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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

Kanone 44

Kanone 44
Kanone 44

When they invaded the USSR in June 1941, the Germans made rapid and very extensive gains against Soviet forces that were poorly trained, badly led and often equipped with obsolescent if not obsolete weapons. One exception, though, was Soviet medium artillery which, as the Germans rapidly found, was technically excellent in many respects.

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Ships

Lützow

Lützow
Lützow

Originally named Deutschland, the Lützow was one of three armoured ships – the so-called “pocket battleships” – laid down between 1928 and 1931. Deutschland was the first of the class, being launched in May 1931 and completed in April 1933. She was originally used as a seagoing training ship, to familiarize crews with her new technology.

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Small Arms

Sturmgewehr 44

Sturmgewehr 44
Sturmgewehr 44

Experience with the 8000 examples of the Haenel Maschinenkarabiner 42(H) assault rifle used for operational trials on the Eastern Front was generally successful, but indicated the need for changes whose implementation created the Maschinenpistole 43 firing the same 7.92mm kurz (short) intermediate-power round.

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Tracked Vehicles

Panzer III Ausf J

Panzer III Ausf J
Panzer III Ausf J

The Panzer III Ausf J was the first variant of the tank to be built to have the armour protection increased to a basic 50mm (1.96in). The armour change required new fittings. In addition, an improved driver’s visor was fitted, plus a new ball-shaped hull machine-gun mount. The upper hull front accommodated newly designed air intakes for brakes and final-drive cooling, while single-piece access hatches in the glacis were fitted in place of the double hatch.

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Free Media

Caption Competition

Hitler and Mackenesen
Hitler and Mackenesen

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Photo Galleries

Heydrich assassination reconstruction

Heydrich assassination reconstruction
Heydrich assassination reconstruction

A reconstruction of the key moment of the assassination, on May 27 1942. As the car slowed at the bend, Gabcik attempted to shoot Heydrich with his Sten Gun, but the weapon jammed. Heydrich then pulled out his Luger pistol and tried to shoot Gabcik, but Kubis threw a bomb constructed from an anti-tank grenade that exploded near the back of the car. Although wounded, Heydrich continued to try to shoot the assassins, and ordered his driver to pursue them. The driver was shot and badly wounded by the two agents.

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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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