Outline

What?
The battle of Kursk is a series of German -Soviet fought battles and operations around the Kursk salient during the Eastern Front summer campaign of 1943.

Who?
German and Soviet armed forces involved in the Eastern Front during World War Two, specifically, the German Army Group Centre and Army Group South, and the Soviet Central Front and Vorenzh Front.

When?
German operations: 4 th July ± 20 th July, 1943 Soviet operations: 4 th July ± 23 rd August, 1943

Where?
Eastern Front of World War Two, the salient near Kursk which was controlled by the Soviets. See map 1.a and 1.b for reference.

List of main units
Soviet
y y y y y y y y y y y y y General Nikolay Vatutin ± Soviet Vorenzh Front 6 th Guards Army - Lieutenant General I. M. Chistakyov 7 th Guards Army - Lieutenant General M. S. Shumilov 38 th Army - Lieutenant General N. E. Chibisov 40 th Army - Lieutenant General ± K. S. Moskalenko 69 th Army - Lieutenant General V. D. Kriuchenkin 1 st Tank Army - Lieutenant General M. E. Katukov General Konstantin Rokossovksy ± Soviet Central Front 13 th Army - Lieutenant General N. P. Pukhov 48 th Army - Lieutenant General P. L. Romenenko 60 th Army - Lieutenant General I. D. Chernyahovsky 65 th Army - Lieutenant General P. I. Batov 70 th Army - Lieutenant General I. V. Galanirt 2 nd Tank Army - Lieutenant General A. G. Rodion General Ivan S. Konev - Steppe Front 4 Guards Army - Lieutenant General G. I. Kulik 5 th Guards Army - Lieutenant General A. S. Zh adov 27 th Army - Lieutenant General S. G. Trofimenko 47 th Army - Lieutenant General Khozlov 53 rd Army - Lieutenant General I. M. Mangorov 5 th Guards Tank Army - Lieutenant General P. A Rotmistrov
th

y y y y y y

German
Field Marshall Erich von Manstein ± German Army Group South y y y 4 th Panzer Army - Colonel General Hermann Hoth Army Detachment Kempf - General Werner Kempf VIIIth Air Corps (Luftflotte 4) Field Marshall Gunther von Kulge ± German Army Group Centre y y y 2 nd Panzer Army - Colonel General Rudolf Schmidt 9th Army - Colonel General Walter Model 1 st Air Division (Luftflotte 6) ± Colonel General von Griem

Prelude to Kursk
In 1943, on the Eastern Front a monumental shift of initiative (?) occurred between the German and the Soviet forces. After the defeat and capture of the German 6 th Army at Stalingrad in February 1943, Soviet forces continued their counter offensive against the German forces; breaking the thousand day siege of Leningrad and liberating the Caucasus. The Soviet forces concentrated their attacks to the North and West towards the Kharkov and Kursk regions. Despite the heavy losses and casualties, Hitler commanded the German reserves and SS Panzer units to the front in an effort to regain the initiative. On 20 February 1943, Field Mar shall von Manstein began a counter offensive at the Soviet salient near Kharkov. By mid March the Germans had regained Kharkov and began to push the Soviet line back. Though it seemed Germany had regained the initiative the German High Command (OKH) realised that it could not commence a major strategic offensive on the Eastern Front; though that did not mean to abandon the idea of a summer offensive campaign. As the OKH considered a summer offensive, a particular section of the line stood out. The Kursk sal ient was a Soviet controlled section and housed one fifth of the Soviet forces. The bulge was 250 kilometres wide and 160 kilometres deep. The Soviet supreme command also noticed the bulge around Kursk in the line and predicted a German offensive on the a rea.

