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1972, Almark Publishing Co. Ltd.

Text T. J . Gander
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced. stored in
n relrieval system, or transmilled by any means, electronic, mechanical or
by photo copying without prior permissi on from the publishers.
First published - October 1972
ISBN 855240849 (hard cover edition)
ISBN 85524 085 7 (paper covered edition)
Printed in Great Britain by
Byron Press Ltd., 59 Palmerston Road, Wealdstone, Middlesex
for the publishers, Almark Publishing Co. Ltd. ,
270 Burlington Road, New Malden, Surrey KT3 4N L, England
TH E solid fuel rocket is no newcomer to modern warfare for its first recorded
use in battle dates back to AD 1232, but after the fall from grace of the
Congreve and Hale rockets towards the end of the nineteenth century little use
was made of it until the German Army re- introduced the rocket in an offen-
sive role from 1940 onwards. Actually they could have had rockets in service
during World War I, for Krupps had purchased the solid fuel rocket patents of
the Swedi sh experimenter Lieutenant-Colonel von Unge in 1909. While the
rockets then produced were extensively tested, they did not go into production
as they were virtually hand- made and the slow- burning bl ack powder propel-
lants then in use were prone to damage during storage and transport . This
damage manifested itself in erratic burning and general unreliability. It was not
until the advent of the large grain doubl e-based propellants after about 1935
that a storeable and reliable mass-produced rocket could be manufactured.
This book sets out to show how one nation, Germany, employed the
solid fuel rocket as part of its national field armoury. As such it confines
itself to weapons used on the battlefield and only encroaches onto the anti -
aircraft role when the rockets so employed were also used as ground-to-
ground weapons. However, to 'compl et e the story' in some cases, mention
has been made of the airborne use of some of these weapons.
The research into thi s subject has been considerably aided by John Mil som
who supplied much of the material used in this book, and to whom my
thanks are due. Acknowledgements and thanks must also be made to
R. C. Gibson, John Wilkes, Colour Sergeant Fitch of the Airborne Forces
Museum at Aldershot, Peter Chamberlain, the staff of the Photographic Sec-
tion of the Imperial War Museum, and finally my wife who typed the
original manuscript. Kenneth M. Jones produced the cover art .
Section Page
1: Deployment and Organisation 5
2: Rocket Equipment 14
/lBOVE: Startofa rocket barrage. The fierce smoke trail was a characteristic
and awesome accompanimentto Nebelwerfer batteryfire.
FRONT COVER: (Top) RP 54 team at the moment of loading. (Bottom)
I'ilrarrooper with the ubiquitous Panzerfaust. This variantis the 30 m model.
BACK COVER: Rocket troops re-Ioading a 15 cm Nebelwerfer 41.
1: Deployment and
ROCKETS were employed by the German forces in World War 2 in an attempt
to conserve the facilities available for the manufacture of war weapons.
A rocket and its proj ector can be made and fired with a large saving in
money, manufacturing facilities and training over the corresponding artillery
equipment. But it was reali sed from the start that the accuracy of the rocket
fell far below that of the conventional artillery shell. Where the rocket made up
for this was in its ability to cover large areas with explosive, smoke or gas in
a very short time, and rocket units were trained to maintain a very high rate
of fire over short periods.
The high fire rate was utilised in 'beefing-up' barrages and counter-
barrages though the former was the more usual. Fixed projectors (such as the
Schweres Wurfgeriit 40 and 41) were also used to this end while the mobile
projectors were more often used for following up tank formation attacks, when
they usually supported the flanks. In the armoured attack the independent
Panzerwerferbatteri e or Wuhrfrahmen- armed half-tracks closely followed the
attack and laid down supporting barrages when required, although towed
projector units sometimes carried out this task. The ability of the Nebelwerfer
units to lay smoke cloud screens to hide movement and dispositions was
often utilised whenever large areas had to be covered in a short time. The
rocket units could do the same with gas but fortunately this was not called
for during the 1939-45 conflict .
The ability to cover large areas with HE (high explosive), smoke or gas
had to be paid for tactically. Each rocket when fired left a trail of flame and
smoke (giving rise to the name 'Nebelwerfer'-smoke thrower) and if this did
not show up the firing position, the large cloud of dust and debris stirred
up by the rocket's exhaust certainly would. This often resulted in counter-
battery artillery and mortarfire being directed at the Nebelwerfer emplacements.
Later in the war the Russians sometimes used Katyusha rockets for this
purpose so that rocket versus rocket duels occurred. As a result of this
counter-battery work, the Nebeltruppe had to be experts in getting in and out
of action quickly.
Further down the tactical scale, rocket units were often detached to give
support to relatively small unit actions, so that a single battery sometimes gave
support to a company attack. There were also more specialised applications
such as when a 15 cm Nebelwerfer 41 battery was added to the proposed
complement of a cavalry artillery abteilung attached to Army Group Centre
(Russian Front) during 1943. The remainder of the abteilung was to have
been made up of recoilless 10' 5 cm LG 40 guns, so the 15 cm battery would
have added a great deal of fi repower to the abteilung strength.
Up to 1940 the main weight of the German Chemical Warfare Units was
biased towards smoke production for tactical screens. The units involved were
few in number and utilised the 10 cm Nebelwerfer 35-an enlarged mortar
(for details see separate section) . In 1940 this was supplemented by the 10 cm
Nebelwerfer 40 but by the same year the first rocket equipments (the Schweres
Wurfgerat 40 with its 28/ 32 cm rockets) came into service after development
at Meppen and Kummersdorf.
However, during 1939 the first Nebeltruppe were amongst the German
forces invading Poland, but there was little for them to do. There were in fact
three Nebelabteilung present during that campaign. As the rocket equipments
became available a training unit (Lehrabteilung) was formed at the Nebel-
truppenschule at Celie, south of Stettin but the first Werfer Regiment was
not formed until June 1940-just too late to take part in the campaign in
France, After that, however, the numbers of Werferbrigaden (each made up of
two or three Werferregimenter) increased until there were twenty in the line
and numerous other units available for special purposes such as the
Panzerwerferbatterie and Rheinbote units. A second training unit and range
was at Munster- Nord.
Basically there were three different types of rocket unit, of which the basic
unit was the Abteilung (artill ery brigade) . These abteilung were joined in dif-
fering combinations to form Werferregimenter. The three basic abteilung were
as follows.
(1) Rocket Projector Brigade (Motorized). (Werferabteilung [mot ]).
Normally equipped with the 15 cm Neberwerfer 41 this formation consisted
of a brigade staff and staff battery with up to three batteries (werfer-
batterien), The equipment for this unit is shown separately, but the staff
consisted of:
Brigade HQ
Reconnaissance/ observation platoon
Rangefinder section.
Maintenance unit
Ad ministrative staff
Signals staff
Anti-tank unit, armed with the 37 cm or later the 75 cm Pak.
BEL 0 W: A battery of 15 cm Nebelwerfer 41 s in action. Note the absence of
personnel who would have been under cover during the firing period.
(2) Heavy Rocket Projector Brigade (motorized}-Schwere Werferabteilung
(mot) .
These units could be equipped with either the 21 cm Nebelwerfer 42,
the 28/ 32 cm Nebelwerfer or later the 30 cm Nebelwerfer 42 or 56. A brigade
was described as heavy if more than one battery was equipped with the
21 cm equipment or larger (the normal werferabteilung usually had only
one 21 cm battery, if that). Thus a Heavy Brigade could consist of three 21 cm
batteries or two 21 cm batteries and one 15 cm battery. However, the brigade
HQ was often enlarged by the addition of an extra detachment to deal with
chemical decontamination, in addition to the normal HQ units.
(3) Mountain Rocket Projector Brigade-Gebirgswerferabteilung.
Relatively few in number these units were normally equipped with the 10 cm
Nebelwerfer 35 and 40 mortars, though rocket equipment could be added for
special campaigns, eg, the 1942 Caucasus campaign.
In addition to the above there were also independent armoured projector
companies (Panzerwerferbatterie) which employed the 15 cm Panzerwerfer 42
mounted on Maultier half-tracks, These were normally organised into two
platoons, each with four projectors.
There were no established units for the Schweres Wurfgeriit 40 and 41 .
Manpower was detailed off for their use whenever they were required.
It must be stressed at this point that the Werferregimenter and small er
units were not normally part of any Army divisional establishment but were
allotted to the various armies, corps and divisions by OKH (General Head-
quarters of the Armies). Only the SS Panzer Divisions (SS 1, 2, 3, 5, 9, 10, 12)
had organic Werferabteilung (each of 18 projectors) .
To return to the Regimental level, regiments like their brigades were divided
into Werferregimenter and Schweres (heavy) Werferregimenter. The Werfer-
regimenter was normally comprised of a Regimental HQ and HQ battery, two
15 cm abteilung, one 21 cm abteilung and a light projector column (usually
a 15 cm detachment) for special purposes. A Schweres Regimenter was one
in which more than one abteilung was equipped with the 21 cm Nebelwerfer
42 or larger. Normal establishment for one of these heavy units was two 21 cm
or 28/32 cm (later 30 cm) abteilung and one 15 cm abteilung.
The Werferabteilung (mot) (15 em)
As the basic unit of the Nebeltruppe, the Werferabteilung needs further
explanation. Its equipment strength table is shown separately but shows that
the brigade HQ had a 'paper' battery with the usual HQ staff and anti -tank
unit. There were usually three batteries, each with six projectors, and one
37 cm Pak or 75 cm Pak anti-tank gun.
On the road each abteilung column covered a length of 1800 metres and
took 20 minutes to pass one point . This was on a first class road when the
column speed was 30 km/hr. On the autobahn the speed could be raised
to 40 km/ hr and lowered to 20 km/ hr for second class roads or tracks.
In action a brigade covered a front of up to 1200 m, as each battery took
350 m, although 200 m was the more usual-this reduced the front to about
800-900 m. The inherent inaccuracy of the rocket projectile meant that volume
of fire had to replace accuracy and the watchword of the Nebeltruppe was
'Klotzen, Nicht Kleckern' (roughly-'thump, don' t tap'). This was shown by
the ability to fire 108 rounds in 10 seconds, and 648 in 90 seconds. Such a
volume of fire would saturate most targets and led to early reports from the
ABOVE: Maultiers with 15 cm Panzerwerfer 42projectors being prepared for
action during the winter of 1944. Note rhe discarded 'packkiste' at the bottom
left of the picture.
Russiansthatthe15cm Nebelwerfer41 could fire 6 rockets infiveseconds-
actuallythe firing rate wassix in ten seconds.
It must be stressed that the establishments described above and in the
tables are for ideal situations. Even at the start ofa campaign the manpower,
equipmentandtransportfigurescouldbe reduced by uptoathirdas aresultof
sickness, maintenance,unserviceability,etc.By1945manpowerhadbecomeso
critical that Werferregimenterconsisted of two abteilung only. Transport was
anotherproblemarea and itshouldbe borneinmindthatmanyofthe projectors
described inthis bookwere often towed intoaction by horses. However most
SS units managed to maintain a higherestablishmentofequipmentand man-
powerduetothe preference shownto Partyformations.
In September 1944, certain of the Werferabteilung were re-designated
Volks-Werferabteilung. The term had purely political overtones in view of
the impendingdefenceofthe Reich,andmade nodifferencestoestablishments
orrole inthe Nebeltruppen.
Few records remain of the Nebeltruppen (later Werfertruppe) formations.
Listed below are the known regiments which made up the Werferbrigaden
in 1945:
Werferbrigade 1
2 Werfer Regimenter 3, 70
4 Werfer Regi menter 51, 52, s2
7 Werfer Regimenter 83, 84 (NormandyJuly'44)
9 Werfer Regimenter 14, 54
16 Werfer Regimenter86, 87
17 Werfer Regimenter 88, ?
18 Werfer Regimenter21, 22
Listed below are the known units which made up the larger Nebeltruppen
formations in 1945. No priority has been given to unit seniority. The list is
Note: s-schweres (heavy)
Stell-Stellung (static, garrison)
(mit 21 [pz] Bttr)-with21 battery made up of15cm
Panzerwerfer 42 on Maultierhalf-tracks.
WR- Werfer Regiment .
Werfer Lehr Regiment 1, 2
Werfer Regiments 1
WerferAbteilung 1 (with WR 54)
Werler Regiments2
WerferAbteilung 2 (withWR 52)
Werfer Regiments3
WerferAbteilung 3 (wi th WR s3)
Stab Werfer Regimentz b V 4
Werfer Abteilung 4
WerferAbteilung 5 (with WR 55)
WerferAbteilung 6
Werfer Abteilung 7 (with WR 54)
Werfer Abteilung 8 (with WR s2)
StabWerfer Regiments b V 8
WerferAbteilung 9 (with WR 71)
Werfer Regiment 10
Gebirgs Werfer Abteilung 10
Werfer Abteilung 11
sWerfer Regimenter 13. 14, 15
Panzer Werfer Bam21 (with WR 57)
Panzer Werfer Battr22 (with 15 Panzer Grenadier Div)
sWerfer Regimenter 21, 22, 26
Werfer Abteilung 31
Werfer Regimenter38. 50, 51, 52 53
Werfer Regiment54 (mit 21 [pz] Battr)
Werfer Regiment55, 56
sWerfer Regiment 57 (mit 21 [pz] Battr)
Werfer Regiment70 (mit 21 [pz] Battr)
Werfer Regiment71 (Tunisia '43)
Werfer Regimenter77,79,81,83,84,86,87,88,89
Stell Werfer Regimenter100, 101, 102, 103
Werfer Batlerien 105
151 (with WR 70)
287 (with WR 56)
The Smoke Units that took part in the Invasion of Poland in September
1939were Nebelabteilung 1,2 and 5.
-------- .......... ..
Rocket Projector Regiment (motorized)
Werferregimenter (mot)
(f) .c u
Q; Ol C1l

u (f)
.X- Q)
u .- -i:
o e
o Q) 0
Regimental HO.......... .... .... 31 7 3
Regimental HOBattery . ........ 110 2 20 2
Projector Battalion 555 20 4 18 109 9
Projector Battalion ........ . ... 555 20 4 18 109 9
Projector Battalion ......... . . 555 20 4 18 109 9
Light Projector Column ....... 70 20 5
Total... . . ................ ... 1,876 62 12 54 374 37
Total strength 1,876
Rocket Projector Battalion (motorized)
Weferabteilung (mot)
(f) c
(f) C :J
Q) :J Ol (f)
c Ol
, Q, <::
ii Q) c
.<;; u r
u C1l
(f) (f) C1l
0 (f)
Q; (f) (f)
U 0
C1l Q) 0
> t)
:i: u :J
0 Z a: 0:: a.. (f) ::J
Q) u (f)

