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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 Bf 110

Messerschmitt Bf 110
Messerschmitt Bf 110

During the 1930s air strategists believed twin-engine “heavy fighters” to be essential to offensive air operations. As was happening elsewhere at the same time, in 1934 the Reichsluftfahrtministerium issued a requirement for a machine capable of tackling aircraft, including single-seat fighters, sent up to intercept the bombers; it was to make up in firepower what it lacked in manoeuvrability and was dubbed Zerstörer (destroyer). Messerschmitt’s prototype Bf 110V1 first flew in May 1936 and the production Bf 110 entered service as the Bf 110B with two 700hp (522kW) Junkers Jumo 210 engines. Only 45 were built before the advent of the Bf 110C with two Daimler-Benz DB 601 engines, which had seven sub-variants, and the Bf 110D, built in three.

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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

Walther P38

Walther P38
Walther P38

The Pistole 38, another semi-automatic weapon from the Walther stable, entered service with the German armed forces in 1938 as successor to the P 08. It embodied a double-action trigger mechanism developed from the earlier Models PP and PPK, and also featured the signal pin which extended beside the hammer when there was a round in the chamber.

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Tracked Vehicles

Creating the Panzer Army

A column of Panzer I and II tanks
A column of Panzer I and II tanks

To many, the German War Machine is synonymous with rumbling armored monsters toting enormous guns: the ‘Panzers’ of war films and the popular imagination. Late-war vehicles like the Tiger I, Panther, and King Tiger tanks have gained almost mythological status amongst wargamers and modellers.

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Free Media

Caption Competition

Hitler and Mackenesen
Hitler and Mackenesen

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Photo Galleries

Soviet troops drive forward into Berlin riding atop a Josef Stalin JS-2 tank. The Wehrmacht had little to put in the way of the mass of heavy machinery that the Red Army (and also the western Allies) could call on in their final drive into the German heartland.

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Commanders

Commanders

Heinz Guderian

Heinz Guderian
Heinz Guderian

Born in Chelmno in 1888, Guderian became a communications specialist in the German Army and then, after World War I, an advocate of mechanized warfare. In 1934, now a colonel, he became Chief of Staff of the Motorized Troops Command Staff, and in October 1935 assumed command of one of the first three panzer divisions, the 2nd. Guderian stayed with his division until February 1938, thereafter heading XVI Corps headquarters and taking part in the takeover of Austria in March 1938. Hitler was impressed by Guderian and made him Chief of Mobile Troops with the rank of General of Panzer Troops.

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