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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

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

Jagdtiger

Jagdtiger
Jagdtiger

Introduced to service during February 1944 and otherwise known as the Panzerjäger Tiger Ausf B für 12.8cm PaK 44, the six-man Jagdtiger (hunting tiger) was the last word in the German Army’s search for a tank hunter/destroyer capable of destroying with a single hit any tank fielded or likely to be fielded by the Allied powers.

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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

MP 28

MP 28
MP 28

The Maschinenpistole 28/II sub-machine was in essence a 1928 development of the MP 18/I, which entered service in 1918 as the German Army’s first such weapon, by Hugo Schmeisser for production by Haenel (interestingly, his name would be internationally associated with the later MP 38 and 40, though in fact he had very little to do with these weapons - the association is largely the result of Hollywood fantasy).

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Tracked Vehicles

Grille

Grille
Grille

The Grille was first ordered for construction on the new self-propelled gun chassis that BMM was developing, the resultant vehicle being designated Sf 38(t) Ausf K. However, wartime demands resulted in Panzer 38(t)s being used instead, being converted by BMM as they returned from the front for refits. The standard chassis was fitted with a new fighting compartment superstructure, which had to be extended over the engine compartment in order to accommodate the sIG33/1 L/12 heavy gun and its 15 rounds of ammunition.

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Hitler and Mackenesen
Hitler and Mackenesen

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Photo Galleries

Josef Gabcik

Josef Gabcik
Josef Gabcik

Josef Gabcik, a Slovak, one of the two agents (the other was Jan Kubis) who attacked Heydrich on May 27 1942. The two men had parachuted into the Protectorate in December 1941 as part of a larger group of agents, and spent several months planning ways to kill their target until they decided to attack him on his regular route to and from his home to Prague Castle at a bend in the road where the car would have to slow down.

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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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