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Kursk and Beyond (March 1943 - May 1944)

Kursk and Beyond (March 1943 - May 1944)

The Battle of Kursk (German: Unternehmen Zitadelle) refers to German and Soviet operations on the Eastern Front of World War II in the vicinity of the city of Kursk in the Soviet Union in July and August 1943. It remains both the largest series of armoured clashes, including the Battle of Prokhorovka, and the costliest single day of aerial warfare. It was the last strategic offensive the Germans were able to mount in the east. The resulting decisive Soviet victory gave the Red Army the strategic initiative for the rest of the war.

The Germans hoped to shorten their lines by eliminating the Kursk salient (also known as the Kursk bulge), created in the aftermath of their defeat at the Battle of Stalingrad. They envisioned pincers breaking through its northern and southern flanks to achieve a great encirclement of Red Army forces. However, the Soviets had excellent intelligence of Hitler's intentions. This and German delays to wait for new weapons, mainly Tiger and Panther tanks, gave the Red Army time to construct elaborate, layered defenses and position large reserve forces for a strategic counterattack.

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German Sd. Kfz. 184 Ferdinand Heavy Tank Destroyer with Zimmerit - schwere Panzerjager Abteilung 654 German Sd. Kfz. 184 Ferdinand Heavy Tank Destroyer with Zimmerit - schwere Panzerjager Abteilung 654 (1:72 Scale)

During the development of the Tiger(P) and Tiger(H), Hitler had agitated for a turret design which would be large enough to mount the 8.8cm KwK L/71 gun. This had not materialized and on September 22nd, 1942, it was decided that the StuG with 200mm frontal armor and the long 8.8cm gun should be immediately designed, with the Tiger(P) as the basis, and part of the Tiger(P) production diverted for the vehicle.

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Captured German T-34/76 Mod 1942 Medium Tank - Oberstleutnant der Reserve Franz Bake, Panzer Regiment 11, 6.Panzer Division, Russia, 1943 Captured German T-34/76 Mod 1942 Medium Tank - Oberstleutnant der Reserve Franz Bake, Panzer Regiment 11, 6.Panzer Division, Russia, 1943 (1:72 Scale)

The first generation T-34 medium tank made its debut in combat during the summer of 1941, when the Wehrmacht launched its invasion of the Soviet Union. The T-34 easily outclassed the German PzKpfw III and IV models, thanks to its hard-hitting 76.2mm main gun, thick frontal armor, wide tracks, and overall superior mobility.

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German Sd. Kfz. 184 Ferdinand Heavy Tank Destroyer with Zimmerit - 1.Kompanie, schwere Panzerjager Abteilung 653, Orel, Russia, 1943 German Sd. Kfz. 184 Ferdinand Heavy Tank Destroyer with Zimmerit - 1.Kompanie, schwere Panzerjager Abteilung 653, Orel, Russia, 1943 (1:72 Scale)

During the development of the Tiger(P) and Tiger(H), Hitler had agitated for a turret design which would be large enough to mount the 8.8cm KwK L/71 gun. This had not materialized and on September 22nd, 1942, it was decided that the StuG with 200mm frontal armor and the long 8.8cm gun should be immediately designed, with the Tiger(P) as the basis, and part of the Tiger(P) production diverted for the vehicle.

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German Early Production Sd. Kfz. 181 PzKpfw VI Tiger I Heavy Tank - Michael Wittmannn '1331', 13./SS Panzer Regiment 1, Operation Citadel, Russia, July 1943 German Early Production Sd. Kfz. 181 PzKpfw VI Tiger I Heavy Tank - Michael Wittmannn '1331', 13./SS Panzer Regiment 1, Operation Citadel, Russia, July 1943 (1:72 Scale)

The Ausf. E mounted a huge 8.8cm KwK36 L/56 cannon and featured two MG34 machine guns for close support against enemy infantry. By war's end, 1,354 vehicles had been produced, some rolling off the Wegmann assembly line.

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German Sd. Kfz. 251 Ausf. C Half-Track - 4.Panzer Division, Eastern Front, 1943 German Sd. Kfz. 251 Ausf. C Half-Track - 4.Panzer Division, Eastern Front, 1943 (1:72 Scale)

The Sonderkraftfahrzeug (Sd. Kfz.) 251 half-track had its origins in the same requirement as the smaller and lighter Sd. Kfz. 250. Intended as an armored personnel carrier, the Sd. Kfz. 251 entered service in 1939, and quickly became the standard means of transport for the panzergrenadiers.

