1943 Russia

Kursk, Turning Point in the East

The highlight of 1943 on the Russian Front was the Battle of Kursk in July.  The Germans planned a large summer offensive, called Operation Zitadelle (Citadel), designed to cut off a large Russian salient where they felt the Russians were assembling a large attack of their own.  Fifteen divisions from Army Group Center would attack in the north, including six panzer divisions, while eighteen divisions from Army Group South attacked in the south, also including six panzer divisions.  These two pincers would meet in the middle and a large group of Russians would be captured, just like the large successes of 1941.  Unfortunately for the Germans, several things went wrong with the plan, partly caused by their own mistakes. The offensive was delayed for months because Hitler wanted to get large numbers of his two new tanks, the Tiger and Panther, into action.  That gave the Russians, who had been warned, probably by British Intelligence, time to prepare.  They sewed minefields and installed anti-tank guns and artillery in a deep defensive zone across the neck of the salient.  They withdrew their armored forces out of harm's way and put them in position for a massive counter attack.  This caused the German attacks, when they came, to grind to a halt well short of their linkup.

        As the advances faltered, the Russians finally launched their counterattack on July 12 although Hitler had already ordered a halt to the operation for July 13 due to the Allied landings on Sicily.  The Russian counterattack crashed into the German panzer divisions in the largest tank battle of the war with over 6000 tanks involved for both sides.  By the time the intense four week battle had ended, the Russians had their first major summer victory over the Germans and the War in the East tilted in their favor as the Germans scrambled to recover from their second major defeat in less than a year.  The Russians now had the strategic initiative and did not surrender it for the rest of the war.



Below are the forces involved at the Battle of Kursk

                                                           German Army

Army Group Center

        9th Army

               XX Army Corp

                       45th, 72nd, 137th, 251st Infantry Divisions

              XLVI Panzer Corps

                    7th, 31st, 102nd, 258th Infantry Divisions

              XLI Panzer Corps

                    18th Panzer Division

                    86th, 292nd Infantry Divisions

              XLVII Panzer Corps

                    2nd Panzer Division

                    9th Panzer Division

                    20th Panzer Division

                    6th Infantry Division

              XXIII Army Corps

                    216th, 383rd Infantry Divisions

                    78th Sturm Division

              Army Reserve

                    4th Panzer Division

                    12th Panzer Division

                    10th Panzergrenadier Division

      2nd Panzer Army

              XXXV Army Corps

                    34th, 56th, 262nd, 299th Infantry Divisions

              LIII Army Corps

                    25th Panzer Grenadier Division

                    208th, 211th, 293rd Infantry Divisions

              LV Army Corps

                    110th, 112th, 134th, 296th, 339th Infantry Divisions

              Army Reserve

                    5th Panzer Division

      Army Group Reserve

                    8th Panzer Division


Army Group South

      4th Panzer Army

              LII Army Corps

                    57th, 255th, 332nd Infantry Divisions

              XLVIII Panzer Corps

                    3rd Panzer Division

                    11th Panzer Division

                    Grossdeutschland Pzgr Division             

                    167th Infantry Division

              II SS Panzer Corps

                    1st SS Panzergrenadier Division (LAH)

                    2nd SS Panzergrenadier Division (Das Reich)

                    3rd SS Panzergrenadier Division (Totenkopf)

      Army Detachment Kempf (VIII Army)

              III Panzer Corps

                    6th Panzer Division

                    7th Panzer Division

                    19th Panzer Division

                    168th Infantry Division

              XI Corps

                    106th, 320th Infantry Divisions

              XLII Army Corps

                    39th Grenadier Division

                    161st, 282nd Infantry Divisions

      Army Group Reserve

              XXIV Panzer Corps

                    5th SS Panzergrenadier Division (Wiking)

