Osprey's Kursk 1943: the southern front


Robert Forczyk, illustrated by Graham Turner


Osprey Publishing


$24.00 MSRP


Scott Van Aken

Notes: 96 pages, 7 x 9 inches, softcover

Kursk in 1943 was one of the major battles on the Eastern Front. Often cited as the biggest tank battle of WWII, it was really a major infantry campaign. While a lot of tanks were involved, battles between them were no more involved than any other time during the war, it is just that there were a lot of them on the playing field. Indeed, if one is looking for sheer numbers of tanks battling other tanks, one would have to go back to the first weeks of Barbarossa and the operations into Lithuania.

However, Kursk did see the first major use of the Tiger tank and the hurried deployment of the Panther. This deployment was a major mistake as there were no spare parts sent along and many otherwise repairable tanks had to be left on the battlefield, destroyed by their crews. The battle was also one for which the Germans were not as prepared as they really should have been and as such, the campaign was somewhat doomed from the start.

The German military decided to do a pincer movement with the majority of troops and equipment coming at the base of the salient from the north and the south. This volume looks at operations from the southern sector. The terrain favored the defender as did the German choice of starting the assault when the ground was not as dry as it could have been. The Russians also managed to deploy a large number of mine fields unnoticed by the Germans and this caused considerable loss of motorized equipment. In addition, German reconnaissance was quite lacking and the advance was held up by land features that were difficult for heavy equipment to quickly pass over.

The author does a great job of describing the situation prior to the launch of the campaign. This includes the strengths and equipment available to both sides and the experience of the commanders. Thanks to the superb maps provided, we can follow along with the progress of the attack and see both the attacking and defending forces involved. All of this is considerable enhanced by a good choice of period photos as well as the art work of Graham Turner. For those who want to know more about one of the major campaigns of the Great Patriotic War, then this book is an absolute must.

Typical of this series, the author covers the military situation prior to the launch of the operation. Totalize was in two parts and so the book covers each of those in a similar manner. We get a look at those in command on both sides as well as how each side was positioned prior to the start. The book is greatly enhanced by period photos as well as the artwork of Johnny Shumate, and several well done maps and charts. It allows us to get a real sense of how the operation unfolded and highlights several of the more important aspects of it. It is a great look at what worked and what can happen in the fog of war. A great read that I can easily recommend to you.

March 2017

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