Military Review

In the footsteps of "Katyusha"


"In 1942, Russian newspapers published the first pictures of a strange German weapons, captured on the Russian front, - writes the famous historian of science and technology, Willy Lay. “It had six short barrels about 1,5 meters long, which were mounted on a lightly modified 37 gun carriage of a millimeter anti-tank gun and resembled the drum of the old Colt revolver.

This somewhat strange system was a new German rocket launcher. Officially, it was called the “41 Nebelverfer”, that is, the “gas meter”, or the smoke suppressor device of the 1941 sample of the year. The name indicated that this weapon was originally intended for use as a chemical mortar to create smoke screens. However, reports from the front indicated that this weapon was used as a mortar for firing high-explosive mines. Later, chemical shells for these weapons were captured, confirming its initial purpose.

The total length of the projectile somewhat exceeded 100 centimeters, and its total weight was 36 kilograms. The powder charge was placed in the head section and consisted of seven pieces of smokeless powder, each with a length of 400 millimeters and a diameter of 40 millimeters with a hole in the center with a diameter of 6,35 millimeter. Powder charge weighed about 6 kilograms. The projectile had a caliber 15 centimeters.

The launch time of all six shafts was reportedly from the front, on average 6 seconds. The maximum firing range exceeded 5000 meters. The accuracy of fire was good, but, of course, inferior to the accuracy of fire of artillery guns of the same caliber.
At first, this development was regarded as an attempt by the Germans to at least somehow neutralize our famous "Katyushas", and an unsuccessful attempt. The main flaw of the Neblverfer was that he unmasked himself strongly when fired; the flame of the rocket powder charge, breaking through the open breech of the launch tubes, reached 12 meters in length and was extremely bright. The active part of the rocket’s trajectory was 140 meters, and even in the daytime, when the light from the rocket engine torch was not so noticeable, when launching it, a large cloud of dust appeared unmasking the firing position.

Perhaps that is why about a year after the appearance of the Nebelverfer, a larger rocket mortar with a caliber 21 centimeter of slightly modified design was created. In the projectile of this mortar rocket powder charge was placed in the tail section. Instead of tubular drafts, the projectile had one large powder charge weighing a kilogram of 6,6, a millimeter length of 413, and a diameter of almost 130 millimeters. On the peripheral part of the charge there were eight grooves and eight longitudinal channels in a circle, as well as one central axial channel. The firing range of this variant was already about 6 kilometers.

By this time, a fundamentally new jet system was created, called the "Schweres Wurfgeret" (heavy projectile). This weapon used a 21 SL1 jet engine projectile in combination with a 32 centimeter warhead filled with a mixture of oil and gasoline (about 42 liters). The whole shell was similar to the battle club of the ancient warriors and weighed more than 90 kilograms.

The Wurfgert began to enter the troops with separate shells, in special packaging, which served as a launcher. This packaging frame was tilted, and Wurfgert was ready to launch. Heavy incendiary "bomb", driven by its own engine, could fly a distance of more than 1800 meters.
Later, several such 32 centimeter shells were found, marked with yellow crosses at the head; With this sign, the Germans designated mustard gas. But when the found shells were opened by chemical service specialists, they also found a mixture of oil and gasoline.
The launching of missiles from the packaging frames was quite satisfactory in terms of accuracy only at test sites; on the battlefield, such shells were ineffective. Then the Germans together made six frames in two rows (three in each row) and installed them on a gun carriage, hoping in this way to improve the accuracy of the fire and ensure its greater massing. At about the same time, a smaller version of the Wurfgeret was created with a warhead 28 centimeters in diameter, filled with a high explosive.

As already mentioned, all these constructions can be regarded as attempts to create something similar to our Guards rocket mortar. But the Germans were able to benefit even from their failures. Here is what history on this occasion, for example, told the engineer Alexander Shirokorad.
In developing their designs, it is quite possible that the Germans also remembered the designs of our talented inventor L. V. Kurchevsky, who was engaged in dynamo-active or recoilless cannons before the war. They, unlike traditional guns, when fired, the recoil is balanced by a stream of powder gases, flying through the breech. The easiest option no-click - smooth-wall pipe carried by one fighter. It fires from the shoulder or from the coulters, or from the simplest tripod. The pressure of gases in the barrel does not exceed 10 – 20 kilograms per square centimeter, the initial velocity of the projectile is 25 – 100 meters per second, and the target firing range is 30 – 100 meters.

