Monday 6 April 2015

Battle for the Kharkov Railroad

"Name: Parshin, Viktor Stepanovich
Rank: Lieutenant
Position, unit: Platoon commander in the 2nd Tank Battalion in the 32nd Tank Brigade
is nominated for the title of Hero of the Soviet Union
  1. Year of birth: 1921
  2. Nationality: Russian
  3. In the Red Army since: 1939
  4. Party affiliation: VLKSM member
  5. Participation in battle: Patriotic War: Western Front from July 1st, 1941 to September 10th, 1941 in the 115th Tank Regiment, 55nd Tank Division. Voronezh front, 32nd Tank Brigade since July 20th, 1943.
  6. Wounds or concussions: none
  7. Prior awards: none
  8. Recruited by: Kozel recruitment office, Smolensk oblast.
Brief and specific description of personal heroism or merit: in offensive battles from August 3rd, 1943, Lieutenant Parshin showed himself to be a strong willed, decisive, brave, and tactically clever officer that shows initiative. 

On August 12th, 1943, in battles for the Kharkov-Sumy, the Germans moved forward significant forces to capture a strategic object at Pavlovo. Comrade Parshin was ordered to die before he let the enemy take it. Comrade Parshin heroically fulfilled his Motherland's orders. Furious at their failure, the fascists throw 14 Tiger tanks and 6 PzIV tanks into battle. Comrade Parshin carefully observed the enemy movements. With precise fire, he burned up three enemy tanks, but the tanks kept moving forward and crossing the railroad embankment. Lieutenant Parshin, risking his life in his T-34, left his ambush and engaged the group of Tiger tanks.

At high speed, Parshin's tank drove at the Tigers, closing in to 50-100 meters and destroying them one after another. Comrade Parshin destroyed another PzIV and three Tiger tanks. The remaining German tanks, frightened by the menacing Soviet tank, fled in all directions, getting stuck on obstacles, where they were destroyed by other tanks.

For selfless service to the Motherland and heroism displayed during the destruction of 4 PzIV tanks, 3 Tiger tanks and, and up to a company of submachinegunners, Viktor Stepanovich Parshin is worthy of the highest government award: the title of Hero of the Soviet Union.

Commander of the 2nd Tank Battalion, Guards Captain Vakulenko"

CAMD RF 33-793756-36

Quite a story! Deflecting an attack of 14 Tigers with only a platoon of T-34s is quite a feat, definitely worthy of high praise. However, let's see what the German records say, just to be thorough.

"11 August 1943: Assembly of the battalion in Feskij (13 Tigers).
12 August 1943: The battalion is attached to SS-Panzer-Grenadier-Division "Das Reich"
and moves to the Maximowka railway station. In the late afternoon, the Gawrischi railway
station is captured; a defensive position is established. March order back to Powlowo at
2300 hours."

13 Tigers, not 14, but the big difference is that the Germans report success in taking the station, while the Soviets report success in defending it. This isn't the first time I've seen such an incident, and the fact that the Germans report retreat at the end of the day suggests that once again, the lifespan of that defensive position was rather brief.

It's difficult to validate the kill claims in this battle. The German diary is quite vague. The battalion keeps reporting 13 functional Tigers over the next few days, but the total count of 37 vehicles suggests that they had plenty of damaged ones to refill with.

However, the battle raged on, and just a week later, a formidable battle takes place:

"18-19 August 1943: Attack with 8 Tigers on Hill 228.1 northeast of Maximowka with SS-Panzer-Abteilung 5 of SS-Panzer-Grenadier-Division "Wiking"; 47 T-34s, 2 IS-122s and, 3
antitank guns destroyed. 9 Tigers operational."

Wow! With only 8 Tigers, 49 tanks and 3 guns are destroyed! Except, as most of my readers probably realized, the IS-122 (otherwise known as IS-2) has not yet passed trials at this point, let alone entered production and seen any battlefield. But all is not lost, let's see where the rest of the tanks came from, the T-34s. It's easy enough to figure out where they came from, as the 32nd Tank Brigade was assigned to the 5th Guards Tank Army at the time. The 5th GTA wasn't doing so well at the time. As Petr Bukeyhanov writes in his book Offensive. Operation Kutuzov. Operation Polkovodets Rumyantsev. July-August 1943, "...between August 3rd and August 10th, the 5th Guards Tank Army took heavy losses and was significantly weakened ... only 106 vehicles were available to defend the 15 kilometer front at Aleksandrovka-Pavlovo-Maksimovka". It is difficult to believe that the weakened unit, which, according to Bukeyhanov, "remained the main force of the Soviet defense in the Bogodukhov direction" could lose just under half of all of its tanks in a single day to the Tigers alone and continue fighting here until the retreat of the Tiger battalion on August 22nd. The Soviet observation that "by August 18th the Germans ceased active operations in the Bogodukhov direction and went on the defensive" also casts doubt that the SS-men managed to fight such a victorious battle.


