Part of the summer 1943 Battle of Kursk in the Soviet Union, Prokhorovka stands out as a fearsome clash of opposing tanks and a turning point on the Eastern Front. For a long time, it was seen as a horrible defeat for Nazi Germany, in which it lost 300 to 400 of its precious, irreplaceable panzers, dealing them a blow from which the Wehrmacht could not truly recover. Indeed, the battle was a great Soviet victory, revered in Russia even today. However, new evidence has become known which, while not disputing the Soviet success, indicates German tank losses were exceptionally low, perhaps as little as three tanks, based on Luftwaffe air reconnaissance photos taken soon after the battle and discovered in an American archive.

The author of this new work has spent many years studying the Battle of Prokhorovka and conducted exhaustive research on the units and events of the engagement. In this book he sheds new lights on the action, presenting a new assessment which is in stark contrast to long-accepted narratives of the battle. The book’s assertions are well-supported by the evidence presented, and there are many photographs and aerial views of the battlefield to back the author’s claims. Even if the reader disagrees, the work presents further details and information.

The Panzers of Prokhorovka: The Myth of Hitler’s Greatest Armoured Defeat (Ben Wheatley, Osprey Books, Oxford UK, 2023, 316 pp., maps, photographs, notes, bibliography, index, $35, hardcover)

World War II Book Reviews for Winter 2024