Rocket Weapons

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8 cm Raketen-Vielfachwerfer

The Waffen-SS decided to copy the Soviet 82 millimetres (3.2 in) M-8 Katyusha rocket launcher as the 24-rail 8 cm Raketen-Vielfachwerfer. Its fin-stabilized rockets were cheaper and easier to manufacture than the German spin-stabilized designs and used cheaper launch rails. It was also capable of using the considerable stocks of captured Soviet rockets. Separate production lines were set up under party control as the army refused to convert any of its existing factories, but not many actually appear to have been made. Production quantities are unknown, but photographic evidence shows the launcher mounted on lightly armored versions of the Sd.Kfz. 4 “Maultier”and captured French SOMUA MCG half-track.

21 cm Nebelwerfer 42

The Nebelwerfer (“Smoke Mortar”) was a World War II German series of weapons. They were initially developed by and assigned to the Wehrmacht’s so-called “chemical troops” (Nebeltruppen). This weapon was given its name as a disinformation strategy designed to lead spies into thinking that it was merely a device for creating a smoke screen.They were primarily intended to deliver poison gas and smoke shells, although a high-explosive shell was developed for the Nebelwerfers from the beginning. Initially, two different mortars were fielded before they were replaced by a variety of rocket launchers ranging in size from 15 to 32 centimetres (5.9 to 12.6 in). The thin walls of the rockets had the great advantage of allowing much larger quantities of gases, fluids or high-explosives to be delivered than artillery or even mortar shells of the same weight. Nebelwerfers were used in every campaign of the German Army during World War II with the exception of the Balkans Campaign. A version of the 21 cm calibre system was even adapted for air-to-air use against Allied bombers. The name was also used to fool observers from the League of Nations, who were observing any possible infraction of the Treaty of Versailles, from discovering that the weapon could be used for explosive and toxic chemical payloads as well as the smoke rounds the name Nebelwerfer suggested.

28/32 cm Nebelwerfer 41

The 28/32 cm Nebelwerfer 41 (28/32 cm NbW 41) was a German multiple rocket launcher used in the Second World War. It served with units of the so-called Nebeltruppen, the German equivalent of the U.S. Army’s Chemical Corps. The Nebeltruppen had responsibility for poison gas and smoke weapons that were used instead to deliver high-explosives during the war. The name “Nebelwerfer” is best translated as “Smoke Mortar”. It saw service from 1941–45 in all theaters except Norway and the Balkans.

Bachem Ba 349 Natter

The Bachem Ba 349 Natter (English: Colubrid, grass-snake) was a World War II German point-defense rocket-powered interceptor, which was to be used in a very similar way to a manned surface-to-air missile. After a vertical take-off, which eliminated the need for airfields, most of the flight to the Allied bombers was to be controlled by an autopilot. The primary role of the relatively untrained pilot was to aim the aircraft at its target bomber and fire its armament of rockets. The pilot and the fuselage containing the rocket-motor would then land using separate parachutes, while the nose section was disposable. The only manned vertical take-off flight on 1 March 1945 ended in the death of the test pilot, Lothar Sieber.

Fieseler Fi 103R Reichenberg

The Fieseler Fi 103R, code-named Reichenberg, was a late-World War II German manned version of the V-1 flying bomb (more correctly known as the Fieseler Fi 103) produced for attacks in which the pilot was likely to be killed (as with the Japanese Ohka rocket-powered suicide anti-ship missile) or at best to parachute down at the attack site, which were to be carried out by the “Leonidas Squadron”, Group V of the Luftwaffe’s Kampfgeschwader 200.

Henschel Hs 117

The Henschel Hs 117 Schmetterling (German for Butterfly) was a TV guided German surface-to-air missile project developed during World War II. There was also an air-to-air version, the Hs 117H.

The operators used a telescopic sight and a joystick to guide the missile by radio control, which was detonated by acoustic and photoelectric proximity fuses, at 10–20 m (33–66 ft).

