end of July 11, SS-Panzerkorps was close to driving a wedge between the 1st Tank Army and 69th Army. The 1st Guards Tank Army was a Soviet armoured formation that fought as part of the Red Army on the Eastern Front during World War II. Unknown to the Germans, a whole army group, the Steppe Front under Ivan Konev stood ready as a reserve to conduct a counter-offensive. The Steppe Front was a Front (military subdivision, effectively an Army group sized formation of the Soviet Army during the Second World War Ivan Stepanovich Konev ( Ива́н Степа́нович Ко́нев ( &ndash May 21, 1973) was a Soviet military commander who led Red Following the German success up to 11 July, and against Konev’s protests, the STAVKA released two armies, the 5th Guards Tank Army under General Pavel Rotmistrov and the 5th Guards Army from Steppe Front to meet the German threat. Stavka (Ставка was the term used to refer to command element of Armed forces from the time of the Kievan Rus′, more formally during the history The 5th Guards Tank Army was a Soviet Guards armoured formation which fought in many notable actions during World War II. Chief Marshal of Armoured Troops Pavel Rotmistrov (Павел Алексеевич Ротмистров ( 06 July 1901 &ndash 06 April After forced road marches, the Soviet forces reached Prokhorovka on the night of July 11th. Prokhorovka (Про́хоровка is an Urban-type settlement in Belgorod Oblast, Russia, located along the Psyol River southwest
For the 12th July, the Soviet armies listed above, together with the 1st Tank Army under General Katukov were supposed to attack the German forces and cut off the penetration, trapping and then destroying the advanced German forces. The attack by 5th Guards Tank Army was aimed at the SS-Panzerkorps, while the other three armies were attacking XXXXVIIIth Panzerkorps and LIInd Army Corps.
The attack plan for 5th Guards Tank Army had major shortcomings, in that it neglected a proper artillery preparation, ordered the Soviet tankers to use high speed to overcome the shortcomings in armour and weaponry of their tanks, and put the main attack into a sector in which an antitank ditch dug by Soviet troops protected the German forces to some degree.
The German plan was to have the Totenkopf Division attack to secure and extend the German bridgehead north of the Psel, while the other divisions should take a defensive stance until this objective was achieved. SS Division Totenkopf ("Death's Head" or "Skull" is also known as 3
The German forces involved were primarily from two Waffen-SS divisions, all of which had already suffered losses during the preceding days :
The total number of tanks and other heavy armoured fighting vehicles on the evening of the 11th was therefore just over 200. An unknown number of tanks may have become ready during the night through repair.
Only these two divisions were present on the battlefield of Prokhorovka. The third division of the Panzerkorps involved in the battle during the day had its tanks moved north across the Psel river, and was involved in fighting 5th Guards, 6th Guards, and 1st Tank Armies.
On the Soviet side the main formation involved was the 5th Guards Tank Army. The 5th Guards Tank Army was a Soviet Guards armoured formation which fought in many notable actions during World War II. The total tank strength of the army stood at ca. 800-850 tanks. Many of these however, were the light T-70a and Lend-Lease tanks. The T-70 light tank was used by the Red Army during World War II, replacing both the T-60 scout Tank Lend-Lease (Public Law 77-11 was the name of the program under which the United States of America supplied the United Kingdom, the Soviet Union, The numbers were: 501 T-34a, 261 T-70s, 35 Churchillss, 40 self-propelled guns of the SU-122 and SU-76 type, and a small but unknown number of heavy KV-1 tanks. The T-34 was a Soviet medium tank produced from 1941 to 1958 It is widely regarded as having been the world's best Tank when the Soviet Union The Tank Infantry Mk IV (A22 was a heavy British Infantry tank used in the Second World War, best known for its heavy armour and its use as the The SU-122 (SU-122 stands for Samokhodnaya Ustanovka–122) was a Soviet Self-propelled howitzer used during World War II. The SU-76 ( Samokhodnaja Ustanovka 76) was a Soviet Self-propelled gun used during World War II. The Kliment Voroshilov ( KV) Tanks were a series of Soviet Heavy tanks named after the Soviet defense commissar and politician Kliment Voroshilov Contrary to claims in some accounts of the battle, no SU-152 or SU-85 assault guns were fielded. The SU-152 was a Soviet heavy Self-propelled gun used during World War II. The SU-85 was a Soviet self-propelled gun used during World War II, based on the chassis of the T-34 medium tank An assault gun is a Gun or Howitzer mounted on a motor vehicle or armored chassis designed for use in the Direct fire
The army fielded the 2nd Guards, 18th, and 29th Tank Corps in the first echelon. 5th mechanised Corps and the already weakened 2nd Tank Corps were kept in reserve. The 18th Tank Corps fielded 144 tanks on the afternoon of 11 July, while the 29th Tank Corps fielded 212 tanks and self-propelled guns. Together with the formations committed during the day, the total number of Soviet tanks in the battle probably reached 500.
