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"Prokhorovka And The Myth Of The Largest Tank Battle" Topic

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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP23 Apr 2018 3:22 p.m. PST

"For decades the Battle of Kursk has been widely believed to be the largest tank battle in history. In particular, the fighting at Prokhorovka on the 12th July is often reported to have involved anywhere from 1200 to 2000 tanks clashing at point-blank range, resulting in the destruction of up to 1200 vehicles.

However, since the end of the Cold War extensive research by historians in the Soviet and German archives have analysed records of the units that took part. As a result, it's now generally accepted that these numbers have been greatly exaggerated and that Prokhorovka wasn't the largest tank battle.

This post gives a very brief overview of the results of this research. The numbers presented here are taken from ‘Kursk 1943: A Statistical Analysis' by Niklas Zetterling and Anders Frankson and ‘Demolishing the Myth' by Valeriy Zamulin…"
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Mark 123 Apr 2018 4:30 p.m. PST

Yes, it seems that the battle of Prokhorovka was really not at all like the breathless tale told by Martin Caidin in "The Tigers are Burning"….

But I'm not quite sure that Zetterling and Frankson are the last word on the topic either.

They have opened the discussion. But the full accounting of the battle of Prokhorovka is, to my mind, in Christopher Lawrence's book: "Kursk: the Battle of Prokhorovka".

The Lawrence book takes detailed historical research to a whole different level. Prokhorovka may or may not be the largest tank battle in history (considering how you draw the boundaries on what you call the battlefield). But Lawrence's book is undoubtably the largest tank battle history book in history! Nearly 1,700 pages, with 29 fold-out maps, 94 maps in the text, 41 charts and diagrams, 166 tables, 194 statistical sheets covering separate unit engagement, 66 German and Soviet commander biographies, and four photo sections with 289 total photographs.


It took years to research and write. The daily and weekly reports and AARs of almost every unit on the southern Kursk flank, both German and Russian, were examined. As relations with western historians declined, a whole army of Russian researchers were contracted to do the footwork in the Russian archives, and in interviewing surviving veterans. Between German and Russian veterans something like 100 participants in the Kursk battles (southern flank) were interviewed in the process or writing the book.

Chris still describes it as the largest tank battle in history. But clearly not the swirling cavalry ride of myth, with 7-800 Russians charging through the ranks of 600 Germans, as Rotmistrov's memoirs would have believe.

(aka: Mk 1)

Dschebe Supporting Member of TMP23 Apr 2018 10:33 p.m. PST

Thank both of you, Armand and Mark.

Legion 424 Apr 2018 5:22 a.m. PST

Still … a whole bunch of tanks at the battle … regardless … evil grin

Marc33594 Supporting Member of TMP24 Apr 2018 8:54 a.m. PST

Col David Glantz gave a presentation at Historicon many years ago, an abbreviated one he had given to various groups, where he systematically laid out the forces actually at Prokhorovka. He made a compelling argument that indeed Prokhorovka was NOT the largest tank battle based on his studies not only of German sources but also Soviet archives. I had the pleasure of meeting with the Colonel twice now at his home and he still bemoans the all too brief period when Soviet archives were available to Western scholars.

Fred Cartwright24 Apr 2018 9:48 a.m. PST

But the full accounting of the battle of Prokhorovka is, to my mind, in Christopher Lawrence's book: "Kursk: the Battle of Prokhorovka".

Very true, but it is eye wateringly expensive. Not saying it is not worth it, of course, but you could buy a lot of toys for the price.

Blutarski24 Apr 2018 12:00 p.m. PST

I was at that Glantz HCon lecture.


Blutarski24 Apr 2018 2:32 p.m. PST

Well, Mark ….. just what I need, an irresistible temptation to spend another 250 dollars on books.

p.s. – Yes, Martin Caidin was well known in the embroidery business …..


Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP25 Apr 2018 9:48 a.m. PST

No mention my friend.


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