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     You'd have to be living under a rock not to know that this is the 150th anniversary of both the Battle of Gettysburg and the surrender of Vicksburg. The American Civil War would drag on for nearly two more years but by this date in 1863 the eventual victor had been decided. It was only a matter of time for the Confederacy. On this date 70 years ago another historically significant battle was joined and the eventual winners and losers of a different war were decided. The Battle of Kursk sealed the fate of Nazi Germany in the Second World War. Again, the war would continue for another two years, but after Kursk there could be no doubt that Germany would be defeated by the Soviet Union. Join me below for a look back at this critical campaign in southern Russia.

The Kursk Salient

      In January of '43 the Germans were defeated at Stalingrad and their 6th Army destroyed. The Red Army went over to the offensive and recaptured some territory, but the Germans managed to stabilize the front. They recaptured Kharkov and established a defensive line. This defensive line had a large bulge, or salient, centered on the town of Kursk with shoulders at Orel in the north and Belgorod in the south. The German plan was to attack simultaneously from north and south forming a pincers that would encircle the Red Army forces in the salient and straighten out their defensive line. It would prove to be the Wermacht's last offensive on the Eastern Front.
     

Tanks

      In books and documentary films the Battle of Kursk is almost always referred to as "The Greatest Tank Battle in History" so a short digression on Armored Fighting Vehicles, or AFVs, is in order. The first thing to remember is that not every machine with tracks and a gun is a tank. A good rule of thumb is that a tank has a turret. A turret allows the gun to swivel, or traverse, to the left or right. Pictured here is the Soviet T-34 medium tank. Universally acknowledged to be the best tank to see action in the Second World War, the T-34 was cheap to manufacture, reliable and, like all Soviet equipment, robust and easy to maintain. It was designed for Russian conditions with wide tracks that allowed it to operate in snow and mud. Its diesel engine made it less likely than a gasoline engined machine to catch fire. The T-34 was the Red Army's primary AFV from 1942 on and more tanks of this type were manufactured during the war than any other.

      The other type of AFV in use during the Great Patriotic War was the Self-Propelled Gun. Until the invention of the SPG artillery was horse-drawn. The role of artillery in the assault is to take out hard points and soften up the enemy. When mechanized armies were introduced it was clear the horse-drawn guns would not be able to keep pace with an assault. The Germans solved this problem by inventing the Sturmgeschütz, or assault gun. An assault gun is simply a tank chassis with a field gun installed instead of a turret. Shown here is an early German StuG III with a short barreled howitzer. All combatants developed SPGs of their own. In both Germany and the Soviet Union each new tank design spawned SPG variants. Early assault guns, like the StuG III or the Soviet SU-122, used howitzers, guns that lob their projectiles in an arc. Installing a direct fire cannon on a tank chassis yields another kind of SPG, the tank destroyer. These were mechanized anti-tank guns. Being turret-less, they were much cheaper than tanks to manufacture. They were usually used as defensive weapons, positioned to ambush enemy tanks as they advanced.
On to the battle ...

Defense in Depth

      From the very beginning the war on the Eastern Front had been a war of encirclements. In the summer of '41, during the initial invasion of the Soviet Union, the German army executed several large encirclements, cutting off Red Army soldiers in the hundreds of thousands. Stalingrad had ended with an encirclement of the German 6th Army. Given these facts, one needn't be a military genius to glance at the map above and guess the Wehrmacht's next move, even without the red arrows. To make matters worse for the Germans, British cryptographers at Bletchley Park had figured out their top-secret Enigma code machine and were feeding the Soviets German communications via a spy ring in Switzerland. Red Army commanders had very good information about where and when to expect a German attack. The Soviet strategy was defense in depth. They planned to ensnare the German attack in a cobweb of defensive positions; to wear the Germans out before going over on the offensive. Three concentric belts were constructed, each consisting of as many as five parallel trench lines. Behind these another three were built as fall back positions. Civilian labor was conscripted and 3,000 miles of trenches were dug. There were gun positions, barbed wire, and wide anti-tank ditches. A million mines were laid. The depth of the first three main defensive zones was 25 miles and, counting all six defensive belts, the Germans faced as many as 90 miles of interlocking positions.

