MANUFACTURER(S): Automotive Factory No. 2 ZiS / ZiL - Soviet Union
OPERATORS: Afghanistan; Algeria; China; Cuba; Czechoslovakia; East Germany; Egypt; Hungary; Iran; Iraq; Israel (captured); Jordan; Kuwait; Libya; North Korea; Poland; Saudi Arabia; Soviet Union; Sudan; Syria; Tunisia; Vietnam; Yemen
Detailing the development and operational history of the BM-24 (Katyusha) 6x6 Wheeled Multiple Launch Rocket System.
Entry last updated on 8/1/2017.
Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com.
The Soviet Army found tremendous value in the relatively inexpensive wheeled self-propelled rocket projector, perhaps more so than any other participating military power of World War 2 (1939-1945). Such weapons provided a much-needed shock value against enemy forces and preceded a major offensive alongside huge barrages of artillery fire. The various "Katyusha" systems - BM-8, BM-13 and BM-31 - fulfilled this role during the conflict and their designs revolved around adoption of an existing 6x6 wheeled truck chassis with cab and flatbed mating a limited traverse rocket-launching platform. Following the close of the war in 1945, thought was given to a new generation of similar vehicles and one such development became the "BM-24" series. Today, weapons belonging to this class are categorized under the "MLRS" designation - "Multiple Launch Rocket System" - their primary purpose remaining shock value and saturation of target areas at range.
The BM-24 followed the same design form and function as the BM offerings before it. The launcher component was a rather simplistic steel cage consisting of 12 x 240mm rockets, each capable of holding warheads (including chemical) to suite the mission need. The original vehicle of choice was the multi-purpose ZiS-151 6x6 series featuring a single forward axle and two rear axles. The cab held enough room for up to three persons including the driver (a typical crew numbered six). Power was supplied through a 5.6L ZiS-121 6-cylinder engine mated to a 5-speed manual transmission. Production of the truck model began in 1947 and spanned into 1958 out of Automotive Factory No. 2 in Moscow - Zavod Imeni Stalina (hence the "ZiS" designation). In 1956, this factory was handed a new name - "Zavod Imeni Likhacheva" - and, thusly, the designation of the truck appropriately changed to "ZiL-151". ZiL-151 marks were eventually superseded by the ZiL-157 series if 1958.
The BM-24 was used in considerable numbers (in the thousands) by the Soviet Army. The vehicle was adopted by Soviet customers worldwide including Egypt (seeing use in the Six Day War), China, North Korea and Iran as well as others. The BM-24 launch platform was also mated to the AT-S artillery tractor to produce the related "BM-24T" model mark. These featured a track-and-wheel arrangement with a larger, fully-enclosed cab armored. The launcher system was fitted to a traversing mount at the rear of the vehicle.