Battle of Kursk
- For other uses of "Operation Citadel", see Operation Citadel (disambiguation)
|Part of the Eastern Front of World War II|
SS Panzergrenadiers with a Tiger I of the 2nd SS Panzergrenadier Division Das Reich during the Battle of Kursk
|Commanders and leaders|
|Casualties and losses|
|Operation Citadel:[nb 6]
Battle of Kursk:[nb 8]
|Operation Citadel:[nb 6]
Battle of Kursk:[nb 8]
The Battle of Kursk was a World War II engagement between German and Soviet forces on the Eastern Front near the city of Kursk, (450 kilometers or 280 miles southwest of Moscow) in the Soviet Union in July and August 1943. The German offensive was code named Operation Citadel (German: Unternehmen Zitadelle) and would lead to both one of the largest armored clashes, which is the battle of Prokhorovka, and the costliest single day of aerial warfare in history. The battle was the final strategic offensive the Germans were able to mount in the east, and the decisive Soviet victory gave the Red Army the strategic initiative for the rest of the war.
The Germans hoped to shorten their lines by eliminating the Kursk salient (also known as the Kursk bulge), created in the aftermath of their defeat at the Battle of Stalingrad. They envisioned pincers breaking through its northern and southern flanks to achieve a great encirclement of Red Army forces. The Soviets, however, had intelligence of the German intentions, provided in part by the British. This and German delays to wait for new weapons, mainly the Tiger heavy tank and what would become the first significant battlefield appearance of the new Panther medium tank,gave the Red Army plenty of time to construct a series of defense lines and gather large reserve forces for a strategic counterattack.
Advised months in advance that the attack would fall on the neck of the Kursk salient, the Soviets designed a plan to slow, redirect, exhaust, and progressively wear down the powerful German panzer spearheads by forcing them to attack through a vast interconnected web of minefields, and defensive strong points, which included pre-sighted artillery fire zones and concealed anti-tank strong points comprising eight progressively spaced defense lines 250 km deep—more than 10 times as deep as the Maginot Line—and featuring a greater than 1:1 ratio of anti-tank guns to attacking vehicles. By far the most extensive defensive works ever constructed, it proved to be more than three times the depth necessary to contain the furthest extent of the German attack.
When the German forces had exhausted themselves against the defences, the Soviets responded with counter-offensives, which allowed the Red Army to retake Orel and Belgorod on 5 August and Kharkov on 23 August, and push the Germans back across a broad front.
Although the Red Army had some successes in the previous winters, the later stage of this battle was the first successful major Soviet summer offensive of the war. The strategy employed by the Soviets in Kursk earned a place in military studies. The Battle of Kursk was the first battle in which a German strategic offensive had been defeated before it could break through enemy defenses and into its strategic depths.
In the winter of early 1943, the Red Army emerged victorious in the Battle of Stalingrad after encircling and destroying the 6th Army and elements of the 4th Panzer Army. The battle cost the Germans and Axis about 800,000 casualties (killed, wounded or captured) and around 1.1 million for the Soviets. Following the defeat at Stalingrad, in addition to the relentless Soviet offensives that had started in winter of late 1942, the Germans were pushed into the strategic and operational defensive along the entire eastern front. With decimation of the 8th Italian and 2nd Hungarian Armies at the start of Operation Little Saturn, by January 1943 a huge hole - 160 to 300 kilometer wide - was torn between Army Group B and Army Group Don. This threatened to isolate all the German troops south of the Don River, including Army Group A. On 8 February Kursk fell to the Soviets, Rostov on the 14th and Kharkov on the 18th. In the sector of Army Group Center, the newly created Central Front - formed through the release of forces after the victory at Stanlingrad - made preparations for an offensive that envisioned the complete encirclement of Army Group Center.
By February 1943 the situation had approached a crisis point for the Wehrmacht. On February 12 the chain of command in the south was restructured. Army Group Don which was commanded by Erich von Manstein was renamed Army Group South, and Army Group B together with its area of responsibility was abolished and divided between Army Group Center and the new Army Group South. With this restructure, Erich von Manstein inherited the responsibility for the gaping hole in the German line. Divisions were scraped up by thinning non-threatened sectors and ad hoc units were formed in attempt to blunt the Soviet advance.
In January 1943, the SS Panzer Corps had arrived from France, fresh and up to strength. Other armoured units such as the 11th Panzer Division arrived from Army Group A, along with the 6th and 17th Panzer Divisions.
Just hours before the fall of Kharkov to the Soviets, a severely perturbed Hitler arrived at the headquarters of the newly designated Army Group South at Zaporizhia to discuss the unravelling situation. Goebbels's diary suggests that Hitler had intended to sack Manstein for withdrawing from Kharkov without orders. In the meeting, Manstein argued for a counterstroke aimed at exploiting the Soviets' overstretched lines, and eventually retake Kharkov and then Kursk. The attack began on 19 February, spearheaded by the three panzergrenadier divisions of the II SS Panzer Corps (simply known as "SS Panzer Corps" at that time). A brilliantly conceived and executed strike first stabilized the front by demolishing the Soviet spearhead, then encircled and destroyed the main body of the attacking troops before advancing to retake Kharkov on 15 March and Belgorod on the 18th.
By the end of March, an end to the offensive was necessitated by the spring thaw and exhaustion of the Wehrmacht, which in many aspects mirrored the general situation of the Red Army as well. The Germans had failed to retake the town of Kursk, and left a massive salient centered around the town and bulging into the German lines. However, the offensive succeeded in wrestling the initiative from the Soviets and also spoiled the planned attack of the Central Front against Army Group Center since forces had to be redeployed to counter the threat posed by the advance of Manstein's forces.
The fighting had paused with the onset of the spring thaw, during which mobile operations would be very difficult, and therefore both sides began to plan and prepare for the next campaigning season, which is summer.
German plans and preparation 
Field Marshal Manstein believed that the German forces should go on the strategic defensive, allow the Soviets anticipated offensive weaken their forces, and then deliver strong counterblows with flanking attacks against the Soviet penetration. He was convinced that the Red Army would deliver its main effort against Army Group South. He proposed to keep the left wing of the army group strong while retreating the right wing to the Dnieper River, followed by a massive counterblow to the flank of the Red Army advance. This idea was rejected by Hitler, as he did not even temporarily want to give up so much terrain.
Adolf Hitler did not approve of a defensive strategy and desired to go to the offensive, directing the German effort against the bulge at Kursk. The relatively new German high command of all forces, OKW, which had taken over direction of the conflict from the army high command, OKH, followed Hitler's lead in pushing for a move to the offensive. Colonel General Kurt Zeitzler and others could be found to disagree with Manstein's defensive strategy, with the result being the German command structure was set on planning offensive actions against the Kursk salient. Two Red Army Fronts, the Voronezh and Central Fronts, occupied the ground in and around the salient, and pinching it off would trap almost a sixth of the Red Army's manpower. It would also result in a much straighter and shorter line and recapture the strategically useful railway city of Kursk, located on the main north–south railway line from Rostov to Moscow.
In March, the plans crystallized. Walter Model's 9th Army would attack southwards from Orel while Hermann Hoth's 4th Panzer Army and Army Group Kempf under the overall command of Manstein would attack northwards from Belgorod. They planned to meet at Kursk, but if the offensive went well, they would have permission to continue forward on their own initiative, with a general plan to re-establish a new line at the Don River, several weeks' march to the east.
After many operational issues had been considered and discussed with Hitler, a plan was eventually published. Operational Order No. 6, dated 15 April, announced:
The objective of the attack is to surround the enemy forces in the Kursk sector and destroy them with concentric attacks... The moment of surprise must be preserved and, above all, the enemy must be kept in the dark about the date of the attack... The attack must be conducted so rapidly that the enemy can neither withdraw from contact nor bring in strong reserves from other fronts.
The operation was set to begin on 3 May, because it was deemed extremely important to attack before the Soviets had a chance to dig in or launch their own offensive. The operation was to be a classic blitzkrieg, eschewing a grinding advance for a swift and efficient strike. A double envelopment with pincers originating from the flanks of the salient and directed at Kursk would surround the majority of the defenders and seal off the salient. Hitler and OKW were confident that the offensive would revitalize German strategic fortunes in the East. Nonetheless, the start date of the operation was postponed several times by Hitler due to concerns over general preparations and arrival of new weapons, in particular, the Panzerkampfwagen VI, Panzerjäger Tiger (P), and Panzerkampfwagen V Panther. After failing to commence the operation on 3 May, a conference on 4 May decided upon 12 June as the new launch date. This launch date would also not be met, and it was not until 1 July that Hitler announced 5 July, the final launch date.
The German commanders favoring the attack were confident and guided by the facts that the distance to Kursk was short, the attacking forces strong, and the Wehrmacht's history was one of always shattering Soviet front lines where it chose to.
Contrary to his recent behavior, Hitler gave the OKH considerable control over the planning of the operation. Over the next few weeks, they continued to increase the scope of the forces attached to the front, stripping other areas of the German line of anything useful for deployment in the operation. They first set the attack for 4 May, but delayed in order to allow more time for new weapons to arrive from Germany. Hitler postponed the offensive several more times. By 5 May, the launch date became 12 June. Due to the potential threat of an Allied landing in Italy and delays in armor deliveries, Hitler next set the launch date to 20 June. On 17 June, he further postponed it until 3 July, and then later to 5 July.[nb 11]
"Is it really necessary to attack Kursk, and indeed in the east this year at all? Do you think anyone even knows where Kursk is? The entire world doesn't care if we capture Kursk or not. What is the reason that is forcing us to attack this year on Kursk, or even more, on the Eastern Front?"
Despite the reservations of both Hitler and Guderian regarding the prospects of the operation, it was not cancelled. In fact, Hitler's obsession with the new weapons became even more intense as the challenges offered by the operation increased. The Germans received reports of powerful Soviet concentrations in the Kursk area and delayed the offensive to allow for more Panther tanks to reach the front line. According to Mellenthin, "Model produced air photographs which showed that the Russians were constructing very strong positions at the shoulders of the salient and had withdrawn their mobile forces from the area west of Kursk." Indeed, Model went so far as to suggest that the longer the preparation phase continued, the less justification there was for launching an offensive, and he recommended awaiting a Soviet push and then defeating that.
The German force numbered fifty divisions, including 17 Panzer and Panzergrenadier divisions. Among them were the elite Wehrmacht Großdeutschland Division as well as three battle-hardened Waffen-SS divisions; the 1st SS Panzergrenadier Division Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler, 2nd SS Panzergrenadier Division Das Reich and the 3rd SS Panzergrenadier Division Totenkopf, which were all grouped into the 2nd SS Panzer Corps.
The weeks leading up to the attack saw massive biuld-up of troops and resources by both sides, and simultaneously the frequency of partisan attacks on German supply lines reached new heights. Around the Kursk sector there were 1,092 partisan attacks against railways in June 1943 alone.
By the time the German buildup was completed for the final launch date, it amounted to about 777,000 men, 2,451 tanks and assault guns (70% of German armour on the Eastern Front) and 7417 guns and mortars. The 9th Army of Army Group Center would administer the attack on the northern face of the salient and drive southwards to Kursk; simultaneously, the 4th Panzer Army and Army Detachment Kempf of Army Group South would deliver the attack on the southern face of the salient and drive northwards to Kursk. The western face of the salient was to be kept in check by four corps of the 2nd Army. XXIV Panzer Corps comprised of SS Panzergrenadier Division Wiking and 17th Panzer Division was held in reserve.
Soviet plans and preparation 
In spring 1943, the Red Army, specifically the Central Front, had made preparations for a spring or summer offensive against Army Group Center. Attacks in front of Orel and Kharkov would flatten the line and potentially lead to a breakout near the Pripyat Marshes.
However, any plans of an offensive were put on hold as Moscow received warnings from Soviet intelligence about the German troop concentrations spotted at Orel and Kharkov, as well as details of an intended German offensive in the Kursk sector through the Lucy spy ring in Switzerland and also from the Government Code and Cypher School operating at Bletchley Park in the UK. The Soviets also verified the intelligence with their spy in the Government Code and Cypher School - John Cairncross - who routinely forwarded raw decrypts directly to Moscow via clandestine means. Anastas Mikoyan wrote in his memoirs that on 27 March 1943 he was notified by Stalin in general details about a possible German attack in the Kursk sector.Zhukov, the Deputy Supreme Commander, had already predicted the site of the German attack as early as 8 April, recommending to Stalin and Stavka (the Red Army General Staff) a defensive strategy:
The first phase of the enemy's plan will be to collect the best of their forces, including 13-15 tank divisions, and with the support of a large number of aircraft would envelop Kursk from the northeast with their Kromskom-Orel grouping and also from the southeast with their Belgorod-Kharkov grouping.
