Tests of the new weapon made a strong impression even on seasoned commanders. Indeed, shrouded in smoke and flames fighting machine in just a few seconds produced by sixteen jet 132-mm shells, and where only what could be seen of the target, already spinning fire tornadoes, flooding the distant horizon crimson glow.


So was a demonstration of the unusual military equipment to the Supreme command of the red army led by the people’s Commissar of defense, Marshal S. K. Timoshenko. It was in the middle of may 1941, and a week after the beginning of the great Patriotic war formed separate experimental battery rocket artillery Reserve of the Supreme command. A few days later the production began to pass the army the first production BM-13-16 – the famous “Katyusha”.
The story of the creation of guards rocket mortar has its origin from the twenties of the last century. Even then, Soviet military science has seen the future military operations of maneuvering, with extensive use of motorized troops and modern equipment – tanks, planes, cars. And this complete picture was struggling to fit the classic cannon artillery. It more consistent with mobile rocket launchers. The lack of recoil, lightness and simplicity of the design allows us to dispense with the traditional heavy carriages and beds. Instead of them – openwork rails tubes that you can mount on any truck. However, low compared to the guns accuracy and low firing range prevented the adoption of rocket artillery in service.
At first, the employees of the gas-dynamic laboratory, where he created missile weapons, difficulties and failures more than its successes. However, enthusiasts -engineers.GN And. Tikhomirov, V. A. Ar-temeev, and then E. G. Langemann, and B. S. Peter and Paul persistently perfecting their “offspring”, firmly believing in the success of the case. It took extensive theoretical work and numerous experiments that eventually led to the creation in late 1927 82 mm fragmentation rockets with gunpowder engine, followed by the more powerful, caliber 132 mm. Test firing conducted in Leningrad in March 1928, hopeful-range was already 5 – 6 km, although the scattering was still large. For many years it was not possible to significantly reduce: the original concept involves a rocket with a tail, not beyond his caliber. Because the guide for it served as pipe – simple, lightweight, easy for installation.
In 1933, the engineer I. T. Kleimenov were asked to do a more developed tail, much (over two times) exceeding in its scope the caliber of the projectile. Accuracy
the firing increased, and increased range, but had to design a new open – in particular, the rail – guides for shells. And again the years of experiments, searches…
By 1938 the main difficulties in creation of mobile rocket artillery has overcome. Employees of the Moscow RNII Y. A. Pobedonostsev, F. N. Of., N.Uh. Schwartz and others have developed a 82-mm shrapnel, high-explosive fragmentation and thermite shells (PC) solid propellant (gunpowder) engine, which was run by elektrozapalom.
Baptism of fire RS-82 mounted on the aircraft-destroy-engines-16 and I-153, passed in the summer of 1939 at Khalkhin-Gol demonstrated high combat effectiveness in air combat was shot down several Japanese planes. At the same time for firing at ground targets, the designers have proposed a number of mobile multi-charge launchers, rocket launchers (for area). In their creation under the guidance of A. G. Kostikov was attended by the engineers V. N. Gal-kovsky, I. Gwaii, A. P. Pavlenko, A. S. Popov.
The installation consisted of eight open tracks linked together into a single unit welded tubular spars. Sixteen jet 132-mm shells (the mass of each -42,5 kg) was recorded with T-shaped pins on the top and bottom rails in pairs. The design was the possibility to change the elevation and pivot in azimuth. Route guidance was produced through the sight by rotating arms lift and swivel mechanisms. Installation mounted on the chassis of the three-ton -common and then a truck ZIS-5 in the first embodiment, a relatively short guide located crosswise of the machine, generally referred to as MU-1 (mechanized system). This decision was unsuccessful at shooting the car was rocking, which significantly reduced the accuracy of the battle.
In September 1939 created a jet system of the MU-2 is more suitable for this purpose triaxial truck ZIS-6. In this embodiment, elongated guide rails mounted along the vehicle, the rear part of which before the shooting is additionally hung on the jacks. Weight of vehicle with crew (5-7 employees) and full ammunition was of 8.33 t, the firing range was reached 8470 meters. In just one volley (8-10!) fighting machine firing on enemy positions 16 shells containing 78,4 kg of highly explosive substances. Triaxial ZIS-6 provided the MU-2 are quite satisfactory patency on the ground, allowed her to quickly make the March-maneuver and change positions. As for the translation machine from marching to combat position was 2-3 minutes is sufficient.
