'Kursk' makes the news

Discussion in 'The Eastern Front' started by von Poop, Jul 10, 2019.

  1. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

  2. hucks216

    hucks216 Member

    That is a very good paper. I 'follow' Dr Wheatley on Twitter and he has some good posts about Kursk. Since the myth of Prokhorovka was debunked many years ago by the likes of Mark Healy (2008), Valeriy Zamulin (2011) & George Nipe (2013) I'd be interested if books published before these revelations should now be read with caution.
  3. m kenny

    m kenny Senior Member

    Already being used by the devoted to claim only 5 German tanks were 'lost' at Kursk and the Germans 'won' the battle.

    Tiger tanks
  4. hucks216

    hucks216 Member

    Unfortunately there will always be those who will twist the research and facts but the latest research does seem to show that the German losses were far less than has been published in the past - bear in mind that it is referring to the fighting at Prokhorovka and not Kursk as a whole. The so called 'Death Ride of the 4.Pz.Armee' with losses of 400 German tanks never happened and was produced by Russian propaganda to hide the heavy losses suffered by Rotmistrov's 5th Guards Tank Army to a much smaller German force and an anti-tank ditch. Tactically the Germans may well of won that encounter but strategically obviously they didn't win the overall battle.
  5. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Would Cheerfully recommend Dr W's Twatter account.
    Not one of those academics that seem to consider themselves above the informed amateur, and often interesting on Eastern Front nitty gritty.

    Dr Ben Wheatley on Twitter. WW2 Intel & Eastern Front Historian| HRF @UEA_History| Ex TF @DefenceResearch| Author of: British Intelligence and Hitler's Empire in the Soviet Union 1941-1945 (Dr Ben Wheatley (@DrBenWheatley) | Twitter)
    Chris C likes this.
  6. Juha

    Juha Junior Member

    To me W. Victor Madeja's The Russo-German War: Summer-Autumn 1943. Battle Situation-Eastern Front No. 31 (1987) confirmed that German tank losses at Prokhorovka were massively exaggerated in popular and even more serious literature. I even checked Madeja's info against Wolfgang Vopersal's Soldaten, Kämpfer, Kameraden. Marsch und Kämpfe der SS-Totenkopf-Division Band 3 (1987) (IMHO surprisingly good in battle info) and Lehmann's Die Leibstandarte, Tome II or III. So at least from late 80s there were books with right info on engagemnets on 12 July 1943 around Prokhorovka .
  7. m kenny

    m kenny Senior Member

    This is not my area but I do remember that II SS Panzer Corps lost c 70 tanks on 12/7/44. What normally happens is German Unit 'X' enters action and takes an immediate hit of of 25-50% casualties. That puts a lot of tanks into repair and over the rest of the period of action these tanks slowly return and thus mask any new losses. Without detailed info it is impossible to use the daily returns as a true reflection of reality.
  8. Juha

    Juha Junior Member

    Yes but still in 80s the popular image of the Battle of Kursk was "the death ride of German armour" e.g. according to Jukes' Kursk: The Clash of Armour (Ballantine, c. 1970) IIRC there were 200 Panthers (in reality what was left of them fought under XLVIII PzKorps trying to advance towards Oboyan some 10-15 km W of the western limit of the Battle of Prokhorovka, 100 or was thar 50 Tigers plus 250 other tanks under II SS PzKorps engaging Soviets at and around Prokhorovka and II PzKorps lost c. 300 tanks in one day. Madeja simply reveals the number of tanks per Mark available with each German divisions on each day. He also makes it clear that the battle along Mius during the later part of July inflicted heavier losses to 3. SS-PzGrDiv than Kursk, same might well be true for the DR div, but that I cannot remember for sure. Anyway the Mius battle was very expensive to the Germans and even more so to Soviets.
    Dave55 likes this.
  9. m kenny

    m kenny Senior Member

  10. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

  11. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian

    I wanted to say that the image of the Battle of Kursk that Juha describes is still present but I didn't have evidence to hand. The BBC article shows how the Russian government is still heavily invested in that unnuanced version of the history of the battle.

    And in terms of dissemination of popular history, the World of Tanks game had an event in 2018 celebrating the victory and I don't remember what text there was in the "history panels" within the game, but I am pretty sure they conveyed the Russian version of the battle.
  12. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    Caveat: I know no more about the Eastern Front than a complete layman.

    The debate would seem to rest in part on what one considers a tank 'casualty', and, as ever, casualty figures--although seductive--correlate badly with battle results as too many other factors can sway the final outcome.

