On July 5th, 1943 over 6000 German and Russian tanks clashed near the town of Kursk, just 300 miles south of Moscow. It was the beginning of what became the greatest tank battle in history. In the skies above this conflagration an air battle of monumental proportions raged, with the German and Russian air forces locked in combat. This was war on a scale hitherto never imagined.
A full week later the Battle was still raging, reaching a crescendo on July 12th when Hoth’s 4th Panzer Army met head-on with Rotmistrov’s 5th GUards Tank Army near the village of Prokhorovka. With the Russian T34s electing to fight at close quarters, so desperate was the fighting that opposing tanks resorted to ramming each other. As the battle moved across the landscape all became utter confusion.
Playing a major role in the air were the Luftwaffe’s Ju-87 Stukas, equipped with massive 37mm cannons slung under their wings. Led by Hans-Ulrich Rudel, the legendary Stuka pilot, these formidable tank-busters made a significant contribution to the Battle of Kursk.
Nicolas Trudgian’s classic painting records the dramatic events at Kursk in a spectacular rendition that captures the very essence of this mighty land and air battle. Dominating the scene are a pair of Ju-87s. Having knocked out two T34s, they weave over the landscape as they try to avoid the attentions of Russian Yak 9s, the gunner of Rudel’s aircraft – in the foreground – blazing away with his machine gun. A pair of Fw190s have entered the fray, and the air is filled with smoke and cordite.
In a typically detailed Nicolas Trudgian landscape, below the aerial contest Russian and Panzer tanks are seen in close combat, desperately maneuvering to gain some advantage. The old farm buildings show the ravages of war; tank tracks criss-cross the fields, stretching into the distance where the battle extends to the horizon. A masterpiece in military art.
Adding great significance to Nick’s authentic battle scene reconstruction, each print in the edition is signed by two Luftwaffe Stuka veterans, who are joined by one of the leading Panzer Knight’s Cross holders who fought at the Battle of Kursk.
Three outstanding signatories joined Nicolas Trudgian in joining this print edition, including a highly decorated Stuka pilot and a Panzer Commander who fought at the Battle of Kursk:
Oberfahnrich HEINZ MEYER
Major FRITZ-RUDOLF SCHULTZ
Unteroffizier JOSEF WERTH