Armor Exchange Ratios at Kursk, 5 and 6 July 1943

Just a little more on armor exchange ratios at Kursk. This is taken from pages 640-641 of my book.

It has been determined that the German tank losses due to mines was somewhere around 131 for the 5th of July. On the 6th of July, it gets harder to determine the mine losses, and an estimation has placed the losses tentatively at 69 tanks. This is 37.95 percent of the armor loss for those two days and 13.11 percent of total armor losses for 4 to 18 July. After that, it appears that the percentage of tanks lost to mines declined to perhaps five percent or less for the subsequent days. Overall, mines probably caused around 15 to 20 percent of German tank losses during the course of the entire battle.

If one does a loss-exchange ratio analysis, less the German mine losses in the first two days, the following figures are generated:

                                                              Decline in Strength

First Tank Army (less XXXI TC & 2 Bdes)       289

XLVIII Panzer Corps                                        332

  less Panther breakdowns                             -115

  less mine losses, 5th                                      -54

  less mine losses, 6th                                      -32



This now shows an exchange ratio of 2.21 to one in favor of the German XLVIII Panzer Corps. A look as the SS Panzer Corps shows a very lopsided result:

                                                          Decline in Strength

Other Voronezh Front Armor                         385

SS Panzer Corps                                           187

  less mine losses, 5th                                    -33

  less mine losses, 6th                                    -14



This shows an exchange ratio of 2.75 to one in favor of the Germans. Still, if one could factor out the other weapons effects, it would appear that the Germans, in their tank operations, were achieving kill ratios of two to one or greater. Furthermore, it does appear that the kill ratios achieved by the SS armor was superior to the neighboring Wehrmacht units, although it also appears that the primary reason for this was the way Soviet armored operations were conducted east of the Vorskla (under Vatutin and Chistyakov’s direction) as opposed to those west of the Vorskla (under Katukov’s command).

I left out the footnotes.



P.S. Picture is labeled: “Panzer-Abteilung 51 Panthers knocked out in a minefield ambush while advancing in Cherkasy, Ukraine – July 1943. Source:

P.P.S. Suspect they mean Cherkasskoye, Russia.


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Christopher A. Lawrence
Christopher A. Lawrence

Christopher A. Lawrence is a professional historian and military analyst. He is the Executive Director and President of The Dupuy Institute, an organization dedicated to scholarly research and objective analysis of historical data related to armed conflict and the resolution of armed conflict. The Dupuy Institute provides independent, historically-based analyses of lessons learned from modern military experience.
Mr. Lawrence was the program manager for the Ardennes Campaign Simulation Data Base, the Kursk Data Base, the Modern Insurgency Spread Sheets and for a number of other smaller combat data bases. He has participated in casualty estimation studies (including estimates for Bosnia and Iraq) and studies of air campaign modeling, enemy prisoner of war capture rates, medium weight armor, urban warfare, situational awareness, counterinsurgency and other subjects for the U.S. Army, the Defense Department, the Joint Staff and the U.S. Air Force. He has also directed a number of studies related to the military impact of banning antipersonnel mines for the Joint Staff, Los Alamos National Laboratories and the Vietnam Veterans of American Foundation.
His published works include papers and monographs for the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment and the Vietnam Veterans of American Foundation, in addition to over 40 articles written for limited-distribution newsletters and over 60 analytical reports prepared for the Defense Department. He is the author of Kursk: The Battle of Prokhorovka (Aberdeen Books, Sheridan, CO., 2015), America’s Modern Wars: Understanding Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam (Casemate Publishers, Philadelphia & Oxford, 2015), War by Numbers: Understanding Conventional Combat (Potomac Books, Lincoln, NE., 2017) , The Battle of Prokhorovka (Stackpole Books, Guilford, CT., 2019), The Battle for Kyiv (Frontline Books, Yorkshire, UK, 2023), Aces at Kursk (Air World, Yorkshire, UK, 2024), Hunting Falcon: The Story of WWI German Ace Hans-Joachim Buddecke (Air World, Yorkshire, UK, 2024) and The Siege of Mariupol (Frontline Books, Yorkshire, UK, 2024).
Mr. Lawrence lives in northern Virginia, near Washington, D.C., with his wife and son.

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