When most people think of the Red Army circa 1942 they imagine a war machine on the rise, and blessed with fleets of wordclass T-34 medium tanks. On the one hand it's true that by the spring of 1942 Soviet tank factories cranked out far more T-34's than they had during the nadir of Soviet fortunes late in 1941. But, for a number of reasons (including both T-34 losses at the front as well as the decision to parcel out T-34's in independent tank brigades versus concentrating them in the Tank Corps) there were never enough of these reliable, well armed armored fighting vehicles to go around.
Early in 1943 the Red Army had launched a series of massive offensives across the breadth of the German Eastern Front. In particular, and as the German Sixth Army fought to its destruction at Stalingrad, multiple Soviet fronts, spearheaded by General N.F. Vatutin's Southwestern Front, surged across southern Russia. Meanwhile, Erich von Manstein, commanding the whole of the reconstituted German Army Group South, the former Army Groups A, B and Don, fell back before the Soviet advance and regrouped his armies.
Soviet General Cherniakhovsky’s 60th Army, part of Golikov’s Voronezh Front, took