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Prokhorovka without the secrecy
Material posted: Publication date: 11-07-2013

Perhaps the most famous tank battle of the Second world war, according to some historians determined the outcome of the battle of Kursk, took place exactly 70 years ago - July 12, 1943. The authors of numerous articles in the media strongly considered tanks - how many were there, how many lost, completely forgetting about the people who ultimately decided the outcome of the seven days ' battles. Successful completion of the Prokhorovka battle was difficult given our troops. In the fierce battle killed many thousands of Soviet soldiers. In this article I would like to return to the question about the price of success.

Briefly recall the outcome of the war. For the first two days of the offensive, the enemy was able to overcome the main and second line of defense, which was preparing for three months. By the end July 6, he managed to reach a narrow sector of the front to rear band in the near Prokhorovka station, which remained 10 km of the 2nd SS TC, supported by the whole aviation of army group South, received orders to seize Prokhorovka and to develop the offensive on the Kursk to bypass Obojan. The rear boundary was not completely ready to defend and not everywhere occupied by the troops. But thanks to the taken measures on reinforcement of threatened areas, to courage and heroism of the Soviet warriors the enemy for two days - 10 and 11 July to progress within 6-7 km of the impression that it started to fizzle out. Vatutin and Vasilevsky concluded that a decisive breakdown of the offensive of the enemy and defeat him wedged grouping can be achieved only by a powerful counterattack by troops of the Voronezh front, reinforced by strategic reserves.

Unfortunately, despite entering the battle a large group (the number of 5th GW. THE one on 10 July - 42 901 people, the 5th guards. army - about 65 thousand), which included more than 700 tanks, to achieve a decisive watershed in the situation failed. Frontline counter-attack on 12 July did not win and contrary to popular opinion is not led to the defeat of the tank corps of the SS. The Germans were prepared to repel the counterattack and imposed our tank "tank duel" in the most adverse conditions. Our tank T-34 could not win a duel in an open area with German medium tank T-IV with its new long-barreled gun (48 calibers, muzzle velocity of the projectile is 1.5 times higher than our 76-mm gun f-34), not to mention the heavy "tiger". And the Germans made full use of its qualitative superiority in armored equipment.

Error with drawing a frontal attack on a strong tank group of the opponent is not allowed to realize our dual quantitative superiority in tanks over the enemy. The main forces of the tank army of P. A. Rotmistrov, which played a decisive role in the attack, two armored corps of the first echelon entered into battle at the front a maximum of 5 km (marshy floodplain of the Psel river does not count) and are unable to escape from the defile. Sandwiched in a narrow corridor between the river and the railway, they are unable to use the advantage of their tanks in maneuverability and mobility. 5-I guards. SHE suffered huge losses (about 500 wounded and destroyed tanks from 860 combat-ready), not comparable with the damage inflicted on the enemy, and made one. Tank battle southwest of Prokhorovka on 12 July ended in failure, which is not turned into defeat only thanks to the tenacity and selfless actions of the tank crews and officers and soldiers of the 5th guards. and 69th armies who disrupted the enemy's plan to cover the flanks of the Panzer army and surround her core strength. Not been successful and the offensive compounds of the 5th guards. army in the bend of the river Psel, and West, without tanks and with insufficient support from artillery attacked parts of tank divisions of the opponent.

The enemy also suffered heavy losses but kept fighting capacity. Abandoning the attack on the Kursk, he spent private transactions, trying to surround the connection of the 69th army, the defenders in the area between Seversky and Lime Dontsov. Connection 48 the UK has done everything possible to hold their district, which has divided the efforts of the two shock groups of the enemy. However, the lack of ammunition and inadequate support from the command of the 5th guards. And THE front did not allow them to continue to deter the enemy. Despite the challenging environment, the four divisions of the corps on the night of July 15 in an orderly manner under cover of rearguards out of the "bag" and took a new turn.