In 1940, after the rework the world’s first mobile multi-charged reactive multiple rocket launchers, which received the designation M-132, has successfully passed factory and field testing. By the beginning of 1941 had already made a pilot batch. The machine has received the army designation BM-13-16, or just BM-13, and a decision was made about their industrial production. At the same time has approved and adopted a lightweight mobile unit massive fire BM-82-48 on the guides which housed 48 82-mm rockets with a range of 5500 m. it is Often called short – BM-8. Such a powerful weapon had no army in the world.
No less interesting is the history of the ZIS-6, which became the basis of the legendary “Katyusha”. Conducted in the 1930-ies of the mechanization and motorization of the red Army insisted on the production of three-axle vehicles for use not only for transportation of goods and people, but also as artillery tractor for mounting of various installations. In the same period to work in heavy traffic the domestic auto industry began to develop three-axle vehicles with two rear drive axles (6×4) using standard two-axle trucks. Adding another rear axle in half, increased the capacity of the machine, at the same time reducing the load on the wheel. This enhanced performance on soft soil – wet meadow, sand, arable land. In February 1931 the decision was made to organizations in the USSR the mass production of three-axle vehicles three plants on the basis of adopted to the production base of cars carrying capacity of 1.5, 2.5 and 5 T.
In 1931 – 1932 by the design Bureau of the Moscow automobile plant AMO under the leadership of chief of Bureau E. I. Vazhinsky design was conducted triaxial truck AMO-6 (designers A. S. Eisenberg, CH, Ke Min, A. I. Korostiev and others) along with other new vehicles, Amos-5, Amos-7, FO-8, with their wide unification. The prototype for the first “lovskih” trehanoc was the English trucks VD (“war Department”), as well as domestic development AMO-Z-NATI.
The first two test cars AMO-6 was tested from 25 June to 4 July 1938 in the run Moscow – Minsk – Moscow. A year later the plant started production of an experimental batch of these machines, called the ZIS-6. In September they participated in the test run Moscow – Kiev – Kharkov -Moscow, and in December started their serial production. In just 1933 has produced 20 “rehook”. After reconstruction of the factory production of the ZIS-6 was increased (up to 1939, when manufactured 4460 machines) and lasted until October 16, 1941 – the day of the evacuation of the plant. Only this time produced 21 239 ZIS-6.
Installing the BM-13 on the chassis ZIS-6
Setup BM-13 on the chassis ZIS-6
Installing the BM-13 on the chassis ZIS-6
Combat vehicle rocket launchers BM-13
Combat vehicle rocket launchers BM-13:
1 – the switchboard; 2 – more armored shields cabin; 3 – pack of guides; 4 – petrol tank; 5 – the base of the swing frame; 6 – a casing of the elevating screw; 7 – lift frame; 8 – marching bearing; 9 – a stopper; 10 – rotary hole; 11 – shells of M-13; 12 – stop; 13 – the Jack; 14 – battery launchers; 15 – a spring of the towing device; 16 – an arm of sight; 17 – the handle of the lifting mechanism; 18 – the handle of the rotary mechanism; 19 – a spare wheel; 20 – junction box
In September they participated in the test run Moscow – Kiev – Kharkov -Moscow, and in December started their serial production. In just 1933 has produced 20 “rehook”. After reconstruction of the factory production of the ZIS-6 was increased (up to 1939, when manufactured 4460 machines) and lasted until October 16, 1941 – the day of the evacuation of the plant. Only this time produced 21 239 ZIS-6.
The car was maximally unified with the base model three-ton ZIS-5 and even had the same outer dimensions. It was the same 6-cylinder petrol engine producing 73 L. E., the same clutch, gearbox, front axle, front suspension, wheels, steering, cabin, tail. Was different frame, rear axles, rear suspension, brakes. For a standard four-speed gearbox was located the two-stage dual direct reduction (1,53) transmissions. Further torque is transmitted by two cardan shafts with the bushing rear axles, worm gear, made according to the type of the firm “Timken”. Leading the worms were placed on top, bottom – worm wheel made of special bronze. (However, in 1932 he built two truck ZIS-6P gear-two-stage rear axles, having a much better performance. But in the automotive industry at that time was fond of a worm gear, and that settled it. And for gear transmissions only came back in the fall of 1940, on an experimental three-axis all-wheel drive (6×6) truck ZIS-6). In the transmission ZIS-6 was three PTO shafts with exposed u-joints type “Cleveland”, which required regular lubrication.
