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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

Heinkel He 60

Heinkel He 60
Heinkel He 60

One of the last of the many floatplanes designed by Ernst Heinkel was the He 60, a two-seat biplane powered by a BMW vee engine. This was intended for catapult operations from the decks of the larger German warships, and first flew in 1933 in prototype form. The 492kW (660hp) BMW V1 engine was subsequently replaced in the second He 60B prototype by a 559kW (750hp) version of the same engine, but this offered no significant improvement and was not adopted for subsequent aircraft. The third He 60c prototype had catapult launching equipment and underwent a series of trials that confirmed its suitability for operational use.

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Artillery

S IG 33

S IG 33
S IG 33

Of all the German infantry support guns produced for service in World War II, the most capable and powerful was the 15cm schwere Infanteriegeschütz 33. Produced by the Rheinmetall-Borsig company from 1927, the s IG 33 was a large item of equipment that gave the impression, largely as a result of its steel wheels with a diameter of 1.10m (43.3in), of being somewhat old fashioned. In this instance appearance was deceptive, for the s IG 33 was capable and very reliable, and as a result the weapon remained in large-scale service right up to the end of World War II in 1945.

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Ships

Lützow

Lützow
Lützow

Originally named Deutschland, the Lützow was one of three armoured ships – the so-called “pocket battleships” – laid down between 1928 and 1931. Deutschland was the first of the class, being launched in May 1931 and completed in April 1933. She was originally used as a seagoing training ship, to familiarize crews with her new technology.

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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

Panzerjäger

Panzerjäger
Panzerjäger

This vehicle was the first of Germany’s “tank hunters”, and consisted of a Czech 47mm antitank gun on a Panzer I Ausf B chassis (which by early 1940 was obsolete as a frontline tank). Some 170 tank chassis were converted by Alkett of Berlin-Spandau between March 1940 and February 1941.

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Hitler and Mackenesen
Hitler and Mackenesen

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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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