Author: David M. Grants
Translation: Sun Bo
Wehrmacht commanders took all common precautions to cover up their offensive intentions around Kursk. On March 30, 1943, after the headquarters of the 9th Army gave up the bloody Lezhev-Viazima outburst, it went south and entered Orel under the alias of the Second Fortress Command (Festungsstab II). Imply that you are performing a purely defensive mission. In order to strengthen the effect of deception, the German soldiers on the front line built trenches in full view of the enemy. However, as described in Chapter 2, the Soviet command was not fooled.
In the spring of this year, the German army is always gathering. When the battle begins, A total of five German armies were assembled on two fronts. Von Klug's central army group is located on the northern line and is responsible for commanding three of the army groups. The Second Armored Army was adapted from Guderian’s proud Second Armored Group and was responsible for defending the north and east sides of the Orel Bulge. Despite the name of armor, this group army of about 160,000 people is actually composed of fourteen dissatisfied infantry divisions and one armored grenadier division (25th Panzergrenadier Division), organized into three The Army Corps (the Fifty-Fifth Army, the Fifty-third Army and the Thirty-Fifth Army) has two armored divisions (the 5th and 8th armored divisions) and two security divisions. When the Soviet Union launched a counteroffensive in mid-July and tried to capture Orel, the facts would prove that the army was weak and precarious. To make matters worse, the commander of the Second Panzer Army is Lieutenant General Rudolf Schmidt. This professional soldier has no secrets.Own aversion to the Nazi regime. Schmidt was dismissed on July 10, so the Second Armored Army had no leader at the moment when it needed leadership the most.
The German Ninth Army will take on the main offensive task of the Northern Front. The commander of this Army is calm The calm Walter Model, he has eloquently expressed his doubts about the offensive to von Kluge and Hitler many times. The Ninth Army has 335,000 people, under its jurisdiction 21 German divisions and three Hungarian divisions, including six armored divisions (the 2nd, 4th, 9th, 12th, 18th and 20th armored divisions), one The Panzergrenadier Division (10th Panzergrenadier Division) and fourteen infantry divisions (see "Appendix A: German Combat Sequence").The old No. 3 and No. 4 tanks mainly consisted of 590 tanks and 424 assault guns, but not all of them could be used in combat at the beginning of the battle.
Most of Model’s forces are divided into five armies and four infantry divisions The twentieth army is in the west, and the 23rd army, which has three and one-third infantry divisions under its jurisdiction, is in the east. The 46th, 47th, and 41st armored armies are in the center. The Forty-seventh Armored Corps of General Joachim Lemmelsen Armored Corps, with the 2nd, 9th, and 20th Armored Divisions, and the 6th Infantry Division, launched the main attack on the strong defense line of the Soviet Central Front. In addition, Lemmelsen has a 21st Armored Brigade, which consists of two "Tiger" tank companies (a total of 31 "Tiger" and 15 No. 3).Tanks) consisted of the 505th Armored Battalion and the 909th Assault Artillery Battalion with 36 assault guns. Admiral Joseph Halpe’s 41st Armored Corps should be equipped with two "elephant" anti-tank destroyers, the 18th Armored Division, the 86th and 292nd Infantry Divisions, and the 653th and 654th Tank Destroyer Battalions. The troops (equipped with 5 tanks and 105 "Ferdinand" self-propelled anti-tank guns), and three assault artillery battalions (177th and 24th assault artillery battalions, and 216th heavy assault artillery battalions) supported the main attack. In addition, the 46th Panzer Corps of Admiral Hans Zorn will also invest four infantry divisions to participate in the main assault of the armored forces.
The German No. 4 tank that carried out the impact in Kursk in 1943
Lemmelsen, Halpe, Zorn and the other two commanders of the Ninth Army are all experienced military commanders. They were prominent in Lezhev-Viazma a few months ago. The army fought hard and successfully blocked the superior forces of the Soviet Union. 5 Faced with the current difficulties, they hardly had any illusions. In addition to these five armies, Model also assembled a temporary reserve team, including the 4th and the 4th. The 12th Panzer Division and the 10th Panzergrenadier Division have a total of 184 tanks.
Library At the "tip of the nose" to the west of the bulge, is the Second Army of 96,000 under General Walter Weiss (not to be confused with the Second Armored Army). The eight infantry divisions and three Anti-tankThe battalion, organized into the 23rd and 7th Army Corps, is responsible for maintaining the weak links between the Central Army Group and the Southern Army Group, and has maintained defense throughout the entire battle.