Operation Citadel

      The German plan was called Operation Citadel and the two simultaneous attacks, north and south, were launched on July 5 at 5 a.m. The Red Army had learned from a captured German soldier the exact time of the attack and tried to disrupt the attack with an artillery bombardment at midnight. This bombardment was begun a little too early and the Germans were able to form up for the assault before beginning their a bombardment of their own. In the north, the Germans advanced 5 km. on the first day. On the second day they gained only 4 km. and the Soviets launched a counter-attack. There was heavy fighting around the town of Ponyri and as the Soviet defenses and counter-attacks began to take effect the German advance fizzled out. On the 10th of July with the attackers themselves threatened with encirclement, the Germans called off the northern part of the operation. They had not even breached the first defensive belt.

Elephants, Tigers and Panthers

      While the Soviets produced huge numbers of AFVs, they concentrated on only a few different types. The Germans, on the other hand, were always developing new types hoping for a super weapon that could change the outcome of the war by virtue of its technological superiority. Two new German types made their debut at Kursk, the Panther, shown here, and the Ferdinand or  Elefant. The Panther was a new design intended to counter the T-34. At Kursk it proved to be something of a "trailer queen" with many breaking down before they could even get into action. The Elefant was a 65-ton monstrosity of a tank destroyer. Fitted with the superb 88mm. gun it was capable of taking out a T-34 at over 3 miles. Alas, it was too heavy to get out of its own way and over half of the Elefants committed at Kursk were lost to mines or malfunctions in the first 4 days. The Germans were great believers in heavy tanks, they had another one called the Tiger that was also fitted with an 88. They would often attack in a "V" formation with Tigers and Panthers at the point and smaller tanks fanning out behind to left and right. Although they managed to achieve spectacular kill ratios against the T-34 the "breakthrough" tanks were a disappointment due to mine damage, mechanical difficulties and the Soviet tactic of concentrating numerous guns on a single target.

Prokhorovka

      It was in the southern part of the salient, near the town of Prokhorovka, that the legend of the "Greatest Tank Battle in History" was born. The II SS Panzer Corps attacked northwards and by July 8 it had breached the first and second Soviet defensive belts. The Soviet 5th Guards Tank Army had been held in reserve and was committed on July 6. On July 12, after a 240 mile forced march, the 5thGTA attacked, slamming into the right flank of the Germans. Here's T-34 tank commander Vasili Bryukhov:

The distance between the tanks was below 100 meters - it was impossible to maneuver a tank, one could just jerk it back and forth a bit. It wasn't a battle, it was a slaughterhouse of tanks. We crawled back and forth and fired. Everything was burning. An indescribable stench hung in the air over the battlefield. Everything was enveloped in smoke, dust and fire, so it looked as if it was twilight ... Tanks were burning, trucks were burning.
     At the end the Red Army held. The third defensive line was not breached. On July 16 the Germans withdrew southwards to their original starting point. The Soviets suffered greater losses than the Germans but they had much greater reserves of men and equipment and much shorter supply lines.

The End

      The Red Army launched counter-offensives almost immediately. In the north Operation Kutuzov began on July 12 driving towards Orel. They had a tougher time of it in the south and didn't go over to the offensive until August 3. Belgorod was retaken on August 5 and Kharkov was permanently retaken on the 23rd. The Battle of Kursk was the beginning of the end for the Third Reich. From the end of July 1943 until May of '45 the once mighty Wehrmacht fought a long series of desperate rear-guard actions that would only end on the steps of the Reichstag.

Sources
The Battle of the Tanks: Kursk, 1943 Lloyd Clark
Panzer Destroyer: Memoirs of a Red Army Tank Commander Vasily Krysov
The Forgotten Soldier Guy Sajer

Wikipedia
Battle of Kursk
Battle of Prokhorovka
German Combat Vehicles
Soviet Combat Vehicles

     

Originally posted to Azazello on Fri Jul 05, 2013 at 04:33 PM PDT.

Also republished by History for Kossacks.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Thanks for this excellent article... (18+ / 0-)

    We in the US, because of the Cold War, were never taught that the USSR defeated Nazi Germany in Europe.  D-Day was a belated side-show, and would never have happened if Churchill and Roosevelt had not realized they'd better have a physical presence in the conquered lands of Europe unless they wanted everything controlled post-war by the USSR.

    Out of every fifteen Wehrmacht soldiers who died in World War II, fourteen were killed in battles against the Red Army.

