In the early spring of 1943, Michael Wittmann commanded a Tiger I heavy tank as a platoon leader. On July 5th of 1943, Wittmann started his combat career on Tiger during the Operation Citadel (Zitadelle). Attached to the Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler (LSSAH), Wittmann's platoon of four Tigers reinforced the division's reconnaissance battalion to screen the division's left flank.
LSSAH was located in the southern sector of the bulge.On the first day of action, Wittmann destroyed two anti-tanks guns and thirteen T-34s. On July 7th and 8th, Wittmann destroyed two T-34s, two SU-122s and three T-60/70s. On July 12th, Wittmann destroyed eight Soviet tanks, three anti-tank guns and one gun battery. This operation finished on the 17th of July 1943. During that time Wittmann’s Tiger destroyed 30 Soviet tanks along with 28 guns.
Historian Steven Zaloga credits Wittmann with "about 135" tank kills, and points out that Wittmann achieved 120 of these in 1943, operating a Tiger I tank on the Eastern Front. Having advantages both in firepower and in armor, Tiger I was "nearly invulnerable in a frontal engagement" against any of the Soviet tanks of that time, and Wittmann thus could destroy opposing tanks from a safe distance.
SS-Hauptsturmfuehrer (Captain) Michael Wittmann has been described as "the most successful German tank commander of World War II". He was a holder of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross. He was meticulous in planning, lethal in execution, and always cool under fire. In the Battle of Kursk he started creating the legend of the ‘Black Baron’ (from the color of the Panzer units’ sharp looking uniforms).