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Soviet rocket artillery - From BM-13 to BM-27


By Sakhal

During several decades the Soviet Union deployed the most powerful multiple-rocket artillery systems, a tendency that led to the huge BM-30 Smerch which as 2018 goes by is currently in service, along with the BM-27 Uragan, with the Russian Army. The different calibers of these two systems and that of the BM-21 Grad have been recently unified in a new universal system known as 9A52-4 Tornado, which uses an 8 x 8 military truck as mobile platform. The following picture shows the comparative sizes of the diverse multiple-rocket artillery systems showcased in this article.

Soviet rocket artillery - From BM-13 to BM-27


For additional information you may visit the article Soviet rocket artillery - From Katyusha to Smerch

BM-13

Soviet rocket artillery - From BM-13 to BM-27


The BM-13 system consisted of a rocket launcher of open rails for sixteen 132-millimeter rockets, usually transported in the rear part of a 6 x 6 truck, and sometimes mounted on surplus light tanks, tractors and other vehicles that were available. The development of this system was started in the early 1930s, but it remained as a very well kept secret, not only for foreign nations, but also for the rest of the Red Army, for the launchers were manned by troops of the NKVD (organization that was the predecessor of the KGB, Military Police of the Interior Ministry). Actually its existence was not revealed until 1941. Immediately the Germans opposed to this system the 150-millimeter Nebelwerfer and, in the remaining time of war, it took place a more or less permanent duel between the German and Soviet rocket launcher units.

Caliber: 132 millimeters

Weight of the launcher: N/A

Lenght of the rocket: 1.42 meters

Weight of the rocket: 42.5 kilograms

Type of the warhead: High explosive

Weight of the warhead: 4.9 kilograms

Maximum speed: 355 meters/second

Maximum range: 8500 meters



BM-30

Soviet rocket artillery - From BM-13 to BM-27


Little is known about this 300-millimeter rocket system, because it did not survive to the end of the war, besides being kept secret during the time that it was in service. Few photographs survived and they show little detail. The rocket was of simple design, with an engine fed by solid fuel and a percussion fuse that actuated on an ogive loaded with high explosive and shrapnel. The launcher was a rectangular structure with a cage of four launching rails, whose rear part rested in the ground while the fore part was raised upon two "legs" to give the desired elevation angle. These launchers were transported in trucks to their emplacements and then deployed in rows. It seems that these launchers were used only in the preparation of massive artillery attacks and never fired from mobile platforms.

Caliber: 300 millimeters

Weight of the launcher: N/A

Lenght of the rocket: N/A

Weight of the rocket: 72 kilograms

Type of the warhead: High explosive and shrapnel

Weight of the warhead: 28.9 kilograms

Maximum speed: N/A

Maximum range: 2800 meters



BM-24

Soviet rocket artillery - From BM-13 to BM-27


This 240-millimeter rocket system entered service in the early 1950s. It was just a modernized version of the BM-13 Katyusha used during the Second World War, fitted with a cage launcher with space for twelve rockets. It was superseded by the BM-21 Grad and sold to countries of the Middle East and the Far East. The rockets were propelled by solid fuel and fitted with conventional warheads of high explosive and shrapnel.

Caliber: 240 millimeters

Weight of the launcher: 9200 kilograms when loaded

Lenght of the rocket: 1.18 meters

Weight of the rocket: 112.5 kilograms

Type of the warhead: High explosive and shrapnel

Weight of the warhead: 46.9 kilograms

Maximum speed: 363 meters/second

Maximum range: 10300 meters



BM-21

Soviet rocket artillery - From BM-13 to BM-27


This 122-millimeter rocket system was developed in the early 1960s. It was the successor of several rocket systems that started with the BM-13 Katyusha, for it used the same system of firing rockets propelled by solid fuel from a launcher installed on a 6 x 6 truck. But instead of a cage launcher, this system used a new launcher which comprised 40 tubes grouped in a frame and capable of reaching 55 degrees of elevation and 120 degrees of horizontal arc on each direction. Variations of the original vehicle, with 12 and 36 tubes, were mounted in different vehicles. This rocket could use warheads filled with high explosive and shrapnel, incendiary substances or a load of small bombs. It had four slightly angled folding fins that contributed to stabilize the rocket with a slow rotation. Older rocket systems relied instead in a slight twist in the launching rails to achieve the same effect.

Caliber: 122 millimeters

Weight of the launcher: 13700 kilograms

Lenght of the rocket: 3.226 meters

Weight of the rocket: 77.5 kilograms

Type of the warhead: High explosive and shrapnel, incendiary or small bombs

Weight of the warhead: 19.4 kilograms

Maximum speed: 690 meters/second

Maximum range: 20.38 kilometers



BM-27

Soviet rocket artillery - From BM-13 to BM-27


This rocket launcher of sixteen tubes was introduced in the early 1970s and since then it received a number of denominations that have created confusion, from the M 1977 to the more recent BM-9P 140. It consists of an 8 x 8 truck transporting a launcher with one four-tube row and two six-tube rows, capable of reaching 55 degrees of elevation and 120 degrees of horizontal arc on each direction. To provide extra support for the launcher during the firing, the truck has four folding jacks that grant improved stability when deployed. The rockets are the typical ones fed by solid fuel and they can be fitted with diverse loads: high explosive with shrapnel, chemicals or small bombs; these, in turn, can be of diverse types: anti-tank, anti-personnel or incendiary, or also 24 anti-tank mines or 312 anti-personnel mines.

Caliber: 220 millimeters

Weight of the launcher: 20000 kilograms

Lenght of the rocket: 4.832 meters

Weight of the rocket: 260 kilograms

Type of the warhead: High explosive and shrapnel, chemical or small bombs

Weight of the warhead: 100 kilograms

Maximum speed: N/A

Maximum range: 35 kilometers



FROG-7

Soviet rocket artillery - From BM-13 to BM-27


The first version of the FROG (Free Rocket Over Ground) system was seen for the first time in 1957. The FROG-7 appeared in 1969, after a series of successively improved models which were developed as the technicians gained experience. This system was exported to several countries and the different versions probably remained in service for decades. Unlike the multiple systems previously seen, the FROG system features a single large rocket, of a single phase and solid fuel, with several warheads available and transported in an 8 x 8 erector-launcher truck similar to that used for the BM-27 Uragan. The unusual characteristic of this rocket is that it uses air brakes in flight with the purpose of varying the trajectory and so achieve the desired range. The launching rail is erected and the air brakes are regulated according to the desired range. But as it happens with any fin-stabilized free rocket, crossing winds affect the trajectory, causing a poor precision.

Caliber: 550 millimeters

Weight of the launcher: 23000 kilograms

Lenght of the rocket: 9.11 meters

Weight of the rocket: 2500 kilograms

Type of the warhead: High explosive, chemical or nuclear (5 or 25 kilotons)

Weight of the warhead: 450 kilograms

Maximum speed: N/A

Maximum range: 70 kilometers





Article updated: 2018-02-07

Categories: Artillery - World War Two - Cold War - 20th Century - [General]

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Website: Military History

Article submitted: 2015-06-18


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