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Timelines

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

Messerschmitt Me 410

In 1937 Messerschmitt began developing the Bf 210, planned as a more versatile successor to the Bf 110. In June 1939 an order for 1000 aircraft was placed “off the drawing board”, but after prototype Me 210V1 had revealed flight instability and landing gear problems, progress foundered. Production aircraft were delivered from late 1941 but in service it was a complete flop and production ended after 352 machines. The failure of the Me 210 nearly cost Willy Messerschmitt his job. Key aspects of the design were changed to produce the Me 410, which proved to be an altogether more capable as well as more successful warplane. The Me 210’s failings had in fact been solved just before its cancellation, and it was from this type that the Me 410 was evolved, with basically the same revised aerodynamic and structural features in combination with modified outer wing panels and the different powerplant of two Daimler-Benz DB 603A inverted-Vee piston engines. The Me 410 first flew in prototype form in autumn 1942, and there followed 1137 production aircraft in variants such as the Me 410A (three major variants) and the Me 410B. Five major variants of the 410B were produced with the DB 603G engines. The B-5 anti-shipping torpedo bomber, the B-7 day reconnaissance and B-8 night reconnaissance aircraft were still in the experimental stage at the war’s end.

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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

Köln

Köln
Köln

Completed in May 1928, Köln was one of a class of three light cruisers in the German Navy, the others being the Königsberg and Karlsruhe. Köln was in action from the very first day of World War II, taking part in minelaying operations in the North Sea with Admiral Densch’s Reconnaissance Force.

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Small Arms

Karabiner 98K

Karabiner 98K
Karabiner 98K

In World War I the German Army decided that its standard rifle, the Gewehr 98, was too long for effective use. There was little that could be done at the time, but by 1924 Mauser had developed a rifle shorter than its Gewehr 98 and based on its “Standard” model for export sales: this was manufactured in Belgium and other countries, but did not enter German production until 1935 as the Karabiner 98k (the letter suffix standing for kurz, or short).

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Tracked Vehicles

PzKpwf M15/42

PzKpwf M15/42
PzKpwf M15/42

When the Italian Army received an updated model of its medium tank, designated M15/42, the German Army reaped the rewards. The Italians quit the Axis in September 1943 (only 82 had been delivered to the Italian Army before this date), and the German Army took control of 92 of the new tanks. Overall they still had many of the faults typical of Italian armoured fighting vehicles, but they did give the Germans some sorely needed fighting vehicles in the Italian theatre.

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Caption Competition

Hitler and Mackenesen
Hitler and Mackenesen

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Photo Galleries

MG34 machine gun

MG34 machine gun
MG34 machine gun

Maschinengewehr 34, the MG34, here seen with receiver mounted bipod which could be secured at the breech but also attach at the end of the barrel jacket as a mobile infantry support weapon. The sights of the weapon are particularly clearly shown in this photograph. The MG34 came with a standard iron sight consisting of a notched ‘V’ sight mounted to a post in the rear and a single blade at the front. The sight was calibrated for ranges between 200 and 2000 metres in 100 metre increments.

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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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