On July 12, 1943 the greatest in history tank battle took place on the Prokhorovskoye Field. Totally, over 1000 tanks took part in the battle. By July 16 the Battle of Prokhorovka ended in the retreat of the German troops to the starting positions.
In January 1943, after the victory in the Battle of Stalingrad, the Soviet forces launched a large offensive, which resulted in the liberation of Kursk in February 1943. However, the German troops remained in Oryol (to the north from Kursk) and in Belgorod (to the south from Kursk), so by the summer of 1943 there was formed the so-called «Kursk salient».
Prokhorovskoye Field, Belgorod attraction
For both sides it was obvious that the main events of the summer campaign of 1943 would occur just in that area, so the German Command prepared its forces for flank attacks from Oryol and Belgorod to encircle 5 Soviet armies. The Soviet Command foresaw those attacks so by summer the strong defensive fortifications was built there.
Hitler several times delayed the offensive at the Kursk salient waiting for the German troops to obtain a sufficient number of the new heavy tanks Tiger and Panther.The offensive began on July 5 but the Germans sustained significant casualties moving through the defensive fortifications.
The counterattack of the Soviet armies in Belgorod direction began on July 12, 1943. On the side of Prokhorovka the 5th Tank Army began the attack in the direction of Yakovlevo village. The army was commanded by lieutenant general Pavel Rotmistrov. The Soviet army was opposed by the battle lines of the 2nd SS Panzer Corps commanded by Paul Hausser.
At least 1000 tanks took part in the Battle of Prokhorovka: about 700 tanks from the Soviet side and about 300 tanks from the German side. However, it must be noted that in that battle the Germans first used the new heavy tanks, Tigers, which were able to penetrate armour of the Soviet Т-34 tanks from a distance of 2 kilometers and at the same time were invulnerable to the guns of the Soviet tanks. Knowing this the Soviet tankmen tried to quickly approach German tanks so that to either shoot at them from a very small distance or ram them.
Taking into account the superior characteristics of German tanks the casualties of the Soviet troops much exceeded those of the Germans. According to estimates of historians, about 10 thousand Soviet soldiers were killed in the Battle of Prokhorovka.
You can read about the battle in the memoirs of its participants such as a tank commander and Hero of the Soviet Union Grigory Penezhko.
Some historians argue that there were no tank to tank battle in the Prokhorovskoye Field. However, no one put in doubt the number of tanks, which took part in the Battle of Prokhorovka. Also it is a historically accurate fact that an SS tank corps equipped with the new heavy tanks with impenetrable armour did not only crumpled the battle lines of the Russians but also had to retreat 2 in two days.