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Katyusha rocket launcher

For other uses, see Katyusha.

(Norwegian: Stalinorgel), the Netherlands and Belgium
(Dutch: Stalinorgel), Hungary (Hungarian: Sztálinorgona), and in Sweden (Swedish: Stalinorgel), .[4]

Katyusha multiple rocket launchers (Russian: Катю́ ша; IPA: [kɐˈtʲuʂə]) are a type of rocket artillery first The heavy BM-31 launcher was also referred to as
built and fielded by the Soviet Union in World War II. Andryusha (Андрюша, an affectionate diminutive of
Multiple rocket launchers such as these deliver explosives “Andrew”).[5]
to a target area more quickly than conventional artillery,
but with lower accuracy and requiring a longer time to
reload. They are fragile compared to artillery guns, but
2 World War II
are inexpensive and easy to produce. Katyushas of World
War II, the first self-propelled artillery mass-produced by
the Soviet Union,[1] were usually mounted on trucks. This
mobility gave the Katyusha (and other self-propelled artillery) another advantage: being able to deliver a large
blow all at once, and then move before being located and
attacked with counter-battery fire.
Katyusha weapons of World War II included the BM-13
launcher, light BM-8, and heavy BM-31. Today, the nickname is also applied to newer truck-mounted Soviet (and
not only Soviet) multiple rocket launchers—notably the
common BM-21—and derivatives.



A battery of Katyusha launchers fires at German forces during
the Battle of Stalingrad, 6 October 1942

Initially, concerns for secrecy kept their military designation from being known by the soldiers who operated them. They were called by code names such as
Kostikov guns (after the head of the RNII, the ReactionEngine Scientific Research Institute), and finally classed
as Guards Mortars.[2] The name BM-13 was only allowed
into secret documents in 1942, and remained classified
until after the war.[3]

Katyusha rocket launchers invented in Voronezh, were
mounted on many platforms during World War II, including on trucks, artillery tractors, tanks, and armoured
trains, as well as on naval and riverine vessels as assault
support weapons, Soviet engineers also mounted single
Katyusha rockets on lengths of railway track to serve in
urban combat.

Because they were marked with the letter K (for
Voronezh Komintern Factory),[3] Red Army troops
adopted a nickname from Mikhail Isakovsky's popular
wartime song, "Katyusha", about a girl longing for her absent beloved, who has gone away on military service.[4]
Katyusha is the Russian equivalent of Katie, an endearing diminutive form of the name Katherine: Yekaterina
→Katya →Katyusha.

The design was relatively simple, consisting of racks of
parallel rails on which rockets were mounted, with a folding frame to raise the rails to launch position. Each truck
had 14 to 48 launchers. The M-13 rocket of the BM-13
system was 180 cm (5 ft 11 in) long, 13.2 cm (5.2 in) in
diameter and weighed 42 kg (93 lb).
The weapon is less accurate than conventional artillery
guns, but is extremely effective in saturation bombardment, and was particularly feared by German soldiers. A
battery of four BM-13 launchers could fire a salvo in 7–10
seconds that delivered 4.35 tons of high explosives over
a 400,000-square-metre (4,300,000 sq ft) impact zone,[2]
making its power roughly equivalent to that of 72 guns.
With an efficient crew, the launchers could redeploy to a
new location immediately after firing, denying the enemy

German troops coined the sobriquet Stalin’s organ
(German: Stalinorgel), after Soviet leader Joseph Stalin,
prompted by the visual resemblance of the launch array to
a church organ and the sound of the weapon’s rocket motors. Weapons of this type are known by the same name
in Denmark (Danish: Stalinorgel), Finland (Finnish: Stalinin urut), France (French: Orgues de Staline), Norway

Reloading a BM-13. at the Museum of the Great Patriotic War. BM-13N Katyusha on a Lend-Lease Studebaker US6 truck. Moscow (2006) An M13 rocket for the Katyusha launcher on display in Musée de l'Armée. The weapon’s disadvantage was the long time it took to reload a launcher. Katyusha batteries were often massed in very large numbers to create a shock effect on enemy forces. The distinctive howling sound of the rocket launching terrified the German troops[6] and could be used for psychological warfare.2 2 WORLD WAR II the opportunity for counterbattery fire. in contrast to conventional guns which could sustain a continuous low rate of fire. .

