ROCKET LAUNCHERS ON THE EASTERN FRONT

ROCKET LAUNCHERS ON THE EASTERN FRONTThe German army during the Second world war widely used rockets In the Wehrmacht, they were called “mines”, and tubular launchers for them – “mortars”. Some sources claim that the Creator of the German propellant rockets caliber 100, 150, and 210 mm were engineer Nebel. Therefore, they were designated collectively as Nebelwerfergranate, which means “mine of the Month”. However, such an expression could be interpreted as “smoke mine” (Nebel – fog, smoke). The second assumption seems the most probable: the term the Germans used in the First world war to refer to the mines with smoke-forming or toxic substances.

 

In the 1930 – 1940s, the designation “Nebelwerfer” was used both in relation to single-barreled rocket mortar 10 cm Nebelwerfer 35 and 40, and which appeared later 15 cm Nebelwerfer 41 and others.

 
Over time, the initial mistrust of the high command of the Wehrmacht to the new weapon, which lasted until the end of the 1930s, participation in the development, testing and production have taken a large number of organizations. Leading role in development played created by army research center in peenemünde, which was charged with the responsibility of testing the weapons provided by other companies.
Although the number of development projects were large (over 100), the development received only a few. Then it was thought that reactive systems of volley fire (MLRS) is designed primarily for the use of chemical warfare agents, so fragmentation warhead, and mine was equipped with only as a Supplement.
 
At first, the Germans worked to create a single-barreled 105-mm rocket “smoke” mortar 10 cm Nebelwerfer 35 mod. 1935, abbreviated as Nb.Wrf 35. This sample had a barrel length of 13 calibers, was charged with the muzzle part. Its combat weight was 105 kg, and in the stowed position -111 kg, the mass of the mines of 7.36 kg and its Range was up to 3,000 m at the rate of 10-15 RDS./min.
 
10 cm
 
10-see “smoke” mortar mod. 1940 10 cm Nb.Wrf 40
 
Production of six-barreled mortars 15 cm Nb.W. 41 and shells to them
 
Production of six-barreled mortars 15 cm Nb.W. 41 and shells them
 
Six-mortar 15 cm.41 Wrf arr. 1941 Mass of mortar is in the stowed position 540 kg, barrel length - 1300 mm, time salvo - 5
 
Six-barreled mortar 15 cm.41 Wrf arr. 1941 Mass of mortar is in the stowed position 540 kg, barrel length – 1300 mm, time salvo – 5
 
Filling the six-barreled mortar missiles. The caliber of the rockets 159,5 mm, weight - 34 kg, has a range of 6800 m
 
Loading six-barreled mortar missiles. The caliber of the rockets 159,5 mm, weight – 34 kg, has a range of 6800 m
 
Mortar 10 cm Nebelwerfer 40 OBR. 1940 (Nb.Wrf 40) was much heavier (weight 893 kg), but also more long-range – range up to 6350 m. in addition, he was loading with the breech. The mass of the smoke mines were 8.9 kg, high – 8,95 kg, a Barrel length of 17.7 caliber ammunition provided the initial velocity of 310 m/s Combat rate of fire – 8 – 10 RDS./min.
 
The mortars entered the army in Nebeltruppe – “part of the smokescreen”
 
In the future, the Germans never returned to such projects, and have focused their efforts on building reactive systems. The result was the establishment of two more powerful launcher (“smoke mortars”) on wheeled carriages. It petitely mortar 21 cm Nb.W.42 and six-barreled 30 cm Nb.AV.42. The first mass was 550 kg, the second is 1100 kg.
 
For the first time in world war II the German multiple rocket launchers were applied on June 22, 1941 near Brest.
 
The first German jet system of volley fire was the six-barreled mortar, which entered service chemical regiments of the Wehrmacht. Testing of the mortar occurred in 1937, the System was named “15-sm smoke mortar type D”. In 1941 it was renamed into 15 cm Nb.W. 41 (Nebelwerfer) -15-sm smoke mortar OBR. 41.
 
