Losses of the 32nd and 31st Tank Brigades at Prokhorovka

Dr. Wheatley requested me to list out the losses for the 32nd and 31st Tank Brigades on 12 July 1943. They were the two attacking tank brigades on the right flank of the XXIX Tank Corps, with the 32nd Tank Brigade in the first echelon and the 31st in the second echelon. Next to the 32nd Tank Brigade was the 25th Tank Brigade and they were supported by the 53rd Motorized Rifle Brigade. Here are their reports (the text in italics are the direct translations of the reports, done by Dr. Richard Harrison):

Operational Report #90, 0800 July 11, 1943. HQ 29th TC:

Corps material and supply situation:

25th TBde: 32 T-34s, 39 T-70s, 103 cars, 4 45mm guns, 3 37mm guns, 6 82mm mortars

31st TBde: 31 T-34s, 39 T-70s, 103 cars, 4 45mm guns, 2 37mm guns, 6 82mm mortars

32nd TBde: 63-T34s, 102 cars, 4 45mm guns, 2 25mm guns, and 6 82mm mortars

53rd MotRBde: 293 cars, 17 BA-64 armored cars, 12 76mm guns, 12 45mm guns, 30 82mm mortars and 6 120mm mortars.

271st Mortar Rgt: 69 cars and 36 120mm mortars

1446th Self-Propelled ArtRgt: 28 cars, 9 76mm SP guns, 12 122mm howitzers

108th ATArtRgt: 37 cars, 12 76mm guns and 8 45mm guns

75th Motorcycle Bn: 10 BA-64s, 13 cars, 72 motorcycles, and 4 82mm mortars

38th Armored Bn: 7 T-70s, 12 BA-10s, 10 BA-64s and 12 cars

363rd Ind Communications Bn: 74 cars, 10 BA-64s, and 3 T-34s.

193rd Sapper Bn: 31 cars

69th (?) Reconnaissance Bn: 15 cars

72nd (?) Reconnaissance Bn: 10 cars

1st (?) Co: 45 cars

7th (?): 6 cars

Combat Report #73, 1600, July 11, 1943, HQ: 29th TC:

Type……………………….25th TBde…..31st TBde…..32nd TBde…..1446th SP Art Rgt

T-34…………………………31………………29……………….60………………-

T-34 (in repair)…………..1……………….3…………………..4……………….-

T-70………………………..36……………….38………………..-………………..-

T-70 (in repair)…………..3………………..1…………………-…………………-

KV……………………………1………………………………………………………..-

122mm SAU………………1……………………………………………………….11

76mm SAU………………..1………………………………………………………….8

Corps Strength 123 T-34s, 81 T-70s, 11 122mm SAUs, and 8 76mm SAU.

Note that this Corps Strength list does not match the list above in any category. In part because there were 7 T-70s with the 38th Armored Bn and 3 T-34s with the 363rd Ind Communications Bn.

Combat Report #75, 2400, July 12, 1943, HQ 29th TC:

25th Tank Brigade losses: 140 men killed, 180 wounded. 13 T-34s and 10 T-70s were irretrievably lost; 11 T-34s and 10 T-70s were knocked out or hit mines; 7 T-34s and 4 T-70s are out of action due to technical breakdowns.

32nd Tank Brigade losses: 100 men killed and 130 wounded. Overall, 54 T-34s were either burned, knocked out, or are in need of repair.

31st Tank Brigade losses: 20 T-34s and 18 T-70s knocked out and burned. Tanks in line: 3, with the location and condition of the remainder being investigated.

During the night 3 T-34s and 1 122mm SAU were repaired.

The evacuation of knocked-out tanks is being carried out by 3 turretless T-34s and a single M-3 “Grant”. Four brigades are working to restore damaged equipment, with one working to repair self-propelled guns; 2 brigades working to repair 32nd TBdes equipment, and 1 working for 31st TBde.

Note the reference to evacuation of tanks, which does have some definite impact on the photo reconnaissance pictures taken on 16 July and 7 August 1943.

Operational Report #2, 0700, July 13, 1943. HQ 5th Gds Tank Army:

29th TC: Losses: 95 T-34s, 38 T-70s, 8 self-propelled platforms, 240 men killed and 610 wounded.

Combat Report #76, 1300, July 13, 1943, HQ 29th TC:

31st Tank Bde: Material Supply and condition: 8 T-34s and 20 T-70s in line; during the night 8 T-34s were evacuated from the field.

Losses for 12 July: 14 men killed, 27 wounded, and 15 missing. 1 45mm guns wrecked, 1 heavy MG, 2 SMGs and 1 rifle.

25th Tank Bde, consisting of 50th MotRBn, 11 T-70s and 2 guns from an antitank battalion, are defending 1 km east of Storzhevoye.

