MANUFACTURER(S): State Factories - Nazi Germany
LENGTH: 19.69 feet (6 meters)
WIDTH: 7.22 feet (2.2 meters)
HEIGHT: 8.37 feet (2.55 meters)
WEIGHT: 8 Tons (7,300 kilograms; 16,094 pounds)
ENGINE: 1 x Opel 6-cylinder gasoline engine (SdKfz 4 Half-Track).
SPEED: 25 miles-per-hour (40 kilometers-per-hour)
RANGE: 81 miles (130 kilometers)
Detailing the development and operational history of the 8cm Raketen-Vielfachwerfer Self-Propelled Rocket Projector Vehicle.
Entry last updated on 8/6/2018.
Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com.
So impressed (and in dire need) were the Germans with the simplicity of the Soviet 82mm M-8 Katyusha rocket line that they developed a copy as the "8cm Raketen-Vielfachwerfer" (translating to "80mm Rocket-Multiple Launcher"). The German Army experimented extensively with battlefield rockets prior to the war and really held no use for them in the early campaigns until their commitment to the East Front and the invasion of the Soviet Union (June 1941) brought the country further into a stalled war. The result of that work became several rocket-projecting systems - some towed with others vehicle-mounted - that intended to proved a physical and psychological effect against the enemy through indirect fire. The copying of the Katyusha system was only natural in returning "fire with fire" for the Germans - such was the practice of all sides during the war - and in some ways honored the Soviet approach to simplicity and ease-of-use with friendly mass-production qualities.
The German battlefield rockets of other "Nebelwerfer" ("smoke mortar") designs relied on a fin-less rocket projectile which imparted spin stabilization through a complex internal arrangement - multiple Venturi jettisoning exhaust to impart the spin action. Nosecones were hollow with the explosive payload featured further aft - intended to detonated above the ground during impact. This internal arrangement complicated mass production which, in the end, really limited the availability of these potent weapon systems for the Germans. The Soviet approach, however, was perfectly centered on fast production for the masses.
As such, copying the Katyusha design was a logical approach: the Germans took the 82mm rocket and supported it through a 24-rail assembly. The rockets retained their fin-stabilized approach which aided accuracy during the flight path. The rockets proved much faster to mass produce in the numbers required and the launch rail assemblies were of a simple metal network design. The launcher units were then affixed to half-track vehicles for a self-propelled and mobile battlefield function - just as in the truck-centric Katyusha launchers for the Soviets.
Despite this new approach to the German battlefield rocket projector, Army factories were already tied up in production of other much-needed wartime implements. Therefore, it fell to the Waffen-SS to arrange for other manufacture means which, again, led to limited production totals and limited battlefield availability before the end of the war (though actual totals for the Raketen-Vielfachwerfer remain largely unknown). Some launchers were known to have been affixed to the rear quarters of the SdKfz 4 "Maultier" half-track vehicles - the "mule" of the German Army in World War 2. The vehicles were also fitted with other German rocket launchers including the 10-tube 15cm (150mm) Nebelwerfer types (as the "SdKfz 4/1 Panzerwerfer"). Other platforms for the German launchers became old captured French half-tracks obtained in the French invasion of 1940.
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