The Men Behind The Medals: Kolobanov

kv1-bt5

It is August 19/20th, 1941 and you are in one of a unit of only 5 well hidden Russian KV-1 tanks.

Your name is Zinoviy Grigor’evich Kolobanov and at the age of 30 – your next birthday not being until December 25th – you are a Lieutenant in the Red Army and a Tank Commander.

As you sit in anticipation, tense and ready for what is to confront you, you think back to just over 10 years ago when you graduated from college in 1933 and were drafted into the Red Army.  It would be three years later (1936) that you would graduate a straight-A student from the Armoured Forces Institute.  But then, such a life was the bi-product of the area and era you had been born into. Suddenly your mind is dragged back to the here and the now…

You are positioned just outside of Leningrad and at any moment your small unit will meet the might of a whole column or German armoured divisions.  In fact the very vanguard of the 8th, 6th and 1st Panzer Divisions.

The odds are heavily stacked against you.  Not only due to the sheer numbers you are about to face but also because of the experience, reputation and might of the enemy hurtling towards you in determined intent on taking Leningrad.

You and the rest of your unit know just how essential it is that you hold off or at very least delay the advancing force’s progress.

Strategically dug in at Krasnogvardeysk in a grove at the edge of a swamp you wait as the Germans attack from three different directions. The only three roads into the small village where you were.  You carefully choose your position and the positions of the rest of your unit.

In many ways. you and your small unit are the only hope for your Russian comrades, the civilian inhabitants of Leningrad and quite probably for the motherland herself.  But in your favour you are carrying nearly twice the normal ammunition – much of which also being armour-piercing rounds.  And besides, the only real road into the region passed the very swamp that you and your unit were now situated, dug in, concealed within.  But then, having – only the day before – studied the situation and readied your detachment around the choke point of that passageway, why wouldn’t you be?  After all, with so a large enemy force coming towards you, it was essential that you kept the extremely limited size of your unit a secret for as long as  possible.

tumblr_ms8l7b1iry1r84pkto1_1280The enemy – in the form of the vanguard of the 6th Panzer Division advances into the very place you expected and your carefully planned ambush!

Andrej Usov an experienced gun sniper zeroed in on the lead tank and with one shot took it out!

Assuming that the lead tank had simply hit an anti-tank mine, the column stopped, giving Andrej Usov the opportunity to tank out the second tank.  An action which -although necessary – now alerted the German forces that actually it had not been an anti-tank mine which had taken out the lead tank and that they were actually now under attack.

Russland, Panzer III und Besatzung

But where from?

Achtung! Achtung! Wo werden diese Muscheln kommen aus?

(Attention! Attention! Where are these shells coming from?)

In panic the German Panzers – many of with being only light tanks carrying 37mm guns – fired blindly.  Giving enough time for you to order the trailing German tank to be taken out.  And so it was and in so doing you have now boxed in the entire column.

As the now boxed-in German tanks attempted to move off of the road they became bogged down in the soft swampy ground and at the same time the only tank they could identify the location of is yours.  And so your carefully planned ambush played out.

The battle rages with speed and intensity and before long a total of 22 German tanks and two towed artillery pieces have been knocked out by your tank alone.  Before you run out of ammunition, but thankfully not because you or your tank has been knocked out of commission.

Still able to command therefore, you quickly order in another KV-1 and in the minutes that follow a further 21 German tanks are knocked out.  This bringing the total German tanks destroyed within the battle to 43.

You look at your watch and to your amazement the battle had lasted only half and hour!

Slowly, carefully, you take a moment to reflect on what had just happened.  No doubt the carefully considered and planned positioning of the tanks had played an essential factor in the victory.  No doubt the swampy ground, single narrow passageway and indeed the choke point you had recognised also played a part in it.  Just as the extra ammunition and armour-piercing qualities of the ammunition you carried for your 76mm main guns had done.  Guns which the lighter smaller German guns had been no match for, just as they were no match for the KV-1’s frontal armour..

But even with all that, the sheer numbers, experience and might of the enemy could not be discounted.  Nor could the bravery of your men – especially  gunner Andrej Usov.  And especially – as was then later recognised by your superior officers – your own bravery, and so you were awarded the Order of the Red Banner.

medalkolobanovAnd many years later as World of Tanks™ design and include the Kolobanov’s Medal within their ‘Epic Medals’ range. Awarding it to a player who ‘stands alone against five or more enemy tanks or artillery and wins.

Which I am sure you will agree is no simple matter!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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