In addition, the range of dynamo-active guns is increased by installing various nozzles in the "breech", for example, the Laval nozzle. With the appropriate selection of parameters, the gas pressure may become the same as in the barrel of a conventional gun, but then the PDA will have to be made stronger, and therefore heavier, which is undesirable. Therefore, charging chambers of large diameter and volume are used, which allows, with a relatively small pressure in the bore (600 – 800 kilogram per centimeter), to tell the projectile initial speed in 400 – 500 meters per second or more.

And the very first recoilless guns appeared as early as 1915, when the aforementioned colonel of the Russian army Gelvig made a millimeter air cannon 76,2, in which the barrel served as an inert body - after a shot it was lowered by parachute. In the autumn of 1916, an open-tube 70 millimeter dynamo-cannon, designed by Meatry, was used in the USSR to experiment with home-made personal systems with a caliber from 1920 to 37 in millimeters, in dummy chargers, and chard-weather closures. , with deep cutting for shells with ready ledges, unitary and kartuzny loading. Only in 107, seven different recoilless guns were tested, and the next five more.
Kurchevsky went even further. He inserted a nozzle into the breech of the usual 76,2 millimeter field and mountain cannons and received a non-spin. Barrel and ammunition remained standard.
In 1932 – 1933 years, Kurchevsky managed to enlist the support of G.K. Ordzhonikidze, People's Commissar of Heavy Industry, his deputy I.P. Pavlunovsky, G.I. Kulik, Chief of the Main Artillery Directorate, and monopolize everything related to off-rolls. And even more: remember the words of the then popular march - “we were born to make a fairy tale come true”? Please get a tiny torpedo boat type G 5 with 152 millimeter DRP (and this is a cruising caliber!); the destroyer Engels is firing from 305 millimeter DRP (Linkorov caliber on a ship with a displacement of 1400 tons!). The 305 millimeter howitzer is put on the car, the 76 millimeter gun is mounted on the motorcycle. And Kurchevsky proposes the 500 millimeter bezotkatki project for a light cruiser ...

M. N. Tukhachevsky, Deputy Commissar of Defense for Armaments, also became interested in the novelty. “As I understand it, no one has so far objected to his idea of ​​transferring all artillery to a dynamo-active principle, but they even agreed,” the designer VG Grabin recalled.
The pressure was powerful, it was tested by both the military and the production workers. The latter, for example, received telegrams from Ordzhonikidze of this kind: “If plant No. 7 does not master the release of Kurchevsky’s guns, the director will be removed from work!”

Kurchevsky was a keen, energetic and risky man, so he burned repeatedly with his undertakings. The first time he was accused of sabotage was in 1923, when he allegedly squandered state money, but did not build the promised helicopter. The inventor was sent to Solovki and remembered him only in 1929, when the Red Army needed new weapons.
Moreover, it was inadvertently found out that even under camp conditions, Kurchevsky was able to construct a new recoilless cannon! He was caressed again, the working conditions were created for him, and Kurchevsky turned around so that soon the industry produced about 5000 tools of his construction.

But when they got into the troops, it suddenly turned out that only a few were suitable and that was for training purposes. It’s not only a bad choice of barrel. For example, the Red Army soldiers could roll around the firing range manually, and when towing at a speed of 76-5 kilometers per hour, breakdowns began. Motorcycles and cars, on which Kurchevsky mounted guns with a caliber of 10-76 millimeters, could only move on asphalt. aviation, tank and shipborne DRPs were conceived as automatic. However, nitro-tissue cartridges for gunpowder kept tearing, burned incompletely when fired, and blocked the bore, the complex feeding mechanism was constantly breaking, double loading occurred, which led to rupture of the trunks. These were fatal design flaws.
And the inventor was once again accused of sabotage. In 1937, he disappeared and was posthumously rehabilitated in 1956. But they say even earlier, in 1942, when it became known about the appearance of recoilless guns abroad, Stalin, with annoyance, uttered about this: "A child was splashed out with dirty water ..."