32nd Tk Bde: Tanks in line: 12 T-34s

1529th Self-Propelled Art Rgt is in Prokhorovka.

Operational Report #91, 0400 July 14, 1943. HQ 29th TC:

25th TBde losses: 40 men killed, 87 wounded, 2 T-70s burns, and 1 knocked out.

53rd MotRBde: Losses for July 12: 517 men killed and missing, and 572 wounded; 16 heavy MGS, 25 AT rifles, 2 45mm guns, 13 light MGs, and 2 cars.

1446th Self-Propelled ArtRgt turned over 2 guns to 25th TBde and 6 to 32nd TBde. Losses for July 12: 19 men killed, 14 wounded; 8 122mm SAUs and 3 76mm SAUs destroyed.

108th ATArtRgt is the corps commander’s reserve without losses

271st Mortar Rgt has been subordinated to 53rd MotRBde. Losses for July 12: 5 men killed and missing, with 4 wounded.

On July 12 1 man was killed and another wounded.

Material Condition:

On hand: 31 T-34s, 40 T-70s, 3 122mm SAUs, and 5 76mm SAUs

Losses: 58 T-34s, 23 T-70s, 8 122mm SAUs, and 3 76mm SAUs

Undetermined location: 18 T-34s and 9 T-70s

Needing major repairs: 11 T-34s and 5 T-70s

Needing lesser repairs: 13 T-34s and 8 T-70s

 

Operational Report #4, 0700, July 14, 1943. HQ 5th Gds Tank Army:

29th TC: Losses: 3 T-70s, of which 2 were irreplaceable; 40 men killed and 87 wounded. Tanks on hand: 31 T-34s, 40 T-70s.

Operational Report #92, 1600 July 14, 1943. HQ 29th TC:

25th TBde losses: 1 T-70 burns, 1 man killed and 5 wounded.

Equipment Strength:

On hand: 33 T-34s, 39 T-70s, 3 122mm SAUs, and 5 76mm SAUs.

 

Combat Report #77, 1900, July 14, 1943. HQ 29th TC:

25th TBde: Losses 1 T-70 burned, 1 man killed and 5 wounded.

Operational Report #5, 1900, July 14, 1943. HQ 5th Gds Tank Army:

29th TC: Losses: 1 T-70 burned, 1 man killed and 5 wounded. Tanks on hand: 33 T-34s and 39 T-70s.

Operational Report #6, 0700, July 15, 1943. HQ 5th Gds Tank Army:

29th TC: Tanks in line: 35 T-34s and 40 T-70s

Operational Report #94, 1600 July 15, 1943. HQ 29th TC:

31st TBde: Tanks on hand: 15 T-34s and 20 T-70s. Losses: 1 man killed.

53rd MotRBde: Losses 1 man killed, 17 wounded.

25th TBde: Tanks on hand: 5 T-34s and 19 T-70s. Loses: 1 T-70 knocked out, 1 man killed.

32nd TBde: Tanks on hand: 15 T-34s.

Operational Report #7, 0400, July 16, 1943. HQ 5th Gds Tank Army:

29th TC: Losses: 1 T-70 knocked out, 1 man killed. Tanks in line: 40 T-34s and 45 T-70s.

Combat Report #80, 1900 July 16, 1943 HQ 29th TC:

25th TBde: Losses: none. Material Status: 5 T-34s and 17 T-70s in the line; 4 antitank guns; 5 82mm mortars; 3 37mm AA guns.

31st TBde: Material Status: 16 T-34s and 21 T-70s in the line; 3 45mm guns, 2 37mm guns, 2 MBGs, and 3 82mm guns [probably mortars]

32nd TBde: Losses for July 16: 5 men killed, 5 wounded, 1 T-34. Enemy aircraft, in groups of up to 60 planes, bombed the brigade’s positions 4 times.

One notes that in most wargames, attacking a tank brigade with 120 or more Ju-87s and Fw-190s would probably result in more than 13 casualties (see below).

53rd MotRBde: Losses 2 men wounded. Material status: 11 76mm guns; 7 45mm guns; 51 AT rifles; 19 HMGs, 41 LMGs.

1446th Self-Propelled ArtRgt: Equipment on hand: 4 122mm SAUs and 6 76mm SAUs.

271st Mortar Rgt: Losses: 3 men wounded due to bombing and 3 cars damaged. Material condition: 33 120mm mortars.

108th ATArtRgt: Material status: 12 76mm and 8 45mm guns.

38th Armored Bn: Material status: 7 T-70s, 12 Ba-10s and 10 Ba-64s.

75th Motorcycle Bn: 9 BA-64s and 60 motorcycles.

Operational Report #95, 2400 July 16, 1943. HQ 29th TC:

Losses for July 16: 6 men killed and 19 wounded, 1 T-34, 3 cars knocked out and 3 damaged.’

