Operation Kutuzov
Operation Kutuzov was a military operation by the Red Army
Red Army
The Workers' and Peasants' Red Army started out as the Soviet Union's revolutionary communist combat groups during the Russian Civil War of 1918-1922. It grew into the national army of the Soviet Union. By the 1930s the Red Army was among the largest armies in history.The "Red Army" name refers to...

 in its fight against the German
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

The Wehrmacht – from , to defend and , the might/power) were the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany from 1935 to 1945. It consisted of the Heer , the Kriegsmarine and the Luftwaffe .-Origin and use of the term:...

 during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. It was named after Mikhail Illarionovich Kutuzov
Mikhail Illarionovich Kutuzov
Mikhail Illarionovich Golenishchev-Kutuzov was a Field Marshal of the Russian Empire. He served as one of the finest military officers and diplomats of Russia under the reign of three Romanov Tsars: Catherine II, Paul I and Alexander I...

, the Tsar
Tsar is a title used to designate certain European Slavic monarchs or supreme rulers. As a system of government in the Tsardom of Russia and Russian Empire, it is known as Tsarist autocracy, or Tsarism...

ist General
A general officer is an officer of high military rank, usually in the army, and in some nations, the air force. The term is widely used by many nations of the world, and when a country uses a different term, there is an equivalent title given....

 credited with saving Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

 from defeat during the invasion by Napoleon in 1812.
The Operation began on 12 July and ended on 18 August 1943 with the destruction of the Orel bulge, in which the Western and Bryansk fronts defeated the 2nd Panzer Army in its fortified positions around Orel.

The battle

The operation was conducted by Western Front
Soviet Western Front
The Western Front was a Front of the Red Army, one of the Red Army Fronts during the Second World War. This sense of the term is different from the more general usage of military front which indicates a geographic area in wartime, although a Soviet Front usually operates within designated...

, Bryansk Front
Bryansk Front
The Bryansk Front was a Front of the Soviet Army during the Second World War.General Andrei Yeremenko was designated commander of the Front when it first formed in mid-late August 1941, comprising, in Erickson's words, 'on paper two armies, 50th and 13th, with eight rifle divisions each, three...

, and Central Front
Soviet Central Front
The Central Front was a Front of the Soviet Army during the Second World War.The Central Front describes either of two distinct organizations during the war...

 against German 2nd Panzer and 9th Army in the Orel
Oryol or Orel is a city and the administrative center of Oryol Oblast, Russia, located on the Oka River, approximately south-southwest of Moscow...

 sector. It began on July 12, 1943 and lasted until August 18, 1943. The aim to put pressure on German Army Group Centre
Army Group Centre
Army Group Centre was the name of two distinct German strategic army groups that fought on the Eastern Front in World War II. The first Army Group Centre was created on 22 June 1941, as one of three German Army formations assigned to the invasion of the Soviet Union...

 which at the time was partially engaged in the Battle for Kursk, to reduce the Orel salient, and to destroy large German forces. It was almost immediately successful in achieving the first aim, leading to a move of German reserves earmarked for the Battle for Kursk to resist Operation Kutuzov.

The initial attack was made simultaneously on the northern and eastern faces of the Orel salient. Later, the southern face joined in, after German panzer forces withdrew from the Kursk offensive to meet Operation Kutuzov.

Aviation battles

The Soviet air arm, the VVS undertook intense attacks on German positions in conjunction with a huge preliminary artillery bombardment. The 1 Va, 15 VA were in action performing 360 missions against German rear areas. Altogether some 210 tons of bombs were dropped.
The Luftwaffe's 1st Fliegerdivision had dealt the Soviets some crushing defeats during the period from 13 - 16 July, and maintained superiority over the southern sector of the bulge, above the German Ninth Army.
However after six days of heavy fighting the Luftwaffe was exhausted. As a result just 74 intercept missions were logged by the entire 1 Fliegerdivision, against which 16 VA flew 868 sorties alone. The Soviet dominated the air, only losing in tactical battles, due to the inexperience of the Soviet pilots, and the nature of their low-level attacks, which put them at a tactical disadvantage. Despite this the VVS provided the Red Army's 11th Guards Army well, and helped General Hovhannes Bagramyan
Hovhannes Bagramyan
Ivan Khristoforovich Bagramyan , also known as Hovhannes Khachaturi BaghramyanPronunciation: Bagramyan's name is most commonly written in English as Bagramyan "bahg-rahm-yahn" or Bagramian...

