The publication of any images or informations related to nazism, fascism or any other totalitarian regimes must be understood as the reproduction of historical accuracy and not as apology to these regimes, leaders or symbols.
A publicação de qualquer imagem ou informação referentes ao nazismo, fascismo ou quaisquer outros regimes totalitários deve ser entendida como reprodução do rigor histórico e não como apologia a estes regimes, líderes ou símbolos.

CCKW 352 BM-13/16 Katyusha rocket launcher - case report

      Tovarish...For the Motherland!!
     I will show a project in scratchbuild of this important weapon of WWII: the CCKW 352 BM-13/16 Katyusha rocket launcher. The Soviets used only the short chassis version of the deuce and a half CCKW 353: the version CCKW 352. As there is not yet on the market this version in plastic, I decided to make this model, converting a kit of Italeri CCKW 353, long wheel base. This project was made in 2006.
Hello, Tovarish!!
CCKW 352 BM-13/16 Katyusha 
      Katyusha multiple rocket launchers are a type of rocket artillery first built and fielded by the Soviet Union in World War II. Multiple rocket launchers such as these deliver a devastating amount of explosives to a target area more quickly than conventional artillery, but with lower accuracy and requiring a longer time to reload. They are fragile compared to artillery guns, but are inexpensive and easy to produce. Katyushas of World War II, the first self-propelled artillery mass-produced by the Soviet Union, were usually mounted on trucks. This mobility gave the Katyusha (and other self-propelled artillery) another advantage: being able to deliver a large blow all at once, and then move before being located and attacked with counter-battery fire.
Studers US6 BM-13/16 firing in Berlin
      Katyusha weapons of World War II included the BM-13 launcher, light BM-8, and heavy BM-31. Today, the nickname is also applied to newer truck-mounted Soviet (and not only Soviet) multiple rocket launchers—notably the common BM-21—and derivatives.
      Initially, concerns for secrecy kept their military designation from being known by the soldiers who operated them. They were called by code names such as Kostikov guns and finally classed as Guards Mortars.  The name BM-13 was only allowed into secret documents in 1942, and remained classified until after the war. Because they were marked with the letter K (for Voronezh Komintern Factory), Red Army troops adopted a nickname from Mikhail Isakovsky's popular wartime song, "Katyusha", about a girl longing for her absent beloved, who has gone away on military service. Katyusha is the Russian equivalent of Katie, an endearing diminutive form of the name Katherine: Yekaterina →Katya →Katyusha.
      German troops coined the sobriquet Stalin's organ (German: Stalinorgel), after Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, prompted by the visual resemblance of the launch array to a church organ and the sound of the weapon's rocket motors.
      The heavy BM-31 launcher was also referred to as Andryusha (Андрюша, an affectionate diminutive of “Andrew”). But in fact, only the Soviet press used this name.
BM-31-8 in Zis-6 truck
      Katyusha rocket launchers were mounted on many platforms during World War II, including on trucks, artillery tractors, tanks, and armoured trains, as well as on naval and riverine vessels as assault support weapons, Soviet engineers also mounted single Katyusha rockets on lengths of railway track to serve in urban combat. The design was relatively simple, consisting of racks of parallel rails on which rockets were mounted, with a folding frame to raise the rails to launch position. Each truck had between 14 and 48 launchers. The M-13 rocket of the BM-13 system was 180 cm long, 13.2 cm in diameter and weighed 42 kg.
M-13 rocket
      The weapon is less accurate than conventional artillery guns, but is extremely effective in saturation bombardment, and was particularly feared by German soldiers. A battery of four BM-13 launchers could fire a salvo in 7–10 seconds that delivered 4.35 tons of high explosives over a 400,000-square-metre impact zone, making its power roughly equivalent to that of 72 gun batteries. With an efficient crew, the launchers could redeploy to a new location immediately after firing, denying the enemy the opportunity for counterbattery fire. Katyusha batteries were often massed in very large numbers to create a shock effect on enemy forces. The weapon's disadvantage was the long time it took to reload a launcher, in contrast to conventional guns which could sustain a continuous low rate of fire.

      The distinctive howling sound of the rocket launching terrified the German troops and could be used for psychological warfare. The rocket's devastating destruction also helped to lower the morale of the German army.

