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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

Junkers Ju 52

Junkers Ju 52
Junkers Ju 52

The Tante Ju (“Auntie Ju”) was the main workhorse of the Luftwaffe transport units for the duration of the war. It was intended as a replacement for the highly successful W 33 and W 34 transports of 1927, and planned from that time as an enlarged version of the same basic design concept with the stressed, corrugated metal skin characteristic of Junkers aircraft. It first flew in prototype form during October 1930 with one 541kW (725hp) BMW VII Vee engine. The Ju 52a to Ju 52d initial production models for the civil market differed only in the type of engine used, but with the Ju 52/3m a three-engined powerplant was introduced for greater payload and performance. Most early Ju 52/3m versions were 15- to 17-seat passenger airliners which sold all over the world, at one time making up 75 per cent of the Lufthansa fleet.

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Artillery

Gebirgsgeschütz 36

Gebirgsgeschütz 36
Gebirgsgeschütz 36

It was in 1935 that Rheinmetall-Borsig, working on the basis of a requirement issued by the German Army, embarked on the process of developing a new piece of thoroughly modern light artillery for service with Germany’s mountain infantry formations. The new gun/howitzer was to become the standard gun of the artillery batteries supporting such infantry and was, of course, to be of the pack type so that the entire weapon could be broken down into loads which could each be carried by a draft animal, most typically a mule. The resulting weapon entered service in 1938 as the 7.5cm Gebirgsgeschütz 36, whose unusual features included variable recoil facility and a large muzzle brake of the pepperpot type.

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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

MG 34

MG 34
MG 34

The Maschinengewehr 34 was designed by engineers at the Mauser factory at Obendorff, and major features of this superb machine gun included a quick-change barrel, connection of major components by bayonet catches, high-impact plastic stock, combined recoil booster and flash hider, straight-through design, and a system in which pressure on the upper and lower parts of the trigger produced semi-automatic and automatic fire respectively.

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Tracked Vehicles

StuG III Ausf B

StuG III Ausf B
StuG III Ausf B

The Sturmgeschütz (assault gun) - an armoured self-propelled gun to support infantry assaults - was first requested in 1936. The chassis of the Panzer III was selected for the assault gun, with the first gun being the 75mm StuK37 L/24. In the quest for a low silhouette an all-round traverse was abandoned. Fitted low in the hull front plate, the gun had a 12-degree traverse to the left and right, and an elevation of 10 degrees and a depression of 10 degrees.

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Hitler and Mackenesen
Hitler and Mackenesen

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Photo Galleries

Kreta, The Last Jump

Kreta, The Last Jump
Kreta, The Last Jump

Crete, May 1941. A Fallschirmjager mortar team head off one way as their comrades take another path. Crete was the last major air drop carried out by these elite Luftwaffe troops due to the severe losses suffered. Earlier campaigns in Norway and the Low Countries were very successful for these brave fighters. Later, they fought well as infantry on the Eastern Front and in Italy, especially during the attacks on Monte Cassino in 1944.

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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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