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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

Messerschmitt Me 410

In 1937 Messerschmitt began developing the Bf 210, planned as a more versatile successor to the Bf 110. In June 1939 an order for 1000 aircraft was placed “off the drawing board”, but after prototype Me 210V1 had revealed flight instability and landing gear problems, progress foundered. Production aircraft were delivered from late 1941 but in service it was a complete flop and production ended after 352 machines. The failure of the Me 210 nearly cost Willy Messerschmitt his job. Key aspects of the design were changed to produce the Me 410, which proved to be an altogether more capable as well as more successful warplane. The Me 210’s failings had in fact been solved just before its cancellation, and it was from this type that the Me 410 was evolved, with basically the same revised aerodynamic and structural features in combination with modified outer wing panels and the different powerplant of two Daimler-Benz DB 603A inverted-Vee piston engines. The Me 410 first flew in prototype form in autumn 1942, and there followed 1137 production aircraft in variants such as the Me 410A (three major variants) and the Me 410B. Five major variants of the 410B were produced with the DB 603G engines. The B-5 anti-shipping torpedo bomber, the B-7 day reconnaissance and B-8 night reconnaissance aircraft were still in the experimental stage at the war’s end.

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Artillery

Flak 36/37

Flak 36/37
Flak 36/37

Production of Germany’s first modern light anti-aircraft gun, the FlaK 18, ended in 1936 to allow manufacture of an improved model, the 3.7cm FlaK 36, that was the FlaK 18 gun on a new mounting carried on a two-wheeled carriage and served by an eight-man detachment.

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Ships

Bismarck

Bismarck
Bismarck

Together with her sister ship, Tirpitz, the Bismarck was the pride of Hitler’s navy, and was viewed with alarm by the Royal Navy. Launched in February 1939 and completed in August 1940, she underwent sea trials in the Baltic and in May 1941 she sailed in company with the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen to attack Allied commerce in the Atlantic.

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Small Arms

MG 42

MG 42
MG 42

Without doubt one of the most far-sighted and influential machine guns created in World War II, the Maschinengewehr 42 was in terms of its design and manufacturing requirements a truly outstanding weapon that has exercised a long-lasting influence over later general-purpose machine guns.

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Tracked Vehicles

Marder II

Marder II
Marder II

The Marder II antitank vehicle was essentially a 75mm Pak 40/2 gun mated to a Panzer II chassis. By May 1942 the combat effectiveness of the Panzer II (still being produced at a rate of 50 per month) was being questioned - it was certainly obsolete by this date. As a result, early in June it was decided that half the production would be given to mounting the Pak 40 gun on the Panzer II chassis, though assembly was cut short in June 1943 to concentrate on production of the Wespe.

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Free Media

Caption Competition

Hitler and Mackenesen
Hitler and Mackenesen

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Photo Galleries

Prinz Eugen crew shore training with MG34 in Norway

Prinz Eugen crew shore training with MG34 in Norway
Prinz Eugen crew shore training with MG34 in Norway

Crewmen of Prinz Eugen train with machine guns in the Norwegian snow during the period of repair and maintenance at Lofjord. In fact, in 1943 Prinz Eugen spent much of her time engaged in training exercises, in which German naval cadets were given experience of naval operations during cruises in the Baltic Sea.

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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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