Although Stalin and some of the senior officers in Stavka were eager to strike first, the majority, including Zhukov, advised a more cautious approach. In the same letter to Stavka and Stalin on 8 April, Zhukov also wrote:
I consider it inadvisable for our forces to go over to an offensive in the near future in order to forestall the enemy. It would be better to make the enemy exhaust himself against our defences, and knock out his tanks and then, bringing up fresh reserves, to go over to the general offensive which would finally finish off his main force.
At first, Stalin did not accept Zhukov's conclusion for a defensive strategy. However, from 12 to 15 April 1943, Stalin consulted the opinions of the Soviet Front commanders and senior officers of the General Staff, and by the end of the meeting Stavka had agreed that Kursk was the likely German target. The final decision arrived at by Stavka, in the words of the 1944 Soviet General Staff Study of the battle, was to "meet the enemy attack in a well-prepared defensive bridgehead, bleed the attacking German groupings dry, and then launch a general offensive." Hence before the end of April, systematic preparation of defences and fortifications had begun, and this work continued till the German attack in early July.
Stalin frequently expressed concerns that the decision to defend was tantamount to handing the Germans the initiative, but Zhukov later commented that going to the defensive did not relinquish the initiative to the Germans, but instead they were being drawn into a carefully devised trap, which aimed to destroy their armoured power and create the conditions for a major Soviet offensive.
The pattern of the war up till this point had been one of German offensive success in spring or summer. Operation Citadel was to be another demonstration of the blitzkrieg, a demonstration that had occurred annually every spring or summer since the start of World War II, and had reaped immediate victories against all opponents including the Red Army. Every one of the past annual demonstrations, even if they had not all resulted in strategic success, at least all produced astonishing operational and tactical success in their early and intermediate stages. But in 1943, for the first time the Red Army confidently envisioned stopping the blitzkrieg in its early stages before it had achieved an operational success, and in order to achieve this, immense defensive preparations were made in the salient. The two-month delay of the launch of the offensive gave the Red Army ample time to thoroughly prepare the salient. The Voronezh Front, commanded by Nikolai Vatutin, was tasked with defending the southern face of the salient and the Central Front, commanded by Konstantin Rokossovsky, the northern face of the salient.
The Central Front had been reconstructed from the Don Front in February 1943, and the Don Front had been part of the northern pincer of Operation Uranus, and was responsible for the reduction of the 6th Army in the Stalingrad pocket. Hence, some of the troops of the Central Front assigned to the defence of the northern face of the Kursk salient were veterans of the latter stage of the Battle of Stalingrad.
To meet the German attack, the Central and Voronezh Fronts each created three main echelons (or lines or belts) of defense in their sectors, with each echelon containing several lines of strong fortifications. Fortifying each echelon were an interconnected web of minefields, barbed-wire fences, anti-tank ditches, deep entrenchments full of infantry, anti-tank obstacles, dug-in armoured vehicles and machine gun bunkers.
The preparation of the battlefield by Red Army combat engineers was thorough. Some 503,663 anti-tank mines and 439,348 anti-personnel mines were laid, mostly in the first belt of defence, and more than 3000 miles of trenches were dug, laid out in criss-cross pattern for defenders to move easily. The minefields at Kursk achieved densities of about 1,700 anti-personnel mines and 1,500 anti-tank mines per kilometer of front line, which is about 4 times that used in the defence of Moscow, and the highest density of mines were in the first belt of defence. For example, The 6th Guards Army (of Voronezh Front), spread out on nearly 40 miles of front, was protected in its first belt of defence by 69,688 anti-tank mines and 64,430 anti-personnel mines, and another 20,200 anti-tank mines and 9,097 anti-personnel mines in its second belt of defence.
In addition to the mines laid in advance, mobile obstacle detachments were tasked with laying more mines directly in the route of advancing armoured formations, which would paralyze the enemy's manoeuvrability . The mobile obstacle detachments functioned as antitank reserves at every level of command, consisting of two platoons of combat engineers with mines at the division level and one company of combat engineers normally equipped with 500-700 mines at the corps level.
In the same letter to Stavka and Stalin on 8 April, Zhukov warned that the Germans will attack the salient with a very strong armoured force:
We can expect the enemy to put greatest reliance in this year's offensive operations on his tank divisions and air force since his infantry appears to be far less prepared for offensive operations than last year... In view of this threat, we should strengthen the anti-tank defences of the Central and Voronezh fronts, and assemble as soon as possible.
So much attention was given to anti-tank defences such that nearly all artillery, whether howitzer, gun, rocket, or anti-aircraft, were tasked with the role of anti-tank defence. In addition, dug-in tanks and self-propelled guns further strengthened the antitank defences. The anti-tank forces were incorporated into every level of command, and the majority of antitank units were organized and deployed as anti-tank strong points and anti-tank regions (i.e. several anti-tank strong points packed into a narrow front), concentrated on likely attack routes and amply spread out in the rest of the defence belts. Each anti-tank strong point typically consisted of 4 to 6 anti-tank guns, 6 to 9 anti-tank rifles, 5 to 7 heavy and light machine guns, and supported by combat engineers of the mobile obstacle detachments as well as infantry equipped with automatic weapons; and typically, an anti-tank region was centered around an artillery battalion (a group of artillery batteries). In addition to these, independent tank and self-propelled gun brigades and regiments were tasked with cooperating with the infantry for counterattacks.
In preparation for the attack the Soviets employed a number of maskirovka techniques to confuse the enemy, mask troop deployments, conceal the flow of materiel and disguise the construction of defences. These included construction of dummy airfields with mock aircraft, dummy radio traffic to confuse German intelligence, spreading false rumours among the Soviet front line troops and the civilian population in the German held areas; and false troop concentrations, mock communication centers and dummy materiel depots. According to the 1944 Soviet General Staff Study of the battle, 17 dummy airfields were built in the sector of the 2nd Air Army in which 158 dummy aircraft were set up and the semblance of regular aviation activities maintained. Such deception schemes proved very successful, as according to the report, many of these dummy airfields were bombed repeatedly by the Luftwaffe, and of the 35 major Luftwaffe raids in June 1943 on Soviet airfields in the Kursk sector, 29 of them were on dummy airfields.
Also, all genuine radio communication were extremely restricted in range, and all conversations via radio related to the operational level was utterly prohibited. All genuine communication associated with the operational and strategic level were only communicated via wire communications (telephone and telegraph) or physical delivery of information (motor vehicles or aircraft). Unrestricted and full use of radio communications were permitted only on 5 July and onward, except for the 6th Guards Army (of Voronezh Front) which was eventually permitted at 2000 hours on 6 July.
All command posts and communication centers for formation headquarters were thoroughly concealed using maskirovka measures, as well as carefully fortified with disguised defence positions. A few of the measures included building the posts and centers in natural shelters like forest and ravines, and far away from any populated areas; and complete prohibition of the movement of any motor vehicles in or around the facilities, with all vehicles being parked in a designated area 2 to 3 kilometers away, effectively singling out walking as the only acceptable means of transportation in or near the facilities. These measures were extremely successful, which is attested by the fact that, according to the 1944 Soviet General Staff Study of the battle, not a single command post for regiment-level and above was subjected to German air bombing throughout the preparatory phase of the defences and the defensive battles against German ground incursion.
To psychologically equip the infantry manning the defences, special training to overcome the notorious tank phobia that had been evident since the German invasion were conducted in every front-line formation in the salient. Soldiers were packed into trenches and tanks were driven over it, and then repeated until all signs of fear was gone; and in real combat, the soldiers would then spring up in the midst of the supporting infantry to separate them from the spearheading armoured vehicles which can then be disabled or destroyed at pointblank ranges. This tactics would be used very successfully against Ferdinands, which once isolated from its supporting infantry, become hopelessly vulnerable - due to its lack of secondary armaments like machine guns - to infantry armed with anti-tank rifles, demolition charges and Molotov cocktails. Nikolai Litvin, a Soviet anti-tank gunner present in the battle of Kursk, recalled his experience during the special training to overcome tank phobia:
The tanks continued to advance closer and closer. Some comrades became frightened, leaped out of the trenches, and began to run away. The commander saw who was running and quickly forced them back into the trenches, making it sternly clear that they had to stay put. The tanks reached the trench line and, with a terrible roar, clattered overhead... it was possible to conceal oneself in a trench from a tank, let it pass right over you, and remain alive.
Without including their deeper reserve forces organized under the Steppe Front, the Soviets had massed about 1,300,000 men, 3,600 tanks, 20,000 artillery pieces and 2,792 aircraft in the defence of the salient. This amounted to 26% of the total manpower of the Red Army, 26% of its mortars and artillery, 35% of its aircraft, and 46% of its tanks.
State of the Luftwaffe and Red Air Force 
||This section needs additional citations for verification. (May 2013)|
In the early stages of the war, the Red Air Force, while numerically superior, suffered from insufficient training, poor operational management and obsolete designs. Many of the pilots flying Soviet aircraft learned to fly as civilians in air clubs. By 1943 Allied action in Western Europe was beginning to have an impact on German military strength. Although actions in North Africa hardly constituted Stalin's much demanded second front, the operations in the Mediterranean and Africa did begin to take a toll on German strength. Air losses in the Luftwaffe were significant, with 40% of Luftaffe losses in the last quarter of 1942 and through the first half of 1943 occurring in the battles over Malta and Tunisia. German air superiority, a tenuous proposition from the outset, was no longer a certainty over the area of operation. The Soviet Air Force outnumbered the Luftwaffe, certainly, and was gaining in quality as well. Both air forces possessed effective ground-attack aircraft capable of destroying armor: the Soviet Ilyushin Il-2 Shturmovik and the German Junkers Ju 87G Stuka (Initially Ju 87D-3/5 with a pair of added Bordkanone 3,7 cm calbre cannon in gun pod mounts).[nb 12]
The Red Air Force improved throughout the war, and by the Battle of Kursk neither side had air supremacy. With the coming of 1943 more modern aircraft were available to Soviet pilots, such as the Yakovlev Yak-9 fighter, Petlyakov Pe-2 light bomber and the Ilyushin Il-2 ground attack aircraft. Pilot training was also more substantial. In the battle fought both German and Soviet formations suffered from air attack.
