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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 Focke-Wulf Fw 190A-4 Fighter - Unteroffizier Helmut Brandt, Jagdgeschwader 54 Grunherz, Lake Ladoga, Eastern Front, 1943 German Focke-Wulf Fw 190A-4 Fighter - Unteroffizier Helmut Brandt, Jagdgeschwader 54 "Grunherz", Lake Ladoga, Eastern Front, 1943 (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 Focke-Wulf Fw 190A-8 Fighter - Major Walter Dahl, Black 13, Jagdgeschwader 3, Eastern Front, 1944 German Focke-Wulf Fw 190A-8 Fighter - Major Walter Dahl, "Black 13", Jagdgeschwader 3, Eastern Front, 1944 (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 Focke-Wulf Fw 190A-4 Fighter - Leutnant Josef Jennewein, 3./Jagdgeschwader 5, Orel, Russia, 1943 German Focke-Wulf Fw 190A-4 Fighter - Leutnant Josef Jennewein, 3./Jagdgeschwader 5, Orel, Russia, 1943 (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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Soviet Lavochkin La-5FN Fighter - Ivan Kozhedub, 240th IAP, April 1944 Soviet Lavochkin La-5FN Fighter - Ivan Kozhedub, 240th IAP, April 1944 (1:72 Scale)

The Lavochkin La-5 was a Soviet fighter aircraft of World War II. It was a development and refinement of the LaGG-3 and was one of the Soviet Air Force's most capable types of warplane.

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Soviet Lavochkin La-5FN Fighter - Captain Konstantin Savelievich Nazimov, 254 IAP, Poland, Summer 1944 Soviet Lavochkin La-5FN Fighter - Captain Konstantin Savelievich Nazimov, 254 IAP, Poland, Summer 1944 (1:72 Scale)

The Lavochkin La-5 was a Soviet fighter aircraft of World War II. It was a development and refinement of the LaGG-3 and was one of the Soviet Air Force's most capable types of warplane.

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German Messerschmitt Bf 110G-2 Fighter - Q1+VB, 12/ Schlachtgeschwader 77, Russia, 1943 German Messerschmitt Bf 110G-2 Fighter - Q1+VB, 12/ Schlachtgeschwader 77, Russia, 1943 (1:72 Scale)

The Messerschmitt Bf 110 was an aircraft of very mixed fortunes. It has often been criticized for its failure during the Battle of Britain, while its successes in other fields have been largely ignored.

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German Junkers Ju-87G-1 Stuka Dive-Bomber - GS+MH, 10.(Pz)/Schlachtgeschwader 1, Dubno, Ukraine, June 1944 German Junkers Ju-87G-1 Stuka Dive-Bomber - GS+MH, 10.(Pz)/Schlachtgeschwader 1, Dubno, Ukraine, June 1944 (1:72 Scale)

During the early to mid-stages of the Second World War, the Stuka (short for "sturzkampfflugzeug" or dive-bomber) struck terror in the hearts and minds of soldiers and civilians alike. The Stuka was a rugged machine, designed to swoop down and destroy its target using 500-lb bombs or tear into them using 37mm flak guns mounted underneath the wings.

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German Focke-Wulf Fw 190 Fighter - Oberleutnant Heinrich Sterr, Jagdgeschwader 74 German Focke-Wulf Fw 190 Fighter - Oberleutnant Heinrich Sterr, Jagdgeschwader 74 (1:48 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.

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German Messerschmitt Bf 109G6 Fighter - Erich Bubi Hartmann, Jagdgeschwader 52, Eastern Front German Messerschmitt Bf 109G6 Fighter - Erich "Bubi" Hartmann, Jagdgeschwader 52, Eastern Front (1:48 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 Junkers Ju 87D Stuka Dive-Bomber - IX/Stukageschwader 77, Russian Front, 1943 German Junkers Ju 87D Stuka Dive-Bomber - IX/Stukageschwader 77, Russian Front, 1943 (1:48 Scale)

During the early to mid-stages of the Second World War, the Stuka (short for "sturzkampfflugzeug" or dive-bomber) struck terror in the hearts and minds of soldiers and civilians alike. The Stuka was a rugged machine, designed to swoop down and destroy its target using 500-lb bombs or tear into them using 37mm flak guns mounted underneath the wings.

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German Junkers Ju 88C-6 Medium-Bomber - F1+XM, 4. Zerstorerstaffel/Kampfgeschwader 76, Taganrog, Ukraine, 1943 German Junkers Ju 88C-6 Medium-Bomber - F1+XM, 4. Zerstorerstaffel/Kampfgeschwader 76, Taganrog, Ukraine, 1943 (1:72 Scale)

The Luftwaffe's Junkers Ju 88 was a twin-engine, multi-role aircraft. Among the most versatile planes of the war, it was used as a bomber, close-support aircraft, nightfighter, torpedo bomber and reconnaissance aircraft.

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