15 cm Panzerwerfer 42 auf Sf with rail guides
 
15 cm Panzerwerfer 42 auf Sf with rail guides
 
15 cm Panzerwerfer 42 auf Sf with tubular guides
 
15 cm Panzerwerfer 42 auf Sf with tubular rails
 
One of the first types of ammunition was 150-mm rotary rocket (the actual caliber – 159,5 mm), adopted at the armament of the land forces in 1936 and gradually improved: its modified versions were marked as 15 cm Wurfgranete 41 Spreg (150-mm Mina model 1941, high explosive) or 15 cm Nebelgranate 4955 (150-mm smoke mine). The peculiarity of her construction was a military unit, located in the rear; in front is placed a jet engine, provided with a perforated bottom 26 th inclined nozzles. The difference of the chemical from the explosive mines were rings of green or yellow.
 
The powder charge was several designs. At first he had a stick of black powder, compressed at high temperature. It had low strength due to the presence of a significant number of voids, which led to the formation of cracks and, consequently, to frequent crashes at startup.
 
In 1935 – 1940, the uniform charge was replaced by tubular pieces of diglycolic smokeless gunpowder. Shaped charge also of the four tubes of larger diameter, between which were placed five smaller powder checkers. Charge Digl R, for example, was even of 24 larger tubes with a length of 132 mm with four cylindrical checkered, nested between them. From-for sharp deterioration of characteristics of gunpowder in extreme temperature conditions used fillers type Tr for tropical conditions (from -5°C to +50°C) and type Аrkt for the far North (from – 45° to 0°C).
 
The maximum range of this missile is 15 cm Wurfgranete 41 Spreg, weight 34,15 kg was 6700 -6800 m at the maximum flight speed of 340 m/s Powder charge of the rocket engine burned for 0,7 s.
 
Reactive system 15 cm Panzenverfer 42 auf sWS. Launcher with ten guides were placed on trigonom tractor sWS mod. 1944
 
The jet system 15 cm Panzenverfer 42 auf sWS. Launcher with ten guides were placed on trigonom tractor sWS mod. 1944
 
Missiles 8 cm R. Spreug — analogues of Soviet rockets M-8
 
Rockets 8 cm R. Spreug — analogues of Soviet rockets M-8
 
However, according to the instructions, fire it was possible only for a distance not exceeding 3000 m. This restriction was caused by a large number of undershoot and premature ruptures of the complex in the device of the turbojet shells.
 
Scattering fragments of 150-mm rocket high-explosive mines showered the area 13×40 m. Since mine was thin, its shrapnel effect was weak, and the main affecting factor was a powerful shock wave, which was ineffective for firing on point targets. However, a direct hit by a shell “nebelverferov” still could hit the light tank and bring down the average. To fire direct fire, the mortar could not.
 
Mina smoke formed a cloud with a diameter of 80 – 100 m, which kept the required density for 40 p.
Six-guns mortar with a length of 1.3 m were United in the block with the front and rear clips. The whole system was mounted on a light wheeled towed carriage, which was equipped with a lifting mechanism with a maximum elevation angle of 45° and a turning mechanism, to ensure the angle of the horizontal fire up to 24°. The carriage was borrowed from a 37-mm anti-tank gun. The axis of the mast was cranked: in firing position it was turned, the wheels are hung, the gun carriage rested on the bipod sliding beds and folding front lever. The combat weight of the mortar in running position reached 770 kg in the stowed position – 540 kg.
 
The fire was volleys: within five seconds, was produced all six shells. The recharge time was 1.5 min.
 
From April 1943 in the service of the German army had a self propelled variant of the 150-mm rocket mortar, which received the official name “armored launcher” 15 cm Panzerwerfer 42 (Zehuling) auf Sf (PzWrf 42).
 
It was starting tnazarova disatisfying unit with two parallel blocks of five guides in each. A turning lathe was placed on bronchopul special Transporter and had a circular horizontal firing at an elevation angle of the rails to 45°. Ammunition was 10 missiles (not counting available on the rails) and fit within the enclosed armored compartment at the rear of the machine. Start of rockets was carried out using electric ignition of the gunner, whose post was located inside of the fighting compartment under the launcher. Calculation – four people.
 
15 cm Panzerwerfer 42 auf sWS
 
15 cm Panzerwerfer 42 auf sWS
 
SPW S307(f)
 
SPW S307(f)
 
The first conveyor of this launcher was the “special machine 4/1” (Sd.Kfz.4/1) on the chassis of the Opel Blitz, called Maultier (“Mule”). She had a wheel-track chassis.
 