.<;; u
Q) >-
0 0 .X-
0 0
1I"II,Ii">I' 110 . . ............. 2 3 10 10 3 2 3 1
11"II,IiII>'1 110 l3,lttery ...... ... . . . 3 12 70 70 9 6 2 13 2
1' 1111.,4 .1111 nllllllry. . . .. . ...... 3 27 105 113 10 12 6 6 31 2
I',"I, "I"' 1I"II"ry 3 27 105 113 10 12 6 6 31 2
l ' j i ' I' ll llti 1IIIIIoly .. " ........... . .. 3 27 105 113 10 12 6 6 31 2
Alli""",III""" 1;"I0""n..... ....... 5 45 45 2 3
1111 ,, 1 .. . . . . . .. . . ... 14 101 440 464 44 47 20 4 18 109 9
Total strength 555
ABOVE: (Top) 32em Wurfkorper MFL 50. (Bottom) 30em Wurfkorper Spreng.
Werferabteilung (mot) (15em)
Carried into action: 1728explosive (80%)
432 smoke (20%)
ie, for each battery: 432 explosive
Sehwere Werferabteilung (mot) (21 em)
Carried into action: 900 HE-10salvoes
ie, foreach battery: 180
For lightcolumn: 360
Sehwere Werferabteilung (mot) (30 em)
Carried into action: 600 HE-3salvoes
ie, foreach battery: 120
For lightcolumn: 240
Sehwere Werferabteilung (mot) (28/32em)
Carried into action: 45028cm HE
15032 cm Incendiary
Gebirgsnebelwerferabteilung (10 em Nebelwerfer 35)
Carried intoaction: 1899 HE
For each battery: 453 HE
303 Smoke
For lightcolumn: 540 HE
360 Smoke
.' ;..
ABOVE: (Top to Bottom) 21 em Wurfgrenate 42 Spreng; 7.3 cm Propaganda-
granare 41; 28 cm Wurfkorper Spreng (unfused) in its 'packkiste'.
The original users were the Nebeltruppe or Smoke Troops, who were dressed
in the infantry- style uniform used by most of the technical formations of the
German Army during World War 2: the arm of service colour was a dark
red (burgundy red) and appeared on the shoulder straps and the collar patch
(as t he base colour). The forage-cap for other ranks had dark red piping on
the 'cuff. Camouflage smocks were occasionally worn.
The most prominent users of the Panzerfaust were the Fallschirmjager
or Paratroop Regiments. The cover shows an Unteroffizier (Sergeant) in the
slyle of dress affected by paratroopers in the Mediterranean theatre of war. The
Inll n camouflage smock and a canvas bandolier were peculiar to these troops-
lilt : former is shown 'as issued' but this soon became bleached to a lighter
:: 11 :1(1 0. The grey-blue helmet of paratroop pattern could be covered by a loose
:;' "11 I coloured cover. The single 'wing' on the upper arm denotes rank, and is
,,;. ,,;olly li n ,I rectangular patch. Other members of the platoon using the
c,mi ed spare rounds, often tucked into their waistbelts like the
:;111; 1, they also carried- a somewhat more dangerous practise owing
II I 111 " li llllm sizo of the Panzerfaust round.
ABOVE: A squad of German paratroops moves cauriously along a road under
fire. The leading man carries a RP 43 and has a slung rifle. His No 2. behind.
carries a round fer rhe RP 43 in his lefr hand, and a rifle in his right. This is
at Normandy, June 1944.
The Panzerfaust was issued to normal infantry units in 1944 in lieu of
anti-tank artill ery, and also tothe Hitler Youth and the newly-created Volksturm
(Home Guard) . The latter consisted of old men, and those unable to fight in the
Wehrmacht for medical reasons. The Panzerfaust was often issued in place of
proper personal arms to these formations in last-ditch attempts to stem the
tide of Allied armour. There w as only a token attempt at uniform in that items
of Army, Navy and Air Force uniform (principally caps and greatcoats) were
issued. An authorized armband for the Volksturm bore the words ' Deutscher
Volksturm-Wehrmacht': improvised armbands of white with black letters also
appeared with and without the word 'Wehrmacht' . No rank appears to have
been shown- th e ' officers' of these detachments were often Party leaders in
the first instance, until the close proximity of Allied troops caused them to
hand over their command to the Wehrmacht .
2: Rocket
The15 cm Rocket
TH E 15 cm rocket was the most widely encountered and used of all the
German rocket projectiles. It came into widespread service during late 1941
and remained operational till the end of hostilities and even after 1945 remained
in service with the French forces.
The 15 cm rocket came with three basic fillings-HE, smoke and chemical.
The chemical variant was not used operationally, but was stockpiled ready for
use (18,600 were captured at H Muna 5t Georgen in 1945).
The spin stabilized rocket was of an advanced design and differed from
all other types in use at that time by having the rocket motor at the front
of the shell and the HE or smoke payload in the base. This rather odd arrange-
ment was brought about to make use of the rocket motor as shrapnel when the
shell exploded. In other rocket types the motor tended to separate in one piece
on detonation and thus had little destructive effect. Placing the motor in front
of the explosive however ensured the fragmentation of the motor housing and
increased the weapo'n's anti-personnel hazard.
The motor vented through 26 angled venturi situated evenly in a ring
some two-thirds of the length down the body (see below) . Inside the
forward part of the body were seven sticks of compresed black Diethylene
Glycol Dinitrate which made up the propelling unit. This was ignited by a
cellulose tube filled with black powder which ran the full length of the
motor. When primed by an electrical initiator placed in anyone of the 26
exhaust holes the igniter caused the propellant to burn at both ends at once
and so ensure fast and even burning which increased the motor's efficiency.
The motor weight totalled 14 Ibs and the rocket's velocity was 1,120 feet / sec.
Maximum range was 7,723 yards for HE and 7546 for smoke.
BELOW: 75 em HE Rocket with 'Tp': Tropical use stencils.
ABOVE: Inserting an ERZ 39 initiator into a rocket in a 75 em Panzerwerfer 42.
The payload was in a fibre container in the rocket's steel base. The usual
HE charge was ~ Ib of TNT which could cause considerable blast damage.
A fuse was screwed into the base and could be either a conventional centri-
fugally armed contact fuse or a time delay fuse for use on fortifications. The
charge was held separate from the motor by an iron spacer to prevent prema-
ture detonation.
The rocket was usually painted dark green or grey with identifying stencils
in white or black. Length was 366 inches and weight 70 Ib for HE and 79 Ib
for smoke.
The rockets were delivered to the troops in wooden boxes each containing
one round and an initiator in a waxed cardboard tube clipped under the lid.
These initiators were known as the Elektrischer Randdusenzunder 39 or
ERZ 39.
The15em Nebelwerfer41
The 15 cm Nebelwerfer 41 is still perhaps the best known of the rocket
launchers used by the Germans and was encountered on all fronts from 1942
onwards. Originally thought to be a form of mortar it earned the names of
'Moaning Minnie' or 'Screaming Mimi ' from the Allies who learned to fear
its high rate of fire and destructive powers throughout the war.
Basically the Nebelwerfer 41 (or 'Nebelwerfer d' as it was sometimes referred
to in Allied reports) was a well designed six-barrelled weapon which was
light, mobile and relatively cheap. The six 51 inch long barrels were spaced
equally round a central axis and mounted on a two wheel carriage with a
split trail and a front stabiliser plate (see photographs). The barrels could be
elevated from 5_45 and traversed 27. Weight when ready for action was
only 1191 Ibs so only a light towing vehicle was required- usually a 3-ton
truck.Thecarriage wasadapted from thatusedonthe37cm Pak35/36 L/45.
The barrelswere16cmin diameterwiththreeraised guiderails aboutt inch
high reducingthecalibreto 15cm. Laying waseffectedbyuse oftheelevation
and traverse wheels on the left of the piece where adial sight was attached
under a hinged metal box cover. Loading was carried out by two numbers
of the four-man crew each working from one side and loading the bottom
barrels first and working upwards.The rockets were held in place by spring
clips with the bases projecting (see photographs). A further spring catch was
then moved over to contactthe electrical initiator in one of the venturi. After
loading the crew retired to prepared slittrenchessome 10- 15yards away and
the rockets werefired. The rockets were fired in aset sequence (see diagram)
by el ectrical impulses from a hand generator and the impulses were trans-
mitted to the projector along a seven-core cable to a plug and socket on the
Nebelwerfer41 firingdiagram.Thesi x
barrels were fired in the following
sequ ence: 1-4-6-3-5-2.
a 0
BELOW: A loaded 15cm Nebelwerfer 41captured at Bannevi/le, near Troam, on
July 20, 1944.The box on the left-hand side contains the sights. (IWM -B7783) .
ABOVE: Loading the top t wo rounds into a 15cm Nebelwerfer 41 . (IWM-STT5137J.
right - handside ofthemounting. Fromthere thepulseswerefedtotheinitiators
byfixed cables on the projector. The rockets were fired at 2-second intervals
and this interval had to be judged by the firer using the rotary hand
generator-oneturn fired one rocket. All six rockets could then be fired and
reloadedin 90seconds. When firedtherockets made adistinctdroning sound
and leftatrail ofsmoke which gaverise to oneofthe Nebelwerfer41'stactical
limitations as these smoke trails were highly visible and attracted counter-
battery artillery and mortarfire.
The 15 cm Nebelwerfer 41 remained the standard equipment of the
Werferabteilung throughoutthewar.
Chemical Warfare
To complete the 15 cm details a brief mention ofthe projectiles intended for
chemical warfare must be made.The rockets used for this purpose were 401
incheslong (same length as thesmokefilled Nebelgranate). Markingsonthe
nose were eitheraseries ofgreen rings--each green ring acting as a codefor
the filling-or a green cross. There were three main fillings, two variations of
mustard gas and one unidentified odourless gas, as well as phosgene which
was first used at Verdun in 1917. Doubtless there were many other agents
BELOW: Laying a 75 em Nebel werfer47. Thesightbeingusedisprobablyan
Aushilfsrichtmittel38 (No 38 Auxiliary sight) . BOTTOM: Prepanng a 75 em
Nebelwerfer 47 for firing.
ABOVE: Thisshotofa 75 em Nebelwerfermayhavebeen'posed'asthere isno
cableleadingto thejunctionboxon theright-handside oftheprojector. Nore
howeverthe rocker's rransp0r/ tubeunder thesoldier'sboot. (IWM-NA2628).
These weapons were not used operationally partly due to the great dislike
of gas by Hitler (who was himself gassed during World War I) and many of
the senior Army commanders, but more particularly to fear of retaliation by the
Allies. It was well known to the Germans that the Russians were equipped
with aircraft capable of spraying prussic acid over large areas, which would
require a great deal of protection and de-contamination activities by the
recipients. As a result many chemical filled shells and rockets were refilled
with high explosive during the latter stages of the war, but were not always
re-colour coded.
Chief Chemical Warfare adviser to the Army High Command (OKW) during
1945 was General Hermann Ochsner, General die Nebeltruppen.
15 em Do-gerat 38
The Do-geriit designation was sometimes wrongly applied by the Allies to the
Nebelwerfer 41 but in fact it applied to a projector developed for use by the
Fallschirmjiiger (the German parachute arm). It fired a single 15 cm rocket and
was designed to be dropped by parachute.
The main projector frame (Schiessrinne) waS a metal framework some 7 to
8 feet long and 6 inches square. It was supported at the forward end by a
bipod with limited elevation and traversing gear. The rear end rested on the
ground. This frame was very lightly constructed and weighed only 421b. Attach-
ed to it was a dial sight, which was normally packed in a special container,
and the electrical firing mechanism and cable. The whole equipment was
designed to break down into containers for parachute dropping and then quick
nnd easy assembly for use. The rocket was then introduced from the forward
end of the frame and fired, as with the Nebelwerfer 41, from a position under
cover some 10-15 yards distant. As there was only one round to be fired a simple
two- core cable could be used with probably a light battery for an electrical
ABOVE: The 15 em Nebelwerfer 41 on display at the Imperial War Museum.
The Do-geriit does not appear to have been widely used and illustrations of
it are rare.
15 em Panzerwerfer 42
One of the major limitations in action of the Nebelwerfer 41 was the smoke
trail left by the rocket in flight . As already mentioned this attracted counter-
bilttery activity and thus reduced the length of time a rocket battery could
slily in action before it had to withdraw. To overcome this limitation the
1':lIm,rwcrfer 42 was developed to make the 15 cm projector more mobile. It
ill v() lvoci mounting ten 15 cm barrels on the roof of a lightly armoured
IVI:llilli'lr (Milk) truck manufactured by Opel. The ten barrels were arranged in
1"'11/ lilY" ,:. "r fivll ilnd the mounting had a 270
traverse and 80
1,,,,0111111 1:,,:1 III Ito c:mi"d out outside the vehicle so in use the vehicle fired
II 11 11 ill II (11",11,,,, illi li do II I(: cab) and then moved off into cover to reload.
II" , J\!l, lIlli l,'1 "III' H.'" 11 ',"e l W:1S, to give its full designation, the Sd Kfz 4/1
1'1, " 1 I I! II I I VI' '' I h" ::I:IIHI:lrd commercial chassis of this vehicle had
1, ,111 11 Idll ll,, 01 Il y '''1' 11 11 il1l1 11,\" HI: II' ilxl e wnd wheels with a Horstmann-type
1111, I' 11 1,,1 11 11"1''''' ' '\111\ ,,"I dissimilar to that used on the British
Universal Carrier series. The original drive shaft had been shortened to drive
the forward track sprockets. Each track had its own brake controlled by two
levers on the driver's right which could be used to assist steering.
The welded armour body was TI inches thick and proof only against
small arms fire. Each vehicle carried one 792 mm MG 34 or MG 42 mounted
on a pintle above the cab, and the crew of three usually carried three
9 mm SUb-machine guns with 2,000 rounds of 9 mm ammunition and 2,000
rounds of 792 mm. As well as the ten rockets loaded in the projector another
ten were carried internally. Further rounds were carried in accompanying
Munitionspanzer Maultiers. Even with the above mentioned load the tracked
Maultier had a good cross-country performance with the 36 litre six-cylinder
engine giving a speed of 25 mph over flat ground. Some 300 were ordered.
However the Maultier was seen only as a makeshift design until the Panzer-
werfer 42 could be mounted on the chassis of the Schwerer Wehrmachts-
schlepper (or SWS). This came into service in late 1944. The 15 cm
Panzerwerfer was unchanged but the SWS could now carry 26 rockets
internally in addition to the t en in the projector. Overall layout was similar
to that of the earlier Maultier, but the all-round performance was improved
and the overall height was lower (6 feet 8 inches as against 8 feet 6 inches).
The armoured version of the SWS was intended to replace the Sd Kfz 250 and
251 half-track series but the end of the war prevented this happening. It
followed the general half-track layout but had numerous improvements in
design, especially in the track.
Some SWS units were encountered from late 1944 onwards. One captured
example was found to carry, in addition to the full complement of rockets, two
8,8 cm Panzerschreck launchers, Panzerfauste, hand grenades, smoke grenades
and magnetic charges as well as the roof-mounted MG 42 and the crew's
side arms.
Allied intelligence reports mention the Panzerwerfer 42 being mounted on the
BELOW: An Allied motor cyclist examines a captured Nebelwerfer 41 in May
1943. Note the electrical cables for flfing and the internal guide rails inside the
barre/. (IWM-NA2583).
I WI! views of Maultiers carry-
IIl11 I IJ' cm Panzerwerfer 42
I I/lil1.'1.'1ors. Note the leading
vI.'I 11'';/1.' III Ihe lower picture
/1. ' /." IllI.' conine cooling vents
I 'I If 'II .
ABOVE: Maintenance on a 75 cm Panzerwerfer 42. Note the ' G' on the hull
side which is probably a battery letter.
Sd Kfz 11 / 5 Leichter Zugkraftwagen in 1943. No pictorial evidence of this
variant appears to survive.
After the war the French mounted captured Panzerwerfer 42 projectors on
Somua carr iers but this vehicle is beyond the scope of this book.
In additon to the 15 cm projectors mentioned above, the 21 cm Nebel-
werfer 42 cou ld also be fitted with liner rail s to fire the 15 cm rocket . The
30 cm Raketenwerfer 56 could also be so adapted.
At the end of the war experiments were being carried out by Skoda and
Krupp to investigate fin stabilisation of the 15 C!l1 rocket, and also the fitting
of hollow charge explosive heads was projected. One much revised 15 cm
design was being developed at Rugenwalde as a concrete piercing weapon.
Weighing 130 kg and about 280 cm long it cou ld be fired from a closed
breech tube or from rails. Several test firings were made but the end of the war
precluded further trials.
In March 1945 it was proposed that a 12 cm rocket should be designed to
replace the 15 cm rocket as an economy measure. Existing 15 cm projectors
would be fitted with liner rails but as with so many ot her developments
the war ended before the project really started.
The 21 cm Rocket
The 21 cm Wurfgrenate 42 Spreng was developed and utilised alongside the
15 cm rocket. However in appearance it resembled a conventional artillery
round as it was carefully streamlined by the addition of a false hollow nose
(ogive) which did away with the usual blunt nose of most German rockets.
Layout of the rocket was conventional ie, the motor was at the rear and the
warhead in front, both encased in a mild steel body. The motor was made up
of seven propellant sticks, each 2167 inches long, each stick 2-46 inches in
diameter. A grid trap separated the propellant from the nozzle assembly and
between the two was a tinfoil sealing disc to keep out moisture. Round the
edge of the nozzle assembly were 22 venturi angled at 16 from the rocket
axis to impart the stabilising spin in flight. In the centre of the one-piece nozzle
plate was a hole ready to take the ERZ 39 (Elektrische Randdusenzunder 39)
initiator. When fired electrically the ERZ 39 would ignite a quickmatch relay
through the centre of the motor to the black powder igniter at the front of the
body. A small spacer ring held the igniter separate from the motor to ensure
even burning. Weight of the motor was 8775 Ib and the nozzle assembly
5' 12 lb. The propellant alone weighed 4025 lb.
The 90 Ib warhead shell contained 22-4 Ib of TNT and was threaded onto
the motor body. A point detonating fuse with an optional delay of 010
seconds was screwed into a booster cup in the nose. Connection to the fuse
was made from the false ogive by a wooden rod.
Overall length of the rocket was 4921 inches and the total weight was
241 3 Ibs. Only HE rockets appear to have been used in this calibre. Supplied
to the front line in shaped mild steel 'cage' crates, they were painted black or
dark grey with white stencilled markings.
The 21 em Nebelwerfer42
Originally intended to be an enlarged version of the six-barrelled 15 cm
Nebelwerfer 41 . The 21 cm Nebelwerfer 42 ended up as a five-barrelled
projector. However in all other respects it clearly resembled the 15 cm
projector and even utilised the same 37 cm Pak derived carriage.
The decision to use the five-barrel layout was made because of the better
balance and stability of the mounting when using the heavier 21 cm
The 4 feet 3?, inch long barrels were spaced round a central axis and held
in position by stamped steel plates-one near the breech and another
half-way to the muzzle. Elevation and traverse controls were simple and actu-
ated by pressed steel wheels on the left of the carriage. Elevation was from
_5 to 45 and traverse 12 either side. As on the 15 cm equipment there
was a split trail and a stabilising plate on the front of the axle. The wheels
w ere stamped steel discs with 600/20 pneumatic tyres. Weight of the
equipment was 12 cwt (605 kg). Maximum range of the projector was 8530
OPPOSI TE PAGE: A sequence showing the loading and firing of a 21 cm
Ncbelwerfer 42. (TOP) Loading-note the transport cages. (MIDDLE) Operating
the hand generator. (BOTTOM) Firing, there appears to be three projectors in
use. (/WM-STT7339).
yards (7850 metres) according to range tabl es but some rockets managed to
reach 1 0,000 yards on trials in North Africa.
Loading was effected from the rear. When loaded the rocket rear was flush
with the end of the barrel and held in position by spring-loaded catches.
Firing was normally carri ed out electrically from a posi tion under cover some
1 0 yards from the projector. connection to the electrical network on the barrels
being made by a six-core cable via a junction box on the right-hand side of
the mounting. The 0'3A initiating current came from a small hand generator.
For firing order see diagram.
During 1944-45 the firms of Krupp and Skoda were both experimenting
with fin stabilising of 21 cm rockets. The German surrender in May 1945 ended
these experiments. Other experiments w ere also carried out with hollow-charge
warheads for the 21 cm rocket.
- . - - .
21 cm Nebelwerfer 42 firing diagram.
The five barrels were fired in the following sequence:
( 1
---) ' /--- -)
( 5 I 2
\ .
". - ",,---
/\/ -\
l 4 )i 3 .!
\"---. / ' - ~ . /
BELOW' Troops retire to cover after loading the rockets int o a
21 em Nebelwerfer42. (lWM-MH347) .
Although strictly outside the scope of this book, mention should be made of
the fitting of 21 cm rocket launchers to fighter aircraft in an attempt to break up
the massive formations of 8th USAAF bombers (mainly B-17 Flying Fortresses)
which made almost daily daylight raids over the Reich from 1942 onwards.
The defensive fir e of these formations made interception by normal fighter
armament difficult and costly, so many possible solutions were tried out and the
21 cm projector came well out of experiments.
The equipment was called the Wurfger at 21, and fired a normal 21 cm
Wurfgrenate 42 Spreng from a single 21 cm barrel hung under the wing of
a BF 109G6/ R4 fight er. To the crews the projector was known as the
'Ofenrohr' (or Dodel) (not to be confused with the 88 cm Panzerschrek) and
two were carried by each fighter, one under each wing. First issued to squad-
rons during mid-August 1943 they were fired from some 800 yards behir:d the
formation and proved very effective. However, the projectors slowed down the
fighter aircraft considerably and affected th e airflow over the elevators, so that
when long-range escort fighters such as the P-47 Thunderbolt and P-51
Mustang came into use by the USAAF the 'Ofenrohr' was withdrawn from
use. They were used mainly by JG 1 and JG 26, both Schlageter units,
and the period of maximum success was August and September 1943.
The Fw 190A-4/ R6 was also fitted with the WG 21, as was the twin-
engined Bf 11 OF-2 which could carry four tubes. A ground attack adaptation
of th e WG 21 w as tried out by Hs 129B units on the Eastern Front for use
against tanks, but was not a success. Ju 88 ground attack units also tried
the WG 21, ?gain without success.
The 28/32 cm Rockets
The first of the Ger'man field rockets to enter service, the 28/32 cm rccket
equipments appeared in late 1940. Compared with later rockets they were of
poor ballistic shape but compensated for their relatively short range by thei r
large payloads.
Both rockets had basically the same construction and motor, and used the
same projectors but the major difference5 are best described first:
The 28 em Wurfkdrper Spreng
This weighed 181 Ibs and contained 110 Ibs of TNT or amatol. It could be
identifi ed by a 1j- inch wid ') pink band round the head of the projecti le.
Length was 3 feet 11 inches.
The 32 em Wurfkdrper M FL 50
Thi s weighed 174 Ibs and contained 11 gallons of a mobil e brown incendiary
liquid made from a mi xture of petrol and diesel oil. The identifying band was
green and yellow. Length was 4 feet 2 ~ inches. Filling was carried out through
a plug behind the swell of the head.
The general appearance of the rocket can be seen from the photographs. In
both t ypes the motor was at the rear with the large bulbous head containing
the proportionately large charge. Propulsion came from a 14 Ib 9 oz charge of
propellant known as diethylene glycol dinitrate. This substance was in a single
stick with one central hole and eight grooves spaced round the outside to
assist burning . In this hole and the grooves cellular sticks were placed to
start the burning after ignition from front and rear by two separate ignitors.
Ignition was commenced by an electrical initiator in the base. The exhaust
gases vented through 26 1 cm jets inclined 14
right to impart spin to the rocket
in flight . Diameter of the motor was 14 cm. For tropical use the exhaust end of
the motor was sealed with aluminium foil or a mild steel plate. 'European'
rounds were left unprotected.
The fuse on the 28 cm was of the point-detonating or graze action type.
A safety pin was fitted which had to be removed before firing. After firing, two
centrifugal bolts armed the fuse. Fusing for the 32 cm rocket was similar.
Both types were contained in a wood or metal crate known as a
'packkiste'. They were designed to be fired from this crate and the crate also
served as storage and cnrrying containers. Maximum range for the 28 cm was
2337 yards and 2217 yards for the 32 cm. Minimum range was 1019 yards.
Simplest of all of the 28/ 32 cm projectors was the carrying crate. Each crate had
small hinged legs on its base and these could be used for small elevation correc-
tions after the front of the crate had been positioned on an earth mound or low
wall. Laying was completed by simply pointing the round at its target. The
safety pin was then removed and the rocket fired electrically by a hand genera-
tor after the user had taken cover some 10-15 yards away. Single rou nds used
in this way were of great assistance in demolishing strong-points and bunkers
in the path of attacking infantry units but accuracy was not of a high order and
only large targets could be usefully engaged. However the large explosive or
incendiary charge was devastating in its effect.
The Schweres Wurfgerat 40 and 41
The Schweres Wurfgeriit 40 and 41 w ere two tYP3S of the same static launching
frame to hold four 28 or 32 cm rockets in their crates ready for firing. The
only differences between the two types wns that the Schweres Wurfgeriit
BEL OW: Schweres Wurfgeriit emplaced and loaded ready for the assault on
Sebastapol, 1942.
ABOVE: (Top) Schweres Wurfgerat 40. (Bottom) Schweres Wurfgeri':t 41.
40 was made of wood and weighed 115 Ib while the 41 model was metal
and weighed 243 lb. Both were simple frames with the front legs adjustable
for elevation. Four crates were laid on top and after connecting up the initi-
ators in the rocket base centres the equipment was ready for action. As always,
firing was carried out from a position under cover but the Schweres Wurfgeriit
was often used in remotely controlled batteri es to cover approaches to a de-
fended position or emplaced to lay down a rocket barrage during an attack.
All four rockets could not be fired at once, but at 2-second intervals.
This delay was introduced automatically by means of a device known as the
GILikzundkette 40 mV. It was in fact made up of lengths of a delay composition
in plug assemblies to each rocket. An electrical pulse from a standard hand
generator fired one rocket and the delay composition then acted as a slowmatch
to fire off the other rockets after 2, 4 and then 6 seconds. The cableform ends
were identifiable by metal tags and labelled 4,0,2,6 (seconds) from left to right as
this was the correct firing order, ie, 3-1-2-4. The required firing current was
OA amperes.
Laying the Wurfgeriit frames was effected by setting up the frame facing the
target and then setting the elevation angle by using a hand clinometer on the
motor body (as shown in the pl1otograph). The front of the frame was then
raised or lowered until the appropriate angle was obtained and the adjustable
frame front legs were locked in position. If the rockets were already on the
frame up to four men were needed to carry out this task. A range and elevation
table is shown separately.
The Schweres Wurfgerat 41 could also be used to fire 30 cm rockets from
their transport crates.
The WG 28
As the war in Russia progressed, it bacame apparent that the Russian tank
forces were becoming more powerful as time ran out for the opposing Panzer
BELOW A Czech officer using a hand clinometer to determine the correct
elevation of a Sch weres Wurfgerat 41; up to f our men were needed to hold the
frame in place before clamping. (IWM-815 103).
Extract from range tables for 28/32 cm Rocket
Projectors 40 and 41
(Schwere Wurfgerat 40 und 41)
28cm HE Rocket
!Correction 50% zone
Range Elevation for drift length breadth
m mils mils m m
+ 5
+ 7
+ 8
+ 11
+ 13
+ 15
+ 17
+ 19
+ 28
+ 31
+ 35
+ 39
+ 45
- -
- -
- -
160 20
20 160
150 20
30 150
150 30
150 40
40 150
140 40
50 130
120 50
60 110
70 90
80 80
90 80
90 80
,,,_ , ,. 0
32cm Incendiary Rocket
+ 7
+ 8
+ 10
+ 12
+ 15
+ 19
+ 21
+ 23
+ 26
+ 33
+ 44
+ 60
- -
- -
170 20
170 20
170 20
170 30
180 30
180 30
180 40
40 180
170 50
160 50
60 150
140 60
70 120
110 80
100 80
90 100
100 110
units. To try and stem the armoured flood, many airborne weapons were
experimented with, and amongst them was a tube-launched adaptation of the
28 cm rocket. known as the Werfer Gerat 28 (or WG 28) . This launcher was
mounted under the wings of both the Hs 129B and an undesignated Ju 88,
unofficially known as the Ju 88N or Ju 88Nbwe. In both cases the WG 28
was not a success, probably due to its drag-inducing large frontal area and the
generally poor accuracy of the 28 cm rocket. As a result of the experiments
both types of aircraft were adapted to carry the 75 cm Kwk 39 anti-tank gun.
Another type of aircraft that attempted to use the WG 28 operationally was
the Focke-Wulf F 190F-8. These aircraft were flown by SchlachtflieJer' units
on the Eastern Front but the results were not encouraging and the units went
on to try other tank-busting methods. In service with these units the WG 28
was referred to as the Werfer-Granate 28/ 32 .
BELOW: Laying a 28/32 cm Nebel werfer 41. The mushroom shaped objects
on top are used to hold the rockets in place when the top flap is hingedforwards
and down for transportation. Note the cable from the firing position to the
connection box and the l eads to the rocket initiator. (I WM-STT5560) . ABOVE: A 28/32 cm Nebelwerfer 41. Note the junction box on the nearside
The 28/32 em Nebelwerfer 41
To give the 28/ 32 cm rockets more mobility than that afforded by the
Schweres Wurfgerat 40 and 41 the Nebelwerfer 41 was developed. This con-
sisted of a two-wheeled trailer towed into action by a Sd Kfz 1 O/1-ton half-
tracked vehicle. On this trailer was mounted six open steel frames in two
superimposed rows of three. Each of the six frames was contoured to hold one
32 cm rocket and liner rails were provided for use with 28 cm rockets. Elevation
and traverse mechanism was provided for use by the layer who stood by or sat
on the left-hand mudguard and used a small dial sight fixed to the launcher
framework. These sights were covered by a hinged metal flap when not in use.
In action the launcher was held rigidly in position by two jacks in front of the
launcher rails and a small trail spade. The trail was not split-a feature which
differentiates the Nebelwerfer 41 from the similar 30 cm Raketenwerfer 56.
Traverse for the Nebelwerfer 41 was 30and elevation from 0 to 45. Weight
was 2,460 lb. Ranges were the same as that for the Schweres Wurfgerat 40
and 41.
Firing was effected electrically. The connection box was on the right-hand
side of the projector. For an initiator the Steckzunder 40 was used. This was
a simple plug screwed into the centre of the rocket base. Two 13 inch long
insulated leads leading from it were then connected to the fixed electrical
circuitry on the launcher. The Steckzunder 40 was carried separately from other
ammunition in sealed cardboard cartons, each holding 16 initiators ready for
use. Rockets were fired in the order shown in the diagram.
The 28/ 32 cm Nebelwerfer 41 was one of the projectors used by the
Heavy Rocket Projector Battalions (motorised) (Schwere Werferabteilung
(mot) of the SS and Army divisions. They saw extensive service in Russia.
28/ 32 cm Nebelwerler 41 firing diagram. The
six cradles were fired in the foll owing sequence:
ABOVE: A Russian soldier holds a meter rule against a 28/32 cm Nebel-
werfer 41. In the foreground are two 28cm rockets - one unfused and one in
its 'packkiste. In front of the launcher are the 28 cm liner rads. not needed for
the two visible 32 cm rockets loaded in the launcher. In the background can
be seen a 15 cm Nebelwerfer 41. (IWM-21024J.
The Schweres Wurfrahmen 40
One of the lessons learned from the early campaigns of 1939-40 was the need
for heavy support fire for the forward elements of the Panzer divisions. At that
