Hasso von Manteuffel, Commander of Pz.Gr.Div. "Grossdeutschland"
IS-2 Heavy Tank of 2nd Tank Army at Targul Frumos
During April and May of 1944, the Soviet 2nd Tank Army tried to break through the German-Romanian lines on the river Pruth in order to gain access to Central Romania with its rich oil fields.
In several fierce battles, the Red Army units met the German LVII Panzer Corps which at that time included von Manteuffel's crack Panzer-Grenadier Division "Grossdeutschland" as well as the 24th Panzer Division.
While the armour of the German tank units consisted of a mixture of 22 Pz. IV, 8-10 Pz.V "Panther", 6-7 Pz.VI "Tiger" and 25 StuG assault guns, the 2nd Tank Army introduced a new heavy tank on the battlefield, the IS-122, later redesignated to "IS-2".
Well armoured and armed with a potent 122mm gun, the "Stalin" tank as it was soon called by the Germans came as a nasty surprise to Panzer crews used to deal with Red Armour on long distances.
As von Manteuffel recalls, the Tiger crews watched their hits bouncing off the tank armour when firing at a distance of 3,000 meters.
However, still being superior in tactical skills, the Panzer crews managed to close in successfully and finally destroyed four of the new tanks, two of them by "Pz.IV Lang" at 500 metres.
As Hasso von Manteuffel recalls furtheron, he was glad to be able to examine and photograph the "Stalin" tanks before forewarding one to the Kummersdorf proving ground.
As a result of the battle, the Red Army suffered the loss of 350 tanks in 5 days thus delaying any larger operations in that region until summer of 1944.