The Soviet General Staff study on Kursk compared to Unit Records (part 2 of 3 – Airplane Losses)

This is the second part of my comparison of the data provided in the Soviet General Staff study on Kursk that was prepared in March-April 1944 compared to the Second and Seventeenth Air Army records that I have.


            There are one table on losses in the Soviet General Staff study on Kursk that relate to the Second and Seventeenth Air Army. They are provided below. I have broken it into two tables for this blog:

The Air Struggle Along the Enemy’s Main Axis

                             Air          Enemy Losses:

                             Battles   Fighter   Bomber  Total

5 July                       81           71           83         154

6 July                       64           40           65         105 

7 July                       74           44           78         122  

8 July                       65           54           52         106

9 July                       62           49           22           71

10-14 July              152         112           93         205

15-18 July               43           45           27           72

Totals                     541         415         420         835


                            Second Air Army Losses:   

                            Fighter  Bomber  Assault   Total

5 July                       36           15           27           78

6 July                       23           —             22           45

7 July                       24           —             13           37

8 July                       24             1           16           41

9 July                       16             1           15           32

10-14 July                49           14           75         138

15-18 July              (the figures in the line above cover from 10-18 July)  

Totals                       172           31         168         371

            Now, these figures have been discussed before. The losses of the German VIII Air Corps was 111 planes, vice the 835 claimed here. The losses of the Second Air Army according to the records we reviewed was 481 planes from 5 to 18 July: see Appendix IV, Table II.32 (page 1424) of Kursk: The Battle of Prokhorovka), vice the 371 reported here. This report also does not include Seventeenth Air Army claims or losses. The Seventeenth Air Army’s losses were significant (182 planes). So, it does appear that the Soviet General Staff study basically leaves out 292 out of their 663 airplanes losses (44% of their losses), effectively under reporting their air losses by almost half.

       This is concerning, for it does appear that Soviet General Staff study is understating the Second Air Army losses, omitting the considerable losses from the Seventeenth Air Army and of course, grossly overclaiming the number of German aircraft shot down. This was in an internal classified report that was supposed to be an analysis of the battle. Hard to properly analyze if your data is not correct.

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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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