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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

Dornier Do 217

Dornier Do 217
Dornier Do 217

The Do 217 was Dornier’s response to a 1937 requirement for a long-range warplane optimized for the heavy level and dive-bombing roles, though later it was used in a variety of roles, even as a test bed for missile development. The Do 217 was in essence a scaled-up Do 215 version of the Do 17, and first flew in August 1938. The first operational model was the Do 217E of which some 800 aircraft were built in Do 217E-0 to Do 217E-4 sub-variants with BMW 801 radial engines. These were followed by the Do 217J, a night-fighter developed from the E which was structurally similar except for a redesigned solid armoured nose with a forward-firing armament comprising four 20mm MG FF cannon. It proved to be a potent aircraft.

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Artillery

PAK 35/36

PAK 35/36
PAK 35/36

The 3.7cm PaK 35/36 entered service in 1936. More than 15,000 such weapons had been completed in Germany by 1941, and the type was also built under licence by other countries. Experience proved that by the standards of the day the PaK 35/36 was excellent, and the weapon strongly influenced the design of other guns: the American 37mm M3, for example, was a close copy.

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Ships

Gneisenau

Gneisenau
Gneisenau

The battlecruiser Gneisenau was launched in December 1936 and completed in May 1938. She was upgraded in the following year and made her first Atlantic sortie, with her sister ship, Scharnhorst, in November 1939, sinking the British auxiliary cruiser Rawalpindi. She was damaged by gunfire from the British battlecruiser Renown off Norway on 9 April 1940, but on 8 June she and Scharnhorst sank the British aircraft carrier Glorious and her escorting destroyers Ardent and Acasta. On 20 June 1940 she was torpedoed by the Royal Navy submarine HMS Clyde off Trondheim. In January 1941, again with the Scharnhorst, she made another sortie into the Atlantic, the two sinking 22 merchant ships – a moderately successful action.

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Small Arms

Walther PP

Walther PP
Walther PP

A semi-automatic pistol that was first delivered in 1929, the Walther Model PP had been designed for police use as indicated by its full designation, Polizei Pistole (police pistol). The pistol used the Walther double-action trigger mechanism that was also used on the later P 38, and other features included a lightweight receiver and, next to the hammer, a signal button that protruded when the weapon was loaded. In overall terms the design was light and slim.

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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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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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