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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

Junkers Ju 87

Junkers Ju 87
Junkers Ju 87

Newsreels of Ju 87 Stuka dive-bombers peeling off to begin their near vertical attacks are some of the most familiar images of the war. The Ju 87 was planned as a Stuka (short for Sturzkampfluzeug, or “dive-bomber”) a name that became synonymous with the type, to provide ‘flying artillery’ to support the armoured forces that would spearhead Germany’s Blitzkrieg (lightning war) tactics, and is forever associated with the success of that strategy early in the war. The aircraft first flew in 1935 with twin vertical tail surfaces and a British Rolls-Royce (RR) Kestrel engine, but was then developed into the Ju 87A initial production model (200 aircraft) with a single vertical surface, the 507kW (680hp) Junkers Jumo 210 inverted-Vee engine, trousered landing gear (to improve the aerodynamic efficiency of the no-retracting undercarriage) and a crutch to swing the bomb away from the fuselage before release.

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Artillery

Flak 36/37

Flak 36/37
Flak 36/37

Production of Germany’s first modern light anti-aircraft gun, the FlaK 18, ended in 1936 to allow manufacture of an improved model, the 3.7cm FlaK 36, that was the FlaK 18 gun on a new mounting carried on a two-wheeled carriage and served by an eight-man detachment.

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Ships

Scharnhorst

Scharnhorst
Scharnhorst

Laid down at Wilhelmshaven in April 1934 and launched in October 1936, the Scharnhorst and her sister ship Gneisenau were modelled on the uncompleted “Mackensen” class battlecruisers of World War I. Up until 1942 the pair operated as a single battle group, but after the “Channel Dash” of February that year – in which Scharnhorst was mined twice while en route from Brest to Kiel – she operated alone.

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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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Commanders

Commanders

Walther Model

Walther Model
Walther Model

Model, born in 1891, fought in the German Army in World War I and won the Iron Cross (both classes), ending the war a lieutenant. During the inter-war years he became a believer in mechanized warfare, and after Hitler came to power in 1933 he made a favourable impression on the Führer and the Nazi hierarchy.

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