Winning the biggest tank battle in history – against Nazi Germany at Kursk in 1943 – remains a great source of pride for Russians.
So it is not surprising that Russian officials have lashed out at Western historians for questioning the Red Army’s mastery of the battlefield.
For decades Russians have seen no reason to doubt Soviet military historians, who portrayed the Battle of Prokhorovka on 12 July 1943 as a turning-point, where the Red Army seized the initiative, then rolled back the Nazi armour.
The wider Battle of Kursk – from 5 July to 23 August 1943 – was indeed a turning-point in World War Two. Soviet forces thwarted a huge Nazi counter-attack, after Adolf Hitler’s troops had suffered a colossal defeat at Stalingrad in the winter of 1942-43.
But recently a British historian, Ben Wheatley, analysed German Luftwaffe aerial photos of the Prokhorovka battlefield, taken on 14-16 July, when the area was still in German hands. The photos were found in the US National Archives at College Park, Maryland.