Kondor Gallery

© Kondor Gallery 2003
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Wittmann's Tiger at Kursk


In this second print in his Wittmann Trilogy, artist Barry Spicer has depicted in a panorama that tells of the scale of the battle about to be joined, Michael Wittmann in his Tiger I as he pauses before leading his third platoon of the 13th schwere SS Panzer-Kompanie to take part in a clash of armour the magnitude and ferocity of which the world has never before witnessed.

The day was 60 years ago on the 12th July 1943, near an erstwhile obscure hamlet called Prokhorovka, on the Kursk salient some 300 miles south of Moscow. This was the eighth day of the Battle of Kursk or Operation Citadel, Hitler's desperate bid to pre-empt the anticipated Russian Summer Offensive and so to stabilise the worsening situation on the Eastern Front. A success here would eliminate the Kursk Salient, and stiffen the resolve of his wavering allies after the recent disaster at Stalingrad and the loss of North Africa.

The time was 7.30am. Thunderstorms had raged the night before and a few rainsqualls lingered still, but now the sun was rising in the east and the ground was firming up under the tracks of the advancing panzers. Overhead, Stuka formations led by the legendary Hans-Ulrich Rudel were already winging their way to soften up the Soviet positions in the vicinity of Prokhorovka: beneath them the lead echelons of German armour were advancing across the broken, late summer wheat fields.

Panzers from Germany's three premier SS Panzer Divisions - the 3rd SS Totenkopf on the left, the 1st SS Leibstandarte in the centre and the 2nd SS Das Reich to the right - were deployed with the heavy Tigers in the van, followed by the lighter Panzer IIIs and IVs. Wittmann and his platoon would take their place in the front ranks of the Leibstandarte. This German armoured thrust of 600 tanks and assault guns was met head on by some 900 T-34s and T-70s of Rotmistrov's 5th Guards Tank Army. In this small area of only 4 miles width, bounded by the Pssel River in the north and a railway embankment of the Kursk-Belgorod railroad to the south, the two armoured fists clashed and joined in battle. This quickly degenerated into a huge, swirling melee where packets of armour and individual tanks fought for survival in a desperate daylong slogging match. Overhead, ground attack aircraft from both sides wove their deadly dance trying to destroy one another and the enemy armour below.

This maelstrom of death waxed and waned all day, only to be curtailed by the failing light. By nightfall, the entire battlefield was littered with broken and burnt out hulks, with thick, black, oily columns of smoke drifting upwards to merge with the breaking thunderstorm. It is estimated that some 700 tanks on both sides had been destroyed that day, with tragic heavy losses in veteran tank crews. Faced with this slogging match and its crippling drain on resources, Hitler had little choice but to call a halt to operations at Kursk, for with the Allied landings in Sicily, reinforcements were needed to counter this new menace threatening his southern front. Operation Citadel was over and the initiative on the Eastern Front passed to the Soviets for good.

Michael Wittmann survived this battle. In the 10 days of fighting from its launch on the 4th July to its curtailment on the 13th July, Michael Wittmann and his crew had destroyed 30 enemy tanks and 32 anti-tank guns. For this, and earlier achievements, he would be awarded the Knight's Cross.
Following a brief spell in Italy, Michael Wittmann went on to fight almost another year in the fearsome battles of the Eastern Front, achieving fame and glory, and was awarded the Oak's Leaves to the Knight Cross in January, 1944. After that, he was transferred to Belgium in anticipation of the Allied D-Day landings.

Print Specifications

Main Print:

"Wittmann's Tiger at Kursk" Limited Edition Print
Limited to 650 Prints, Certificate of Authenticity provided
Full colour, 36" (width) x 27" (height)
Image Area: 31" (width) x 20" (height)
Printed on 300gsm archival paper with fade resistant inks

Standard Edition

"Wittmann's Tiger at Kursk" Limited Edition Print
signed by Artist and numbered

Limited to 555 Editions
Price: US$130.00 plus shipping

Artist's Proof

"Wittmann's Tiger at Kursk" Limited Edition Print
signed by Artist and numbered

Limited to 65 Proofs
Price: US$195.00 plus shipping


"Wittmann's Tiger at Kursk" Limited Edition Print
signed by Artist and numbered

Limited to 30 Remarques
Price: US$250.00 plus shipping





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