It was a tank battle exceeded in size and significance only by the famous defeat of Germany’s Panzer force near Kursk in 1943. And yet, little is known about this weeklong clash of more than two thousand Soviet and German tanks in a stretch of northwestern Ukraine that came to be known as the “bloody triangle.”
This book offers the first in-depth account of this critical battle, which began on 24 June 1941, just two days into Operation Barbarossa, Hitler's invasion of the Soviet Union. Author Victor Kamenir describes the forces arrayed against each other across that eighteen-hundred-square-mile-triangle in northwestern Ukraine. Providing detailed orders of battle for both Wehrmacht and Red Army Forces and contrasting the strengths and weaknesses of the Soviet and German tanks, he shows how the Germans slowly and decisively overwhelmed the Russians, apparently opening the way to Moscow and the ultimate defeat of the Soviet Union. And yet, as Kamenir’s account makes clear, even at this early stage of the Russo-German war the Soviets were able to slow down and even halt the Nazi juggernaut. Finally, the handful of days gained by the Red Army did prove to have been decisive when the Wehrmacht attack stalled at the gates of Moscow in the dead of winter, foreshadowing the end for the Germans.
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THE BLOODY TRIANGLE
The Defeat of Soviet Armor in the Ukraine, June 1941
The armored clash near the Russian city of Kursk in 1943 has been widely known as the largest tank battle in history, involving over six thousand armored combat vehicles on both sides. However, the first large-scale armored struggle on the Eastern Front took place immediately following the German invasion of the Soviet Union.
In the early days of Operation Barbarossa, eighteen German divisions from Sixth Army and Panzer Group 1 were directly involved in the battle of the Bloody Triangle, which featured massive tank formations on both sides of the frontlines. From June 24 to July 1, roughly 650 German tanks and 180 assault gun and tank destroyers fought over 1,500 Soviet tanks in a roughly triangular area of approximately 1,800 square miles between the northwestern Ukrainian towns of Lutsk, Dubno, and Brody.
The Bloody Triangle details this titanic clash, which is one of the most important but little-known battles of World War II. This book gives an account of the epic battle, from the early planning when German intelligence determined the Soviet command and support structures to be slow to respond, bulky, cumbersome, and not ready to adapt to the rapidly changing tactical situation, to the last convulsive counteroffensive by the Russians on July 2, 1941. It is largely told in the words of the men who were there and sheds new light on how Soviet tank units melted away under merciless German hammer blows in 1941.
That the greatest tank battle of World War II occurred near Kursk in 1943 is well known among enthusiasts and historians of the war. The second greatest tank battle of the war, however, was the Battle of the Bloody Triangle, the first large-scale armored struggle on the Eastern Front. The battle was fought in a triangle-shaped area encompassing 1,800 square miles in northwestern Ukraine and involved over two thousand tanks. The result mirrored that at Kursk, with one side decisively defeating the other. In this case the Germans defeated the Russians.
The road to Moscow now seemed wide open and the defeat of the Soviet Union inevitable. However, the Red Army had been able to slow down the Nazi juggernaut for a critical week at the beginning of Operation Barbarossa, ultimately giving the Soviets the time they needed to muster their considerable resources and stop the German blitzkrieg at the gates of Moscow in the dead of winter, which proved to be the high-water mark of Hitler’s thousand-year Reich.
Author Victor Kamenar includes full order of battle information for both Wehrmacht and Red Army Forces along with a thorough analysis comparing and contrasting the strengths and weaknesses of the Soviet and German tanks.
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