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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

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

Stug III 10.5cm

Stug III 10.5cm
Stug III 10.5cm

Introduced to service in August 1942 and otherwise known as the Sturmhaubitze 42 Ausf F, the five-man 10.5cm Feldhaubitze 42 was basically identical to the Sturmgeschütz 40 Ausf F (SdKfz 142/1) in all major essentials except its armament, which was the powerful 10.5cm Sturmhaubitze 42, an L/18 weapon based on the 10.5cm leichte Feldhaubitze 18. This was installed in an armoured mounting in the front of the raised superstructure of welded steel armour that replaced the turret (as above).

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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 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

Brummbär

Brummbär
Brummbär

The Sturmpanzer IV (Brummbär) carried the 150mm StuH43 gun on a standard Panzer IV chassis. It was developed by Alkett, who designed the superstructure, while Krupp redesigned the Panzer IV chassis. Hitler, thinking they could be more potent than the StuG III, ordered the Brummbär into production at the end of 1942. Initial production began in April 1943, with a first batch of 60 being completed by May (this series had an armour plate 50mm [1.96in] thick bolted on to the basic 50mm- [1.96in-] thick hull front).

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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

Ewald von Kleist

Ewald von Kleist
Ewald von Kleist

Born in 1885, Kleist saw service in World War I with the hussars. A corps commander during the invasion of Poland in 1939, he led a panzer group during the fall of France in May-June 1940. Although initially inexperienced in the proper use of armoured forces, he learnt quickly and had able subordinates such as Guderian and Zeitzler. Thus, by the spring of 1941 he was equipped to command mobile forces, and his First Panzer Group achieved rapid success in the Balkans campaign. During Barbarossa, his panzer group was attached to Army Group South, taking part in the great Uman and Kiev encirclements, before being ordered north to close the southern part of the Vyazma encirclement. On October 6, 1941, his panzer group became the First Panzer Army; it had taken Rostov by November, but was then forced to withdraw from the city and spend the winter of 1941-42 on the defensive.

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