      In June 1938, the Soviet Jet Propulsion Research Institute (RNII) in Leningrad was authorized by the Main Artillery Directorate (GAU) to develop a multiple rocket launcher for the RS-132 aircraft rocket (RS forReaktivnyy Snaryad, 'rocket-powered shell'). I. Gvay led a design team in Chelyabinsk, Russia, which built several prototype launchers firing the modified 132 mm M-132 rockets over the sides of ZiS-5 trucks. These proved unstable, and V.N. Galkovskiy proposed mounting the launch rails longitudinally. In August 1939, the result was the BM-13 (BM stands for Боевая Mашина (translit. Boyevaya Mashina), 'combat vehicle' for M-13 rockets).
 Zis-6 BM-13/16. First Katyusha.

      The first large-scale testing of the rocket launchers took place at the end of 1938, when 233 rounds of various types were used. A salvo of rockets could completely straddle a target at a range of 5,500 metres. But the artillery branch was not fond of the Katyusha, because it took up to 50 minutes to load and fire 24 rounds, while a conventional howitzer could fire 95 to 150 rounds in the same time. Testing with various rockets was conducted through 1940, and the BM-13-16 with launch rails for sixteen rockets was authorized for production. Only forty launchers were built before Germany invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941.
      After their success in the first month of the war, mass production was ordered and the development of other models proceeded. The Katyusha was inexpensive and could be manufactured in light industrial installations which did not have the heavy equipment to build conventional artillery gun barrels. By the end of 1942, 3,237 Katyusha launchers of all types had been built, and by the end of the war total production reached about 10,000.

      The truck-mounted Katyushas were installed on ZiS-6 6×4 trucks, as well as the two-axle ZiS-5 and ZiS-5V. In 1941, a small number of BM-13 launchers were mounted on STZ-5 artillery tractors.

      A few were also tried on KV tank chassis as the KV-1K, but this was a needless waste of heavy armour.
KV-1K, with rockets in the fenders
      Starting in 1942, they were also mounted on various British, Canadian and U.S. Lend-Lease trucks, in which case they were sometimes referred to as BM-13S. The cross-country performance of the Studebaker US6 2½ ton truck was so good that it became the GAU's standard mounting in 1943, designated BM-13N (normalizovanniy, 'standardized'), and more than 1,800 of this model were manufactured by the end of World War II. After World War II, BM-13s were based on Soviet-built ZiL-151 trucks.
Studebaker US-6 BM-13N Katyusha
      The 82 mm BM-8 was approved in August 1941, and deployed as the BM-8-36 on truck beds and BM-8-24 on T-40 and T-60 light tank chassis. Later these were also installed on GAZ-67 jeeps as the BM-8-8, and on the larger Studebaker trucks as the BM-8-48. In 1942, the team of scientists Leonid Shvarts, Moisei Komissarchik and engineer Yakov Shor received the Stalin prize for the development of the BM-8-48.

Based on the M-13, the M-30 rocket was developed in 1942. Its bulbous warhead required it to be fired from a grounded frame, called the M-30 (single frame, four round; later double frame, 8 round), instead of a launch rail mounted on a truck. In 1944 it became the basis for the BM-31-12 truck-mounted launcher.
      A battery of BM-13-16 launchers included four firing vehicles, four reload trucks and two technical support trucks, with each firing vehicle having a crew of six. Reloading was executed in 3–4 minutes, although the standard procedure was to switch to a new position some 10 km away due to the ease with which the battery could be identified by the enemy. Three batteries were combined into a division (company), and three divisions into a separate mine-firing regiment of rocket artillery.

Soviet World War II missile systems were named according standard templates which are the following:
BM-x-y (names used for ground vehicles)
M-x-y (names used for towed trailers and sledges)
y-M-x (names used for navy)

x is a model of a missile.
y is a number of launch rails/tubes.