    I'm not sixty-two—I'm fifty-twelve!

    by Pragmatus on Fri Jul 05, 2013 at 04:55:32 PM PDT

    •  I know that the USSR did far more fighting, (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Azazello, Roger Fox, RiveroftheWest

      and both took and inflicted far higher casualties, than most pre-1991 schoolbook histories acknowledge.

      But two points: I can't find a source for your 14/15 assertion, and calling D-Day a "sideshow" ignores the hundreds of thousands of troops the Wehrmacht was forced to divert from the Eastern Front in response to Operation Overlord's success and the liberation of France.

      "Violence never requires translation, but it often causes deafness." - Bareesh the Hutt.

      by Australian2 on Sat Jul 06, 2013 at 06:26:38 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Look at tables of casualty figures (0+ / 0-)

        for nations involved in WWII.  I derived the 14/15 ratio from a straight percentage of German army dead who died in the East: 94% or close to it.  I think Wikipedia has an article on casualties for WWII featuring large tables broken down many different ways.  As I recall that was my source.  You must keep in mind that World War II in the USSR reached heights of savagery and brutality never seen before or since.  At least 30 million Russians died.

        The divisions of the Wehrmacht were already on the Western front at the time of D-Day.  Hitler didn't wait till the invasion happened then rush troops to stop it.  The "Western Wall" of Fortress Europa was the most heavily fortified and defended emplacement in the history of the world.  Hitler always knew he faced a threat from across the channel and throughout the war kept forces in place to guard against it.

        I didn't mean to minimize the contributions of the brave Allies (including Australians) who landed in Normandy, it's just that the other side of the story, the big side, was kept from us in America because we were engaged in a Cold War with the USSR at the time and so it suited a political purpose to make it seem like D-Day turned the tide of the war in Europe.  It put the last nails in the coffin of the "Thousand Year Reich" that the Red Army had carefully constructed over several years and at terrible cost.

        I'm not sixty-two—I'm fifty-twelve!

        by Pragmatus on Wed Jul 10, 2013 at 05:23:42 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Look also at the Battle of Berlin. (0+ / 0-)

        The Red Army suffered over 80,000 dead (not just casualties which include wounded) and the Wehrmacht 92,000 to 100,000 dead just in the series of battles to capture Berlin.  (At least 125,000 civilians also died.)  Go here and scroll down to Aftermath.  Remember, that this is just the last big engagement between Germany and the USSR.  There were countless others equally vicious and bloody.

        Allied D-Day battle deaths were about 3,000.  See here.

        How many Westerners even know that a Battle of Berlin was fought, that produced 300,000 dead?  I'll bet not one in ten thousand.

        I'm not sixty-two—I'm fifty-twelve!

        by Pragmatus on Wed Jul 10, 2013 at 05:38:26 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Most interesting, thank you for posting this (n/t) (6+ / 0-)
  •  There was a great documentary about it. (8+ / 0-)

    Here is the full program. We have video game technology to thank for the accurate and vivid animations. This was one of a series of hour long documentaries on tank battles that altered history. I believe this was originally presented on the History Channel.

    Rudeness is a weak imitation of strength. - Eric Hoffer

    by Otteray Scribe on Fri Jul 05, 2013 at 05:08:17 PM PDT

  •  Well written! (9+ / 0-)

    A nicely condensed account of an important piece of history.

    A moment of silence for the people of Kharkov is in order.
    The front passed over their city five times. After it was permanently retaken by the Red Army, it was a bloody smoking hole.
    Their pain is the whole world's pain.

    I started with nothing and still have most of it left. - Seasick Steve

    by ruleoflaw on Fri Jul 05, 2013 at 05:08:26 PM PDT

  •  I'm not sure the turret defines the tank (4+ / 0-)

    Lots of turretless tank destroyers and self propelled guns are worthy adversaries.

    The 155's I called in fire from put a round down range that was so big you could watch it coming.

    The Stridsvagn103 (Strv 103), [Note 1] also known as the S-Tank,[Note 2] was a Swedish post-war main battle tank.[2] It was known for its unconventional turretless design, with a fixed gun traversed by engaging the tracks and elevated by adjusting the hull suspension. Turretless armoured fighting vehicles are more commonly classified as tank destroyers, but serve a different purpose. The Strv 103 was designed and manufactured in Sweden.
    images of turretless tanks

    As for the battle of Kursk I think I first learned about it playing an Atari cartridge game back in the early 80's.

