We had equal points on each side with the Germans fielding elements of the 6th Panzer Regiment and the 543 Panzerjager Regiment. Facing these are the T34's of the 18th Tank corps. With different break points victory will go to the side who can hold the longest.
Looking from the east, the outskirts of Zolochev and in the distance the advance of the Russian armour, some poor leadership rolls for the Germans early on allow the Russians to surge forward, they know that they need to get closer to reduce the range differential with the german heavy tanks.
The Germans on the other hand are somewhat slow to get going !
Eventually though a strong company of Panther tanks enters the battlefield close to the railway line
As they gradually focus on their targets they open fire at long range, the Russians have no answer and bolt into the cover of nearby fields
A view from the SW looking towards Zolochev a separate company of Panzers is moving towards the small village with a view to outflanking the Russian advance
More terrible leadership from the Germans, no idea who is in command on this right flank ! After failing several rolls and doing nothing a 'blunder' and the tanks are sent backwards, luckily they can regroup later but they never quite get back into the heat of the battle.
The Russians have used the lull to dig in in the fields and low hedges south of the Town
Overview from the east, at least on of the panthers has made it into the woods and starts to exchange fire with the T34's ahead, but the benefit of their longer range guns has been eliminated
The panthers push forward but are forced to avoid the cover of the woods instead relying on their heavy armour ?
Whilst some Panzers dig in around the village and the small farmstead others push right upto the Russians in an attempt to outflank them
The panthers in the open draw massive concentrated fire and eventually even with their superior armour one is blown to pieces
With a choice between fire or manoeuvre and the option to break from cover both sides dig in a pummel each other casualties mounting on both sides
Mobile artillery is brought over form the german right flank which is countered by Russian SU122's close to the railway crossing
The fierceness of the fighting is reflected in the number of smoke plumes on both sides. As both sides try to outflank each other they are both approaching their break point, in fact both are one unit away from breaking, but it is the Russians who get the vital next two kills.
An aerial reconnaissance photo taken during this latter part of the battle
The point at which the Germans failed their break test, and start to pull back. With the Russian holding the ground there is no hope of rescuing the damaged panthers whilst the Russians can get their engineers repairing the T34's which litter the battlefield. The Russian commander can be heard shouting down the radio on to Kharkov .......but it will not be that easy as the Germans bring more combat hardened units into the line.
A very close battle which ended up reflecting closely the historical outcome. The Germans having to give ground but making the Russians pay a heavy price. The Germans however can't afford the loss in material and will gradually weaken.....but not yet as SS units are moving into position around Kovyagi.