they were also mounted on various British.000. a small number of BM-13 launchers were mounted Soviet World War II missile systems were named accordon STZ-5 artillery tractors.[2] In 1942. Sevastopol 2. Union in June 1941. Starting in 1942.2. in which case they were sometimes referred to as BM-13S. Boyevaya Mashina). A salvo of rockets could completely straddle a target at a range of 5. BM-13s were based on Soviet-built ZiL-151 trucks.[2] By the end of 1942. Canadian and U.800 of this model were manufactured by the end of World War II. four a conventional howitzer could fire 95 to 150 rounds in the round. and by the end of the war total production reached about 10.237 Katyusha mine-firing regiment of rocket artillery. Its bulbous warhead required it to be fired from it took up to 50 minutes to load and fire 24 rounds.[1] 3 Postwar Katyusha on a ZiL-157 truck KV tank chassis as the KV-1K. 'combat vehicle' for M-13 rockets). These proved unstable. and deployed as the BM-8-36 on truck beds and BM-8-24 on T-40 and T-60 light tank chassis. which built several prototype launchers firing the modified 132 mm M-132 rockets over the sides of ZiS-5 trucks. later double frame. In 1944 it became the basis for through 1940.a division (company). The 82 mm BM-8 was approved in August 1941. the The first large-scale testing of the rocket launchers took team of scientists Leonid Shvarts. and V.N.4 mi). as well as the two-axle ZiS-5 and ZiS-5V. LendLease trucks. A few were also tried on ing standard templates which are the following: . mass pro. because 1942.[7] The truck-mounted Katyushas were installed on ZiS-6 2. 3. and three divisions into a separate tillery gun barrels.2 Variants 6×4 trucks. and on the larger Studebaker trucks as the BM-8-48. the Soviet Jet Propulsion Research Institute (RNII) in Leningrad was authorized by the Main Artillery Directorate (GAU) to develop a multiple rocket launcher for the RS-132 aircraft rocket (RS for Reaktivnyy Snaryad.was executed in 3–4 minutes. Galkovskiy proposed mounting the launch rails longitudinally. 'standardized'). although the standard production was ordered and the development of other mod.[2] sixteen rockets was authorized for production. In 1941. The cross-country performance of the Studebaker US6 2½ ton truck was so good that it became the GAU’s standard mounting in 1943. Only forty A battery of BM-13-16 launchers included four firing velaunchers were built before Germany invaded the Soviet hicles. but this was a needless waste of heavy armour. I. Reloading After their success in the first month of the war. and more than 1. while a grounded frame.[4] with each firing vehicle having a crew of six.500 metres (3.S. But Based on the M-13.1 Development In June 1938. the result was the BM-13 (BM stands for Боевая Mашина (translit. and the BM-13-16 with launch rails for the BM-31-12 truck-mounted launcher. Moisei Komissarchik the Stalin prize for the place at the end of 1938. Three batteries were combined into not have the heavy equipment to build conventional ar. 8 round). the M-30 rocket was developed in the artillery branch was not fond of the Katyusha.[8] After World War II.2 Variants BM-31-12 on ZIS-12 at the Museum (Diorama) on Sapun Mountain. Later these were also installed on GAZ-67 jeeps as the BM-8-8. when 233 rounds of various and engineer Yakov Shor received [9][10] development of the BM-8-48. The Katyusha was inexpensive and could due to the ease with which the battery could be identibe manufactured in light industrial installations which did fied by the enemy. Russia. launchers of all types had been built. designated BM13N (normalizovanniy. In August 1939. 'rocket-powered shell'). two reload trucks and two technical support trucks. types were used. called the M-30 (single frame. Testing with various rockets was conducted rail mounted on a truck.cedure was to switch to a new position some 10 km away els proceeded. instead of a launch same time. Gvay led a design team in Chelyabinsk.