Opposing forces 
|Order of battle: Army Group Center (Field Marshal Günther von Kluge)|
|Army||Army Commander||Note||Corps||Corps Commander||Divisions|
|9th Army||Walter Model||XX Army Corps||R. von Roman||45th, 72nd, 137th & 251st Infantry Divisions|
|XLVI Panzer Corps||H. Zorn||7th, 31st, 102nd & 258th Infantry Divisions|
|XLI Panzer Corps||J. Harpe||18th Panzer Division; 86th & 292nd Infantry Divisions|
|XLVII Panzer Corps||J. Lemelsen||2nd, 9th & 20th Panzer Divisions; 6th Infantry Division|
|XXIII Army Corps||J. Frießner||216th & 383rd Infantry Divisions; 78th Assault Division|
|Army Reserve||4th & 12th Panzer Divisions; 10th Panzergrenadier Division|
|2nd Panzer Army||Erich-Heinrich Clößner||XXXV Army Corps||L. Rendulic||34th, 56th, 262nd & 299th Infantry Divisions|
|LIII Army Corps||F. Gollwitzer||208th, 211th & 293rd Infantry Divisions; 25th Panzergrenadier Division|
|LV Army Corps||E. Jaschke||110th, 134th, 296th & 339th Infantry Divisions|
|Army reserve||112th Infantry Division|
|Army Group Reserve||5th & 8th Panzer Divisions|
|Luftflotte 6||I Flieger Division|
|Order of battle: Army Group South (Field Marshal Erich von Manstein)|
|Army||Army Commander||Note||Corps||Corps Commander||Divisions|
|4th Panzer Army||Hermann Hoth||LII Army Corps||E. Ott||57th, 255th & 332nd Infantry Divisions|
|XLVIII Panzer Corps||O. von Knobelsdorff||3rd & 11th Panzer Divisions; 167th Infantry Division: Panzergrenadier Division Großdeutschland|
|II SS Panzer Corps||P. Hausser||1st (Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler), 2nd (Das Reich) & 3rd (Totenkopf) SS Panzergrenadier Divisions|
|Army Detachment Kempf||Werner Kempf||III Panzer Corps||H. Breith||6th, 7th, & 19th Panzer Divisions; 168th Infantry Division|
|Corps Raus||E. Raus||106th & 320th Infantry Divisions|
|XLII Army Corps||F. Mattenklot||39th, 161st & 282nd Infantry Divisions|
|Army Group Reserve||XXIV Panzer Corps||W. Nehring||5th SS Panzergrenadier Division & 17th Panzer Division|
|Luftflotte 4||VIII Fliegerkorps|
Red Army 
|Order of battle: Central Front (Army General Konstantin Rokossovsky)|
|13th Army||Nikolai Puchov||17th Guards Rifle Corps||6th, 70th & 75th Guards Rifle Divisions|
|18th Guards Rifle Corps||2nd, 3rd & 4th Airborne Guards Rifle Divisions|
|15th Rifle Corps||8th, 74th & 148th Rifle Divisions|
|29th Rifle Corps||15th, 81st & 307th Rifle Divisions|
|48th Army||Prokofiy Romanenko||42nd Rifle Corps||16th, 202nd, 399th, 73rd, 137th, 143rd & 170th Rifle Divisions|
|60th Army||Ivan Chernyakhovsky||24th Rifle Corps||42nd & 112th Rifle Divisions|
|30th Rifle Corps||121st, 141st & 322nd Rifle Divisions|
|Independent Divisions||55th Rifle Division|
|65th Army||Pavel Batov||18th Rifle Corps||69th, 149th & 246th Rifle Divisions|
|27th Rifle Corps||60th & 193rd, 181st, 194th & 354th Rifle Divisions; 37th Guards Rifle Division|
|70th Army||Ivan Galanin||28th Rifle Corps||132nd, 211th, 102nd, 106th, 140th, 162nd & 280th Rifle Divisions|
|2nd Tank Army||Alexei Rodin||3rd Tank Corps|
|16th Tank Corps|
|Front Assets (Independent Units)||9th Tank Corps|
|19th Tank Corps|
|16th Air Army||Sergei Rudenko||3rd Bombing Air Corps|
|6th Fighter Air Corps|
|6th Mixed Air Corps|
|Order of battle: Voronezh Front (Army General Nikolai Vatutin)|
|6th Guards Army||Ivan Chistyakov||22nd Guards Rifle Corps||67st, 71st & 90th Guards Rifle Divisions|
|23rd Guards Rifle Corps||51st & 52nd Guards Rifle Divisions, 375th Rifle Division|
|Independent Divisions||89th Guards Rifle Division|
|7th Guards Army||Mikhail Shumilov||24th Guards Rifle Corps||15th, 36th & 72nd Guards Rifle Divisions|
|25th Guards Rifle Corps||73rd, 78th & 81st Guards Rifle Divisions|
|Independent Divisions||213th Rifle Division|
|38th Army||Nikandr Chibisov||50th Rifle Corps||167th, 232nd & 340th Rifle Divisions|
|51st Rifle Corps||180th & 240th Rifle Divisions|
|Independent Divisions||204th Rifle Division|
|40th Army||Kirill Moskalenko||47th Rifle Corps||161st, 206th & 237th Rifle Divisions|
|52nd Rifle Corps||100th, 219th & 309th Rifle Divisions|
|Independent Divisions||184th Rifle Division|
|69th Army||Vasily Kryuchenkin||48th Rifle Corps||107th, 183rd & 307th Rifle Divisions|
|49th Rifle Corps||111th & 270th Rifle Divisions|
|1st Guards Tank Army||Mikhail Katukov||6th Tank Corps|
|31st Tank Corps|
|3rd Mechanized Corps|
|Front Assets (Independent Units)||35th Guards Rifle Corps||92nd, 93rd & 94th Guards Rifle Divisions|
|2nd Guards Tank Corps|
|3rd Guards Tank Corps|
|2nd Air Army||Stepan Krasovsky||1st Bombing Air Corps|
|1st Assault Air Corps|
|4th Fighter Air Corps|
|5th Fighter Air Corps|
|Elements of the 17th Air Army|
|Order of battle: Steppe Front (Ivan Konev)[nb 13]|
|5th Guards Army||Alexei Zhadov||32nd Guards Rifle Corps||13th & 66th Guards Rifle Divisions; 6th Airborne Guards Rifle Division|
|33rd Guards Rifle Corps||95th & 97th Guards Rifle Divisions; 9th Airborne Guards Rifle Division|
|Independent Divisions||42nd Guards Rifle Division & 10th Tank Corps|
|Independent 10th Tank Corps|
|5th Guards Tank Army||Pavel Rotmistrov||5th Guards Mechanized Corps|
|29th Tank Corps|
|5th Air Army||S. Gorunov||7th Mixed Air Corps|
|8th Mixed Air Corps|
|3rd Fighter Air Corps|
|7th Fighter Air Corps|
Comparison of Strength 
German offensive phase 
|German offensive phase (Citadel)||Men||Tanks||Guns|
|Frieser[nc 1]||1,426,352||2.8:1||518,271||4,938[nc 2]||2:1||2,465||31,415||4:1||7,417|
For their attack, the Wehrmacht used three armies and a large proportion of their tanks on the eastern front. The 9th Army in the north had 335,000 men (223,000 combat soldiers), and in the south the 4th Panzer Army and Army Detachment Kempf had 223,907 men (149,271) and 100,000 men (66,000) respectively, for a grand total of 778,907 men (518,271) for all three armies.
The Red Army used two Fronts (the equivalent of Army Groups) for the defence, and one Front as a reserve. The Central and Voronezh Fronts fielded 12 armies. Central Front had 711,575 men (510,983 combat soldiers), Voronezh Front had 625,591 men (446,236) and Steppe Front had 573,195 men (449,133) for a grand total of 1,910,361 (1,426,352).
Soviet offensive phase 
|Soviet offensive phase||Men||Tanks||Guns|
|Frieser[nd 1]||1,987,463||3.2:1||625,271||8,200||3:1||2,699[nd 2]||47,416||5:1||9,467|
|Glantz[nd 3]||2,500,000||2.7:1||940,900||7,360[nd 4]||2.3:1||3,253|
When the Red Army launched their counteroffensive in the north, the German 2nd Panzer Army was attacked by two Soviet Fronts: Bryansk and Western Front. The 107,000 men of the 2nd Panzer Army and some reinforcements in the south brought the Wehrmacht troops to approximately 950,000 men (approximately 650,000 combat soldiers). The two Soviet Fronts brought the Red Army to 2,629,458 men (1,987,463 combat soldiers).
Overview of Sub-operations 
For Soviet historians, the Battle of Kursk refers to the series of operations conducted as part of the Summer–Autumn Campaign of 1943 (1 July – 31 December) include:[verification needed]
- Kursk Strategic Defensive Operation (includes the German Operation Citadel) (5–23 July 1943)
- Orel-Kursk Defensive Operation (5–11 July)
- Belgorod-Kursk Defensive Operation (5–23 July)
- Battle of Prokhorovka (12 July 1943)
- Denial air operations over the Kursk Bulge (5–23 July)
- Orel Strategic Counter-Offensive Operation (Operation Kutuzov) (12 July – 18 August 1943)
- Volkhov-Orel Offensive Operation (12 July – 18 August)
- Kromy-Orel Offensive Operation (15 July – 18 August)
- Air superiority operations in Operation Kutuzov
- Belgorod–Kharkov Counter-Offensive Offensive Operation (Operation Polkovodets Rumyantsev) (3–23 August 1943)
- Belgorod–Bogodukhov Offensive Operation (3–23 August)
- Belgorod–Kharkov Offensive Operation (3–23 August)
- Zmiyev Offensive Operation (12–23 August)
- Air superiority operations in Operation Rumyantsev
The exact definition of the battle varies. The Germans saw it only as Operation Citadel (4 to 16 July), while Soviet and Russian historians continue today to combine Citadel and the subsequent Soviet counter-offensives, Operation Kutuzov and Operation Polkovodets Rumyantsev, as a single strategic event (4 July to 23 August).
It took two months of delay before the Germans were ready to attack, by which time the they had added 90 Ferdinand Panzerjäger, all 79 flyable Henschel Hs 129, as well as 270 Tigers, late-model Panzer Mark IVs and even a number of captured T-34s. In total, they assembled some 3,000 tanks and assault guns, 2,110 aircraft[nb 3] and 777,000 men. It formed one of the greatest concentrations of German fighting power ever put together. Even so, Hitler expressed doubts about its adequacy.
The start date for the offensive had been moved repeatedly as delays in preparation had forced the Germans to postpone the attack. Finally, on 1 July, Hitler announced 5 July as the start date for the attack. For months, the Soviets had been receiving detailed information on the planning of the offensive from the Red Orchestra spy ring, the Government Code and Cypher School (as well as the Soviet spy in it) operating at Bletchley Park, and the Lucy spy ring whose sources allegedly included officers in the German aviation ministry and other parts of the Nazi administration. Moscow was alerted just hours after Hitler's announcement, and the following day on 2 July, Marshal Aleksandr Vasilevsky warned the Front commanders (Vatutin, Rokossovsky and Konev) that the long-awaited German offensive would begin no latter than 6 July.
Preliminary fighting 
Preliminary fighting started in the southern face of the salient on 4 July 1943 as the XLVIII Panzer Corps of the 4th Panzer Army elected to storm Soviet outposts positioned on higher grounds prior to the main assault scheduled for 5 July, sacrificing tactical surprise for the prospect of gaining the higher grounds for artillery observation. By 1600 hours on 4 July, elements of the Großdeutschland Division and 3rd Panzer Division of the XLVIII Panzer Corps had seized the village of Butovo (about 5 km beyond the initial front line), and by early morning of 5 July the village of Gertsovka (about 10 km beyond initial front line) was secured. These preliminary attacks as well as troop movements and other preparatory activities were a confirmation that the main offensive was very imminent. Vatutin, having received reports that indicated the German offensive was imminent, ordered Voronezh Front to bombard German positions, particularly the II SS Panzer Corps, on the night of 4 July shortly after 2230 hours. A second shorter barrage was launched at 0130 hours, 5 July, and also targeted Army Detachment Kempf.
In the Central Front headquarters, reports of the anticitpated attack continued to come in. After midnight a captured German engineer revealed he believed the main attack would be launched at 0330 hours. At 0200 hours, Zhukov authorized a pre-emptive artillery bombardment to begin. The Soviet bombardment caused some casualties and destruction, but Zhukov later confessed that its effect was limited: "[We] had expected that its impact would be greater... When observing the course of the fighting and questioning prisoners, I came to the conclusion that the Central and Voronezh Fronts had started the counter preparation too early. The German soldiers were asleep in their trenches, dugouts, and ravines and the tank units were under cover in the waiting areas." The bombardment delayed the German schedule by as much as 40 minutes, but failed in its goal to disrupt the German attack. As the Russian artillery went silent, the Germans launched their own preliminary bombardment, after which the ground forces began to advance with close air support from the Luftwaffe.
Earlier that morning, during the German preliminary bombardment, the Red Air Force launched a massive raid against German airfields to destroy the Luftwaffe on the ground, but this failed and the Soviets took considerable losses. That morning, the Red Air Force lost 176 aircraft, whereas the Luftwaffe lost 26. The 16th Air Army, which is the air unit attached to the Central Front, suffered lighter losses in the preemptive attack than the 2nd Air Army attached to the Voronehz Front; and therefore, unlike in the southern face of the salient where the Luftwaffe had gained and maintained air superiority on 5 July, the control of the skies over the northern face was even. In the days immediately following the first day of the offensive, the Red Air Force began to assert its dominance as the Luffwaffe's chronic shortage of fuel, lubricants and spare parts began to hamper serviceability. Also the strong Soviet resistance met by the ground forces forced air-support missions to take precedence over the ongoing battle for air superiority, giving the much more preponderant Red Air Force the opportunity to wrestle the control of the air space. The grim consequences of the overwhelming preponderance of the Red Air Force over the Luftwaffe had been further aggravated by the fact that by summer 1943 the Luftwaffe could no more boast the significant technical superiority it once held over the Red Air Force.
Operation at the northern face 
German offensive 
Model's main attack was delivered by XLVII Panzer Corps, to which was also attached 45 Tigers of the Heavy Tank Battalion 505. Covering the left flank of the main attacking corps was XLI Panzer Corps, to which was attached a unit of 83 Ferdinands, and covering the right flank was XLVI Panzer Corps, which was a panzer corps just in name - consisting of four infantry divisions and just 9 tanks and 31 assault guns. To the left of XLI Panzer Corps was XXIII Army Corps, and consisted of a reinforced assault infantry division - 78th Assault Division - with two regular infantry divisions. The corps had no tanks, but it did have 62 assault guns. Therefore from the west to east direction, the 9th Army's attacking force was positioned as follows: XLVI Panzer Corps, XLVII Panzer Corps, XLI Panzer Corps and XXIII Army Corps. Opposing the 9th Army was the Central Front, organized into three main lines of heavily fortified defences.
Model had decided not to employ his armoured force at the start of the offensive in order to prevent them from being worn out while breaking the Soviet defences and end up being unable to exploit any breakthrough. Therefore his initial strike force tasked with breaking the first line of defence consisted of mostly infantry and artillery with Luftwaffe support. The plan was that once a breakthrough was achieved, the panzer divisions would then be released for a drive straight to Kursk. Jan Möschen, a major in Model's staff, later commented that Model expected a breakthrough on the second day and that the corps commanders thought it would be extremely unlikely given Model's tactics of infantry first and then armour, and even if it did occur, the briefest delay in waiting for the panzer divisions to be brought up to exploit the breakthrough would only give the Soviets more time to react and plug the gap.
