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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

Arado Ar 95

Arado Ar 95
Arado Ar 95

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).

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Artillery

PAK 38

PAK 38
PAK 38

The need for an anti-tank gun with a calibre greater than that of the 3.7cm PaK 35/36 had been anticipated even as the PaK 35/36 was entering service, and the design of a new 5cm weapon began during 1938. The design authority was again Rheinmetall-Borsig, and the new weapon entered service late in 1940 as the 5cm Panzerabwehrkanone 38.

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Ships

Gneisenau

Gneisenau
Gneisenau

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.

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Small Arms

Gewehr 43

Gewehr 43
Gewehr 43

When they evaluated the Tokarev semi-automatic rifle, of which they captured numerous examples in 1941 and 1942, the Germans quickly appreciated that the Soviet gas-operated system offered several advantages over the modified Bang system used in their Gewehr 41 weapons. It was seen that the Russian gas-operated mechanism had many advantages over the system used on the Gew 41. The Gew 41(W) was already in production, but the Germans now modified the action to a system modelled closely on that of the Soviet self-loading rifle to create the Gewehr 43 firing the German Army’s standard 7.92mm cartridge.

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Tracked Vehicles

StuG III Ausf B

StuG III Ausf B
StuG III Ausf B

The Sturmgeschütz (assault gun) - an armoured self-propelled gun to support infantry assaults - was first requested in 1936. The chassis of the Panzer III was selected for the assault gun, with the first gun being the 75mm StuK37 L/24. In the quest for a low silhouette an all-round traverse was abandoned. Fitted low in the hull front plate, the gun had a 12-degree traverse to the left and right, and an elevation of 10 degrees and a depression of 10 degrees.

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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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