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Dubno 1941: The Greatest Tank Battle of the Second World War

de Alekseĭ Isaev

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In June 1941 - during the first week of the Nazi invasion in the Soviet Union - the quiet cornfields and towns of Western Ukraine were awakened by the clanking of steel and thunder of explosions; this was the greatest tank battle of the Second World War. About 3,000 tanks from the Red Army Kiev Special Military District clashed with about 800 German tanks of Heeresgruppe South. Why did the numerically superior Soviets fail? Hundreds of heavy KV-1 and KV-2 tanks, the five-turret giant T-35 and famous T-34 failed to stop the Germans. Based on recently available archival sources, A. Isaev describes the battle from a new point of view: that in fact it's not the tanks, but armored units, which win or lose battles. The Germans during the Blitzkrieg era had superior tactics and organizations for their tank forces. The German Panzer Division could defeat their opponents not by using tanks, but by using artillery, which included heavy artillery, and motorized infantry and engineers. The Red Army's armored units - the Mechanized Corps - had a lot of teething troubles, as all of them lacked accompanying infantry and artillery. In 1941 the Soviet Armoured Forces had to learn the difficult science - and mostly 'art' - of combined warfare. Isaev traces the role of these factors in a huge battle around the small Ukrainian town of Dubno. Popular myths about impregnable KV and T-34 tanks are laid to rest. In reality, the Germans in 1941 had the necessary tools to combat them. The author also defines the real achievements on the Soviet side: the blitzkrieg in the Ukraine had been slowed down. For the Soviet Union, the military situation in June 1941 was much worse than it was for France and Britain during the Western Campaign in 1940. The Red Army wasn't ready to fight as a whole and the border district's armies lacked infantry units, as they were just arriving from the internal regions of the USSR. In this case, the Red Army tanks became the 'Iron Shield' of the Soviet Union; they even operated as fire brigades. In many cases, the German infantry - not tanks - became the main enemy of Soviet armored units in the Dubno battle. Poorly organized, but fierce, tank-based counterattacks slowed down the German infantry - and while the Soviet tanks lost the battle, they won the war.… (mais)
  1. 00
    The Bloody Triangle: The Defeat of Soviet Armor in the Ukraine, June 1941 de Victor Kamenir (Shrike58)
    Shrike58: To a certain degree it appears that Isaev is making something of a rebuttal to Kamenir and if one has the opportunity one should read both monographs.
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Although this monograph makes for some rather dry reading, and probably needed some better editing, it is a good nuts-and-bolts analysis of the Soviet defense of their ill-gotten gains in Poland in 1941. The overall point by the author is that due to a flawed mobilization process the Red Army was forced to use tanks when infantry was what was needed, with matters further inflamed by the technical faults of the tank units (due to their lack of logistical and artillery support), though they still managed to stave off a "cauldron" battle at the hands of the Germans and facilitated a semi-organized retreat back to the Soviet border of 1939. As for the author, he himself is rather dubious that Dubno represented the "greatest tank battle" of World War II. ( )
  Shrike58 | Feb 9, 2019 |
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In June 1941 - during the first week of the Nazi invasion in the Soviet Union - the quiet cornfields and towns of Western Ukraine were awakened by the clanking of steel and thunder of explosions; this was the greatest tank battle of the Second World War. About 3,000 tanks from the Red Army Kiev Special Military District clashed with about 800 German tanks of Heeresgruppe South. Why did the numerically superior Soviets fail? Hundreds of heavy KV-1 and KV-2 tanks, the five-turret giant T-35 and famous T-34 failed to stop the Germans. Based on recently available archival sources, A. Isaev describes the battle from a new point of view: that in fact it's not the tanks, but armored units, which win or lose battles. The Germans during the Blitzkrieg era had superior tactics and organizations for their tank forces. The German Panzer Division could defeat their opponents not by using tanks, but by using artillery, which included heavy artillery, and motorized infantry and engineers. The Red Army's armored units - the Mechanized Corps - had a lot of teething troubles, as all of them lacked accompanying infantry and artillery. In 1941 the Soviet Armoured Forces had to learn the difficult science - and mostly 'art' - of combined warfare. Isaev traces the role of these factors in a huge battle around the small Ukrainian town of Dubno. Popular myths about impregnable KV and T-34 tanks are laid to rest. In reality, the Germans in 1941 had the necessary tools to combat them. The author also defines the real achievements on the Soviet side: the blitzkrieg in the Ukraine had been slowed down. For the Soviet Union, the military situation in June 1941 was much worse than it was for France and Britain during the Western Campaign in 1940. The Red Army wasn't ready to fight as a whole and the border district's armies lacked infantry units, as they were just arriving from the internal regions of the USSR. In this case, the Red Army tanks became the 'Iron Shield' of the Soviet Union; they even operated as fire brigades. In many cases, the German infantry - not tanks - became the main enemy of Soviet armored units in the Dubno battle. Poorly organized, but fierce, tank-based counterattacks slowed down the German infantry - and while the Soviet tanks lost the battle, they won the war.

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