                    17th Panzer Division



Russian Army

Central Front

        13th Army

                17th Rifle Corps : 6th, 70th, 75th Guards Rifle Divisions

                18th Rifle Corps : 2nd, 3rd, 4th Guards Rifle Divisions

                15th Rifle Corps : 8th, 74th, 148th Rifle Divisions

                19th Rifle Corps : 15th, 81st, 307th Rifle Divisions

        48th Army

                42nd Rifle Corps : 16th, 202nd, 399th Rifle Divisions

                73rd, 137th, 148th Rifle Divisions

        60th Army

                24th Rifle Corps : 112 Rifle Divisions, 42nd, 129th Rifle Brigades

                30th Rifle Corps : 121st, 141st, 322nd Rifle Divisions

                55th Rifle Division

                248th Rifle Brigade

        65th Army

                18th Rifle Corps : 69th, 149th, 246th Rifle Divisions

                27th Rifle Corps : 60th, 193rd Rifle Divisions, 115th Rifle Brigade

                37th Guards Rifle Division

                181st, 94th, 354th Rifle Divisions

        70th Army

                28th Rifle Corps : 112th, 211th, 280th Rifle Divisions

                102nd, 106th, 140th, 162nd, 175th (NKVD) Rifle Divisions

        2nd Tank Army

                3rd Tank Corps

                16th Tank Corps

        Front Reserves

                9th Tank Corps

                19th Tank Corps

                Support Troops


Voronezh Front

        6th Guards Army

                22nd Guards Rifle Corps : 67th, 71st, 90th Guards Rifle Divisions

                23rd Guards Rifle Corps : 51st, 52nd, 375th Guards Rifle Divisions

                89th Guards Rifle Division

                Army Troops

        7th Guards Army

                24th Guards Rifle Corps : 15th, 36th, 72nd Guards Rifle Division

                25th Guards Rifle Corps : 73rd, 78th, 81st Guards Rifle Divisions

                Army Troops

        38th Army

                167th, 280th, 204th, 232nd, 240th, 340th Rifle Division

                Army Troops

        40th Army : 100th, 161st, 184th, 206th, 219th, 237th, 309th Rifle Divisions

                Army Troops

        69th Army

                107th, 111th,183rd, 270th, 305th Rifle Divisions

                Army Troops

        1st Tank Army
                3rd Mech Corps

                6th Tank Corps

                31st Tank Corps

                Army Troops

        Front Reserves

                2nd Guards Tank Corps

                5th Guards Tank Corps

                35th Guards Rifle Corps : 92nd, 93rd, 94th Guards Rifle Divisions

                Support Troops


Steppe Front (Steppe Military District)

        4th Guards Army

                20th Guards Rifle Corps : 5th, 7th, 8th Guards Airborne Rifle Division

                21st Guards Rifle Corps : 68th, 69th, 80th Guards Rifle Divisions

                3rd Guards Tank Corps

                Army Troops

        5th Guards Army

                32nd Guards Rifle Corps : 13th, 66th Guards Rifle Divisions

                                                       6th Guards Airborne Rifle Divisions

                33rd Guards Rifle Corps : 95th, 97th Guards Rifle Divisions                                  

                                                      9th Guards Airborne Divisioní

                10th Tank Corps

                42nd Guards Rifle Division

                Army Troops

        27th Army

                71st, 147th, 155th, 163rd, 166th, 241st Rifle Divisions

                Army Troops

        47th Army

                21st Rifle Corps : 23rd, 218th, 337th Rifle Divisions

                23rd Rifle Corps : 29th, 30th, 38th Rifle Divisions

                Army Troops

        53rd Army

                28th Guards Rifle Division

                84th, 116th, 214th, 233rd, 252nd, 299th Rifle Divisions

                Army Troops

        5th Guards Tank Army

                5th Guards Mech Corps

                29th Tank Corps

                Army Troops

        Front Reserves

                3rd Guards Cav Corps

                5th Guards Cav Corps

                7th Guards Cav Corps

                4th Guards Tank Army

                        3rd Guards Mech Corps

                        1st Mech Corps

                        2nd Mech Corps

                        Support Troops


Reinforcement from Southwestern Front

        2nd Tank Corps


Reinforcement from STAVKA Reserves

        18th Tank Corps




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