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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

Messerschmitt Me 323 Gigant

Originally planned as a heavy tank and troop transport glider, and first flown on 25 February 1941, the Me 321 V1 prototype had a single-crew member and a substantial cargo hold that could accommodate some 200 troops or 20,000kg (44,092lb) of freight. The Me 321A-1 entered service in late in 1941, followed by the Me 321B-1 with a crew of three and two defensive machine-guns. Luftwaffe transport pilots found that the Me 321 handled adequately in the air, but lacked a suitably powerful tug (even the extraordinary five-engined Heinkel He 111Z proved inadequate). This led to further development as the Me 323 with multi-wheel landing gear, structural strengthening and six Gnome-Rhòne radial engines from captured French stocks.

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Artillery

Flakvierling 38

Flakvierling 38
Flakvierling 38

The 2cm Flakvierling 38 quadruple 20mm mounting was highly respected by Allied airmen operating at low level. Designed by Mauser for German naval use, the Flakvierling 38 entered production for the army and air force during 1940. The Flakvierling 38 combined four FlaK 38 barrels on an adapted version of the FlaK 38’s carriage, and while the standard sight was the Flakvisier 40 or improved Flakvisier 40A, provision was being made for radar direction by the end of World War II.

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Ships

Köln

Köln
Köln

Completed in May 1928, Köln was one of a class of three light cruisers in the German Navy, the others being the Königsberg and Karlsruhe. Köln was in action from the very first day of World War II, taking part in minelaying operations in the North Sea with Admiral Densch’s Reconnaissance Force.

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Small Arms

Karabiner 98K

Karabiner 98K
Karabiner 98K

In World War I the German Army decided that its standard rifle, the Gewehr 98, was too long for effective use. There was little that could be done at the time, but by 1924 Mauser had developed a rifle shorter than its Gewehr 98 and based on its “Standard” model for export sales: this was manufactured in Belgium and other countries, but did not enter German production until 1935 as the Karabiner 98k (the letter suffix standing for kurz, or short).

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Tracked Vehicles

Panzer V Ausf D

Panzer V Ausf D
Panzer V Ausf D

After the shock of encountering the T-34 in late 1941, Hitler ordered the development of a similar tank in the 30-ton class. He ordered the MAN design into production on 14 May 1942, with factory lines beginning work in December. The Führer demanded that 250 be ready for his summer 1943 offensive on the Russian Front.

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Caption Competition

Hitler and Mackenesen
Hitler and Mackenesen

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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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