  1. Can I translate your writing into korean and post it in other Web site (with link)?

    1. Петр здравствуйте!! Я увлекаюсь историей бронетехники времён Второй мировой, если я не ошибаюсь, то вы располагаете некими архивными документами советской стороны? Так вот прошу Вас ответьте на такой "избитый" вопрос какую пронебробиваемость имело орудие KwK43 по советской оценке ? неужели нет документов где приводились данные полученные так сказать натурными испытаниями, т.е. стрельбой??

    2. Peter hello !! I'm interested in the history of armored vehicles from the Second World War, if I'm not mistaken, you have by some archival documents of the Soviet side? So I ask you to respond to such a "beaten" the question of what kind of weapon was pronebrobivaemost KwK43 on Soviet assessment? Really there is no document which presents data obtained so to speak full-scale tests, ie shooting ??

      how much she made her way to the 1000 meters of 148 mm or 200 mm?

    3. Прошу поделитесь Своим мнением !!

    4. Ну, в теории 148 мм по советской методике, но посмотрим на практику:

      Пробивает с 300 метров 90 мм под углом 60 градусов, то есть 180 мм. И это только предел тыльной прочности, не сквозное пробитие. На 200 мм с километра KwK 43 не претендует никак.

    5. Доводилось встречать информацию, что советская сторона оценивала бронепробитие KwK43 и Д-25Т так сказать на равных, если какие -то официальные документы на этот счёт?
      Я конечно понимаю, что в каждой стране существовали на тот свои методы оценки бронепробития, но такие выдающиеся данные по KwK43, да и по всем немецким орудиям, по западным источникам следствие всё таки разных методик или некая пропаганда?

    6. Д-25 пробивало больше. Это видно по испытаниям против бронекорпуса ИС-3 (Д-25 пробивает ИС-3 в нос под прямым углом с 200 метров и под углом в 40 градусов с 900 метров, KwK 43 не пробивает под любым углом при дистанции выше 100 метров) и по стандарту защищенности послевоенных танков (Т-54 должен был быть неуязвимым для KwK 43 но не для Д-25, а вот ИС-4 должен был быть уже неуязвимым для KwK 43 и Д-25). То есть если это была пропагадна то пошла она глубоко ))

      По таблицам, да, пробивало более-менее столько же, но баллистика наука сложная и просто таблицей тут не обойтись.

    7. Пётр спасибо Вам за ответы!!
      НЕ сочтите за наглость, есть ещё один вопрос, по советским танкам времён ВОв, таким ка ИС-3, Т-44, в интернете есть, хоть и неполные, копии документов по снарядным обстрелам данных танков, а вот по танку ИС-2 ни одного, есть на разных ресурсах лишь упоминания, и то противоречивые порой, неужели данных документов по танку ИС-2 не сохранилось??? Рассчитывал на книгу Ю. Пашолока ТАНК ИС, может там чего будет, да вот книги то нет никак.

    8. Есть только отрывки из обстрела ИС-4, где сравнивают Объект 701№1 с ИС-2. Там KwK 43 пробивает ВЛД с 600 метров, НЛД с 5100 метров. По остальным деталям данных нет.

  2. сколько же она пробивала на 1000 метров 148 мм или 200 мм ?

  3. Maksim,

    The official range tables for 88mm KWK 43 with Pgr.39 at muzzle velocity of 1000m/s give a terminal velocity of 906m/s at 1000m.

    According to the official penetration graphs reproduced from prooving ground records obtained at trials conducted at Unterlüss, carried out 1942 and 1943 with inert 88mm PzGr39 APCBC-HE service ammunition taken from stock of Berlin (´42) and Bochumer Verein (´43), the 88mm KWK 43 does completely perforate the following plate thickness at 900m/s:

    at 30°: 165mm RHA at plate tensile strength of 70-80kg/mm^2
    at 0°: 200mm RHA at plate tensile stregnth of 75-65kg/mm^2

    Note that these numbers require five out of five successful and intact penetrations in a row within a narrow (5 m/s) velocity range (no failures tolerated). These figures are therefore not directly comparable with soviet and british definitions of penetration.