And there was why to lament: active-rocket projectiles, which were first used in the Kurchevsky guns, were later widely used both in the famous German faust-cartridges and in American bazookas. And we again had to catch up with foreign designers, designing post-war RPG 2.

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  1. AK-47
    AK-47 19 January 2013 10: 52
    The Germans, despite their great desire, the Germans could not surpass the BM-13, which, in addition to its unpretentious design, had a unique projectile that ensured high, at that time, accuracy of defeat.
    Nevertheless, their six-barreled Vanyusha mortar brought a lot of trouble to the infantry.
    1. ikrut
      ikrut 22 January 2013 13: 13
      Quote: AK-47
      Nevertheless, their six-barreled Vanyusha mortar brought a lot of trouble to the infantry.

      Yes. My father often remembered the German "Vanyushi". The Germans used them quite widely, and not only directly against the infantry, but as artillery barrage. It was a disgusting "thing".
  2. wown
    wown 19 January 2013 11: 48
    and the Germans had nibelwerfers earlier than our Katyushas .... even during the liquidation of the Kiev boiler, they were used
    1. werewolf
      werewolf 20 January 2013 10: 48
      Germans fired at Brest Fortress
    2. anomalocaris
      anomalocaris 20 January 2013 18: 09
      This unit was developed in 38, adopted in the 40th ... The article is about nothing, the author is completely off topic.
  3. Nechai
    Nechai 19 January 2013 13: 51
    Quote: wown
    even during the liquidation of the Kiev boiler they were used

    Quite right, Vladimir! And not only Kiev ... In the initial period of the war, the "Nebelwerfer" ("foggun") was in service with individual companies of the SS - "non-beltruppen". And it was used precisely to quickly destroy the surrounded units of the Red Army. Then the partisan. It was these companies, with the advent of nerve agents, that were equipped with OZK kits at that time.
    "... this weapon was originally intended to be used as a chemical mortar to create smoke screens." - why not tell the truth? It was intended for the use of CHEMICAL WEAPONS. Smoke installations and high-explosive mines are just an extension of the scope of its application. For the first time, by the way, it was applied for these side functions in France and Crete in 1940.
    BM-13 also originally bore the name - Chemical Jet Mortar. All states are then preparing for a future war. it was assumed that it would be conducted with the broadest use of OV. Suffice it to say that about 40% of the Red Army's tank fleet were "chemical tanks". Tanks equipped with pouring devices. The crews were trained in the operation and application of OV. It's another matter that since about 42, our soldiers and commanders at the front ALREADY DIDN'T CARRY gas masks with them. For the Red Army did not plan to use OV, and the Wehrmacht's l / s dragged theirs until surrender. And this is not due to the exceptional discipline of the Germans! The gas mask often saved the Hans from the threat of grabbing YOUR OW, applied to the Russians. Do you remember the post-war history with the re-laying of the new roadbed of the Minsk-Moscow highway? There, after all, from Orsha to Minsk for a hundred kilometers, apart from ordinary mines and land mines, chemical land mines, including those with Tabun and Zarin, planted "for a snack" for Ivans were discovered. And it is in the form of chemical mines to "vanyusha". The soldiers called them "donkeys" ...
    1. patline
      patline 20 January 2013 11: 29
      I was sure that despite all kinds of cruelties, the Germans did not use chemical weapons in World War II.
      1. Misantrop
        Misantrop 20 January 2013 11: 46
        Quote: patline
        I was sure that despite all kinds of cruelties, the Germans did not use chemical weapons in World War II.

