The Soviet counterpart, however, had good intelligence about the German preparations. , the Red Army established deep defensive positions and gathered large forces in reserve.
The Battle of Kursk was one of the greatest armored battles and probably the air battle in history that led to the largest loss in a single day.
The German side named the battle as "Operation Citadel", while the Soviet side, had two names for it: "Operation Kutuzov" for the defensive and "Operation Polkovodets Rumjantsev" for the offensive.
The Battle of Kursk was the last major German offensive on the Eastern Front, after Kursk the initiative shifted to the Red Army.
Kursk lies 315 miles south of Moscow and straddles the main Moscow-Rostov railway line. By the spring of 1943 it was the center of a Russian-held protuberance, or “salient,” jutting 120 miles wide and 90 miles deep into the German lines. Unfortunately for the Germans, even the most cursory glance at the map made it completely obvious where they would therefore attack. A pincer movement directly to the north and south of Kursk would have pinched off the salient, and lead to the destruction of Marshal Rokossovsky’s Central army in its north and Marshal Vatutin’s Voronezh army to the south.
THE ARMIES PRESENTED
Hitler will mobilized the best of the army in this operation called " Citadelle" . The units that will be engaged in the operation has some weeks for relax and material will be completed with Tigers , Panthers tanks ( just in service for a few weeks as has some fiability problems ) and anti tank Elephant
More than a million German Soldiers are called on duty for this battle.The terrain is relative clear very appropriate for a tank big action.In the nord of the salient the command of the 9th Army is Gereral Model with 300.000 men helped by 900 tanks and 3500 cannons namely six Panzer division , one Panzer granadier division and 14 Infantry Divisions.The Lutfwaffe are included in this offensive with Stukas and Heinschel 129 anti tanks planes .Model had two days for breaking the russian lines towards Kursk .
In the South Mainstein had under his command 4th Panzer Army ( Hoth) with the best combat SS divisions ( the panzerkorps SS inncluding leibstandart Adolf Hitler, Tontenkopf and Das Reich and the Kempt army , in total 330.000 men 1.500 tanks had to cross the Dontez River and joint the lines with Model within two days . the total Lutfwaffe support was 1.100 planes.
From the Soviet side , the army had not been inactive and prepared its defensive positions . No less than 8 defensive positions were prepared for the German offensive . Thousands of antitank / antipersonal mines were buried.
The Nord Front is commanded by Rokossovski 700.000 Russian soldiers are facing the german attack the minefields are sorrounded by several Strong points defended by several Antitank cannons and supported by classic artillery and the rocket launches ( Katyushas or Stalin´s Organ ). The tanks are positioned in the strategic reserve, ready in case of breakthrough, Rokossovki aligns 12.000 canons 1700 tanks and almost 1000 planes. The Sud front is the charged of General Vatoutine with 600.000 soldiers 10.000 canons 700 tanks and 900 planes.Like a chess, the players are in position for the most titanic tank battle of the WWII.
MODEL ATTACK FROM THE NORTH
Model begins an spectacular offensive on 5 th July at 4.30 am , The german Artillery tried to weak the Russian strong points and defenses. , but the russian soldiers are not surprised at all as were informed by a prisoner of the inminent attack . The minefields are cleared by sappers , the tactical aviation crushed the russian defenses, the german infantry completed it by granades and flamethower. The german losses are sensibles. The mines anti tank destroyed some Heavy tanks of the Heer. Ther german army advanced and Rokossovski tried to organized a contra- attack but the Russians barely handled in night combat
and Tigers crushed even the T34 attack.
On 07th July Model concentrated his forces in the ligne of Olkhovka´s hills and the Ponyri village, last obstacle before Kursk. The russians resist fiercely, several positions change of side several times .The Russian assault planes Sturmoviks cause great losses in the German columns, The russian anti tanks cleverly camouflaged allows to the Panther tanks before attack them. The Rokossovshi defense ligne stand and the german losses are harder ( 20.000 soldiers and 400 tanks. On 12th July the Russian army begins the Koutouuzov operation, the risk of encircling of the Model´s Army were important..
MANSTEIN´S OPERATION IN THE SOUTH FRONT
Manstein begins his offensive on 5th July as well. , the military operations are carried out on the other side of the Donetz river, the 2 th and 48th panzerkorps SS engaged against the 6th and 7 th Soviet Army Guards. As the traditional Blizkrieg, tanks are positioned as spearhead and represents the baptism of fire of the german Panther . the minefields significantly slow the German advance but the Gross Deutschland Division allows weaken the Russian lines. The german artillery shells the Russian defense lignes and the infantry has to finish the assaulf by flamethrower. The Russian positions are conquered but the russians prefer die before being captured by germans.Time of victorious offensives with many prisoners it`s over .Panzerkorps SS advancing is very optimistic, the 52th Russian Guards division is crushed by the combine action of Panther and Tigers , artillery and the Luftwaffe. The leibstandarte Adolf Hitler advance more than 20 km , the german advance is not enough homogeneous.
The Russian High Command is worried and Vatoutine obtains authorization to have availables more than 1000 extra tanks . 7th and 8th July are determinant, the russian fight fiercely and the german advance is more and more difficult.