    Its got to be one of the most interesting battles I have ever heard of with lots of up close and personal battles, men sacrificed to go ahead of the tanks and identify where the anti tank mines were by stepping on them.

    The Russians has time to build so many levels of defense it makes the Maginot line look like an unfenced garden plot, and men and generals improvising, adapting, and overcoming everywhere you look

    Live Free or Die --- Investigate, Incarcerate

    by rktect on Fri Jul 05, 2013 at 05:08:43 PM PDT

    •  The game was called "Eastern Front" (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      palantir, RiveroftheWest

      for a cartridge game it was quite sophisticated.

      Here is the wikipedia entry:
      https://en.wikipedia.org/...

    •  Well, it's just a rule of thumb (5+ / 0-)

      and I know there are exceptions; the S-tank is a tank without a turret and the US M-10 was a tank destroyer with a turret.

      The free market is not the solution, the free market is the problem.

      by Azazello on Fri Jul 05, 2013 at 05:19:09 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I have been watching the video (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Azazello, RiveroftheWest

        and it appears that despite the Germans waiting three months to get 200 tigers which could destroy any T34 on sight, while the Russians produced 5000 T34's and unbelievably deep defenses wasn't a good tradeoff, the Germans came pretty close to breaking through.

        When I play WoT the fast tanks with rapidly moving turrets often seem to be used to distract the bigger slower moving tanks to get them to fire and expose their positions while the medium to heavy tanks gradually work their way up into position. The very slow tank destroyers seem to have a big advantage in being able to fire like artillery until the medium tanks get up close enough to take them out.

        Live Free or Die --- Investigate, Incarcerate

        by rktect on Sat Jul 06, 2013 at 03:04:54 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Tank destroyers (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Azazello, RiveroftheWest

      Tank design is a balance between armor, armament (firepower), and mobility.  Tank destroyers emphasize armament at the sacrifice of one or both of the other two factors.  In times of war, failed tank designs (ones that failed to provide a workable balance between the three) are often employed in other roles, especially as tank destroyers.  Germany had a lot of failed designs that proved useful as tank destroyers.  They also had quite a few that proved useful only as a waste scarce resources and getting their crews killed.  Hitler's meddling in design, and designers trying to meet his expectations, led to many of these failures.

      I think the concept of a tank destroyer is more an expression of tactics from which design followed.  If you look only at ones designed from the outset to be a tank destroyer, they tended to emphasize armament and mobility over armor.  They are somewhat analogous to naval battle cruisers, which " outgunned anything they couldn't outrun, and could outrun anything they couldn't outgun".

      The Swedish S tank was only intended for defensive use in terrain found in Sweden.  The lack of turret allowed for an extremely low profile, and the means of elevating and traversing the gun were thought to be a good trade off for that low profile.  In open terrain they would not be very effective against other countries' more traditional main battle tanks.

      Government can't restrict free speech, but corporations can? WTF

      by kyoders on Sat Jul 06, 2013 at 05:00:10 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  What a terrific diary (5+ / 0-)

    I have found that WWII books written about the eastern front are always the most riveting accounts of WWII.

    A long time ago I visited Stalingrad and they have erected the most fascinating WWII museum you could imagine. Going on a walking tour of that city is quite an experience.

    Thank you for this diary and all the effort you put into it. I loved reading it.

  •  worth noting the casualties (15+ / 0-)

    which I am cutting and pasting from Wiki minus the sourcing footnotes

    Germans:

    Operation Citadel
    54,182 men
    323 tanks and assault guns
    159 aircraft
    ~500 guns

    Battle of Kursk
    203,000 casualties
    760 tanks and assault guns
    681 aircraft

    Soviets:

    Operation Citadel:
    177,847 men
    1,614 – 1,956 tanks and assault guns
    459 – 1,961 aircraft
    3,929 guns

    Battle of Kursk
    863,303 casualties
    6,064 tanks and assault guns
    1,626 aircraft
    5,244 guns

    Look at those figures for the Soviets

    now consider that the total US casualties for the entire war were 1,076,245, a figure exceeded just by Operation Citadel and the Battle Kursk

    for the Soviets, this was the Great Patriotic War

    Most Americans have no idea of the losses they took, without which the Wermacht might well have been too strong to successful invade in Normandy.

