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New report unveiled what really happened at the Battle of Prokhorovka


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Ganymed_II #1 Posted 09 July 2019 - 09:31 AM

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The British Ben Wheatley has issued in May 2019 a new report based on recently detected photographs taken by Luftwaffe reconnaissance planes. Those photographs have been found in the US National Archive at College Park. In his report Wheatley now basically confirmed to a 100% the report from Karl-Heinz Frieser "The Battle of the Kursk", Germany and the Second World War Volume VIII – The Eastern Front 1943–1944.

 

You can find the report from Wheatley here (7.8 MB):
https://www.tandfonl...needAccess=true

 

In article form, may be easier to read:

https://www.tandfonl...62.2019.1606545

 

Copy of the abstract, Introduction and conclusion:


ABSTRACT
The battle of Prokhorovka was steeped in Soviet legend (and myth)
for many decades. This remained the case until post-Soviet era
research revealed the reality of a Soviet armoured disaster. Building
on this knowledge this article explores Luftwaffe reconnaissance
photographs taken in the days and weeks immediately following
the battle of Prokhorovka. The photographs provide visual confirmation
across the battlefield of the demise of the 5th Guards Tank Army’s
18th and 29th Tank Corps’. The battle’s most famous locations are
visualized (many for the first time) in wartime photographs; these
include the notorious anti-tank ditch, Hill 252.2, Oktiabrskiy state
farm, Storozhevoye Woods and the site of Tiger tank duels on and
close to Hill 241.6.

 

Introduction
It is important to preface this article by stating my sincere admiration for the Soviet tank
crews and their supporting units’ heroism. The sheer scale of the disaster that unfolded on
12 July 1943 for the 5th Guards Tank Army should not in any way diminish from the
immense sacrifice the Red Army troops made for theirMotherland. This article is based on
photographic evidence of the battlefield south-west of Prokhorovka, and as such the
photographs paint a truly horrific picture of destruction. The impact of seeing so many
destroyed tanks and the knowledge that each Soviet tank contained four soldiers is deeply
sobering. The author felt it only right to mark this sacrifice.
The photographs in this article were taken by Luftwaffe reconnaissance planes in the days
immediately following the battle of Prokhorovka; as such they are historically significant. The
chief protagonists of the battle of Prokhorovka, the Soviet 5th Guards Tank Army and the
German SS PanzergrenadierDivision ‘Leibstandarte SS AdolfHitler’, fought over a battlefront
of no more than 3 km between the river Psel and the Storozhevoye Woods. Therefore, the
location of one of the most famous battles of the Second World War was able to be
photographed by the Luftwaffe in a single shot. Specifically and importantly photographs
are available from 14 and 16 July when the battlefield was still in German hands (the Germans
chose to withdraw from the area on 17 July). The battlefield remained largely unaltered from
12 July. As a result, these photographs depict the Soviet armoured disaster (the entire 5th
Guards Tank Army lost around 235 fighting vehicles written off) with absolute clarity.1 There

are also important photographs from 7 August, which although 3 weeks later, further highlight
the scale of the Soviet disaster. Comparisons made between the July photographs GX-
2696-SK-23, GX-2696-SK-24, GX-2696-SK-52, GX-3734-SK-61 and the August photographs
GX-3942-SK-69, GX-3942-SD-124 are highly revealing.2 Destroyed tanks visible in both July
and August indicate that they were in all probability lost on 12 July. We know this as in the
main attack sectors from 13 July, the Soviets went onto the defensive as a result of the
extremely heavy losses they sustained the previous day.3 Equally the Germans, having
recaptured their forward positions on 12 July, were content to await developments on their
flanks before resuming the advance.4 These factors are of real importance. As a result, the front
lines of 16 July were virtually identical to those of 12 July which protected the authenticity of
the Prokhorovka battlefield in photographGX-3734-SK-61 (the photograph which depicts the
majority of the battlefield) which was taken on 16 July.German tank losses were minuscule by
comparison,with just five battle tanks ultimately beingwritten off (including four Pz IVs close
to Hill 252.2). All other damaged tanks were located in secure firing positions (i.e. behind the
line of the anti-tank ditch) and were recovered before 16 July and later repaired.5 In terms of
armoured warfare the Leibstandarte mostly used superior modern 75mmlong barrelled, high
velocity, long rangeweapons such as the Pak 40 L46 anti-tank gun, Pz IVL48 (some L43) tank,
StuG L48 assault gun and Marder III (or equivalent) L46 tank destroyer, while 4 Tiger tanks
with 88 mm L56 main guns and thick armour proved devastating. The Soviets’ main battle
tank the T-34 76 mm was greatly outclassed in hitting power by all these weapons.6 The
Germans fought much of the battle of Prokhorovka at arm’s length firing from strongly
fortified defensive positions. These positions actually formed part of the Soviets own 3rd
(army) line of defence – part of thewider Kursk defensive system.7 Therefore the vast numbers
of destroyed tanks (forward of the infamous anti-tank ditch and the adjacent Stalinsk state
farm) visible in photograph GX-3734-SK-61 of 16 July are almost without exception Soviet.8
The reality is that there were only seven German tanks (all Pz IVs), assault guns or tank

