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Third Reich Day by Day

The rise of the Third Reich as it happened from its beginnings to the start of World War II in September 1939.

Weapons & Technology

Aircraft

Dornier Do 217

Dornier Do 217
Dornier Do 217

The Do 217 was Dornier’s response to a 1937 requirement for a long-range warplane optimized for the heavy level and dive-bombing roles, though later it was used in a variety of roles, even as a test bed for missile development. The Do 217 was in essence a scaled-up Do 215 version of the Do 17, and first flew in August 1938. The first operational model was the Do 217E of which some 800 aircraft were built in Do 217E-0 to Do 217E-4 sub-variants with BMW 801 radial engines. These were followed by the Do 217J, a night-fighter developed from the E which was structurally similar except for a redesigned solid armoured nose with a forward-firing armament comprising four 20mm MG FF cannon. It proved to be a potent aircraft.

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Artillery

Gebirgsgeschütz 36

Gebirgsgeschütz 36
Gebirgsgeschütz 36

It was in 1935 that Rheinmetall-Borsig, working on the basis of a requirement issued by the German Army, embarked on the process of developing a new piece of thoroughly modern light artillery for service with Germany’s mountain infantry formations. The new gun/howitzer was to become the standard gun of the artillery batteries supporting such infantry and was, of course, to be of the pack type so that the entire weapon could be broken down into loads which could each be carried by a draft animal, most typically a mule. The resulting weapon entered service in 1938 as the 7.5cm Gebirgsgeschütz 36, whose unusual features included variable recoil facility and a large muzzle brake of the pepperpot type.

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Ships

Scharnhorst

Scharnhorst
Scharnhorst

Laid down at Wilhelmshaven in April 1934 and launched in October 1936, the Scharnhorst and her sister ship Gneisenau were modelled on the uncompleted “Mackensen” class battlecruisers of World War I. Up until 1942 the pair operated as a single battle group, but after the “Channel Dash” of February that year – in which Scharnhorst was mined twice while en route from Brest to Kiel – she operated alone.

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Small Arms

Pistole 08

Pistole 08
Pistole 08

Generally known as the “Luger”, the Pistole 08 is amongst the most celebrated pistols ever placed in production. The first Luger pistols for military service were manufactured in 1900 to meet a Swiss order, and the type was also adopted by the German navy during 1904 and then by the German Army in 1908. It was this last order that led to the designation P 08, which became the most important of some 35 or more Luger pistol variants.

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Tracked Vehicles

Panzer III Ausf F

Panzer III Ausf F
Panzer III Ausf F

During the 1930s, it was envisaged that the core of the German panzer divisions would be a medium tank armed with a 37mm or 50mm armour-piercing gun. A number of prototype vehicles were built by Daimler-Benz, Rheinmetall, MAN and Krupp in response to this requirement. Tested in 1936-37, the Daimler-Benz model was chosen for further development.

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Caption Competition

Hitler and Mackenesen
Hitler and Mackenesen

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Commanders

Commanders

Walther Model

Walther Model
Walther Model

Model, born in 1891, fought in the German Army in World War I and won the Iron Cross (both classes), ending the war a lieutenant. During the inter-war years he became a believer in mechanized warfare, and after Hitler came to power in 1933 he made a favourable impression on the Führer and the Nazi hierarchy.

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