Fierce fighting at Prokhorovka continued until July 16. The enemy never managed to overcome our defenses. The retreat of the enemy, contrary to another myth, was not caused by defeat of his shock troops, and the impossibility of deduction of the area of the herniation length to front up to 160 km away. the Troops of the Voronezh front were unable to overturn the part of the enemy's covering and go in a relentless pursuit to defeat his main force of the exhaust is not due to "exceptional protoplanet" (a phrase of G. K. Zhukov, to whom the censorship spoiled a lot of blood), and in connection with large losses. Some divisions, essentially, turned into shelves. Restoring the defense on the turn held prior to the beginning of the German offensive, our troops have successfully completed a defensive operation, creating conditions for a subsequent transition to a decisive counteroffensive.


According to official figures, the troops of the Voronezh front during the 19 days of operation lost 73 892 people (irrevocably - 27 542). Steppe front, for 15 days (from 9 to 23 July) - 70 058 (irrevocably - 27 452). The total losses of the two fronts on the southern fase Kursk salient was 143 950 people. it Turns out that the fronts have suffered about equal losses (even numbers of irrecoverable loss are the same!). Although the troops of the Voronezh front were fighting from the beginning to the end of the operation, losing 13.8% of its members. And the Steppe front, the composition and number of which dear authors of the statistical study of "the secret shot" is not indicated, in fact, joined the operation only from July 19. With such a scenario losses between the two fronts it is difficult to accept, because it is contrary to the General trend and the nature of warfare.

On July 5 in fighting structure of the Voronezh front were 417,5 thousand people. A comparison of data on its real part in the operation shows that the strength of the front has been reduced by at least 155 thousand people (taken into account that the front in the course of the operation was reinforced by the two armies and, in turn, transferred to Steppe front the two armies). The troop losses can only be attributed to combat losses. The official data about losses of the front in defensive operations in this regard is questionable.

According to the report of the staff of the Voronezh front from July 24, 1943 he lost 100 932 (killed 20 578, wounded - 54 427 missing - 25 898). On a reported basis, for the month, front - 1 on 31 July 1943 - lost 99 596 soldiers and officers. The figures in both documents are of the same order. But here's the weird thing: the loss of the 7th guards. and 69th armies transferred to Steppe front from 23.00 on July 18, the latter are completely excluded from the losses of the Voronezh front! But in the documents of the Steppe front for the loss of 7 GW. and 69th armies is quite logical given only for the period from 20 to 31 July. Steppe front commander I. S. Konev to anything was to take what he is not responsible. As a result total figures from both fronts in the losses of these armies for the period 1 July 20!

Before transferring to the composition of the Steppe front 7 HS. and the 69th army lost over 56,7 thousand people, of them killed - about 11 thousand missing - 15.5 thousand is a Huge number! How could they "fall out" from the overall results? But just during the operation, both armies lost more than 80 thousand soldiers and officers, including missing - 17.4 thousand, i.e. the same as the rest of the army both fronts! It is known that I. S. Konev, from the outset, strongly objected to "razdelyvanie" of its front, was very unhappy that instead of two full guard armies Zhadov and Rotmistrov received extremely weakened 7th HS. and the 69th army. Not coincidentally, he was required in August to replenish the 69th army of 20 thousand, and the 7th guards. and 53rd armies - 15 thousand people. The Voronezh front lost, so, about 156 thousand soldiers and officers, which corresponds to the figures obtained on the basis of calculations by attrition the number of his troops. They mostly coincide with the data reports and summaries during the fighting.

In the end, the total losses of the troops of the Voronezh and Steppe fronts in the course of defensive operations, and irretrievable, was 1.3 times higher than the official. Especially a lot of both front lost missing - about 35 thousand people (18% of total losses). Most of them, undoubtedly, was captured. Thus, according to German data, 24 thousand of our soldiers and officers were captured by 13 July, the remaining 10 thousand were between 13 and 16 July, when 3 TC the enemy in the region Shakhov connected with the tank corps of the SS.

