Military Review

BM-13 "Katyusha" after the Victory: still in service

44

BM-13 on the ZIS-6 chassis at the VIMAIViVS exposition. Photo Wikimedia Commons


Guards rocket launchers BM-13 or in a simple way "Katyusha" showed themselves well during the Great Patriotic War and deservedly bear the honorary title Weapons Victory. After the end of the war, such equipment continued to serve and remained in service for many decades. In some countries, "Katyushas" remain in service to this day.

During the war,


The serial production of M-13-16 rocket launchers for the 132-mm M-13 projectile was launched in June 1941, just a couple of days before the German attack. By the end of the year, several enterprises managed to produce almost 600 such installations for mounting on automobile chassis. Already in 1942, production was increased several times and satisfied the current needs of the army.

The production of M-13-16 installations and rocket systems based on them continued until 1945 and was curtailed due to the end of the war. For all the time, approx. 6,8 thousand installations. The overwhelming majority of them were used in the construction of BM-13-16 self-propelled rocket launchers on a car chassis. Tractors, armored platforms for armored trains, boats, etc. were also carriers for missile guides.


BM-13N on US6 chassis are preparing to fire, 1944. Photo by Wikimedia Commons

The first serial BM-13-16 were carried out on the domestic ZIS-6 chassis. In the future, other basic machines of domestic and foreign production were also used. So, at the beginning of 1942, the installation of rocket launchers on trucks, received under Lend-Lease, began. In this process, more than 15-17 types of equipment were used at different times, but the Studebaker US13 car quickly became the main carrier of the M-16-6.

At the end of the war, the basis of the fleet of rocket launchers was made up of vehicles based on the "Studebaker", which was facilitated by their mass production. BM-13-16 in other configurations, incl. on domestic chassis were available in smaller quantities. Reactive installations were retained on other media as well. In addition, the troops had launchers for shells of several other types.

New projects


Thus, after the war, the Red Army had a fairly large fleet of guards mortars, but it had a number of problems. The main thing was chassis ununification. In addition, most of the equipment was built on foreign trucks, which further complicated the operation and supply of spare parts. Within a reasonable time frame, the American US6 chassis should have been replaced by a domestic vehicle with the same characteristics.


A Katyusha on a Studebaker chassis in a Chinese museum. Photo Wikimedia Commons

Rocket mortars BM-13 and other models at that time were considered as modern effective weapons capable of inflicting significant damage to the enemy. At the same time, it was considered necessary to develop new systems of this class with increased characteristics. "Katyushas" and other samples had to remain in service until such a replacement appeared - and this was the second reason for modernization.

The first attempt at such a modernization was made already in 1947. The BM-13N type combat vehicle mod. 1943 was rebuilt using the latest ZIS-150 truck. According to known data, no more than 12-15 of these machines were built, after which the work stopped. This technique was repeatedly demonstrated at parades, but, for obvious reasons, could not affect the operational characteristics of rocket artillery in general.

Taking into account the accumulated experience in 1949, they developed and adopted the BM-13NN or 52-U-941B combat vehicle. This time, the ZIS-151 three-axle all-wheel drive chassis was used. Together with the launcher and other target units, the car received folding flaps for the cab and protection of the gas tank. As a result of such modernization, it was possible to achieve a noticeable increase in the main characteristics, including operational ones.

According to reports, the production of new BM-13NN was carried out using units of old combat vehicles. The launcher and other parts were removed from the BM-13 on an outdated base, repaired and fixed on a modern chassis. At the same time, other models of rocket mortars that remained in service after the war were undergoing a similar restructuring.


BM-13NM on the ZIS-151 chassis is firing. Photo Wikimedia Commons

The next version of the modernization appeared in 1958 and received the designation BM-13NM (GRAU index - 2B7). This project involved a minor alteration of the launcher and related units. All of them were installed on the ZIL-157 car. Once again, the newest cargo chassis was used to update the Katyusha, and again, a simple rearrangement of the units was done.

