The fierce World War II battle of Kursk, beginning July 5, 1943, marked the end of Nazi offensive capacity on the Eastern Front.
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But it didn’t start out well for the Red Army as the Luftwaffe pounded Russian tanks. Pilot Hans-Ulrich Rudel described his first attack, “Four tanks exploded under the hammer of my cannons; by the evening the total rises to 12.”
Extra fuel was carried on the rear deck, so a hit turned the vehicle into a flaming torch. After the war, one veteran wrote: “God forbid a living being from ever having to witness a wounded, writhing person who is burning alive, or ever have to experience the same.”
As a result, one unofficial badge of courage became the number of times a soldier had been on fire inside a tank.
I spoke with Dennis Showalter, author of “Armor and Blood: The Battle of Kursk,” on the following topics:
1. Nazis: Art of War.
2. Soviets: Science of War.
3. Regaining Momentum.
4. Role of Tanks.
5. Test of Will.
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To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at email@example.com.