The Soviet 1st Tank Army also attacked elements of the German XLVIIIth Panzerkorps, but this was not directly related to the tank battle of Prokhorovka.
On July 12 the Luftwaffe and artillery units bombarded the Soviet positions as the Totenkopf division formed up. The plan was for Totenkopf to launch an assault north of the Psel to extend the bridgehead that had been gained there. The Das Reich and LSSAH divisions were not involved in the assault, and had a defensive mission until Totenkopf reported a success.
The Soviet attack started at 9:15, with the tanks rushing into the relatively unprepared security posts of the LSSAH. Despite this surprise, the attack was defeated with heavy losses by mid-day, and by the evening 5th Guards Tank Army had to go over to the defensive. By 9:30, within 15 minutes of the attack commencing, the Soviet 25th Tank Brigade had lost two-thirds of its tanks, and also had to go on the defense. A regiment of SU-122 assault guns reported the loss of 11 of its 12 vehicles within a short time. An assault gun is a Gun or Howitzer mounted on a motor vehicle or armored chassis designed for use in the Direct fire 18th Tank Corps did not suffer as heavily, but was also forced to take a defensive stance during the afternoon, reporting the loss of 55 tanks. Due to counter-attacks, all ground gained had to be given up by the evening.
The reserves of 5th Guards Tank Army had to be sent south, to defend against a German attack by IIIrd Panzerkorps. With the loss of these reserves, any hope that may have been left of dealing a major defeat to the SS Panzerkorps ended.
Many books written in the 1970s and '80's depict the Battle of Prokhorovka as waves of speedy Soviet T-34 tanks closing with the heavier German Tiger and Panther tanks and then blasting them at point-blank range. The T-34 was a Soviet medium tank produced from 1941 to 1958 It is widely regarded as having been the world's best Tank when the Soviet Union This mythology was created by both sides, through the memoirs of Marshal of Armoured Troops Pavel Rotmistrov on the Soviet side, and through the description of the battle by Paul Carell on the German side. Chief Marshal of Armoured Troops Pavel Rotmistrov (Павел Алексеевич Ротмистров ( 06 July 1901 &ndash 06 April Paul Carell (born Paul Karl Schmidt; 2 November 1911 - June 1997 was an Obersturmbannführer in the civilian Allgemeine SS Even recent histories, e. g. by Richard Overy, uncritically accept this description of the battle, despite the possibility to check on real events in the unit records of both sides. Richard Overy (born 1947 is British historian who has Published extensively on the History of World War II and the Third Reich.
Traditionally the description of this battle goes like this:
This depiction is now accepted as incorrect for several reasons.
The Waffen SS units involved at Prokhorovka mostly consisted of Panzer III tanks, up-gunned Panzer IV tanks and only a handful of Tigers (see above). The Waffen-SS ( German for "Armed SS" literally "Weapons SS" was the Combat arm of the Schutzstaffel ("Protective Squadron" Panzer III is the common name of a Medium tank that was developed in the 1930s by Germany and used extensively in World War II. The Panzerkampfwagen IV (PzKpfw IV commonly known as the Panzer IV, was a Medium tank developed in Nazi Germany in the late 1930s and used extensively Tiger I ( is the common name of a German heavy Tank of World War II. The Waffen SS did not have any of the new Panther tanks at Prokhorovka, as these had been issued exclusively to a Heer Panzerbrigade (Panzerabteilung 51) fighting with Panzergrenadier-Division Großdeutschland on the southern shoulder of the salient. The Panther ( was a Tank fielded by Germany in World War II that served from mid-1943 to the end of the European war in 1945 Infanterie-Division Großdeutschland (mot Panzergrenadier-Division Großdeutschland Panzer-Korps Großdeutschland The Soviets were handicapped as well with some tank formations consisting of obsolete tanks (T-70 and Churchills).
While the Germans did suffer casualties when 5th Guards Tank Army's attack hit their first echelon of tanks, SS Panzerkorps was able to set up quick defensive positions and repulse the 5th Guards Tank Armies. The Soviets suffered considerably heavier losses than the Germans.