    And one can argue that the amount of forces already committed on the Eastern Front made possible successful landings in Italy as well.

    "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

    by teacherken on Fri Jul 05, 2013 at 05:14:43 PM PDT

  •  good diary, thanks! (5+ / 0-)

    Yes, it's easy for us to overlook just how massive the war on the Russian front was.

    It's interesting that in 1942 even Italy (very much the minor Axis partner militarily) had double the number of men fighting in Russia than it had in its own principal theatre of operations in North Africa.

    We're shocked by a naked nipple, but not by naked aggression.

    by Lepanto on Fri Jul 05, 2013 at 05:36:07 PM PDT

  •  The Soviet Union (7+ / 0-)

    Pretty much won the European war by itself. The other allies helped, but we weren't really necessary. Of course we never learned that in our history books. It was always USA, USA. The Soviets were hardly mentioned. After Stalingrad and Kursk the Germans were toast. BTW, I think the t-34 was the best tank ever. Not just in WWII.

    •  This diary is an innoculation (7+ / 0-)

           against all the D-Day hoopla coming up next summer.

      The free market is not the solution, the free market is the problem.

      by Azazello on Fri Jul 05, 2013 at 05:49:14 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  That's a bit of an exageration . . . (4+ / 0-)

      without the Western Front, or if Germany had taken England (and consolidated Europe and North Africa) before engaging Russia, the Russians could not have won.  What defeated Germany was a two front war . . . something the German general staff knew from the beginning.

      Fake Left, Drive Right . . . not my idea of a Democrat . . .

      by Deward Hastings on Fri Jul 05, 2013 at 06:44:17 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  An expert told me that the Western Allies' (6+ / 0-)

        effort made almost no difference militarily, though all the difference politically. He said the USSR had a thousand divisions in reserve at the end of the war; that Germany never had the logistical reach to win, that it would've taken every truck in the German Army to get to Moscow. He said that Hitler lost that war on September first 1939, the day he started it.

        There are maybe five, not ten people in this country at his level of knowledge of the Eastern Front, I'll not bore you with the details.

        The impression I get is that Soviet production was building like a tidal wave, that whatever we fielded they could've exceeded a few months later.

        "The war on drugs followed by the war on terror has eliminated protections we have had since the Magna Carta." -Horace Boothroyd III

        by mookins on Fri Jul 05, 2013 at 07:18:01 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  The USSR's role was absolutely critical. (4+ / 0-)

      But...Nikita Khrushchev acknowledged after the war that without American economic aid, the Soviet offensive would have bogged down in 1943-44. John Keegan pointed out something I think needs to be remembered. The American and British air attacks on Germany diverted 10,000 German artillery pieces away from the Eastern front. Further, the Western Allies killed, wounded, or captured 460,000 Germans between June and August 1944, inflicting 60,000 casualties just at Falaise. German equipment losses in Normany were appalling. A Canadian source, citing official  statistics from Eisenhower's headquarters, indicate  the Germans lost 1300 tanks, 20,000 vehicles, 500 assault guns, and 1500 field guns and heavier artillery pieces. Other sources I have seen put the German tank losses in Normandy above the 2,000 mark. The Germans had to deploy almost a million men to the Western Front (about 100 German-sized divisions). It was not a sideshow.

      The western Allies wiped out Germany's submarine force, paralyzed much of German industry (especially when they stopped doing wasteful attacks on individual factories and began choking off Germany's oil production),shattered much of the Luftwaffe, and sent 400,000 trucks to the USSR plus enormous quantities of food and countless other materials. Stalin kept track of those shipments for a reason: they were vitally necessary. No, the USSR did not win the European War by itself. And yes, Western Allied help was necessary. Stalin certainly thought so. I taught the history of the war many times and I always made sure my students knew the horrendous losses suffered and the unbelievable efforts made by the Soviet people. My kids knew about the siege of Leningrad, the Battle of Moscow, Stalingrad, Kursk, Operation Bagration (1944), and many other aspects of the war that were never taught to them. But the Allied victory in WWII was a team effort. Oh, and there was the matter of the Americans, British, Australians, and Chinese destroying the Japanese Empire as well.

      Read a preview of Volume One of my book here.

      by Yosef 52 on Fri Jul 05, 2013 at 07:28:34 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Kursk was the heavyweight bout (7+ / 0-)

    of World War II and few Americans know about it. Thanks for this.