If the official total losses of the two fronts deduct losses Steppe front, Voronezh front will remain 109 thousand people, i.e. 20% of the total number of troops of the front. For comparison: the Central front lost (again according to official data) 4.6% of the initial population, Steppe - 7,7%. If we start from our estimated losses (as confirmed by relevant documents), they will account for 24% of the population of the Voronezh front (including reserves transferred to it).

This is, in our opinion, the meaning presented by the authors of the book "Grief secrecy lifted" the allocation of loss between two fronts. Apparently, they are necessary in order to alleviate hard impact from the huge losses of the Voronezh front, especially when you compare them with the losses of the enemy. The calculation is based on the fact that the layman will not pay attention to the fact that the Steppe front became involved in the operation 9, and July 19. And his army was fighting for 5-6 days, when the enemy withdrew his main force to the starting line.

In the media, does not end the debate about the price of Victory in the Patriotic war. Figures are called different, but they all far exceed the official. In the latest publications on this topic official data on the size of the loss (8,668 million) of trust in society do not cause. According to the card index of personal losses of soldiers, sergeants and officers of the tsamo RF irrevocable losses of the Armed Forces during the second world war be at least 13,85 million people, i.e. 60% more! The experience of more than ten years of work of Fund "national memory" (the successor of the scientific-information center of "Destiny" which was used in publishing the Books of Memory in the regions of the Soviet Union) shows that many thousands of soldiers do not belong in any card files and databases. Although in his e Central data Bank (CDB) "the Memory Book" contains nearly 20 million details (personalities), obtained in the processing of archival documents from the Central archives of Russia - TSAMO, Military-medical archive and the archive of the Navy casualties in 1941-1945.

Taking as a basis the total loss of the armies of the Voronezh front, and bring about losses of individual compounds, we can determine our losses in the seven days ' battle - from 10 to 16 July at Prokhorovka. Tank army lost about 10 thousand soldiers and officers (missing - not less than 2 thousand); 33 the UK (subject to 52 GW. DM) 5th army - about 8 thousand people (missing about 2 thousand). Both armies lost (including attached parts and connections) of about 18 thousand soldiers and officers, including at least 4 thousand missing. Huge losses - a consequence of a frontal attack of tanks and infantry on nepokalenow the enemy's defenses, reinforced by tanks. Suffered most of all compounds 69-th army who were fighting in particularly difficult conditions, reflecting the blows of tank divisions of the enemy, often on unprepared ground. The divisions 48 of the UK besides, getting out of the environment. Part of SC 48 and 92 GW. DM 35 GW. UK to take an active part in the fighting on the outskirts of the station, lost about 23 thousand persons, from them 11 thousand missing.

In the Prokhorovka battle from July 10 to 16, compound 33 GW. SC 5th HS., 48 SC 69th and 5th GW. tank armies lost about 41 thousand soldiers and officers (26% of the total losses of the Voronezh front in operation), one of them killed - about 6,3 thousand persons, missing up to 15 thousand. This price stopped the enemy offensive at Prokhorovka direction.

These figures may raise doubts. But keep in mind that some of the errors and tolerances in our calculations (for example, through non-combat losses - diseased, seconded, deserters, convicted by military tribunals, etc.) is more than overlap due to the fact that they do not take into account the replenishment of the obtained fronts during the operation. Will be happy if the person holding complete and accurate information, with facts and figures prove the fallacy of our calculations.

The loss of the enemy.

E. Manstein claims that during the attack both his army - the 4th TA and AG "Kempf" has lost only 20 of 720 people, of which killed 3 330. Apparently, commander GA "South" "forgot" or didn't consider necessary to include in the total losses sustained in the subsequent battles, including those during the withdrawal to the starting line. In passing, we note that the German side also never missed an opportunity to minimize their losses. According to military archives of Germany, in the period from 4 to 20 July 4 THE city of Gotha has lost 18 594 people (2 TC SS - 095 8, 48 TC - 6 541, 52 AK - 2 918), including 3 people were killed 032 Troops of army group "Kempf" during the same period lost 15 960 people (3 TK - 8 489, AK "rouse" - 7 154, 42 AK - 317), including dead - 5 549. All the troops of army group "South" during the operation "Citadel" from 4 to 20 July 1943 lost 34 554 officers and soldiers. The ratio of losses of the Voronezh and Steppe fronts (the official) and HA "South" is 4:1 not in our favor.