time much of the Wehrmacht artillery was still conventional in form and towed
by horse or truck. This was too slow and lacked cross-country ability so
alternative means had to be found. One solution, and the most widely used,
was the Sturmgeschiitze series of mobile guns on a wide variety of tracked
chassis. The half-tracks were also involved in this new concept but they were
mainly too light to effectively mount the heavy weapons needed. To rectify
BELOW: A poor qualilV battlefield shot of an Sd Kfz 251/1 in action. This
vehicle was sometimes called 'SlUka zum fuss' -'Infantrv Stuka'.
IUOVE: An Sd Kfz 251 /1 firing its last rocket during the fighting in Stalingrad. Note the empIV crates.
... - :..-. --
ABOVE: A captured Sd Kfz 251 with the SWR 40 frames clearly visible. The
swivelling plates and clamps are shown at varying angles. (I WM-NA 10436) .
this the Schweres Wurfrahmen 40 was designed by the J.Gast KG. of Berlin-
Lichtenberg during 1940 for mounting on the Sd Kfz 251 or 251 / 1. The end
result meant that the relatively light half-track could pack a punch harder than
many of its heavier, costlier and more complex counterparts (though not as
accurately) .
In it's final form the Schweres Wurfrahmen 40 (or SWR 40) enabl ed the
Sd Kfz 251-or more commonly the 251 / 1-to carry si x 28/ 32 cm rockets
in their crates on a frame designed to carry three projectil es on each side of
the vehicle. The rockets were attached to a plate on this frame still in their
carryi ng crate and they were fired from the crate. Each pivoting plate could be
elevated between 5and 45 and a scale was provided for laying along with a
fixing clamp.
The rockets were not loaded on to the Wurfrahmen until required-otherwise
the width of the vehicle could become awkward. In transit, the six rockets were
stowed inside the vehi cle. Normally the load consisted of five 28 cm rockets
and one 32 cm incendiary. In action the vehicle was directed nose first
towards the target (no other traverse control was provided), brakes were
applied, the crates ('packkiste') loaded, the plate elevated to the required angle
and then clamped into position. The crew then retired to cover some 10 yards
distant for firing. Extra rounds could be carried in follow- up half-tracks or
lorries. Once the rockets had been expended or even not required further the
Sd Kf z 251 / 1 could still carry out its numerous tasks while retaining the
SWR 40. The normal armament of 2MG 34 s was retained and in some cases
the forward MG 34 was replaced by a 2 cm KwK 30 or KwK 38.
Schweres Wurfr ahmen 40 firing
diagram. The si x crad les w ere fired in
Ihe foll owing sequence : 1-2-3- 4-5-6.
There were two sub-types of the SWR 40-the A and B, but these appear
to have differed only in the el ectrical firing circuits on the frames, and even
then only in the connections to the initiator. The Type A used for an initiator
the Steckzunder 40, as used in the 28/32 cm Nebelwerfer 41. However the
Type B used the si milar Druckknopfzunder 42 which differed mainly in having
press stud terminal s on the ends of the leads. Like the earlier initiator, it was
issued in sealed cardboard cartons containing 16 items.
The six rockets could be fired in ten seconds. The accompanying diagram
shows the firing order.
Sd Kfz 251 half-tracks carrying the SWR 40 were widely used in Russia,
especially during the sieges of Stalingrad and Leningrad. They were also
encountered in Tunisia, Sicily, Italy and NW Europe.
One other vehicle that carried the SWR 40 was the French built Infantrie
Schlepper UE(f) . This was one of the small infantry carriers captured during
the 1940 campaign and held in reserve by the Wehrmacht until late 1943 when
the growing threat of Allied invasion in North France led to the improvisation
of many types of mobile weapons on French chassis. Small numbers of the UE
carriers were adapted to carry four launchers, two on each side. With a crew
of two or three internal rocket stowage must have been minimal. Aiming and
firing methods were the same as that described for the full SWR 40. It is not
known how many vehicles were converted. Weight of the vehicle with the racks
fitted was 1 75 tons.
The 30cm Rocket
Of all the large field rockets, the 30 cm rocket was the largest and the latest
to see service. It benefited from earlier experience in that it employed an
enlarged 15 cm motor and its launchers were similar to, and in two cases
the same as, those employed by the 28/ 32 cm rocket.
In appearance it was much more streamlined than the clumsy-looking 28/ 32
cm family, but apart from that they were similar in concept, ie, the rocket
motor was at the rear and the proportionately large warhead was at the front .
There the resemblance ended for the 30 cm Wurfkiirper 42 Spreng (or
Wurfkiirper Spreng 4491) weighed 277 Ib of which 100 Ib was the amatol
bursting charge. The propellant weight was just over 33 Ib which meant a
higher payload to motor weight rati o than other German field rocket types and
this resulted in a maximum range of 6000 metres (6562 yards) though the
BELOW: A Wurfrahmen 40 armed Sd Kfz 251/1 ready for acti on. Note the
commander's stereoscopi c binoculars.
normal fighting range was from 400- 5500 metres (437-6015 yards) . Overall
length was a fraction over 4 feet.
The 30 cm rocket appears to have used high explosive fillings only. They
were painted black with white stencilled letters round the nose to denote filling
and batch number.
As already mentioned the motor was an enlarged version of the successful
15 cm motor. The motor was 22-! inches long and 8-! inches wide and contained
in a steel tube 0-43 inches thick. Seven sticks of Hydro-cellulosepulver made
up the propellent which vented through the base venturi block consisting of
18 holes angled 1242' to rotate the projectile. This venturi-block had a central
hole into which the initiator was permanently fixed. In the event of a misfire
however, the initiator could be unscrewed and replaced by a new item. When
fired electrically the initiator ignited a small gunpowder pellet which in turn
ignited a celluloid tube which ran centrally along the motor to the maintainer.
The maintainer started the main motor charge as normal, but the maintainer
was held from the charge sticks by a wire mesh grid, introduced to prevent
damage or premature firing of the motor if the rocket was accidentally dropped
or knocked.
Like the 28/ 32 cm rocket the 30 cm rocket was issued to the front line in
a wooden carrying crate or 'packkiste'. This could also be used as a launching
rack but was not often so employed.
Also like the 28/32 cm series the Schweres Wurfgerat 41 was used in a
BELOW: 30 cm rockets in flight. Note the relative absence of smoke.
ABOVE: Camouflaging a 30 cm Nebelwerfer 42 prior to i ts use in a barrage. The
end result can be seen in the left background.
purely static or defensive role, as a launching ramp for the 30 cm projectile.
For details of the Schweres Wurfgerat 41 see the section on the 28/ 32 cm
The 30 em Nebelwerfer 42
Following similarity to the 28/ 32 cm, the 30 cm Nebelwerfer 42 was an
enlarged version of the 28/ 32 cm Nebelwerfer 42. The only real difference was
in the w elded steel projectors which were re-contoured and longer to take the
30 cm ammunition. In addition the two front stabiliser jacks were not always
fitted. Laying, firing and firing sequence was the same as the 28/ 32 cm
Nebelwerfer 41 .
The 30 em Raketenwerfer 56
On this projector the launching rails remained the same as on the 30 cm Nebel -
werfer 42 but the carriage was adapted from the 5 cm Pak 38 anti-tank gun
carriage. This was of the split-trail type. The two trails were tubular and split
to 56 inches between the trails. On each trail was a brake lever connected by
a cable to the wheel. The 162 inches diameter wheels had solid rubber tyres
and were made up of pressed steel discs. The axle was mounted on yokes
. hinged to the carriage and mounted on transverse leaf spring suspension. When
the trail was spread this leaf spring was compressed and this stabilised the
Apart from the normal towing eye at the end of the trail arms, a second eye
was provided on the carriage under the projector frame so that other projectors
could be added to form a chain (see photograph on page 41). In the photo-
graph the towing vehicle is a 'Maultier' Munitionspanzer but many other
methods of towing could be used including horses.
As on other rocket projectors the sights were on the left along with the
elevating (from 0_65 ) and traverse (40) controls. However, apart from the
normal dial sight an open fixed sight calibrated from 100-1000 metres (110-
1093 yards) was also provided.
As mentioned in the section on the 15 cm rocket the 30 cm Raketenwerfer
56 could be adapted to fire the 15 cm projectile. Liner rails could be inserted
into the 30 cm projectors and when not in use, these rails were stacked and
secured onto the launcher frames (see photographs) .
BELOW: A 30 em Nebelwerfer 42. Note the open box at the l eft- hand si de
which covers the si ghts when not i n use.
ABOVE: Three abandoned 30 em Raketenwerfer 56s in front of munition -
spanzers al Oelle in April 1945. On top of the proj ectors are stacked the 15 em
liner rails. (I WM- BU3430) .
The 30 cm Raketenwerfer 56 entered service during 1944 and remained in
use on all fronts until the end of hostilities.
The 8 cm Rocket
The sharp division of status and establishment between the regular Wehrmacht
and units of the Waffen 55 even went down to equipment and weapon level.
Thus it is not surprising to discover that although the 55 units also used the
standard field rocket equipments, they developed and used a different type of
rocket for issue to their formations alone. This rocket was the 8 cm Raketen-
sprenggranate, developed from a projectile originally intended for aircraft use,
and which differed from most of the larger field rockets in being fin stabilised
instead of spin-stabilised. It has been suggested that this form of rocket was
adopted after experience under bombardment from the Russian 'Katyusha'
projectors and the resemblance between the 8 cm rocket and its Russian
counterparts was close.
Actually, the diameter of the rocket was 78 mm, and the overall length was
27 7 inches (703 mm) . Weight was 15 Ib 3 oz. At the rear, four fins raised
the diameter to 7875 inches (200 mm) . The propellant used was six cordite
sticks which were electrically primed and ignited by two gunpowder discs.
Exhaust gases vented through a single 20 mm base venturi. Motor weight was
10 Ib (4' 54 kg). The warhead was formed of three perforated pellets of pressed
flake TNT weighing 11b 5t oz (610 gms) . Arming of the warhead was effected
partially by the burning propellant which melted a soh metal disc and allowed
the detonator to approach a centrifugally-released striker, ready for the nose
impact fuse to set off the warhead. Maximum range of the 8 cm rocket was
5796 yards (5300 m) with a velocity of 950 f/sec. A smoke carrying version
was also used.
The main launchers for this rocket were the mUltiple projector known as the
8 cm R-Veilfachwerfer which could fire up to 45 rockets in one salvo, and the
single Mantlerohr. Both launchers were of the rail variety and resembled current
Russian equipment. In both types the rocket lay on rails supported by four
metal studs, two on each side of the rocket body.
ABOVE: An 8 cm Raketensprenggranate. Note the leads running from the base
to the firing circuit.
The performance ofthe 8 cm fin-stabilised rocket in action as opposed to
the more complex'spinners' addedfurtherfuel tothearguments between the
SS and the Army, and in early 1944 a meeting was held in Berlin to decide
the matter.Theirdecision wasthatthe8 cm rocketwassuperiortothe 15cm
series but Hitler himself overruled any change-over in production rates and
ordered large scale field trials ofthetwo equipments which were never com-
pleted.In retrospectitseems likelythatthedecisioninfavour ofthe 8 cm was
largely a political one in view of the gradual and insidious policy of the SS
in taking over every partofthe war effort ofthe Third Reich-apolicywhich
culminated in SS control ofthe V-weaponcampaign and even eventuallythe
The 10 em Nebelwerfer
35 and 40
The Nebelwerfer35and40areincludedastheyconstitutedthefirstequipment
ofthe Chemical Warfare troops. They were not rocket equipments but large
First issued to the Nebelabteilung in late 1935the 10cm Nebelwerfer 35
was an enlarged version of the 8 cm Schwere Granatenwerfer 34 mortar.
Five men formed the crew in action and the 228 Ib weight ofthe complete
weapon could be transported by pack-animal, two-wheeled handcart or
sledge. Rate offire wasofthe order of 12-15rounds per minute.Range was
3025 m. In 1939 the Nebelwerfer 35 was the standard equipment of the
Nebelabteilung during the Polish campaign and was also issued to the
Gebirgswerferabteilung (mountain rocket projector brigades).
The 10cm Nebelwerfer40wasamuch heavierand more complexweapon.
It embodied a recoil mechanism as the projectile was loaded via a breech
block and fired by percussion as in a normal artillery piece--however the
high elevation andtrajectoryofamortarwas retained, and thebarrel remained
smooth bored. Weight was 1730 Ib which meant that the piece had to be
towed on its wheeled carriage, usually behind a lighttruck or by men across
country. Range was increased to 6225mandthefiring rate was8-10rounds
per minute.
The Nebelwerfer 35 and 40 both had a calibre of 105 cm butfired differing
ammunition- however, the Nebelwerfer 35 could fire the generally heavier
Nobolwerfer40rounds. A list ofthe varioustypesfollows:
10 em Nebelwerfer 35
HE 10cm Wurfgranate 35 Spreng
Smoke 10cm Wurfgranate 35 Nebel
10cm Wurfgranate 35 Nebel S
Incendiary 10cm Wurfgranate 35 Brenn
10 em Nebelwerfer 40
HE 10cm Wurfgranate 40 Spreng
Smoke 10cm Wurfgranate 40 Nebel
10cm Wurfgranate 40 Nebel S
10cm Wurfgranate 40wKh Nebel
Weights varied-fora rough guide the 35 Nebel weighed 16 Ib while the
40 Nebel weighed 219lb.
Chemical-filled rounds (otherthan smoke) were available but notused.
20 mm Luftfaust
By late 1944Allied airsupremacy was so overwhelming that drastic anti-air-
ofthese measuresinvolvedanti-aircraftrocketswhichare beyondthescopeof
thi s book, as they primarily concerned the anti-aircraft arms. However, one
stop- gapsolution can be mentioned here,as itconcernsa projector intended
for issue to front-linetroops who were especiallytroubled bythe activities of
groundattackaircraftsuch astheIlyushin11-2,P-47ThunderboltandTyphoon
orTempest .This equipmentiNas knownas the Luftfaustor Fliegerfaust. Inthe
eventthewar ceased before itsaw field service, butlarge numbers had been
manufactured and were readyforissue.
Theequipmentwasdesignedforquick,simpleand cheap manufacture.The
In a circle round one central tube. These nine tubes were held securely in
place by four identical stamped steel plates. Each plate had an integral sleeve
to make the structure really rigid and the two end plates were welded in
position- the other two were friction fitted and held in place by the firing
Thenineroundswerepre-loadedinready-spaced clips50 thattheclipcould
be fitted directly intothe projector. Pre-spacing ofthe individual rounds was
effected by two further steel plates similar but lighter, to those spacing the
tubes on the projector. Rounds were held fixed in position by wire spring
clips on the base plate ofthe clip while the front plate was 'floating', so that
whentheroundswereintroducedintotheprojectorand pushed homethefront
platewaspushed backontothebase. Afterpushing hometheclipwasrotated
slightlyand this locked the unitin position. A handleonthe clip was provided
forthe use ofthe loader.
The nine rockets were fired in two batches-oneoffour and then one of
five with an 02second delay between salvoes.This delay was broughtabout
by a delay pelletinserted in the initiatorsofthesecond group.
Tofire the rocketsthe projectorwas held on the shoulderagainst afolding
shoulder-rest and held by two folding hand-grips (both grips and rest were
simple stampings). Sighting was by fixed open sights on the left-hand ofthe
projector. In front ofthe rear hand-grip wasthe trigger which when released
allowed a spring-loaded rod to energize an impulse magneto. The resultant
pulsewastransmitted tothe rocket clip byawirevia aplug connection tothe
clip. Earth return was via another plug. On the clip itself connections were
madeto each rocketfrom twoinsulated collectorrings.Safetywaseffected by
turning the forward hand-grip out of line from the spring-loaded rod which
prevented it energizing the magneto.
Each rockethad awarhead which wasinfact astandard 20mm HE shell-
alreadyin wide use with all arms oftheservices.The motorwas made up ofa
single diglycol stick in a steel tube crimped onto an annular groove on the
shell. Ignition wasthrough acentral hole inthe venturiplate withthe exhaust
venting through four equally spaced venturis angled at 45 and the central
venturi already mentioned. The igniter cartridge was crimped onto the motor
base. A self - destructing contactfuse wasfitted tothe shell nose.
Each basic equipmentwasissued in awooden crate weighing 95lb. Inside
wasonelauncherand eightpre-loaded clipseach in afibrecontainer. Nopre-
II' preparation was needed before use apartfrom unpacking.
Production of the Luftfaust was initiated in early 1945 and mainly carried
out in small workshops manned by unskilled labour, including women and
children. Some 10,000 units had been completed by the cessation of
hostilites but few if any were issued and there is no record of any being
encountered by Allied aircrews.
The Luftfaust would indeed have been a formidable defensive weapon if
employed in large enough numbers. It was probably the earliest ancestor of
thepersonalground-to-airmissilesystemsoftoday- oneofwhichis Blowpipe
and another Redeye.
Total weightofclip ..........................................5tIb
Weightofone round ............................ ......250 grams (8'8oz)
Weightofshell ..... ... ....... .. .... . ...... ... .. ............. ..110grams (3' 9 oz)
Weightofpropellant..... .. .. .... .. ........ .. .......40 7 grams (1 -4 oz)
Length ofround less igniter ................................. 9 inches
Velocity ofrocket .. . . . . . . . . .... . .. . ..... . . .... ..... .. ........280-310metres/sec
Rotational velocity40 metres
from muzzle . . ..... .... .. ............... ..... ......26,000 rpm
Effective range ........... ..................................... 230-550yards
Maximumrange..... . . .. ....... . ........ .... ... .. . . ............ 2,200yards
Average dispersion ....... . ... . . . . . .. . . ...... . . . . ... ... . . ...10%
Fuse . ............ . ..... ... ...... .. ...... . ... .. .... .. ....... . ... . Contactwith self-
Total weight .... .. ..... .... .... . .... ...... ............ 14tlb
Overall length ...... .. ............ . .... .. .. . ......... .... .... 51 t inches
Diameter ofeach tube ..... .............. ......i inches
Overall diameter at breech..... .. .. .. ...... . .. . .. . ... ......... 5j inches
The 7 3 cm Rockets
The first appearance ofthe 7' 3 cm rocket was in late 1941 when itwas used
of an explosive or smoke warhead the 73 cm rocket carried propaganda
leaflets which were expelled from the rocket in flight to flutter down over
enemypositions.Therocketused forthisrole was known as the Propaganda-
granate41 (orPropagandageschoss)andwasaconventionalrocket161inches
long.Total weightoftherocketwas7 Ib 2 ozofwhich1 Ib wasthepropellant
and the leaflet payload weighed only 8 oz.
After firing the diglycol dinitrate propellant exhaust was directed through
seven angled venturis in the base and a time fuse burned through to a small
black powder bursting charge in the rocket's centre. When the charge burst
itforced apartthetwohalvesoftheforwardhalfoftherocket bodylengthways
and released a spring round which the leaflets were wrapped thus scattering
the leaflets.
The launcher used for this rocket was the 7'3 cm Propagandawerfer 41,
whichwasasimpleand light(25Ib) single-roundframe. Itconsisted ofasteel
tube base-frame on which was mounted the angle-iron launching trough,
pivoted at its base. This trough frame was 9 ~ inches long, and elevated by
an arm from the troughto the base-frame. In use the base was held firmly in
place by three fixed spades welded to the underside of the base frame. The
launchingtrough was raised tothe desired elevation and clamped into place,
afterwhichtherocketcould be loaded. UnlikemostotherGermanfield rockets
the 7'3 cm series employed percussion firing, so the Propagandawerfer 41
employed the mortar principle. The rocket was laid on the trough and held
20 inches away from the base striker by a release lever. Attached to this
lever was a cord which enabled the firer to take the necessary cover some
distance from the launcher. On release the rocket slid down the trough ont"
the fixed striker which ignited the percussion primer inthe rocket's base.
The Propagandawerferwasemployedbyspecial units (Propagandatruppen)
leaflets distributed by such an expensive device had on the enemy isdifficult
The development of the 73 cm rocket for propaganda purposes alone made
for rather an expensive exercise at a time when Germany's limited resources
were feeling the strain of producing large amounts of war material so it is
not surprising that the 73 cm motor was adapted to carry a more offensive
warhead. In this form it was renamed the 73 cm Raketensprenggranate and
utilised mainly as an anti-aircraft weapon. However it was also used against
ground targets and thus comes into the scope of this book.
The 73 cm R Sprgr weighed 6 Ib (2'74 kg) and was 11 ,09 inches
(28'2 cm) long. Of this length the motor made up 5 3
2 inches and as
before the propellant was a one-piece charge weighing just over 1 Ib and
venting through seven base venturii. The 062 Ib (280 grams) bursting charge
in the warhead was made up of two possible fillings. One filling, coded '95'on
the casing was known as 'cyclonite/TNT (60/40)'. A later variant of this was
coded 'H5+Fp02' and made up of 55% cyclonite, 40% TNT and 5% wax
(cyclonite is a form of RDX) . As the rocket was primarily intended as an anti-
aircraft weapon it carried a self destructing charge in the nose fired by a inch
long tracer chain ignited from a relay in the warhead base. This relay was set
off by the rocket igniter. Normally the warhead was set off by a point detonat-
ing nose fuse known as the Raketenaufschlagzunder 51 (RAZ 51) which
was adapted from the fuse used in standard 20 mm ammunition, The un-
painted rockets were finished in a matt dark grey or black anti-corrosion coating.
A 1 inch wide yellow band was painted round the rocket body and on the
warhead was painted a large white 'R' and charge details, also in white.
The main launcher for this rocket was the Fohn Geriit, which could be
either mobile or fixed. It consisted of 35 31 inch long launching rails mounted
in a box formation of seven superimposed rows of five. As was to be expected
of an anti-aircraft weapon 360traverse was provided and elevation was from
-10 to 90. Sighting was carried out from an armoured box, fitted with a
transparent plastic window, mounted to the left of the racks. The sights
themselves were designed for both anti-aircraft and ground target use and a
rudimentary rear and foresight was provided for rapid pointing. All thirty-five
rockets were fired in one salvo, provided the two safety devices were cleared,
by firing pins behind each rail.
The mobile version of the Fohn Geriit was mounted on an adapted 37 cm
anti-aircraft gun two-wheeled trailer. Fixed mounts were set up on sheet iron
or concrete platforms. Some of these mountings were used to cover river
crossings at Satzvoy, Unkel and Hahn,
At the time of the German collapse development work was being carried
out on 3-,5-,7- and 24-barrel projectors for the 73 cm rocket . Each barrel
was hexagonal so various barrel combinations could be easily assembled. For
the 3-,5- and 7-barrellaunchers the barrel length was 100 cm (39'37 inches)
while the 24-barrel version was to be 55 cm (21'65 inches) long. Each barrel
held three guide rails and spring clips held the rocket in position 20 cm from
the rear. On the 24-barrel version the barrels were open leaving only the
rail ' skeleton' along most of its length. Apparently the 3-barrel weapon was
intended for one-man use and a 50 x 50 cm shield was provided for firer
One further launcher remains to be mentioned. This is the unusual device
referred to in Allied Intelligence reports as the 75 cm Multiple Fortress Rocket
Projector. It consisted of four rows of seven barrels mounted on a low, two-
wheeled trailer. The four rows were at slightly different elevations to give a
wide rocket dispersal and thus cover a very wide area. Each row could be
individually cocked and all rows fired together. Limited elevation controls were
It seems extremely likely that this device used the 73 cm rocket, and that
this form of projector was in fact a 'one-off' device or even a field 'lash-up', as
it appears that only one was ever captured and no mention of it appears in
German accounts.
The 8-8 cm Rocket Grenades
During the latter months of 1943 a new weapon appeared almost simultane-
ously on both sides of the conflict. On the American side the new weapon was
known as the Launcher, Rocket, M1 and fired a small rocket 236 inch in
diameter. The German equivalent fired a 88 cm rocket and was known as the
88 cm Raketenpanzerbuchse, Both of these relatively light rocket grenades
could knock out any tank then in service-provided it was close enough, for
both weapons could fire their missiles effectively up to only just over 100 yards,
However the destructive power of the warheads owed less to their impact
and explosive powers than to the nature of the warhead which was a 'shaped
charge' employing the 'Munroe effect'.
This 'Munroe effect' was discovered by an American explosives expert,
Professor Charles E. Munroe, as far back as 1887. Very basically a hole could
be blown, or more accurately burned, through armour plate by having an air
gap between a bursting charge and the plate at the time of the explosion,
The bursting charge is held contained in a steel casing with the front only
lightly covered with thin sheet steel. An air gap is deliberately formed
by making a conical depression in the explosive and the nose is tapered only
for streamlining and holding the impact fuse at the correct distance from the
charge. The fuse when firing thus ignites the charge which is then 'focused'
forward and spends all its destructive energy on the impact region. In practice
this meant that early rocket grenades could burn a hole in up to 8?, inches of
armour plate.
Despite the Munroe effect being widely known little use was made of it
before World War 2. The German firm of Westfalisch-Anhaltische Sprengstoff
Aktiengesellschaft did some research on shaped charges and developed them
for mining purposes from 1912 onwards. Military uses were not investigated
deeply until early in World War 2 when the destructive effect was enhanced
by lining the shaped charge with thin sheet steel to be carried along in a
vaporised state by the force of the explosion, This vapour added to the
burning effect. Other metals can be used for this liner, examples being zinc
and lead, and as some metals give better results than others much experimenta-
tion was carried out with various alloys. For maximum effect the charge must
go off at an optimum distance from the plate so the shaped charge is not often
used on high velocity projectiles but on relatively slow moving ones or fixed
mines or charges. Thus the rocket was selected for use against tanks and
the ' bazooka' launcher developed. It is interesting to note that the British also
developed a spaced charge missile but chose to fire it from the PlAT launcher
which was a spigot mortar.
In time the Munroe effect became known as the 'Hollow Charge' effect.
The 88 em Raketenpanzerbuehse Grenate 4322
This was the first German rocket grenade to see widespread service and weighed
7 26 lb. Other marks followed the same basic design so only this variant will
be described in detail.
Length was 2556 inches and the missile was stabilised by drum fins at the
rear. The main bursting charge was in the bulbous warhead and weighed 1 Ib
72 oz made up of 41 2% TNT and 588% cyclonite. This combination of
explosives was known as cyclotol. Cavity lining was of 015 mm thick mild
steel plate. The detonator for the charge wa's embedded in the rear of the
charge and the nose fuse was of the AZ5095 type which had a functioning
time of 00002 seconds. Inside the tubular steel body was the propellant
charge weighing, together with the igniter assembly, 0-403 lb. Made up of
seven propellant sticks, thi s charge propelled the grenade at a rate of
approximately 340 ft / sec and burned for about 7 feet of the rocket' s travel.
Each stick was 76 inches long and 0-45 inches in diameter with a central
022 inch perforation. Composition was 645% nitrocellulose, 345% DEG N
and 1 % stabiliser. The sticks were held in position by two simple wire grids
with the igniter at the top end of the tube. An electrical primer was inserted
into the centre of the venturi assembly in the tail.
The R pz B Gr 4322 was fired from the R P 43 ' and had a maximum
effective range of 165 yards. Their colour was dark green with white stencilled
identifying markings.
Raketenpanzerbuehse Grenate 4992
The R pz B Gr 4992 (sometimes referred to as 4999) was a later version
of the 4322 and had a range improvement of up to 220 yards. It was fired
from the later R P 54/1, and featured side el ectrical contacts for the ignition
Raketenpanzerbuehse Grenate 4312
The R pz B Gr 4312 was designed to be fired from the Raketenwerfer 43
(Pi.ippchen) and was shorter and lighter than the R pz B Gr 4322. It was 1964
inches long and weighed 5 Ib 13 oz. The propellant was a single perforated
stick made up of 628% nitrocellulose, 361 % diglycoldinitrate, 07% alkalide
and 02% ash. This mixture was ignited by a percussion cap in the venturi at the
rear. Weight of the propellant was only 17 oz, while the bursting charge
was 1 Ib 8 oz (684 grams) of cast RDX/ TNT 60/ 40.
All the above grenades could penetrate up to inches of armour plating
placed vertically, while 40
sloped armour could be penetrated up to 63 inches.
However their penetration could be reduced by placing relatively thin plates
some distance away from the armour to be protected. The charge then lost
a great deal of energy before hitting the armour proper and penetration was
considerably reduced. These thin plates were loosely attached to the sides of
most tanks in combat and were known to the Germans as 'Scheutzen' . Wire
1O(!sh could also be used for the same purpose, and is still in use in Vietnam
Thp, Raketenpanzerbuehse 43
III" 1I IIkoiollpanzerbuchse 42 (or RP 43) was designed as a launcher for the
II I' .. II ( it II :Q 2 and came into service late in 1943. It was a two-man weapon
fl li Ii :, (,,,11\ Illudu handling and loading by one man a difficult task.
ABOVE: An RP 43 on view at the RAe Tank Museum. Bovington.
Known also as the Ofenrohr (not to be confused with the aircraft mounted
WG 21 21 cm launcher) and Panzerschreck (tank terror) , the RP 43 was
5 feet inches long and weighed lb. The grenade was loaded from the
rear into a steel tube supported on the f i rer's shoulder by a shaped metal rest
a third of the way along the tube, with further support given by two hand-grips
under the tube. Simple back and foresights were provided for aiming, while a
thin webbing sling was provided for carrying by one man.
As mentioned above the weapon was normally operated by two men. The
loader also carried the ammunition in wooden boxes, each carrying three rocket
grenades, though later sheet steel carriers were provided. As each rocket
was taken from its box it was checked to see that the electrical primer was
secure in the base. Two thin leads ran from this primer to a plug. After loading
the rocket was held in position by a retaining catch and also by a spring-
loaded plunger at the tail. The wandering leads were then plugged into a
housing at the end of the tube. Previous to this the firing mechanism had
been cocked by pulling on the cocking handle in front of the trigger. This
compressed a spring which was held by the trigger. Releasing the trigger allow-
ed the spring to drive a magnetised rod through a coil and the resultant
current was fed to the rocket's primer via fi xed conduit on the side of the tube.
When fired the rocket motor burned for about the first 7 feet of its journey.
This gave rise to considerable flame and smoke which was very dangerous to
the firing crew. As a result they were issued with special flame-proofed
ponchos with face-masks, and steel helmets had to be worn. This extra protec-
tive clothing was also extensively camouflaged as the crew had to be quite
close to the tank when they fired. The bulk of the RP 43 made 'stalking' the

