German Nebelwerfer vs. Soviet Katyusha


Nebelwerfer vs. Katyusha

By George Parada





300mm Nebelwerfer 42
Muzeum Wojska Polskiego in Warsaw, Poland.



Rocket artillery dates back in its origin to the ancient Persians and Greeks. It was the Chinese that used it on a wide scale, followed by the Mongols. Rocket artillery reached Europe in XIII century only to become popular in XVI and XVII century. It saw use in most of the wars until XX century but was pushed aside by development of regular artillery. Until 1920s and 1930s, rocket artillery remained forgotten only to make a comeback in World War II, mainly in service of Germany and Soviet Union.



During period from 1920s to 1945, Soviets developed variety of rockets (commonly known as "Katyusha" and "Stalin’s Organs") including:


  • M-8 82mm rocket


  • M-13 132mm rocket


  • M-30 300mm rocket


  • M-31 300mm rocket




Rocket launchers of the types listed above were mounted on variety of vehicles including:


  • BM-8-36 – ZiS-6 6×6 truck


  • BM-8-48 – Studebacker 6×6 truck


  • BM-8-24 – T-60 light tank


  • BM-13-16 – various trucks and vehicles


  • BM-31-12 – ZiS-6 / Studebacker truck





In the same period, Germans also developed variety of rockets including:


  • 150mm Nebelwerfer 41


  • 210mm Nebelwerfer 42


  • 280mm / 320mm schweres Wurfgeraet 40


  • 280mm / 300mm / 320mm schweres Wurfgeraet 41


  • 280mm / 320mm Nebelwerfer 41


  • 300mm Nebelwerfer 42


  • 300mm Raketenwerfer 56







Rocket launchers of the types listed above were mounted on variety of vehicles. Those included halftracks (e.g. SdKfz.251, Maultier, Schwere Wehrmachtschlepper), captured French tanks (e.g. Hotchkiss H-35 / 38 / 39, Renault UE / AMX UE) and captured French personnel carriers (e.g. Somua MCG / MCL).



The first use of rocket artillery in World War II is often wrongly attributed to the Red Army, while Wehrmacht was the first one to use it. Four Nebelwefer Regiments of the Wehrmacht were among many artillery units that opened fire on June 22nd of 1941 at 3:15am, beginning the Operation "Barbarossa". Red Army used rocket artillery for the first time on July 14/15th of 1941, firing at the rail station at Orsza (controlled by the Army Group Center) on the Minsk-Moscow route.







  • "Artyleria Rakietowa Wehrmachtu" – Z.Czarnotta & Z.Moszumanski


  • "The Complete Encyclopedia of Weapons of World War II" – Chris Bishop


Related Articles

Weider History Network:  Achtung Panzer! | HistoryNet | Armchair General
Today in History | Picture of the Day | Daily History Quiz | Military History Forums

Copyright © 1996-2012. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.
Contact Us | Advertise With Us | Subscription Help