The 9th army HA "Center" from 5 to 31 July lost 35 635 of them from 5 to 11 July - 22 273. Irrevocable and sanitary loss of the Central front during the same period, according to official data, amounted to 33 897. The ratio of losses to 1.5:1 in favor of the enemy. According to German data, the two groups of armies "South" (from 5 to 20 July) and "Center" (from 5 to 11 July) in the implementation of the operation "Citadel" has lost 56 827 people. In the same period, our three front - Central, Voronezh and Steppe, according to official data, lost 177 847 soldiers and officers. Losses in manpower in the Kursk defensive operation ratio 3:1 in favor of the enemy. Based on our data it will be 4:1 not in our favor.

There are other calculations. Thus, in published German works, including the memoirs of the former commander of group of armies "South" by E. Manstein, said that during the fighting at Orel, Kursk, Belgorod and Kharkov German troops lost about 200 thousand soldiers and officers. According to captured German documents, for the period of the Soviet counteroffensive forces of groups of armies "Center" and "South", which operated in Orlovskiy the ledge and on the Belgorod-Kursk direction, lost in killed, missing and wounded 113,9 thousand persons. Based on these figures, the loss of the Northern and southern factions of the enemy during the German offensive could be 80-100 thousand people (the Great Patriotic war. Fracture. - M., Nauka, 1998, p. 257). Then the ratio of losses in manpower will be about 2:1 in favor of the enemy.

According to military archives of the FRG, 2 TC SS from July 10 to 16, lost 4 178 people (approximately 16% of combat structure), including dead - 755, wounded - 3 and 351 missing - 68. In battle on July 12 he lost: killed 149 people, the wounded - 660, missing - 33, 842 officers and soldiers. 3 TC 5 through July 20, lost - 8 489 people, including on the outskirts of Prokhorovka on 12 July 16 - 2 of about 790 people. Based on the data, the two buildings (six Panzer and two infantry divisions) from 10 to 16 July in the battle of Prokhorovka lost about 7 thousand soldiers and officers. The ratio of losses in men of approximately 6:1 in favor of the enemy. Depressing numbers. Especially when you consider that our troops were defending, having superiority in forces and means over coming the enemy. Unfortunately, the evidence suggests that by July of 1943, our troops have not yet fully mastered the science of victory a little blood.


Losses in tanks and manpower incurred by 5th guards. THAT one day of fighting, provoked the wrath of the Supreme commander. To analyze the reasons for the failure of the counterattack and the big losses on the orders of Stalin established a Commission under the chairmanship of the GKO member, Secretary of the party Central Committee G. M. Malenkov. The materials of this Commission are kept in the Presidential archive. They are still secret and not published in the open press. It is significant that such materials are at work on other fronts - Stalingrad (1942), Central (beginning 1943) and the West (1944) are kept in open holdings of RGASPI archive (the former archive of the Central Committee of the CPSU). The main conclusion of the Commission are known: the fighting on 12 July 1943 at Prokhorovka are sample operations. The work of the Commission Malenkov gave impetus to the analysis of shortcomings in the organization of combat actions, especially interactions, control, and communications, the shortcomings that other such cases would have remained behind the scenes. And weaknesses were. The war is also study, violent school, for mistakes in which are paying the fighters blood, tears and grief of their loved ones.

The decision on counterstrike (how it was implemented) - doubtless an error of our command. With such a huge and, quite frankly, unjustifiable losses involuntarily thought: but was it worth a frontal assault on the strongest place of the enemy forces, which, as shown by the battle on 11 July, have lost none of their striking force? To stop the enemy, to force him to move to defense could with fewer losses in men, arms and materiel.

