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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

Gotha Go 242 and 244

Gotha Go 242 and 244
Gotha Go 242 and 244

Well known as a producer of bomber aircraft for the German Air Service during World War I, Gotha re-entered aircraft production in 1936 and after the outbreak of war devoted its attentions to the design and manufacture of military aircraft. The most successful of its wartime designs was the Go 242, a high-wing twin-boom monoplane with a central nacelle that could accommodate 23 fully equipped troops. Introduced into service in 1942, the Go 242 subsequently became the Luftwaffe’s standard transport glider, with deliveries totalling 1526 Go 242A and Go 242B gliders with skid and wheeled landing gear respectively.

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Artillery

Jagdpanzer 38(T)

Jagdpanzer 38(T)
Jagdpanzer 38(T)

Manufactured from 1943 to provide the German forces with a dedicated Panzerjäger (tank hunter) capable of defeating the Allied powers’ latest armoured fighting vehicles, the Jagdpanzer 38(t) “Hetzer” (baiter) was based on the redesigned hull of the PzKpfw 38(t) light tank of Czechoslovak origins.

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Ships

Graf Spee

Graf Spee
Graf Spee

Officially classed as a Panzerschiff (Armoured Ship), but more popularly known as a “pocket battleship”, the Admiral Graf Spee and her two sisters, the Admiral Scheer and Deutschland, were designed as commerce raiders with a large radius of action and complied with the restrictions imposed on Germany by the terms of the Treaty of Versailles (which was detested by the Nazi Party). The “pocket battleship” nickname derived from the fact that, although they were too small to be classed as battleships, they were more powerful and faster than most other warships then afloat. Their hulls were electrically welded, and armour protection was sacrificed to produce a higher speed.

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Small Arms

MP 40

MP 40
MP 40

The MP 38 was a technical and tactical success, but was also expensive to manufacture in terms of materials and time. The MP 38 was therefore re-designed as the Maschinenpistole 40 that was generally similar to the MP 38 but far easier to manufacture, as machining was reduced to a minimum and the use of welding and pressed components was maximized. As well as speeding production, these changes also made it possible for the MP 40 to be made by a larger number of companies drawing on the efforts of a pool of subcontractors delivering subassemblies. The MP 40 thus inaugurated the era of the swift and cheap manufacture of basic small arms, and was one of the most important submachine guns of World War II.

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Tracked Vehicles

sIG33

sIG33
sIG33

In order to give armoured infantry immediate fire support, the 150mm sIG33 L/11 heavy infantry gun was mounted on the chassis of the Panzer I Ausf B. This resulted in a self-propelled infantry gun that could follow the infantry closely into battle. The conversion was carried out by Alkett at Berlin-Spandau. The turret and superstructure of the Panzer I were removed and replaced by a large, box-shaped gun shield which was open at the rear and had an open top. The gun was placed inside the gun shield.

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Hitler and Mackenesen
Hitler and Mackenesen

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Photo Galleries

MG34 in the snow

MG34 in the snow
MG34 in the snow

German infantry man an MG34 position in the snow of February 1943; the gun is mounted on a stationary tripod mount. A standard infantry support weapon, it was one of the most successful German small arms of the war.

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Commanders

Commanders

Erwin Rommel

Erwin Rommel
Erwin Rommel

No discussion of the German Army’s performance in North Africa can exclude an analysis of Erwin Rommel, the “Desert Fox.” The war in North Africa made his reputation. On February 12, 1941, Hitler dispatched Rommel by air to Tripoli in response to the major defeat that the Italian units had just suffered at the hands of British and Commonwealth forces. The new commander had with him just a small mobile force to stiffen Italian resolve and to assist them in reversing the possibility of total defeat at the hands of the British-led forces advancing from Egypt. Hitler did not, however, envisage the Africa Corps making spectacular successes, lest the need to protect these accomplishments from British ripostes led to the diversion of precious German reserves away from the impending Barbarossa invasion of the Soviet Union to the North Africa theater.

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