Kursk: Hitler's Gamble, 1943

By Walter S. Dunn Jr. | Go to book overview

9
CRACKING THE SECOND DEFENSE LINE

Although the 4th Panzer Army had broken through the first defense line at two points on July 5, the Soviet divisions withdrew as functional units according to the philosophy of elastic defense, rather than fighting in untenable positions to the last man. Possibly the Soviet divisions may have left hastily in the 2nd SS Corps sector, but very few prisoners were taken. In keeping with the concept of an elastic defense, the Soviet High Command and the commanders of the Voronezh and Central Fronts began moving reserves into the areas threatened by the three German armies. General Nikolai F. Vatutin, commander of the Voronezh Front, ordered his operational reserves to move on the afternoon of July 5. The 1st Tank Army, with the 6th Tank Corps, the 31st Tank Corps, and the 3rd Mechanized Corps, was ordered at 4 in the afternoon to move into the second defense line behind the 6th Guards Army, and to arrive by midnight with orders to counterattack the following day and stop the 48th Panzer Corps' breakthrough on the road to Oboyan. The 6th Tank Corps moved to the rear of the 90th Guards Rifle Division on the east, the 3rd Mechanized Corps behind the 67th Guards Rifle Division in the center, and the 31st Tank Corps in reserve on the Oboyan road behind the boundary between the 67th and 52nd Guards Rifle Divisions on the west end of the 6th Guards Army.1

To hold back the 48th Panzer Corps, the 6th Guards Army received additional reinforcements in the west from the 40th Army, including the 29th Tank Destroyer Brigade and the 1244th and 869th Tank Destroyer Regiments, a total of over 100 antitank guns. The 309th Rifle Division also moved from the 40th Army to a reserve position on the Oboyan road. One regiment of the 309th Division was supported by the 59th Tank Regiment, the 86th Tank Brigade, the 1461st SU Regiment, and the 12th and 1689th Tank Destroyer Regiments, a total of more than 120 armored vehicles and 40 antitank guns. The 192nd Tank Brigade was moved from the 40th Army to the 38th Army on

-121-

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Kursk: Hitler's Gamble, 1943
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • Note x
  • Introduction xi
  • Notes xvi
  • 1 - The Strategic Position, April 1943 1
  • Notes 16
  • 2 - Rebuilding the Red Army 19
  • Notes 34
  • 3 - The Germans Rebuild 37
  • Notes 50
  • 4 - The German Order of Battle 53
  • 5 - The Soviet Order of Battle 65
  • Notes 83
  • 6 - Soviet and German Armor 85
  • Notes 95
  • 7 - The Soviet Defense System 97
  • Notes 105
  • 8 - Breaking Through in the South 107
  • Notes 119
  • 9 - Cracking the Second Defense Line 121
  • Notes 138
  • 10 - Fighting for the Third Defense Line 141
  • Notes 158
  • 11 - Stalemate in the South 161
  • 12 - The North Shoulder 171
  • Notes 182
  • 13 - Conclusion 185
  • Notes 192
  • Bibliography 193
  • Index 195
  • About the Author 201
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