No doubt, in front of the headquarters discussed the feasibility of the counterattack on 12 July, it was offered with various options. If you agree with the view that Stalin most feared breakthrough of our defense and exit Panzer army Gotha to the operating room, why not continue on the previously accepted plan for the deliberate defense to knock out enemy tanks with fire place, and then to move to action? Already worked for us. Apparently, the Bet insisted on carrying out the counterattack on 12 July, timed to coincide with the beginning of the offensive of the Bryansk and Western fronts. Who persuaded, proved or ordered - remains to be seen. The background to the decision on the counterattack on 12 July would learn from the negotiations front and Rates. By the way, history shows that no secrecy can not indefinitely hide the truth.

Repeated transfer of counterstrike shows oscillations about ways to use 5th guards. THAT in the current situation. If you wanted to pre-empt the enemy, then why not launched an attack at dawn? Assigning the attack at 10.00 on 12 July, probably hoped at first to drive away the attacking enemy tanks with fire place, and then to counter the attack. However, the tank division "Adolf Hitler" and "Reich" of the enemy opposing the main forces of the 5th guards. tank army, clearly waited this morning and did not budge. The opponent has passed to active actions only on the flanks. Sudden unexpected nocturnal break of defense of the 69th army, capture the enemy crossing near the village Rzhavets and the transition to the onset of th "Dead head" from the springboard seen the command of the Voronezh front, putting our troops at a disadvantage. The attack was postponed to 8.30.

Rotmistrov thesis about the superiority of the enemy in tanks in the light of facts does not hold water. On the "tank field" southwest of Prokhorovka our three tank corps (462 tanks and assault guns) was opposed by no more than 220 tanks and assault guns of the enemy. It then appeared figures - 700 and even 800 tanks of the enemy to justify our failure and high losses.

The bitter truth is hard and not always pleasant. However, it is time to tell the public, veterans and all the people, what price Victory, including the victory at Kursk. Sometimes primitive believe that the patriots can be brought up only on the victories. This is a misconception. On the contrary, bitter, but truthful description of the historical developments quickly affect the soul, for example, a young man who will leave a mark in his heart. The more impartial analysis of the events of the great Patriotic war for the training and education of professional military personnel. It is impossible to develop military science for a "retouch" of the war experience. Proper assessment of the past can save you from future errors. Otherwise we will prevail the principle "a price worth paying". Again will appear "the best defence Ministers of all times and peoples", is able to throw tanks at night attack an unfamiliar city, each gate of which sits the rocket launcher.

A major role in achieving victory in the battle of Prokhorovka and the battle of Kursk in General, he played a Soviet soldier, which ultimately depended on the implementation of all the plans and decisions of commanders. It is his sweat and blood made up for the mistakes and miscalculations of command, in spite of everything succumbed to the onslaught of armored divisions of the enemy and forced him to turn back. In this regard, I would like to emphasize the role of Russian soldier in achieving Victory, which, as you would say the Prussian king Frederick the Great, "it is not enough to kill him and knock him down". Russian soldiers showed great love for their Homeland, the ability to overcome incredible difficulties, mutual support and a willingness to sacrifice for the sake of their comrades.

In the battle of Prokhorovka in the number of 43 thousand soldiers and officers of the 5th guards. tank army participated in warriors over 36 nationalities of the Soviet Union. The bulk of them were Russians (over 74%), Ukrainians and Belarusians. As strange as it sounds in our difficult time, but the friendship of the peoples of the Soviet Union withstood a serious test. A source of high moral and combat qualities of Soviet soldiers was not the fear of penal battalions and defensive squads, and the feeling of patriotism, love of country and hatred of the enemy. And the beautiful memorial, erected in Prokhorovka "tank field", is a tribute to the memory of the feat of arms of all Soviet soldiers - tankers, gunners, pilots, signallers, sappers, drivers, repairmen, doctors and other workers of the great war.


Leo Lopukhovsky


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