From the Avalanche Press website:
In the spring of 1943, the elite German motorized infantry division “Grossdeutschland” pulled out of the front line for re-organization and re-equipment. As a highly favored unit, it received such treatment far more often than the usual German Army formation. But with a massive new offensive in the offing, this time the re-fitting had a very definite purpose.
Though now titled “Panzer Grenadier Division Grossdeutschland,” the re-organized division would be much stronger than a standard panzer grenadier division or even panzer division. Like a panzer grenadier division, it had two regiments each of three battalions. In early June 1943, about a month before the Battle of Kursk opened, the division received enough half-track armored personnel carriers to mount the first battalion of each of its motorized infantry regiments – a practice usually confined to well-equipped panzer divisions.
That doesn’t tell the whole story: each battalion, at least on paper, had considerably more firepower than the panzer grenadier battalions of regular panzer and panzer grenadier divisions. Each had the typical three rifle companies and one machine gun company, but had three machine gun platoons rather than two, and a fifth “heavy” company with an additional engineer platoon and infantry gun platoon. In the normal line unit, the mortar and machine gun elements had been broken up and assigned to the rifle companies. A Grossdeutschland rifle company copied this organization and thus had its own machine gun and mortar support – the battalion-level assets were in addition to these, giving the Grossdeutschland battalion twice as many machine guns and mortars.
And that was just the start. A panzer grenadier division usually had either a tank battalion or one of assault guns. Grossdeutschland had one of each, and in the spring of 1943 received a second tank battalion. As if that were not enough, an oversized company of Tiger tanks joined the division as well, expanding to become the tank regiment’s third battalion in the August 1943. A regular panzer division had but two tank battalions, and no assault guns (unless they took the place of tanks).
And there was still more extra firepower. They typical German panzer division’s artillery regiment had three battalions, two of them of towed guns and one self-propelled. Grossdeutschland had a fourth artillery battalion. The regular army panzer division had an anti-aircraft battalion with three batteries (two of 88mm guns, one of light guns); Grossdeutschland’s battalion had six batteries (three each, heavy and light).
All told, Grossdeutschland’s combat strength probably equaled that of a regular Army panzer division plus a regular Army panzer grenadier division. That sort of weaponry certainly helped Grossdeutschland gain a reputation as an elite unit; Grossdeutschland’s morale and tactical leadership appear to have been very good, but there’s no substitute for firepower.
At Kursk, Grossdeutschland was deployed with 48th Panzer Corps as part of the southern German flank. It suffered heavy casualties in the initial assault, particularly in its Fusilier regiment which became entangled in thick Soviet minefields. The tank regiment, deploying its Tigers at the tip of a giant armored wedge, managed to make some progress but despite all that firepower Grossdeutschland did not do as well as the neighboring 3rd Panzer Division. The division was not involved in the massive tank battle at Prokhorovka.
Grossdeutschland figures in many of the scenarios from our Kursk: Burning Tigers game. Our Grossdeutschland 1943 special counter set, available exclusively to members of the Gold Club, lets you play those scenarios with units in the division’s own livery. It has 176 fantastic laser-cut pieces, using new scorchless and sootless technology: the laser cuts the pieces first, and then the sheet is printed. The finish is smooth, with no damage from a die striking the poor cardboard with massive force. These may be the finest counters to ever grace a wargame table. And that table can be yours.
Grossdeutschland 1943 is an incredibly cool extra, and it’s not for sale anywhere – it’s a special incentive to help usher in the Fourth Age of Panzer Grenadier, along with Division Marocain and Desert Rats Division. See your Gold Club Insider newsletter for details.