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Timelines

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

Focke Wulf Fw 190

Focke Wulf Fw 190
Focke Wulf Fw 190

This outstanding aircraft was in fact the only new fighter design to enter service with the Luftwaffe during the war. The prototype flew in June 1939 and after an intensive development programme in which both vee and radial engines were trialled, the Fw 190A entered production with a BMW 801 radial engine. The 40 Fw 190A-0 pre-production aircraft were followed by 100 Fw 190A-1 fighters, and the type entered service in the autumn of 1940. Although well known to the Allies prior to the war, the Fw 190 caused a nasty shock when it was first encountered over France in May 1941. It was light, manoeuvrable, fast, powerfully armed and immensely strong.

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Artillery

Flakpanzer Wirbelwind

Flakpanzer Wirbelwind
Flakpanzer Wirbelwind

A tactically important weapon that entered service in December 1943 to provide German armoured forces with a high level of air defence against low-flying attack aircraft, the five-man Flakpanzer IV (2cm) mit PzFgst Panzer IV/3 Wirbelwind (whirlwind) was based on the chassis of the PzKpfw IV Ausf J medium tank.

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Ships

Tirpitz

Tirpitz
Tirpitz

The mighty battleship Tirpitz was laid down in October 1936 and was originally known as Schlachtschiff G or Ersatz Schleswig-Holstein (Replacement Schleswig-Holstein). She was launched on 1 April 1939 and completed in February 1941. From early 1942 she was based at various locations in Norway, and on 8 September 1943 she sailed from Altenfjord to bombard shore installations on Spitzbergen – the only time she fired her guns in anger against a surface target. On 22 September she was damaged in an attack by British midget submarines, and on 3 April 1944 she was further damaged in an attack by carrier aircraft of the British Fleet Air Arm, sustaining 14 bomb hits and suffering 122 dead. She was subjected to further attacks by the Fleet Air Arm in August 1944, but sustained only minor bomb hits.

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Small Arms

Walther PP

Walther PP
Walther PP

A semi-automatic pistol that was first delivered in 1929, the Walther Model PP had been designed for police use as indicated by its full designation, Polizei Pistole (police pistol). The pistol used the Walther double-action trigger mechanism that was also used on the later P 38, and other features included a lightweight receiver and, next to the hammer, a signal button that protruded when the weapon was loaded. In overall terms the design was light and slim.

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Tracked Vehicles

Marder III

Marder III
Marder III

On orders from Hitler, in July 1942 production capacity of the Panzer 38(t) was switched to self-propelled gun chassis. This prompted a new design in which the engine was moved to the centre of the vehicle, which allowed the gun to be moved to the rear. In addition, frontal armour was reduced, which also lessened overall weight.

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Free Media

Caption Competition

Hitler and Mackenesen
Hitler and Mackenesen

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Photo Galleries

Guderian’s Panzer Group

Guderian’s Panzer Group
Guderian’s Panzer Group

Light armour and soft-skinned vehicles of Panzer Group Guderian (General Heinz Guderian, the famous panzer general) pass through the streets of a French town, May 1940. The SdKfz 222 nearest to the camera has a cradle of radio aerials around its turret. Further down the convoy, minus antennae, is another SdKfz 222.

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Commanders

Commanders

Josef Goebbels

Josef Goebbels
Josef Goebbels

It is a little-known fact that the Minister of Propaganda was opposed to a European war. He realized that Germany would be taking unnecessary risks and that her position of power would be weakened. Despite the victories of 1940 Goebbels said: “We must not fool ourselves. It will be a long and difficult war. Its outcome will not depend on boisterous victory parties but on a determination to do one’s daily duty.” He was probably the only Nazi leader to correctly judge the length and gravity of the war.

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