In the summer of 1943, recoiling from the disastrous defeat at Stalingrad, Hitler launched Germany’s last great offensive on the eastern front – Operation Citadel, targeting the Kursk salient. Failure was not an option – only a sweeping victory such as those of previous summers could wrest the strategic initiative back into German hands. But the Soviets were ready and waiting, having prepared extensively for the attack. The resulting clashes of men and machines were catastrophic in scale – yet the Northern Front of the battle has always received less attention that the South. Now, a renowned expert in armoured warfare investigates the other half of the story, as two of World War II’s best commanders, Model and Rokossovsky, fought in one of its costliest campaigns yet. This volume explores both the German offensive and the Soviet counteroffensive. Featuring vivid contemporary photographs, highly detailed maps and informative bird’s-eye-views, it provides an arresting account of the Northern Front of the battle that would finally, irrevocably, turn the tide of the war.
** Quoted from the back cover of the book.
Osprey Publications Ltd has released Kursk 1943 – The Northern Front
as Number 272 in their Campaign series. It is a paperback book with 96 pages. Included with the text are black and white photographs, black and white and color illustrations, information charts, maps, 3-dimensional ‘bird’s-eye-views’, personal profiles, notes and detailed captions. As the title states, the book covers combat between German and Soviet forces on the Northern Front of Kursk in 1943.
- Origins Of The Campaign
- Chronology: 1943
- Opposing Plans: German plans; Soviet plans
- Opposing Commanders: German commanders; Soviet commanders
- Opposing Forces: German; Soviet; Order of battle
- AOK 9’S Offensive, 5-11 July 1943: The Build-Up; Day by Day 5-11 July
- Operation Kutusov: The Soviet Counter-Offensive, 12 July-18 August; Day by Day 12-19 July; 20-25 July; 26 July; 27 July-3 August; 4-5 August; 6-18 August.
- The Battlefield Today
- Further reading
The book is well-written and contains many excellent details about the fighting on the Northern Front of Kursk in 1943. Author Robert Forczyk has obviously gone to great lengths in his research and provides a very well written and accurate history of the events surrounding the combat. As shown in the contents, Forczyk details the fighting in chronological order, starting with the buildup, the commanders on both sides of the battle lines, then the fighting, which is detailed in a day-by-day format with an emphasis on AOK 9’s Offensive and Operation Kutusov: The Soviet Counter-Offensive, to the end, and the after effects of the conflict. Anyone interested in the Eastern Front and the fighting at Kursk will find this book very informative. I didn’t notice any spelling or grammatical errors as I read through the text. (Grammar and spelling might not be an important factor to everyone however it is something that I take notice of and I pass on my findings.) Please refer to the scans that I have provided so that you can judge some of the text for yourself.
There are a total of 67 black and white photographs. The photographs range from showing tanks in static positions for the benefit of the photographer to action photographs. Most of the photographs are well done, however some are out of focus and some too dark, but all of that is typical for photographs of this period. Several are stills taken from period movie films, which would account for the lack of sharpness, and the quality of the photographs is in no way the fault of the author. One thing that I was appreciative of is that a good majority of them are not the same old overused images that turn up in reference to the fighting on the Eastern Front. It is always nice to see lesser known photographs. All of these photographs would be of great benefit to the scale modeler, military enthusiast and historian as well as the railroad modeler and enthusiast. Please refer to the scans that I have provided so that you can judge the photographs for yourself.
Some of the armor, vehicles, aircraft and weapons shown and discussed:
- German PzKpfw IV
- Russian T-34
- German Tiger
- Russian RGD-33 anti-personnel grenade and RPG-40 anti-tank grenade
- German 17cm Kanone 18
- German 15cm Nebelwerfer
- Russian 57mm ZIS-2 anti-tank gun
- German 186-FW-190A-4 fighter
- German 10.5cm Ie.FH18 howitzer
- Russian 122mm M-30 howitzer
- German Sturmpanzer Sd.Kfz. 166
- German PzKpfw III Ausf. L
- German Ferdinand SdKfz 184
- German SdKfz 251/10 SPW half-track
- German Ju-87 Stuka
- Russian Su-76M assault gun
- German Steyr Raupenschlepper Ost (RSO)
- Russian Su-122
- Russian Yak-9T fighter
- German Marder III
- German 8cm mortar
- German railroad cars
There are also two pictures of American equipment provided to the Soviet forces through the Lend-Lease Act. They are:
- Two M3 Lee tanks (knocked out)
- A-20 Havoc bomber
There are three color and three black and white illustrations by Steve Noon. Each color illustration is accompanied by a black and white version that describes the scene and points out and describes key areas of interest. These are very well done and nicely detailed, as follows:
Attack of the Ferdinands, 0700 Hours, 5 July 1943: The opening day of the Zitadelle offensive. Soviet 76.2mm ZIS-3 anti-tank gun position being attacked by German Ferdinand tank destroyers.