Material Condition: 42 T-34s, 47 T-70s, 1 KV, 4 122mm SAUs, 6 76mm SAUs, 23 76mm guns, 26 45mm guns, 5 37mm guns, 3 25mm guns, 39 120mm mortars, 44 82mm mortars. By 0600 on July 17 5 T-34s and 3 T-70s will be restored.

Operational Report #96, 2400 July 16, 1943. HQ 29th TC:

Material Status: 42 T-34s, 50 T-70s, 1 KV, 4 122mm SAUs, 6 76mm SAUs, 23 76mm guns, 26 45mm guns, 5 47mm guns, 3 25mm guns, and 44 82mm mortars.

Operational Report #8, 0400, July 17, 1943. HQ 5th Gds Tank Army:

29th TC: Losses: 1 T-34, 5 men killed and 10 wounded. 6 cars smashed or knocked out. Tanks in line: 39 T-34s and 45 T-70s.

XXIX Tank Corps (Fond 332, Opis: 1943, Delo: 80, Pages 2-3):

Information on Equipment Loses and Strengths, July 12-16

Equipment Strength: July 12-16

T-34s: 56

T-70: 52

KV: 1

SU-122: 4

SU-76: 6

Irreplaceable loses (burned)

T-34: 60

T-70: 31

SU-122: 8

SU-76: 3

Transportation Equipment Strength

1.5 tons: 572

2.5-3 tons: 205

Irreplaceable Losses:

1.5 tons: 15

2.5-3 tons: 8

Jeeps: 2

Artillery Strength:

76mm: 23

45mm: 26

37mm AA: 5

25mm AA: 3

120mm Mortar: 39

82mm Mortar: 44

Irreplaceable Artillery Losses:

76mm gun: 1

45mm gun: 1

120mm mortar: 3

82mm mortar: 5

Readiness of Rifle Companies:

25th TBde: 50%

31st TBde: 55%

32nd TBde: 85%

53rd MotRBde: 40%

 

Note that I had to retype all these entries, and I am ham-fisted, so there might be typo  or two in them.

By the way, reviewing this just reinforces my opinion that the 31st Tank Brigade was in a second echelon position and used as such. May not have ever gotten past Oktyabrskii Sovkhoz.

Share this:
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.

Articles: 1516

4 Comments

  1. Christopher – this is an absolutely superb effort! Thank you for taking the time to post this information.

    There are so many interesting aspects to the figures. 1 example being – Operational Report #91, 0400 July 14, 1943. HQ 29th TC: Clearly shows that the Corps write offs nearly all occurred prior to the 14th July – as do the lack of losses in latter reports.

    Material Condition:
    On hand: 31 T-34s, 40 T-70s, 3 122mm SAUs, and 5 76mm SAUs
    Losses: 58 T-34s, 23 T-70s, 8 122mm SAUs, and 3 76mm SAUs
    Undetermined location: 18 T-34s and 9 T-70s
    Needing major repairs: 11 T-34s and 5 T-70s
    Needing lesser repairs: 13 T-34s and 8 T-70s

    Compare this to the ‘final’ figures from 5th Guards Tank Army HQ for 12-16 July

    29th Tank Corps In service
    T-34 tanks 42
    T-70 tanks 47
    122-mm self-propelled guns 4
    76-mm self-propelled guns 6

    In transit and under repair
    T-34 tanks 14
    T-70 tanks 5
    122-mm self-propelled guns –
    76-mm self-propelled guns –

    Irreversible losses
    T-34 tanks 60
    T-70 tanks 31
    122-mm self-propelled guns 8
    76-mm self-propelled guns 3
    Totals for tanks and self-propelled guns 91/11

    So only two further T-34 were written off on the 14th, 15th or 16th – clearly little fighting was occurring in the 29th Tank Corps sector after the 13th (of course we know little occurred on the 13th as well).

    It is also interesting that the 5th Guards Tank Army was writing off tanks prior to seeing the tanks condition on the battlefield.

    The tanks in line numbers are very illuminating as well – operational tank numbers were low even for the 31st Tank Brigade (just 3) straight after the 12th.

    Re evacuation. It is interesting that some tanks between Hill 252.2 & Prokhorovka were evacuated, this must have been a very difficult task (even at night) given the German possession of the high ground around the Oct state farm & Hill 252.2.

    • Well, the 31st Tank Brigade reports at 2400 12 July losing 20 T-34s (out of 29) and 18 T-70s (out of 38) with 3 in line. But….at 1300 on 13 July they report 8 T-34s and 20 T-70s in line. Furthermore 8 T-34s were evacuated from the field. So…..

