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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

Arado Ar 234 Blitz

Arado Ar 234
Arado Ar 234

The Blitz (Lightning) was the only turbojet-powered bomber to achieve operational status in World War II and is a milestone in military aviation’s development. Its evolution dates from a 1940 requirement issued by the German Air Ministry (Luftfahrtministerium) for a fast reconnaissance aeroplane. An intensive programme of design and development resulted in no fewer than 18 prototypes, featuring a powerplant of two Junkers 004 or four BMW 003 turbojets, provision for rocket-assisted take-off units, a cabin with or without pressurization and an ejection seat, and a clumsy combination of a drop-away trolley for take-off and extendible skids for landing. A ­­­few of these prototypes were used from July 1944 by the reconnaissance units (Aufklärungsgruppe).

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Artillery

Feldkanone 38

Feldkanone 38
Feldkanone 38

A piece of light field artillery used by the German Army only to a limited degree, the 7.5cm Feldkanone 38 was based on a design created and manufactured by the arms manufacturer Krupp in response to an order from the Brazilian Army, which received 64 such equipments with six-baffle muzzle brakes and large-diameter spoked wooden wheels inside steel tyres (as shown).

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Ships

Tirpitz

Tirpitz
Tirpitz

The mighty battleship Tirpitz was laid down in October 1936 and was originally known as Schlachtschiff G or Ersatz Schleswig-Holstein (Replacement Schleswig-Holstein). She was launched on 1 April 1939 and completed in February 1941. From early 1942 she was based at various locations in Norway, and on 8 September 1943 she sailed from Altenfjord to bombard shore installations on Spitzbergen – the only time she fired her guns in anger against a surface target. On 22 September she was damaged in an attack by British midget submarines, and on 3 April 1944 she was further damaged in an attack by carrier aircraft of the British Fleet Air Arm, sustaining 14 bomb hits and suffering 122 dead. She was subjected to further attacks by the Fleet Air Arm in August 1944, but sustained only minor bomb hits.

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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

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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Caption Competition

Hitler and Mackenesen
Hitler and Mackenesen

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Photo Galleries

The commander of the Berlin garrison, General Helmuth Weidling, leaving the Reichs Chancellory bunker to sign the formal surrender of the city to the Red Army. The fighting stopped about two days later. Weidling surrendered to Vasiliy Chuikov, who had commanded the Russian 64th and 62nd Armies that hung on grimly in Stalingrad in 1942, and for the Soviets it was fitting that he should take the surrender of the Berlin garrison.

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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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