Clash of the Tanks

This Day in History

War machines, possessing the proficiency to take countless lives are truly terrifying creations. So much so, that it is hard to believe something so destructive can be fabricated by man.

Blinding muzzle flashes and deafening echoes of fire fell silent as the largest tank battle in history ended on this day during WWII, 1943.  

Several months following the Battle of Stalingrad and the spring thaw, after a demoralizing loss and the odds now against them, the Germans made the call it was time to go on another offensive.  They were desperate to regain a foothold in the war and cause a massive blow to the Soviets.  

Hence the Battle of Kursk ensued, one of the largest battles of WWII and by far the largest tank battle in history. The fight revolved around the city of Kursk in Western Russia. The breadth of the battle was a 150-mile wide Soviet salient intruding 100-miles into German territory.  

German Panzer VI tank

Notoriously regarded to as the most lethal tank in WWII, the Germans boasted a brand new generation of heavily armed Panzer VI tanks superior to Soviet K-V1 and T-34 tanks.The Germans remained heavily outnumbered however, going into Operation Citadel (the German code name for the Battle of Kursk). 

The German offensive began on July 5 with German forces totaling just below 800,000 men and close to 3,000 tanks against the Soviet line of nearly 2,000,000 men and 6,000 tanks staring down the barrel of incoming German troops. 

Map of the Battle of Kursk depicting the salient into German territory

Because of the Soviet salient, German troops were able to pinch safely from the north and south and surround the armies of Kursk. Despite having superior tanks, the Germans were outnumbered and decimated by an absurd amount of Russian anti-tank artillery. The actual epic tank battle took place in another attack south of Kursk at Prokhorovka, and ended in a decisive Soviet victory after several days of warfare. 

Immediately following the end of the Battle of Kursk and Prokhorovka, the Russians launched a heavy counterattack and managed to regain a significant bank of territory.  

Due to the of the ongoing invasion of Sicily by American and British forces as well as dwindling chances of success, Adolf Hitler decided the best course of action would be to evacuate his forces. 

The decision, however wise, was nonetheless futile, as the forces arrayed against him were both powerful and determined. 


About the author

Leave a Reply

Send this to a friend