Tank Losses on 12/13 July 1943

I do have a nice simple graphic in my books that compares the tank losses on the 12th (and 13th) of July 1943 for both sides. It is on page 953 of my Kursk book and page 344 of my Prokhorovka book. It is shown above.

As can be seen by my count based upon the unit records, the LSSAH Panzer Grenadier Division lost 19 tanks on the 12th. The XVIII Tank Corps lost 81 tanks while the XXIX Tank Corps lost 159 tanks. This is 19 compared to 240. Now, Ben Wheatley from his photo analysis concludes it was 5 Panzer IVs lost versus over 200 Soviet tanks.

But…..this is not the whole story. To start with, the Soviet XVIII Tank Corps was partly engaged with the Totenkopf SS Panzer Grenadier Division. As I note on page 931 of my Kursk book (page 318 of my Prokhorovka book): Rotmistrov reported that at 1330 (Moscow time), the first echelon brigades were fired on by 13 Tigers tanks from the area of height 226.6, which were moving in the direction of the northwestern outskirts of Mikhailovka. The Totenkopf Division had around 11 Tigers operational on the evening of the 11th (and had 10 damaged/broken down on the 12th and 13th). Also, the XXIX Tank Corps was partly engaged with the Das Reich SS Panzer Grenadier Division. So….

(more to come)

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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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15 Comments

  1. Fascinating, is it also far to point to your post on repairs, summary below. Whilst a significant more tanks were lost by the Soviets, it was compounded by their doctrine to write of more. I suppose, the question is how many of the 308, could have been repaired using the German doctrine for reuse.

    “So, compared to the Germans, the Soviet unit wrote off a higher percentage of tanks written off as destroyed (13% versus 37%) and a lower percentage of damaged tanks repaired (57% repaired versus 25% repaired). This is pretty typical for all the German panzer and panzer grenadier divisions compared to Soviet tank and mechanized corps at Kursk. Also, most of the Soviet repaired arrived on the 15th and 16th, after the battle was winding down.”

    • Doctrine to write off more? You mean they had a doctrine to die more? Of course this depends on many factors such as repair services, availability of spare parts, battlefield control, exposure to the front, but write off figures are a product of the interaction of two forces on the battlefield and the potency of each belligerents weapon systems. AFVs were so badly damaged that repairing them was meaningless. There was no difference. The German system was more demand driven, opposed by the Soviet supply oriented refill, but even in the Soviet case most of the reinstated vehicles during offensive action came from short term repair (usually 50-66%). Many vehicles were damaged and sent into the battle multiple times. This is about survivability and sustainability.

    • I guess it depends on how one defines the battle (usually referring to the 12th to 16th July), but if I recall correctly the text in the article mentioned the 12th and referred to vehicles which were completely lost to the units on that respective day (aside from Frieser, Dr. Töppel listed similar figures). Exact losses for this day cannot be given, as information does not exist, but if we specifically speak about the tank (and anti-tank) engagement at Prokhorovka on the 12th July 1943 (Hausser vs Rotmistrov), then the 18th Tank Corps and 29th Tank Corps lost about 150 AFVs (Tanks and SPGs, irretrievably lost), the others must have suffered about 50 (2nd TC and 2GDsTC). In fact, 18thTC listed 30 irrecoverable and 20 evacuated tanks and assault guns (for the 11th-14th), 29thTC 154 irrecoverable and 5 evacuated AFVs, Group Trufanov 29.
      “LSSAH” and “das Reich” (10.7-13.7) had 3 Totalverluste (OKH, Panzerlage Süd, BA-MA RH 10/64, p.22), but these are most likely incomplete.
      The entire Korps listed (5th -18th July, report dated 28th):
      1st SS: 1 Pzkpfw 1-B, 1 PzKpfw III, 9 PzKfw IV (2 sent away for repair), 1 Pzkpfw VI (also sent away), 3 Sturmgeschütze, 3 Panzerjäger (1 sent away), 2 SdKfz 250, 11 SdKfz 251, 1 SdKfz 222, 1 SdKfZ 261
      2nd: 2 PzKpfw III, 6 PzKpfw IV, 1 PzKpfw VI, 2 Sturmgeschütze, 1 SdKfz 250
      3rd: 6 PzKpfw III (one in depot), 7 PzKpfw IV, 1 PzKpfw VI, 1 Sturmgeschütz, 2 Lafetten/Panzerjäger, 9 SdKfz (2 of them sent away), 1 SdKfz 223, 1 SdKfz 263
      The vast majority of AP ammo consumed was 75mm PzGr. 39. No information on any 88mm ammo consumption.