According to German tank strength reports, their heaviest tank losses occurred in the first four days of Operation Citadel when Fourth Panzer Army was fighting through Soviet minefields and pak fronts (not to mention mechanical breakdowns; especially with the Panther-equipped units). The Battle of Kursk (Курская битва refers to a series of German and Soviet operations on the Eastern Front of World War II
In the most famous action of the day the T-70 and T-34 tanks of the Red Army's 18th and 29th Tank Corps of the 5th Guards Tank Army charged headlong at the SS tanks. The T-70 light tank was used by the Red Army during World War II, replacing both the T-60 scout Tank The T-34 was a Soviet medium tank produced from 1941 to 1958 It is widely regarded as having been the world's best Tank when the Soviet Union The T-70s, already obsolete at the time of the battle and no longer produced, were faster but more lightly armoured and armed - they aimed to exploit weaknesses in the German machines' armour at close range. A series of disjointed engagements went on for much of the day with high losses on both sides.
The battle can best be described as a very costly tactical loss but an operational draw for the Soviets. Neither the Fifth Guards Tank Army nor the II SS Panzer Corps accomplished their missions that day. Tank losses have been a contentious subject ever since. Soviet losses have been claimed as low as 200 or as high as 822 tanks, but the loss records now show that they were probably between 150 and 300 complete losses, with an additional number like that damaged. Likewise, German loss claims have reached as low as 80 or into the hundreds, including "dozens" of Tigers. This number is impossible to establish because of the German philosophy in counting lost tanks. The number of complete losses for the period 10-13 July for LSSAH and Das Reich divisions was 3 (three). Additional to that is an unknown number of damaged tanks, many of which would have been lost in repair depots during the subsequent retreat as a consequence of the Soviet post-Kursk counteroffensive Operation Polkovodets Rumyantsev. Operation Polkovodets Rumyantsev (Полководец Румянцев literally "Regiment leader Rumyantsev" after 18th-century Field Marshal Peter Rumyantsev Nipe puts the number of operational tank reductions in the whole Corps at 70-80, but it is unclear how many of these would have been in short-term or long-term repair.
While the exact losses on each side cannot be established beyond reasonable doubt, the outcome is clearer. The 5th Guards Tank Army did not take its terrain objectives nor destroy the II SS Panzer Corps. Both units were weakened although both were committed to combat the following day. The Soviet cause would probably have been better served if the hundreds of tanks had not been thrown away in a pointless attack, but instead been used in dug-in defensive positions to wear down the German attacks. Konev was highly critical of the decision to use 5th Guards Tank Army in this manner, since it robbed him of the main operational exploitation force for his offensive.
The reality is that the sudden and violent attack by strong Soviet reserves and the need to break off the assault by the German Ninth Army on the northern shoulder of the Kursk salient due to Operation Kutuzov contributed to the decision of Adolf Hitler to discontinue the attack, the implications of which made him 'sick to his stomach' when he had originally considered it . The 9th Army (9 Armee was a World War II field army The 9th Army was activated on May 15, 1940 with General Johannes Blaskowitz in command Operation Kutuzov was a military operation by the Red Army in its fight against the German Wehrmacht during World War II. Hi and welcome to Wikipedia! Please understand that this article is frequently vandalized and vandalism is reverted immediately A parallel attack by the Red Army against the new 6th Army on the Mius river south of Kharkov necessitated the withdrawal of reserve forces held to exploit any success on the southern shoulder of Kursk, and the OKW also had to draw on some German troops from the Eastern Front to bolster the Mediterranean theater following the Anglo-American invasion of Sicily on July 10th, 1943. The 6th Army was a German Field army which saw action in World War I and World War II. Mius (Миус is a River in Eastern Europe that flows through Ukraine and Russia. Kharkiv or Kharkov (Харків Харьков is the second largest city in Ukraine. For other uses of OKW see OKW (disambiguation. The Oberkommando der Wehrmacht ( OKW) ( English: "High Command The Allied invasion of Sicily, codenamed Operation Husky, was a major World War II campaign in which the Allies took Sicily from the Axis
Regardless of the tactical outcome, the Battle of Prokhorovka was turned into a critical psychological and operational victory for the Red Army. The Germans had thought they were almost through the defenses and were expecting nothing more than a few anti-tank guns; instead, they met the better part of a thousand tanks. Clearly the Russians were not beaten, and this had a significant impact upon German decision making.
It also became clear that the German advantage in quality of officers and men was now eroding and the self-confident Soviets were ready to begin launching larger offensives and driving the German forces back towards Germany. From this point forward, the strategic initiative would remain with the Red Army.