destroyers deployed forward of this line on 12 July.9 It is impossible to do justice to the original
photographs by highlighting segments of them. However, for the purpose of this article it was
the only viable option. I would strongly recommend anyone interested in the battle to view
these photographs at the NARA or to seek their professional reproduction.10 The reader is
advised to regularly refer to Figures 1–3 when viewing the battlefield photographs for the
purposes of battlefield orientation.11
Over the years the historiography of the battle of Prokhorovka has evolved from one of
Soviet myth (stemming from General Rotmistrov’s need to justify to Stalin the 5th Guards
Tank Army’s heavy losses; Rotmistrov claimed the Germans lost 400 tanks, including
70 Tiger tanks) to today’s reality of scholarly accuracy.12 The work of Niklas Zetterling and
Anders Frankson, Valeriy Zamulin, Roman Töppel and Karl-Heinz Frieser has been instru-

mental in moving historiography across the world towards the true reality of the events
during the battle of Prokhorovka.13 Frieser’s contribution to the semi-official study by the
German Research Institute for Military History in Potsdam is superbly accurate and yet
concise. It is this description of the battle (one can hardly say interpretation due to its high
level of accuracy) which provides this article with its context and battlefield commentary in
relation in particular to the fighting in the 29th Tank Corps sector. The author wishes to thank
OUP for agreeing to the use of this text and the excellent battlefield map contained in this
article.
To the author, it seems impossible that any worthwhile publication or exhibition relating
to the battle of Prokhorovka could not include the remarkable Luftwaffe photographs
contained within this article. To further aid the reader I have included contemporary
photographs of the battlefield obtained via Google which are highly useful in establishing
the topography of the battlefield. For example, one cannot get a true understanding of the
available fields of fire from the Luftwaffe photographs. Therefore, GoogleMaps and Google
Street View have proved to be vital tools in the formulation of this article.

 

Conclusion
In conclusion, given our knowledge of the relative losses incurred by both sides and the
locations of the tanks on the battlefield, it is clear that the photographic evidence
contained in this article support Frieser’s description of the battle – i.e. that the Soviets
suffered a major defeat and incurred vast numbers of written off tanks in the process. The
location of the mass destruction of the 29th Tank Corps armour is clear to see with 32nd &
31st Tank Brigades demise in (or near to) the anti-tank ditch and 25th Tank Brigade’s

defeat between the railway embankment, Stalinsk state farm and the Storozhevoye Woods
also being clearly visible in the photographs provided. Regarding the halting of 18th Tank
Corps – we can see from the photographs available to us that the Soviet attempt to
outflank the Leibstandarte was also met with a major defeat. The demise of the 170th &
181st Tank Brigades is clearly highlighted behind the left flank of the anti-tank ditch and
the 2nd SS Panzergrenadier Regiment’s position. The defeat of 181st Tank Brigade’s
subsequent effort to advance up from the ribbon village of Andreyevka is also depicted.
The fact that only four Tiger tanks repelled both of these armoured advances is testament
to the tanks’ prowess at that stage of the war.

This article has therefore verified the demise of the majority of the attacking
components of the 5th Guards Tank Army during the battle of Prokhorovka on
12 July 1943. As has been shown above, the level of detailed information now available
to us means it is entirely possible that individual lost German tanks can be located on
the battlefield photographs amongst the mass of Soviet tank losses. It is remarkable that
the historiography of the battle has evolved so radically over the last 20–30 years from
an era when it was believed the Germans had suffered a major war-defining defeat with
the loss of as many as 400 tanks (including 70 Tigers), to one that recognizes (with
respect) that a Soviet catastrophe took place and that this catastrophe can be visually
verified. If the myth of Prokhorovka is still given any credence around the world then
the photographs contained in this article will surely bring this myth to an end.

 

End of introduction copy

 

So instead of, as reported so far, 850 Sowjet Tanks fighting 800 German Tanks the true forces on the famous battle on 12th July 1943 have been 186 German Tanks fighting 672 Tanks of the Red Army.

At the evening of this day the losses have been 235 on the Soviet side while the Germans have lost 5 tanks (4 Pz IVs and 1 Tiger).

 

As a side note, the famous Tank Commander Michael Wittmann participated in this battle commanding 4 Tigers. This 4 Tigers alone destroyed at the 12 July 1943 55 tanks in total (32 T-34, 12 T-70 and 11 Churchills delivered by the UK).


