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Subject: Tiger, Tiger Burning Bright: Why Kursk is the Most Overhyped Battle in History rss

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Michael Peck
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Something I've been meaning to write for a while. The side effects from too much hype about Kursk. Kursk-itis? Tigers on the Brain disease?

http://nationalinterest.org/feature/tiger-tiger-burning-brig...

Michael
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Jason Cawley
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Speaking of myths, you write in part "On July 10, Anglo-American troops landed on the beaches of Sicily. Two days later Hitler informed his generals that he was canceling the offensive and transferring the SS Panzer divisions to Italy."

But in fact, Kutuzov opened and pulled everything out of the northern drive before they called off the offensive. Very little actually went to Italy, and Sicily really never had anything to do with anything, since the island was indefensible and there was no mainland battle until September. It was merely a facing saving excuse for the high command to pull the plug, not a reason.

Kutuzov was the reason. About the only writer on the battle to give it its proper place is Glantz.
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Michael Peck
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JasonC wrote:

Speaking of myths, you write in part "On July 10, Anglo-American troops landed on the beaches of Sicily. Two days later Hitler informed his generals that he was canceling the offensive and transferring the SS Panzer divisions to Italy."

But in fact, Kutuzov opened and pulled everything out of the northern drive before they called off the offensive. Very little actually went to Italy, and Sicily really never had anything to do with anything, since the island was indefensible and there was no mainland battle until September. It was merely a facing saving excuse for the high command to pull the plug, not a reason.

Kutuzov was the reason. About the only writer on the battle to give it its proper place is Glantz.


Agreed, Jason. My point was simply to remind people that Allied victory in WWII was a coalition effort, even if the Soviets and Western Allies fought largely independent of each other. Given current political tensions, I thought it worth pointing out.

Michael
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Jason Cawley
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Michael - since the actual and critical truth is and was that the Russians not only defeated the German offensive, but less than a week into it launched one just as large and far more successful of their own, and the success of that counteroffensive mattered far more than any of the last sputterings of the southern drive in the end result of the whole battle - you are not helping matters by spreading continued myths about the role of Sicily.

The Germans precisely wanted to avoid the propaganda effect of admitting that the Russians kicked their ass.

The Russians kicked their ass.

Everything else is an evasion.
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Michael Peck
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JasonC wrote:

Michael - since the actual and critical truth is and was that the Russians not only defeated the German offensive, but less than a week into it launched one just as large and far more successful of their own, and the success of that counteroffensive mattered far more than any of the last sputterings of the southern drive in the end result of the whole battle - you are not helping matters by spreading continued myths about the role of Sicily.

The Germans precisely wanted to avoid the propaganda effect of admitting that the Russians kicked their ass.

The Russians kicked their ass.

Everything else is an evasion.


The Russians did not kick German ass at Kursk. They stopped the German offensive, though at the tactical level, the Germans inflicted more casualties while not suffering excessive losses. The Soviet counteroffensives in the summer of 1943 did inflict losses and force the Germans to retreat, but it wasn't catastrophic. Stalingrad and Bagration were the battles where the Soviets kicked butt.

The problem is that the popular perception of Kursk seems to fall into two extremes: either Tiger tanks slaughtering T-34s in some kind of panzer orgy, or the Glorious Red Army defeating the Fascist Beasts. The more I look at the German offensive and Soviet counteroffensive, the more it seems like yet another post-Stalingrad battle. Attrition, attrition, Soviet breakthrough, Germans retreat, more attrition...

Michael
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Oberon Sexton
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I always felt that the hype for Kursk was based upon the amount of tanks, guns, that were used in the battle.
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Jason Cawley
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Michael - yes, attrition attrition Soviet breakthrough, German retreat, more attrition pretty much sums it up. That is also the actual Soviet grand strategy in the war as a whole, and in 1943 in particular. Which worked. So, sorry, yes, the Russians kicked the German's ass. I realize many are still hurting in various sensitive places as a result, but I just can't seem to care.
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Ben Delp
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Thanks for posting, Michael. I'll be sure to check this out tonight.
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Rich M
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The Killing Joke wrote:
I always felt that the hype for Kursk was based upon the amount of tanks, guns, that were used in the battle.

Whats wrong with having a lot of tanks and tank destroyers? That is some good fun and cool.
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Oberon Sexton
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Exactly, that's why I've always been interested in it. The amount of vehicle carnage.
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jumbit
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I thought the "hype" about the Battle of Kursk is because it was the largest armored battle in history. Dubna? Never heard of it. Maybe you need to write about it?