High-Water Mark at Teploye, 1300 Hours, 8 July 1943: The fourth day of the Zitadelle offensive. German Pz.Kpfw IV tanks and a German Tiger tank from Panzer-Regiment 35 attacking a Soviet held hill that is defended with dug-in tanks and anti-tank guns.
Bagramyan’s Breakthrough, 0700 Hours, 13 July 1943: Tanks from the 5th Tank Corps and troops from the 11th Guards Rifle Division overrunning the left wing of the German 293.Infanterie-Division near Ulyanovo.
Please refer to the scan that I have provided so that you can judge these for yourself.
THE COLOR MAPS
There are six color maps throughout the book:
- The German plan for Zitadelle, July 1943
- AOK 9’s attack, 5 July 1943
- The second day of Zitadelle and the Soviet reactions, 6 July 1943
- The situation at the end of Zitadelle, 10 July 1943
- The Bryansk Front offensive, 12-21 July 1943
- Western Front’s offensive, 12-16 July 1943.
Please refer to the scan that I have provided so that you can judge the maps.
THE 3-DIMENSIONAL ‘BIRDS-EYE-VIEWS’
There are three ‘birds-eye-view’ 3-D color maps included in this volume which are well done, nicely detailed and are of:
- The Attack Of 78.Sturm-Division, 5 July 1943
- The Battle For Ponyri, 7-9 July 1943
- The Battle For Teploye And Ol’khovatka, 8 July 1943.
THE INFORMATIONAL CHARTS
The book includes four informational charts, again, providing good detail:
- List of Acronyms and Abbreviations
- AOK 9 tank strength, 5 July 1943
- Luftwaffe operational strength at Kursk
- Soviet operational aircraft strength
And as with several of the Osprey Publishing Ltd books there is a key to military symbols and unit identification included as well.
There are 13 individual profiles included that detail and cover:
- Generaloberst Walter Model
- General der Panzertruppen Joachim Lemelsen
- General der Panzertruppen Josef Harpe
- General der Infanterie Lothar Rendulic
- General der Infanterie Hans Zorn
- General der Infanterie Erich-Heinrich Clößner
- General Konstantin K. Rokossovsky
- General-Leytenant Nikolai P. Pukhov
- General-Leytenant Pavel S. Rybalko
- General-Leytenant Aleksei G. Rodin
- General-polkovnik Ivan Khristoforovich Bagramyan
- General Vasiliy D. Sokolovsky
- General-polkovnik Markian M. Popov
There are two notes included in this volume:
- Artist’s Note
- The Woodland Trust environmental acknowledgment
The captions are well written and are very detailed and explain the accompanying photographs and illustrations well. The captions go into great detail as to specific individual soldier’s military affiliations, dates and locations, weapon types, numbers of artillery and tanks used, specific military units and the results of the actions that are shown, and other such pertinent information. The captions themselves are basically miniature history lessons as they detail what happened in the photographs and explain who, what, when, why and where. The captions are very helpful to the reader due to their detailed content, as opposed to captions I have seen in other books that can be very brief and lack detail. Please refer to the scans that I have provided so that you can judge for yourself.
All in all, I am very impressed with the book; it allows the reader to thoroughly examine the combat between German and Soviet forces during the fighting on the Northern Front of Kursk with the aid of the many photographs, charts and maps that support the well-written text. The photographs contained in this fine volume will benefit the military scale aircraft, figure, armor and railroad modeler and enthusiast well. Osprey Publishing continues to release many great titles such as this one and I would have no hesitation to add more of their books to my personal library, nor would I hesitate to recommend this book to others.
Kursk 1943 – The Northern Front at the Osprey Publishing web site.
Look inside Kursk 1943 – The Northern Front at the Amazon web site.
Amazon also offers Kursk 1943 – The Northern Front as a Kindle edition.