As the German preliminary bombardment on early morning of 5 July ended, by 0500 hours the 9th Army was attacking the northern face of the salient with one panzer division - the 20th Panzer Division (of XLVII Panzer Corps) - and nine infantry divisions equipped with assault guns, detachments of Ferdinands and two companies of Tigers from the Heavy Tank Battalion 505. Both companies of Tigers were attached to the 6th Infantry Division (of XLVII Panzer Corps), and would be the largest group of Tigers employed in battle of 5 July. Dug in on the path of the attack were the 70th and 13th Armies of the Central Front.
The 20th Panzer and 6th Infantry Divisions, operating in tight cooperation, spearheaded the advance of the XLVII Panzer Corps, with the remaining two panzer divisions following behind at a safe distance and poised to exploit any breakthrough. But the mine-infested terrain overlooking the carefully positioned artilleries and tanks and fortified positions of the troops of the 15th Rifle Division (of the 29th Rifle Corps) immediately slowed the attack. It was not until 0800 hours that safe lanes were cleared through the minefield. That morning information from the intelligence staff of the attacking divisions, obtained via interrogation, had identified a weakness at the boundary of the 15th and 81st Rifle Divisions caused by the German preliminary bombardment. The Tigers quickly struck towards the area. The armoured attack provoked a Soviet counterattack delivered by about 90 T-34s. In the resulting three-hour battle, the Soviets lost 42 tanks for two destroyed Tigers and five more immobilized due to damaged tracks. Although the counter-attack was defeated, resulting in the breach of the Soviet first line of defence, it succeeded in stalling the German advance for the duration of the battle and buying time for the rest of 29th Rifle Corps lodged beyond the first line to adequately prepare itself. By the time the attacking forces of the XLVII Panzer Corps had reorganized and attacked the positions beyond the first line of defence, the Soviet resistance had stiffened and had become unbreakable. The attack faltered after a bloody confrontation and at 6 to 8 miles into the Soviet defences, XLVII Panzer Corps was held for the rest of the day.
The 9th Army attacked on a 45-kilometer wide front. The Germans soon found themselves delayed in the extensive minefields the Russians had laid in prepartion for the attack. Engineering units were brought up to clear paths through the fields, but were hampered by Russian fire. A few Goliath and Borgward remote-controlled engineering vehicles were used to clear lanes in the minefields, with limited success. These vehicles lacked marking systems to show following tanks where the cleared lanes lay. Red Army units covering the minefields with small arms and artillery fire delayed the German engineer teams clearing the mines manually, and losses amongst the engineers were high. The end of the day found the 9th Army fall far short of its objectives for 5 July.
The German 653rd Heavy Panzerjäger Battalion began the attack with 49 Ferdinand (known in the West, and later renamed by Hitler, as Elefant heavy tank destroyers once up-armed with hull machine guns after the Kursk offensive) tank destroyers engaging the Red Army. 37 of them were immobilized in the minefields before 17:00 on 5 July. Once immobilized they were easier for Red Army heavy artillery to knock out permanently. However, since the Germans were advancing, any repairable vehicles could be recovered, repaired, and put back into action. Though most of these vehicles were not permanent losses, they were out of action until they could be repaired. After the first day of attack, the German units had penetrated 8 km into the Soviet lines, for the loss of 1,287 killed and missing and 5,921 wounded.
During the course of the battle, the Germans noted a flaw in the Ferdinand armoured vehicle. Although excellent against any Soviet tank at long to medium range, they lacked a secondary armament and thus were vulnerable to attacks from Soviet infantry hiding in slit trenches. Once the Ferdinands were separated from the protection of the infantry and lighter armoured vehicles they were vulnerable to attack from Soviet infantry equipped with improvised anti-weapons at very close range. Guderian noted in his diary:
Incapable of close-range fighting since they lacked sufficient ammunition (armour-piercing and high-explosive) for their guns and this defect was aggravated by the fact that they had no machine-guns. Once they had broken through into the enemy's infantry zone, they literally had to go quail-shooting with cannon. They did not manage to neutralise, let alone destroy, the enemy's rifle and machine guns, so that our own infantry was unable to follow up behind them. By the time they reached the Soviet artillery they were on their own.
On the second day, the Central Front under Rokossovsky started a counterattack against the German 9th Army, directed against the XLVI Tank Corps. The Red Army attacked with the 2nd Tank Army and the XIX Tank Corps. Soviet tanks there sustained heavy losses in their first combat with the Tiger tanks of 505th Heavy Tank Battalion. The 107th and 164th Tank Brigade lost 69 tanks and the Soviet counterattack was stopped. After the encounter with the German Tigers, Rokossovsky decided to dig in most of his remaining tanks to minimize their exposure to fire.
The next two days of the attack saw heavy fighting around the strong point of Ponyri (on the Orel–Kursk railway), which was one of the most fortified positions in the northern sector. Both sides saw this area as a vital point. The Soviets had placed 70 antitank guns per km in this region. The 86th and 292nd German Infantry Divisions attacked Ponyri and captured the town after intense house-to-house fighting on 7 July. A Soviet counterattacked forced a German withdraw, and a series of counterattacks ensued, with control of the town being exchanged many times. By the evening of 8 July the German units secured most of the town. The heavy Ferdinands were called into action to take Hill 253.5 and succeeded on 9 July. This attack developed into a battle of attrition, with heavy casualties for both sides. Keegan called Ponyri "the new Douaumont". The German frontline units were exhausted, while the Soviet brought up their reserves.
Model decided to pause to rearrange his units. On 10 July, he renewed his attack with additional air support, but his gains were small. Fresh Soviet formations repelled German attacks and only limited penetrations were achieved; the diary of the 9th Army describes the heavy fighting as a "new type of mobile attrition battle".[nb 14] Model called off the new attack.
With the cancellation of the attack came a change in German plans. Model accepted that his forces did not have enough power to advance directly through the Soviet defensive strongpoints. He decided to bypass the heights of Ol'chovatka and shift the schwerpunkt to XLVI Panzer Corps. He also decided to use the uncommitted 12th Panzer Division. For the first time in the northern sector, a heavy concentration of tanks was planned. By 12 July the German northern forces had lost only 63 tanks and assault guns.
Soviet formations, including the 3rd Tank Army and the 11th Guards Army, commenced a flanking attack by coming against the German 2nd Panzer Army, positioned to the left and rear of 9th Army. The Soviet forces established a deep penetration and threatened German supply routes to the forward 9th Army units. With a possible Soviet advance on Orel the encirclement of the 9th Army was threatened.
The end of Citadel in the north 
With the threat of being cut off, the 9th Army was compelled to withdraw. Their part in the offensive was over. Because the German armor was not concentrated and used with the same intensity as in the south, the German armor losses were comparatively light—143 vehicles were total losses between 5 and 14 July. Central Front losses were 526 tanks.[nb 15] This failed to keep up with the steady influx of new soldiers and materiel arriving for the Red Army. Few Red Army guns were captured, and those Red Army units that retreated did so on orders. The German attack failed to break through the main Soviet defence zones, and with the Soviet counter-offensive Model was compelled to withdraw.
Northern analysis 
A number of factors explain the 9th Army's lack of progress, mainly the combination of Soviet defensive planning and German lack of concentration of force. German armor was committed piecemeal rather than in strength, and often without sufficient infantry support. Soviet defensive preparation was also a major factor. The Central Front under Marshal Rokossovsky had correctly anticipated the likely areas of German attack and had fortified those areas very heavily, holding other areas more thinly. The 13th Army, which bore the brunt of the German attack, was far stronger in men and anti-tank guns than the other Central Front units and held the strongest defensive positions in the salient.
Model's army had fewer tanks than Manstein had in the south, and the German 9th Army committed major units piecemeal because Model was afraid of the Bryansk Front, which stood ready for counterattack to the north of his army. Model decided to place his most powerful corps, Gruppe Esebeck (2 Pz. Div and 10 Pz. Gren. Div), far behind the frontline to use it as "fire brigade" against a possible onslaught by the Bryansk Front. Model's decision not to use his Panzer divisions as a concentrated force can be seen as the most significant reason for the poor penetration of the northern pincer. Finally, the 9th Army led with reinforced infantry divisions that were already in the line facing the Red Army, rather than attacking with uncommitted units.
Review of attack frontages and depth of German penetration clearly shows the success of the Red Army defensive tactics. While it began with a 45-kilometer-wide (28 mi) attack front on 5 July, the next day the German 9th Army's front was reduced to 40 km. This dropped to 15 km wide by 7 July and to only 2 km on 8–9 July. Each day, the depth of the German advance slowed: 5 km on the first day, 4 on the second, never more than 2 km each succeeding day. By 10 July the 9th Army had been stopped.
Much of the Soviet defensive success is attributable to its method of fire control, known to the Germans as Pakfront. This relied upon a group of 10 or more anti-tank guns under a commander, which would fire at one target at a time. These positions were protected with heavy concentrations of mortar and machine gun nests, which were ordered to fire on German infantry only.
Operation at the southern face 
German offensive 
Von Manstein's troops in the south (Army Group South) were equipped with more armoured vehicles, infantry and artillery than Model's in the north (Army Group Center). The 4th Panzer Army and Army Detachment Kempf had 1,377 tanks and assault guns, while the 9th Army possessed 988 tanks and assault guns. The 1,377 tanks included 102 Tiger I tanks and 200 Panthers.
At 04:00 the attack began; nearly all units advanced with good speed despite encountering well-prepared defensive positions and minefields. Manstein's tanks were much more successful than their northern counterparts. The main reason for this was his better use of tanks in concentrated spearheads. In the south the Voronezh Front headquarters had not been able to pinpoint where the Germans would place their offensive weight and this forced them to spread out their defences evenly.
Three of the four armies of the Voronezh Front had about 10 antitank guns per kilometer of front, whereas in the Central Front, guns were distributed twice as heavily in the active sectors. The Voronezh Front made the decision to hold the tactical zone thinly, leaving a higher proportion of units in deeper positions than in the Central Front. The Voronezh Front was weaker than the Central Front, and it faced much stronger German forces.
Mainstein's main attack was delivered by the 4th Panzer Army, of which its right flank was covered by Army Detachment Kempf (commanded by Werner Kempf). The strike of the 4th Panzer Army (commanded by Hermann Hoth) was spearheaded by the XLVIII Panzer Corps (commanded by Otto von Knobelsdorff), which was actively supported on its right by the II SS Panzer Corps (commanded by Paul Hausser) and its left flank was covered by the LII Corps. Directly on the path of the XLVIII Panzer Corps and II SS Panzer Corps was the Soviet 6th Guards Army, which was composed of the 22nd Guards Rifle Corp and 23rd Guards Rifle Corp. The defence of the southern face of the salient by the Voronezh Front was organized into three main lines of heavily fortified defences, with the third line composed of front reserves.
Panzergrenadier Division Großdeutschland (commanded by Walter Hörnlein) was the main attacking force of the XLVIII Panzer Corps, and was supported on its flanks by the 3rd and 11th Panzer Divisions.
Panzergrenadier Division Großdeutschland was allotted 384 tanks in total, but not all were operational on the first day of the offensive. In addition to the usual Panzer IIIs and Panzer IVs, the tanks allotted to the division included a company of 15 Tigers and also 200 Panthers of Panzer Battalion 52 and Panzer Battalion 51. Panzer Battalion 52 and Panzer Battalion 51, both attached to Panzerfüsilier Regiment of Großdeutschland, had arrived at the front line on 30 June and 1 July respectively, leaving little opportunity for them to orientate themselves and conduct needed reconnaissance. And although well trained on the platoon-level of combat, the two battalions had no combat experience. The new Panther tanks proved unreliable and failed to perform to expectations, 45 out of the 200 new tanks experienced mechanical problems requiring repair. On the morning of 5 July, 8 Panthers would be lost to mechanical failures, and only 192 would reach the front line.
On the early morning of 5 July the Großdeutschland, backed by heavy artillery support and led by its tank units, advanced on a two mile front straight into the 67th Guards Rifle Division (of the 22nd Guards Rifle Corp), towards the outpost villages of Gertsovka and Butovo. That morning, Panzerfüsilier Regiment of the Großdeutschland, advancing as the left wing of the division, after initial rapid progress stalled when it plunged into a minefield and 36 Panthers were disabled. The stranded regiment was subjected to a barrage of Soviet anti-tank and artillery fire, and the little momentum it had gained earlier that morning was robbed from it. Combat engineers were moved up immediately to clear paths through the minefield but constant barrage of artillery made it very costly. Heavy casualties were sustained, including the commander of the Panzerfüsilier Regiment, Colonel Kassnitz. However, attempts by the Red Air Force to impede the advance of the XLVIII Panzer Corps were repulsed by the Luftwaffe. Therefore, although XLVIII Panzer Corps reported on morning of 5 July: "The entire corps sector is under heavy attack by Soviet Il-2 ground-attack planes and bombers," this was only relative to what it was used to facing. Ultimately, many more enemy aircraft were repelled than managed to break through the Luftwaffe defence cordon.
