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Cheating at Statistics: Coverup at Kovyagi

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If there's one trend with SS armour units, it's that their successes seem to be accompanied by sudden and unpredictable failures. Whenever a unit fails to take an objective or is pushed off their lines, it always seems to be accompanied by fantastical achievements that just happened to not have altered the course of battle at all. Let's examine one of these scenarios. As it happens, Forczyk has done all the hard work for me in Red Steamroller.
"On 11 August, Katukov fought his way across the Merchyk River despite desperate efforts by Totenkopf’s Panzergrenadiers to stop him. Then he sent the lead elements of 6 TC and 3 MC south to Kovyagi, which was a station on the Polatva-Kharkov rail line. Getman’s tankers, with some attached sapper squads, succeeded in blowing up several sections of rail track. Priess committed Edwin Meiderdress’ I.SS-Panzer-Regiment 3 to counter-attack Polkovnik Vladimir M. Gorelov’s 1st Guards Tank Brigade, which had just stormed its way into Kovyagi. The result was another vicious meeting engagement and this one went very badly for Totenkopf; one company commander was killed in his tank and two others were badly wounded. However, Meiderdress had better luck against the 22nd Tank Brigade, which only had seven tanks left and its commander, Major Aleksei A. Laptev, was killed in action. Altogether, Totenkopf knocked out 18 Soviet tanks in its counter-attack."
Seems believable, even a little humble for an SS unit to claim only 18 tanks in such a high profile engagement. However, even this is unlikely. August 11th was quite far into the offensive portion of the Battle of Kursk, and leading Soviet brigades were quite exhausted by that time. Let's see how many Soviet tanks were there to face the Germans.

"By 6:00 on August 11th, 1943, the 1st and 2nd tank battalions, consisting of 12 tanks joined by an independent AA battery and two AT batteries from the 35th IPTAP approached the railroad north of Kovyagi. Since the tanks made the ford across Sukhoi Merchic unusable for wheeled vehicles, and the road was poor due to the rain, the remainder of the brigade and its reinforcements remained on the north shore of Sukhoi Merchic."
The other brigade in the area, the 22nd Tank Brigade, was doing even more poorly.

"From the morning of August 9th, 1943, the enemy attacks... A prisoner indicates that the SS "Death's Head" division is coming into the brigade's operational area. When darkness falls, the enemy, having gathered infantry and submachinegunners at Kirasirskiy farm attempted to take the bridge at Aleksandrovka several times. The first tank battalion, with 4 T-34 tanks available, defeated all enemy attacks."
4 T-34 tanks isn't a lot, but at least there's a whole second tank battalion, right?

"August 11th, 1943. Until 14:30, the elements of the brigade were stationed in previously captured areas. At 14:30, the 2nd tank battalion was withdrawn into the brigade commander's reserve and concentrated in the northern face of the forest south of marker 199.8. Three T-34 tanks were left to cover Mirnoye." 
And so the active elements of the 22nd Tank Brigade were down to only 3 tanks. This brings the tanks available to fight at Kovyagi to only 15! If the Germans had really destroyed 18 tanks, they would have readily eliminated all opposition. Yet, somehow, the units remained. There was also the 49th TBr nearby, with a handful of T-34s and light tanks. They didn't participate in the attack on Kovyagi, but let's count them anyway, just in case.

"August 11th, 1943. Located in the forest near Aleksandrovka, the brigade command post was attacked by all sorts of weapons in the first half of the day. As a result of the assault, from the enemy located near Aleksandrovka, 6 men were killed, 14 wounded. 4 field kitchens and one T-60 tank burned up. The command post was moved back to Kieny."
Doesn't look like that's our unit. Let's go back to the 1st Guards and see how they were doing.

"During the entire day, elements of the brigade fought attacking enemy tank stubbornly. The enemy, having no ability to restore the railroad, was forced to offload trains coming from Kharkov east of Kovyagi and continue movement along the highway through Valki.
Our losses for the day: three T-34 tanks burned up, 4 knocked out. Therefore, the brigade had 5 battle-ready T-34 tanks at the end of the day. Five T-6 tanks and three armoured cars were destroyed. Many trophies were captured, but due to the impossibility of evacuating them the latter were partially destroyed and partially abandoned."
That looks like our Death's Head attack. Looks like it wasn't quite as effective as the Germans claimed. Let's check in on the 22nd Tank Brigade, which was in far worse shape.

"In the night from August 10th to August 11th the railroad near Kovyagi was destroyed by a group that penetrated the enemy rear under the command of Senior Lieutenant Trofimov. The group returned with no losses. The enemy trains between Kharkov and Poltava were stopped. The enemy tried to capture the southern edge of the Sharobskiy sanatorium forest with groups of submachinegunners supported by artillery fire and tanks, which approached the river crossing and opened fire at our units. The enemy's attacks were deflected by the 1st tank battalion (three T-34 tanks) and and the motorized machinegun battalion (40 men)."
Another attack here, but this too has failed. The three defending T-34 tanks remain. Therefore, the German counterattack could be, at most, responsible for the 7 T-34s that were lost by the 1st Guards Tank Brigade. Quite a far cry from the alleged 18. Forczyk writes that Death's Head had 36 tanks at the time, 3 of which were Tigers, so this performance against only 15 T-34s is quite sad.
Nipe's Decision in the Ukraine credits the SS with five anti-tank guns in this attack. Let's see if the 35th IPTAP will corroborate these losses.

"11.08.1943 The unit is at its previous positions. 1st, 2nd, and 4th battery took up defensive positions according to diagram #2. 3rd battery is surrounded around [illegible] village. A direct hit from enemy fire destroyed one GAZ AA truck, one Willys, and one cannon."
The one battery was in a tough spot, just as Nipe tells, but the actual losses were also nowhere as high as the Germans claimed. Instead of five guns, the battery lost only one.

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