Armor Exchange Ratios at Kursk, SS Panzer Corps versus 48th Panzer Corps – part 1

This text is pulled from pages 744-745 of my Kursk book.

A look at the German and Soviet tank losses since the start of the battle against the SS Panzer corps shows:

             SS Panzer Corps   Opposing Soviet     Exchange

Date     Tank Losses           Tank Losses          Ratio

5th         54 tanks                     30 tanks               1:0.56

6th         79                            149                         1:1.89

7th         55                              86                         1:1.56

8th         47                           164                          1:3.49

9th         34                           135                          1:3.97

10th         3                             55                          1:18.33

11th       16                              9                           1:0.56

           ——                       ——-

           288 tanks              628 tanks                    1:2.18

This comparison is a case where one should not place too much reliance in the day-to-day statistics. While the German losses, calculated as a decline in ready-for-action, are reasonably accurate during this period for each day and for each division; the Soviet records are not. Overall, the Soviets lost as many or more tanks during this period, as indicated here, but there is some question how many were lost on exactly which day.

For the record, 118 tanks were lost by the Adolf Hitler SS Division while they may have been responsible for 255 Soviet tank losses (a 1-to-2.16 exchange ratio), the Das Reich SS Division lost 104 tanks, while they may have been responsible for 274 Soviet tanks (a 1-to-2.63 exchange ratio). The Totenkopf SS Division did not get as much credit, for although it lost only 66 tanks, it is only credited with 99 tanks (a 1-to-1.50 exchange ratio). One much keep in mind that these formations were supported by air, artillery, and elements of the 167th Infantry Division and they certainly played a role in causing Soviet tank losses. Furthermore, the assignment of which Soviet units faces which German units is sometime questionable as the unit boundaries overlapped and sometimes the German units were operating in close coordination with each other.

The reverse comparison can also be made, although it is less clear as there were often two different tank corps facing the same German divisions and sometimes elements of the same tank corps facing two different German divisions,. Still, one can  estimate that the XXXI Tank Corps lost 93 tanks while they may have been responsible for 15 German tanks (a 6.20-to-1 exchange ratio). The V Guards Tank Corps lost 166 while they may have been responsible for 62 German tanks (a 2.68-to-1 exchange ratio). The II Tank Corps lost 136 tanks while they may have been responsible for 34 German tanks (a 4.00-to-1 exchange ratio). Note that there is considerable overlap between these three formations and their opponents. Adding them together produces 395 Soviet tanks lost while they may have been responsible for 111 German tanks lost. this is a 3.56-to-1 exchange ratio. Finally, the carefully husbanded II Guards Tank Corps lost 48 tanks while they may have been responsible for taking out 32 German tanks (a 1.50-to-1 exchange ratio).

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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.
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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.
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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).
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Mr. Lawrence lives in northern Virginia, near Washington, D.C., with his wife and son.

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3 Comments

  1. The 10th is just odd, the same applies for the 17th to 18th exchange rates in the Kursk database. I am sure that some of those losses may have been late registrations of losses which occurred days before.

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