• If model used his tanks as spearheads at kursk, would that have made a difference?

  • I don’t think so, the only thing that would have changed Kursk is not having Hitler in charge.  The dumb ass knew that the Russians knew that the attack was coming, but he still went through with it.  Because as everyone knows magic Aryan blood is a perfect substitute for sound military tactics.

    Had he attacked east past the saliant and than south (bypassing the defenses), ya, that could have changed things.  Trying to figure out the best way to attack those defenses is like trying to find out the best way to punch a running chainsaw.  There are probably better ways of punching a chainsaw, but punching a chainsaw is stupid to begin with.

    Had Hitler done to the Russians in 43 what he did to the French in 40 and bypassed the defenses, the war could have ended much differently.

  • 2021 2020 '19 '18 '17 '16 '15 '14 Customizer '13 '12 '11 '10


    If model used his tanks as spearheads at kursk, would that have made a difference?

    Probably not.  The Russians had had lots of time to prepare their position at Kursk – they knew that the German army liked to attack salients, and hence was likely to choose the Kursk bulge as the site of its next offensive – and they had set up a formidable network of defensive anti-tank belts, one after the other, which were designed to wear down armoured thrusts as the attacker advanced.  As I recall, this kind of defense was called a pakfront; it was originally developed by the Germans, then copied by the Russians.  The Germans tried to counter it with a wedge-shaped tank formation called Panzerkeil, but this achieved only mixed results (including at Kursk).

  • '17 '16 '13 '12

    The battle of Kursk is a battle that should have been prepared (to convince the Soviets to build defenses that would not be used), but not conducted.

    The forces should have retreated and defended along the Dnieper river.


  • I disagree with that.  Before Kursk you can argue the Germans had a chance of winning.  After you can not.  We were shooting for unconditional surrender, there would be no armistince.  Time was not on the Germans side and they did need to do something.  Kursk was doing something, but it was doing something stupid.  Had the Germans played defense all they would have achieved is prolonging the war for another year or 2, but they would lose.

  • '17 '16 '13 '12

    In world war 2, 36% of the Soviet male population aged 20-34 in 1941 got killed.

    A more effective defense leading to more Soviet losses may have made the Russians war weary. After all, the portion of territory still under German control would have been the East satellite countries + Ukraine.

    Somehow use some of the resources from offensive operations on the Eastern front to reinforce the Atlantic wall, you might be able to obtain a peace.

  • 2021 2020 '19 '18 '17 '16 '15 '14 '13 Moderator

    Axistiger: Kursk was never going to work in July of 43(and probably not even earlier that summer either).
    It was German arrogance and disrespect for the Russian, who had learnt a hard lesson in tank warfare and combined arms operations. Model only had 35 miles to go to link up with Manstein at Kursk, but it was too far for both pincers. The Panzers were too few, despite Hoth commanding more tanks than anyone so far in the war, and there were no Panzer reserves.
    The Russians had the 5th Guards Tank with 800 tanks 60 miles back, just waiting to pounce on the Germsns once their attack stalled.

    Model used Infantry to open up the Russian northern shoulder, because he thought he had the right Infantry to tank ratio. Manstein, in the South, did not feel he had, so opened with the Panzers. Kursk used 70% of Germany’s Ostheer’s strength, denuding all other armies. Once they shot their bolt, the Germans suffered a massive counterattack from which they could not recover.
    Kursk(with hindsight) was better never fought. The Germans’ great skill was punishing the Russians when they overextended and this was the only strategy left to them in my opinion.
    The war could be won in the West still(after the landings), not here on the Eastern Front.
    I love German tanks, but there were simply not enough of them.

