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The Race to Berlin (January 1945 - May 1945)

The Race to Berlin (January 1945 - May 1945)

The Battle of Berlin was the final major offensive of the European Theatre of World War II and was designated the Berlin Strategic Offensive Operation by the Soviet Union.

Starting on January 16th, 1945, the Red Army breached the German front as a result of the Vistula-Oder Offensive and rapidly advanced westward as fast as 30-40 kilometres a day, through East Prussia, Lower Silesia, East Pomerania, and Upper Silesia, temporarily halting on a line 60 kilometres east of Berlin along the Oder River. During the offensive, two Soviet fronts (army groups) attacked Berlin from the east and south, while a third overran German forces positioned north of Berlin. The Battle in Berlin lasted from late April 20th, 1945 until the morning of May 2nd and was one of the bloodiest battles in history.

The first defensive preparations at the outskirts of Berlin were on March 20th, when the newly appointed commander of the Army Group Vistula, General Gotthard Heinrici, correctly anticipated that the main Soviet thrust would be made over the Oder River. Before the main battle in Berlin commenced, the Soviets managed to encircle the city as a result of the smaller Battles of the Seelow Heights and Halbe. During April 20th, 1945, the 1st Belorussian Front led by Marshal Georgy Zhukov started shelling Berlin's city centre, while Marshal Ivan Konev's 1st Ukrainian Front had pushed in the north through the last formations of Army Group Centre. The German defences were mainly led by Helmuth Weidling and consisted of several depleted, badly equipped, and disorganised Wehrmacht and Waffen-SS divisions, as well as many Volkssturm and Hitler Youth members. Within the next days, the Soviets were rapidly advancing through the city and were reaching the city centre, conquering the Reichstag on April 30thafter fierce fighting.

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German RW61 Sturmtiger Rocket Assault Mortar - Sturmmorser Kompanie 1001, Germany, 1945 German RW61 Sturmtiger Rocket Assault Mortar - Sturmmorser Kompanie 1001, Germany, 1945 (1:72 Scale)

On August 5th, 1943, a self-propelled vehicle was proposed by senior Army officials based on the Tiger I chassis but mounting a 38cm mortar. Alkett was placed in charge of the design. The Company managed to complete a prototype by October 20th, which was run through a series of field tests for approval.

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German Sd. Kfz. 182 PzKpfw VI King Tiger Ausf. A Heavy Tank with Porsche Turret and Zimmerit - 3./schwere Panzerabteilung 503, Hungary, 1945 German Sd. Kfz. 182 PzKpfw VI King Tiger Ausf. A Heavy Tank with Porsche Turret and Zimmerit - 3./schwere Panzerabteilung 503, Hungary, 1945 (1:72 Scale)

In January 1943, a new Tiger tank was ordered by the Waffenant, this time with a turret large enough to mount the fearsome 8.8cm L/71 gun. Besides improving its tank killing capabilities, the new Tiger was also intended to be more survivable on the battlefield.

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German Sd. Kfz. 182 PzKpfw VI King Tiger Ausf. B Heavy Tank with Henschel Turret and Zimmerit - 1./schwere Panzerabteilung Feldherrnhalle, Hungary, 1945 German Sd. Kfz. 182 PzKpfw VI King Tiger Ausf. B Heavy Tank with Henschel Turret and Zimmerit - 1./schwere Panzerabteilung Feldherrnhalle, Hungary, 1945 (1:72 Scale)

In January 1943, a new Tiger tank was ordered by the Waffenant, this time with a turret large enough to mount the fearsome 8.8cm L/71 gun. Besides improving its tank killing capabilities, the new Tiger was also intended to be more survivable on the battlefield.

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German Sd. Kfz. 171 PzKpfw V Panther Ausf. G Medium Tank with Zimmerit - Fallschirm Panzer Division Hermann Goring, East Prussia, 1945 German Sd. Kfz. 171 PzKpfw V Panther Ausf. G Medium Tank with Zimmerit - Fallschirm Panzer Division 'Hermann Goring', East Prussia, 1945 (1:72 Scale)

In many respects, the Panther tank was viewed as the finest armored fighting vehicle of the Second World War. Based in large part upon the Soviet's highly successful T-34 medium tank, the PzKpfw V Ausfuhrung G was built by several manufacturers including MAN, Daimler-Benz and MNH.

