Artillery Effectiveness vs. Armor (Part 2-Kursk)

15 cm schwere Feldhaubitze 18 (15 cm s.FH 18 L/29,5)

German Army 150mm heavy field howitzer 18 L/29.5 battery. [Panzer DB/Pinterest]

[This series of posts is adapted from the article “Artillery Effectiveness vs. Armor,” by Richard C. Anderson, Jr., originally published in the June 1997 edition of the International TNDM Newsletter.]

Posts in the series
Artillery Effectiveness vs. Armor (Part 1)
Artillery Effectiveness vs. Armor (Part 2-Kursk)
Artillery Effectiveness vs. Armor (Part 3-Normandy)
Artillery Effectiveness vs. Armor (Part 4-Ardennes)
Artillery Effectiveness vs. Armor (Part 5-Summary)

Curiously, at Kursk, in the case where the highest percent loss was recorded, the German forces opposing the Soviet 1st Tank Army—mainly the XLVIII Panzer Corps of the Fourth Panzer Army—were supported by proportionately fewer artillery pieces (approximately 56 guns and rocket launchers per division) than the US 1st Infantry Division at Dom Bütgenbach (the equivalent of approximately 106 guns per division)[4]. Nor does it appear that the German rate of fire at Kursk was significantly higher than that of the American artillery at Dom Bütgenbach. On 20 July at Kursk, the 150mm howitzers of the 11th Panzer Division achieved a peak rate of fire of 87.21 rounds per gum. On 21 December at Dom Bütgenbach, the 155mm howitzers of the 955th Field Artillery Battalion achieved a peak rate of fire of 171.17 rounds per gun.[5]


[4] The US artillery at Dom Bütgenbach peaked on 21 December 1944 when a total of 210 divisional and corps pieces fired over 10,000 rounds in support of the 1st Division’s 26th Infantry.

[5] Data collected on German rates of fire are fragmentary, but appear to be similar to that of the American Army in World War ll. An article on artillery rates of fire that explores the data in more detail will be forthcoming in a future issue of this newsletter. [NOTE: This article was not completed or published.]

Notes to Table I.

[8] The data were found in reports of the 1st Tank Army (Fond 299, Opis‘ 3070, Delo 226). Obvious math errors in the original document have been corrected (the total lost column did not always agree with the totals by cause). The total participated column evidently reflected the starting strength of the unit, plus replacement vehicles. “Burned'” in Soviet wartime documents usually indicated a total loss, however it appears that in this case “burned” denoted vehicles totally lost due to direct fire antitank weapons. “Breakdown” apparently included both mechanical breakdown and repairable combat damage.

[9] Note that the brigade report (Fond 3304, Opis‘ 1, Delo 24) contradicts the army report. The brigade reported that a total of 28 T-34s were lost (9 to aircraft and 19 to “artillery”) and one T-60 was destroyed by a mine. However, this report was made on 11 July, during the battle, and may not have been as precise as the later report recorded by 1st Tank Army. Furthermore, it is not as clear in the brigade report that “artillery” referred only to indirect fire HE and not simply lo both direct and indirect fire guns.

2 thoughts on “Artillery Effectiveness vs. Armor (Part 2-Kursk)

  1. Interesting. View liberation de selestat video and you see 3 knocked out us tanks….burned by artillery fire. They were shooting the big 380mm from 10 miles across the Rhine. Artillery pieces over 400mm recorded pounding Colmar pocket.

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