  • I really think some of the most misunderstood parts of WWII was the Russian German relationship pre 1941.  Russia allowed Germany to bypass the Treaty of Versailles by allowing Germany to research and develop its military there in Russia  which the allies could not prevent this was not in the treaty allies could only stop this in Germany. Much of the technology tactics and the German war machine was built and tested in Russia post 1921 and pre 1932.  On April 15, 1920, Victor Kopp, the RSFSR’s special representative to Berlin, asked at the German Foreign Office whether “there was any possibility of combining the German and the Red Army for a joint war on Poland”. This was yet another event at the start of military cooperation between the two countries, which ended before the German invasion of the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941. Then Germany convinced Russia to withdraw its defense forces in and around Poland to allow Germany to Share a common border with it’s under ground ally Russia.  But when Russia began mobilizing large amounts of Military toward its coveted oil fields in SE Europe Germany began planning the first strike in 1941 fearing a Russian surprise attack Germany wanted to act first.  I think alot of people do not realize Russia had a very powerful and advanced military pre 1941. But the scope of the surprise attack devastated the Russian air force and armor units.  Russia lost 2,500 aircraft alone allowing German armor to roam free on Russian soil. If Germany would have leveled and bypassed Stalingrad and focused north i think the war would have been won by the Germans.  Germany always seem to throw everything in these victory or devastation battles like Stalingrad, Kursk and later the Battle Of the Bulge, this  put the Germans in a war they were not designed for and just could not replace these units like Russia and the Allies could.  I think Hitler had one good  say in the war as he did not agree on the battle of Kursk which all of his top commanders wanted to attack.  I mean Russians were ready for Kursk and even were ready for a counter assault 60 miles away after the battle of Kursk.  Russia wanted this to happen they began realizing how to beat the Germans by suckering them in these large long sustained battles in which constant reinforcements can beat the mechanized armies of Germany.  And by 1943 they had air support to harass extremely long German supply lines.  By then the German air force was a shadow of what it was pre 1943. By 1944 Russian air power and armor was even better than what the Germans had the yak-3 fighter  and the t34 tank were great machines.  In the end was it smart for Germany to attack Russia i think so the risk for Russia to enter the war on their terms was too great Russia could have done the same thing to Germany surprise attack and devastate the Germans while their back was turned to the UK.  I think Stalingrad really took the wind out of Germany and Kursk broke Germany’s back.  Germany should have leveled Stalingrad pulled out consolidated lines for the winter and attacked all out on Moscow in the spring.  But even then i think Russia having moved its factories to the east and by now ready for an assault still could have made a “Stalingrad” at moscow.  Russia is so big and far away im not sure it can be taken with that era of technology especially on 3 fronts of war Southern Europe, Western Europe and Eastern Europe. In the End what the Germans accomplished was amazing and we are all lucky we are not speaking German now. If Hitler would have let his Generals call the shots instead of throwing his Military in foolish battles with alot to loose and little to gain may have been different.

  • @wittmann:

    Axistiger: Kursk was never going to work in July of 43).

    I know.

    I was just wondering if it could have made a difference, I am a supporter of von mansteins backhand low.

  • 2021 2020 '19 '18 '17 '16 '15 '14 '13 Moderator

    I love my German tanks( have just been to Bovington Tank Museum), so to hear how Germany’s finest were destroyed bashing against the Russian anvil saddens me.
    The Germans could not as quickly replace theirs as Russia could.
    It was all downhill after Kursk.
    The lessons of 3rd Kharkov were forgotten.

    The salient was best left alone, but ignoring salients was not the German way. And retreat, well, not Hitler’s.

  • How would the 1943 Eastern Front situation have been had the Germans retreated from the southern salient and fortified the northern salient with every every landmine available, antitank trenches, 88mm guns and what infantry could be spared. Force the Soviets to waste a couple million troops.

    Your thoughts?

  • I don´t think that would a good idea, because the donets basin is way more important then a small piece of land which can be abandoned without any cost.

    (this is a maybe)

    What if the germans not attacked where they did, but elsewhere? (like at the west side of the salient, or bypassing the soviet defence lines completely) (that could make it a VERY long front, but it´s just an idea)

    Another idea: What if they prepared the attack, but did not launch it?

  • 2021 2020 '19 '18 '17 '16 '15 '14 '13 Moderator


    Another idea: What if they prepared the attack, but did not launch it?

    Problem with this Axistiger, is that this would have been bad for morale. You cannot tell someone(the Germans) the are better than someone else(the Russians) then say: we cannot beat them. The Germans did believe they could best the enemy.
    Otherwise, I think it is a great idea.

    Worsham: I have been thinking on this, but have not been able to get out my maps. ( Have been busy with Gettysburg!).
    Problem with withdrawing from the salient, apart from the morale thing again, is that Kharkov looms large. It cannot be easily abandoned after the great campaign to retake it.
    I believe there could have been a shortening of the Southern salient as long as it did not compromise Kharkov.
    Building up a reserve and not throwing tanks at minefields and anti-tank emplacements, is definitely the way to go. The Germans always cost the Russians dear when able to do this. (Both 42 Kharkov and 43 come to mind.)
    And Manstein was the man to do it. Sacking him was such a bad move by Hitler.

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