On the first day the Panzergrenadier Regiment of Panzergrenadier Division Großdeutschland, advancing as the right wing of the division pushed through more successfully to the village of Butovo. Leading the way were Tigers, which were employed in a classic arrow formation, with lighter Panzer IIIs, Panzer IVs and assault guns fanning out to the rear. They were followed by infantry and combat engineers. The Panzerfüsilier Regiment also resumed its advance once safe paths were made through the mine fields, and attacked towards Gertsovka. But it was bogged down just south of the village by the marshy ground surrounding Berezovyy stream. The Red Air Force made another attempt to cripple the advancing forces, leading the commander of XLVIII Panzer Corps, Otto von Knobelsdorff, to report to Manstein:
Soviet air forces repeatedly attack the large concentrations of tanks and infantry near the crossings at Berezovyy. There are heavy losses, especially among officers. Großdeutschland's Command Post received a direct hit, killing the adjutant of the grenadier regiment and two other officers.
The 3rd Panzer Division, advancing on the left flank of Panzergrenadier Division Großdeutschland, made good progress and by the end of the day (5 July) had taken Gertsovka and advanced past it to reach Mikhailovka. The 167th Infantry Division on the right flank of 11th Panzer Division also made sufficient progress, advancing to the vicinity of Tirechnoe by the end of the day (5 July). These successes meant that by the end of the first day a considerable hole had been torn in the Soviet first line of defence by the XLVIII Panzer Corps.
The three divisions of II SS Panzer Corps (commanded by Paul Hausser) - SS Panzergrenadier Division Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler (commanded by Theodor Wisch), SS Panzergrenadier Division Das Reich (commanded by Walter Krüger) and SS Panzergrenadier Division Totenkopf (commanded by Hermann Prieß) - struck against the 52nd Guards Rifle Division of the 23rd Guards Rifle Corps, which is part of the 6th Guards Army, on the morning of 5 July. All three SS divisions were strong and elite with fearsome reputations. During the night of 4–5 July, SS combat engineers had infiltrated no-man's land and cleared lanes through the Soviet minefields.
The main assault was led by a panzerkeil headed by 42 Tigers, in total 494 tanks and assault guns of the II SS Panzer Corps attacked across a seven and half mile front. Totenkopf, the strongest of the three divisions, screened the right flank of the attack with an advance towards Gremuchhi; Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler on the left flank advanced towards Bykovka and Das Reich moved in between. The advance, although it was not seriously impeded by minefields, was met with massive barrage of artillery and anti-tank fire but the corps was supremely well supported by the Luftwaffe, which greatly aided in softening up the Soviet positions. The infantry and combat engineer units followed the armoured spearhead closely, demolishing obstacles and emptying trenches.
By 0900 hours 5 July, the II SS Panzer Corps along its entire front had cracked the Soviet first line of defence. While probing positions between the first and second Soviet lines of defence, at 1300 hours Das Reich's vanguard came under fire from two T-34s, which were quickly dispatched, but soon 40 more engaged the division. It was not long before a ferocious battle between units of the 1st Guards Tank Army and Das Reich was underway. The battle lasted four hours, ending with the withdrawal of the 1st Guards Tank Army. However, the battle bought time for units of the 23rd Soviet Guards Rifle Corps lodged in the Soviet second line to prepare itself and be reinforced with more antitank guns. By early evening of 5 July, Das Reich had reached the minefields that marked the outer perimeter of the Soviet second line of defence. Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler, operating on Das Reich's left, had secured Bykovka at 1610 hours and pushed forward towards the second line of defence at Yakovlevo, but attempts to breakthrough was rebuffed. By the end of the day, Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler had sustained 97 dead, 522 wounded, 17 missing and about 30 tanks lost. Together with Das Reich, the division had forced a wedge deep into the defences of the 6th Guards Army.
Totenkopf, operating as the right flank of II SS Panzer Corps made very limited successes, and meant that the corps' developing penetration was precarious. The division managed to isolate the 155th Guards Regiment of the 52nd Guards Rifle Division (of the 23rd Guards Rifle Corp) from the rest of its parent division, but attempts to sweep the regiment eastward into the flank of the neighbouring 375th Rifle Division (of the 23rd Guards Rifle Corp) failed when the regiment was reinforced by the 96th Tank Brigade and managed to hold on. Furthermore, the northern movement of Totenkopf was stifled by a tributary of Lipovyi-Donets. Paul Hausser, commander of II SS Panzer Corps, called on III Panzer Corps (of Army Detachment Kempf) on his right flank to lend some support but his request was refused because Army Detachment Kempf was facing serious challenges of its own. By the end of 5 July, Totenkopf's attainment was far short of expectation leaving the right flank of Das Reich exposed.
Facing Army Detachment Kempf was the 7th Guards Army, dug in on the high grounds on the eastern bank of the Northern Donets. The III Panzer Corps (commanded by Hermann Breith) and Corp Raus (commanded by Erhard Raus) of Army Detachment Kempf had to cross the Northern Donets, smash through the 7th Guards Army and support the right flank of the 4th Panzer Army. Also the 503rd Heavy Tank Battalion - equipped with 45 Tigers - was attached to the III Panzer Corps, split up such that one company was attached to each of the three panzer divisions of the III Panzer Corps. Although the river was bridged during the night of 4 July by combat engineers, the crossing points were targeted by the Soviet artillery during the preemptive bombardment.
At the Milkhailovka bridgehead just south of Belgorod, 8 infantry battalions of the 6th Panzer Division (of the III Panzer Corps) were subjected to heavy bombardment from Soviet artillery as they waited to cross the bridge. Eventually most of the infantry got across to the eastern banks, but when a company of the 503rd Heavy Tank Battalion began to cross the bridge in order to support the infantry, it too was targeted by Soviet artillery and the bridge was destroyed. Although some of the tanks of the company managed to get across before the bridge was destroyed, the rest of the 6th Panzer Division had to be redeployed southward to another crossing. Clemens Graf Kageneck, commander of the 503rd Heavy Tank Battalion, described it as witnessed:
Suddenly, a red sunrise arose on the far side as hundreds of Stalin's organs hurled their rockets exactly onto the crossing site. The bridge was totally demolished and the engineers, unfortunately, suffered heavy losses. Never have I hugged the dirt so tightly as when these terrible shells sprayed their thin fragments just above the ground.
With the need for redeployment of the remnants of the 6th Panzer Division to another crossing, it became clear that the division was falling behind the agreed schedule. But the predicament was further aggravated when it was reported to Walther von Hünersdorff, commander of the 6th Panzer Division, that the designated crossing was already clogged with traffic. Failing to find another crossing, the remnants of the 6th Panzer Division remained on the western bank of the river for 5 July.
Meanwhile, the units of the 6th Panzer Division that had gotten onto the eastern bank of the river through the original crossing launched an attack led by Tigers on Stary Gorod, but it was stalled due to poorly cleared minefields and strong resistance.
To the south of the 6th Panzer Division, the 19th Panzer Division (of III Panzer Corps) successfully crossed the river but immediately ran into Soviet mines, which stalled the Tigers spearheading the advance. The division later recovered and managed to advance to a depth of about 5 miles by the end of 5 July.
To the south of the 19th Panzer Division, the infantry and light to medium tanks of 7th Panzer Division managed to make it across on the bridges but the Tigers could not due to their weight. Attempts were made to drive the Tigers across the river to relieve the infantry and lighter tanks that were already taking a tremendous pounding on the opposite bank, but that was unsuccessful due to the weight of the tanks and the massive Soviet artillery bombardment. Eventually, combat engineers constructed bridges strong enough to take the Tigers across, and once across, relieved the beleaguered infantry. Despite a poor start, the 7th Panzer Division eventually broke through the first line of the Soviet defence and pushed on between Razumnoe and Krutoi Log, advancing about 6 miles by the end of 5 July, which was the best achieved in the sector of Army Detachment Kempf for the day.
Operating to the south of 7th Panzer Division (of the III Panzer Corps), were the two infantry divisions - 106th and 320th Infantry Divisions - of the Corps Raus. They advanced across a 20 mile front, and devoid of tanks, eventually made only little progress. The advance began well with the successful crossing of the river and a swift advance against the 72nd Guards Rifle Division. The Soviet defenders were taken by surprise with the speed of the advance. Erhard Raus, commander of Corps Raus, later wrote:
The advancing infantry surprised them and had no difficulty ferreting them out. But when the infantry reached the two to three mile deep zone of the battle positions prepared in the preceding months, they had to make extensive use of hand grenades in order to mop up maze of densely dug-in trenches and bunkers, some of which were a dozen or more feet deep. At the same time, artillery and flak fired counter-battery missions against the enemy heavy weapons that had resumed fire from rear positions. They also fired on reserves infiltrating through the trench system, as well as against Russian medium artillery.
After a fierce battle involving some hand-to-hand fighting, Corps Raus took the village of Maslovo Pristani, punching a hole in the first Soviet line of defence. However, the lodgement was nearly lost when a Soviet counterattack supported by about 40 tanks clattered into the corps. The counterattack was eventually rebuffed with the assistance of artillery and flak batteries; however, having suffered about 2000 casualties since the start of the offensive that morning and still facing considerable resistance, the corps could penetrate no further and therefore dug in for the night of 5 July.
By the end of 5 July, Army Group South's attack against the Voronezh Front had failed to dislocate the Soviet defenders. Although some of the divisions of the 4th Panzer Army had blown huge holes in the Soviet first line of defence, they still remained short of cracking the second line of defence, and even so, displayed vulnerable flanks; and many other attacking units of Army Group South had barely breached the first line of defence. Along the entire southern face of the salient, the German thrust had been slowed, allowing the Soviets time to prepare their second line of defence to meet the German onslaught on 6 July. The 7th Guards Army, which had soaked up the attack of III Panzer Corps and Corps Raus, was reinforced with two rifle divisions from the reserve, and the 15th Guards Rifle Division was moved up to the second line of defence right in the path of III Panzer Corps. The 6th Guards Army, which had soaked up the attack of the XLVIII Panzer Corps and II SS Panzer Corps, was reinforced with about 1000 tanks from the independent 2nd Guards and 5th Guards Tank Corps and the 1st Tank Army. The 51st and 90th Guards Rifle Division were moved up to the vicinity of Pokrovka (not to be confused with Prokhorovka 25 miles to its northeast) right in the path of Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler. And right behind them, the 93rd Guards Rifle Division was spread out on the road leading to Prokhorovka from Pokrovka.
The steady progress of the German units forced the Soviet leaders to commit some of their strategic reserves, as nearly all operational reserves were in action. The Steppe Front had been formed in the months leading up to the operation as a central reserve. As early as 6 July, Stavka decided to send the 2nd and 10th Tank Corps and the 5th Guards Tank Army to the southern sector; a day later, other formations got their marching orders. Vatutin planned an operational counterstrike against the German units, but decided to cancel it after the failure of the northern counterattack. Instead of seeking open battle against the German tanks, Vatutin let his tanks dig in, as Rokossovsky did in the north. Zhukov protested against this use of the tanks, but Vatutin's decision stood.
German officers reported that they were slowed down by the "silent tanks" (Schweigepanzer) - tanks dug into fortified emplacements - because it cost much time to overcome these camouflaged "bases". Despite the order to dig in many of their tanks, the Soviet units still had enough tanks to launch some counterattacks. On 7 July a German Tiger I commanded by SS Unterscharführer Franz Staudegger met a group of about 50 T-34s. In the ensuing battle, Staudegger knocked out 22 T-34s; he was the first Tiger commander to be awarded the first Knight's Cross.
The Germans' advance was slowed. On 9 July the first German units reached the Psel River. The next day the first infantry units crossed the Psel. By 10 July German units in the south had lost 166 tanks. Despite the deep defensive system and minefields, German tank losses were remarkably low. 11 July was a successful day for German units; Army Detachment Kempf achieved a breakthrough, and its 3rd Panzer Corps (6th, 7th and 19th Panzer Divisions) penetrated deep into Soviet lines. The next night the 6th Panzer Division took a bridge over the Donets with a swift surprise attack. The 3rd Panzer Corps then advanced to Prokhorovka from the south and the 2nd SS Panzer Corps from the west, almost trapping the Soviet 69th Army. At this moment Manstein thought the final breakthrough was achieved, and now free of the minefields, could operate freely and destroy the Soviet armored reserves in the open. The Soviets, indeed, began moving their tank reserves toward the spearheads of Army Group South.
