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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

Arado Ar 234 Blitz

Arado Ar 234
Arado Ar 234

The Blitz (Lightning) was the only turbojet-powered bomber to achieve operational status in World War II and is a milestone in military aviation’s development. Its evolution dates from a 1940 requirement issued by the German Air Ministry (Luftfahrtministerium) for a fast reconnaissance aeroplane. An intensive programme of design and development resulted in no fewer than 18 prototypes, featuring a powerplant of two Junkers 004 or four BMW 003 turbojets, provision for rocket-assisted take-off units, a cabin with or without pressurization and an ejection seat, and a clumsy combination of a drop-away trolley for take-off and extendible skids for landing. A ­­­few of these prototypes were used from July 1944 by the reconnaissance units (Aufklärungsgruppe).

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Artillery

Flakpanzer Wirbelwind

Flakpanzer Wirbelwind
Flakpanzer Wirbelwind

A tactically important weapon that entered service in December 1943 to provide German armoured forces with a high level of air defence against low-flying attack aircraft, the five-man Flakpanzer IV (2cm) mit PzFgst Panzer IV/3 Wirbelwind (whirlwind) was based on the chassis of the PzKpfw IV Ausf J medium tank.

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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

FG 42

FG 42
FG 42

The German paratroop arm was an element of the air force, and many of its weapons were therefore different from those of the army. Thus when the army issued its specification for an assault rifle, the air force decided not to adopt the 7.92mm kurz (short) intermediate-power round and therefore contracted with Rheinmetall-Borsig for an assault rifle suitable for airborne use and chambered for the original 7.92mm high-power round.

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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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Caption Competition

Hitler and Mackenesen
Hitler and Mackenesen

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Commanders

Commanders

Walther Model

Walther Model
Walther Model

Model, born in 1891, fought in the German Army in World War I and won the Iron Cross (both classes), ending the war a lieutenant. During the inter-war years he became a believer in mechanized warfare, and after Hitler came to power in 1933 he made a favourable impression on the Führer and the Nazi hierarchy.

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