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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

Henschel Hs 129

Henschel Hs 129
Henschel Hs 129

Designed by Henschel in response to a requirement in spring 1937 for a twin-engine ground-attack aircraft, to provide close air support for ground forces, that could carry at least two 20mm cannon and extensive protection, the Hs 129 was a cantilever low-wing monoplane of all-metal construction and it first flew in spring 1939 with two 347kW (465hp) Argus As 410 inverted-Vee engines. Poor performance hampered development, which was further hindered when the Luftwaffe pilots who tested the prototypes complained about poor fields of vision and sluggish handling. This forced Henschel to undertake a radical series of improvements that resulted in the Hs 129B-1.

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Artillery

Kanone 39

Kanone 39
Kanone 39

In the 1930s Krupp responded to a requirement of the Turkish Army with the development of a powerful gun in 150mm calibre. Production got under way in the later stages of the decade, but delivery of the first completed weapons was prevented by the outbreak of World War II in September 1939 (notwithstanding its spectacular victories, the German Army entered the war with a shortage of equipment).

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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 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

Panzer IV Ausf C

Panzer IV Ausf C
Panzer IV Ausf C

By far the most enduring of the main types of German tank, the Panzer IV was specified as a medium tank in the 20-ton class, to be armed with a 75mm gun. The order to build the vehicle was awarded to Krupp, who initially proposed interleaved road wheels for suspension. However, the actual suspension used was much more simple: eight road wheels on each side suspended in pairs on leaf springs. Like other German tanks of the period, the Panzer IV’s engine was located at the rear with the transmission led forward to the final drive via sprockets at the front of the track.

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Free Media

Caption Competition

Hitler and Mackenesen
Hitler and Mackenesen

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Photo Galleries

Kreta, The Last Jump

Kreta, The Last Jump
Kreta, The Last Jump

Crete, May 1941. A Fallschirmjager mortar team head off one way as their comrades take another path. Crete was the last major air drop carried out by these elite Luftwaffe troops due to the severe losses suffered. Earlier campaigns in Norway and the Low Countries were very successful for these brave fighters. Later, they fought well as infantry on the Eastern Front and in Italy, especially during the attacks on Monte Cassino in 1944.

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Commanders

Commanders

Heinz Guderian

Heinz Guderian
Heinz Guderian

Born in Chelmno in 1888, Guderian became a communications specialist in the German Army and then, after World War I, an advocate of mechanized warfare. In 1934, now a colonel, he became Chief of Staff of the Motorized Troops Command Staff, and in October 1935 assumed command of one of the first three panzer divisions, the 2nd. Guderian stayed with his division until February 1938, thereafter heading XVI Corps headquarters and taking part in the takeover of Austria in March 1938. Hitler was impressed by Guderian and made him Chief of Mobile Troops with the rank of General of Panzer Troops.

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