Hello, started working on a quick little Operation Citadel diorama this week. I finished the tank commander and started on the beautiful Tamiya 1/48 scale Panzer III Ausf. N. This will be a basic scene of a Panzer III heading up hill 257.7 “Panzer Hill” on July 05, 1943. Below I have added so basic information on the Citadel.
Operation Citadel Begins In the early morning hours of July 5, 1943, among the beautiful, yellow wheat fields that surrounded the Kursk Bulge, Operation Citadel was ready to launch. But before Germany could strike, the Soviets unleashed a bombardment hoping to preempt the German offensive. It delayed the Germans for about an hour and a half but didn’t have a major impact. The Germans unleashed their own artillery assault on the northern and southern parts of the salient, followed by infantry strikes on the ground supported by the Luftwaffe (Germany’s air force). Later that morning the VVS (the Soviet’s air force), attacked German airfields but were unsuccessful. Still, the Red Army’s ground defenses prevented German tanks from making much headway in the north and penetrating the heavily-armored salient. By July 10, the Soviets had halted the 9th Army’s northern advance. Battle of Prokhorovka In the south, the Germans had more success and doggedly made their way to the small settlement of Prokhorovka, some 50 miles southeast of Kursk. On July 12, the tanks and self-propelled artillery guns of Russia’s 5th Guards Tank Army clashed with the tanks and artillery guns of Germany’s II SS-Panzer Corps. The Red Army suffered huge losses but still managed to prevent the German’s from capturing Prokhorovka and breaching their third defensive belt, which effectively ended the German offensive. The Battle of Prokhorovka is often referred to as the largest tank battle in history; however, Russian military historians with access to recently-opened Soviet archives claim the title belongs to World War II’s little-known Battle of Brody, which took place in 1941. The German Offensive Ends and Russia’s Begins On July 10, Allied troops landed on the beaches of Sicily, forcing Hitler to abandon Operation Citadel and reroute his Panzer divisions to Italy to thwart additional Allied landings. The Germans attempted a small offensive in the south known as Operation Roland but were unable to breach the Red Army’s might and withdrew after a few days. In the meantime, the Soviets launched a counteroffensive, Operation Kutuzov, north of Kursk on July 12. They broke through German lines at the Orel salient and by July 24th had the Germans on the run and had pushed them back beyond Operation Citadel’s original launching point. Battle of Kursk Aftermath The Soviets won the Battle of Kursk and ended Hitler’s dream of conquering Russia. Arguably, Germany won the tactical battle but were unable to break through the Red Army’s fortifications and so lost the advantage. But the Soviets won at great cost. Despite outnumbering and outgunning the Germans, they suffered many more casualties and loss of armament. Definitive casualty data is hard to come by, but it’s estimated there were up to 800,000 Soviet casualties compared to some 200,000 German casualties; some historians believe those numbers are much lower than the actual casualties.