Welcome to the new German War Machine, a non-political website home to a wealth of free content on the German Armed Forces in World War II. With authoritative text supported by videos, photographs and maps, German War Machine provides insight and information on every aspect of Germany’s military forces – land, sea and air – between 1939 and 1945. It is also home to a unique series of handy Rapid Reads ebooks.
Walter Blume designed the Arado Ar 95 in 1935 for the coastal patrol, reconnaissance and light attack role. It was a two-seat biplane with metallic fuselage and rear-folding wings. The wings had a metal structure, with the top one skinned in metal and the lower one in canvas. The prototype(Ar-95 V1) first flew during 1937, fitted with a Junkers Jumo V12 engine of 455kW (610hp).
The 3.7cm PaK 35/36 entered service in 1936. More than 15,000 such weapons had been completed in Germany by 1941, and the type was also built under licence by other countries. Experience proved that by the standards of the day the PaK 35/36 was excellent, and the weapon strongly influenced the design of other guns: the American 37mm M3, for example, was a close copy.
The battlecruiser Gneisenau was launched in December 1936 and completed in May 1938. She was upgraded in the following year and made her first Atlantic sortie, with her sister ship, Scharnhorst, in November 1939, sinking the British auxiliary cruiser Rawalpindi. She was damaged by gunfire from the British battlecruiser Renown off Norway on 9 April 1940, but on 8 June she and Scharnhorst sank the British aircraft carrier Glorious and her escorting destroyers Ardent and Acasta. On 20 June 1940 she was torpedoed by the Royal Navy submarine HMS Clyde off Trondheim. In January 1941, again with the Scharnhorst, she made another sortie into the Atlantic, the two sinking 22 merchant ships – a moderately successful action.
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.
As a result of recommendations and comments from troops in the field using the Panther Ausf A and D, the Ausf G incorporated a number of design changes. Chief among them was a redesigned hull, which incorporated increased side armour on the upper-hull side and a single-piece side plate. The driver’s vision port was done away with, being replaced by a rotating periscope. In addition, the driver could drive with his head out of the hatch thanks to an adjustable seat and extendible controls.
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A Wehrmacht tank crew in their Panzer IV relax and have a smoke and a chat. Four of the five are wearing the typical wide panzer beret (Schutzmütze), prevalent early in the war, the fifth, on the left, is wearing a panzer black uniform (often confused with the SS uniform), short ankle boots (Schnürschuhe) and a service cap (Feldmütze).
No discussion of the German Army’s performance in North Africa can exclude an analysis of Erwin Rommel, the “Desert Fox.” The war in North Africa made his reputation. On February 12, 1941, Hitler dispatched Rommel by air to Tripoli in response to the major defeat that the Italian units had just suffered at the hands of British and Commonwealth forces. The new commander had with him just a small mobile force to stiffen Italian resolve and to assist them in reversing the possibility of total defeat at the hands of the British-led forces advancing from Egypt. Hitler did not, however, envisage the Africa Corps making spectacular successes, lest the need to protect these accomplishments from British ripostes led to the diversion of precious German reserves away from the impending Barbarossa invasion of the Soviet Union to the North Africa theater.