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German Sd. Kfz. 184 Ferdinand Heavy Tank Destroyer - schwere Panzerjager Abteilung 654, Kursk, 1943 German Sd. Kfz. 184 Ferdinand Heavy Tank Destroyer - schwere Panzerjager Abteilung 654, Kursk, 1943 (1:72 Scale)

During the development of the Tiger(P) and Tiger(H), Hitler had agitated for a turret design which would be large enough to mount the 8.8cm KwK L/71 gun. This had not materialized and on September 22nd, 1942, it was decided that the StuG with 200mm frontal armor and the long 8.8cm gun should be immediately designed, with the Tiger(P) as the basis, and part of the Tiger(P) production diverted for the vehicle.

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German Sd. Kfz. 9 8-Ton Personnel Carrier / Prime Mover - Unidentified Unit, Eastern Front, 1944 German Sd. Kfz. 9 8-Ton Personnel Carrier / Prime Mover - Unidentified Unit, Eastern Front, 1944 (1:72 Scale)

The Sd.Kfz. 9 (also known as "Famo" ) was a German half-track that saw widespread use in World War II. Its main roles were as a prime mover for very heavy towed guns such as the 24 cm Kanone 3 and as a tank recovery vehicle.

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German Sd. Kfz. 231 8 Wheeled Armored Car - Unidentified Unit, Russia, 1943 German Sd. Kfz. 231 8 Wheeled Armored Car - Unidentified Unit, Russia, 1943 (1:72 Scale)

The Leichter Panzerspahwagen (roughly "Light Armored Reconnaissance Vehicle") were a series of light 4 x 4 armored cars produced by Nazi Germany from 1935 to 1944.

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German Sd. Kfz. 142 Sturmgeschutz III Ausf. G Assault Gun - Fallschirm Panzer Division Hermann Goring, Nettuno, Italy, 1944 German Sd. Kfz. 142 Sturmgeschutz III Ausf. G Assault Gun - Fallschirm Panzer Division Hermann Goring, Nettuno, Italy, 1944 (1:72 Scale)

Five prototype assault guns were built in 1937, mounting the same short-barreled 75mm L/24 howitzer fitted to the PzKpfw IV in a limited traverse mounting on the modified chassis of the PzKpfw III Ausf. B. Constructed of soft steel, these vehicles of the "O" series were unsuitable for combat but helped towards the development of the initial production version, the StuG III Ausf. A.

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Polish Peoples Army T-34/76 Medium Tank - 1st Infantry Division, Russia, 1943 Polish People's Army T-34/76 Medium Tank - 1st Infantry Division, Russia, 1943 (1:72 Scale)

The first generation T-34 medium tank made its debut in combat during the summer of 1941, when the Wehrmacht launched its invasion of the Soviet Union. The T-34 easily outclassed the German PzKpfw III and IV models, thanks to its hard-hitting 76.2mm main gun, thick frontal armor, wide tracks, and overall superior mobility.

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German Sd. Kfz. 124 Wespe 105mm Tank Destroyer - Unidentified Unit, Eastern Front, 1943 German Sd. Kfz. 124 Wespe 105mm Tank Destroyer - Unidentified Unit, Eastern Front, 1943 (1:72 Scale)

The Wespe was designed by Alkett early in 1942, and was chosen as the most practical self-propelled mount for the leFH18 cannon, using the PzKpfw II chassis instead of the PzKpfw III or PzKpfw IV. As an interim measure, the Wespe proved a great success and in February 1943, all further PzKpfw II chassis were ordered to be used for its production.

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German Bussing-Nag Type 4500A Cargo Truck - Unidentified Unit, Eastern Front, 1943 German Bussing-Nag Type 4500A Cargo Truck - Unidentified Unit, Eastern Front, 1943 (1:72 Scale)

Beginning in 1942, the Bussing-NAG type 4500 A replaced the Bussing-NAG type 500 A. The engine bonnet of the type 4500 rose noticeable in direction to the driver's cab. It was horizontal on the type 500.

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Soviet T-34/76 Mod. 1942 Casting Turret Medium Tank - Unidentified Unit, Leningrad Front, 1943 Soviet T-34/76 Mod. 1942 Casting Turret Medium Tank - Unidentified Unit, Leningrad Front, 1943 (1:72 Scale)

The first generation T-34 medium tank made its debut in combat during the summer of 1941, when the Wehrmacht launched its invasion of the Soviet Union. The T-34 easily outclassed the German PzKpfw III and IV models, thanks to its hard-hitting 76.2mm main gun, thick frontal armor, wide tracks, and overall superior mobility.

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Soviet T-34/76 Mod. 1942 Medium Tank - Unidentified Unit, Eastern Front, 1943 Soviet T-34/76 Mod. 1942 Medium Tank - Unidentified Unit, Eastern Front, 1943 (1:72 Scale)

The first generation T-34 medium tank made its debut in combat during the summer of 1941, when the Wehrmacht launched its invasion of the Soviet Union. The T-34 easily outclassed the German PzKpfw III and IV models, thanks to its hard-hitting 76.2mm main gun, thick frontal armor, wide tracks, and overall superior mobility.

