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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

Messerschmitt Me 262

Messerschmitt Me 262
Messerschmitt Me 262

The Messerschmitt Me 262 Schwalbe (‘swallow’) was the world’s first operational jet fighter and the fastest aircraft of World War II. Its development started back in the mid 1930s, when the German engineer Hans von Ohain began work on jet engines, but was not formalized into a specification for a twin-engined fighter until 1939. The aircraft had a difficult development period, partly because of the enormous complexity of realizing such a radical experimental design and partly because of skepticism among senior figures in the Luftwaffe. Despite slashed budgets and institutional indifference, work on the prototype progressed steadily, and on 18 July 1942 it made its first jet powered flight.

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Artillery

LE FH 18

LE FH 18
LE FH 18

The 10.5cm le FH 18 was designed and developed by Rheinmetall from 1928 and entered service in 1935 as what became the standard medium field howitzer of the German Army up to 1945. The le FH 18 was a completely orthodox but capable and reliable weapon given a somewhat obsolescent look as a result of its large wheels. The type was latter adapted as the le FH 18.M with a muzzle brake to reduce the recoil forces, and could fire a wide variety of shells including high explosive, smoke, tracer, hollow-charge and incendiary.

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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

MG 08

MG 08
MG 08

The Schwere Maschinengewehr 08 (specification at left) was one of Germany’s most important weapons of World War I, and numbers remained in service up to the outbreak of World War II as there were insufficient MG 34 weapons to replace them. By 1942 the s MG 08 had been retired to second-line duties.

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Tracked Vehicles

Marder II

Marder II
Marder II

The Marder II antitank vehicle was essentially a 75mm Pak 40/2 gun mated to a Panzer II chassis. By May 1942 the combat effectiveness of the Panzer II (still being produced at a rate of 50 per month) was being questioned - it was certainly obsolete by this date. As a result, early in June it was decided that half the production would be given to mounting the Pak 40 gun on the Panzer II chassis, though assembly was cut short in June 1943 to concentrate on production of the Wespe.

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Free Media

Caption Competition

Hitler and Mackenesen
Hitler and Mackenesen

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Photo Galleries

Infantry combat during Operation Barbarossa

Infantry combat during Operation Barbarossa
Infantry combat during Operation Barbarossa

German infantry fire on a Soviet bunker beside a burning Red Army GAZ AA or AAA armoured scout car during Operation Barbarossa in June 1941. The vehicle resembles a BA-10 armoured car, which was mounted on the AAA three axle chassis but this is clearly not one of these as it has a running board and they did not. The BA-10 also had a 50mm gun in a turret. There are no signs of the type of damage that the blowing off of a turret would cause.

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Commanders

Commanders

Josef Goebbels

Josef Goebbels
Josef Goebbels

It is a little-known fact that the Minister of Propaganda was opposed to a European war. He realized that Germany would be taking unnecessary risks and that her position of power would be weakened. Despite the victories of 1940 Goebbels said: “We must not fool ourselves. It will be a long and difficult war. Its outcome will not depend on boisterous victory parties but on a determination to do one’s daily duty.” He was probably the only Nazi leader to correctly judge the length and gravity of the war.

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