The Red Army did enough, at great cost, to stop a German breakthrough. In that sense Prokhorovka remains a crucial turning point of the battle and of the Eastern Front.
On the morning of 12 July, Hoth, determined to push for a breakthrough, collected reserves of the 4th Panzer Army and advanced on Prokhorovka. At the same time the 5th Guards Tank Army launched a series of attacks as part of a multi-front counteroffensive in an attempt to catch the Germans off balance. The SS and Guards units collided west of Prokhorovka in country punctuated by farms, rolling hills and gullies.
In stifling heat, an eight-hour battle began. The German units had 494 tanks and self-propelled artillery pieces in the attack, 90% of them operational. The German force found itself heavily outnumbered by the 5th Guards Tank Army, who, moving mainly at night, had brought 593 tanks and 37 self-propelled artillery pieces into position at Stary Oskol. They had not yet been committed to battle, so they were fresh.
The Soviet 31st Guards Tank Corps and the 33rd Guards Rifle Corps fought the 3rd SS Division Totenkopf to a standstill by getting in close to the German armor and attacking the vulnerable sides of the Tigers. The 2nd SS Panzer Corps was soon forced onto the defensive. Although the German formation held, it lost half its armor in a prolonged engagement. By the night of 11–12 July, the only success the Germans had to show for their losses was a captured bridgehead over the Donets river at Rzavets. The 1st SS Division Leibstandarte had been stopped by the Soviet 18th Tank Corps, while the 3rd Panzer Corps and 2nd SS Panzer Division were checked by the 2nd Guards Tank Corps and two other Soviet reserve corps.
The air battle was also intense. Von Manstein had intended it to be the decisive blow against the Red Army forces to prevent a breakthrough to Oboyan and Kursk. Sturmoviks from 291 ShAD attacked the 2nd SS Panzer Division throughout the day, causing significant damage to German armored formations. Simultaneously, waves of Hs 129s and Ju 87s inflicted losses on the 69th Army and 5th Guards Army. Although Soviet tank losses are unknown, a report from the 29th Tank Corps reported "heavy losses in tanks through enemy aircraft and artillery". Losses were so heavy that the advance had to be halted and a switch to the defensive ordered.
The Luftwaffe had complete air superiority over Prokhorovka, due to the VVS being concentrated over the flanks of the 4th Panzer Army.
The battle can best be described as a costly tactical loss but an operational draw for the Red Army. Neither the 5th Guards Tank Army nor the 2nd SS Panzer Corps accomplished their missions that day. After the battle was over, the Soviets held the area and were able to recover their disabled tanks and wounded crews.
Tank losses in the battle have been a contentious subject. Red Army losses have been given from 200 to 822 tanks, but the records show about 300 complete losses and as many damaged. German losses have been reported to be as low as 80 and as high as several hundred. The Soviets claim the Germans lost 400 tanks in this battle and 3,500 soldiers killed, but newer research suggest only about 500 lost men and much lower tank losses, with only a few tanks completely destroyed and about 40–80 damaged.
The end of Citadel in the south 
While the German offensive had been stopped in the north by 10 July, in the south the overall situation still hung in the balance, even after 12 July. German forces on the southern wing, exhausted and heavily depleted, had breached the first two defensive belts and believed that they were about to break through the last belt. In fact at least five more defensive zones awaited them, although they were not as strong as the initial belts, and some of them did not have troops deployed. Red Army defenders had been weakened, and major parts of their reserve forces had been committed. Still, the available uncommitted Red Army reserves were far larger than the few available German reserves.
On 16 July, German forces withdrew to their start line. Severely depleted, the Germans then had to face Operation Polkovodets Rumyantsev, a Soviet offensive to smash the German forces in the Belgorod–Kharkov area which was launched on 3 August. Belgorod fell on 5 August, and on 23 August, Kharkov fell, despite fierce resistance from German forces. With the capture of Kharkov, the Soviets considered the Battle of Kursk over.
Southern analysis 
The German forces made steady progress, but, as in the north, attack frontage width and penetration depth dropped as the attack proceeded. The trend was not as marked as in the north, however. A 30-kilometer-wide (19 mi) attack frontage on 5 July became 20 km wide by 7 July and 15 km by 9 July. Likewise, the depth of penetration dropped from 9 km on 5 July to 5 km on 8 July and 2–3 km each day thereafter until the attack was cancelled.
Red Army minefields and artillery were successful in delaying the German attack and inflicting losses. The ability of dug-in Red Army units to delay the Germans allowed their own reserves to be brought up into threatened sectors. Over 90,000 additional mines were laid during the operations by small mobile groups of engineers, generally working at night immediately in front of the expected German attack areas. There were no large-scale captures of prisoners nor any great loss of artillery, indicating that Soviet units were giving ground in good order.
German losses can be seen in the example of the Großdeutschland Division, which began the operation with 118 tanks. On 10 July, after five days of fighting, the division reported it had 3 Tigers, 6 Panthers, and 11 Pzkw-III and Pzkw-IV tanks operational. XLVIII Panzer Corps reported, overall, 38 Panthers operational with 131 awaiting repair, out of the 200 it started with on 5 July.
Termination of Operation Citadel 
On the night of 9–10 July, the Western Allies mounted an amphibious invasion of Sicily. Three days later, Hitler summoned Günther von Kluge and Erich von Manstein to his Wolfsschanze headquarters in East Prussia and declared his intention to "temporarily" call off Operation Citadel. Von Manstein attempted to dissuade him, arguing that Citadel was on the brink of victory: "on no account should we let go of the enemy until the mobile reserves which he had committed were decisively beaten". In an unusual reversal of their roles, Hitler gave von Manstein a few more days to continue the offensive, but on 16 July, he ordered a withdrawal and canceled the operation. The following day, on 17 July, OKH ordered the entire SS Panzer Corps to be withdrawn and transferred to Italy.
Hitler's decision to call off the operation at the height of the tactical battle has since been strongly criticized by German generals in their memoirs, and by some historians. For example, it has been pointed out that the SS Panzer Corps would have taken three months to be transferred to Sicily, and thus could not possibly have affected the outcome there, while its contribution to the Kursk operation was vital.
Only one German division, the 1st SS Panzer Division Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler, departed for Italy, without their equipment. The remainder stayed to face the Red Army counteroffensive launched in the wake of the failed German offensive.
Reasons for the failure of Citadel 
Historian Karl-Heinz Frieser points out these reasons for the failure of Operation Citadel:
- The Soviets had numerical superiority. Frieser points out that the biggest problem of the OKW was the shortage of infantry. The OKH had no operational reserve, while the Red Army could field an entire front (Steppe Front) as reserve. That the Red Army had more tanks than the Wehrmacht had less influence on the outcome, according to Frieser.
- Repeated delays by Hitler gave the Red Army enough time to fortify the bulge around Kursk to an enormous fortress. High officers like Manstein and Zeitzler pushed for a fast attack to catch the Red Army unprepared and low on morale after the third battle of Kharkov. The overlap with the Allied invasion of Sicily made Hitler's date for the attack the "most adverse possible".
- The German defeat at Kursk did not come about by the "often-exaggerated numerical superiority" of the Soviet armed forces. The principal factor at Kursk was the revolution in Soviet command, staff, operational and tactical techniques. The General Staff had learned lessons from previous battles and disseminated "war experience" based on "exhaustive" analysis of battles, operations and campaigns. These lessons were added to Soviet doctrine (Soviet deep battle), producing new procedures. Glantz and House have asserted the tank strength was even, between 1:1 and 1.5:1 in the Soviets' favour.
- The Soviets introduced new operational and tactical techniques, and had solved many of the problems of integrating arms and services into "a true combined arms operation". He emphasizes "sophisticated understanding of intelligence, deception, and anti-tank defence". Similar improvements were made in the combined use of artillery, tanks, engineers, and infantry to break German defences on a narrow front. At Prokhorovka, and in the Kutuzov operations, the Red Army gained experience with mobile armored formations and mechanized corps that became the hallmark of Soviet deep operations. These formations demonstrated their ability to match the best efforts of the German Panzer force. Operations still needed to be perfected to reduce huge casualties. Nevertheless, the German command recognized that at Kursk they faced an entirely new and more competent Red Army.
- Defensive tactics had improved. Skillful use of anti-tank artillery in strong points and the use of separate tank brigades, tank regiments and self-propelled gun units to support them offered mobile defence support. These units participated in wearing down tactical attacks against enemy spearheads. The transitional year of 1943 was decisive for the Soviet war effort. Operational and tactical techniques tested and smoothed out in 1943 would be refined further and perfected in 1944 and 1945. "The elementary education the Red Army received in 1941–42 gave way to the secondary education of 1943. In 1944 and 1945 the Soviets would accomplish university-level and graduate study in the conduct of war"
Military expert Steven Zaloga offers these insights about the Red Army at Kursk:
- The popular perception of Soviet victory "by numbers" was a myth created by German generals in their memoirs written in the 1950s. He rejects the caricature of the Red Army relying on mass rather than tactical skill, but accepts that at the tactical end (the platoon and company level), the Red Army was not particularly impressive and received significantly poorer training. Zaloga points out that there were still many tactical lessons to be learned; however, by 1943 the gap between Soviet and German tanker training had "narrowed greatly", and the Soviets were soon at a comparable level with the Germans.
- The Soviets, in terms of operational art, were adept at using mobile tank formations. Zaloga asserts that Soviet operational methods were superior, allowing Soviet field commanders to bluff, baffle and overwhelm their opponents.
Historian Richard Overy makes the following interpretations:
- The quality of the two air forces were even. The Soviets had introduced air-to-ground communications, radar, a proper maintenance system, and depots for forward fuel reserves. This allowed aircraft to fly twenty missions in the heat of the battle (while the Luftwaffe suffered shortages).
- The Soviet tanks were not inferior in quality. Although the T-34 model (with its 76 mm main gun) was out-ranged by German Tiger I and Panther tanks, it was faster and more maneuverable than the Tiger, and the latter had too many mechanical difficulties at the Battle of Prokhorovka. To counter the Tiger tank, the Soviets used their tanks in a "hand-to-hand" combat role. Crews were ordered to close the range so that it would not become an issue. According to Glantz and House, the Soviet tanks pressed home their initial attacks despite significant German advantages: the range of the German tanks' 88 mm gun, German air superiority, and attacking a well-dug-in enemy while covering flat rolling terrain. Even so, the loss ratio was less than 2:1, 320 German and 400 Soviet AFVs.
- Information decrypted by Ultra was given to the Soviets, which helped them prepare for the offensive. The Soviets had a spy at Bletchley Park (John Cairncross), who was giving them decrypts of German Military communications. Hinsley said that some speculate that without Ultra, Germany would have won at Kursk, and "Hitler could have carved up Russia". Ultra decrypts were also given to the Soviets concerning German plans for Stalingrad.
Soviet counteroffensives 
In the north: Operation Kutuzov 
Operation Kutuzov was launched on 12 July against the southern wing of Army Group Centre. The counterattack was launched before the Germans had stopped their attack, so Operation Kutuzov had a bigger effect on the outcome of Citadel when compared to the southern counterattack, which was launched after the cancellation of Citadel.
The Bryansk Front (commanded by Markian Popov) and parts of the Western Front (commanded by Vasily Sokolovsky) attacked the largely undefended German north flank of the 2nd Panzer Army on 12 July. The 2nd Panzer Army was diminished, as many tanks were transferred to other armies before Citadel. On 12 July the attacking forces numbered 487,111 combat troops supported by 1,401 tanks and 15,109 guns. Three days later the second phase of Operation Kutuzov started with the attack of the German 9th Army by several Soviet armies. The combined troops deployed for Kutuzov now numbered 1,286,049 men supported by 2,409 tanks and 26,379 guns.
The operations of the Bryansk Front marked the beginning of the Soviet summer offensive. The artillery barrage was heavy and the first German lines were overrun. German defensive lines were deeper than expected, and many Soviet spearheads were slowed and sustained heavy casualties, but in some areas the Soviet units achieved deep penetrations. The Germans lacked reserves to block these penetrations, so the situation became very dangerous for the 2nd Panzer Army. On 13 July, Army Group Centre gave command of the 2nd Panzer Army to Model, who already commanded the German 9th Army. Model now was in control of all German units in the Orel area.
The situation for the Germans became worse as Soviet breakthroughs threatened the entire 9th Army. Model sent nearly all of his Panzer units to aid the 2nd Panzer Army, whose northern front was about to collapse, while the 4th Army in the north sent the 253rd Infantry Division. German units achieved a temporary stabilization of the front, but meanwhile the 9th Army started to withdraw from the captured ground. Initially, the Soviet Central Front followed hesitantly, but then started attacking in earnest with heavy air support. On 18 July the 9th Army was at the same position as on 5 July, before the start of Citadel.
