The Battle of Kursk was one of the defining moments of World War II. In July 1943, German forces under Erich von Manstein--one of Germany’s best generals--launched a massive attack in an offensive code-named Citadel. A week later, the Soviets counterattacked, sparking a huge clash of tanks at Prokhorovka, the largest armor battle in history, pitting more than 600 Soviet tanks against some 300 German panzers. Though the Germans gained a tactical victory, destroying huge numbers of Soviet tanks, they failed to achieve their objectives, and in the end the battle marked a turning point on the Eastern Front. The Red Army gained the strategic initiative and would not lose it.
Christopher A. Lawrence is president of The Dupuy Institute, an organization dedicated to scholarly research and analysis of military history and current armed conflict. He is also author of Kursk (Aberdeen, 2015), America’s Modern Wars: Understanding Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam (Casemate, 2015), and War by Numbers: Understanding Conventional Combat (Potomac Books, 2017). He lives near Washington, DC.