In particular, BM-8-16 is a vehicle which fires M-8 missiles and has 16 rails. BM-30-4 is a vehicle which fires M-30 missiles and has 4 launch tubes. Short names such as BM-8 or BM-13 were used too. Number of launch rails/tubes is absent here. Such names describe launchers only no matter a vehicle they are mounted on. In particular BM-8-24 had a number of variants: vehicle mounted (ZiS-5 truck), tank mounted (T-40) and tractor mounted (STZ-3). All of them had the same name: BM-8-24. Other launchers had a number of variants mounted on different vehicles too. Typical set of vehicles for soviet missile systems is the following:
  • ZiS-5 (truck),
  • ZiS-6 (truck),
  • GAZ-AA (truck),
  • STZ-3 (tractor),
  • T-40 (tank),
  • Studebaker US6 (truck),
  • CCKW 352 (truck)
  • Armored train car,
  • River boat,
  • Towed sledge,
  • Towed trailer,
  • Backpack (portable variant, so called "mountain Katyusha"),
  • ZiS-151 (truck, used after the war)
Note: There was also an experimental KV-1K - Katyusha mounted on KV-1 tank which was not taken in service.

Some implementations of the Katyusha:
Caliber (mm)
Weapon name
82 mm
ZiS-6 truck, Studebaker US6 U3 truck, rail carriage
132 mm
ZIS-6 truck, improvised vehicle mount, towed trailer or sled
82 mm
ZiS-5 truck, ZiS-6 truck
82 mm
Willys MB Jeep
82 mm
Towed trailer, GAZ-AA truck
82 mm
Towed trailer or sled
82 mm
Towed trailer or sled
300 mm
Towed trailer
300 mm
Towed trailer
300 mm
Towed trailer
82 mm
T-40 light tank, T-60 light tank
300 mm
Studebaker US6 U3 truck
82 mm
Rail carriage
82 mm
82 mm
132 mm
132 mm
International K7 "Inter" truck,International M-5-5-318 truck, Fordson WO8T truck, Ford/Marmon-Herrington HH6-COE4 truck, Chevrolet G-7117 truck, Studebaker US6 U3 truck, GMC CCKW-352M-13 truck, rail carriage
82 mm
Improvised vehicle mount, towed trailer or sled

Rocket variants
Rockets used in the above implementations were:
Weapon name
Caliber (mm)
Range (max)
82 mm
5,900 m
0.64 kg
132 mm
5,050 m
18.4 kg
300 mm
2,800 m
28.9 kg
300 mm
4,325 m
28.9 kg
300 mm
4,000 m
28.9 kg
132 mm
8,740 m
4.9 kg
132 mm
11,800 m
4.9 kg
132 mm
7,900 m
4.9 kg
The M-8 and M-13 rocket could also be fitted with smoke warheads, although this was not common.

Combat history:
      The multiple rocket launchers were top secret in the beginning of World War II. A special unit of the NKVD secret police was raised to operate them. On July 14, 1941, an experimental artillery battery of seven launchers was first used in battle at Rudnya in Smolensk province of Russia, under the command of Captain Ivan Flyorov, destroying a concentration of German troops with tanks, armored vehicles and trucks at the marketplace, causing massive German Army casualties and its retreat from the town in panic. The event had been witnessed by a future military historian, then a 20-year old Russian Sergeant Andrey Sapronov (90 years old in 2011). There is a widespread Soviet myth of Katyusha’s maiden attack of July 14, 1941 at Orsha in Belarus, destroying a station with several supply trains. It obviously conflicts with the fact that Orsha remained at the hands of the Soviet Army on July 14 and through July 15. And even on July 16, 1941 the German troops were unlikely to invade Orsha aboard their supply trains. Thus, had the Katyusha’s rockets fallen on any supply trains on July 16, 1941, those would have been the Soviet trains unable to have left Orsha railroad station. Any records of the battery’s actions in July 1941 were forbidden. Following the success, the Red Army organized new Guards mortar batteries for the support of infantry divisions. A battery's complement was standardized at four launchers. They remained under NKVD control until German Nebelwerfer rocket launchers became common later in the war.
Gaz-AA BM 8-40
      On August 8, 1941, Stalin ordered the formation of eight special Guards mortar regiments under the direct control of the General Headquarters Reserve (Stavka-VGK). Each regiment comprised three battalions of three batteries, totalling 36 BM-13 or BM-8 launchers. Independent Guards mortar battalions were also formed, comprising 36 launchers in three batteries of twelve. By the end of 1941, there were eight regiments, 35 independent battalions, and two independent batteries in service, fielding a total of 554 launchers.
 Zis-6 BM-8/36 Katyusha.