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German Sd. Kfz. 162/1 Jagdpanzer IV L/70 Tank Destroyer - Unidentified Unit, Germany, 1945 German Sd. Kfz. 162/1 Jagdpanzer IV L/70 Tank Destroyer - Unidentified Unit, Germany, 1945 (1:72 Scale)

The Jagdpanzer IV L/70 (A) Zwischenlosung was the last tank to enter service with the Wehrmacht in September 1944. Essentially, German tank designers placed a Jagdpanzer IV turret on a Panzer IV chassis then fitted it with a powerful 75mm L/70(A) gun. The Zwischenlosung proved to be an excellent tank killer even though only 278 vehicles were built by war's end.

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German Sd. Kfz. 142 Sturmhaubitze 42 Ausf. G Assault Gun - Unidentified Unit, Germany, 1945 German Sd. Kfz. 142 Sturmhaubitze '42 Ausf. G Assault Gun - Unidentified Unit, Germany, 1945 (1:72 Scale)

The German Sturmgeschutz (StuG) was one of the most successful armored fighting vehicles of the Second World War. It arose from an original concept of the pre-war panzer divisions, whereby a special vehicle for infantry support work was planned.

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German RW61 Sturmtiger Rocket Assault Mortar - Sturmmorser Kompanie 1001, Germany, 1944 German RW61 Sturmtiger Rocket Assault Mortar - Sturmmorser Kompanie 1001, Germany, 1944 (1:72 Scale)

On August 5th, 1943, a self-propelled vehicle was proposed by senior Army officials based on the Tiger I chassis but mounting a 38cm mortar. Alkett was placed in charge of the design. The Company managed to complete a prototype by October 20th, which was run through a series of field tests for approval.

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German Sd. Kfz. 186 Jagdpanzer VI Jagdtiger Heavy Tank Destroyer German Sd. Kfz. 186 Jagdpanzer VI Jagdtiger Heavy Tank Destroyer (1:72 Scale)

Early in 1943, orders were given to design a heavy, self-propelled anti-tank gun, which would mate a 12.8cm gun with a Tiger II chassis. On October 20th, 1943 a wooden mock-up of the enormous vehicle was shown to the OKH planners who authorized that a prototype be finished by April 1944.

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German Sd. Kfz. 162/1 Jagdpanzer IV L/70 Tank Destroyer - L01, Unidentified Unit, Hungary, 1945 German Sd. Kfz. 162/1 Jagdpanzer IV L/70 Tank Destroyer - "L01", Unidentified Unit, Hungary, 1945 (1:72 Scale)

The Jagdpanzer IV L/70 (A) Zwischenlosung was the last tank to enter service with the Wehrmacht in September 1944. Essentially, German tank designers placed a Jagdpanzer IV turret on a Panzer IV chassis then fitted it with a powerful 75mm L/70(A) gun. The Zwischenlosung proved to be an excellent tank killer even though only 278 vehicles were built by war's end.

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German Late Version Sd. Kfz. 167 Sturmgeschutz IV Assault Gun - Unidentified Unit, Hungary, 1945 German Late Version Sd. Kfz. 167 Sturmgeschutz IV Assault Gun - Unidentified Unit, Hungary, 1945 (1:72 Scale)

The German Sturmgeschutz (StuG) was one of the most successful armored fighting vehicles of the Second World War. It arose from an original concept of the pre-war panzer divisions, whereby a special vehicle for infantry support work was planned.

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Soviet SU-85M Tank Destroyer Soviet SU-85M Tank Destroyer (1:72 Scale)

The SU-85 (Samokhodnaya Ustanovka, self-propelled carriage), was a Soviet self-propelled anti-tank gun used during World War II, based on the chassis of the T-34 medium tank. Unlike earlier Soviet self-propelled guns which were meant to serve as either assault guns or anti-tank weapons, this vehicle was a dedicated tank destroyer.

