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Cheating at Statistics 12: Overclaim at Oboyan

In a previous article, we saw some SS Tigers make quite a kill claim.

"12 July 1943: Fierce Soviet tank attacks from the direction of Jamki, Prochorovka and Petrovka (on both sides of Kalinin) are pushed back. The II./SS-Panzer-Regiment "Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler" and the Tiger company knock out 163 enemy tanks. One Tiger is knocked out; nine Tigers undergo repair.
Total tanks: 12."

Since the words "SS", "Tiger" and "kill claim" immediately set off a siren, let's take a look at how the 1st Tank Army, the unit defending Oboyan direction, handled such a crushing blow.

"According to orders from the Front Commander, the 1st Tank Army regrouped, starting on the afternoon of July 11th and ending on the night of July 12th.

The 5th Guards Stalingrad Tank Corps concentrated at 2nd Novoselovka with the goals of advancing towards Shepelevka and Luhanino.

The 10th Tank Corps, transferring its defenses to the 204th Infantry Division, took up positions along the western outskirts of Novenkoye with the goal of advancing towards Berezovka and Syrtsevo.

The 6th Tank Corps remained in place to allow for the 5th Guards Stalingrad and 10th Tank Corps to deploy, as well as to prevent penetration of the enemy in the north-west direction.

The 204th and 309th Infantry Divisions, 3rd Mechanized Corps, and 31st Tank Corps remained in place to prevent the enemy from penetrating to the north, and to begin advancing with the 5th and 10th Tank Corps in the event that the enemy retreats south.

At 9:00 on July 12th, the army began its offensive."
Tank Front

What we have here is a very common picture: the attack of the famed and fawned over Tiger fails, and the battlefield is in Soviet hands. Many kill claims (unverifiable, as the Germans cannot inspect the battlefield after) are made, and tanks lost in the attack are registered as "undergoing repairs", while still on Soviet territory. By July 15th, as the company is going though a "planned retreat" south, these tanks are already forgotten.

Let's look at the two attacking tank units that would have faced off with the SS tanks on July 12th, namely the 10th Tank Corps and 5th Guards Tank Corps.

10th Tank Corps:
"As a result of battles from July 12th to July 14th, our corps destroyed:
  • Tanks: 123
  • Soldiers and officers: up to 2500
  • Vehicles: 132
  • Guns: 19
  • Aircraft: 5
Our losses for this period:
  • Killed: 175
  • Wounded: 144
  • Tanks burned up or knocked out: 23"
I don't have the documents for the 5th Guards Tank Corps, but it's not particularly difficult to estimate the likelihood that the German kill claims are correct. The Corps was formed from three tank brigades and one motorized infantry brigade. Based on the time of the formation of the tank brigades, they would have followed cadre #010/270: 53 tanks (32 T-34s, 21 T-70s). The motorized infantry was armed only with armoured cars and unarmoured vehicles. Assuming that all 23 of the 10th TC's tanks were knocked out on July 12th, that still leaves 140 tanks unaccounted for compared to the 153 available tanks in the 5th Guards TC, assuming they started the battle at full capacity. Since the Battle of Kursk started a while ago, they almost certainly didn't. The neighbouring 2nd Tank Corps was down to 85 tanks

 Since the advance of the unit continued until July 15th after which it was reassigned to the 6th Guards Army and fought further, one can safely assume that they had a lot more than 13 tanks left over after the battle on July 12th, especially as documents of the Voronezh Front do not mention any particular difficulty faced by the 5th Guards at this time. As usual, impressive SS kill claims turn out to be nothing but fiction.

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