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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 17

Dornier Do 17
Dornier Do 17

Designed as a fast mailplane (with single-fin tail surfaces) for Deutsche Lufthansa and first flown in 1934, the Do 17 was rejected by the airline and then developed by Dornier as a high-speed bomber with twin vertical tail surfaces. The aircraft entered service in early 1937, gaining the nickname “The Flying Pencil” on account of its slender rear fuselage. The first two military variants were the Do 17E-1 and Do 17F-1 for the high-speed bomber and long-range photo-reconnaissance roles respectively, the latter with additional fuel and the internal bomb bay revised to carry two cameras. The two types offered good performance and adequate all-round capabilities for their day, but by 1939 were obsolescent.

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Artillery

PAK 43

PAK 43
PAK 43

The 8.8cm Panzerabwehrkanone 43 was a Krupp development of the proposed PaK 42. Entering service late in 1943, this equipment proved itself to be the best anti-tank gun of World War II. The weapon possessed a low silhouette and was also protected by a well-sloped shield, and its potency was revealed by the fact that the PaK 43 was the only German weapon able to penetrate the thick and well-sloped armour of the Soviet IS heavy tanks, and then at ranges well in excess of those offered by smaller-calibre guns.

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Ships

Schleswig-Holstein

Schleswig-Holstein
Schleswig-Holstein

The Schleswig-Holstein was one of a class of five pre-dreadnought battleships, laid down in 1902–04. She was launched in December 1906, completed in July 1908 and subsequently served with the German High Seas Fleet, seeing action in the Battle of Jutland. In the last two years of the war she served in turn as a depot ship at Bremerhaven and an accommodation ship at Kiel, and was one of the small force of warships that Germany was permitted to retain by the Versailles Treaty for coastal defence in the post-war years.

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Small Arms

Pistole 08

Pistole 08
Pistole 08

Generally known as the “Luger”, the Pistole 08 is amongst the most celebrated pistols ever placed in production. The first Luger pistols for military service were manufactured in 1900 to meet a Swiss order, and the type was also adopted by the German navy during 1904 and then by the German Army in 1908. It was this last order that led to the designation P 08, which became the most important of some 35 or more Luger pistol variants.

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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

Manually operated rudder after loss of stern to torpedo in 1942

Manually operated rudder after loss of stern to torpedo in 1942
Manually operated rudder after loss of stern to torpedo in 1942

While at Lofjord after being torpedoed, the entire stern of Prinz Eugen needed to be rebuilt, while the main repair needed was to her rudder. It proved impossible to make adequate arrangements in Lofjord, and so two jury-rigged rudders that had to be operated by hand using capstans were fitted. In May 1942 Prinz Eugen sailed for Germany but was spotted by the RAF and attacked while at sea. In spite of her poor steering apparatus, the German cruiser managed to avoid being hit.

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Commanders

Commanders

Ewald von Kleist

Ewald von Kleist
Ewald von Kleist

Born in 1885, Kleist saw service in World War I with the hussars. A corps commander during the invasion of Poland in 1939, he led a panzer group during the fall of France in May-June 1940. Although initially inexperienced in the proper use of armoured forces, he learnt quickly and had able subordinates such as Guderian and Zeitzler. Thus, by the spring of 1941 he was equipped to command mobile forces, and his First Panzer Group achieved rapid success in the Balkans campaign. During Barbarossa, his panzer group was attached to Army Group South, taking part in the great Uman and Kiev encirclements, before being ordered north to close the southern part of the Vyazma encirclement. On October 6, 1941, his panzer group became the First Panzer Army; it had taken Rostov by November, but was then forced to withdraw from the city and spend the winter of 1941-42 on the defensive.

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