        Partisans smoked it from the quarries of Adzhimushkaya with chemical weapons. And this fact is also well known. wink
        1. Kars
          Kars 20 January 2013 15: 38
          Quote: Misantrop
          this fact is also well known

          This is not a fact, but a legend. Carbon monoxide and smoke are also very deadly in confined spaces. A missile defense bumblebee can also be called a chemical weapon.
          1. Misantrop
            Misantrop 20 January 2013 15: 49
            Quote: Kars
            ABM Bumblebee with a smoke charge can also be called a chemical weapon.

            Perhaps this depends not only on the chemical composition, but also on the method of application?
            Smoke is not fatal, and it’s not particularly dangerous (it’s easy to defend oneself). Unlike carbon monoxide, it is extremely dangerous. Especially considering that it has neither color nor smell. I once had a chance to burn in the compartment, so I tried it on myself.

            Moreover, even oxygen under certain conditions is a deadly poison wink
            1. Kars
              Kars 20 January 2013 15: 56
              Quote: Misantrop
              Perhaps this depends not only on the chemical composition, but also on the method of application?

              Quote: Misantrop
              The smoke is not deadly

              strange reports of firefighters do not confirm this
              Quote: Misantrop
              Moreover, even oxygen under certain conditions is a deadly poison

              yes ... but the fact remains that it was not possible to hang on Manstein the use of chemical weapons.
              1. Misantrop
                Misantrop 20 January 2013 18: 01
                Quote: Kars
                firework reports do not confirm this

                Still, now the decoration of living quarters is solid chemistry, there is SUCH "bouquet" when burning, as insulating equipment does not always save
                1. Kars
                  Kars 20 January 2013 18: 14
                  Quote: Misantrop
                  now the decoration of living quarters is solid chemistry, there is SUCH "bouquet

                  Raw wood, resin and tires (automotive) with foliage are also not a pound of raisins.
              2. pum boom
                pum boom 21 January 2013 13: 24
                Quote: Kars
                yes ... but the fact remains that it was not possible to hang on the Manstein the use of chemical weapons

                The Germans used chemical warfare agents in Adzhimushka, BUT during counter-guerrilla operations, which did not cover agreements on the non-use of explosives in hostilities.
                The background is interesting and instructive, but the article is profanity.
    2. Gans2
      Gans2 20 January 2013 23: 27
      At Khalkhin Gol in the year 39, I-16s were used as attack aircraft, fastening rockets to the external sling ....
  4. Kars
    Kars 19 January 2013 14: 28
    engineer Alexander Shirokorad.
    Developing their designs, it is quite possible that the Germans also remembered the designs of our talented inventor L.V. Kurchevsky, who was involved in dynamoreactive or recoilless guns before the war

    I vypol sediment. Still, the book would be voiced where it says.
    1. Kars
      Kars 19 January 2013 16: 08
      So I didn’t understand what was mentioned by Kurchevsky?
      Where is the mention that
      Kurchevsky turned around so that in the near future the industry produced about 5000 guns of its design.

      But when they got into the troops, it suddenly turned out that only a few were suitable and that - for training purposes

      It was a waste of resources and resources, and during the war they did nothing, as dubious educational goals.

      Here is a German variation .. Katyusha ..
      1. Kars
        Kars 19 January 2013 16: 20
        active rockets, which first found application in Kurchevsky’s guns, were then widely used both in the famous German Faustpatrons and in American bazookas.

        Also obsolyutno baseless statement.

        ... The very first DRP really appeared in 1915, when the colonel of the Russian army mentioned by N. Yakubovich Gelvig made a 76,2-mm air gun in which the barrel served as an inert body after the shot it was lowered by parachute. In the fall of 1916, a 70-mm open-pipe type of hydraulic ballast designed by M.D. was tested near Petrograd. Ryabushinsky, and in the 20s in the USSR they experimented with dozens of such artillery systems with a caliber from 37 to 107 mm. muzzle-and breech-loading, smooth-bore and rifled, with in-depth slicing for shells with ready-made protrusions, unitary and slug loading. Only in 1925, seven different DRPs were tested, and the next five more.