      In June 1942 heavy Guards mortar battalions were formed around the new M-30 static rocket launch frames, consisting of 96 launchers in three batteries. In July, a battalion of BM-13s was added to the establishment of a tank corps. In 1944, the BM-31 was used in motorized heavy Guards mortar battalions of 48 launchers. In 1943, Guards mortar brigades, and later divisions, were formed equipped with static launchers.
      By the end of 1942, 57 regiments were in service together with the smaller independent battalions, this was the equivalent of 216 batteries: 21% BM-8 light launchers, 56% BM-13, and 23% M-30 heavy launchers. By the end of the war, the equivalent of 518 batteries were in service.

The kits:
      In 2006, did not exist kits ICM Studebaker and Studebaker Katyusha. The only Katyusha 1/35 that existed were the Zil-157 from Italeri...

... and the Zis-6 from Alan/Eastern.
Zis 6 BM-13 Katyusha Eastern
      The Italeri kit Katyusha was the most common, but it is a post-WWII version of this rocket launcher. Since I only build models of the Great Wars, I had to modify what we had in the market. As the  Soviets only used the version 352 short wheel base of GMC 6x6 2 1/2 tons, I did a scratch with Italeri CCKW 353. For the project, I used a new CCKW 353 from Italeri and a scrap kit from Zil-157, as donor for rocket launcher.
GMC 2 1/2 ton Italeri - CCKW 353
      First of all, I took the original dimensions of the CCKW 352 and CCKW 353...
Specs of CCKWs
      So, I hauled to a drawing in profile.  I transformed the actual measures (1/1- in red) in inch to millimeters. Then, converted actual measures in milimeters (in green) to kit scale (1/35 - in blue). With this, I obtained the measurements of my kit. See below:
The cake recipe...
         With that, I could begin the transformation of a chassis 353 in 352. I apologize about the (poor) quality of the photographs in the constructive step. Were taken with a very primitive camera (2006). The final pics are better...
      The first thing to do is cut the chassis from Italeri kit CCKW. As said earlier, this kit represents the LWB and I have to reduce it to SWB. Time to see if the scale of the chassis is correct, and it is!!
Checking the length of the long wheel base chassis (Italeri)
        After this confirmation, the planning of the reduction of the chassis of 119mm to 105mm. Notice the use of a syringe needle introduced into one of several holes in the chassis to allow a correct alignment of the stringers at the time of cutting. The cut will be the two girders simultaneously to avoid errors.

Planning the surgery. 
      I used a manual thin saw for this procedure. Do not use a rotary tool (Dremel) to cut this because the precision must be absolute. Use a square to allow a perfect perpendicularity. I use an acrylic cube with edges at 90 ° to it.
Cutting the stringers of the chassis
      Cut the two stringers by removing a segment of 14mm for the necessary shortening. After the cut, glue the two parts and check the measurements. Do not forget to save the two stringer segments that you cut . Will be very useful in time to cut cardan driveshafts and exhaust.

