Forces of Valor 80314 German Sd. Kfz. 161 PzKpfw IV Ausf. G Medium Tank with Schurzen Side Armor Skirts - Unidentified Unit, Kursk, Russia, 1943 (1:32 Scale)
"If the tank succeeds, then victory follows."
- Major-General Heinz Guderian, "Achtung Panzer!"
Just one month prior to the commencement of "Operation Typhoon" (the German assault on Moscow) the Waffenamt was scheduled to begin installing the long-barreled 7.5cm KwK gun on its new Mark IV Ausf G tanks. However, when the Wehrmacht encountered the superior Russian KV-1 and T-34 tanks during the summer campaigning season, a decision was made to mount the 7.5cm KwK40 L/43 gun onto as many existing Mark IVs as possible. Since the new gun fired larger rounds than the short-barreled gun mounted on the F1 tanks, ammunition storage capacity had to be increased and the crew compartment had to be re-arranged to accommodate the modifications.
Pictured here is a German Sd. Kfz. 161 PzKpfw IV Ausf. G medium tank which was attached to an unidentified unit then deployed to Kursk during 1943.
Length: 8 inches
Width: 3 inches
Height: 3.25 inches
Release Date: July 2007
Historical Account: "Zitadelle" - Fought between July 4th, 1943 - July 20th, 1943, the Battle of Kursk, also called Unternehmen Zitadelle by the German Army (Operation Citadel), was a significant (deliberate) defensive battle strategy on the Soviets' part in the Eastern Theater during World War II. Having good intelligence on Hitler's intentions, the Soviets established and managed to conceal elaborate layered defense works, mine fields, and stage and disguise large reserve forces poised for a tactical and strategic counterattack end game typical of defensive battle plans.
Overall, the campaign, which included the famous sub-battle at Prokhorovka, remains the largest armored engagement of all time, and included the most costly single day of aerial warfare in history. The Germans saw the Battle of Kursk as Operation Zitadelle only; the Soviets saw Zitadelle as the defensive phase of the battle, followed by Operation Kutuzov and Operation Polkovodets Rumyantsev as an offensive phase.
Though the Germans planned and initiated an offensive strike, the well-planned Soviet defense not only managed to frustrate their ambitions but also enabled the Soviets to follow up the succesful defense with counteroffensives -- Operation Kutuzov and Operation Polkovodets Rumyantsev -- and exhausted the German abilities in the theater, thereby seizing the initiative for the remainder of the war. In that sense it may be seen as 'Phase II' of the turning point in the front that began with the German defeat at the Battle of Stalingrad, which aftermath set the table by establishing the Kursk Salient (also known as the Kursk Bulge), the reduction of which was the objective of the German armies entering July. The subsequent counterattacks retook Oryol (August 5th), Belgorod (August 5th) and Kharkov (August 23rd), pushing back the Germans across a broad front, the first successful major Soviet summer offensive of the War.
Kursk further demonstrated that the conflict in the East contained the largest scale of warfare in history, in terms of manpower involved. So well designed was the Soviet defensive planning, that when entering the archetypical counterattack phase, the Soviets were able to attack along four separate axes of advance, and execute a planned stop at a phase line, thus avoiding the pitfalls of overextending during the counterattack and earning this battle's deserved place as a model campaign in war college curricula.