,Conr. u;"
((L / . I '" I
- '. III 0/\\1\\ \ \\ (0 ) l eod ..... cCI .... r ';j; n s ')
{b} l e ad
lo o dcdo
88 cm.(3 S in.) A.Tk. ROC!<'ET LAUNCH ER
(RCl k ehzn L'!.3)
target tank difficult in anything but closely built-up areas (where tanks were
not likely to venture anyway) so the weapon was normally fired from selected
and prepared positions. In infantry companies the RP 43 was normally
assigned to the company HQ platoon.
The Raketenpanzerbi.ichse 54 and 54/1
The addition of a shield in front of the firer was the main change from the
R P 43 to the R P 54. Some R P 43 users had already fitted makeshift shields to
their launchers as the protective clothing was uncomfortable 2nd impeded
movement. The new shields varied in size but were about 14 inches x 185
inches and had a mica window 22 inches x 22 inches on the left side. Weight
of the R P 54 was increased to 23'5 Ib and the rocket used continued to be
the R pz B Gr 4322. Protective clothing for the crew was no longer necessary.
The arrival in service of the R pz B Gr 4992 meant that a new electrical
contact system to the rocket electrical primer had to be made. Re-design of
the launcher coincided with the decision to shorten the tube to 4 feet inches
and the weight dropped b3ck to 21 lb. The R P 54/ 1 as the revised launcher
was designated could still fire the old 4322 grenade as the electrical mechanism
above the breech still retained the socket for the wandering leads from the
4322 primer. The 4922 however utilised a contact ring round the tail drum
and contact was made to this via a spring-loaded plunger.
The sighting arrangements were more complicated on the RP 54/1. The
original R P 43 had only two temperature foresight positions (-25e and
+ 25e) but the RP 54/1 had three: -25e, o oe and + 25e . Further
complication was added by the fact that the foresight could also be slid
up and down to accommodate three different types of ammunition-winter
43/ 44, summer 44 and winter 44/ 45. The three different types were necessary
to accommodate the extremes of temperature met on the Russian front and
also the improvements made to the propellant to increase range. Details
are given separately. While the RP 54/1 had the sighting modifications already
fitted the earlier RP 54 could be modified by a kit of parts supplied with the
BELOW: A 'drill book' shot of an RP 54 team, with the l oader placing a round in
the tube. In action the team would be heavil y camouflaged. (IWM-STT6832).

