TDI Friday Read: Tank Combat at Kursk

Today’s edition of TDI Friday Read is a roundup of posts by TDI President Christopher Lawrence exploring the details of tank combat between German and Soviet forces at the Battle of Kursk in 1943. The prevailing historical interpretation of Kursk is of the Soviets using their material and manpower superiority to blunt and then overwhelm the German offensive. This view is often buttressed by looking at theĀ  ratio of the numbers of tanks destroyed in combat. Chris takes a deeper look at the data, the differences in the ways “destroyed” tanks were counted and reported, and the differing philosophies between the German and Soviet armies regarding damaged tank recovery and repair. This yields a much more nuanced perspective on the character of tank combat at Kursk that does not necessarily align with the prevailing historical interpretations. Historians often discount detailed observational data on combat as irrelevant or too difficult to collect and interpret. We at TDI believe that with history, the devil is always in the details.

Armor Exchange Ratios at Kursk

Armor Exchange Ratios at Kursk, 5 and 6 July 1943

Soviet Tank Repairs at Kursk (part 1 of 2)

Soviet Tank Repairs at Kursk (part 2 of 2)

German Damaged versus Destroyed Tanks at Kursk

Soviet Damaged versus Destroyed Tanks at Kursk

Comparative Tank Exchange Ratios at Kursk

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Shawn Woodford
Shawn Woodford

Shawn Robert Woodford, Ph.D., is a military historian with nearly two decades of research, writing, and analytical experience on operations, strategy, and national security policy. His work has focused on special operations, unconventional and paramilitary warfare, counterinsurgency, counterterrorism, naval history, quantitative historical analysis, nineteenth and twentieth century military history, and the history of nuclear weapon development. He has a strong research interest in the relationship between politics and strategy in warfare and the epistemology of wargaming and combat modeling.

All views expressed here are his and do not reflect those of any other private or public organization or entity.

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