Soviet tank formations failed to achieve an operational breakthrough despite their numerical superiority. Red Army tank armies repeated their attacks against the same positions with the same methods and suffered heavy casualties in men and tanks. For example, the 4th Tank Army lost 84% of their T-34s and 46% of their light tanks within a few days. After two weeks of fighting the 3rd Guards Tank Army had lost half of their 800 tanks. The German armies conducted a fighting withdrawal to Hagen-Stellung.
Organized by the Red Army, approximately 100,000 partisans supported the Soviet operations. German movements were hampered by partisans disrupting German supply routes, especially railway lines. On 3 August partisans launched a large operation against the German rear, the so-called "Railway-war".
By shortening their line the Wehrmacht freed 19 divisions, which could be used elsewhere or held as reserves. Nevertheless, the Soviets achieved a complete breakthrough. The Soviets massed a concentration of artillery and tanks on small narrow fronts and used sophisticated artillery techniques to defeat German fortified positions despite tenacious German defences. Operation Kutuzov "was a perfect example of the newly sophisticated Soviet way of war". On 5 August the 3rd Guards Tank Army entered Orel and by 18 August, the Bryansk Front had reached the city Bryansk, "completely eliminating the German salient in the region".
The battle was the bloodiest of the three major operations during the Battle of Kursk. The German overall losses were 86,064 men; the Red Army lost 112,529 men and 317,361 were wounded. The losses for the Red Army were particularly high for tanks and assault guns: 2,586 of them were written off during Kutuzov. German tank losses are not available for this battle, but Heeresgruppe Mitte (Army Group Center) lost 343 during both Citadel and Kutuzov.
Some of the Soviet commanders were displeased, complaining that an even greater victory might have been won. Marshal Rokossovsky said, "Instead of encircling the enemy, we only pushed them out of the bulge... The operation would have been different if we had used our force for two heavy punches which met at Bryansk". Zhukov held a similar opinion. Stalin instead thought encirclement tactics could wait: "It is our task to push them from our territory. We can trap them when they are weaker".
In the south: Operation Polkovodets Rumyantsev 
To the south the Red Army needed time to regroup after the losses sustained in July, and could not launch another offensive until 3 August, when Operation Polkovodets Rumyantsev commenced. Stavka planned Operation Rumyantsev as the major thrust of their summer offensive. The aim was to destroy Manstein's 4th Panzer Army and Army Group Kempf and later the southern wing of Heeresgruppe Süd (Army Group South). The German 1st Tank Army and newly formed 6th Army were to be trapped by an advance to the Black Sea.[full citation needed] The Soviet Southern Front and the Southwestern Front attacked as early as 17 July.
The Voronezh Front and the Steppe Front deployed about 1,144,000 men supported by 2,418 tanks and 13,633 guns and rocket launchers for the attack. At the start of "Rumyantsev" the Germans fielded only 237 tanks and assault guns. Manstein believed that the Soviets were incapable of launching an offensive in the southern sector, and dispatched his reserves (II SS Panzer Corps, XXIV Corps and XLVIII Panzer Corps) southward to deal with Soviet offensives aimed at the Dnieper and Mius Rivers. The Soviet operations in those regions were actually carefully planned diversion operations. The Soviet plan worked; German reserves were removed from the critical Kharkov axis (conforming to Maskirovka: military deception). The tactical operations across the Mius were unsuccessful, but achieved their primary aim of diverting German forces further away from Kharkov, although by Soviet accounts, the Stavka had wished for more.
For the Kharkov offensive the Red Army focused enormous firepower on a 30 km front. The 5th and 6th Guards Armies, two elements that had borne the brunt of the German offensive, and the Soviet 53rd Army took part. The artillery concentration was necessary to puncture the first five German defensive lines between Kursk and Kharkov. The 1st Tank Army and 5th Guards Army, supported by two additional mobile corps, would act as a mobile operational unit to encircle Kharkov from the north and west. To the west, four separate tank corps would support, and the 27th and 40th Armies would make supporting attacks. To the east and south-east, the 69th and 7th Guards Armies, followed by the 57th Army of the Southwestern Front, would also support the attack.
On 3 August the initial attack demonstrated the growing sophistication of Soviet tactical art. Heavy and long-range artillery bombarded German positions, supported by anti-tank shock groups, ready to repel counterattacks. The German defense was tenacious, and two tank armies had to enter the battle to secure a penetration. By 5 August the Soviets had broken deep into the German rear and captured Belgorod, advancing some 60 km into German lines. Each combined-arms army pressed the German defenses from the north and east.
German reserves were rushed from the Orel sector and north from the Donbas regions (where Soviet maskirovka operations had diverted them) and tried to break up Soviet attacks. The only success was achieved by the Grossdeutschland Panzergrenadier Division, which succeeded in delaying the 40th Army from 6 to 7 August. Four infantry divisions and seven Panzer and motorized divisions were assembled under the III Panzer Corps. Manstein tried to repeat the success of the Third Battle of Kharkov, where the Soviets had been over-extended and defeated. This time the Soviets were alert to the danger, and it was the German forces that were worn down. On 12 August, units of the newly arrived 2nd SS Panzergrenadier Division Das Reich and 3rd SS Panzergrenadier Division Totenkopf started a counterattack against two Soviet Armies near Bogodukhov, 30 km northwest of Kharkov. The Waffen-SS units trapped and annihilated many Soviet units during the following maneuver battles. To assist the 6th Guards Army and the 1st Tank Army, the 5th Guards Tank Army joined the battles. All three Soviet armies suffered heavily, and the tank armies lost more than 800 of their initial 1,112 tanks.
After the counterattack of the two German divisions, the Soviet tank armies were no longer capable of offensive actions. The Soviet advance around Bogodukhov was stopped, so the German units now tried to close the gap between Achtryrka and Krasnokutsk. The counterattack started on 18 August, and on 20 August Totenkopf and Großdeutschland met behind the Soviet units. Parts of two Soviet armies and two tank corps were trapped, but the trapped units heavily outnumbered the German units. Many Soviet units were able to break out, while suffering heavy casualties. After this setback the Soviet troops focused on Kharkov and captured it after heavy fighting on 23 August. The battle is usually referred to as the Fourth Battle of Kharkov by the Germans and the Belgorod–Kharkov offensive operation by the Soviets.
Soviet casualties in the Belgorod–Kharkov sector during this operation were 71,611 killed and 183,955 wounded; 1,864 tanks and 423 artillery guns were lost.
German losses were 10,000 killed and 20,000 wounded. German tank losses are estimated at least 8 times lower than Soviet tank losses of 1,864.
The campaign was a decisive Soviet success. For the first time, a major German offensive had been stopped before achieving a breakthrough. The Germans, despite using more technologically advanced armor than in previous years, were unable to break through the in-depth Soviet defenses, and were surprised by the significant operational reserves of the Red Army. This was an outcome that few had predicted, and it changed the pattern of operations on the Eastern Front. The victory had not been cheap; the Red Army, although preventing the Germans from achieving their goals, lost considerably more men and materiel than the Wehrmacht.
With the failure of Zitadelle we have suffered a decisive defeat. The armoured formations, reformed and re-equipped with so much effort, had lost heavily in both men and equipment and would now be unemployable for a long time to come. It was problematical whether they could be rehabilitated in time to defend the Eastern Front... Needless to say the Russians exploited their victory to the full. There were to be no more periods of quiet on the Eastern Front. From now on, the enemy was in undisputed possession of the initiative. — Heinz Guderian
From this point on, a new pattern emerged. The initiative had firmly passed to the Red Army, while the Germans spent the rest of the war reacting rather than attacking. A new front had opened in Italy, diverting some of Germany's resources and attention. Both sides had their losses, but only the Soviets had the manpower and the industrial production to recover fully. The Germans never regained the initiative after Kursk and never again launched a major offensive in the East.
The loss convinced Hitler of the incompetence of his General Staff. His interference in military matters progressively increased, so that by the end of the war he was involved in tactical decisions. The German Army went from loss to loss as Hitler attempted personally to micromanage the day-to-day operations of what soon became a three-front war. The opposite was true for Stalin. After seeing Stavka's planning justified on the battlefield, he trusted his advisors more, and stepped back from operational planning, only rarely overruling military decisions. The Red Army gained more freedom and became more and more fluid as the war continued.
According to German historian Karl-Heinz Frieser, who interpreted German archives, the Wehrmacht suffered 54,182 casualties in total during Citadel (5–16 July). Of these 9,036 personnel were killed in action, another 1,960 were reported missing in action, and 43,159 wounded in action. The German 9th Army (under the command of Army Group Centre) suffered 23,345 casualties while Army Group South suffered 30,837 casualties.
For Polkovodets Rumyantsev, Frieser states between 3 and 23 August, the Wehrmacht and Waffen-SS units suffered 25,068 casualties, including 8,933 killed and missing. For Rumyantsev he estimated ~30,000 men lost with 10,000 killed and missing. For Operation Kutuzov Frieser gives 86,064 casualties with 14,215 killed, 11,300 missing and 60,549 wounded. Total casualties for the Battle of Kursk were ~170,000 men.
According to Frieser, the Wehrmacht lost 252 tanks and assault guns during Operation Zitadelle (until 16 July). Army Group South admitted losses of 161 tanks and 14 assault guns by 16 July. The 9th Army reported the loss of 41 tanks and 17 assault guns up to and including 14 July. Among these were 10 Tiger and 42 Panther tanks, as well as 19 Ferdinand heavy tank destroyers. Other losses included 109 Panzer IVs, 38 Panzer IIIs, three flame tanks and 31 assault guns.
The number of lost tanks for Citadel and the Soviet counter offensives is hard to establish. Frieser gives the number of 1,331 tanks destroyed for the entire Eastern Front for July and August. Frieser estimates the number of tanks destroyed during the Battle of Kursk as 760. Frieser explains that many of these tanks were beyond repair and abandoned.
Glantz estimates that 1,612 tanks and assault guns were knocked out and/or damaged, of which 323 were destroyed. Tank losses from counterattacks are uncertain, according to Glantz.
Aircraft losses, according to Frieser, totaled 524 planes. For Citadel (5–16 July) 159 were lost, while 218 were destroyed during Kutuzov and a further 147 during Polkovodets Rumyantsev.
According to Christer Bergström, the Generalquartiermeister der Luftwaffe reported 97 aircraft lost between 5 and 8 July (Fliegerkorps VIII–58 and Luftflotte 6–39). For the period 5–31 July, Generalquartiermeister der Luftwaffe gives figures of 681 lost from the two air fleets (335 for Fliegerkorps VIII and 346 for Luftflotte 6). Of this total 420 were written off; 192 from Fliegerkorps VIII and 229 from Luftflotte 6.
According to Soviet claims the Red Army smashed thirty German divisions, inflicting the following casualties between 5 July and 23 August 1943: 500,000 dead, wounded, and captured soldiers; 1,500 tanks and 3,700 planes destroyed.
David Glantz quotes Grigoriy Krivosheyev as the most reliable source. According to Glantz' interpretation of Krivosheyev's work, which interpreted Soviet archives, Soviet losses at Kursk during Citadel (known to the Soviets as the Kursk Strategic Defensive Operation, 5–16 July) amounted to 177,877 casualties. The Central Front suffered 15,336 irrecoverable casualties and 18,561 sick or wounded, for a total of 33,897 casualties. The Voronezh Front suffered 27,542 irrecoverable casualties and 46,350 sick or wounded, for a total of 73,892 casualties. The Steppe Front suffered 27,452 irrecoverable casualties with 42,606 sick or wounded, for a total of 70,085 casualties.
Glantz estimates Soviet losses during Operation Kutuzov (12 July –18 August) at 112,529 irrecoverable casualties and 317,361 wounded, for a total of 429,890 casualties; the Western Front as losing 25,585 irrecoverable casualties and 76,856 wounded and sick; the Bryansk Front suffered 39,173 irrecoverable casualties and 123,234 wounded and sick. The Central Front lost 47,771 irrecoverable casualties and 117,271 wounded and sick. Total casualties for the "Battle of Kursk" were 863,303 men.
The Soviet losses during Operation Polkovodets Rumyantsev (3–23 August), according to Glantz and official Soviet sources, were 255,566 casualties, including 71,611 irrecoverable casualties and 183,955 wounded. The Voronezh Front lost 48,339 irrecoverable casualties and 108,954 wounded, for a total of 157,293 casualties. The Steppe Front lost 23,272 irrecoverable casualties and 75,001 wounded, for a total of 98,273 casualties.
Soviet materiel losses for Citadel (5–16 July) amounted to 2,586 tanks and self-propelled guns out of 3,925 committed to combat (well over 50 percent). Roughly, this was seven times the number of German losses. Total materiel losses for Kutuzov totalled 2,349 tanks and self-propelled guns out of an initial strength of 2,308, well over 100 percent. The materiel losses in the Polkovodets Rumyantsev operation were also heavy. Glantz quotes Krivosheyev's numbers of 1,864 tanks and self-propelled guns out of 2,439 engaged, well over 50 percent. The loss ratio was roughly 5:1 in favor of the Germans.
