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Kharkov: The Backhand Blow (January 1942 - May 1942)

Kharkov: The Backhand Blow (January 1942 - May 1942)

The Second Battle of Kharkov, so named by Wilhelm Keitel, was an Axis counteroffensive against the Red Army Izium bridgehead offensive conducted from May 12th to May 28th, 1942, on the Eastern Front during World War II. Its objective was to eliminate the Izium bridgehead over Seversky Donets, or the "Barvenkovo bulge" which was one of the Soviet offensive's staging areas. After a successful winter counteroffensive that had driven German troops away from Moscow, but also depleted the Red Army's reserves, the Kharkov offensive was a new Soviet attempt to expand upon their strategic initiative, although it failed to secure a significant element of surprise.

On May 12th, 1942, Soviet forces under the command of Marshal Semyon Timoshenko launched an offensive against the German 6th Army from a salient established during the winter counteroffensive. After initial promising signs, the offensive was stopped by German counterattacks. Critical errors by several staff officers and by Joseph Stalin himself, who failed to accurately estimate the 6th Army's potential and overestimated their own newly-trained forces, led to a successful German pincer attack cutting off advancing Soviet troops from the rest of the front.

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Soviet Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-3 Fighter - Alexander Pokryshkin, 16th Guards Fighter Regiment, Eastern Front, March 1942 Soviet Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-3 Fighter - Alexander Pokryshkin, 16th Guards Fighter Regiment, Eastern Front, March 1942 (1:72 Scale)

The Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-3 was a Soviet fighter aircraft used during World War II. It was a development of the MiG-1 by the OKO ((opytno-konstrooktorskiy otdel Experimental Design Department) of Zavod (Factory) No. 1 to remedy problems that had been found during the MiG-1's development and operations.

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German Focke-Wulf Fw 190A-4 Fighter - Oberstleutnant Hannes Trautloft, Black Double Chevron and Bars, Jagdgeschwader 54 Grunherz, Eastern Front, 1942 German Focke-Wulf Fw 190A-4 Fighter - Oberstleutnant Hannes Trautloft, "Black Double Chevron and Bars", Jagdgeschwader 54 "Grunherz", Eastern Front, 1942 (1:72 Scale)

Nicknamed the "Butcher Bird," the Fw 190 was Germany's best air-to-ground fighter. Faster and more agile than the British Spitfire, it dominated the skies over Europe as a fighter and was the Luftwaffe's most important ground-attack aircraft. Controlled by the skilled hands of aces like Oberleutnant Otto Kittel, the FW-190 gained the reputation of being one of the greatest fighters of all time.

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German Messerschmitt Bf 109G-2 Fighter - "Yellow 1", Oberleutnant Hermann Graf, Staffelkapitan 9./Jagdgeschwader 52, Pitomnik, Russia, September 1942 German Messerschmitt Bf 109G-2 Fighter - "Yellow 1", Oberleutnant Hermann Graf, Staffelkapitan 9./Jagdgeschwader 52, Pitomnik, Russia, September 1942 (1:72 Scale)

Numerically the most abundant fighter produced by either side during WWII, the Messerschmitt Bf 109 formed the backbone of the Jagdwaffe on both the eastern and western fronts, as well as in the Mediterranean and North Africa. Of the eight distinct sub-types within the huge Bf 109 family, the most populous was the G-model, of which over 30,000 were built between 1941-45.

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German Messerschmitt Bf 109G-6 Fighter - "Yellow 6," Ofw. Alfred Surau, 9./Jagdgeschwader 3 "Udet," Germany, September 1943 German Messerschmitt Bf 109G-6 Fighter - "Yellow 6," Ofw. Alfred Surau, 9./Jagdgeschwader 3 "Udet," Germany, September 1943 (1:72 Scale)

Numerically the most abundant fighter produced by either side during WWII, the Messerschmitt Bf 109 formed the backbone of the Jagdwaffe on both the eastern and western fronts, as well as in the Mediterranean and North Africa. Of the eight distinct sub-types within the huge Bf 109 family, the most populous was the G-model, of which over 30,000 were built between 1941-45.

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German Messerschmitt Bf 109G-2 Fighter - Oberleutnant Gunther Rall, Staffelkapitan 8./Jagdgeschwader 52, Gostanovka, Russia, August 1942 German Messerschmitt Bf 109G-2 Fighter - Oberleutnant Gunther Rall, Staffelkapitan 8./Jagdgeschwader 52, Gostanovka, Russia, August 1942 (1:72 Scale)

Numerically the most abundant fighter produced by either side during WWII, the Messerschmitt Bf 109 formed the backbone of the Jagdwaffe on both the eastern and western fronts, as well as in the Mediterranean and North Africa. Of the eight distinct sub-types within the huge Bf 109 family, the most populous was the G-model, of which over 30,000 were built between 1941-45.

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German Messerschmitt Bf 109G-2 Fighter - Heinz Ludeman, 8./Jagdgeschwader 77, "Black 6", Gambut, Libya, November 1942 German Messerschmitt Bf 109G-2 Fighter - Heinz Ludeman, 8./Jagdgeschwader 77, "Black 6", Gambut, Libya, November 1942 (1:72 Scale)

Numerically the most abundant fighter produced by either side during WWII, the Messerschmitt Bf 109 formed the backbone of the Jagdwaffe on both the eastern and western fronts, as well as in the Mediterranean and North Africa. Of the eight distinct sub-types within the huge Bf 109 family, the most populous was the G-model, of which over 30,000 were built between 1941-45.

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German Messerschmitt Bf 109F Fighter - Erich Hartmann, VII/ Jagdgeschwader 52, Eastern Front German Messerschmitt Bf 109F Fighter - Erich Hartmann, VII/ Jagdgeschwader 52, Eastern Front (1:48 Scale)

Designed to replace the popular Bf 109E "Emil" fighter, the Bf 109F "Franz" was viewed at first with some skepticism by its wary pilots. Powered by a Daimler-Benz DB 600 piston engine and equipped with all sorts of forward firing machine guns and cannons, the Bf 109F nevertheless became a lethal killing machine in its own right, especially when it was handled by a skilled airman.

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German Dornier Do 17Z-2 Light Bomber - 7 Staffel, Kampfgeschwader Blitz, Russian Front, Winter 1941-42 German Dornier Do 17Z-2 Light Bomber - 7 Staffel, Kampfgeschwader 3 "Blitz", Russian Front, Winter 1941-42 (1:72 Scale)

The Dornier Do 17, sometimes referred to as the Fliegender Bleistift ("flying pencil"), was a World War II German light bomber produced by Claudius Dornier's company, Dornier Flugzeugwerke. It was designed as a Schnellbomber, a light bomber, which in theory, would be so fast that it could outrun defending fighter aircraft.

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