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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

Dornier Do 17

Dornier Do 17
Dornier Do 17

Designed as a fast mailplane (with single-fin tail surfaces) for Deutsche Lufthansa and first flown in 1934, the Do 17 was rejected by the airline and then developed by Dornier as a high-speed bomber with twin vertical tail surfaces. The aircraft entered service in early 1937, gaining the nickname “The Flying Pencil” on account of its slender rear fuselage. The first two military variants were the Do 17E-1 and Do 17F-1 for the high-speed bomber and long-range photo-reconnaissance roles respectively, the latter with additional fuel and the internal bomb bay revised to carry two cameras. The two types offered good performance and adequate all-round capabilities for their day, but by 1939 were obsolescent.

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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

Scharnhorst

Scharnhorst
Scharnhorst

Laid down at Wilhelmshaven in April 1934 and launched in October 1936, the Scharnhorst and her sister ship Gneisenau were modelled on the uncompleted “Mackensen” class battlecruisers of World War I. Up until 1942 the pair operated as a single battle group, but after the “Channel Dash” of February that year – in which Scharnhorst was mined twice while en route from Brest to Kiel – she operated alone.

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Small Arms

Gewehr 43

Gewehr 43
Gewehr 43

When they evaluated the Tokarev semi-automatic rifle, of which they captured numerous examples in 1941 and 1942, the Germans quickly appreciated that the Soviet gas-operated system offered several advantages over the modified Bang system used in their Gewehr 41 weapons. It was seen that the Russian gas-operated mechanism had many advantages over the system used on the Gew 41. The Gew 41(W) was already in production, but the Germans now modified the action to a system modelled closely on that of the Soviet self-loading rifle to create the Gewehr 43 firing the German Army’s standard 7.92mm cartridge.

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Tracked Vehicles

Tiger I

Tiger I
Tiger I

The Tiger I originated from competition between Henschel, Porsche, MAN and Daimler-Benz to produce a heavy tank. The winner was Henschel, and the new vehicle entered production in August 1942. It was the first tank to be fitted with an overlapping road wheel suspension, arranged with triple overlapping and interleaved steel wheels. The Tiger had eight independently sprung torsion bar axles on each side. The result was a very stable and soft ride for such a large tank. However, the interleaved wheels became clogged with mud in wet conditions, which then jammed the wheels if temperatures dropped below freezing.

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Free Media

Caption Competition

Hitler and Mackenesen
Hitler and Mackenesen

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Photo Galleries

Belgian Blitzkrieg

Belgian Blitzkrieg
Belgian Blitzkrieg

May 1940. An 88mm gun model Flak 18 and crew pass Wehrmacht motorcycles (a BMW R18 and a DKW NZ350) alongside a British Morris C8. The Germans made use of captured vehicles of all kinds, sometimes for jobs they were not designed to do.

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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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