A cat caught in a puddle: unsuccessful debut of the "Panthers" on the Kursk Bulge
In World War II, the German PzKpfw V Panther tanks proved to be a dangerous opponent. But the beginning of their combat path on the Kursk Bulge was not very successful.
Pills of greed and more, more!
As you know, the first attempts to use new heavy tanks "Tiger" near Leningrad ended badly for the Germans. In the marshland, the "tigers" were not very able to play the role of miracle weapons, and one even went to the Soviet troops as a trophy. With the “panthers” it was decided not to allow such a fiasco. They should have been applied suddenly and en masse. In order to put more new tanks into battle at once, Hitler even several times postponed the start of the summer offensive ... And this despite the screams of Manstein coming from the Eastern Front: they say that every Russian mongrel knows about the coming offensive and that two lines of Maginot are already built on the other side of the front with Mannerheim to boot.
At last, two hundred gathered — with such an armored fist, according to the Fuhrer, it was possible to demolish any defense of the pathetic Untermen like the straw house of Nif-Nif. Well, in a pinch, like Nuf – Nuf, which is a branch. In general, a flock of "cats" loaded into trains and sent to the east.
The king is naked!
By the 43rd year, everyone (and the Germans - especially!) Already knew that the tanks themselves were fighting badly and not for long. They need sappers to clear mines and build bridges; artillery firing at enemy cannons; infantry, in order to drive off the enemy soldiers who are trying to slip a bunch of grenades under the tracks or, even worse, throw a bottle with a Molotov cocktail onto the engine ... Supply vehicles are still needed, well, in general, a lot of things. However, the "Panther" regiment was hustled off in a hurry and did not manage to acquire anything useful. It was just a lot of tanks.
At the headquarters of Manstein, they scratched their heads and, as usual, solved the problem at the expense of their subordinates - they presented the “Panthers” of the “Great Germany” division. Like, you have a hard, responsible business; Here you have two hundred new tanks. True, the division already had its own tank regiment, so the suitcase without a handle was not at all happy there.
But they forgot about the ravines ...
They arrived at the place where the Panthers were concentrated just before the beginning of the offensive, on July 4. A short trip along the Russian roads cost a regiment of two tanks burned down (from a fire in the engine compartment) and just a little more than a dozen just broke. "Cats", however, remained a lot, and they were ready to shoot, beat, ram, tear claws ... if you can get somewhere.
True, the latter had problems. A ravine with springs was found in front of the Soviet trenches in the area chosen for the "panther". While Hitler postponed the start of the offensive, the sappers of the 6th Guards Army dug an additional and anti-tank ditch from him and placed around a pile of anti-tank mines.
First came to the moat tanks own regiment of the "Great Germany". However, the attempt to build a ferry ended in the fact that the Tigr sank in the swamp at the bottom of the moat, along with the only bridge in the division capable of withstanding new tanks. The "Panthers" who arrived tried to force the ravine in other places, but quickly found out that such attempts ended in either getting stuck in the mud or blowing up on a mine. Meanwhile, Soviet heavy artillery began firing at the tank horde that had accumulated near the moat, and attack aircraft unloaded a couple of times.
It was only after noon that the additional sapper units sent from the corps introduced a new crossing through which three dozen Panthers managed to be dragged. Then the bridge sank again in the mud.
Cats who walked by themselves.
By the evening of July 5, the remaining "panthers" were finally able to cross the moat at the crossings of the neighboring division. True, at this point in the regiment there was less than half of the original two hundred. But now, when the ill-fated ditch was left behind, the “Panthers” had to show what their thick armor and powerful long-barreled gun cost.
Alas, in the morning of the next day, it turned out that the treacherous Russians had laid mines not only at the forefront, but also in the depths of the defense. The only more or less cleared of mines road occupied the "native" regiment of the "Great Germany". Offended by snorting, the Panthers decided that they would continue to fight on their own, and left. The last message from them was in the morning, and then the connection was gone, and what the main striking force of the corps was doing now, none of the German commanders could find out until the evening.
Meanwhile, the “Panthers” were walking badly and not for long. After two kilometers they drove to the next minefield.While the German tank crews were trying to figure out where they actually got and how to get out of here, heavy shells, already familiar to them, began to fall from above. And on thin sides, guns opened fire, accidentally lurking in the bushes near the anti-tank brigade.
In the evening of the second day of the offensive, counting over the heads of the remaining "cats", the Germans were surprised to find that only four dozen new tanks were on the move. And a day later there were only ten of them.
Calling it an impressive success was quite difficult. Therefore, when German commanders sat down to write memoirs about how they almost won the war, the question of "panthers" at the beginning of Operation Citadel was usually delicately hushed up. Well, or - as usual - Hitler was to blame for everything.