ABOVE: American soldiers examine a captured R P 54.' The firer is in fact holding
the hand tensioner for the solenoid spring-not the trigger. The censor has
erased the divisional markings on the Americans' uniforms. (I WM -EA29277) .
winter 44/45 ammunition. These kits also included a new rearsight slide with
offset marks for aiming-off for target speeds and a new glass window.
Besides the shield modification made to the RP 43, another field change
was the addition of a periscope and extending shoulder rest to the R P 54
and 54/ 1. All the parts could be made locally and the periscope was
modified from a standard rifle attachment or even adapted from commercial
models. A small handle was clamped to the trigger guard for steadying the
launcher. The modification was simple and gave the firing crew extra protec-
tion behind suitable cover.
Despite the success of the Panzerschreck the increasing effectiveness of
the Panzerfaust series meant that the RP 54/1 had to increase its effective
range considerably to remain a viable weapon . Development of the 88 cm
rocket grenade could not be taken much further as it had almost reached its
development limit and further improvements could only be made by the adop-
tion of heavier and larger equipment. The design of this new equipment had
actually commenced in October 1943 but was on a very low priority and
was even stopped at one time, only to be revived in early 1945.
The new equipment was the 105 cm 'Panzertot: although other names
used were 'Panzerschreck-kanone' and 'Hammer'. It was a three-man load
and used two small wheels for towing. The rocket grenade used was an 8 cm
projectile fitted with a discarding sabot. Round the rocket's fin was the propel-
lant which vented between the shaped end of the tail shaft and the restricted
end of the firing tube. Development of 'Hammer' was ended by the German
Backsi")h_t __

