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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

Blohm und Voss Bv 141

Blohm und Voss Bv 141
Blohm und Voss Bv 141

In 1937 the Luftfahrtministerium (German Air Ministry) issued a requirement for a single-engined three-seat tactical reconnaissance aeroplane, drawing submissions from Focke Wulf in the form of its Fw 189, and Blohm und Voss’s Bv 141 design. Much emphasis was placed on the need for good visibility, and in response the Bv 141 had a highly unusual asymmetric layout with the fully glazed crew nacelle offset to starboard of the centreline and a boom (carrying the engine at its front and a tail unit at its rear) offset to port.

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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

Bismarck

Bismarck
Bismarck

Together with her sister ship, Tirpitz, the Bismarck was the pride of Hitler’s navy, and was viewed with alarm by the Royal Navy. Launched in February 1939 and completed in August 1940, she underwent sea trials in the Baltic and in May 1941 she sailed in company with the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen to attack Allied commerce in the Atlantic.

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Small Arms

MG 34

MG 34
MG 34

The Maschinengewehr 34 was designed by engineers at the Mauser factory at Obendorff, and major features of this superb machine gun included a quick-change barrel, connection of major components by bayonet catches, high-impact plastic stock, combined recoil booster and flash hider, straight-through design, and a system in which pressure on the upper and lower parts of the trigger produced semi-automatic and automatic fire respectively.

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Tracked Vehicles

PaK 40 (SF)

PaK 40 (SF)
PaK 40 (SF)

With the capture of so many vehicles following the fall of France in June 1940, the Germans set about converting them for their own use. This was not an immediate decision, as the army was flushed with victory and few believed that large numbers of non-German armoured fighting vehicles would be needed. It was only with the huge losses experienced on the Eastern Front, plus the appearance of the Soviet T-34, that prompted the necessity for large numbers of antitank platforms. One such vehicle was the PaK40 (SF), a self-propelled antitank gun on a light tank chassis. The conversion was unusual in that the engine was left in the rear.

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Caption Competition

Hitler and Mackenesen
Hitler and Mackenesen

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Photo Galleries

The funeral of Heydrich

The funeral of Heydrich
The funeral of Heydrich

The funeral of Reinhard Heydrich. Immediately after the attack, Heydrich’s injuries were not thought life threatening, but he had in fact suffered severe damage to his left lung and spleen, while it is thought that horsehair from the car upholstery was forced into his body and became infected. He died on 4 June. Nazi reprisals were swift: in the village of Lidice, suspected of hiding the assassins, 199 men were killed while 190 women and children were sent to concentration camps. In another village, Lezaky, all 33 adult men and women were later shot.

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Commanders

Commanders

Hermann Göring

Hermann Göring
Hermann Göring

Born in Rosenheim, Bavaria, to minor gentry, he joined an infantry regiment in World War I, but arthritis made him unfit for his duties. By pulling strings he became a fighter pilot and established himself as one of Germany’s aces with 22 victories.

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