Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union had their share of battles in WWII and the biggest tank battle took place near Kursk. It was a large-scale combat and almost the most infamous battle in the entire war. How much do you know about it? Here are 10 facts.
The Germans Attacked
Battle of Kursk started because the Germans launched the attack. It was a long battle, lasting for almost two whole months in the summer. Previously, the Red Army weakened the Germans at the Battle of Stalingrad in the winter of 1942-1943. This could be considered a counter-attack by the Germans who tried to stop the Red Army from progressing westward.
The Soviets Knew About the Attack
Thanks to the British Intelligence services, the Soviets were informed months before the attack. They knew where the attack would take place and they prepared a defensive position.
Massive Tank Battle
Approximately 6,000 tanks participated in this battle, making it one of the largest tank battles of all times. In addition, 4,000 aircraft participated wile 2 million men were on the battlefield. One of the largest attacks took place on July 12 when around 500 Soviet tanks attacked the II SS-Panzer Corps.
Casualties were large on both sides, but the Soviets prevailed.
Germans Had Powerful Tanks
The Germans had powerful tanks such as Tiger, Panther and Ferdinand. Thanks to those, Hitler thought that the Germans would prevail. These tanks had a long range and the ability to destroy enemy tanks as it was evident in the battle. Luckily, these were not found in high numbers because the Soviets had no solution for them.
The Soviets Had Numbers
The German technology was much more advance than the Soviet which tanks couldn’t come close to the Nazi ones.
However, they created lighter and faster tanks than their enemies and focused on numbers and mobility. Eventually, it paid off.
The Germans had technology and weaponry on their side, but they couldn’t penetrate through the Russian’s defenses. The Soviets had a lot of time to prepare and they spread out their defenses carefully across the battlefield, not allowing Germans to go deep into their lines.
Soviets Gained Advantage
Interestingly enough, Kursk is known for its black ground and the dust which was raised created poor visibility for Luftwaffe. Therefore, Germans couldn’t provide a much needed air support. On the other side, the Russians were stationary and they had no such issues. They could attack with less difficulty and fewer risks.
The Russians sustained much more casualties than the Germans, but at this point, the tide of war is changing. Speaking of Germans, they brought a force of 780,000 men and the total number of casualties reached 200,000. Even though they attacked, they were slowed down significantly and after eight days, the attack ran out of steam.
Buried Soviet Tanks
One of the ways to find the Germans was to bury the tanks underground with only the top showing. Local Soviet Commander Nikolai Vatutin came up with the idea that worked very well. The goal was to attract the German tanks who had longer range and then destroy them.
A Turning Point
The Battle of Kursk was a turning point for the Eastern front and even the war itself. Hitler was having problems in Sicily which became a priority for him and the Soviets used it to push through. After that, the Germans didn’t win any significant battle on the Eastern front. The Soviets entered Berlin in 1945.