In 1966, the latest version of the system, BM-13NMM (2B7R), entered service. In this case, the ZIL-131 car was used as the basis. For the first time, the set of target equipment has undergone a slight change. A folding step for the gunner appeared on the rear left of the chassis. The performance characteristics practically did not change, but the efficiency increased again and the operation was simplified.

All new modifications of the BM-13, receiving a launcher from the times of the Great Patriotic War, retained compatibility with the entire range of M-13 projectiles. In addition, in the post-war period, several upgrades of such weapons were performed, aimed at optimizing production and some increase in performance.

In the Soviet army


In the first post-war years, BM-13 and other machines of existing types were considered as the basis for rocket artillery - but only until newer models appeared. However, the new multiple launch rocket systems could not quickly displace the existing Katyushas, ​​and their complete replacement for several decades. In particular, it was this that led to the fact that new modifications of the BM-13 were developed until the mid-sixties.


Restored combat vehicle on the ZIL-157 chassis, May 2020 Photo by the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation

A cardinal turning point in the Soviet army came in the mid-sixties with the advent of the BM-21 Grad MLRS. As such equipment was supplied, the BM-13 and other old models were decommissioned. However, they did not completely abandon them. Katyushas were used by training regiments as sighting installations until the early nineties.

In the future, these machines were withdrawn to the reserve or written off. According to The Military Balance manuals of recent years, there are still 100 BM-13s of unknown modifications in reserve. To what extent this information corresponds to reality is unknown.

Technology abroad


Already in the first post-war years, the USSR began to transfer various military equipment to friendly foreign countries. So, the first BM-13 went abroad by the beginning of the fifties, and in the future, such deliveries continued regularly. This technique was mastered by the armies of Asia, Africa, Europe and South America. Katyushas of all serial modifications were shipped to foreign armies, up to the latest BM-13NMM.

Among the first on this list were the Chinese military; they were the first to use the received equipment in battle. BM-13s were repeatedly used during the Korean War and often had a decisive influence on the course of battles. During the operations, up to 20-22 combat vehicles were used simultaneously, as well as dozens of artillery pieces.


Fighting vehicle BM-13NMM on the ZIL-131 chassis. Photo Wikimedia Commons

A few years after that, BM-13 was used by the forces of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. In particular, in the decisive battle of Dien Bien Phu, the Vietnamese troops used 16 rocket launchers - one fifth of the entire artillery group. As far as is known, the later versions of the "Katyusha" until recently remained in service with the Vietnamese army. So, in 2017, photographs from the base were widely dispersed, at which several late BM-13NMM were present at once.

In the early sixties, BM-13N / NM were supplied to the army of the Kingdom of Afghanistan. A certain amount of such equipment remained in service at the time of the start of a full-scale war in 1979. The Afghan army used them in battles with the enemy. In the future, the outdated machines were replaced with newer Grads.

According to known data, until the recent past, BM-13 of later modifications remained in service with Peru. The last mentions of the Peruvian army date back to the turn of the two thousandth and tenth years.

According to The Military Balance reference books in recent years, at the moment BM-13 remain in service only in Cambodia. Its army also remains the only operator of the obsolete BM-14. The number of such equipment, its condition and status are unknown. At the same time, Cambodian Katyushas serve together with Grads and old samples from third countries.

BM-13 "Katyusha" after the Victory: still in service

BM-13NMM in Vietnam, 2017 Photo Datviet.trithuccuocsong.vn

80 years in service


If Cambodia really continues to operate its rocket launchers, then the BM-13 in the coming months can celebrate the 80th anniversary of its service - in different countries and on different continents. Not every artillery system can boast of such a long service life.

The first prerequisite for such a long-term operation of the "Katyusha" should be considered a successful design of the complex as a whole, which gave rather high characteristics. In addition, an important factor was the mass production of such equipment in 1941-45, which forced it to remain in service even with newer models. In this regard, several upgrades were carried out, extending the overall service life.

