Fitting Lanchester equations to the battles of Kursk and Ardennes

Lucas T., Turkes T.

NAVAL RESEARCH LOGISTICS, vol.51, no.1, pp.95-116, 2004 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 51 Issue: 1
  • Publication Date: 2004
  • Doi Number: 10.1002/nav.10101
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.95-116
  • Bursa Uludag University Affiliated: No


Lanchester equations and their extensions are widely used to calculate attrition in models of warfare. This paper examines how Lanchester models fit detailed daily data on the battles of Kursk and Ardennes. The data on Kursk, often called the greatest tank battle in history, was only recently made available. A new approach is used to find the optimal parameter values and gain an understanding of how well various parameter combinations explain the battles. It turns out that a variety of Lanchester models fit the data about as well. This explains why previous studies on Ardennes, using different minimization techniques and data formulations, have found disparate optimal fits. We also find that none of the basic Lanchester laws (i.e., square, linear, and logarithmic) fit the data particularly well or consistently perform better than the others. This means that it does not matter which of these laws you use, for with the right coefficients you will get about the same result. Furthermore, no constant attrition coefficient Lanchester law fits very well. The failure to find a good-fitting Lanchester model suggests that it may be beneficial to look for new ways to model highly aggregated attrition. (C) 2003 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.