...... il"h rinq
r;n<3 "'contact
8'8cm (3'5in) A. Tk. Rocker (improvEd parrern)
(Ra.kskn 54/1)
However one launcherthat increased the range ofthe 88 cm grenade had
already been tried in action, although only, it appears, in small numbers.This
was the 88 cm Raketenwerfer 43 or Puppchen ('Dolly') encountered on the
Italian front . In appearance it resembled a small two-wheeled conventional
artillery piece butthere was no recoil mechanism. Itfired the R pz B Gr 4312
which differed from the other 88 cm rocket grenades in having a percussion
primer. When fired from the closed breech, the recoil was taken up by the
small trail spade and hardly any recoil forces could be felt by the firer. The
backsight was calibrated up to 700 metres and there were no elevation or
traversing controls-all movement ofthe barrel being made manually via two
spade grips slightly offset to the left of the breech (the right hand grip
mounted the trigger). Overall length of the piece from the muzzle flash
eliminator to the end ofthe single trail was 9 feet 10 inches while the barrel
was 5 feet 9 inches long. The height was only 3 feet butthis could be further
reduced to 2 feet 6 inches by removing the wheels and resting the piece on
two rocker sledges. For transport the piece could be easily broken down into
seven sub-assemblies, total weight being 322 Ib (146 kg). Exactly why this
launcherwas notdeveloped or encountered ingreater numbers is notknown.
BELOW: An 8.8 cm Raketenwerfer 43 on its rocker legs which reduced the
height of the piece to 2 feet 6 inches. The standard round for this weapon
is shown standing on its tail in the foreground.
ABOVE: An Allied soldier posing on an 88 cm Piippchen. Detat! of the breech
block is clear. Note also the detailed firing instructions printed on the shield.
(IWM-NA 15782).
One possible reason isthat itslightconstruction would not have stood up to
towing over rough ground. Another is that its relatively sophisticated nature
made its cost-effectiveness rather low compared to the simpler and cheaper
RP 43 and 54.
Two further developments of the 88 cm family remain to be mentioned.
One was the experimental adaptation of the standard 8 cm mortar bomb
to be fired from the Panzerschreck. This idea was dropped as there was no
real advantage over using a mortar and the propellant was in increasingly
short supply.
Another use ofthe 88cm projectile was inthe ' Fliegender Panzerschreck'.
This was the adaptation offour 88 cm rocket grenades hung in a container
underthe wing ofa Fw 190F-8.The propellanttube was increased in length
to take a larger charge, so the overall length ofthe container (with the noses
protruding) was 995 cm, and the width 188 cm. They were used in small
numberson the Eastern Front during the latter part ofthewar.
The RP 54/1 Foresight
By 1945 it was possible to come across three different types of propellant
used in rocket grenades. These were:
Identified by the letters 'ARKT' they were intended for use on the Russian
front over atemperature range from-25Cto + 25C.
Intended for use at anytemperature-no identifying letters.
Identified by' ARKT44/ 45' itwas again forthe range from- 25Cto + 25' C.
However, use above +25C was not recommended as the rocketwas liable
to explode while stili in the tube.As a result the projectiles could not be left
in sunlight or stored near heat. To show the difference made to range by
temperature this last projectile had arange of200 m at +25Cand 100m at
- 25C.
To accommodatethis range of propellants the RP 54/ 1 foresight could be
clamped into one of three vertical positions: '+' '0' and' -' (see diagram).
Detailsofthe RP 54/1
foresight described
in text.
The following table showsthe range ofsettingsthen employed.
Class Temperature ClampatPosition
Winter43/44 +25C 0
Summer44 All
Winter44/ 45 +25C
OC o
Thus to engage a moving targetthe firer had to be aware ofits range, the
class of propellant in use, the ambient temperature and the speed of the
vehicle. This is notso complicated as itsoundsforthe class and temperature
would normallyhave been pre-setbeforegoingintoaction. Range wouldthen
be accommodated by selecting one of the three range notches on the fore-
sightand the speed 'aimed-off'on the rearsight.
The pre-1944infantrydivision (Infantriedivision) had 90 RP43s butthe post
1944 total was increased to 108. These were distributed 36 to each of the
three regiments where they made uptwo platoons ofthe anti-tank company
(14 Company) .
The post-September 1944 Volksgrenadier Divisions had an establishment
of216launchersas the Raketenpanzerbuchsetookovertheanti-tankrolefrom
theanti-tankgun (onecompanytoeachregiment). Distributionwas18toeach
ofthree platoons with 18 in reserve. The anti-tank company continued to be
referred to as '14' Company.
Army Mountain Divisions (Gebirgsdivisions) had an establishment of 72
launchers:36toeach ofthetwomountaininfantryregiments,wheretheywere
used by'16' Company.
The Luftwaffe parachute division (Fallschirmjagerdivision) had 250
launchers. Each of the three regiments had 54 with the remainder divided
among the other units as follows:
Division HQ 6
Reconnaissance Company 4
Signal Battalion 6
Artillery Regiment 12
AA Battalion 12
120mm Mortar Battalion 6
Anti-tank Battalion 36
Engineer Battalion 6
Volksturm battalions had an establishment of 36 launchers; 3 to each
platoon of the three companies, so that each Volksturm squad had an issue
ofone RP 43 or 54.
The Panzerfaust(TankDevil)
The Panzerfaust portable one-man rocketprojectorwasdeveloped to combat
the increasing numbers and quality of Allied tanks which began to appear
during 1942. In particular, the Russian T-34 had shown the inadequacy of
most current anti-tank weapons at infantry unit level, and similarly armoured
vehicles were known to be under development in all combatant countries.
Thusthe Panzerfaust wasconceived to givethe hard-pressed infantryman his
own personal anti-tankdefence.
Development of the new weapon was carried out by a team led by the
weapon' s inventor Dr Heinrich Langweiler at the Research Department of
HASAG (Hugo Schneider Action Geselischaft) of Leipzig.Work began in the
summer of 1942 and the first weapon w a ~ ready soon after. Basically the
weapon was a small hollow-charge rocket which was fired from atube. The
first development example was only ~ Ib in weight and the launching tube
was 14 incheslong. Nosights were fitted as the weapon was intended to be
fired by holding it at arm's length with the tube at right-angles to the arm.
Sighting was then carried out by judgment alone and even at short range
accuracy was not good. This method of holding the tube gave the weapon
the use of some form of sighting arrangement and these when fitted meant
that the user now had to hold the tube under his arm or pointing over the
shoulder. To protectthefirerthe tube was extended. Later the bomb was re-
designed to improve its ballistic shape and penetration.This model wasthen
designated Faustpatrone 1 but later became Panzerfaust (klein) 30m. Itwas
sometimes also known as 'Gretchen'. Further bomb development produced
the Faustpatrone II,or Panzerfaust30mbyJanuary/February1943.
Both weapons were shown to the Heereswaffenamt in a demonstration
at Kummersdorf in March 1943. In July 3,000 were ordered for troop trials
on the Eastern Front. where results were so encouraging that production was
ordered. The initial order was for 100,000 Panzerfaust (klein) 30 m, and
200,000 Panzerfaust 30 m a month, but higher priority programmes, the
general growing disruption of industry by air-raids and the supply situation
prevented thistargetbeing reached untilApril 1944.
Development continued with the emphasis on increasing the range from
30metres (whichexplainsthenameofPanzerfaust30m)toinitially60metres
with the Panzerfaust 60 m. This need for increased range was broughtabout
bythe increasing use ofinfantrycombatteams working in close co-operation
ABOVE: A typical Panzerfaust team position, well dug-in and covering a
roadway out of the picture to the left. The particular model shown is the
Panzerfaust 30 m, which had a range of 30 metres (100 yds).
with tanks. The Panzerfaust 60 m replaced the Panzerfaust (klein) 30 m in
production during the summer of 1944 but development continued and in
September 1944 the Panzerfaust 1 00 m appeared with production commencing
in November 1944. This was the last w eapon of the series to actually reach
the field. However, development continued and the resultant Panzerfaust 150
and Panzerfaust 250 will be described later.
The Panzerfaustdescribed
The four Panzerfaust variants used in the field (see diagram) all worked on the
same basic principle.
The bomb was held in the steel launching tube by a pin which was
removed just before firing . Firing the bomb was by percussion of a spring-
loaded striker on to the propellant . The launching tube also held the flip- up
sights which w ere rudimentary and marked off roughly in luminous steps on the
longer-range models. The foresight was a small spike on the bomb body.
Raising the sight also released the fuse safety pin.
The bomb used was the same on all models except the Panzerfaust
(klein) 30 m which was smaller. It consisted of a hollow-charge grenade
on a finned tail unit. The tail fins were four spring steel leaves which were
wrapped round the tail and held in position in the launcher tube until firing,
when they sprang out to guide the bomb. The hollow-charge head was thin,
pear-shaped and weighed 6 Ib 14 oz, of which 3 Ib oz w as the warhead.
(See table for Panzerfaust (klein) 30 m). The 30 m, 60 m and 100 m could
penetrate 200 mm (79 inches) of armour sloped at 30 to the normal (ie,
vertical) which compared very well with later variants of the famous 88 mm anti-
tank gun. This also meant any Allied tank was vulnerable. The warhead was
made up of 53-4% RDX and 46-4% TNT. The gunpowder propellant varied
from model to model (see t able) and on the Panzerfaust 100 m var iant two
separate charges were used to obtain a more gradual firing acceleration to the
higher muzzle velocity. On firing the propellant drove the bomb from the front
of the tube and stayed with it f or part of its flight. Some exhaust gases
[Jushed off the cap at the other end of the launching tube and caused a
jot of flame to extend rearwards some six feet beyond the tube. This flame
cou ld be very dangerous to the user or anyone in the vicinity and put limita-
amMifitEr ]I
'j TIiU"
o 0
11 /1:(11