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German PzKpfw VIII E-100 Super Heavy Tank - Unidentified Unit, Berlin, 1945 German PzKpfw VIII E-100 Super Heavy Tank - Unidentified Unit, Berlin, 1945 (1:72 Scale)

The Entwicklung (Standard) program, known as the E-Series, was conceived by Dipl Ing Heinrich Enrst Kneikamp, Chief Engineer of Waffenpruefamt 6 in May 1942. In April 1943, the Heereswaffenamt (Army Weapons Office) accepted his program and ordered many different manufacturers to start the planning and development of the Entwicklung (project/development) Einheitsfahrgestell general purpose chassis.

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German PzKpfw VIII E-100 Super Heavy Tank - Unidentified Unit, Brandenburg Gate, Berlin, 1945 German PzKpfw VIII E-100 Super Heavy Tank - Unidentified Unit, Brandenburg Gate, Berlin, 1945 (1:72 Scale)

The Entwicklung (Standard) program, known as the E-Series, was conceived by Dipl Ing Heinrich Enrst Kneikamp, Chief Engineer of Waffenpruefamt 6 in May 1942. In April 1943, the Heereswaffenamt (Army Weapons Office) accepted his program and ordered many different manufacturers to start the planning and development of the Entwicklung (project/development) Einheitsfahrgestell general purpose chassis.

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German VW-166 Schwimmwagen - Panzerkorps Feldherrnhalle, Hungary, 1945 German VW-166 Schwimmwagen - Panzerkorps Feldherrnhalle, Hungary, 1945 (1:43 Scale)

Built by Volkswagen, the simple yet reliable Kubelwagen ("bucket car") was the German equivalent of the American Jeep. This nimble four-seater, based on Ferdinand Porsche's original "People's Car" design of the 1930's, used the same rear-mounted, aircooled engine to drive the rear wheels.

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German Sd. Kfz. 186 Jagdpanzer VI Jagdtiger Heavy Tank Destroyer with Porsche Turret - 3/schwere Panzerjager Abteilung 653, Germany 1945 German Sd. Kfz. 186 Jagdpanzer VI Jagdtiger Heavy Tank Destroyer with Porsche Turret - 3/schwere Panzerjager Abteilung 653, Germany 1945 (1:72 Scale)

Early in 1943, orders were given to design a heavy, self-propelled anti-tank gun, which would mate a 12.8cm gun with a Tiger II chassis. On October 20th, 1943 a wooden mock-up of the enormous vehicle was shown to the OKH planners who authorized that a prototype be finished by April 1944.

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German Sd. Kfz. 186 Jagdpanzer VI Jagdtiger Heavy Tank Destroyer with Zimmerit - Unidentified Unit, Germany, 1945 German Sd. Kfz. 186 Jagdpanzer VI Jagdtiger Heavy Tank Destroyer with Zimmerit - Unidentified Unit, Germany, 1945 (1:72 Scale)

Early in 1943, orders were given to design a heavy, self-propelled anti-tank gun, which would mate a 12.8cm gun with a Tiger II chassis. On October 20th, 1943 a wooden mock-up of the enormous vehicle was shown to the OKH planners who authorized that a prototype be finished by April 1944.

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German Sd. Kfz. 186 Jagdpanzer VI Jagdtiger Heavy Tank Destroyer with Zimmerit and Lifting Crane - schwere Panzerjager Abteilung 653, Germany, 1945 German Sd. Kfz. 186 Jagdpanzer VI Jagdtiger Heavy Tank Destroyer with Zimmerit and Lifting Crane - schwere Panzerjager Abteilung 653, Germany, 1945 (1:72 Scale)

Early in 1943, orders were given to design a heavy, self-propelled anti-tank gun, which would mate a 12.8cm gun with a Tiger II chassis. On October 20th, 1943 a wooden mock-up of the enormous vehicle was shown to the OKH planners who authorized that a prototype be finished by April 1944.