Edited by Ganymed_II, 09 July 2019 - 09:42 AM.


Dorander #2 Posted 09 July 2019 - 09:40 AM

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TL,DR version: buff Tiger I?

Edited by Dorander, 09 July 2019 - 09:40 AM.


If_I_Die_You_Die_Too #3 Posted 09 July 2019 - 09:51 AM

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They're still digging 'em out of the ground around Stalingrad at spring planting time and leave helmets bones etc by the side of fields like they do at flanders and the somme

 

Much of the eastern front was on a scale which many europeans find hard to comprehend

 

Bottom line is the Russkies threw themselves at the Germans so much that within 8 months German equipment became knackered and they ran out of bullets/shells at places like Stalingrad

 

The Germans simply couldn't replace that lost and worn out gear fast enough

 

25million dead, officially

More russkies lost at Leningrad alone than the total combined war dead of all the allies

08:58 Added after 6 minutes

My grandparents used to argue about the war, it was the only time they ever really argued

 

My grandad who was at at El Alamein and Italy said the German soldiers were miles more professional than our boys and much better soldiers

But we had the resources and numbers to beat them

 

My granny said our boys were MUCH better



Space_Vato #4 Posted 09 July 2019 - 09:58 AM

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TL;DR 

 

Germans lost.

Russian defeat.

 

I'm at a loss



If_I_Die_You_Die_Too #5 Posted 09 July 2019 - 10:01 AM

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They call it a draw

 

The strategic winner being whoever can recover faster and mount the next big attack

 

The Germans never really recovered from Kursk, their equipment losses were too great

 

10,000 of the 20,000 88mm guns ever made were stuck in Germany shooting up at allied bombers so never made it to the Eastern front


Edited by If_I_Die_You_Die_Too, 09 July 2019 - 10:06 AM.


ThinGun #6 Posted 09 July 2019 - 10:16 AM

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Russians, Germans, Brits, Yanks ... who cares who 'won' or 'lost' - in the end, the human race lost millions and millions of young men.  We all lost.

Schepel #7 Posted 09 July 2019 - 10:18 AM

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The Russian version of events is a lie. Shocking.

 

Compliments to a fellow historian for digging up actual facts, though.



ThinGun #8 Posted 09 July 2019 - 10:22 AM

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View PostSchepel, on 09 July 2019 - 10:18 AM, said:

The Russian version of events is a lie. Shocking.

 

Compliments to a fellow historian for digging up actual facts, though.

 

Everything about WW2 seems to be a lie.  We Brits celebrate Dunkirk like it's some sort of massive victory and a sterling example of British pluck and fortitude.  In fact, we had our butts handed to us by the Nazis and were running away like scared girls, leaving a handful of brave Frenchmen to die while protecting our retreat.  

8126Jakobsson #9 Posted 09 July 2019 - 10:23 AM

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View PostThinGun, on 09 July 2019 - 10:16 AM, said:

Russians, Germans, Brits, Yanks ... who cares who 'won' or 'lost' - in the end, the human race lost millions and millions of young men.  We all lost.

 

The banksters won big though. 

R3dBaron #10 Posted 09 July 2019 - 10:34 AM

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A few weeks ago I posted a proposal to use Frontline mode to re-create historical battles and while doing research to have fixed teams composition using same tier tanks and trying to be as historical as possible, I realized that the german tech tree should be downtiered at least 1 level compared to other tank trees, specially up to tier 8/9.

 

http://forum.worldoftanks.eu/index.php?/topic/711931-wot-historical-battles-a-new-approach/page__p__17029301#entry17029301

 

This means that most of the german tanks that existed and fought in WW2 are fighting in WoT against tanks developed later and much stronger than their real counterparts.

 

Best regards.

 

P.S.- Ganymed_II, thank you very much for your post.


Edited by R3dBaron, 09 July 2019 - 10:46 AM.


pecopad #11 Posted 09 July 2019 - 10:36 AM

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Deleted


Edited by pecopad, 09 July 2019 - 10:48 AM.


iztok #12 Posted 09 July 2019 - 10:40 AM

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Hi!

The Prokhorovka was a part of the Kursk battle. If one just counts total losses on both sides, he soon realizes the Soviets lost three to four times as much men and equipment as Germans did.

Gives a wholly new meaning to a Pyrrhic victory and really shows that the history is written by the winner. :sceptic:

 

BR,  Iztok



Geoffrey_Ironfist #13 Posted 09 July 2019 - 10:41 AM

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I like this historical stuff. Thanks for posting it. I also think the Eastern Front was more interesting than any other front during the war, especially for tank battles. I wish there was a game that was more historically realistic, involving also tanks, as opposed to just playing an arcade game.