Combat weight “Mule” to 7.25 t; dimensions: length -5,8 m, a width of 2.09 m, height – 2,6 m. For bronirovka in closed armored dome from 10 mm massive steel fork bracket is launcher.
 
The armor protection of the frontal part, sides and stern of the Transporter reached 8 mm, roof – 6 mm Sheets of armor – rolled, connected by welding and rivets. A front plate of the engine compartment mounted vertically, the sides of the hood with two of the armor parts had large inclination angles. On the coach roof on the turret was mounted 7.92 mm MG42 machine gun with ammunition 1500 rounds. All machines were equipped with radio Fug Spf G “f”.
 
Carbureted 6-cylinder 4-stroke engine, liquid cooling Opel had a working volume of 3,626 L. and power 75 HP at 3000 rpm In the drivetrain consisted of a four-speed transmission, brake, hydraulic and mechanical.
 
Suspension consisted of four carrier roller on each side. Suspension spring, blocked at the two skating rinks in the balance of the two trucks. Support rollers located one on each truck. Drive wheel front location, the sending – back. The front wheels of automobile type, managed. Half-track scheme provides a car, good mobility and satisfactory patency on the road. Maximum road speed was 40 km/h, power reserve is 130 km away.
 
Hit in combat shestnadcatiletnie rocket SPW S307(f). The guide block is mounted on captured French SOMUA tractor
 
Hit in battle shestnadcatiletnie rocket SPW S307(f). The guide block is mounted on captured French SOMUA tractor
 
The self-propelled SPW S307(f) ready to fire. Sixteen guns loaded with 80-mm rockets
 
The self-propelled SPW S307(f) ready to fire. Sixteen guns loaded with 80-mm rockets
 
Self-propelled guns of this type were produced until March of 1944 Just released 296 units. On the basis of the Maultier was also created armored vehicle for the transport of ammunition-Munitionskraftwagen Sd.Kfc.4; made 251 unit.
 
In 1944, on the basis of three-ton tractor sWS (3-ton schwerer Wehrmachtschlepper) was created, another successful self-propelled multiple rocket launchers 15 cm Panzerwerfer 42 (Zehiling) auf sWS. Ha closed the yard, an armored tractor in the tower with a 15-mm book placed a package of ten rails of the launcher type 42 Nebelwerfer. Tower could unfold on the horizon within 270° at the angles of vertical guidance in the range of – 5° to +45°. Ammunition consisted of 50 rockets. The armament also included a 7.92 mm MG42 machine gun with an ammunition load of 2,000 rounds.
 
It was also wheeled caterpillar vehicle. Caterpillar part was on one side, five bogie wheels, the front leading and rear guide wheel with a screw mechanism tension. Melkopilchatye track width 500 mm track was borrowed from the Panther.
 
The wheel part of the installation was a front axle of the automotive type with two controlled single wheels on pneumatic tyres with suspension on transverse leaf springs, track width – 2100 mm.
 
In the composition of the transmission consisted of a two-disc dry clutch, four-speed planetary transmission, dual high, dual differential and air brakes.
 
The driver and commander of the armored cab conducted the review through two front and two side hatch, akrivastina armor covers. Armored engine compartment had a small louver on the top broneliste.
The Wehrmacht successfully used this system until the end of the war. Several MLRS sWS was captured by the allies and Soviet forces, but there is no information that at least one of the captured vehicles were recovered.
 
Another basic machine for self-propelled launcher Panzerwerfer 42 was a captured French half-track tractor SOMUA MCG/MCL. In 1943 many of them were equipped with a shutter housing for use as armored trucks SPW S307(f)). Their chassis were created multibarrel self-propelled mortar Leichter Reihenwerfer (16 Rohre) auf SOMUA MCG/MCL S 307 (f). To do this, at the rear of the machine on a special frame was mounted a double-pack of 16 barrels French 81-mm mortars.
 
Put on these chassis and German packages of 10 trunks Nebelwerfer 41. Such mortars had an index of 15-cm Panzerwerfer 42 auf m.gep Zgkw.
 