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German Sd. Kfz. 186 Jagdpanzer VI Jagdtiger Heavy Tank Destroyer with Zimmerit and Lifting Crane - schwere Panzerjager Abteilung 512, Germany, 1945 German Sd. Kfz. 186 Jagdpanzer VI Jagdtiger Heavy Tank Destroyer with Zimmerit and Lifting Crane - schwere Panzerjager Abteilung 512, Germany, 1945 (1:72 Scale)

Early in 1943, orders were given to design a heavy, self-propelled anti-tank gun, which would mate a 12.8cm gun with a Tiger II chassis. On October 20th, 1943 a wooden mock-up of the enormous vehicle was shown to the OKH planners who authorized that a prototype be finished by April 1944.

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German Sd. Kfz. 186 Jagdpanzer VI Jagdtiger Heavy Tank Destroyer with Zimmerit - schwere Panzerjager Abteilung 512, Germany, 1945 German Sd. Kfz. 186 Jagdpanzer VI Jagdtiger Heavy Tank Destroyer with Zimmerit - schwere Panzerjager Abteilung 512, Germany, 1945 (1:72 Scale)

Early in 1943, orders were given to design a heavy, self-propelled anti-tank gun, which would mate a 12.8cm gun with a Tiger II chassis. On October 20th, 1943 a wooden mock-up of the enormous vehicle was shown to the OKH planners who authorized that a prototype be finished by April 1944.

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German Sd. Kfz. 161 PzKpfw IV Ausf. J Medium Tank with Schurzen Side Armor Skirts - White 602, Unidentified Unit, Eastern Front, 1945 German Sd. Kfz. 161 PzKpfw IV Ausf. J Medium Tank with Schurzen Side Armor Skirts - "White 602", Unidentified Unit, Eastern Front, 1945 (1:72 Scale)

Just one month prior to the commencement of "Operation Typhoon" (the German assault on Moscow) the Waffenamt was scheduled to begin installing the long-barreled 7.5cm KwK gun on its new Mark IV Ausf G tanks.

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Soviet T-34/85 Tank - Yellow 40, Eastern Front 1945 Soviet T-34/85 Medium Tank - "Yellow 40", Eastern Front, 1945 (1:72 Scale)

The first generation T-34 medium tank made its debut in combat during the summer of 1941, when the Wehrmacht launched its invasion of the Soviet Union. The T-34 easily outclassed the German PzKpfw III and IV models, thanks to its hard-hitting 76.2mm main gun, thick frontal armor, wide tracks, and overall superior mobility.

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German RW61 Sturmtiger Rocket Assault Mortar and Buildings Diorama - Sturmmorser Kompanie 1001, Germany, 1945 German RW61 Sturmtiger Rocket Assault Mortar and Buildings Diorama - Sturmmorser Kompanie 1001, Germany, 1945 (1:72 Scale)

On August 5th, 1943, a self-propelled vehicle was proposed by senior Army officials based on the Tiger I chassis but mounting a 38cm mortar. Alkett was placed in charge of the design. The Company managed to complete a prototype by October 20th, which was run through a series of field tests for approval.

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German Late Version Sd. Kfz. 171 PzKpfw V Panther Ausf. G Medium Tank with Side Skirts - Panzerabteilung Kummersdorf, Panzer Division Muncheberg, Oderfront, 1945 German Late Version Sd. Kfz. 171 PzKpfw V Panther Ausf. G Medium Tank with Side Skirts - Panzerabteilung Kummersdorf, Panzer Division Muncheberg, Oderfront, 1945 (1:72 Scale)

In many respects, the Panther tank was viewed as the finest armored fighting vehicle of the Second World War. Based in large part upon the Soviet's highly successful T-34 medium tank, the PzKpfw V Ausfuhrung G was built by several manufacturers including MAN, Daimler-Benz and MNH.

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German Sd. Kfz. 182 PzKpfw VI King Tiger Ausf. B Heavy Tank with Henschel Turret - Unidentified Unit, Berlin, 1945 German Sd. Kfz. 182 PzKpfw VI King Tiger Ausf. B Heavy Tank with Henschel Turret - Unidentified Unit, Berlin, 1945 (1:72 Scale)

In January 1943, a new Tiger tank was ordered by the Waffenant, this time with a turret large enough to mount the fearsome 8.8cm L/71 gun. Besides improving its tank killing capabilities, the new Tiger was also intended to be more survivable on the battlefield.