Panzerwerfer

The German Panzerwerfer is one of two different types of half-tracked multiple rocket launchers employed by Nazi Germany during the Second World War. The two self-propelled artillery vehicles are the 15 cm Panzerwerfer 42 auf Selbstfahrlafette Sd.Kfz.4/1 (based on the Opel Maultier, or “mule”, half-track) and 15 cm Panzerwerfer 42 auf Schwerer Wehrmachtsschlepper (or Panzerwerfer auf SWS).

Ruhrstahl X-4

The Ruhrstahl Ru 344 X-4 was a wire guided air-to-air missile designed by Germany during World War II. The X-4 did not see operational service and thus was not proven in combat, but inspired considerable post-war work around the world and was the basis for the development of several ground-launched anti-tank missiles, including the Malkara.

V-1 Flying Bomb

The V-1 flying bomb (German: Vergeltungswaffe 1) —also known as the buzz bomb, or doodlebug —was an early pulse-jet-powered predecessor of the cruise missile.

The V-1 was developed at Peenemünde Army Research Centre by the German Luftwaffe during the Second World War. During initial development it was known by the codename “Cherry Stone”. The first of the so-called Vergeltungswaffen series designed for terror bombing of London, the V-1 was fired from launch sites along the French (Pas-de-Calais) and Dutch coasts. The first V-1 was launched at London on 13 June 1944, one week after (and prompted by) the successful Allied landing in Europe. At its peak, more than one hundred V-1s a day were fired at south-east England, 9,521 in total, decreasing in number as sites were overrun until October 1944, when the last V-1 site in range of Britain was overrun by Allied forces. This caused the remaining V-1s to be directed at the port of Antwerp and other targets in Belgium, with 2,448 V-1s being launched. The attacks stopped when the last site was overrun on 29 March 1945.

The British operated an arrangement of defences (including guns and fighter aircraft) to intercept the bombs before they reached their targets as part of Operation Crossbow, while the launch sites and underground V-1 storage depots were targets of strategic bombing.

Werfer-Granate 21

The Werfer-Granate 21 rocket launcher, also known as the BR 21 (the “BR” standing for Bordrakete) in official Luftwaffe manuals, was a weapon used by the German Luftwaffe during World War II and was the first on-board rocket placed into service by the Luftwaffe, first introduced in mid 1943. The weapon was developed by Rheinmetall-Borsig under the leadership of Dipl.-Ing. Rudolf Nebel, who had pioneered German use of wing-mounted offensive rocketry in World War I with the Luftstreitkräfte.

Wurfrahmen 40

The Wurfrahmen 40 (“launch frame 40”) was a German World War II multiple rocket launcher. It combined a vehicle such as the SdKfz 251 halftrack or captured ex-French Renault UE Chenillette with rocket artillery to form a more mobile and protected artillery piece than the towed Nebelwerfer. It was nicknamed Stuka zu Fuss (“Stuka on Foot” or “Walking Stuka”) and Heulende Kuh (“Bellowing Cow”).

Introduced in late 1940, the weapon system was a framework with adjustable base plates fitted over and alongside a vehicle which could hold 300 mm high explosive (HE) rockets; 280 mm HE and 320 mm incendiary rockets were also used, the rockets being fired while in their loading crates. Although spin stabilized, the rockets were not as accurate as conventional artillery and reloading was time consuming due to the rocket’s weight. Rockets were ripple-fired in large numbers where feasible to quickly saturate a target. The Wurfrahmen 40 was successful in service as a support weapon for the mobile Panzer formations, particularly in urban areas.

When used on the common mounting, the Sd.Kfz. 251 halftrack, a frame with six base plates were used, with three on each side. The Chenillette UE employed either two per side or four frames on the rear. The Hotchkiss H35 mounting used two per side also. Some captured American M3 halftracks also mounted Wurfrahmen, with four frames at two per side.

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German Military History with a focus on World War 2 History including other areas of German History