In the fall of 1941 r. the Germans managed to capture several Soviet rocket launchers to them hundreds of shells – 82 mm M-8 and 132mm M-13. At that time the command of the Wehrmacht believed that their rocket launchers with tubular guides better than the Soviet wing stabilization. However, the leadership of the SS interested in these shells, authorizing a study of the drawings plant Waffenfabrik Brunn in Brunn (former factories Ceska Zbrojovka in Brno), which by the end of 1943, he developed a modified sample of feathered rockets (PC) with a caliber of 80 mm.
 
A number of documents of the war years shows that the plant in Brno was the only place pilot production PC for developing and testing answered the design Bureau of the Skoda factories in Pribram. In 1943 – 1945 the center was headed by Rudolf Engel, who by order of the Reich Minister of armament and military industry of Speer took the leadership of the entire complex. To do this, Engel was a private enterprise VA Grossendorf in Grassendorf design of jet engines.
 
In Pribram Engel were working on a project rocket 8 cm R. Spreng, a PC analogue of the Soviet M-8. In contrast, the feathers of the stabilizer, the Germans installed obliquely, at an angle of 1.5° to the longitudinal axis, due to what happened the rotation of the missile in flight. This rotation eliminated the eccentricity odnomodovogo thrust rocket engine, which was the main reason for the low accuracy of Soviet missiles M-8 and M-13. Has undergone changes and design the head of the rocket. Electric fuse was put forward, which had a positive impact on its reliability. In General, German 80-mm rocket was more successful than its Soviet prototype.
 
8 cm R-Vielfachwerfer S303(f)
 
8 cm R-Vielfachwerfer S303(f)
 
The missile had a length of 705 mm, weight 6,6 kg of explosives in its warhead – 0.68 kg. Powder charge mass of 1 kg provided the missile has a maximum range of 6000 m at flight speed of 335 m/s.
 
Launcher for her was actually just copied from captured Soviet system guides unusual for the Germans rail type. Due to the large mass of Poo, which had 48 girder rails in four tiers, it is mounted on captured French SOMUA S35 medium tank (in the Wehrmacht – symbol or PzKpfw 35s 739(f), removing this from his tower. In the army the system was designated as Sd.Kfe.303, the common name – 8 cm R-Vielfachwerfer auf m.gep. Zgkw. S303(f).
 
The package guides had a mass of 1290 kg. Launching projectiles made with the electric ignition element. A volley of 48 rockets ensured the defeat of manpower and equipment on plot area 162 m in front and 265 m in depth of the enemy defense.
 
Lightweight version of the system with the 24th guide placed in two tiers, were established on the basis of half-track armored Opel Maultier, or French half-track tractor SOMUA MCG/MCL (Zugkraftwagen S303 (f).
 
Were Skoda elaboration and captured Soviet M PC-13, have been subjected to major changes. The caliber of 130 mm was increased to 150 mm. To enhance fragmentation explosive charge placed earlier in an insulated container that has been lengthened and “drawn” directly in the combustion chamber. Special attention was paid to the rocket motor, especially a combustion stabilization, which began to use progressive burning granular powder Krantzpulver, and a further reduction of eccentricity of thrust. A significant part of the screw connection is replaced by welding.
 
80-mm self-propelled launcher R-V S303(f) on the basis of half-track armored SOMUA MCL
 
80-mm self-propelled launcher R-V S303(f) on the basis of half-track armored SOMUA MCL
 
Our troops in the fighting seized some samples of the German 8-cm shells, and on this basis, Soviet designers have modified their own PC. Missiles M-13 and M-31 semi-plumage was adopted by the red Army in 1944, they assigned the indices TS-46 TS-47.
 
Note that using rocket launchers was atypical for the Wehrmacht, they were used more often in the Waffen SS. Probably several dozen armoured MLRS would be lost among the thousands of German vehicles. But they entered service with the 21st Panzer division, which after the defeat and surrender in North Africa was reorganized in France. Equipment for the division is not enough, because it joined and these self-propelled units. At the end of may 1944, about a week before the allied landing, E. Rommel inspected the 21st division, was present at the exercise when the division 8 cm R-Vielfachwerfer auf m.gep.Zgkw. S303(f) perform combat shooting.
 
On the day of the allied landing in Normandy, this division had to put a counter-attack by Anglo-American troops, so that on June 6, 1944 the allies felt what it’s like to be under fire MLRS. The impression was so strong that I got in a lot of descriptions and postwar editions.

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