      1. Did they repair 25 tanks in the 13 hours between these two reports (this is not very likely)?…..or….
      2. Did they in fact for the 12th start with 67 tanks, lost 38 leaving them with 28 (and one not accounted for…perhaps broken down)?

      It does appear that they lost 38-39 tanks on the 12th and still had 28 active. This is less losses than the 32nd Tank Brigade, which is what would be expected if they were the second echelon force that attacked after the 32nd Tank Brigade. One notes that they were also able to recover 8 T-34s (see 1300 13 July report), which would also strongly indicate that the 31st Tank Brigade did not go past Oktyabrskii Sovkhoz. I would also bring you attention to the Soviet reports in this blog post:

      https://dupuyinstitute.org/2019/08/07/so-did-the-soviet-31st-tank-brigade-attack-on-the-morning-of-12-july-1943/

      1. There does not appear much basis for which to make the argument that both the 32nd and 31st Tank Brigade charged in the morning past Oktyabrskii Sovkhoz.
      …..a. Evidence seems to indicate that the 31st Tank Brigade did not.
      …..b. There is no evidence that the 32nd Tank Brigade did so from Soviet sources but nothing that strongly indicates that it did not. Ribbentrop and his driver’s post-war interviews does indicate that at least one brigade size force did do this.
      ……….1. Note that Zamulin has at least 15 T-34s from the 32nd Tank Brigade taking a different path and ending up at Komsomlets Sovkhoz. I think this is correct. So it was a reduced brigade of maybe 45 T-34s would have tried to attack to the tank ditch.
      ……….2. It would help to get precise counts of Soviet tanks by location from the post-battle aerial photographs.

      2. I also think the weight of evidence is very much against Toeppel’s hypothesis (or should I call it speculation?) that the Soviets did not attack until 1000.

      Anyhow, I hope this is all helping.

      • As I commented at the time on the post you link above, on the contrary I think the Soviet reports indicate there was a joint attack by the 32nd & 31st TBs My point from the post still stands:

        I am not to sure how; ‘b) The 31st Tank Brigade: At 0830 following the signal (the rocket artillery salvo), the attack of the tanks and infantry began without artillery preparation or air cover’, leads to the conclusion that ‘it does not appear from Zamulin that the 31st Tank Brigade participated in the initial attack either’? The timing of the 31st Tank Brigade’s attack and the lack of artillery preparation leads me to the opposite conclusion.

        You seemed to have overlooked the most important part of the 31st Tank Brigade’s political officer quote. He also stated the 31st Tank Brigade like the 32nd Tank Brigade began the offensive without artillery preparation.

        ‘The insufficiently active advance of our brigade are explained by the strong influence of the enemy’s aviation given our aviation’s lack of support for the offensive, and the enemy’s strong artillery and mortar fire, in contrast to our very weak artillery preparation at the moment of attack’.

        As we know this matches German testimony that stated the start of the offensive caught some of the Germans off-guard asleep on Hill 252.2 – i.e. they were not woken by a barrage. So both full quotes from Zamulin in fact indicate the 31st Tank Brigade was part of the initial offensive alongside (or just behind) the 32nd Tank Brigade’s.

        Quote for the 32nd Tank Brigade reads ‘… a) The 32nd Tank Brigade: At 0830 12.07.43 without working over the enemy’s forward edge of defence with artillery and aviation… attacked the enemy in the direction along the railroad line in a sector up to 900 meters wide’.

        So – I still think that is quite clear the 31st TB attacked alongside the 32nd TB. The 31st Tank Brigade came into much more difficulty closer to Prokhorovka than the 32nd (at the Oct state farm) so its not surprising tanks were recovered by 31st TB. 31st TB losses were still very heavy and I see no reason why the 31st TB would not want to keep moving and bypass the Oct state farm. After all we know Soviet armoured doctrine was strict and tankers would want to reach their objectives beyond the anti-tank ditch come what may.

        The truth is we are drawing our own conclusions, neither of which can be truly proved to be correct. Still, I am very much enjoying the debate and any new thoughts on the battle are great to discuss.

        • The truth is we are drawing our own conclusions, neither of which can be truly proved to be correct. Still, I am very much enjoying the debate and any new thoughts on the battle are great to discuss.

          Well, I do not think we will resolve our differences today, for as you say “neither of which can be truly proved to be correct.” I will probably post up something on Soviet artillery on the 12th in a week or two (I have had some other tasks surface to the top of my pile).

          Now, as the 32nd Tank Brigade was armed only with T-34s and the 31st Tank Brigade was half-armed with much smaller and lighter T-70s, then if we could sort out the T-70s in the aerial photographs, that would go a way to resolving what the 31st Tank Brigade did this day. Yet, in a combat environment, it is clear that the T-70s hung back compared to the T-34s. Crews were safer in the lighter T-70 than in a T-34.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *