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 ZiL-151 marks were eventually superseded by the ZiL-157 series if 1958.
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March 2023 - It has been reported that the Russian Army has brought some of its aging, retired stock of Katyusha 6x6 vehicles back into service for fighting in the Russo-Ukrainian War.
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