Then the USSR was able to re-equip its army, and the released combat vehicles went abroad. Finally, the last factor was the poverty of the new owners. For example, Cambodia still retains BM-13 not for tactical and technical reasons, but because of the impossibility of replacing them with modern technology.

Thus, having become the Weapon of Victory, the Soviet guards BM-13 rocket launchers continued their service - and again helped to smash the enemy and liberate the peoples. And after a few decades, the few combat vehicles that remain in service allow us to count on a record for the duration of service. History Katyusha is nearing completion - but not finished yet.
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  1. The leader of the Redskins
    The leader of the Redskins April 20 2021 18: 17
    +11
    Thank you. Everyone knows about Katyushas. She, even, has overgrown with some legends, but what is still in the ranks of some states - I learned for the first time)
    1. Kote Pan Kokhanka
      Kote Pan Kokhanka April 20 2021 18: 28
      +10
      The "old lady" is still alive !!! Many thanks for this news !!!
      Hello everyone, with respect to Kote !!!
      1. depressant
        depressant April 20 2021 22: 09
        +5
        "We are peaceful people, but ... our Katyusha is on a side track!"
        Almost a quote))))
  2. The comment was deleted.
    1. Intruder
      Intruder April 20 2021 18: 55
      +11
      The author could immediately insert a link to Wikipedia and not waste time on copyright. Even a photo from there.
      After all, you can dilute the author's material with more historical photos and different types of launchers and carriers .. yes :




      1. Intruder
        Intruder April 20 2021 18: 56
        +10
        by the way there are a lot of photos of that time and not only on Wiki !!! wink




        1. Andrey Korotkov
          Andrey Korotkov April 20 2021 19: 24
          +3
          hi Denis, as always, great additions - photos to articles yes
          1. Nikolaevich I
            Nikolaevich I April 20 2021 23: 20
            +2
            Quote: Andrey Korotkov
            Denis, as always, great additions - photos to articles

            But Denis collected everything to a heap! It was about BM-13, and he had almost the entire "range" of "military" (and post-war ...) rocket artillery!
            1. Andrey Korotkov
              Andrey Korotkov April 21 2021 05: 02
              +2
              hi we will not judge him harshly Vladimir, the article is not his, a colleague threw in old photos of wonderful military equipment yes
              1. Nikolaevich I
                Nikolaevich I April 21 2021 05: 36
                +4
                You, "by and large", are right ... again I sat down at the computer in a grumpy mood! So what to do? I went to bed: the water, the heating are off ... I wake up in the morning: the water, the heating are not turned on yet ... no food, no ... really! In addition, I played music with a tambourine for about 10 minutes around the computer until the Internet turned on! Where does Intuzizism come from? Probably getting old!
            2. Intruder
              Intruder April 21 2021 06: 51
              +3
              But Denis collected everything to a heap! It was about BM-13, and he had almost the entire "range" of "military" (and post-war ...) rocket artillery!
              Vladimir, I agree with you, but only one thing: BM-13 is one version, and there were many of them, I just highlighted a few and honestly indicated at the beginning of my comment wink that not only will it be the 13th, but so you can put together a whole review article, about the rocket launchers of that period ...
          2. Intruder
            Intruder April 21 2021 06: 48
            +1
            Denis, as always, great additions - photos to articles
            Thanks I was trying... hi
        2. Avior
          Avior April 20 2021 19: 49
          +6
          In Soviet times, in addition to the classic Katyusha, a wide range of other types of salvo systems were unknown.
          Once at school, a veteran came to us and began to talk about ground launchers, which he called Andryusha, the existence of which no one in the class even suspected, and he had to draw the design of the projectile on the blackboard - it looked like it was m31, m28 or something similar. Later I learned about mobile launchers for these types of ammunition.
          Strange as it may seem, but in Soviet times, with a large number of witnesses and participants in those events, information about weapons and military equipment during the war the majority of the population had much less information than now. The main part of literature and cinema mentioned a very narrow circular armament, even the PPS looked like an incomprehensible curiosity in the cinema
        3. Nikolaevich I
          Nikolaevich I April 21 2021 05: 40
          +3
          Denis! I take the "harmful" words back! Age ... grumpiness progresses! recourse
          1. Intruder
            Intruder April 21 2021 06: 55
            +4
            Denis! I take the "harmful" words back! Age ... grumpiness progresses! recourse
            It's okay ... laughing No offense... drinks
      2. The comment was deleted.
    2. podval57
      podval57 April 20 2021 18: 56
      +1
      Dear, you are a bore!
      1. Nikolaevich I
        Nikolaevich I April 21 2021 00: 12
        +7
        Undecim makes fair comments! If you are not picky about "food", then gulp what they give! The author of the article clearly "hints". that BM-13 and after the war is "our everything" (!); and the post-war systems ... so ... bullshit! But there were several post-war systems!