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Soviet T-34/76 Mod. 1942 Tank - Red 37, 26th Armored Brigade, Ukraine, December 1943 Soviet T-34/76 Mod. 1942 Tank - "Red 37", 26th Armored Brigade, Ukraine, December 1943 (1:72 Scale)

The first generation T-34 medium tank made its debut in combat during the summer of 1941, when the Wehrmacht launched its invasion of the Soviet Union. The T-34 easily outclassed the German PzKpfw III and IV models, thanks to its hard-hitting 76.2mm main gun, thick frontal armor, wide tracks, and overall superior mobility.

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Soviet T-34/76 Mod. 1942 Tank - Unidentified Unit, Kharkov, 1943 Soviet T-34/76 Mod. 1942 Medium Tank - Unidentified Unit, Kharkov, 1943 (1:72 Scale)

The first generation T-34 medium tank made its debut in combat during the summer of 1941, when the Wehrmacht launched its invasion of the Soviet Union. The T-34 easily outclassed the German PzKpfw III and IV models, thanks to its hard-hitting 76.2mm main gun, thick frontal armor, wide tracks, and overall superior mobility.

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German Mid Production Sd. Kfz. 181 PzKpfw VI Tiger Ausf. E Heavy Tank - 2.SS Panzer Grenadier Division Das Reich, Russia, 1943 German Mid Production Sd. Kfz. 181 PzKpfw VI Tiger Ausf. E Heavy Tank - '812', 2.SS Panzer Grenadier Division 'Das Reich', Russia, 1943 (1:72 Scale)

The German Waffenamt issued an order to design the VK4501(H) (as the PzKpfw VI Ausf. E was then known) in May 1941, just one month prior to the commencement of Operation Barbarossa. Interestingly, Henschel und Sohn of Kassel was charged with building the heavily armored chassis while Krupp, by far the largest munitionwerks in Germany, was given the task of developing the turret.

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German Sd. Kfz. 181 PzKpfw VI Tiger I Heavy Tank - Michael Wittmannn "S04", 1.SS Panzer Division Leibstandarte"LSSAH", 1943 German Sd. Kfz. 181 PzKpfw VI Tiger I Heavy Tank - Michael Wittmannn "S04", 1.SS Panzer Division "LSSAH", 1943 (1:72 Scale)

The Ausf. E mounted a huge 8.8cm KwK36 L/56 cannon and featured two MG34 machine guns for close support against enemy infantry. By war's end, 1,354 vehicles had been produced, some rolling off the Wegmann assembly line.

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Soviet T-34/76 Medium Tank - Unidentified Unit, Kursk, 1943 Soviet T-34/76 Medium Tank - Unidentified Unit, Kursk, 1943 (1:72 Scale)

The first generation T-34 medium tank made its debut in combat during the summer of 1941, when the Wehrmacht launched its invasion of the Soviet Union. The T-34 easily outclassed the German PzKpfw III and IV models, thanks to its hard-hitting 76.2mm main gun, thick frontal armor, wide tracks, and overall superior mobility.

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German Early Production Sd. Kfz. 142 Sturmgeschutz III Ausf. G Assault Gun - Panzer-Grenadier Division "Grossdeutschland", Eastern Front, 1943 German Early Production Sd. Kfz. 142 Sturmgeschutz III Ausf. G Assault Gun - Panzer-Grenadier Division "Grossdeutschland", Eastern Front, 1943 (1:72 Scale)

The German Sturmgeschutz (StuG) was one of the most successful armored fighting vehicles of the Second World War. It arose from an original concept of the pre-war panzer divisions, whereby a special vehicle for infantry support work was planned.

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German Sd. Kfz. 251 Ausf. D Half-Track - 1.SS Panzer Grenadier Divison "LSSAH", Kharkov, 1943 German Sd. Kfz. 251 Ausf. D Half-Track - 1.SS Panzer Grenadier Divison "LSSAH", Kharkov, 1943 (1:72 Scale)

The Sonderkraftfahrzeug (Sd. Kfz.) 251 half-track had its origins in the same requirement as the smaller and lighter Sd. Kfz. 250. Intended as an armored personnel carrier, the Sd. Kfz. 251 entered service in 1939, and quickly became the standard means of transport for the panzergrenadiers.

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German Sd. Kfz. 251/7 Ausf. C Half-Track - Kursk, 1943 German Sd. Kfz. 251/7 Ausf. C Half-Track - Unidentified Unit, Kursk, 1943 (1:72 Scale)

The Sonderkraftfahrzeug (Sd. Kfz.) 251 half-track had its origins in the same requirement as the smaller and lighter Sd. Kfz. 250. Intended as an armored personnel carrier, the Sd. Kfz. 251 entered service in 1939, and quickly became the standard means of transport for the panzergrenadiers.