I think it's because most wargamers want the BEST and the FASTESTEST tanks EVARRR. Give them 750 Panzer I and IIs and send them against 3,500 BT tanks and they'll moan and groan. "These tanks suck! I can't do anything with them! I want the BIGGEST GUNZ and the THIRKEST ARMURR! I want KURRRRRSK!" Honestly for a lot of people WWII doesn't even start until D-Day. By June 1944 all the highest tech equipment is out there and wargamers don't have to use the crappy "early war junk".
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Bob Zurunkel
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There is a book about Dubno, due to be released next year. "Dubno 1941: The Greatest Tank Battle of the Second World War" by Alexei Isaev. It can be pre-ordered on Amazon.
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DaveB
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Maybe the question should be "what is being overhyped and by whom?"
Another thought - first rule for propaganda; you have to get them to read it. That only occurred to me when I was halfway through the OPs linked article.
Which nation's interest by the way?
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401k? More like .357
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jumbit wrote:
I think it's because most wargamers want the BEST and the FASTESTEST tanks EVARRR. Give them 750 Panzer I and IIs and send them against 3,500 BT tanks and they'll moan and groan. "These tanks suck! I can't do anything with them! I want the BIGGEST GUNZ and the THIRKEST ARMURR! I want KURRRRRSK!" Honestly for a lot of people WWII doesn't even start until D-Day. By June 1944 all the highest tech equipment is out there and wargamers don't have to use the crappy "early war junk".


I am pretty confident the majority of wargamers are not Ritalin-addled 13-year-olds with Call of Duty mad skillz.
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Dan Nunuyerbiznez
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CountDeMoney wrote:
jumbit wrote:
I think it's because most wargamers want the BEST and the FASTESTEST tanks EVARRR. Give them 750 Panzer I and IIs and send them against 3,500 BT tanks and they'll moan and groan. "These tanks suck! I can't do anything with them! I want the BIGGEST GUNZ and the THIRKEST ARMURR! I want KURRRRRSK!" Honestly for a lot of people WWII doesn't even start until D-Day. By June 1944 all the highest tech equipment is out there and wargamers don't have to use the crappy "early war junk".


I am pretty confident the majority of wargamers are not Ritalin-addled 13-year-olds with Call of Duty mad skillz.


Your name and avatar suggest otherwise...

=[;- )
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401k? More like .357
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DnaDan56 wrote:
=[;- )


I don't listen to hip hop.
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Gilles Daquin
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jumbit wrote:
Honestly for a lot of people WWII doesn't even start until D-Day. By June 1944 all the highest tech equipment is out there and wargamers don't have to use the crappy "early war junk".


You make it sound like a bad thing... whistle
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Cam Platell
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Up until recently, I always rated Glantz,s book on Kursk as the best overall. However, I recently read C Lawrence's on Kursk, over a thousand pages. I promised myself that if I did not gain some new insight in the first 100 pages then I would give it in. Well I finished the book and recommend it to anybody interested in the battle. It is an amazing piece of academic work, but the maps are awful.
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Keith Rose
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CountDeMoney wrote:
jumbit wrote:
I think it's because most wargamers want the BEST and the FASTESTEST tanks EVARRR. Give them 750 Panzer I and IIs and send them against 3,500 BT tanks and they'll moan and groan. "These tanks suck! I can't do anything with them! I want the BIGGEST GUNZ and the THIRKEST ARMURR! I want KURRRRRSK!" Honestly for a lot of people WWII doesn't even start until D-Day. By June 1944 all the highest tech equipment is out there and wargamers don't have to use the crappy "early war junk".


I am pretty confident the majority of wargamers are not Ritalin-addled 13-year-olds with Call of Duty mad skillz.


If that's the case then why the almost infinite number of Bulge games. Personally I find the tank n armoured vehicle mix FAR more interesting in the early war (invasion of Poland n France for example). Early UK tanks, early panzers n the French Char Be etc. Far more challenging tactically and not just 1000 yard slugfests.

Regards
Keith
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I think tank size kind of misses the point of Kursk.

The Germans were generally able to make their encirclements work up through 1941, with lighter tanks, until, say, Typhoon. The Soviets achieved an important one of their own in Uranus in 1942. The Germans didn't in 1943, with heavier tanks, because the Soviets learned how to beat these things, and they knew it was coming.

I thought Kursk hype came down to SS and Tigers. Kind of like the Bulge. Well, plus Yanks there, and King Tigers.

If there is hype about Kursk, at least there's some interest in a major Eastern Front battle.

Cue the Alexandrov Ensemble.



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Douglas Brunton
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Arcology wrote:
I think tank size kind of misses the point of Kursk.

The Germans were generally able to make their encirclements work up through 1941, with lighter tanks, until, say, Typhoon. The Soviets achieved an important one of their own in Uranus in 1942. The Germans didn't in 1943, with heavier tanks, because the Soviets learned how to beat these things, and they knew it was coming.

I thought Kursk hype came down to SS and Tigers. Kind of like the Bulge. Well, plus Yanks there, and King Tigers.

If there is hype about Kursk, at least there's some interest in a major Eastern Front battle.

Cue the Alexandrov Ensemble.





Interesting as there really weren't that many Tigers on the German side. But the popular image of the battle, particularly in the south, is Tigers all over the place.