Truck rear axles had spring beam suspension type VD. On each side stood two springs with one podrecznika, pivotally connected with the frame. Bending moments from the bridge is transmitted to the frame of the upper jet rods and springs. They also transmit pushing forces.
Serial ZIS-6 had mechanical brakes on all wheels, with vacuum boosters, while in the test samples were applied brake with a hydraulic drive. Hand brake – Central, on the drivetrain, and at first it was a belt, and then replaced the Shoe. Compared to the base ZIS-5 at ZIS-6 was reinforced radiator, alternator; equipped with two batteries and two fuel tanks (a total of 105 liters of fuel).
The own weight of the ZIS-6 was 4230 lbs. On good roads it could carry up to 4 tons of cargo, bad – 2.5 t Maximum speed – 50 – 55 km/h, average speed on the road is 10 km/h. the Car could climb at 20° and a Ford deep up to 0,65 meters.
In General, the ZIS-6 was a fairly reliable car, although due to low power engine overloaded it had poor dynamics, high fuel consumption (highway 40-41 liters per 100 km, along the lane up to 70) and poor permeability.
As a freight transport vehicle in the army it practically is not used, and was used as a tractor for pieces of artillery. At its base were built repair of the briefing, workshops, fuel tankers, fire escapes, cranes. In 1935, on the chassis ZIS-6 was mounted heavy armored car BA-5, were unsuccessful, and in late 1939 on a shortened chassis with high power motor – more than a good BA-11. But the most famous ZIS-6 was acquired as the carrier of the first rocket launchers BM-13.
On the night of 30 June 1941 were sent to the West first experimental battery of rocket launchers under the command of captain I. A. Flerov, consisting of seven experienced BM-13 (with 8 thousands of shells) and the sighting of 122-mm howitzers.
Two weeks later, on July 14, 1941, the battery Flerov, observing complete secrecy – was moving mostly at night, country roads, avoiding the crowded thoroughfares, – arrived in the area of the river Orshitsa. On the eve of the German attack from the South seized the town of Orsha and now, not for a moment doubting his success, crossed over to the Eastern shore Orshitsa. But the sky shone a bright flash with a screech and a deafening hiss of rockets hit the crossing. A moment later, they rushed in the midst of the moving flood of the fascist troops. Each rocket was formed in the ground eight-meter crater with a depth of half a meter. Nothing like the Nazis before seen. Fear and panic swept the ranks of the Nazis.
Stunning to the enemy the debut of rocket weapons has prompted our industry to boost mass production of the new mortar. However, for the “Katyusha” at first lacked the self-propelled chassis vehicles with rocket launchers. Tried to restore the production of the ZIS-6 at the Ulyanovsk automobile plant, which in October 1941 was evacuated Moscow ZIS, but the lack of specialized equipment for the production of worm bridges are not allowed to do it. In October 1941, took arms T-60 (without the tower) with mounted on it with installation of BM-8-24.
Jet launchers were powered and crawler tractors STZ-5, and received under lend-lease vehicles, “Ford-Marmon”, “international Giemsa” and “Austin”. But the greatest number of “Katyusha” mounted on four-wheel drive three-axle vehicles of the company “Studebaker”. Since 1944, they’ve installed new, more powerful BM-31-12 – with 12 mines, M-30 and M-31 caliber 300 mm, a mass of 91.5 kg (firing range – up to 4325 m). Were further developed and mastered a rotating in-flight projectiles M-13УК and M-31 CC (improved accuracy).
The delivery of rocket artillery in the great Patriotic war is constantly increasing. If in November 1941 was formed 45 battalions, Katyusha rockets, 1 January 1942 – 350, and in early 1945, 519. For just one, 1941, the industry has produced 593 installation and provided them with the shells of 25 of 26 shots in every car. Parts of rocket launchers received the honorary title guards. A separate BM-13 on the chassis ZIS-6 served throughout the war and reached Berlin and Prague. One of them, No. 3354, commanded the guard Sergeant Masarin, is on display in the Leningrad Museum of artillery, engineering troops and communications.
Unfortunately, all the monuments of the guards mortars, installed in their honor in Moscow, Mtsensk, Orsha, Rudine, based on the imitation chassis ZIS-6. But the memory of veterans of the great Patriotic war, “Katyusha”, preserved as angular, old-fashioned three-axle vehicle with mounted on it a formidable weapon which has played a huge role in the defeat of fascism.

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