 

View PostR3dBaron, on 09 July 2019 - 10:34 AM, said:

A few weeks ago I posted a proposal to use Frontline mode to re-create historical battles and while doing research to have fixed teams composition using same tier tanks and trying to be as historical as possible, I realized that the german tech tree should be downtiered at least 1 level compared to other tank trees, specially up to tier 8/9.

 

This means that most of the german tanks that existed and fought in WW2 are fighting in WoT against tanks developed later and much stronger than their real counterparts.

 

Best regards.

 

P.S.- Ganymed_II, thank you very much for your post.

 

Should it not be the other way around? Kolobanov fought in his KV-1 near Leningrad Pz IIs, Pz Is (maybe IC, not sure) and Pz IIIAs. The Russians already had the KV-2 by that time.

 

Oh and in Normandy, the Germans fought with for example the Pz IVD, Marder 38T, the StuG IIIG, and still had plenty of Pz IIIs knocking around, it was not all Tigers and Panthers.

 


Edited by Geoffrey_Ironfist, 09 July 2019 - 11:02 AM.


pecopad #14 Posted 09 July 2019 - 10:44 AM

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View Postiztok, on 09 July 2019 - 10:40 AM, said:

Hi!

The Prokhorovka was a part of the Kursk battle. If one just counts total losses on both sides, he soon realizes the Soviets lost three to four times as much men and equipment as Germans did.

Gives a wholly new meaning to a Pyrrhic victory and really shows that the history is written by the winner. :sceptic:

 

BR,  Iztok

That's what you do when you attack...

 

Would you call D day an ally loss also?


Edited by pecopad, 09 July 2019 - 10:49 AM.


kaneloon #15 Posted 09 July 2019 - 10:49 AM

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View PostThinGun, on 09 July 2019 - 09:16 AM, said:

Russians, Germans, Brits, Yanks ... who cares who 'won' or 'lost' - in the end, the human race lost millions and millions of young men.  We all lost.

 

In that regards it is wrecked Europe that lost and victorious Yanks who won this war.

pecopad #16 Posted 09 July 2019 - 10:52 AM

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View PostSchepel, on 09 July 2019 - 10:18 AM, said:

The Russian version of events is a lie. Shocking.

 

Compliments to a fellow historian for digging up actual facts, though.

 

I do not think we had access to the Russian debrief of the battle. Nobody ever claimed the Russian victory wasn't a Russian massacre.

 

Its like saying that D day was a major loss and a big american lie...because of the Americans losses that day 

09:54 Added after 2 minutes

View PostThinGun, on 09 July 2019 - 10:16 AM, said:

Russians, Germans, Brits, Yanks ... who cares who 'won' or 'lost' - in the end, the human race lost millions and millions of young men.  We all lost.

 

Who cares.. what do you mean who cares???

 

History revisionism here... I and many care, NAZIS lost, ... respect the ones who fought them..


Edited by pecopad, 09 July 2019 - 10:56 AM.


Wintermute_1 #17 Posted 09 July 2019 - 11:22 AM

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The real truth about Prokhorovka is that the light tanks on my team are always donkeys and the enemy lights are always competent. Proven with science and facts and stuff.

 

 

 



pecopad #18 Posted 09 July 2019 - 12:01 PM

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I'm not an historian but I have a particular interest in history including WW2 and I think the title of the thread and the whole tone of the article is misleading.

 

Contrary to what is usual, the main sources used on the west for the Eastern front are from the recollection of Germans, not the soviets. From the records collected after the war, so most of the myths we have are actually German myths and not Soviet.

 

The first myth that has been long debunked was the Nazification of the Wehrmacht and participation and knowledge of the German Army off the war crimes and annihilation war that was going on the east.

The second myth is about the inaccuracy of the soviet numbers,when in reality the red army was the one who most relied in good intelligence and numbers. There are some anecdotes about the graphs and tables used by the soviets, but yet we tend to use German data who was highly inaccurate, since Hitler and the Prussians had a disdain for intelligence, and were prone to be deceived.

Third myth is when we are told that the Nazis lost the war at the end of Barbarossa operation at the gates of Moscow where they lost 1 million soldiers and a great deal of equipment that they were never able to replenish, when actually after Barbarossa most of the units were replenished and industrial production was on top. Actually its interesting on how a supposed agrarian and less industrial society like the Soviets could not only replenish but field a better equipped army after sustaining so many more man and material losses than the Germans...

 

Interesting that the only part of the war where we use the enemy data is on the East (actually is due to the cold war effect), while both on the west and the pacific we tell the story from the Western perspective...

 

By the way, the Russian waves and losses have never been a secret, and Stalin was probably the best informed statesmen at the time. He knew how many Soviets he was throwing into the grinder... Red Army had some very good statisticians, and were proud to have developed a War Science that relied on numbers superiority and Data.

 


Edited by pecopad, 09 July 2019 - 12:03 PM.





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