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Cheating at Statistics 15: Machinations at Mius

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Long time readers of my "Cheating at Statistics" series have no doubt noticed a certain trend with the kill claims of SS units: they are as humble as they are specific. Page after page tells you great tales with "dozens" of destroyed enemy tanks and "hundreds" of dead enemy soldiers in the great battle for "somewhere over there". George M. Nipe Jr's Decision in the Ukraine is proudly based on German sources (almost exclusively so, as he doesn't seem to be aware that any other kind exists), and therefore repeats the same tired old tropes: lots of enemy casualties, human waves, piles of corpses, but very few specifics. One of the few is contained in the description of a Soviet attack at hill 213.9 on July 18th during the battle for the Mius-Front.

"Columns of greasy black smoke from burning T-34 and T-70 tanks marked the limit of Soviet progress on the center ridge. At the end of the day, of the seventy-eight tanks that the army claimed had been knocked out, many were destroyed in front of the training area rallying point."

The rest of the paragraph is more vagueness about significant losses and piles of bodies, but we have the number: 78 tanks. Let's see who they came from.


There's hill 213.9 in the middle of the map, with the 5th Shock Army coming up from behind the Mius river to make a significant dent in the German defenses, going right over top of it on July 18th. The solid red line with a thinner dotted red line shows the Red Army's positions by the end of the day. Let's see what the army's tanks were up to.


"Losses of the army (less 221st Rifle Division) consist of: up to 600 men killed and up to 1750 men wounded. Knocked out: 4 cannons, 4 mortars, 20 machineguns, 4 cars. Lost on July 17th and July 18th: 47 tanks, of those 11 KV, 21 T-34, 3 T-70, 12 T-60. Out of all tanks lost, 8 burned, 3 need capital repairs, 7 need medium repairs, the rest (29) need light repairs."

Luckily, there is also a list of losses for July 17th alone: 8 KVs, 11 T-34s, 2 T-60s, and 2 T-70s, which means the tanks lost on July 18th alone were:
  • 3 KVs
  • 10 T-34s
  • 10 T-60s
  • 1 T-70
for a total of 24 tanks, less than a third of what the Germans claimed they knocked out. The missing KVs and T-60s in German records also warrant a mention, but considering that Nipe brings up such phantoms as SU-152s on T-34 chassis and Soviet 172 mm guns, I wouldn't look at German tank identification abilities too closely.

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