Welcome to the new German War Machine, a non-political website home to a wealth of free content on the German Armed Forces in World War II. With authoritative text supported by videos, photographs and maps, German War Machine provides insight and information on every aspect of Germany’s military forces – land, sea and air – between 1939 and 1945. It is also home to a unique series of handy Rapid Reads ebooks.
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.
The 8.8cm Panzerabwehrkanone 43 was a Krupp development of the proposed PaK 42. Entering service late in 1943, this equipment proved itself to be the best anti-tank gun of World War II. The weapon possessed a low silhouette and was also protected by a well-sloped shield, and its potency was revealed by the fact that the PaK 43 was the only German weapon able to penetrate the thick and well-sloped armour of the Soviet IS heavy tanks, and then at ranges well in excess of those offered by smaller-calibre guns.
The mighty battleship Tirpitz was laid down in October 1936 and was originally known as Schlachtschiff G or Ersatz Schleswig-Holstein (Replacement Schleswig-Holstein). She was launched on 1 April 1939 and completed in February 1941. From early 1942 she was based at various locations in Norway, and on 8 September 1943 she sailed from Altenfjord to bombard shore installations on Spitzbergen – the only time she fired her guns in anger against a surface target. On 22 September she was damaged in an attack by British midget submarines, and on 3 April 1944 she was further damaged in an attack by carrier aircraft of the British Fleet Air Arm, sustaining 14 bomb hits and suffering 122 dead. She was subjected to further attacks by the Fleet Air Arm in August 1944, but sustained only minor bomb hits.
Generally known as the “Luger”, the Pistole 08 is amongst the most celebrated pistols ever placed in production. The first Luger pistols for military service were manufactured in 1900 to meet a Swiss order, and the type was also adopted by the German navy during 1904 and then by the German Army in 1908. It was this last order that led to the designation P 08, which became the most important of some 35 or more Luger pistol variants.
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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German infantry attaching a new belt of ammunition to the MG34. It is unclear whether this is a training photograph or taken during real action. Belts were supplied in a fixed length of 50 rounds, but could be linked up to make longer belts for sustained firing. A 250 round belt was also issued to machine guns installed in fixed emplacements such as bunkers. Ammunition boxes contained 250 rounds in five belts that were linked to make one continuous 100 round belt and one 150 round belt.
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.