Share content in social networks:

The largest tank battle in history near Prokhorovka station in the course of Kursk battle began

12 July 1943

On July 12, 1943 on the southern front of Kursk bulge near Prokhorovka station took place one of the largest battles in military history with participation of armoured units. Up to 1200 tanks and self-propelled artillery units were involved from the both sides.

From July 5 to August 23, 1943 the combats for Kursk bulge had been held. During the combats German troops had made an effort to encircle the Soviet units and pass to the offensive. In order to realize their plan they decided to use a place of arms near Prokhorovka railway station. It was the only convenient place for tanks to pass and in combats near Kursk tanks were attributed a great meaning. That is why the enemy transferred there heavy tanks ‘Tigre’ and self-propelled artillery guns ‘Ferdinand’. For the place of arms defense were sent several tank armies and corps.

On July 12 at 8:30 a.m. the formation of the 5th Guard tank army commanded by Lieutenant General P. A. Rotmistrov and 5th Guard army under the commandment of Lieutenant General A. S. Zhadov after 15 minutes of artillery preparation and the support of aviation stroke a counterblow. The hardest counter tank combat fell to the share of 18th and 29th tank corps which withstood the 2nd SS tank corps at 6 km long front sector between Storozhevoye Psyol homesteads, 2 km to the south-west of Prokhorovka.

‘… Hundreds of tanks with gaping holes, tracks and turrets tore off were burning among rye. Ammunition exploded, thousands of sparks flew in all directions. Turrets fell crashing down. The fight was on the land and in the air, burning airplanes fell down and blasted. Crews of tanks put out of action, leaving their machines, continued combat in hand-to-hand fight using their submachine guns, grenades and knives. It was an indescribable jumble of fire, metal and human bodies. Everything around was on fire and it was probably the way artists should depict the hell’, - remembers an eyewitness of the battle.

The combats for the place of arms continued up to July 14.

Neither of the sides succeeded in achieving their goals set on July 12: Germans had not occupied Prokhorovka, breached the enemy’s defenses and gain an operative open; as to the Soviet troops, they had not managed to encircle the enemy’s force.

The estimates of losses during the battle of Prokhorovka are highly varied according to different sources. But mainly the numbers vary within the limits of 300-400 tanks. The losses of the Soviet troops in these 2 days were over 300 tanks (according to some foreign source up to 400). German forces in this 2-day combat lost, according to different sources, 320-400 tanks.

In such a situation the German commandment was obliged to withdraw its forces at the southern front of Kursk bulge. So from July 16 to 24 the troops retreated to their initial position.

In memory of the fallen near Prokhorovka and for the 50th anniversary of the Great Victory on May 3, 1995 in Prokhorovka was inaugurated the Church of Saint Apostles Peter and Paul. On marble slabs are carved the names of 7 000 soldiers fallen here.

Lit.: Жуков Ю. А. Битва у Прохоровки [Электронный ресурс] // Курская битва. 2003. URL: www.kursk1943.mil.ru/kursk/timeline/07_14/; Замулин В. Н. Прохоровка — неизвестное сражение великой войны. М., 2006; Олейников Г. А. Прохоровское сражение (июль 1943). СПб., 1998.; То же [Электронный ресурс]. URL: http://militera.lib.ru/h/oleinikov/index.html; Танковое сражение у Прохоровки [Электронный ресурс] // Великая Отечественная война. 2008. URL: http://www.otvoyna.ru/proxorovka.htm; Родимцев И. А. На святое поле с посевом лжи. [Электронный ресурс] // RedNews.Ru. 2001. URL: http://www.rednews.ru/article.phtml?y=2001&m=06&d=14&id=217.

From the Presidential library materials:

Мазуркевич Р. В. Сплав мужества и стали : танкисты в Курской битве. Воронеж,1986;

Ротмистров П. А. Танковое сражение под Прохоровкой. М., 1960.