Panzerjager vs KV-1: Eastern Front 1941-43

Overview

As the Wehrmacht invaded the Soviet Union, it discovered that the Russians possessed heavy tanks that German anti-tank guns were ineffective against.

The German Army developed the 37-mm Pak 36 in 1936 to provide the primary weapon for its panzerjagers, who were responsible for anti-tank defense in infantry divisions. Realizing that the new Wehrmacht offensive doctrines intended to fully exploit the shock effect, firepower and mobility of armor, the panzerjagers were intended to ...

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Panzerjäger vs KV-1: Eastern Front 1941-43

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Overview

As the Wehrmacht invaded the Soviet Union, it discovered that the Russians possessed heavy tanks that German anti-tank guns were ineffective against.

The German Army developed the 37-mm Pak 36 in 1936 to provide the primary weapon for its panzerjagers, who were responsible for anti-tank defense in infantry divisions. Realizing that the new Wehrmacht offensive doctrines intended to fully exploit the shock effect, firepower and mobility of armor, the panzerjagers were intended to enable German infantry to fend off enemy tanks. Although the Pak 36 was adequate against most pre-war tanks, during the 1940 Campaign in the West it proved unable to defeat the British Matilda II or French Char B, so the Wehrmacht began developing the 50-mm Pak 38 to supersede it. However, the process of re-equipment was slow and most German infantry divisions that participated in the invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941 only had a handful of Pak 38s and still relied mainly on the Pak 36. Just four days into the invasion, German troops encountered the first KV-1 and KV-2 tanks near Raisinai in Lithuania and the impotence of both the Pak 36 (soon derisively labeled the "Door Knocker") and the Pak 38 was revealed. Thus at the start of this decisive campaign, the German Army was faced with the reality that it's panzerjagers could not provide effective anti-tank defense against Soviet heavy tanks and the Wehrmacht was forced to adopt a crash-program to upgrade its division-level AT defenses. New weaponry, including the 75-mm Pak 40, captured Soviet 76.2-mm guns converted into Pak 36(r), HEAT shells and tungsten-core rounds, offered possible solutions to the Soviet armored behemoths, but would require time to develop. In the interim, the panzerjagers were forced to adopt a variety of ad hoc tactics and stand-in equipment to survive in an unequal duel with heavy Soviet tanks.

On the Soviet side, based upon lessons from the Spanish Civil War, the Red Army decided to develop a heavy "breakthrough" tank to smash enemy infantry defenses. The result was the KV-1 and KV-2 tanks, introduced in 1939. At the start of Operation Barbarossa, both these tanks were virtually invulnerable to the weapons of the panzerjager and demonstrated their ability to overrun German infantry on several occasions. This advantage gave the Red Army a window of opportunity between the fall of 1941 and the spring of 1942 to use their heavy tanks to repel the German invasion in a series of desperate counteroffensives. Yet the window of Soviet advantage was a narrow one and the duel between the Soviet KV heavy tanks and German panzerjagers had a major impact upon the struggle for the strategic initiative in 1941-42.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"In this latest edition of the Duel series, author Robert Forczyk takes a close look at the usual machinations of the Soviet military-industrial complex and what it took to get the KV tanks into production. He then goes through the development of the KV tank on the Soviet side and anti-tank units on the German side. We then look at the political situation on both sides as well as the technical specs on the two weapon types. This is followed by the organization and training of the combatants before many pages of combat tales and information. This ends with an analysis of what was learned and how this affected future events.  This is accompanied by some excellent period photos and modern illustrations and maps to let the reader get an idea of how the situation changed with time. It makes for a superb read and one I can most highly recommend."
- Scott Van Aken, Modeling Madness (November 2012)

"...provides a solid survey of Eastern Front clashes between Soviety heavy tanks and German antitank weapons, providing a fully illustrated analysis of duels between German and Soviet forces on the Eastern Front. This discussion includes artillery technical specs as well as reviews of strategy and pairs military insights with vintage black and white photos throughout."
- James A. Cox, The Midwest Book Review (January 2013)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781849085786
  • Publisher: Osprey Publishing, Limited
  • Publication date: 10/23/2012
  • Series: Duel Series
  • Pages: 80
  • Sales rank: 558,779
  • Product dimensions: 7.10 (w) x 9.70 (h) x 0.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert Forczyk has a PhD in International Relations and National Security from the University of Maryland and a strong background in European and Asian military history. He retired as a lieutenant colonel from the US Army Reserves having served 18 years as an armor officer in the US 2nd and 4th infantry divisions and as an intelligence officer in the 29th Infantry Division (Light). Dr Forczyk is currently a consultant in the Washington, DC area.
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Table of Contents

Introduction 4

Chronology 8

Design and Development 10

The Strategic Situation 25

Technical Specifications 30

The Combatants 43

Combat 48

Statistics and Analysis 74

Aftermath 77

Bibliography 79

Index 80

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