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[quote]After the fall of Stalingrad, the armies of Generals Vatutin and Golikov launched an attack to take Kharkov at the end of February 1943. Field Marshal Manstein -- after a brilliant regrouping of his forces -- recaptured Kharkov. Elation of in the High Command led to an ambitious operation -- 'Zitadelle'. This was a plan to eliminate the salient around Kursk. From March to June the Germans built up their reserves and brought in more tanks. The Russians took the opportunity to build eight concentric circles of defence and by the time the offensive was launched, they had a numerical superiority over the Germans in both tanks and men.The battle began on the 5th of July with the Ninth Army under General Kluge attacking from the north and the Fourth Panzer Army under von Mantein's attacking from the south. In the north, the Ninth Army penetrated a mere 10 km and lost 25,000 men (killed), 200 tanks and 200 aircraft. In the south, Manstein's army penetrated 40 km, but also with great losses ; 10,000 killed, 350 tanks destroyed.On July 12th, the Russians launched a counter-offensive in the north agaisnt Orel and by July 23rd, the Germans were back where they had started. Manstein withdrew against orders to the Dniepr. This battle is known as the greatest tank battle of the war and it involved two million men, 6000 tanks and 4000 aircraft. It stopped the pattern of successful German offensives followed by Russian winter counter-offensives, from that point the German armies were in retreat.[/quote

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