    In a battle predominantly fought by infantry, the dividing line is quite clear: whether a man is killed or wounded to such an extent that he can take no further part in the battle or any other engagement that should commence within a short space of time makes little difference, but once he is so wounded or killed he is removed from the active strength of the force and may well contribute a negative encumberance on it owing to the need to extricate, evacuate, treat and transport him

    When it comes to tanks and other materiel, however, the distinction is far from clear cut. There are a great many reports of large numbers of tanks being incapacitated and 'knocked out' in single engagement but surprisingly large numbers of them being brought back in largely fighting condition in a relatively short space of time. At fixed dates in Summer 1942, for instance, British armour in North Aftica was at a perilously low numbers of 'runners' on paper, but all the engineers needed was a couple of days to 'catch their breath' and the figures began to look--if not good--at least workable.

    If the tank is immobile, the main weapon becomes non-operational and/or the crew evacuates, the tank can usually play no useful part in the current engagement, but with decent repair crews, a night or two can go a long way to negating the losses of a day's solid fighting.

    There is a suggestion in at least one of the articles above that the Germans may have salvaged a number of 'knocked out' tanks from the battlefield prior to the aerial photographs being taken; my novice's question, therefore, is what capacity (in terms of parts and skilled manpower) the German forces had to get non-runners back in a battle-ready condition? A low capacity would lessen the relevance of these photographs (who cares what they towed away if the couldn't get many of them running again--quickly?), a high capacity would make the times and dates of the photographs a crucial point.

    Open to correction.
    Not my field.
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2019
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  13. Juha

    Juha Junior Member

    Yes, one fact that is often overlooked nowadays is that some of the badly damaged panzers and StuGs recovered from Prokhorovka area were still under repairs at the army level workshops in Kharkov when it was reconquered/liberated by Soviets in August and so were lost for good not in July but in August.
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  14. m kenny

    m kenny Senior Member

    The problem with nearly every account of German tank casualties is that the reporter usually has a dog in the fight and makes any German loss-total the absolute minimum they can get away with. The common way to do this is to only count a German tank as a loss if it is completely and utterly destroyed. Any tank recovered (no matter how seriously damaged or that it never gets repaired) is counted as if it was still a runner.
    stolpi and Dave55 like this.
  15. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    I can certainly understand why the Sov--oops, the Russian government would be committed to a particular interpretation of the tactical side of the battle. It looks better if Our Boys beat theirs at the lower levels as well as the high. In any real military assessment of the battle I don't think the minor tactics of the tank battle or even the comparative loss rates matter that much. Was Kursk a Soviet victory and a major turning point in the war on the Eastern Front? Absolutely yes, the Germans completely failed to gain their strategic objectives and the Soviets succeeded in gaining theirs. The Germans may have lost fewer tanks and men, but they still lost far more than they could afford to lose and they also lost the initiative on the Eastern Front for the rest of the war. That is what really counted. In the light of that, who other than the Russian government cares if the Germans enjoyed some brief tactical success in the tank fighting on the southern front of the salient? It reminds me very much of those discussions of Normandy which focus on 21 Army Group's tactical problems and tank losses in GOODWOOD and the August drive on Falaise. From some analyses I've read, you'd think the Germans won in Normandy and of course it is invariably claimed that they really were superior and only lost because the Allies were mean and unfair enough to have more tanks and guns. The Soviets did have more of both at Kursk, of course, but their strategy was far superior to the German, they made the right operational decisions, and by 1943 the qualitative difference between the two armies at the tactical level was no longer so great as to compensate the Germans for their neglect of strategy, production, and logistics. That is the real significance of Kursk.
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  16. hucks216

    hucks216 Member

    As a little additional, Dr Wheatley has just posted these Citadel loss details on his Twitter account.

  17. Kursk - the Largest Tank Counting Battle in Historiography...
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  18. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    Loss claims are a feature of the intelligence war between adversaries and contribute to propaganda. No side will admit to true losses,the truth comes later through official returns or by research.Even so in some regimes the alternative facts are maintained.

    The Battle of Britain losses by the RAF and Luftwaffe come to mind,early reports tempered with the motivation of the maintenance of morale among military units and the civilian population and on the other hand,inspired reporting to reflect military superiority of a regime,its population intoxicated with victories.
  19. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    Transforming Our Understanding of The Battle of Kursk


    The Battle of Prokhorovka was one of the largest tank battles in military history. Taking place on the Eastern Front, it was fought on 12 July 1943 as part of the wider Battle of Kursk. Two elite SS divisions were obliterated, and about 300 panzers were destroyed as the Red Army began to turn the tide for Hitler. Prokhorovka has always been notorious, but British historian Ben Wheatley has challenged the traditional myths surrounding the battle by fine-combing through the evidence. He joined me on the pod to reveal his findings, and argue how it was impossible for the German's to have suffered the major losses which have been marked out in history books
  20. Andreas

    Andreas Working on two books

    Ben has done some solid work, but I agree it is important to consider the operational implications. Having said that, based on his work it is clear that the actual battle was a car crash from the Red Army point of view.

    Also important to note that some quite critical information about vehicle returns and runners is missing towards the end of July, which raises its own issues.

    All the best


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