seg,uence of Recoilless A. Tk. Bomb Dischargers
1, <.1... 0 l 1\ I
tions on where and how the weapon could be used. After firing the tube
was discarded.
The whole Panzerfaust w ea pon series was designed for use after a minimum
of training and experience. Instructions were printed on the bomb body so that
anyone finding one in a battle area who had not been trained in its use could
still fire it to some effect. The launching tube carried the words 'Achtung!
Feuerstrahl! (Beware of jet fl ame) to protect the unwary user and the firing
button or lever was also clearly marked ' Feuer' .
The whole equipment was robust and highly portabl e but the equipment
had to be protected from damp which could penetrate the cardboard ca p on
the end of the launcher tube and also seep past the soft plastic disc in front
of the propelling charge. The effects of the damp could produce misfires or
partial firing causing the bomb to fall short. Damp could also cause the tail
fins to rust together with resultant loss of guidance on firing. Orders stipulated
keeping the weapon under cover from the weather but i n forward areas this
usually mea nt wrapping the head in sacking. Fuses were also a source of
malfunctions and prematures, and tests employed involved shaking (any that
rattled were not used) and dropping onto a hard surface from about 50 cm;
if it survived it was then safe for transport . This fuse testing cannot have been
BELOW: The Panzerfaust (klein) 30 m. Note the warning 'Achtung Feuerstrahl
along the top of the barrel, which is just visible.
1 =:l"C---41- .
a popular task as the fuses were likely to go off under test .
In addition to the field models mentioned above two further Panzerfaust
models were under development as the war ended-the Panzerfaust 150 and
The Panzerfaust 150 was designed by January 1945 and production was
started in February by R. Tumbler of Doblen in Saxony. 100,000 had been
manufactured by April but few, if any, reached the field. The 150 model
differed from earlier models mainly in having a redesigned bomb in which
the explosive content was reduced. The shaping of the head cone meant that
the detonation wave was more concentrated so that combined with a longer
pointed nose only half the previous HE weight would produce the same effect
as the earlier models. The longer nose also helped to overcome a shortcoming
of earlier heads. This shortcoming occurred when firing at
vehicles protected by hanging plates or 'Scheutzen'. Previous hollow-charge
heads dissipated their energy on striking the plates so that a second weapon
was needed to penetrate the armour. The longer nose and design of the Panzer-
faust 150 bomb overcame this by concentrating the explosive jet and making it
more effective.
Other changes on the Panzerfaust 150 were increased propellant charges
(two) to give a muzzle velocity of 82 metres/second and thus increased
range. Another improvement was the addition of an optional fragmentation
sleeve to give the weapon an anti-personnel role.
In May 1945 the Panzerfaust 150 was still being developed to overcome
the increasing Shortage of raw materials including the steel launChing tubes
A new re-Ioadable tube was designed to be used ten times. The bomb was
altered by lengthening the propellant charge and the firing mechanism
contained a strip of ignition caps not unlike toy pistol caps. This development
was curtailed by the end of the war.
The Panzerfaust 250 was intended to replace all other types in service by
August 1945 but the propulsion system development was not completed. The
changes from previous models were again increased range and also a reload-
able facility combined with electrical firing.
The range increase was effected by using the Panzerfaust 150 bomb with
a longer tail shaff, a larger propellant charge (in two parts again) and a venturi
at the exhaust end of the launching tube. This increased the muzzle velocity to
120-150 metres/second. The electrical firing mechanism ignited an electrical
fuse in the lengthened propellant charge attached to the bomb. Firing was
from a impulse magneto in a pistol grip (similar to that on the
88 cm Raketenpanzerbuchse) . This was connected to the bomb by a plug
and socket connection at the front of the tu be. The circuit was completed by
a further surface connection between the bomb and the tube.
By the time the Panzerfaust 250 was under development the length of the
tube was becoming too long for easy field handling. Further developments
would have been directed towards staggering the propellant ignition on firing
to increase the muzzle velOCity and range still further, but the Panzerfaust
250 would probably have marked the end of the weapon's useful development.
The 250 model was too complex, awkward and expensive-a far cry from the
Simple Faustpatrone I.
The Panzerfaust in use
The early 30 m models were not well received at first by the troops in the
field. The fuses in particular were not very reliable and the fire jet caused
casualties when used in unsuitable situations such as bunkers and in front
of walls. Also the low range of 30 metres meant that the user had to get
BELOW: Troops disembark from a l orry during the last winter of the war. They
are carrying Panzerfaust 60s with slings.
. ..,
very close and become exposed to his target and could be injured by the
resultant flying splinters. Experience showed however that the weapon was
invaluable as a 'tank killer' and that the weapon's more dangerous traits
could be tamed. In time all 'blind' rounds were left well alone and the
user wore a steel helmet whenever possible, On the practise ranges a 770
yard radius circle was left round each firing point. Individual rounds were
kept dry and always close to hand. There are few photographs of German
infantry during the last year of the war that do not show one variant or other
of a Panzerfaust somewhere in the frame. All arms of the German forces were
equipped with the Panzerfaust including Volksturm, Hitler Jugend cadre units
and Luftwaffe field units. Nearly all transport in front-line areas carried at least
one round for individual defence.
One unusual role of the Panzerfaust in the late period of the war in NW
Europe was in trip-wire operated booby-traps for tanks. A wire stretched across
a road to be used by tanks was connected to the Panzerfaust firing mechanism
of a round secured behind a wall so that when the wire was stretched the
round was fired into the vehicle's side. Devices of this sort delayed the Allied
advance in built-up areas during the later period of the war.
As the ranges of the various marks increased so did their popularity with
the infantryman who used them. But it was basically a defensive weapon and
a cheap and simple to use one at that. It exactly suited the defensive role of the
German forces in 1944-45.
After the war development of the Panzerfaust was not entirely neglected as
can be seen by the adoption of the 'Leichte Panzerfausf by the West German
Bunderswehr. This weapon is a much modernised Panzerfaust 250, with a
re-usable launcher, shoulder rest and sophisticated sights.
The American M72 66 cm anti-tank rocket launcher closely follows the
Panzerfaust concept by utilising a collapsible and expendable launching tube.
However, the 66 cm projectile has a range of 300 m, and the complete
equipment weighs only 216 kg. It has been issued to nearly all NATO armies.
of HE
Weight of
up to
30 m
9 ~ l b 3 ~ l b 10 cm 1~ Ib 140mmat
30to N
535 30 m/
grams sec
30 m ~ Ib 6ilb 15 cm 3 ~ l b 200 mm at
30to N
30 m/
60 m 15 Ib 6ilb 15 cm 3 ~ l b 200 mm at
30to N
45 m/
100 m 151b 6ilb 15 cm 3 ~ Ib 200 mm at
30to N
(2 x 95)
62 m/
10-5 em Rocket
From about mid 1944 in the Skoda Works at Pilsen, Czechoslovakia had been
working on launching equipments for a 105 cm rocket. Little is known about
this rocket apart from the fact that it weighed 19 kilogrammes and had an
initial speed of 700 metres/second. It was designed as a multi-purpose
weapon and anti-aircraft launchers had been built for field and ship use. The
field anti-aircraft mounting, which was built in prototype form, used the 88 cm
Flak 36 carriage and launched its rockets from twelve open-frame rails similar
in appearance to the Russian 'Katyusha' launchers.
Also being designed as the war ended was the Raketenwerfer in Kammer-
lafette/ OKH. This was a tank mounted launcher with 3600 traverse and
elevation from _5to +75which would have made it suitable for artillery or
anti-aircraft use. Approximate weight of this launcher was to have been 3500
kilogrammes. It is not known what chassis would have been utilised but it
would probably have utilised obsolete vehicles rather than a new design.
28 em Rocket-assisted Shell
Ordnance designers are constantly looking for new ways to increase the range
of their progeny. During World War 2 many new and novel approaches were
made into this age-old problem and among these was the use of a delayed
action rocket to fire just as the shell's initial velocity was beginning to die
away. This principle went into service in the form of the 28 cm Raketen-
granate 4331 (R Gr 4331) which was fired from the 28 cm K5 (E) railway
gun. It increased the gun's not inconsiderable range of 67,800 yards to
93,100 yards-a 37% improvement.
The 28 cm R Gr 4331 was a pre-rifled projectile weighing 545% lb. After
loading into the gun, using a special aligning rammer to align the pre-rifling
with the barrel grooves, the shell was fired using a normal charge. After 19
seconds, a Zt Z S/30 time fuse set in the shell nose ignited a cast one-piece
motor to exhaust through a single venturi, after burning away a base plug. This
carried the warhead onwards at a time when the shell would otherwise have
begun its downward path. Two AZ 4331 percussion fuses were armed ready
for detonation by the rocket exhaust gases burning through a black powder
The R Gr 4331 was used operationally but SUffered two major failings. One
was that the 19-second timer and the rocket burning time could not be made
to perform to very exact limits so that the range and as a result, accuracy
could not be constant. Another, and perhaps the major drawback was that
the warhead weighed only 30l lb out of a total projectile weight on firing of
545llb. The resultant explosion on impact could not be justified in view of the
large amount of effort and cost expended, even though the nuisance and
propaganda value would have been considerable.
The 38 em Raketen
During 1942 the German Army encountered great difficulties in adapting to
street fighting in the Russian cities of Leningrad and Stalingrad. Solidly built
office and factory blocks were vigorously defended by the Russian troops who
used great skill and ingenuity in turning every building they occupied into a
fortress. Ordinary infantry weapons were not heavy enough to make much
impression on these solid structures and tank and mobile artillery weapons
could do little but chip away masonry bit by bit. As a result the house-to-
house fighting was prolonged, costly, and always bitter.
Various remedies were investigated by the German staff. One project was
the Rammtiger-a heavily armoured carapace on a Tiger chassis which would
demolish buildings by charging into them. This idea was dropped. A 21 cm
gun on a Tiger chassis was looked into but this would have resulted in a
very large and cumbersome vehicle as the only 21 cm guns available would
notadapteasilytoaself-propelled mounting.Theend result wastheadoption
of a weapon originally designed as a naval anti-submarine projector which
became known as the 38 cm Raketenwerfer 61. This formidable weapon
was mounted on aspecially adapted Tiger Ausf Echassis and fired a rocket-
propelled projectile weighing about 761 Ibtoa range of6,179 yards, though
it was intended for use at much shorter ranges. Descriptions follow of the
rocket,theprojectorand finallythe adaptation oftheTiger Ausf Eto carrythe
The Raketen Sprenggranate 4581
Despite itssize the 38 cm rocket was merely an enlarged version ofthe other
field rockets. Likethemitcould beconsideredtohavethree mainassemblies-
the high explosive head,the motorand the nozzle assembly.
. l l"

