“A comprehensive analysis of WWII’s greatest land battle and one of history’s greatest armor engagements.” —Publishers Weekly
On July 5, 1943, the greatest land battle in history began when Nazi and Red Army forces clashed near the town of Kursk, on the western border of the Soviet Union. Code named “Operation Citadel,” the German offensive would cut through the bulge in the eastern front that had been created following Germany’s retreat at the Battle of Stalingrad. But the Soviets, well-informed about Germany’s plans through their network of spies, had months to prepare. Two million men supported by six thousand tanks, thirty-five thousand guns, and five thousand aircrafts convened in Kursk for an epic confrontation that was one of the most important military engagements in history, the epitome of “total war.” It was also one of the most bloody, and despite suffering seven times more casualties, the Soviets won a decisive victory that became a turning point in the war. With unprecedented access to the journals and testimonials of the officers, soldiers, political leaders, and citizens who lived through it, The Battle of the Tanks is the definitive account of an epic showdown that changed the course of history.
“A stellar account of the Battle of Kursk in 1943.” —Booklist
Royal Military Academy historian Clark offers a comprehensive analysis of WWII's greatest land battle and one of history's greatest armor engagements. He blends archival research, participant interviews, and professional insight in presenting the genesis, conduct, and consequences of the Battle of Kursk (German code name Operation Citadel). Particularly effective is his integration of foxhole and tank-crew perspectives with broader discussion of the course of a head-down slugging match that decisively tipped the Eastern Front's balance in favor of a resurgent Red Army. The matrix of German defeat was "Hitler's "confused strategic thinking," which from the beginning set the Wehrmacht too many conflicting missions. But from its inception Operation Citadel was a tactical victory for the U.S.S.R. The Wehrmacht failed to break through the sophisticated Russian defense system and failed to wear down the Red Army's offensive power. Kursk was the German tankers' nadir. The losses of men and armor sustained there rendered it impossible to do more than check locally the measured sequence of attacks that earned the Red Army a decisive strategic triumph on the Eastern Front in less than two years. With this account, Clark (Operation Epsom) confirms his reputation as one of Britain's outstanding scholars of operational military history. Maps.