        What then did Kurchevsky invent? He inserted a nozzle into the breech of the usual 76,2 mm field and mountain guns and received recoilless. Barrel and ammunition remained standard. By the way, similar design systems of Professor Berkalov have already been produced in series. Kurchevsky’s new was the Laval nozzle with a narrower (10 °) funnel than Berkalov’s (60 °).

        Despite the fact that the pressure in the channels of the barrel of the Kuchevsky guns reached 1000-1500 kg / cm2, they were noticeably inferior to the usual ones in terms of initial projectile speed, range and firing accuracy, but they exceeded their cost: the 76-mm battalion DRP was treated like a regular "division" the same caliber.

        So, Kurchevsky chose the most unsuccessful design? It seems that because with the advent of the era of recoillessness no one was engaged in such systems.

        Shirokorad writes this. It can be said that it was precisely because of the Kursky offer that we had to catch up with the Germans and Faustpatron.

        And by the title of the article
        In the footsteps of "Katyusha"
  5. Edgar
    Edgar 19 January 2013 16: 23
    In fact, the Germans began to design the nebelwerfer back in 1928, when Kurchevsky was still thinking about his guns. And the Germans used the Nebelwerfer already in France, in 1940 in a smoke version. And in Crete and in battle. In general, the German, in addition to a slight lag in range, won other indicators against Katyusha. Not for nothing that all the Soviet post-war development of the MLRS were structurally more likely the heirs of the nebelwerfer and not Katyusha.
  6. tank64rus
    tank64rus 19 January 2013 17: 41
    Research and development work on the creation of Katyushas was developed by the Chief Chem. Initially, the technical assignment provided for the development of an installation for infecting large areas of organic matter. In the same research project, there was a task to develop a technical means for contaminating the terrain and roads with persistent agents during retreat. These were auto-filling stations (ARS). Then, in the course of research and development, priority was given to the development of incendiary ammunition, so that the term "long-range flamethrower" appeared in the technical documentation. Termit-B was used as equipment. But in 37-38 years, most of the participants in the work were fired or imprisoned. However, incendiary ammunition for the Katyusha was developed and used in the first battles of Captain Flerov's battery in 1941. Today, heavy flamethrower systems (TOS) are the inheritors of Katyusha in this direction.
  7. Isk1984
    Isk1984 19 January 2013 19: 34
    Actually, like the name means not just a translation of the type of "smoke thrower", but taken from the ancient German epic, if I am not mistaken, there was such a dwarf with such a name ... But this is how I recalled from the history of the creation of these systems ...
  8. loft79
    loft79 19 January 2013 21: 25
    Strange article. Half about him. Chem. mortars (superficially), half about Kruchevsky. ?!?
    And the headline "In the footsteps of Katyusha". So it's a minus.
  9. varyag
    varyag 30 January 2013 23: 50

    We all remember our mom -
    Studebaker with a powerful frame,
    With flight guides,
    Our guards mortar!

    We were friends with you then
    And the Wehrmacht burned the flame
    He was reliable as a gun
    Glorious "Stalin's organ".

    But the concepts are changing
    And three brothers were born.
    This youngest brother
    It was called simply - "Grad".

    In mother he was born brave.
    In Damansky, he matured.
    Gave, tempering this agility,
    Hunweibin to light!

    The name is a bad weather term!
    There was an ally, became adversity.
    So that he has a stopcrane -
    The Hurricane appeared.

    Deal with this "Rusha"!
    To reach our wealth.
    You had such a calculation.
    Well, remember Dropshot!

    But to the Russian plain,
    On the Slavic back,
    Like that Wehrmacht, spit whim
    Anglo-Saxon is your cowardly!

    Reactive systems -
    Our peace, defense, walls.
    Mum! You put your sword
    In the hand of a brother - this is "Tornado"!
  10. Corsair
    Corsair 5 February 2013 02: 06
    anomalocaris, Land "Stuck" by analogy with U-87. Has nothing in common with Katyusha.
  11. Alex
    Alex 28 October 2013 14: 40
    The article is so-so, a purely American version: everything is about nothing. Minus.