Wednesday 8 July 2020


The further down the chain of command you go, the harder it is to find a good representation of battlefield events from both sides. It's an absolute rarity at the tactical level, which makes this episode grossgrisly found even more valuable.

From the history of the German 5th Tank Division:

"20 November 1942, 00:30. The enemy counterracks with tanks at Golovino. Three Pz.III tanks, two heavy infantry guns, and one 3.7 cm anti-tank gun come under fire from one 52 ton enemy tank. The Russian tank hits 3 tanks, which burn. The enemy tank turns back. Another attack by the Russians follows at around 6:30 in the morning. One 3.7 cm anti-tank gun fires until the barrel becomes red hot. The Russians spot the gun and destroy it with a shell. Finally, one of the heavy infantry guns hits the turret of the tank, after which it turns back."

There is also a view of these events from the Soviet side. From the combat diary of the 33rd Tank Brigade:

Komsomol member Lieutenant Kiguradze and his crew fought heroically. Their KV tank destroyed 4 German tanks, suppressed several firing positions, and killed up to a company of enemy submachinegunners.  As a result of fierce anti-tank gun fire, comrade Kiguradze's KV tank took over 30 hits, and only one shell penetrated the turret and heavily wounded comrade Kiguradze in the jaw. Despite this, comrade Kiguradze did not leave the battlefield. The crew, seeing that another KV tank was knocked out, decided to evacuate it from the battlefield, which was then done."

This gives a pretty good description of events. It seems that the 3.7 cm Pak was identified as an enemy tank, but otherwise everything is pretty good. The formidable armour of the KV tank was still very effective, even in late 1942 when Germans had a lot of practice using AA guns and other heavy artillery against Soviet heavy tanks.


  1. Hmm, a '52 ton enemy tank'---I doubt the Germans actually were able to weigh the thing.

    So was this a KV-1 Model 1942 (overloaded with beefed up armor, up to 120 mm) or was it a KV-1S, which was (I thought) the primary version of the KV-1 by the end of 1942. Were the PzIIIs shooting at it the short- or long- barreled 50 mm gun version?

    1. Not like the Germans oughta had any shortage of busted KVs to analyze all around, but "52 tons" sounds suspiciously like offhand parroting of KV-2 specs - though one imagines these guys knew well enough they weren't facing one of THOSE. Might just be something akin to how "Ferdinand" became the catchall term for German direct-fire casemate SPGs in Red Army parlance.