        BM-14-16

        BM-14-17
        BM-24-12
        BM-24T
        BMD-20
        Describing different modifications of BM-13, the Author, for some reason, ignores a very interesting modification of BM-13-CH ...!
        1. Trapp1st
          Trapp1st April 21 2021 10: 28
          +6
          Installation KS-108 304mm. The topic is certainly interesting, the presentation of the material could of course be better.
          1. Nikolaevich I
            Nikolaevich I April 21 2021 11: 29
            +1
            Quote: Trapp1st
            Installation KS-108 304mm

            Yes ... there was also such an experimental installation ... In my comment, I only mentioned the systems that were put into service! For example. I have come across a mention of an experienced post-war Soviet MLRS with a caliber of 203 mm and even with a "black-and-white" picture ... In time it happened a long time ago (!); but since then I can not find confirmation of this information in any way! With KS-108, the situation is much better; but, nevertheless, this is an experimental installation! By the way, in that time period (40-50s) this scheme ("closed pipe", "blind pipe") was popular for development ... For example, in the post-war years in the USSR, a large-caliber (560mm) "gun" installation RAK was developed (E) ... By the way, launchers in calibers of 280 mm and 152 mm were developed according to a similar scheme. For aviation armament, according to this scheme, "gun blocks" were produced for S-5 missiles ...
            1. Trapp1st
              Trapp1st April 21 2021 11: 32
              +4
              Yes ... there was also such an experimental installation ... In my comment, I only mentioned the systems that were put into service!
              Yes, I understood that, but I decided to mention KS-108 because it seemed to me interesting, with a caliber greater than that of a tornado), and so any experimental installations are certainly not limited to KS-108, and their description can probably drag on for a separate cycle.
          2. Intruder
            Intruder April 22 2021 12: 53
            +4
            Installation KS-108 304mm.
            Hmm .., hmm ...:
            and BM-24 8U31
            remembered at 240 mm. caliber !!!
            By the way, the barmaleiks "rethought" this idea in the 21st century, but with group throwing, not a reagent winked :
            1. Trapp1st
              Trapp1st April 22 2021 13: 04
              +4
              By the way, in the 21st century the barmaleiks "rethought" this idea, but with group throwing, and not with a winked reagent:
              Well, obviously not giants of thought), so it is more effective
          3. Incvizitor
            Incvizitor April 25 2021 02: 34
            +1
            BM 31-12 under 300 mm
  3. Yuriy71
    Yuriy71 April 20 2021 18: 47
    -6
    Russia has long been time to update this platform! Let them buy POLONEZ from Belarus, hitting almost 300 km (280). Although the missiles are Chinese, but within the framework of the "Union State" one could think of something !!!
  4. Potter
    Potter April 20 2021 18: 48
    +2
    Most of the BM-13, installed in the form of monuments, are just represented by machines on the ZIS-151 and ZIL-157 chassis. Several years ago, such an installation appeared as part of the memorial in the village. Novopetrovsky, Istra district, near the Volokolamskoye highway, dedicated to the liberation of this village by the 1st Guards. TBR (former 4 TBR) Katukov. True, the warhead looks "well-worn", in the form of imitation (the rest of the equipment in the T-34-85 memorial and the post-war D-44).
    1. Undecim
      Undecim April 20 2021 19: 02
      +8
      Much depends on desire. With modern restoration possibilities, everything can be restored.

