Thursday 12 March 2020


"To commanders of tank units and armoured trains

_ July 1943

Recent fighting showed that artillerymen and tankers leave tanks alone after the first penetration during enemy tank attacks. The enemy takes advantage of this, evacuates the tanks at night or even during the day, repairs them and sends them into battle.

The Front commander orders: the army needs to reliably shoot up and burn every knocked out enemy tank to completely render it useless.

Chief of Staff of the Motorized and Armoured Forces of the 13th Army
Lieutenant Colonel Chetverikov"


  1. Given the circumstances of the 13th Army at Kursk, isn't that practice of "shoot until it's not working anymore" completely understandable? If I'm manning an AT gun or tank, the first priority is "take out everything that could shoot back at me", and plus my ammo supply may be limited. Worrying about the Germans later recovering it and repairing what you knocked out is a 'nice to do', but still secondary.

    1. I believe the point here is rather that *after* the enemy has been shooed off the effort should be made to ensure the derelicts he left behind won't be recoverable.

    2. That would be a good counter-point, but still available ammo supply would be a consideration. You may have just shooed them off, but you don't want to expend your available ammo burning wrecks then be caught low on ammo if the Germans regrouped and attacked again.

      If the enemy had been really shooed off (from small arms fire distanceĐ, I'd save my AT ammo and send infantry with AT mines/charges or even molotov cocktails to burn the wrecks. But while it's nice to burn the wrecks, you don't want to compromise your defenses or lose people in the process. Plus not all the wrecks were really fixable at least to the time scale of the battle.

    3. I somehow doubt ammunition supply was much of an issue in the context, and shooting up the wrecks littering the no man's land with cannon didn't expose your long-suffering infantry to whatever unpleasantness (MGs and mortars promptly spring to mind, as those would be common enough even in the outpost line) the Germans might have lurking nearby.

      And if they were able to haul off at least some of those derelicts they were by definition still rather close by in some strength...