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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

Focke Wulf Fw 190

Focke Wulf Fw 190
Focke Wulf Fw 190

This outstanding aircraft was in fact the only new fighter design to enter service with the Luftwaffe during the war. The prototype flew in June 1939 and after an intensive development programme in which both vee and radial engines were trialled, the Fw 190A entered production with a BMW 801 radial engine. The 40 Fw 190A-0 pre-production aircraft were followed by 100 Fw 190A-1 fighters, and the type entered service in the autumn of 1940. Although well known to the Allies prior to the war, the Fw 190 caused a nasty shock when it was first encountered over France in May 1941. It was light, manoeuvrable, fast, powerfully armed and immensely strong.

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Artillery

Stug III 7.5cm

Stug III 7.5cm
Stug III 7.5cm

Otherwise known as the 7.5cm Sturmgeschütz III, the 7.5cm Sturmgeschütz 40 was produced in three SdKfz 142/1 versions as the definitive models of the assault gun series based on the chassis of the PzKpfw III medium tank. The first variants of this four-man vehicle were armed with the 7.5cm KwK L/24 short-barrel gun, and were the StuG III Ausf A that was produced in 1940, the StuG III Ausf B/D with chassis variations, and the StuG III Ausf E of 1942 with an additional armoured pannier on the right-hand side for radio equipment when used as a unit commander’s vehicle.

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Ships

Schleswig-Holstein

Schleswig-Holstein
Schleswig-Holstein

The Schleswig-Holstein was one of a class of five pre-dreadnought battleships, laid down in 1902–04. She was launched in December 1906, completed in July 1908 and subsequently served with the German High Seas Fleet, seeing action in the Battle of Jutland. In the last two years of the war she served in turn as a depot ship at Bremerhaven and an accommodation ship at Kiel, and was one of the small force of warships that Germany was permitted to retain by the Versailles Treaty for coastal defence in the post-war years.

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Small Arms

Walther P38

Walther P38
Walther P38

The Pistole 38, another semi-automatic weapon from the Walther stable, entered service with the German armed forces in 1938 as successor to the P 08. It embodied a double-action trigger mechanism developed from the earlier Models PP and PPK, and also featured the signal pin which extended beside the hammer when there was a round in the chamber.

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Tracked Vehicles

Wespe

Wespe
Wespe

In the search for a platform to carry the 105mm leFH18M L/28 howitzer, the chassis of the Panzer II was preferred over those of the Panzer III and IV. The first Wespes proved a great success, and so all Panzer II chassis production was ordered to be used for their manufacture.

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Free Media

Caption Competition

Hitler and Mackenesen
Hitler and Mackenesen

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Photo Galleries

Prinz Eugen at anchor

Prinz Eugen at anchor
Prinz Eugen at anchor

Operation Rheinübung, the break out by Bismarck and Prinz Eugen into the Atlantic, had been planned for late April 1941, but on 23 April Prinz Eugen was damaged by a magnetic mine dropped by British aircraft. Damage was extensive to fuel tanks and propeller shafts, for example, but repairs were made in short order and on 22 May Prinz Eugen escorted Bismarck towards the Denmark Strait between Iceland and Greenland, looking to head for the north Atlantic to prey on Allied merchant shipping. It was during this manoeuvre that Prinz Eugen’s radio-intercept team realised that they had been detected by the Royal Navy and were being shadowed. They were attacked by the Royal Navy battlecruiser Hood and battleship Prince of Wales. Prinz Eugen scored hits on Hood, and then on Price of Wales. Bismarck herself was hit, however, and Prinz Eugen was now ordered to head back to France.

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Commanders

Commanders

Reinhard Heydrich

Reinhard Heydrich
Reinhard Heydrich

He was born in Halle, Saxony, on March 7, 1904, the son of the founder of the Halle Conservatory. He was a rounded individual, possessing exceptional intellectual ability, as well as being an accomplished sportsman. In 1922 he joined the navy as a cadet and was under the orders and tutelage of Canaris, but in April 1931, due to allegations of dishonourable conduct towards a young lady who declared that he had impregnated her, he was brought before an honour court, presided over by Canaris, which found him guilty and dismissed him from the service. He became engaged to Lina von Osten and it was she who was to convert him to Nazism, and he joined the NSDAP in 1931. Lina enlisted the help of Frederich Karl von Eberstein to bring him to Himmler’s notice, which he did on the June 14, 1931. Himmler found him appealing; the interview was short and he came straight to the point: “I want to set up a security and information service within the SS and I need a specialist. If you think you can do this management job, will you please write down on paper how you think you would tackle it, I’ll give you 20 minutes.”

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