      1. The comment was deleted.
    2. Avior
      Avior April 20 2021 19: 58
      +2
      Apparently, they are more accessible and better preserved.
      Although I saw it at the ZIS-6 base on the move, and at other bases
      1. Potter
        Potter April 20 2021 21: 01
        +1
        Automotive historian Mikhail Sokolov in his book "All-terrain vehicles of the USSR 1918-1945" writes that the only completely identical BM-13 on the ZIS-6 chassis is the installation of the Leningrad Artillery Museum (S-Pb). There are BM-13 installations on the Rudnya-Vitebsk highway, in Prokhorovka and in the museum of border troops in Khabarovsk, but they have undergone repairs with the replacement of original parts. The rest of the vehicles are either on the post-war two-axle chassis UralZIS-5, or on the ZIS-5 chassis with an imitation of the third bridge. Well, most of it is post-war modifications on post-war chassis.
        1. Avior
          Avior April 20 2021 21: 49
          +3
          There is another one based on the ZIS-6
          Previously, when she always went to the parade on May 9, I don't know now, but in a private museum it is, as far as I understand
          https://faeton.zp.ua/ru/avtomobil-zis-6-katyusha-sssr/

          On the territory of the CIS, the same "living", completely identical copy is still available only in the Polytechnic Museum of St. Petersburg, Leningrad Region of Russia.

          Year of release: 1941
          Restoration year: 2003-2005
          1. Potter
            Potter April 21 2021 10: 01
            +1
            Not in the Polytechnic Museum, but in the Museum of Artillery, Engineering Troops and Signals, in Kronwerk behind the Peter and Paul Fortress. My favorite museum in Leningrad was in my youth. He climbed all over him. And St. Petersburg is a city in itself, a federal subject separate from the Leningrad Region.
            1. Avior
              Avior April 21 2021 11: 40
              0
              I will not argue about this.
              But Zis-6 is available
              The specimen is well-known.
    3. Sergey Aleksandrovich
      Sergey Aleksandrovich April 26 2021 14: 09
      0
      Most likely, the undamaged equipment supplied under Lend-Lease was returned to the United States. The surviving Stedebekers appear to have returned as well.
  5. Avior
    Avior April 20 2021 19: 36
    +3
    When I saw the installation based on the ZIL 131 for the first time, the feeling was that it was a gross forgery - it was perceived as a machine of my generation, although not the newest one, but Katyusha is something historical, from the past. Later I found out how things are.
    As for those still in service, as I understand it, new ammunition for them is no longer produced, the shelf life of the old ones will expire, and gradually the launchers will move to museums
  6. Michael
    Michael April 20 2021 20: 02
    +5
    I read as a child how, having got into the environment and drove the front wheels into a well-located track, the guards mortarmen tried to take aim with direct fire. But, only by shooting through the front wheels, they were able to open fire and hit the advancing enemy. The car was blown up and retreated on foot, carrying out the wounded. I remember it in Technology-Youth, it was described so epic.
  7. A. Privalov
    A. Privalov April 20 2021 20: 56
    +2
    The USSR overtook these installations immeasurably into Syria and Egypt. After the Six Day War and the Yom Kippur War, hundreds of these trophy installations went to Israel.
    Hezbollah launched M-13 and M-21 shells at our northern cities back in the year 2009. They claim to have up to 10 missile units at their disposal and locate their missile positions near civilian populations and UN posts in Lebanon.
    Hamas also loves to have fun - to shoot in residential areas of southern Israel's cities from the Gaza Strip. So, "they are in the ranks", that's for sure. Of course, not the installations themselves on ZIL or ZIS machines, but simplified guides on any cars or simply dug into the ground.
    1. Diverter
      Diverter April 21 2021 23: 35
      +1
      M-21 in our northern cities back in the year 2009.