German Preparations and Plans
The German High Command (OKH) looked upon the Kursk salient as the place to mount a limited offensive. The reason behind the offensive on the Kursk salient was that it would shorten the German line by 250 kilometres and would release 18-20 German divisions to be deployed elsewhere. By March planning for the German summer offensive began and by the middle of the Month the OKH had issued Operations order 5, which outlined basic structure of the offensive, codenamed Operation Citadel. The OKH had to take into consideration that the Soviets would be planning their summer offensives and that the Red Army would construct a mass defence around the salient. For this reason Field Marshall von Manstein proposed to begin the ass ault as soon as possible, advising to attack after the rasputiza (Russian Spring thaw) had ended (late May to early April). This would also provide the Germans with an added momentum which had been established in March with the recapture of Kharkov. Adolf Hitler considered this operation with the advice received from the OKH, though he did not discard the idea of a more extensive summer campaign; with other operations such as Habicht and Panther include in the offensives. But the limited number of units ava ilable would hinder the offence and ultimately Hitler made the decision that Operation Citadel was to go ahead. OKH issued the Operations Order 6, on 15 April, which informed the commanders of the armies involved in Citadel to be ready to launch the assault on six days notice any time after 28 April. The German armies on the Eastern Front were heavily depleted of manpower, tanks, vehicles, weapons, equipment and ammunition, all of which must be strengthened for the armies to commit to Operation Citadel. Because of the need to recover the strength, the offensive had to be delayed. The postponement was furthered by Hitler¶s desire to utilise the latest German technology and equipment (Tigers, Panthers, Elefants) in the operation against the Soviets.

Soviet Preparations and plans
The Soviet Supreme Command (Stavka) had noticed the salient in the line around Kursk. They expected the bulge to be the site of the next German offensive, which was confirmed by the Soviet ³Red Orchestra´ (or ³Lucy Spy Ring´) who had r eported about the planned German offensive on the salient. The Stavka and Josef Stalin now had to consider whether to strike first or wait and then mount a counter -attack. Stalin envisioned a major assault made by the Central and Vorenzh Fronts against th e Germans. But many of general staff officers of Stavka advised to create a defence to bleed the German forces then begin a counter -attack. Marshal of the Soviet Union and Chief of general staff, Alexander Vasilevsky, ordered that all front commanders to i mprove their defensive positions during the rasputiza, and focus particularly on tank defences. Stalin accepted the defence strategy proposed by the Stavka and the defence of Kursk was placed under the Central ( General Konstantin Rokossovksy) and Vorenzh (General Nikolay Vatutin) Fronts and both fronts prepared an intricate structure of defence systems to counter measure the German offensive. The Soviet forces prepared eight lines of defence and positioned the strategic reserve (Steppe Front) East of Kursk . The Soviet Red Army also lay down thousands of anti -tank and anti-personnel mines, dug hundreds of kilometres of trenches. These measures of defence were optimised by using several ³on field´ tactics such as pakfront, a German tactic in which around 10 anti-tank guns were under the command of one officer and fired at one target and maskirovka or operational and strategic deception plan which included; fake trenches and airfields, dummy tanks and artillery and false tank -dispersal areas.

Operation Citadel
Operational Citadel was the codename of the German summer offensive of 1943 on the Kursk salient. It was proposed by the German High Command (OKH) in Operations Order 5, mid March 1943, and was designated by Hitler as the summer offensive on the Eastern front. The plan was finalized on April 15, 1943 when OKH issued Operations Order 6. The operation involved the German Army Group Centre (AGC) commanded by Field Marshall Gunther von Kulge and Army Group South (AGS) commanded by Field Marshall Erich v on Manstein. The offensive was planned so as to trap the Soviet forces defending the Kursk salient by attacking in a pincer like method. Model¶s 9 th Army, of the AGC, would begin from Orel, to the north of the salient and attack south towards Kursk. At the sam e time, Hoth¶s 4 th Panzer Army and the Kempf army detachment would attack north from Kharkov towards Kursk. The end result was both forces met at Kursk and trap the Soviet forces in the bulge. If successful the armies could continue to move eastward on the ir own initiative.