Dragon DRR60699 German Sd. Kfz. 161 PzKpfw IV Ausf. G Medium Tank - 7.Panzer Regiment "Totenkopf", 3.SS Panzer Grenadier Division "Totenkopf", Kharkov, Russia, 1943 (1:72 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.
The Third Battle of Kharkov, as historians refer to it, occurred in February-March 1943. A German counterattack succeeded in recapturing the city of Kharkov, and also led to the destruction of around 50 Soviet divisions. Dragon Armor's newest item depicts an armored vehicle that fought in this campaign - a Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf.G. The G version of the famous Panzer IV featured upgraded armor on the front and sides and it received a long-barreled 7.5cm KwK40 gun. This is a standout model since it marks Dragon Armor's first ever foray into Panzer IVs in 1:72 scale. As such it's a brand new tooling and boasts the finest possible details in this smaller scale. It capitalizes on prior research conducted for Dragon's 1:35 scale Panzer IV F/G, widely regarded by many as being the best ever Panzer IV kits.
Pictured here is a 1:72 scale replica of a German Sd. Kfz. 161 PzKpfw IV Ausf. G Medium Tank that was attached to 7.Panzer Regiment "Totenkopf", 3.SS Panzer Grenadier Division "Totenkopf", then deployed to Kharkov, Russia, during 1943.
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Release Date: November 2017
Historical Account: "The Donets Campaign" - The Third Battle of Kharkov was a series of offensive operations undertaken by the German Army Group South against the Red Army, around the city of Kharkov, between February 19th and March 15th, 1943. Known to the Germans as the Donets Campaign, and to the Soviets as the Donbas and Kharkov operations, the German counterstroke led to the destruction of approximately 52 Soviet divisions and the recapture of the cities of Kharkov and Belgorod.
As the German Sixth Army was encircled in Stalingrad, the Red Army undertook a series of wider offensives against the rest of Army Group South. These culminated on January 2nd, 1943, when the Soviets launched Operation Star, which between January and early February broke the German defenses and led to the Soviet recapture of Kharkov, Belgorod and Kursk. Despite the success of the Soviet offensive, it also resulted in participating Soviet units over-extending themselves. Freed on February 2nd by the surrender of the German Sixth Army, the Red Army's Central Front turned its attention west and on February 25th expanded its offensive against both Army Group South and Army Group Center. However, months of continuous operations had taken a heavy toll on the Soviets and some divisions were reduced to 1,000-1,500 combat effectives. On February 19th, Field Marshal Erich von Manstein took the opportunity to launch his Kharkov counterstroke, using a fresh SS Panzer Corps and two panzer armies.
Although the Germans were also understrength, the Wehrmacht successfully flanked, encircled and defeated the Red Army's armored spearheads south of Kharkov. This enabled von Manstein to renew his offensive against the city of Kharkov proper, which began on March 7th. Despite orders to encircle Kharkov from the north, the SS Panzer Corps instead decided to directly engage Kharkov on March 11th. This led to four days of house-to-house fighting before Kharkov was finally recaptured by the 1.SS Panzer ("Leibstandarte") Division on March 15th. Two days later, the Germans also recaptured Belgorod, creating the salient which in July 1943 would lead to the Battle of Kursk. Although the German offensive had cost the Red Army an estimated 70,000 personnel casualties, the house-to-house fighting in Kharkov had been particularly bloody for the SS Panzer Corps. This German unit lost approximately 44% of its strength by the time operations ended in late March.