1.4.9<1 " 0 14,
---,=(38cm. R. Sprgr i.-581)
119Y ,- fuZE
-'--l - jC:='I;A " ,'01.
I .
13l5" <: ' ...... d;'.;..

Sti'iot l e il
14.94- 01A..

t,U; -'


/ s'

g . HOL.S
.". = .J;.
.z.a' .E{).
.fY' - -
l .or rOUR TlM[.5 SCALE

L ..' ,He n ON B- B
oI I I 2. ' 4! 1fi I , 110 Nt NOZZLE DETAIL.
There were in fact two types of high explosive heads.They had the S;lIl1ll
length (94'5cm) and diameter(38cm) buttheSprenggranate4581 contuino<i
a conventional thin-walled charge of270 Ib ofAmatol 50/50.Theotherlyp",
charge head. Fusing arrangements differed.Both employed nosefuses butlho
HE fuse incorporated an optional 012second delay (theA Z KM 8) whilelho
hollow-charge head employed a normal percussion device (theA Z KM 10) .
Some fuses were marked with a red ring. This meantthatthe rocketto whi, ;h
thefuse wasfitted could be carried loaded inthe projector. Bothtypesof fUSI)
also had a 'safe' position, and had to be rotated to the 'armed' or 'doklY'
position before loading,
The motor body was known as the Treibsatz 4581, and screwed into tho
threaded rear of the explosive head. Length of the body was 471 cm ,111(1
the Ib propelling charge was contained in a1346cm thick metal casino.
At the rear of the body nine splines were set ready for insertion into [hn
The propellant was made up of twelve sticks-ten spaced round [WI)
concentrically placed sticks, Down the central stick were placed three blnck
powder filled bags which acted as a relay from the flash-fired igniter ill III<'
base centre to the maintainer in the front of the body. This maintainer W; I! ;
supported on a spacer ring and spread the ignition to all the other stick:;,
Each stickwasspaced from the othersto enable steady and equal burninn.
ofeight . Each venturi was angled at 14to givethe rocketclockwise rNnli()l)
in flight. The assembly threaded into the motor body, and the nozzles W(JJfJ
sealed with athin asbestos gasket.
When fully assembled the projectile was 144 cm long. The total wl,iqlil
varied around 761 Ib (345 kg). Each rocket was stencilled with its woi(J111
correcttothe nearest 12 Ib (5-436 kg) as this had to be taken into acc(lI"ll
when computing ranges. Special range tables werecompiled forthis purpo,;o.
The temperature of the propellant also had to be allowed for, and themJ()
meters were issued for this purpose. Extracts from the compiled range tnl>l,, :;
showtheeffect ofthe propellanttemperature on the rocketperformance.
Temperature Range Elevation
Time of
Flight Length
50% ZOllO
Width (J1l 0IHIiI)
- 15C
4600 m
4600 m
1131 mils
+ 123mils
+ 91 mi ls
480 sec

Fromthe above it can also be seen thatthe rocket wasvisible in flight, ;llId
thatthe 50% zone was quite large. However,when used against large [;1r!i' , I : .
at shortrangesthe blast effect must have been devastating.
The rockets were painted olive drab with a 2 cm wide white band I"OlIlId
the centre of gravity. On the nose the figures 13A (a code number for Iii "
explosive filling) were stencilled in white along with entreaties to protncl 1111)
devicefrom rain, waterand damp.
The Raketenwerfer 61
ManufacturedbyRheinmetall Bohrsigattheir Dusseldorffactory,the R"l<oll)1I
werfer 61 featured many novel design developments. Unlike any provl l1 l.",
rocket projector it utilised breech loading with a sliding breech block which,
as well as sealing off any exhaust gases which would otherwise vent to the
rear, actually diverted them to discharge round the muzzle. This was bought
about by an obturator ring of unusual design, consisting of two 'L' -shaped
rings. The heavier inner ring was perforated with eighty half-inch holes. Exhaust
gases from the rocket found their way through these holes to the outer, 'L'-
shaped ring which expanded outwards to seal the breech and also enable the
gases to expand upwards and outwards through the 1t inch wide chamber
between the barrel liner and the projector jacket. They finally exhausted through
31 holes in a ring round the muzzle.
Length of the projector was 206 cm (81 ~ inches). It was made up basically
of a liner, jacket and breech block. Liner length was 188 cm (74l inches)
and was made of t inch thick steel. The rifling in the liner consisted of nine
grooves about 5 mm deep and having one complete turn every 176 calibres.
At the breech end the rifling had a leader to take the fixed splines on the
rocket. The jacket was separated from the liner by four steel blocks at the
breech end and the previously mentioned 31 hole ring at the muzzle.
The breech block, as in most German artillery designs, was of the sliding
type and closed from right to left on a hand - operated rack and pinion. The
block proper was machined from a 2fs inch thick steel plate and featured the
normal safeties. After the rocket was inserted into the projector a plunger fell
behind the round to hold it in place some 5 inches from the block ready for
firing. Centrally mounted on the block was a further rising block which when
lifted enabled a percussion tube to be inserted i nto the firing mechanisni .
Firing was then effected via a lanyard operated lever which operated a striker
mechanism. The resultant flash was then directed on to the igniter in the rocket's
nozzle assembly.
The Sturmtiger
The vehicle chosen to carry the Raketenwerfer 61 was a much modified Tiger
Ausf E which was given the designation 38 cm RW61 Ausf StuMrs Tiger.
Two views (above and opposite) sho w themassive appearan ceo f the Sturmtiger.
Note ammunition crane and resilient steel wheels.
This vehicle featured a bulky armoured compartment bolted on to a Tiger
chassis with the RW61 mounted on the front plate. Alterations were made to
the forward part of the Tiger hull to increase internal space. These modifications
were carried out by the Berlin firm of Alkett on vehicles returned from the front
but only ten were completed. As well as the armoured compartment the
suspension was also altered to the later steel tyred wheels version as opposed
to the earlier convex rubber tyred wheels which were fitted to earlier Tiger
models and also to the Sturmtiger prototype. This prototype was first
demonstrated to Hitler and the General Staff on October 20 1943 but produc-
tion did not begin until August 1944.
The RW 61 was mounted on the 45 sloping superstructure front plate
which was 150 mm (5' 9 inches) thick . Side (20) and rear (10) plates were
84 mm (3'3 inches) thick and the horizontal roof 40 mm (1'6 inches) . An
extra armour plate was also added from the hu II front up to the bottom of the
sloping superstructure front. The RW 61 was offset to port along with its
attendant mantlet, supporting bracket and cradle which were all heavy castings.
Elevation controls enabled the projector to be elevated from 0 to 85 and
traverse was limited to 10 on either side. Dimensions of the superstructure
are shown separately but the internal space available in the fighting compart-
ment was quite large until the rockets were loaded. There were folding racks
fitted to the side walls for stowage of twelve projectiles and one extra could
be carried in the projector provided it was fitted with a redband fuse. With a
full crew of five (sometimes six) and a full load, space was at a premium,
especially for the machine-gunner/ radio operator in the right-hand hull front.
Other crew members were the commander, driver, layer, loader and sometimes
an extra loader who doubled as observer.










ABOVE:Breech mechanismofthe RW61 inside the Sturmtiger.
Loading could be carried out by one man. The projectorwas lowered to 0
elevation and a rocket slung out from its rack using an internal sliding winch
attached to rails under the roof. Lowered on to six rollers on the loading
tray the projectile was then pushed into the breech and held in place by the
round retaining plunger. The breech block could then be wound closed and
the projector aimed and fired.To assist in loading the heavy rockets into the
vehiclean external winch wasweldedtothesuperstructurerightreartoenable
the rockets to be lowered through a three-piece roof hatch. Once inside the
internal winch was used to place the rockets intotheirracks, six on each side
ofthe vehicle.
The layer was equipped with a closing port and optical sights on the left
of the projector. Sighting was carried out with the rocket loaded. Some
BELOW:Roundsof38cmRSprgr4581 stowedinside the vehicle.
vehicles carried a counterweight round the muzzle to assist in elevation and
depression.Themachine-gunnerusedan MG34withKZF2sightsandoperated
a standard Fu5 radio set. An intercom was provided for all crew members. In
the roof right rear a Nahverteidigungswaffeprojectorwas fitted to fire either
smoke (nebelkerzen) or HE charges for close-in defence against attacking
infantry. Some vehicles did not carry this weapon. Extra defence could be
obtained by firing the crew'sweaponsthrough wedge-and-chain ports-one
in each side plate. Zimmeritt was sprayed on the hull. Road range was 87
miles and cross country 55 miles.
Coming in such small numbers late in the war the Sturmtigers made no
effect on the course of the conflict. By the time they appeared there was
little or no call for the close-in house-to- house battle for which they were
meant, so they were pushed into battle intacticalsituations which gavethem
little opportunity to use their main armament to any great effect. Their great
bulk and weight (70 tons) made them virtually sitting ducks and those that
often immobilisedthe Sturmtigerswastheirthirstforfuel. In 1945anyvehicle
thatconsumedtwogallonsforeveryroad milecould nottravelfarwhen petrol
stocksin Germany had virtuallyrun dry.
Overall length ... .......................... 20feet ~ inches
Overall width .............. ................... ....12feet 3 inches
Overall height with crane .................................... 11 feet 4 inches
Overall height less crane ....................................... 9 feet 3 inches
BELOW: Tvpicalfate foraSturmtigerin 1945- capturebVAlliedtroops.
Width offrontsuperstructure:
Atbase .......... . .. . . . ................ . .. . . . . .. . ...... 10 feet7 inches
Attop ................................................ 8 feet 5 inches
Heightoffrontsuperstructure....... ..,.,',.. .. .,... ....,. .....', 6 feet 1 inch
Length of superstructuresides:
Atbase .... . ................. .. ........... .... . ..... .. 10feet 9 inches
Attop ............. .................. 7 feet 2 inches
Heightofroofabove hull top ................................. 2 feet 11 inches
Raketen Sprenggranate 4831-
Although strictlycoming under the heading of long range bombardmentroc-
kets (such as the A-4), Rheinbote is included here todemonstrate what was
probablythe ultimateachievementinGerman solidfuelrocketdesign. Itwasin
factathree-stage rocket with a maximum range of137 miles (220km) .
Designed by the armaments firm of Rheinmetall- Borsig (from which its
name of 'Messenger from the Rhine' probably derives) the rocket was made
up of three stages plus a take-off booster. Each stage employed diglycol-
dinitrate as a propelling charge venting through a single venturi while the
booster employed three venturi. The whole rocket length, plus booster, mea-
sured 37 feet 5 inches while at its widest body section itwas only 21 inches
wide (across the booster) .Total weight at take-off was 3775 Ib ofwhich the
booster made up 1530 lb. Each stage ignited the next stage after it had
completed burning at the following intervals:
Booster 1 second
Firststage 7 seconds
Second stage 17 seconds
Third stage 25!seconds
At the end of the final burn (Brenchluss) the missile had reached a
velocityof 1 mile/ second and wasat an altitude ofnearly80km,
Rheinbote was fired from a modified A-4 trailer boom (the trailer was
called a Meillerwagen), and trials were carried outat Blizna, 20 miles east of
Mielec in Southern Pol and, The trials generally went well , except for one
round which went wrong on launch and showed up the weapon's greatest
failing, After failing to gain altitudethe warhead came to earth and exploded.
A shallow crater only four feet across was found. This was due to the fact
that of the rocket's total weight of 3775 Ib only 44 Ib (20 kg) was actual
warhead explosive (total warhead weight was 88 Ib), Such a payload was
militarily and economically useless and General Dornberger, in charge of
rocketresearch, reportedaccordingly,However,hewasoverruledbyHitlerwho
insisted on its use, no doubt for propaganda reasons. He was supported by
Army unitwas formed and trained.
Rheinbote went into action during November 1944. Some two hundred
rounds were fired against Antwerp from Zwolle in Holland, as part of the
attempt to deny the port's facilities to the Allies. At that time, Antwerp was
already under bombardment from V-1s, V-2s and sporadic Luftwafferaids, so
it is not surprising that the Rheinbote warheads were of very limited value,
and were hardly noti ced by the recipients. However, when regarded purely
from design viewpoint, Rheinbote must countas a remarkable achievement.
The Nebelkraftwagen
(Sd Kfz 11/1)
Many different types of vehicle were used to tow the various Nebelwerfer
projectors into action, but one specialised vehicle was developed for use by
Nebeltruppen, This was the Nebelkraftwagen (Sd Kfz 11/1) or HL kl 6N, a
half-track weighing 73 tons. It carried the launcher crew and also the
ammunition. In use with 15 cm units it could carry 36 rockets but when
used by 21 cm units stowage was limited to 10 rockets, The stowage
binswere interchangeable.
ABO VE: The Sd Kfz 11/1 With the locker doors open showing storage racking,
BELOW: The two standard tactical signs carried by all Nebeltruppen unirs on
their towing vehicles and any other transport concerned with this specialised
force. The le ft- hand sign was used to denote individual projector positions on
the Command maps.

Field Rocket Equipment of the German
Army, 1939 - 1945 T.J. Gander
A well detailed guide to a little known aspect of the German
Army's weaponry used throughout World War 2.
Covering organisation, units, uniforms and much detailed
information on the various types of rocket weapons, from the
simple Panzerfaust to the ubiquitous Nebelwerfer 41, this book
will be of interest to modellers and weapon enthusiasts alike.
ISBN 085524084 9 (hard cover edition)
ISBN 0 85524 085 7 (paper covered edition)
UK price:
1.00(net) - papercovers
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