In addition to the combat forces of the Second Armored Group, the Ninth Army and the Second Army, Feng Kluge also has a considerable number of troops responsible for rear security, dealing with the continuous activities of the Soviet guerrillas, especially the activities in the Orel salient. This force includes four security divisions, one of the three Hungarian light infantry divisions of the Ninth Army, and the 1st Cavalry Division of the SS. They lack a large number of artillery and other heavy weapons necessary for effective mechanized operations.
Von Manstein’s Southern Army Group is much stronger, including General Hermann Holt’s Fourth Armored Army (223907 men) And Walter Kempf Armored General's provisional "Kempf" group army detachment (total 126,000 people).
General Holt’s aristocratic demeanor can reflect that as a Prussian officer, he was the first His background as a planner of the General Staff since World War II. Hult commanded an armored army in Poland and France, and led a pioneer armored group when he invaded the Soviet Union in 1941. In the next two years of tug of war, he became one of the few prestigiousOne of the surviving early armored commanders.
A "Tiger I" heavy tank is followed by a much lighter No. 3 tank
Hot is well aware of the difficulties he faced in Kursk. However, compared with his colleague Model on the Northern Front, Hult has a much better chance of success. The fourth armor The group army has three armies and ten divisions, including two armored divisions (the 3rd armored division and the 11th armored division), plus the luxuriously equipped "Great German" armored grenadier division and three SS armored grenadiers Infantry divisions. 8 Hort organized three infantry divisions into the 52nd Army of the left-wing General Eugen Otter Infantry, guarding half of the front of the entire group army in order to concentrate forces on the further east. Otto is in the center. ·Von KnobelsThe Forty-Eighth Armored Corps of Admiral Dorf Armored Corps, under the jurisdiction of the 3rd and 11th Armored Divisions, the 167th Infantry Division and the "German" Panzergrenadier Division, including the 10th Armored Brigade 200 "Leopard" type Including tanks, there are 535 tanks and 66 assault guns on paper. It is the Second SS Panzer Corps under the command of Paul Hauser, the deputy commander-in-chief of the National SS, to jointly undertake the main offensive task on the southern front with von Knobelsdorf. Hauser’s three SS Panzergrenadier divisions are: the 1st "Adolf Hitler" Guard Flag Division, the 2nd "Empire" and the 3rd "Skull" Division, with a total of 390 tanks and 104 vehicles. Assault artillery, including 42 of the 102 "Tiger" tanks in this group army.
In order to deal with the Soviet "Stumovvik" Il-2 attack aircraft, the German armored forces are equipped with mobile anti-aircraft guns
To the right of the Fourth Armored Group, which is to the east, is the "Kempf" group army-level detachment. This temporary formation of the army was originally intended to be used only for the cover of the flanks, but later it was prepared to play a major role, because unlike the Ninth Army and the Fourth Armored Army, the "Kempf" Army-level detachment was not prepared to head-on attack on the Red Army's defenses. The point is to attack the shoulders of the line of defense. Werner Kempf had a flat head, glasses, and bright eyes. He was a Marine Corps officer throughout the First World War, and since 1934 forged an indissoluble bond with the thriving armored forces. He performed well as division commander and army commander, but he did not hold a higher position until his temporary command organization was established in February 1943 when the war was on the rise. As of June, Kempf has three military command organizations under his command, namely: the Third Armored Army, Rouss Army (Eleventh Army Corps) and 42nd Army Corps, a total of nine divisions. Admiral Hermann Bright’s 3rd Armored Corps is the main strike force, under the battlefield of the 6th, 7th and 19th Armored Divisions, a total of 299 tanks, in addition to the 503rd heavy armor The battalion’s 45 "Tiger" tanks, an assault artillery battalion and the 168th Infantry Division.
In addition to the Fourth Armored Army and the "Kempf" Army-level detachment, the Southern Army The group also has experienced Walter Nelling’s 24th Panzer Corps as the reserve. This army has the 17th Panzer Division and the SS 5th "Viking" Panzergrenadier Division, with a total of 112 tanks. In summary, von Manstein was in ChurSkog commands a total of 21 divisions, including six armored divisions and five armored grenadier divisions. Even ignoring the 24th Armored Corps, his assault force reached 1,209 tanks and 245 assault guns on paper, although the available forces vary daily. 11 This is a powerful combat force, but it faces a stronger enemy.
This article is excerpted from "Battle of Kursk"