[15] In 1944. Independent Guards mortar battalions were also formed. the BM-31 was used in motorized heavy Guards mortar battalions of 48 launchers. BM-8-16 is a vehicle which fires M-8 missiles and has 16 rails. notably the BM-21 launchfollows:[11][12][13] ers somewhat inspired by the earlier weapon. • Backpack (portable variant.4 3 POST-WAR DEVELOPMENT • BM-x-y (names used for ground vehicles) • M-x-y (names used for towed trailers and sledges) • y-M-x (names used for navy) where: • x is a model of a missile. 35 independent battalions. • Armored train car. this was the equivalent of 216 batteries: 21% BM-8 light launchers. 56% BM-13.[14] 3 Post-war development Note: There was also an experimental KV-1K – Katyusha The success and economy of multiple rocket launchers mounted on KV-1 tank which was not taken in service. most of its military arsenal including its large comple- . In particular BM-8-24 had a number of variants: vehicle mounted (ZiS-5 truck). there were eight regiments. totalling 36 BM-13 or BM-8 launchers. causing massive German Army casualties and its retreat from the town in panic. • T-40 (tank). Russia inherited warheads. A special unit of the NKVD troops was raised to operate them. In particular. Other launchers had a number of variants mounted on different vehicles too. (MRL) have led them to continue to be developed. and 23% M-30 heavy launchers. By the end of 1941. fielding a total of 554 launchers. In 1943.[14] By the end of 1942.[14] In June 1942 heavy Guards mortar battalions were formed around the new M-30 static rocket launch frames. although this was not common. comprising 12 launchers in three batteries of four. Short names such as BM-8 or BM-13 were used too. and the larger BM-27. • ZiS-151 (truck. an experimental artillery battery of seven launchers was first used in battle at Rudnya in Smolensk Province of Russia.4 Combat history The multiple rocket launchers were top secret in the beginning of World War II. destroying a concentration of German troops with tanks. Number of launch rails/tubes is absent here. • Towed trailer. DurA list of some implementations of the Katyusha ing the Cold War. • STZ-3 (tractor). the Soviet Union fielded several models of Katyusha-like MRL. Such names describe launchers only no matter a vehicle they are mounted on. • GAZ-AA (truck). were formed equipped with static launchers. armored vehicles and trucks at the marketplace. • River boat. They remained under NKVD control until German Nebelwerfer rocket launchers became common later in the war. the equivalent of 518 batteries were in service. and chemical warheads. so called “mountain Katyusha”). BM-30-4 is a vehicle which fires M-30 missiles and has 4 launch tubes. Advances in artillery munitions have been applied to some Katyusha-type multiple launch rocket 2. 57 regiments were in service— together with the smaller independent battalions. remotely deployed land mines. 2. • Towed sledge. and two independent batteries in service. Following the success. including bomblet submunitions. By the end of the war.[7] On August 8.3 Rocket variants systems. Guards mortar brigades. Each regiment comprised three battalions of three batteries. consisting of 96 launchers in three batteries. Rockets used in the above implementations were:[12] The M-8 and M-13 rocket could also be fitted with smoke With the breakup of the Soviet Union. Stalin ordered the formation of eight special Guards mortar regiments under the direct control of the General Headquarters Reserve (Stavka-VGK). 1941. used after the war). and later divisions. Typical set of vehicles for soviet missile systems is the following: • ZiS-5 (truck). All of them had the same name: BM-8-24. In July. • ZiS-6 (truck). under the command of Captain Ivan Flyorov.[2] On July 14. • Studebaker US6 (truck). A battery’s complement was standardized at four launchers. the Red Army organized new Guards mortar batteries for the support of infantry divisions. • y is a number of launch rails/tubes. tank mounted (T-40) and tractor mounted (STZ-3). 1941. a battalion of BM-13s was added to the establishment of a tank corps.

They have also been used in the Afghanistan and Iraq insurgencies. . used them in two battalions during the Yom Kippur War (1973) and the 1982 Lebanon War.[24] It was reported that BM-21 launchers were used against American forces during the 2003 invasion of Iraq. and that the ship’s cargo included (among its other weapons) Katyusha rockets. They were also built in Czechoslovakia. today the rockets are often referred to as Katyushas. Czechoslovakia.[23] Katyusha rockets were reportedly used by both Gaddafi Loyalists and anti-Gaddafi forces during the Libyan Civil War. and Iran. from light truck-mounts and single-rail man-portable launchers. These were developed in the 1980s. they have been used by Russian forces during the First and Second Chechen Wars and by Armenian and Azerbaijani forces during the Nagorno-Karabakh War. 4 See also • Hwacha.[25][26] Russian forces use BM-27 rocket launchers during the Second Chechen War ment of MRLs.8 in) Syrian-manufactured M-21OF type artillery rockets which carried warheads up to 30 kg (66 lb) and had a range of 20 km. About 95% of these were 122 mm (4. Angola. Iraq. Poland.[18][18][19][20][21] Hamas has launched 122-mm Gradtype Katyusha rockets from the Gaza Strip against several cities in Israel.228 rockets. Syria.[16] Katyusha-like launchers were exported to Afghanistan. North Korea. through the 1994 genocide. They were effective in battle. p 150. rocket launcher mounted on M-4 Sherman tank chassis • List of rocket artillery 5 Notes [1] Zaloga. another German rocket launcher mounted on a half-track • Land Mattress. Mongolia. Egypt. as for example the Teruel MRL of the Spanish Army. In recent history. Iran.5 Katyusha-like MRLs were also allegedly used by the Rwandan Patriotic Front during its 1990 invasion of Rwanda. German rocket launcher mounted on a half-track • Wurfrahmen 40. During the 2006 Lebanon War. based on a Sherman tank chassis. North Korea. Some allege that the CIA bought Katyushas from the Egyptian military and supplied them to the Mujahideen (via Pakistan’s ISI) during the Soviet Afghan war. perhaps up to 30 km (19 mi). Korean gunpowder-based flaming arrow launcher from the 1500s • Congreve rocket. [2] Zaloga.[22] although they are not reported to have truck-mounted launchers. Although Katyusha originally referred to the mobile launcher. Proper Katyushas (BM-13s) also saw action in the Korean War. Georgian government forces are reported to indiscriminately have used BM-21 or similar rocket artillery in fighting in the 2008 South Ossetia war. used by the Chinese People’s Volunteer Army against the South and United Nations forces. Hezbollah fired between 3. the most common barrage rocket series employed by the Wehrmacht in World War II • Panzerwerfer.970 and 4.[27] Also. East Germany. Hungary. British military weapon designed by Sir William Congreve in 1804 • Nebelwerfer.[28] The Russian army has mounted some multiple rocket launchers on turretless T-72 tanks and called the weapon a TOS-1. p 154. In February 2013. according to Associated Press and Agence France-Presse reports. In Iraq. employed by Allied forces in World War II • T34 Calliope. Soviet BM13s were known to have been imported to China before the Sino-Soviet split and were operational in the People’s Liberation Army. the Defense Ministry of Yemen reported seizing an Iranian ship. several countries have continued to build and operate Katyusha-like systems well into the 21st century. and Vietnam. but have been modernized and are in very limited service.[17] the People’s Republic of China. Israel captured BM-24 MRLs during the Six-Day War (1967). but translated into much anti-Tutsi sentiment in the local media. and later developed the MAR-240 launcher for the same rockets. Katyusha-like rockets were fired at the Green Zone late March 2008.

