The Panzers of Prokhorovka, The Myth of Hitler’s Greatest Armoured Defeat | Armorama™

THE PANZERS OF PROKHOROVKA, THE MYTH OF HITLER’S GREATEST ARMOURED DEFEAT is a recent book dispelling the long held belief that the Battle of Kursk battle at Prokhorovka was a disaster for the Wehrmacht.

This is partial text from the full article (usually with photos) at

Looks interesting.
Ordered it, out of curiosity.

The author, telling former Soviet’s, Soviet history as taught was a crock of dodo has potential to be entertaining. As to the veracity of the work, look forward to seeing what’s presented.

FWIW - I recall reading Martin Caidin’s The Tigers are Burning at age 13, in 1977.

It wasn’t much of a book but it was better than nothing back in the 1970’s. Reread it as an adult and had same impression. Never held his works in all that high of a regard and found this hilarious about Caidin…

:laughing: :rofl: :joy: :joy_cat: :laughing:


Good review, Fred. It’s always exciting to learn new facts and reevaluate history.

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Mark Healy went through the same archives sixteen years ago in his excellent and thorough “Zitadelle” publ. 2008 (399pp) – not to be confused with his previous Osprey monograph “Kursk 1943”.

Healy went into great detail explaining the complexities of tank loss statistics on both sides. For example what the Russians counted as “destroyed” one day (e.g. tank disabled by mine & crew gone) was often recovered (if within occupied territory) by the Germans, repaired and put back into service. Sometimes more than once. And the same applied on the Russian side too. Let alone the propaganda motivation to inflate enemy losses and minimise one’s own – on both sides. From memory I think Healy estimated the true loss ratio to be somewhere around 1 German to 6 Russian but it’s impossible to be accurate.

This is hardly fresh news so I’m not sure what Wheatley can add. I’m also unclear if his title “The Panzers of Prokhorovka” (indicating only the southern salient battle which stopped the German advance literally in its tracks) excludes the equally important parallel battle on the northern salient - if so why? It’s less than half the story. On the other hand if he does cover both salients, that’s universally termed the Battle (or Campaign) of Kursk and his title would therefore be a misnomer.

Few now dispute that Kursk (and indeed Prokhorovka if treated in isolation) was at best a tactical draw (or German win in terms of comparative losses), but a disastrous strategic defeat for the Germans. It was a Russian tactical and strategic success – grind down the German offensive to the point where they could only retreat. Operation Citadel (i.e. Kursk, not just Prokhorovka) completely failed in its strategic objective to surround and destroy a giant Russian pocket, and thereafter the Germans were in reverse gear all the way back to Berlin.


Arrived yesterday, should have an opportunity to start day after tomorrow.


Interesting book, from a model building point of view seldom are books like this one relevant however there’s an exception in this case. Like several others it dispels the myth of German units blindly following “regulations”.

According to page 33 in 1943, 1st SS Panzer Grenadier Division Leibnstandarte, refused to give up all of it’s Panzer III’s attached to the Tiger company. Four were retained despite “regulations”. That’s potentially an interesting model subject.

Overall, enjoyable book, with a nice anecdote of a 3rd SS Panzer Tiger falling through thr ice and the division playing paper & pencil games to avoid writing off the Tiger and getit repaired.

Kudos to @JPTRR for the excellent review!


Hi Tim, it mainly focuses on the II SS Panzer Korps, specifically LSSAH, vs 29th Tank Corps on the southern attack, as Prokhorovka was claimed to have a graveyard for Tigers.


Hi Fred & thanks for the clarification. Healy’s book (pp345-347) addressed the myths about losses at Prokhorovka too. Using German & Russian archives and first-hand accounts (including Rotmistrov’s, after Stalin was long dead) the best estimates are that the SS Panzer Corp total losses 12-17 July at Prokhorovka were…17 (sic)…vs. 5th Guards Tank Army losses c. 600 (sic) written off or disabled. There are no reliable estimates of how many were subsequently repaired.

I mentioned before how disabled tanks later repaired were counted by both sides as destroyed – for example all 10 of Totenkopf’s Tigers (and one of Leibstandarte’s) were knocked out, but all were subsequently repaired and returned to service. Add to that the Russians called every German tank “Tigr”. Lies, damned lies & statistics.


Well done - one of my favorite sayings!


OK well that certainly is er “ground-breaking” research, who knew how wintery it was at Prokhorovka in July ’43? :grin:

But it’s a good point about the immense pressure the workshop/repair units on both sides were under to get damaged vehicles back in the line. Supply lines bringing up spares were constantly disrupted so vehicles which might otherwise have been repairable were cannibalised to get others going again. So the workshop daily reports to HQ regarding categories i.e. write-offs, light damage, heavy damage, time-estimates to repair etc. changed from day-to-day. They might have made sense at the time but difficult to unravel now. HQ would then doctor/downplay the reports back to Berlin or Moscow anyway, for obvious reasons.

What was Wheatley’s take on German total losses at Prokhorovka?


:laughing: I should have mentioned that occurred earlier in the winter not at Kursk.

Wheatley’s book is focused almost exclusively on the 2nd SS Panzer Korp losses and the numbers are very similar to what you’ve mentioned.

He goes into details explaining how repairs were categorized and losses written off. Precise accuracy gets muddled some what due to things like some tanks written off initially ended up being repaired etc.

One of the more interesting (to me) details is Leibstandarte ignored orders & regulations regarding equipment. They retained several Panzers they’d been told to turn over to other divisions when they were transferred to Italy. There was a reluctant, outright refusal to turn over command tanks. Several of these went with the division to Italy. Likewise, one damaged Pz IV which was repaired by Leibnstandarte and field conveted into a command panzer, numbered 055.