Frieser also supports Krivosheyev's casualty figures for men and armor.
According to Christer Bergström, Red Air Force losses amounted to 677 on the northern flank and 439 on the southern flank of the bulge during Citadel. In the north, 5–11 July, Soviet losses amounted to 430 destroyed aircraft. The 2nd Air Army suffered 433 casualties in total in the north during July 1943. Total losses for the 17th Air Army were 244 during the same period. Other unit casualties are uncertain. Bergström's research indicates total Soviet air losses were 1,104 between 12 July and 18 August, covering Operations Citadel and Kutuzov.
- With the final destruction of German forces at Kharkov, the Battle of Kursk came to an end. Having won the strategic initiative, the Red Army advanced along a 2,000 kilometers (1,200 mi) front.
- After Kursk, Germany could not even pretend to hold the strategic initiative in the East.
- figures from German archives. Bundesarchiv-Militararchiv, Freiburg; Luftfahrtmuseum, Hannover-Laatzen; WASt Deutsche Dienststelle, Berlin.
- The breakdown as shown in Bergström (2007, pp. 127–128) is as follows: 1,030 aircraft of 2nd Air Army and 611 of 17th Air Army on the southern sector (Voronezh Front), and 1,151 on the northern sector (Central Front). Figures are from Russian archives; Russian aviation trust; Russian Central Military Archive TsAMO, Podolsk; Russian State Military Archive RGVA, Moscow; Monino Air Force Museum, Moscow
- The breakdown as shown in Zetterling & Frankson (2000, p. 20) is as follows: 1,050 aircraft of 16th Air Army (Central Front), 881 of 2nd Air Army (Voronezh Front), 735 of 17th Air Army (only as a secondary support for Voronezh Front), 563 of the 5th Air Army (Steppe Front) and 320 of Long Range Bomber Command
- Operation Citadel refers to the German offensive from 4 to 16 July, but Soviet losses are for the period of 5–23 July
- The breakdown as shown in Frieser (2007, p. 154) is as follows: 9,063 KIA, 43,159 WIA and 1,960 MIA
- The whole Battle of Kursk refers to the period of the German offensive (Operation Citadel) and the subsequent Soviet counteroffensives, from 4 July to 23 August.
- The breakdown as shown in Krivosheev (1997, pp. 188–190) is as follows: Kursk-defence: 177,847; Orel-counter: 429,890; Belgorod-counter: 255,566
- The breakdown as shown in Krivosheev (1997, p. 370) is as follows: Kursk-defence; 1,614. Orel-counter; 2,568. Belgorod-counter; 1,864.
- Source: German Nation Archive microfilm publication T78, Records of the German High Command (Oberkommando der Wehrmacht) Roll 343, Frames 6301178–180 confirms Hitler's teleprinter messages to Rommel about reinforcing southern Italy with armored forces destined to be used for Zitadelle.
- The air operation is misunderstood in most accounts. The German Freya radar stations established in Belgorod and Kharkov in 1943 had only picked up Soviet formations approaching from Belgorod and were not responsible for the failure of the strike.
- This order of battle does not show the complete composition of the Steppe Front. In addition to the units listed below, there are also the 4th Guards, 27th, 47th and 53rd Armies. Perhaps the order of battle below represents only the formations relevant to Operation Citadel
- KTB AOK9 9 July ( Daily war diary of the 9th Army)
- 651 knocked out tanks, 526 write offs, primary source: CAMO (Ministry of Defence of Russia)
- Taylor & Kulish 1974, p. 171.
- Glantz & House 1995, p. 175.
- Glantz & House 2004, p. 338.
- Glantz & House 1995, p. 165.
- Bergström 2007, pp. 123–125.
- Glantz & House 2004, p. 337.
- Bergström 2007, p. 127–128.
- Bergström 2007, p. 21.
- Zetterling & Frankson 2000, p. 20.
- Frieser 2007, p. 154.
- Glantz & House 2004, p. 276.
- Clark 2012, p. 408.
- Frieser 2007. A rough estimation by Frieser since no numbers are available
- Zetterling & Frankson 2000, p. 116, 117. For all participating German armies in the Kursk area, there were 203,000 casualties for July and August
- Frieser 2007, p. 201. Exact numbers are unknown; the entire German eastern front lost 1,331 tanks and assault guns for July and August, so the number of 760 is an estimate.
- Bergström 2008, p. 120. Figures for 5–31 July, as given by the Generalquartiermeister der Luftwaffe.
- Krivosheev 2001, Kursk.
- Krivosheev 2001, Kursk equipment
- Frieser 2007, p. 150.
- Krivosheev 1997, p. 188-190.
- Krivosheev 1997, p. 370.
- Dunn 1997, p. 94-Google Books preview
- Kasdorf 2000, p. 16.
- Glant 1989, p. 149–159.
- Keegan 2006, p. [page needed].
- Glantz 1986, p. 66: "When the week of combat around Kursk had ended, the perceived infallibility of Blitzkrieg was destroyed, along with the hopes of the German Army for victory or even stalemate in the east... Kursk announced to the world that for every offensive theory there is a suitable defensive one available to those who devote enough thought to develop it."
- Glantz & House 1995, p. 167.
- Clark 2012, p. 165.
- Clark 2012, p. 168.
- Kasdorf 2000, p. 7.
- Clark 2012, p. 167.
- Clark 2012, p. 176.
- Kasdorf 2000, p. 8.
- Dunn 1997, p. 61.
- Clark 2012, p. 177.
- Clark 2012, p. 178.
- Kasdorf 2000, p. 10.
- Manstein 1983, pp. 480–482.
- Clark 2012, p. 186.
- Clark 2012, p. 187.
- Clark 2012, p. 192.
- Clark 2012, p. 223.
- Taylor & Kulish 1974, p. 170.
- Mulligan 1987, p. 329.
- Clark 1966, p. 275.
- Clark 1966, p. 325.
- Clark 2012, p. 193.
- Clark 1966, p. 327.
- Clark 2012, p. 208.
- Clark 2012, p. 194.
- Clark 2012, p. 194,196.
- Clark 2012, p. 477.
- Clark 2012, p. 188, 190-191.
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- Glantz & Orenstein 1999, p. 28, Google Books preview.
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- Glantz 1986, p. 24.
- Glantz 1986, p. 25.
- Clark 2012, p. 202.
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- Clark 2012, p. 203.
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- Glantz 1986, p. 19.
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- Clark 2012, p. 268.
- Nikolai Litvin, 800 Days on the Eastern Front: A Russian Soldier Remembers World War II, 2007, page 12-13
- Bergström 2007, pp. 79–81; 102; 106; 114; 118.
- Bergström 2007, pp. 26–27.
- Clark 2012, p. 475-477, :The 2nd Panzer Army and 2nd Army are not included in the order of battle in the source. The 2nd Panzer Army did not take part in Operation Citadel but played a significant role in Operation Kutuzov, and the 2nd Army which was tasked with pushing the western face of the salient once the encirclement was completed never got do so since the northern and southern pincers failed to meet at Kursk.
- Clark 2012, p. 475-477.
- Clark 2012, p. 478-484.
- Frieser 2007, p. 100.
- Frieser 2007, p. 91.
- Glantz & House 2004, p. 346.
- Glantz & House 2004, p. 345.
- Glantz 1990, p. 82–113.
- Bergström 2007, p. 124–125.
- Töppel 2002, p. 33-34.
- Mulligan 1987, p. 236, 254.
- Clark 2012, p. 224.
- Clark 2012, p. 226.
- Clark 1966, p. 329.
- Clark 2012, p. 227.
- Clark 2012, p. 233.
- Clark 2012, p. 236.
- Clark 2012, p. 236, 263.
- Clark 2012, p. 281.
- Clark 2012, p. 201.
- Clark 2012, p. 195.
- Clark 2012, p. 261.
- Clark 2012, p. 264.
- Clark 2012, p. 308-309.
- Clark 2012, p. 265.
- Clark 2012, p. 266.
- Clark 2012, p. 266, 120.
- Frieser 2007, p. 108.
- Clark 1966, p. 333.
- Glantz & House 2004, p. 93.
- Rokossovsky p. 266.
- Piekalkiewice, Unternehmen Zitadelle, p. 154.
- Keegan 2006, p. 72.
- Frieser 2007, p. 110.
- Frieser 2007, p. 111.
- Overy 1995, p. 205.
- Restayn & Moller 2002, pp. 333–336.
- Overy 1995, pp. 204–205.
- Restayn & Moller 2002, p. 333.
- Frieser 2007, p. 107.
- Overy 1995, p. 204.
- Clark 1966, pp. 331–332.
- Clark 2012, p. 196.
- Frieser 2007, p. 112.
- Clark 2012, p. 197.
- Clark 2012, p. 237.
- Osprey 1992, p. 41.
- Frieser 2007, p. 113.
- Clark 2012, p. 238.
- Clark 2012, p. 240.
- Clark 2012, p. 241.
- Clark 2012, p. 242.
- Clark 2012, p. 68.
- Clark 2012, p. 246.
- Clark 2012, p. 247.
- Clark 2012, p. 248.
- Clark 2012, p. 250.
- Clark 2012, p. 252-253.
- Clark 2012, p. 254.
- Clark 2012, p. 255.
- Clark 2012, p. 256.
- Clark 2012, p. 257.
- Clark 2012, p. 258.
- Clark 2012, p. 259.
- Clark 2012, p. 260.
- Glantz House, p. 102.
- Frieser 2007, p. 116.
- Wendt p.18
- Geheime Kommandosache
- Frieser 2007, p. 118.
- Manstein 1983, p. 500.
- Frankson, p. 30.
- Bergström 2007, p. 77.
- Healy 1992, pp. 84–87.
- Bergström 2007, pp. 79–80.
- Clark 1966, p. 337.
- Healy 1992, pp. 76–77.
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- Glantz 1999, p. 275.
- Clark 1966, pp. 337–338.
- Glantz & House 2004, p. 218.
- Manstein 1983, p. 504. Verlorene Siege
- Engelmann, Zitadelle p. 5.
- Carell & Osers 1966–1971, p. [page needed].
- Frieser 2007, p. 149.
- Krivosheev 1997, p. 188–190.
- Magenheimer, die Militärstrategie Deutschlands 1940–1945 p.244
- Glantz & House 1995, p. 176.
- Glantz & House 1995, pp. 149–150.
- Glantz 1991, p. 132–133.
- Glantz 1991, p. 136–137.
- Zagola 1989, p. 6.
- Zagola 1989, p. 18.
- Zagola 1989, p. 7.
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- Rotmistrov, The Role of Armoured Forces p. 173.
- Sutov/Ramanicev, p. 277.
- Frieser 2007, p. 188.
- Frieser 2007, p. 187, according to Soviet numbers.
- Glantz & House 1995, p. 168.
- Glantz & House 1995, p. 297.
- Krivosheev 1997, p. 278.
- Zhukov p. 188.
- Glantz & House p. 241.
- Krivosheev 1997, p. 190.
- Koltunov p. 81.
- Glantz & House 1995, p. 352.
- Glantz & House 1995, pp. 168–169.
- Glantz & House 1995, p. 169.
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- Frieser 2007, p. 196.
- Glantz & House 2004, p. 249.
- Glantz & House 2004, p. 251.
- Glantz & House 1995, p. 70.
- Frieser 2007, p. 199.
- Bergström 2007, p. 121.
- Frieser 2007, p. 202.
- Frieser 2007, p. 151.
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- Glantz & Orenstein 1999, p. 276.
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Further reading 
- Healy, Mark. Zitadelle: The German Offensive Against the Kursk Salient 4–17 July 1943. Stroud: The History Press. ISBN 978-0-7524-5716-1.
- irbergui (YouTube id), German newsreels showing the Battle of Kursk, YouTube, Retrieved 2008-09-19
- Licari, Michael J. The Battle of Kursk: Myths and Reality, Mike Licari's Home Page, Retrieved 2008-09-19
- Licari, Michael J. A Review Essay: Books on the Battle of Kursk, Mike Licari's Home Page, Retrieved 2008-09-19
- Newton, Steven H., translator, editor, and annotator (2002). Kursk, the German view : eyewitness reports of Operation Citadel by the German commanders. Cambridge, Mass.: Da Capo. ISBN 978-0-306-81150-0.
- Wilson, Alan Kursk – Raw Data to Download, 6 February 1999. —Information from the US Army KOSAVE II study on the southern face battle
- Wilson, Alan The Kursk Region, 5 July 1943 (map), 27 October 1999
Media related to Battle of Kursk at Wikimedia Commons