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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

Jagdtiger

Jagdtiger
Jagdtiger

Introduced to service during February 1944 and otherwise known as the Panzerjäger Tiger Ausf B für 12.8cm PaK 44, the six-man Jagdtiger (hunting tiger) was the last word in the German Army’s search for a tank hunter/destroyer capable of destroying with a single hit any tank fielded or likely to be fielded by the Allied powers.

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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

Gewehr 41

Gewehr 41
Gewehr 41

In 1940 the Germany Army, currently equipped with bolt-action weapons so far as rifles and carbines were concerned, issued a requirement for a semi-automatic (or self-loading) rifle to succeeded the various Mauser weapons of the Gewehr 98 series. The requirement elicited very similar designs from Mauser and Walther, and the German authorities ordered prototypes of each type for competitive evaluation before any major production contracts were placed.

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Tracked Vehicles

Grille

Grille
Grille

The Grille was first ordered for construction on the new self-propelled gun chassis that BMM was developing, the resultant vehicle being designated Sf 38(t) Ausf K. However, wartime demands resulted in Panzer 38(t)s being used instead, being converted by BMM as they returned from the front for refits. The standard chassis was fitted with a new fighting compartment superstructure, which had to be extended over the engine compartment in order to accommodate the sIG33/1 L/12 heavy gun and its 15 rounds of ammunition.

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Caption Competition

Hitler and Mackenesen
Hitler and Mackenesen

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Photo Galleries

In French fields

In French fields
In French fields

The 4th Panzer Division on the move: soft-skinned vehicles lead Panzer IIIs through the French countryside, 17 May 1940. Here can be seen some of the variation in vehicular transport used by the German Army in World War II. Identifiable are types from Stoewer, Horch, Phanomen and Opel.

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Commanders

Commanders

Hans von Seeckt

Hans von Seeckt
Hans von Seeckt

Infantry General Hans von Seeckt (left) was the commander in chief of the German Army from 1920 to 1926. As such he played a pivotal role in shaping the evolution of the interwar German military. Confronted with the reduction of German military capabilities imposed by the draconian Versailles settlement of 1919, Seeckt utilized his experience of mobile warfare on the Eastern Front during World War I to pursue his belief that an aggressive defense conducted by mobile forces could defeat a numerically and materially superior enemy. It was Seeckt, therefore, who initially pushed motorization in the interwar German Army as he sought to inculcate offensive spirit in German troops.

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