• “Creation and Development of Rocket Artillery in the First Phase of the War”. [17] The RM-51 and RM-70 models. ISBN 0-85368-606-8. Reuters. • Porter. Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. [12] Chris Bishop (2002). [16] “Georgia pounds breakaway capital”. Soviet Tanks and Combat Vehicles of World War Two. Steven J. Retrieved 2006-09-14. Minneapolis. Associated Press. [22] “Iranian made rocket strikes Ashkelon – Ashkelon”.. p. Guardian. ISBN 1-84603-175-3. David (2009). Retrieved 2006-09-14.6 7 EXTERNAL LINKS [3] Viktor Suvorov (1982). pp. pp. by the numbers”. The Essential Vehicle Identification Guide: Soviet Tanks Units 1939–45. 2008-03-25. James Grandsen (1984).net. "Inzhenerno-tekhnicheskaya deyatel’nost’ yevreyev v SSSR (Engineering-technical activities of Jews in the USSR)". 7 External links [11] Porter. Hitler’s war on Russia: the story of the German defeat in the East. 198. Retrieved on 2008-09-30. ISBN 1-58663-762-2. Retrieved 2008-09-30. p 279. Retrieved 2008-05-15. London: Amber Books. Retrieved 2006-08-25. [21] “The war in numbers”. The encyclopedia of weapons of World War II. Retrieved on 2008-09-30. Retrieved 2008-09-30. ISBN 978-1-90662621-1. Osprey. [5] Gordon L. Sterling Publishing Company. 158–165. Rottman (2007). Agence FrancePresse. [4] Zaloga. BBC News Online. [28] “The World: Yemen says seized Iranian ship had weapons”. 2006. Yevrey pri bol’shevistskom stroye (Jews in the Bolshevist order). p 207. London: Arms and Armour Press. Rachel Bayvel Celebrates the Soviet Jews Who Produced Weapons for Allied Victory". Harrap. see archive) Krasnaya Zvezda Publishing [14] Zaloga. p. Prentice Hall. 173– 174. 2006-08-31. 2009-06-20. [19] “Hezbollah’s rocket force”. [7] Zaloga. SurplusKnowledge. pp 158–65. Retrieved 7 February 2013. Retrieved [25] “Baghdad Green Zone hit by rockets”. Associated Press. Jane’s Defence Weekly. pp 153–54. 2006-0718. [20] “Mideast War. 98. [6] Carell. August 23. [23] Charlie Wilson’s Grove/Atlantic. [8] Zaloga. "Tales of 'Tank City'. Retrieved 2008-09-30. • Photos of various mounts of Katyushas • Photo of a Cuban BM-21 in Angola . [10] Yosif Kremenetsky (1999). 2008-0808. p 153. pp 154–55. 2006. 6 References • Zaloga. [18] “Hizballah’s Rocket Campaign Against Northern Israel: A Preliminary Report”. Jewish Quarterly no. p 155. Inside the Soviet Army. 2006-08-18. Paul (1964). 13. The Monterey County Herald. House. aljazeera. [9] Rachel Bayvel. [24] “RTLM Tape 0084”. summer 2005. 1974. FUBAR (F***ed Up Beyond All Recognition): Soldier Slang of World War II. [27] “Libyan rebels 'receive foreign training'". Jeruselum Post. 2003. Archived from the original on December 18. 2008-03-26. War. [26] “Front Row for Green Zone Mortar Salvos”. pp. • BM-13 (Studebaker) walk-around photos [13] Soviet military review. translation of a 1976 article published by the USSR Defence Ministry (broken link. 150–54. George Crile. [15] Zaloga. ISBN 0-02-615500-1. p 147.

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