Quantitative precipitation estimation and forecasting (QPE and QPF) are among the most challenging tasks in atmospheric sciences. In this work, QPE based on numerical modelling and data assimilation is investigated. Key components are the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model in combination with its 3D variational assimilation scheme, applied on the convection-permitting scale with sophisticated model physics over central Europe. The system is operated in a 1-hour rapid update cycle and processes a large set of in situ observations, data from French radar systems, the European GPS network and satellite sensors. Additionally, a free forecast driven by the ECMWF operational analysis is included as a reference run representing current operational precipitation forecasting. The verification is done both qualitatively and quantitatively by comparisons of reflectivity, accumulated precipitation fields and derived verification scores for a complex synoptic situation that developed on 26 and 27 September 2012. The investigation shows that even the downscaling from ECMWF represents the synoptic situation reasonably well. However, sign ... mehrificant improvements are seen in the results of the WRF QPE setup, especially when the French radar data are assimilated. The frontal structure is more defined and the timing of the frontal movement is improved compared with observations. Even mesoscale bandlike precipitation structures on the rear side of the cold front are reproduced, as seen by radar. The improvement in performance is also confirmed by a quantitative comparison of the 24-hourly accumulated precipitation over Germany. The mean correlation of the model simulations with observations improved from 0.2 in the downscaling experiment and 0.29 in the assimilation experiment without radar data to 0.56 in the WRF QPE experiment including the assimilation of French radar data.