The new 352 chassis: SWB with 105mm of wheel base
      The chassis segments can (and should ...) be reinforced with strips of plasticard in his inner portion, where there don't appear.
Plasticard reinforcements in the internal side of the stringers...
      After gluing the stringers, continue your normal assembly of the Italeri's CCKW kit, following the instructions. After careful building of the front and rear axles, it's time to assemble the driveshaft. In the case of front and rear axles segment, you should cut the driveshafts the same amount: 14mm.
Cutting the transmission axle
And the chassis is done: 352 SWB.
       The job continues as the booklet. Assembly and painting of the interior of the cabin. Important detail: the closing of the gunner's hole in the roof of the cabin. Sheet plasticard and putty. Notice in the photo below that the spares wheels of CCKW 352 are two, rather than just one, as in the CCKW 353. The spare-wheels rack of Zil-157 is perfect because it is identical to the SWB and the wheels and tires are the same. I used the Zil-157 cannibalized after a disassemble surgery very well executed.
Cabin with gunner position sealed. Notice the use of Zil-157 parts (same of CCKW 352)
      To make the rear fenders, I printed the drawing on scale 1/35 and cut the lateral portion of the fenders, to use as a template.
Cutting the scale draw
        I cut plasticard 04 sheets of 1 mm thickness, in a size that the edge of the rear fender fit it. I glued the sheets of plasticard in its lower portion, which would later be highlighted in the preparation of parts. Above this plastic sandwich, glued the paper template with PVA glue. This detail of pasting the sheets in his portion of plasticard "detachable" is important because if you paste the sheets together in useful areas, they will be marked and worthless. In this same disposable area, I stuck the plastic and inserting a screw threaded, to allow a perfect junction between the parts, to leave all equal, no difference.
The template glued in four plasticard sheets.
      Now, the use of a Dremel is precious because with abrasive tool, we can sculpt the edges of the fenders ...
I used a srew and bolt to keep it all together ...Dremel for surgery...
Surgery almost done...
      After obtaining the 04 segments of the fenders, it's time to "laminar" these parts. Cut long strips of 17 mm wide, thin plasticard (0.5 mm) and glue the edges, mounting the fenders.
The four sides od fenders done. Starting the tops of the fenders.
Dimensions in mm, in 1/35 scale.
Fenders done...
      Transforming the scrap parts of Zil-157 (from 50's ) in the base of the rocket launcher from WWII. Cutting off the rear fenders

Scratching the rocket launcher base
The rear portion of the CCKW sub-chassis need a surgery, again...
Testing the new base (ventral view). Notice the CCKW sub-chassis cuted...
      After the modified base being affixed to the chassis, it's time to build the rear fenders:
Gluing the reinforcements and making a reference line
      In this photo below, you see the positioning of the backing plate of the launcher, placed in the center of the rear suspension. The pencil marking is on the center of the rear suspension twofold. So, the fenders was centered for her. It covers perfectly and symmetrically the two rear wheels. The axis of the launcher is positioned at 23 mm behind this suspension midline. Notice that the cabin reinforced frame from Zil-157 fits perfectly into the CCKW ...
The correct position of the base...Fenders in position.
Reinforcing the fenders with plastic sheets...
...and rods.
      To do the dual rack for the spare wheels of CCKW 352, I used the one from Zil-157, carefully taking off the piece of scraped kit with a scalpel. Then, I noticed that one of the lifters had gone. I made a new with stretched sprue and a nut made with Plastruct (hexagonal rod). See below:
Fixing the spare wheel rack...
        Another difference of the short chassis is the fuel tank. It's an integral part of the spare-wheel rack. There is a rare part in resin on the market, but it is a very difficult to find. Time to do the part in scratch: rectangular strips of plasticard, with length of the spare-wheel rack and 4mm and 5mm in width, forming a rectangle. I used the nozzles of the fuel tanks of Zil for this purpose.
The fuel tank under construction...
      Notice in the above photo the armour plate above the cabin already installed ... Another view of the fuel tank, in picture below:
Fuel tank - right side...
      And now, the installation of the other components. All parts were used from my old Zil-157 which was a good kit, but out of my "historic window". The dismantling was executed with model knife and great care . The broken parts were replaced with copper wire and plasticard.

The begin of the end...
      Look the trunk just behind the spare-wheel rack: is Zil, too. The Soviets changed their equipment very little during the years after WWII. And the Zil-157 is almost a copy of CCKW 353.
Notice the trunk in the rear of the cabin...
and the crew seat, scratch with copper wire
      To finish the detailing, cut the exhaust, using as template the 14 mm portion of the propeller shaft and decided to improve the joints of the frame of the windshield because they are too thick

windshield done...

And the CCKW 352 BM-13/16 Katyusha was ready... An appropriate patriotic slogan because the Comrade Political Commissar is watching us...
Always forward !!!
CCKW 352 BM-13/16  Katyusha - right side
CCKW 352 BM-13/16  Katyusha - left side

CCKW 352 BM-13/16  Katyusha
  За Родину!

2 comentários:

  1. товарищ.

    Again, great photos and a really good coursework
    But where is the German twin girls.

    А вот. Как.
    Nickname Stalin's organ
    Music player, admired as well as feared ...

    Also the Russian aa organ gun.
    4 to 8 maxim machine gun side by side
    load in the car

  2. Big hug, Maximex !!!

    The girls are busy !!!!