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German Opel Blitz Cargo Truck - 1.SS Panzer Grenadier Division "LSSAH", Kharkov, Russia, March 1943 German Opel Blitz Cargo Truck - 1.SS Panzer Grenadier Division "LSSAH", Kharkov, Russia, March 1943 (1:72 Scale)

The 3-ton Opel "Blitz" truck was the Wehrmacht's principal general-purpose truck during the Second World War. The engine was a water-cooled, straight-six OHV gasoline unit of 3.6 liters that was fueled by a 21.6 gallon gasoline tank situated under the driver's seat.

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German Sd. Kfz. 251/10 Ausf. C Half-Track w/3.7cm PaK Gun - Unidentified Unit, Eastern Front, 1943 German Sd. Kfz. 251/10 Ausf. C Half-Track w/3.7cm PaK Gun - Unidentified Unit, Eastern Front, 1943 (1:72 Scale)

The Sonderkraftfahrzeug (Sd. Kfz.) 251 half-track had its origins in the same requirement as the smaller and lighter Sd. Kfz. 250. Intended as an armored personnel carrier, the Sd. Kfz. 251 entered service in 1939, and quickly became the standard means of transport for the panzergrenadiers.

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German Sd. Kfz. 251/10 Ausf. C Half-Track w/3.7cm PaK Gun - 1.SS Panzer Grenadier Division LSSAH, Kursk, 1943 German Sd. Kfz. 251/10 Ausf. C Half-Track w/3.7cm PaK Gun - 1.SS Panzer Grenadier Division "LSSAH", Kursk, 1943 (1:72 Scale)

The Sonderkraftfahrzeug (Sd. Kfz.) 251 half-track had its origins in the same requirement as the smaller and lighter Sd. Kfz. 250. Intended as an armored personnel carrier, the Sd. Kfz. 251 entered service in 1939, and quickly became the standard means of transport for the panzergrenadiers.

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Soviet T-34/76D Medium Tank - 30th Guards Tank Brigade, Krasnoye Selo, Leningrad, January 1944 Soviet T-34/76D Medium Tank - 30th Guards Tank Brigade, Krasnoye Selo, Leningrad, January 1944 (1:50 Scale)

The first generation T-34 medium tank made its debut in combat during the summer of 1941, when the Wehrmacht launched its invasion of the Soviet Union. The T-34 easily outclassed the German PzKpfw III and IV models, thanks to its hard-hitting 76.2mm main gun, thick frontal armor, wide tracks, and overall superior mobility.

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German Horch 108 Type 1A Command Car - European Theatre of Operations, 1943 German Horch 108 Type 1A Command Car - European Theatre of Operations, 1943 (1:72 Scale)

One of the problems presented by the original policy of purchasing commercially based vehicles for military usage was the vast diversity of makes taken on to the inventory, and the associated maintenance and spares supply problem. Different makes of engine, transmission, chassis, and so on meant that the stock of spares needed was immense.

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German Wurfkorper M F1 50 Stuka zu Fuss Halftrack with Rocket Launchers - 24.Panzer Division, Kursk, Russia, 1943 German Wurfkorper M F1 50 Stuka zu Fuss Halftrack with Rocket Launchers - 24.Panzer Division, Kursk, Russia, 1943 (1:43 Scale)

After the campaign in France in 1940, J. Gast KG. Berlin were ordered to develop a projector for the Wurfgerat 40, which would be fitted on the Mittlere Schutzenpanzerwagen. The resulting Stuka zu Fuss ("Stuka on foot") could be traversed by the driver and used against enemy troop or armored formations some distance away.

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German Sd. Kfz. 4 Maultier Tracked Light Truck - 4.Panzer Division, Kursk, Russia, 1943 German Sd. Kfz. 4 Maultier Tracked Light Truck - 4.Panzer Division, Kursk, Russia, 1943 (1:43 Scale)

The Sd. Kfz. 4 Gleissketten-Lastkraftwagen (track chain truck) or 'Maultier' was a family of half-tracks developed during the Second World War by Germany which, between 1933 and 1945, was the leader in production of these vehicles.

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Soviet ZIS-6/BM-13 Katyusha Mobile Rocket Launcher - Guards Mortar Regiment, Kursk, Russia, 1943 Soviet ZIS-6/BM-13 Katyusha Mobile Rocket Launcher - Guards Mortar Regiment, Kursk, Russia, 1943 (1:43 Scale)

Katyusha multiple rocket launchers are a type of rocket artillery first built and fielded by the Soviet Union in World War II. Multiple rocket launchers such as these deliver a devastating amount of explosives to a target area more quickly than conventional artillery, but with lower accuracy and requiring a longer time to reload.

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