Wednesday 25 March 2020

Kursk Experience

"70th Army HQ
August 25th, 1943
Active army

To the Chief of Staff of the Central Front

I attach summary #1 of the experience of the combat units and formations of the 70th Army in the offensive and defensive battles in July-August of 1943.
Attachment: the aforementioned on one sheet.

Deputy Chief of Staff of the 70th Army, Colonel Abayev

Summary #1

Experience of the combat units and formations of the 70th Army in the offensive and defensive battles in July-August of 1943.
  1. Signals detachments of army units laid telegraph and telephone cable to rifle regiment HQ level. This allowed timely installation of telegraph and telephone cables to connect units, formations, and their neighbours. In the practice preceding combat this was never done.
    The losses in personnel while performing this task were insignificant. The laying of cables proved itself.
  2. Practice in combat during offensive fighting shows that telephone communications between the HQ of the division and regiment is a reliable method. Telephone communication was the main method used in offensive battles and was supplemented with radio. Stability of the telegraph and telephone communication lines was achieved by control stations. In the areas most susceptible to fire control stations were installed within 300 meters of one another. This placement of control stations allowed breaks in communication to quickly be repaired.
  3. Stable communications in radio networks happened when artillery officers set their radios to the frequency used by tanks or vice versa, officers of tank units freely contacted artillery units by radio.
  4. Due to an insufficient number of people in a rifle battalion's signals section, cable spooled during a battalion's advance was not collected. It is necessary to issue disposable cables to rifle companies and battalions.
  5. Defensive battles showed that light gun brigades of artillery divisions can fight enemy tanks if they are placed on open positions to fire directly at tanks. For instance, on July 8th, 1943, the 3rd Light Artillery Brigade of the 1st Guards Artillery Division composed of 3 regiments (167th, 200th, 206th Light Artillery Regiments) took up positions at Teploye and fired directly to combat enemy tanks that advanced from Podsoborovka to Samodurovka and Teploye.
    Up to 200 tanks took part in the offensive. Despite the massed opposition, the brigade managed to hold off the tanks. During the battled 41 tanks (including 8 Tigers) and up to a battalion of infantry were destroyed.
    In addition, experience in battle showed that it is not recommended to split up anti-tank and tank destroyer units. It is best to use them centrally. They are more effective when used in this way. For instance, during battle near Teploye from July 5th to 12th the 3rd Tank Destroyer Brigade and 378th Army Tank Destroyer Artillery Regiment worked in their entirety. As a result, the 378th ATDAR destroyed 101 tanks.
  6. As a result of combat against "T-6" tanks, the following can be established:
    1. Fire 76 mm shells against the weak points of the T-6 from direct fire range can disable the tank. Hits to the side and engine compartment can set it in fire. A direct hit to the running gear will damage it and disable it.
      The tanks can be destroyed from 1000-1200 meters. Medium tanks can be fired on from 1500 meters with subcaliber shot.
      The vulnerability of the side armour from a range of 1000-1200 meters needs to be checked, but the fact that the 3rd Tank Destroyer Brigade destroyed 19 T-6 tanks from a range of 800-1200 meters shows that they are vulnerable at this range.
    2. The front armour of the T-6 tank is impenetrable for the 45 mm gun. The side armour can be penetrated by a subcaliber shot from one hit.
    3. Massed fire of anti-tank rifles from 200 meters can disable a T-6 tank.
  7. During the offensive fighting of July 19th, 1943, the army's artillery had a very limited amount of ammunition. The amount of ammunition dedicated to counter-battery fire was limited, so counter-battery was performed in the following way:
    After the first 10 minute artillery barrage the guns fired at all enemy batteries methodically. The barrage was repeated against any battery that reappeared. This manner of counter-battery fire gave an effect in this case and can be used in any situation where the amount of ammunition is limited.
Deputy Chief of Staff of the 70th Army, Colonel Abayev"


  1. 1) I suppose the Tigers being destroyed at "1000-1200 meters" by the ZIS-5 refers to side shots?

    2) The maps I've seen has the 70th army on the left flank of the 13th army, which bore the brunt of the northern attack on the Kursk salient. I had thought the 70th army was only tangentially involved at Kursk. As there were only two Tiger battalions, and just 4 additional companies attached to divisions, do you have any idea which German unit(s) this action refers to?

    Or did the 70th army 'slide over' to take over part of the 13th Army's front, or was it assigned some of 13th Army's units, and that explains what is reported here?

    1. In late July elements of the 70th Army were at Novoryzhkovskiy, Pohvisnevo, and Nezhivka, where the 505th Heavy Tank Battalion was active. The army could have been privy to the first Sherman vs Tiger battle of the Eastern Front, sadly the presence of Shermans is not reflected in army level documents at all.

    2. my guess is they misidentified PzIVH for a Tiger...