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Soviet T-34/85 Mod. 1944 Medium Tank - "13282", 22nd Guards Armored Brigade, 5th Guards Armored Corps, Prague, 1945 Soviet T-34/85 Mod. 1944 Medium Tank -"13282", 22nd Guards Armored Brigade, 5th Guards Armored Corps, Prague, 1945 (1:72 Scale)

The first generation T-34 medium tank made its debut in combat during the summer of 1941, when the Wehrmacht launched its invasion of the Soviet Union. The T-34 easily outclassed the German PzKpfw III and IV models, thanks to its hard-hitting 76.2mm main gun, thick frontal armor, wide tracks, and overall superior mobility.

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German Sd. Kfz. 162/1 Jagdpanzer IV L/70 Tank Destroyer with Side Skirts and Antenna - "101", Command Version, Germany, 1945 German Sd. Kfz. 162/1 Jagdpanzer IV L/70 Tank Destroyer with Side Skirts and Antenna - "101", Command Version, Germany, 1945 (1:72 Scale)

The Jagdpanzer IV L/70 (A) Zwischenlosung was the last tank to enter service with the Wehrmacht in September 1944. Essentially, German tank designers placed a Jagdpanzer IV turret on a Panzer IV chassis then fitted it with a powerful 75mm L/70(A) gun. The Zwischenlosung proved to be an excellent tank killer even though only 278 vehicles were built by war's end.

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Special Edition German Sd. Kfz. 186 Jagdpanzer VI Jagdtiger Heavy Tank Destroyer - schwere Panzerjager Abteilung 512, Germany, 1945 Special Edition German Sd. Kfz. 186 Jagdpanzer VI Jagdtiger Heavy Tank Destroyer - schwere Panzerjager Abteilung 512, Germany, 1945 (1:72 Scale)

Early in 1943, orders were given to design a heavy, self-propelled anti-tank gun, which would mate a 12.8cm gun with a Tiger II chassis. On October 20th, 1943 a wooden mock-up of the enormous vehicle was shown to the OKH planners who authorized that a prototype be finished by April 1944.

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Special Edition German Sd. Kfz. 186 Jagdpanzer VI Jagdtiger Heavy Tank Destroyer with Zimmerit and Lifting Crane - schwere Panzerjager Abteilung 512, Germany, 1945 Special Edition German Sd. Kfz. 186 Jagdpanzer VI Jagdtiger Heavy Tank Destroyer with Zimmerit and Lifting Crane - schwere Panzerjager Abteilung 512, Germany, 1945 (1:72 Scale)

Early in 1943, orders were given to design a heavy, self-propelled anti-tank gun, which would mate a 12.8cm gun with a Tiger II chassis. On October 20th, 1943 a wooden mock-up of the enormous vehicle was shown to the OKH planners who authorized that a prototype be finished by April 1944.

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Special Edition German Sd. Kfz. 186 Jagdpanzer VI Jagdtiger Heavy Tank Destroyer with Zimmerit - schwere Panzerjager Abteilung 512, Germany, 1945 Special Edition German Sd. Kfz. 186 Jagdpanzer VI Jagdtiger Heavy Tank Destroyer with Zimmerit - schwere Panzerjager Abteilung 512, Germany, 1945 (1:72 Scale)

Early in 1943, orders were given to design a heavy, self-propelled anti-tank gun, which would mate a 12.8cm gun with a Tiger II chassis. On October 20th, 1943 a wooden mock-up of the enormous vehicle was shown to the OKH planners who authorized that a prototype be finished by April 1944.

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Special Edition German Sd. Kfz. 186 Jagdpanzer VI Jagdtiger Heavy Tank Destroyer with Zimmerit - Unidentified Unit, Germany, 1945 Special Edition German Sd. Kfz. 186 Jagdpanzer VI Jagdtiger Heavy Tank Destroyer with Zimmerit - Unidentified Unit, Germany, 1945 (1:72 Scale)

Early in 1943, orders were given to design a heavy, self-propelled anti-tank gun, which would mate a 12.8cm gun with a Tiger II chassis. On October 20th, 1943 a wooden mock-up of the enormous vehicle was shown to the OKH planners who authorized that a prototype be finished by April 1944.

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