The role played by American tanks in the battle of Kursk

History 16/02/20 the role played by American tanks in the battle of Kursk

the American medium tanks M3 “General Grant” (or they could still be called “General Lee”), have been reported in the Red Army since 1942 and obonakalisa as M-3C, special popularity did not use our soldiers. That is not surprising — that car definitely was not a crown of creation. However, the presence of a potent gun, especially with a shortage of domestic cars in this class, we were given the opportunity “Grants” to show themselves. However, did them for the red army not so much, according to various estimates about a thousand.

to replace the “Grants” came much better the M4 “General Sherman”, the red army designated the M-4S. First time with red stars on the armor of these tanks went into battle for Kuban in spring 1943. But their use was not massive, Soviet tankers still only trained to fight on these machines.

the battle of Kursk was the first major operation where the “Sherman” was an opportunity to show themselves. And here for “Grants” it was already the end of a career. However, at Kursk it “Grants” was the most American medium tanks of the red Army.

“Grants” vs “Panther”

Tanks M-3s at Kursk was armed with several units.

On the Northern front were two regiments. In the 45th there was a 30 “Grants” (and 8 “Stuarts”), 193-m had as many as 55 M-3s, and three self-propelled guns SU-76.

the Shelf was part of the 48th army, and thus turned away from the German offensive.

On the southern face it was the same two regiments. 245-m was 26 of “Grants” and 12 “Stuarts,” and in the 230-m — only 6 “Grants” and 36 “stewards”. Both regiments were part of the 6th guards army of General Chistyakov and was on the very edge of the German shock. In battle they had to come on the first day of the battle.

the 230th regiment was on the path of advance of the 2nd SS Panzer corps. Part tanks were buried in the ground and turned into a stationary firing tanks. Trying to stop the attack and save his infantry from the environment, tankers attacked, but was hit by the SS division “Reich”. In the report of this division for July 5 mentions about the attack of Soviet tanks. It is said that the attack was repulsed and 7 Soviet tanks destroyed. In Soviet sources mention this attack as successful, which was shot down several German machines. But in this battle of the “Grants” had no chance even to approach to a distance shot. Most German tanks by that time had the opportunity to shoot the M-3s with maximum distance. The Soviet machines had to deal with assault weapons platoon, led by the famous tank ACE of the Wehrmacht Michael Wittmann. So it turns out that the attack “Grants” 230 th regiment was the first tank battle in the battle of Kursk.

as for the 245th regiment, it “Grants” were the first tanks, which were engaged in battle German Panther.

the advent of the “Panther” assigned division “Great Germany” in the first hours, stopped at a broad gully in front of the line of the Soviet defence. While the Germans tried to overcome a barrier (just a few tanks sunk in the mud), Soviet troops moved to the attack. The basis of the strike force was self-propelled artillery regiment and “Grants” of the 245th regiment.

According to the Soviet reports of our tanks destroyed 28 German tanks including one Tiger. Losing 17 of their machines.

In his memoirs, commander of the brigade “Panthers” Colonel Dekker writes about the attack 8 Soviet tanks “General Lee”, which was immediately destroyed, and one of them in person (or rather his tank).

Although sometimes it is mentioned that all the tanks of both regiments were destroyed in the first battle — it is not. “Grants” 230 th regiment took part in the counteroffensive of the Soviet troops, the last M-3s were lost in the 20 days of July.

of Course, these tanks are already hopelessly outdated by that time and could hardly claim any success. But his mark in the history of tank battles, they were still able to leave.

“Sherman” against the “Tigers”

American tanks M-4S in the battle of Kursk was armed with only one regiment, the 229th separate. It was located on the Northern fase Kursk bulge and was part of the 48-th army. Was in the regiment on the 1st of July according to the “report management office and CF Central front” 37 “Shermans”, but the summary of the 5th of July, they are 38. By the 11th of July, when the regiment joined the battle, all the tanks have been repaired and it has 39. Unlike other separate regiments, which had a mixed composition, 229th armed only medium tanks, making it much stronger.

After the start of the German offensive, the 9th of July the regiment was transferred to the 13th army, and transferred to the area of maloarkhangel’sk. That is, in the thick of the fighting.

the 11th of July the regiment was engaged in battle, but not particularly well. The attack failed, and the tasks are not fulfilled, the settlement is not busy. Moreover, even to hold on to their positions failed. The problem (according to the command) was the lack of coordination of tanks with infantry, and company of the regiment had acted in isolation.

two days of heavy fighting got out of 19 machines, 8 of which were burned on the battlefield. The regiment declared the destruction of 6 German tanks and self-propelled guns.

since by the time the German offensive was exhausted, the regiment took part in our offensive.

the Rear service worked well and wrecked tanks were evacuated from the battlefield and quickly restored. Therefore, the 15th of July, already having in line 22, “Sherman”, the regiment took part in the attack. Were more successful, but the casualties were high.

on July 18, the infantry suffered too heavy losses and exhausted. Tankers lost 31 car, of which 14 are burned. Wonder the discrepancy is not: repairmen were commissioned directly lined tanks during the fighting. Their work is not forgotten and many received awards. And the medal “For military merit” was quite appropriate. To evacuate, and sometimes fixing cars I had sometimes right on the battlefield, under enemy fire.

Although the regiment had only 8 operational tanks, it again thrown into battle on another site. New attack cost 4 more lost machines. Then the regiment was disbanded, but the history of “Sherman” in the battle of Kursk did not end there. They were transferred to 237-th tank regiment, where they fought together with the Soviet T-34 and T-70.

the 27th of July, the regiment lost the last M-4S. It is interesting that in these battles from the German side participated 505 battalion of “Tigers” and suffered heavy losses: eight days the number of cars was reduced from 19 to 3. Presumably one black “Tiger” came just in time for the last survivor “Sherman”. Thus, it was the first “Tiger”, padded American tank.

using the same tanks, M-4S in a combat situation was assessed very highly. Emphasized their high survivability and maintainability, powerful cannon and thick armor. Unlike all the other tanks lend-lease “Sherman” was no worse than the “thirty.” And it is no coincidence that they then fought in the red army until the last day of the war.

Cyril Shishkin

© Russian Seven

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