Eighty years ago, the Wehrmacht rolled out several new vehicles for the Battle of Kursk. Phil Loder looks at one of them, the Ferdinand, and how the German and Soviet armies reacted to it

A vehicle is lifted across the assembly hall during conversion of the Tiger (P) hulls to Ferdinands at the Nibelungenwerke, Austria

On Monday 5 July, 1943 on the Eastern Front, the German Ninth Army and units of Army Group South launched Operation Citadel, a battle that was arguably the largest clash of tanks in history. The offensive had been repeatedly delayed as German commanders awaited new equipment that Hitler was sure would secure victory against the Soviet forces. One of the vehicles that had been promised was the SdKfz 184 Panzerjäger Tiger (P) ‘Ferdinand’, which mounted the powerful 8.8cm Panzerabwehrkanone 43/2 gun on redundant hulls from the recently cancelled and redundant Porsche Tiger project.

This year marks the 80th anniversary of the debut of the Ferdinand at the Battle of Kursk, but did the Germans welcome the new vehicle to their army, and how did the Soviet troops respond? War diaries, archive documents, and a Soviet report sent to the British School of Tank Technology provide insights.

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