From my reading it appeared that the German offensive in the north part of the salient really didn't meet with much if any success. In the south part of the salient the Soviets came perilously close to having their front unhinged and they suffered severe casualties - 5th Guards tank army suffered pretty much a blood bath in bringing the SS units to a halt. Recall that the tank armies were still even at that point relatively new and there were still major command and control issues in Soviet handling of their tank units. They also suffered from the fact that their T-34s were now relatively under-gunned compared to the latest German hardware and still lacked sufficient radios and a good turret layout.

Absent a breakthrough in the north I'm doubtful that even had the SS units succeeded in breaking past 5 GTA that any major German advantage would have been gained. I certainly wouldn't conclude from the action that the Germans asses were kicked - rather that the Soviets were able, at high cost, to succeed in their goal of causing some attrition to remaining German offensive fire power prior to launching their own offensives.

Doug
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jumbit
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CountDeMoney wrote:
jumbit wrote:
I think it's because most wargamers want the BEST and the FASTESTEST tanks EVARRR. Give them 750 Panzer I and IIs and send them against 3,500 BT tanks and they'll moan and groan. "These tanks suck! I can't do anything with them! I want the BIGGEST GUNZ and the THIRKEST ARMURR! I want KURRRRRSK!" Honestly for a lot of people WWII doesn't even start until D-Day. By June 1944 all the highest tech equipment is out there and wargamers don't have to use the crappy "early war junk".


I am pretty confident the majority of wargamers are not Ritalin-addled 13-year-olds with Call of Duty mad skillz.


Who said that? It's not about that at all.

I have learned that a lot of wargamers play games for completely different reasons than I do. I like history, I like to re-enact battles, I like to be put in the shoes of the commander, with the same resources he had, and try to work out a solution. But, a lot of you HATE that. You play wargames primarily so you can feel *in control* of a situation. I got lectured a while back by a man who told me that he felt out of control all day long at his job, and goddammit when he got off work and played a wargame, by god he had better be in control of things.

You don't get that "control" feeling by commanding a bunch of Panzer I against Polish 7TP tankettes. Just look at the combat ratings! 6-8-4? What a piece of junk! Now, look at the Tiger and the T34 at Kursk. 18-24-10, now THAT'S a unit worthy of controlling.

This is why Kursk (and the Bulge) are so popular and as someone claimed overhyped. By using only the "best" units, the wargamer is able to feel "in control" of the situation and he finds this a really good feeling. It's why he plays wargames in the first place. Not so he can roll a bunch of retreats with crappy Matildas or Somuas or Panzer IV with the crappy short gun. MOARR! BETTAR! TIGURRRRRRR!!!!@#@#@%@$#@$@#
 
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Mikolaj Witkowski
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dtomato wrote:
JasonC wrote:

Speaking of myths, you write in part "On July 10, Anglo-American troops landed on the beaches of Sicily. Two days later Hitler informed his generals that he was canceling the offensive and transferring the SS Panzer divisions to Italy."

But in fact, Kutuzov opened and pulled everything out of the northern drive before they called off the offensive. Very little actually went to Italy, and Sicily really never had anything to do with anything, since the island was indefensible and there was no mainland battle until September. It was merely a facing saving excuse for the high command to pull the plug, not a reason.

Kutuzov was the reason. About the only writer on the battle to give it its proper place is Glantz.


Agreed, Jason. My point was simply to remind people that Allied victory in WWII was a coalition effort, even if the Soviets and Western Allies fought largely independent of each other. Given current political tensions, I thought it worth pointing out.

Michael

It always seemed to me that the importance of Western Allies is what is overhyped. Without them the war would be longer, but due to attrition the Russian would have won anyway. Without Russia D-Day would never happen...

As for Kursk - first, not really a battle, unless you mean Prohorovka, Kursk offensive was simply an important turning point, it is true that it was not be all and end all but it is a very visible moment when the Russian intelligence and military became a worthy adversary for the German army, able to go toe to toe. And considering the resources at their disposal having roughly similar losses meant a victory for Russia.
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I think the fate of the Elefants is an element that fascinates people, just as the fearsome warrior with awe-inspiring power and a critical weakness has fascinated people since Achilles.

It also should serve as a counterpoint to the big-tank lovers, I suppose. Something massive with an 88-mm gun can be taken out with a Molotov cocktail. Or, perhaps more likely and less flashy, a breakdown or thrown track.
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Matt Irsik
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The first half of this book is not the greatest as at times the author can't seem to decide where it's going, but really changed my outlook on the battle. The second half of the book, however, is pretty fascinating and presents some unique information on tank losses, defenses, tank recovery, etc. This book points out that the Germans won pretty much all of the tactical engagements and inflicted horrific tank losses on the Russians. In fact Stalin panicked at the end of the battle when Russian reserves were pretty much exhausted and there is a great section dealing with the command friction at this critical point. The author also does a great job of describing the Russian defenses and how the Germans battered their way through layer after layer, which in the end depleted their strength to set up the great Russian advances in 1944. Not pro-German or pro-Russian, but a good outlining of the German successes at the tactical level that failed operationally. Definitely worth a read.
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