Friday, January 30, 2015

Kursk - Part Six - The Battle of Prokhorovka

Tanks of the Soviet 5th Guards moving forward under fire, covered by infantry

Well, Ladies and Germs, this is, I'm sure you'll be glad to hear, the final Kursk battle report. To be honest I thought I'd posted this some time ago, so if you've forgotten where we are or what's happening you can read the previous sections here

The final scenario was Prokhorovka, which is just the mother and father of all tank battles. Hundreds of tanks meeting in the most extraordinary clash of armour the world has ever known. We used a slightly modified version of the official Memoir '44 scenario for this game. 

"The tank battle of Prokhorovka was a clash between two immense armored forces. As the SS Panzer Corps started its advance, the Soviet artillery erupted and soon after the 5th Guards Tank Army under Gen. Pavel Rotmistrov accelerated toward the German advance. Rotmistrov's plan was to close quickly to negate the advantage held by the longer range German tanks.

The fighting became a swirling melee and soon the battlefield was littered with the shattered remains of smoking armor. Losses on both sides were enormous. Combined, over 700 tanks were lost and because the battlefield remained in Soviet control the Germans could not recover and repair their losses."

From the official scenario background by Richard Borg

The Luftwaffe begin proceedings.

Now, both the Germans and the Soviets had kept the majority of their reserves for this battle. The Soviets deployed extra armour in a solid wedge in the centre, while the Germans deployed all their remaining Tigers on their right. The opening move of the game was a massed German air raid on the Soviet armoured reserve. The result was predictably brutal. 

Get him Laika!

The Soviets responded by deploying their own aircraft to drive off the Luftwaffe and a massive furball erupted over the Soviet centre. Neither side managed to down the other, but the struggle took some of the heat off the men on the ground. 

Tigers in the woods
(note: the telephone poles in the right foreground of the picture mark hexes that are not in play)

Meanwhile the German Tigers started to advance on the Soviet left. The woods echoing with the revving of engines. 

Some archive footage

The game is progressing along quite happily (my apologies for the poor quality). The German advance on the right and in the centre continues. 

A Panzer four takes aim

This was one of a little collection of German armour that I picked up from Ian Hinds Minatures to round out my Panther and Tiger heavy collection. It's an entirely metal piece and weighs a ton, not sure what manufacturer it comes from. 

Carnage in trees and in the fields

Meanwhile on the Soviet left, the infantry are dashing for the cover of the trees as the German attack goes in. The Soviets were quite short of cards on this section and as a result their counter attacks were bitty and piece meal. 

A graveyard of Soviet brothers

Meanwhile in the centre, the Soviets were in real trouble. Not only had the Germans managed to keep their airpower on station, but they'd managed to back it up on the ground. The resultant wedge of German heavy armour took serious damage, but wiped out the Soviet central reserve in return. 

The Red Armour is burning

The Soviet counter attack in the centre does some damage, but it's not enough to stop 
the rush of the Panzers. 

The Tiger reaps a deadly harvest

German airpower and aggression the ground meant that the Soviets were fighting from their back line a great deal of the time and didn't have as much room to move.  It also allowed the Germans to drive them back onto their rear areas, block their retreats and pick up extra kills from those Flag results on the combat die. 

The battle in the Soviet rear areas continues

In an attempt to win back the tempo of the engagement, the Soviet armour bypass the advancing German heavy armour and hit the retreating German arms our in their rear area. They wipe out the weakened German units, but it's too little too late. 

Laika lays down his life for the Motherland

The game actually ended with the downing the Red Airforce sole remaining fighter at the battle, which had attempted to end the Luftwaffe's reign of terror over the Soviet rear areas.  This clinched the German win and we all repaired to the bar for some refreshments. 

This was a tough game for the Soviets as the Germans hit hard right from the start and never really stopped piling on the pressure. By the time their attack was beginning to flag, the Soviets were already trialing so badly that they were unable to make up the lost ground.  The key to the German success was a canny collaboration between heavy armour and airpower, The Soviet artillery wasn't able to compensate and a recurring theme of the game was heavy panzers engaging Soviet armour that had been pushed by and that had suffered casualties from air attack. 

This was the fastest of all the games and finished in just under an hour.  This victory took the Germans to an overall victory in the campaign and ensured that juvenile conscripts would be fighting in the ruins of Berlin in November rather than May. 


  1. An entertaining and engaging series, Conrad. The game system looks to be a lot of fun.

    1. It is Archduke - and allows us to play a campaign in a day with time for pints.

  2. It is nice to read about the final part of this campaign, and it shows that MEMOIR '44 works as well with 'proper' toy soldiers and terrain as it does with plastic tokens and a printed playing board.

    All the best,


    1. Almost indistinguishable from real war games Bob!