's forces achieve a critical breakthrough.
In the Southern sector of the bulge, the Germans managed to log over 1,000 missions on this first day and was countered by 737 missions by 15 VA. The Luftwaffe managed to make difficult for the Bryansk Front, destroying some 35 tanks, 14 guns, and 50 motor vehicles. As a result, the Bryansk Front had only breached the first line of German defences on the first day of the operation.
While the 2nd Panzer Army was gradually forced back, the Luftwaffe dealt the VVS a major defeat; 94 Soviet aircraft were lost on 13 July, including 50 Sturmoviks
Ilyushin Il-2
The Ilyushin Il-2 was a ground-attack aircraft in the Second World War, produced by the Soviet Union in very large numbers...

. Despite the Luftwaffe giving the German Army excellent air support, the 11th Guards Army, reinforced by the 1st and 5th Tank Corps, defeated the German LV Army Corps.

The Ground Struggle

The northern drive by Western Front was initially led by the 11th Guards Army
11th Guards Army
The 11th Guards Army was a Soviet field army active from 1943 to 1997, which traces its origins to the formation of the Soviet 16th Army in June-July 1940.-History:...

 under Gen. Bagramyan, initially supported by the 1st and 5th tank Corps. The prong of the offensive began near Ulianovo, against initially weak German infantry opposition. 6 rifle divisions concentrated against 2 German Infantry Regiments along a 16 kilometer attack sector, and broke through by the afternoon of the first day, advancing some 23 miles.
The German 5th Panzer Division attempted to delay the breakthrough as the Soviets committed the supporting armour, but was forced back.

On 13 July a strong counterattack by the German LIII Army Corps forced the Bryansk Front to halt their offensive for a time.
The initial attacks on the eastern face by Bryansk Front were less successful. The terrain was more open and the German defenders alert and prepared. The Soviets were matched by timely arrivals of Panzer Divisions from the southern (Kursk) face, using the salient's interior lines to redeploy rapidly.

The Soviets broadened the offensive later in its first week, with supporting attacks west of 11th Guards by the 50th Army, and between it and the initial Briansk front attempts by 20th Tank Corps aimed at Bolkov, and by Central Front on the south face by Day +4 of the operation. Partisans supported the operation by cutting German rail lines in thousands of places over several nights. The Soviets also committed 2 major tank formations, the 3rd Guards Tank
3rd Guards Tank Army (Soviet Union)
The 3rd Guards Tank Army was a tank army established by the Soviet Union's Red Army during World War II. The 3rd Tank Army was created in 1942 and fought in the southern areas of the Soviet Union, Poland, Germany, and Czechoslovakia until the defeat of Germany in 1945...

 and 4th Tank
4th Tank Army (Soviet Union)
The 20th Guards Army, , is a field army, since 1991, part of the Russian Ground Forces.-1st Formation :It was first formed within the Stalingrad Front from July 1942 and...

 Armies. The 3rd Guards tried to develop the eastern attack, driving straight at Orel. The 4th Tank exploited the wider breach made by 11th Guards Army in the north, initially southward, then southeast. This was an attempt to cut off the German forces still waging a successful defense along the east face.

These battles developed into a series of brawls between arriving German reserves, often facing several directions, and the major Soviet tank formations. The Soviets gained ground gradually. As late as 20 July, Hitler forbade retreat to more rational positions with shorter lines. The Russians' best sector continued to be the 11th Guards corridor, which reached the outskirts of Karachev, midway between Orel
Oryol or Orel is a city and the administrative center of Oryol Oblast, Russia, located on the Oka River, approximately south-southwest of Moscow...

 and Briansk, by late July. This was the proximate cause of the German decision to evacuate the salient, which had clearly become untenable with the threat to the main rail line over which virtually all supplies had to come.

Operation Kutuzov represented the final Soviet seizure of the strategic initiative in the east. The Germans were on the defensive continually thereafter. The USSR succeeded in reducing the Orel salient while the Germans failed to reduce the parallel bulge at Kursk. German losses were substantial and they were forced from the field. Soviet forces, moving from the defensive at Kursk into an immediate offensive on a strategic scale, both shocked their opponents and demonstrated a new capacity at the highest levels of command. Historian Richard Overy
Richard Overy
Richard Overy is a British historian who has published extensively on the history of World War II and the Third Reich. In 2007 as The Times editor of Complete History of the World he chose the 50 key dates of world history....

 has described the real significance of the battles of summer 1943 as not being the Soviet victory at Kursk, which merely maintained the status quo ante, but the Soviet strategic counter offensives which immediately followed the defensive victories in the north and south of the Kursk salient.


The Soviet forces pressed back the German defenders and liberated Orel. Operation Kutuzov set the stage for the liberation of Smolensk
Smolensk is a city and the administrative center of Smolensk Oblast, Russia, located on the Dnieper River. Situated west-southwest of Moscow, this walled city was destroyed several times throughout its long history since it was on the invasion routes of both Napoleon and Hitler. Today, Smolensk...

in September 1943. The Germans were greatly weakened by this thrust, and thus were unable to stop further Soviet advances westwards.
The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.