      yours is not ours. from the word at all.
  8. Viktor Sergeev
    Viktor Sergeev April 21 2021 08: 14
    0
    A normal car, for Syria it would be just that: cheap, mobile, a lot. It would be possible to supply Hezbollah with small installations and missiles, so Israel would be happy.
    1. your1970
      your1970 April 21 2021 18: 19
      +1
      Quote: Victor Sergeev
      A normal car, for Syria it would be just that: cheap, mobile, a lot. It would be possible to supply Hezbollah with small installations and missiles, so Israel would be happy.

      Do you even read the previous posts
      Quote: A. Privalov
      Hezbollah launched M-13 and M-21 shells at our northern cities back in the year 2009. They claim to have up to 10 missile units at their disposal and locate their missile positions near civilian populations and UN posts in Lebanon.
      Hamas also loves to have fun - to shoot in residential areas of southern Israel's cities from the Gaza Strip. So, "they are in the ranks", that's for sure
      1. Diverter
        Diverter April 21 2021 23: 36
        0
        and what's wrong with these posts? or only Jews can bomb residential areas ???
        1. your1970
          your1970 April 22 2021 12: 20
          0
          Quote: Saboteur
          and what's wrong with these posts? or only Jews can bomb residential areas ???
          question not about "can or not" ...
          This post was posted AFTER previous - in which LEARN MORE described: where, when, how many missiles ...
          It means that Viktor Sergeev just threw a shovel over the fan - just for the smell ... Without reading- just to throw ...
          1. Diverter
            Diverter April 28 2021 10: 45
            0
            Thank you for the clarification)))
  9. Alexey RA
    Alexey RA April 21 2021 10: 55
    +2
    The first serial BM-13-16 were carried out on the domestic ZIS-6 chassis. In the future, other basic machines of domestic and foreign production were also used. So, at the beginning of 1942, the installation of rocket launchers on trucks, received under Lend-Lease, began.

    The reason for the transition to other chassis is simple - in October 1941, the production of the ZIS-6 was discontinued. They tried to mount the launcher on the STZ-5 chassis - but this meant a reduction in the already small production of artillery tractors.
  10. The comment was deleted.
  11. Diverter
    Diverter April 21 2021 23: 41
    0
    My grandfather was a scout in the Second World War. He said that returning from the assignment, they fell under their Katyusha and Andryusha. Well, some kind of cellar turned up, the whole group barely climbed into it. Otherwise, everyone would have perished. Because it was hell.
  12. Vadim Gavrilov
    Vadim Gavrilov April 22 2021 09: 50
    0
    In 1995, it was also used as a launcher for an air target simulator. Based on the ZIL 131.
  13. ycuce234-san
    ycuce234-san 25 May 2021 20: 48
    0
    A few years after that, BM-13 was used by the forces of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam.


    The Americans, by the way, could not help but see the effectiveness of ground-based MLRS against the Germans - but all the same, in the Vietnamese, Korean companies they were not widely used, preferring aviation unguided missiles and bombs. Although such installations would be very appropriate on American river boats, catamarans and hovercraft, or in the jungle with fire across the squares, they would be much more sensible than the M67 "Zippo" and conventional tanks, when defending stationary objects.
    Probably, the lobbying of arms corporations for the sale of more expensive and profitable aviation weapons than simple, clumsy, cheap and effective ground-based light weapons such as MLRS played a role.