    Read a preview of Volume One of my book here.

    by Yosef 52 on Fri Jul 05, 2013 at 06:02:23 PM PDT

  •  A "big thank you" due Hitler for being an idiot. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Azazello, RiveroftheWest

    He postponed the offensive repeatedly so that more of the newer tanks would become available.   Of course all this did was allow the Soviet power to grow all the more.  

    Other mistakes included having not just one model of heavy tank (the Tiger -- top speed off-road 12 miles per hour!) but, as mentioned, the Elephant, also known as the Porsche Tiger.  This was the competing design for the Tiger, and instead of one, Hitler decided to build both!

    The Porsche Tiger had one (well, more than one) glaring defect, and that was it had no machine guns for defense against infantry attack.  

    During this whole time the Germans were never able to gain air superiority, and vehicle movements became vulnerable to attack by the famous Il-2m3 "Shturmovik", which became known as the "flying tank."

    The whole offensive was called off when the Allies invaded Sicily and critical armored units were withdrawn from the offensive to go to Italy.

    You have exactly 10 seconds to change that look of disgusting pity into one of enormous respect!

    by Cartoon Peril on Fri Jul 05, 2013 at 06:50:56 PM PDT

    •  That was the Panther, (5+ / 0-)

      the offensive was postponed in hopes that the bugs could be worked out of the Panther. I didn't get into the air war but neither side could ever get more than temporary, local air superiority. The offensive was called off because it failed. The invasion of Sicily on July 9 was not really a factor, it was only after the battle, on the 17th, that Panzers were ordered to Italy.

      The free market is not the solution, the free market is the problem.

      by Azazello on Fri Jul 05, 2013 at 07:03:58 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I love those crazy tanks they were developing (4+ / 0-)

      Another of the monster tanks the Germans came up with, and Hitler OF COURSE fell in love with, was the Panzer VIII 'Mouse', which was originally designed as a 100 ton tank, but wound up weighing close to 200 tons! Just getting it to a battle would have been a logistical nightmare. The Americans also had their own monster in development, the Super Heavy T28 assault/tank destroyer, 150 tons and FOUR tracks! The prototype wasn't finished until the war ended, though.

      My all time favorite tank though was the Russian Lebedenko 'Tsar' tank of 1914, which was basically designed as a mobile fort with a triangle wheel layout - with the two main wheels 60 feet in diameter!! All these vehicles looked like something a 'Golden Age' Batman villain would come up with.

      "Use the Force, Harry!" - Gandalf

      by Fordmandalay on Fri Jul 05, 2013 at 08:03:46 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Great Diary (3+ / 0-)

    Love the name "Azazello" by the way. Presumably taken from my favorite novel.

    If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!

    by Major Kong on Fri Jul 05, 2013 at 07:52:43 PM PDT

  •  Operation Mars ~ the prelude (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Azazello, RiveroftheWest

    "The legacy of Operation Mars was silence. Stalin and history mandated that Vasilevsky's feat at Stalingrad remained unblemished by the Rzhev failure. Stalin recognized Zhukov's greatest quality -- that he fought -- and, at this stage of the war and later, Stalin needed fighters. Therefore, Zhukov's reputation remained intact. Stalin and Soviet history mandated that he share credit with Vasilevsky for the Stalingrad victory.

    Zhukov gained a measure of revenge over German Army Group Center at Kursk in summer 1943...

    and in Belorussia in summer 1944. Ironically, however, it would be Vasilevsky who, as key Stavka planner, would play an instrumental role in finally crushing that German Army Group in East Prussia in January 1945. Such is the fickleness of history."

    http://fmso.leavenworth.army.mil/...

  •  Patton preferred the Sherman tank (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RiveroftheWest, Azazello

    Prior to D-Day, production was then ramped up.

    The Pershing tank was developed and ready to be produced. Some Pershings did see action in the 3rd heavy armored Division,  one of 2 divisions in Europe. The 3rd got 10 Pershings, lost none to enemy tanks, and found them far more reliable than the rotary aircraft engine powered Sherman which fouled sparkplugs often.

    The 3rd also sported 2 Super Pershings, which could thru and thru any German tank with a long barreled 88mm, IIRC.

    Great dairy tNR

    .................expect us......................... FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

    by Roger Fox on Sat Jul 06, 2013 at 11:08:24 AM PDT

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