      For the 12th the material losses were:
      1st: 1 leichtes Infanteriegeschütz 18, 1 20mm Flak 38, 2 75mm Pak40 SP, 4 Flammenwerfer 41
      2nd: 1 mounted schwere Feldhaubitze 18/1, the barrel shattered and 1 Granatwerfer Typ 34
      3rd: 1 leichtes Infanteriegeschütz 18, 1 75mm StuK 40 L/48 barrel shattered
      The Korps suffered approx. 1/3 of their killed, wounded and missing between the 10th and 16th July of the entire losses sustained during the operation. Based on this we could assume that of the 46 Totalverluste, 15-20 incurred between the 10th and 16th July. That is 3-5 average losses for the 12th, somewhat artificial though, since it factors out fighting intensity and frequency. On average, combat damage exceeded Totalausfälle by a factor of 5-6, which would result in over 20 damaged vehicles, so the loss range would be 20-25, to account for variability.

      „Totenkopf“ engaged the 5thGA, parts of the 1stTA and 6thGDA. 5th mechanized GDC affected the fight a day later. 2ndTA reported 2 losses for the 12th of July, but these were confined to 16thTC. 2ndTA suffered 12 irrecoverable losses between the 10th and 13th.
      Alternatively we could clean the losses for combat damage for the 10th-12th July (those are figures from the KTB, Anlagen zum Kriegstagebuch Nr. 6, Generalkommando II. SS-Pz.Korps, Feindlageberichte und Tagesmeldungen, 1.6.1943-2.8.1943, BA-MA RS 2-2/18, A 248-25):
      12 PzKpfw IV combat damaged, 1 PzKpfw VI, 11 Sturmgeschütze combat lost. 2 Marders, 1 StuG type III and 4 PzKpfw IV destroyed/abandoned.
      Opposed by (18th + 29th + 54th and 55th Guards Tank-Regiments): 81 T-34 out of action (81 burnt), 1 SU-122, 24 Churchills (8 abandoned or destroyed), and 36 T-70s out of action (39 destroyed).
      For the 12th July this gives us: 7 damaged and destroyed German AFVs and 114 combat damaged Soviet AFVs (132 destroyed or abandoned), for all possible units in contact near Prokhorovka. So LSSAH must have suffered up to 6 irrecoverable losses during those days, with 25 temporary losses (sent to repair shops), for a total of 31. That is 6 (of which 4 Pz IV) to about 150 Soviet AFVs for the 12th July. The figures stated in the BBC (or WELT) article are somewhat too high, it seems that they either summed up and compared different categories or also included all Soviet irrecoverable losses suffered before the 12th. If we factor in temporary losses we would arrive at a ratio of 30 to 260 in the vicinity of Prokhorovka.

      I assume approx. half of the targets would be actually engaged by armour, which delivers a more realistic figure. That would be 1:4-7 in combat (1:15-20 for irretrievables), similar to the daily casualty exchange rates (from the KDB). I think literature focuses too much on the engagement at Prokhorovka, it is somewhat meaningless to put such a high emphasize on armour. The heavies also played a subordinated role in this clash, there were like 2 KV tanks (1 of them probably a command vehicle) and only 3 to 4 PzKpfw VI available.

      • Thank you, I am presently reading the battle of Kursk David M Glantz and Jonathan M House. Also, I have got my hands on an original copy of Our Armoured Forces Lieut. General Sir G.leQ Martel 1946, He lead the British military mission during the Battle. His account is strategic, but talks about the successful attacking of the Haunches, the flanks, to prevent the Germans widening the base. Also that the Soviet airforce prevents the Luftwaffe obtaining air superiority. His analysis is close to that of historians once the Soviet recorded became available.

  2. Can you post or link to better map sources showing the AT ditch? The one in your book is poor quality.

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