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Old 01-16-2010, 05:31 PM
 
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Hello. I would like to start this thread to get some insights about some of the awesome weapons used during WWII. As you guys are aware, all kinds and variety of weaponry were invented and used by the nations during the war in order to get whatever the edges they can get to secure their survival.
First thing that comes to my mind is "Katyusha", multiple rocket launcher used by the Red Army during WWII. It had also a nickname of "Stalin's Organ." It first caught my attention when I was watching WWII footage because of its weird noises and awesome-looking power of speed and destruction.
If anyone here has any insider information on this weapon, how would you rate its impact among all the WWII weaponry? Did other Allied and Axis nations have similar counterpart of the weapon? Lastly, why does the weapon make weird noises whenever it fires?

Thanks in advance for any insights.
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Old 01-16-2010, 08:23 PM
 
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Quote:
If anyone here has any insider information on this weapon, how would you rate its impact among all the WWII weaponry? Did other Allied and Axis nations have similar counterpart of the weapon? Lastly, why does the weapon make weird noises whenever it fires?
Its very difficult to compare different types of weapons to each other in terms of impact. Issues of scale, purpose and results and so create signficant problems in doing so.

The Katyusha was a very powerful weapon, but its doubtful if it was ever the decisive one in any battlefield. The Russians used massive quantities of artillery of which it was a small part. In the end their infantry not artillery or tanks were their most important asset.

Like all rockets of the period it was horribly inaccurate. When it hit it could be devestating and it was cheap to produce as well as deeply unnerving to axis troops, because of the sound it made (I assume this was tied to its rockets noise). It was, however, difficult to use in close quarter fighting because of its innacuracy, making it most effective in the beginning of offensives. Its lack of precision made it ineffective to knock out pillboxes or tanks unless you were very lucky. It was naturally useless to lay smoke.

The Germans used rocket artillery extensively late in the war, notably the screaming meanines (the Nebelwerfer rocket batteries). As far as I know the allies did not use them extensively on land in Europe although naval fire support ships did extensively both in Europe and the Pacific. I have not heard of Italian rockets, if they had any they were rare.

I would nominate a different weapon for having a dramatic impact on the war, the German panzerfaust. While often assumed to be a rocket (as was the US bazoka) in fact it used black powder to fire a powerful heat charge up to 120 meters in late war versions. It had devestating effect on allied tanks, and was perhaps the most useful weapon in the German arsenal after 1943 along with the MG 34/42
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Old 01-16-2010, 08:30 PM
 
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Alltery wasn't called the king of battle for nothing.But I would say that close support air power of the infrantry was first used in WWII very sucessfully.That and control of the air became more and more important as the war progressed.
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Old 01-16-2010, 09:10 PM
 
Location: Aloverton
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Nicesinging, I think part of the psych impact of the BM-13 and other BM series rocket artillery was its inaccuracy. Not sure if you've ever played baseball, but it's one thing to face a pitcher who throws smoke but knows where it's going. The guy you have to fear is the one who genuinely can't control that speed.

In the same way, the BM series rocket arrays launched fairly inaccurate volleys of high explosive (mainly) in the direction of Axis lines. Being quite audible and always used in mass, I believe it was unsettling simply because there was so much of it, and you didn't have to be in a logical place for artillery shelling in order to catch a salvo of it incoming. The key to artillery, of course, is mass, and this is something the Soviet Army always did well.
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Old 01-16-2010, 09:16 PM
 
Location: Sandpoint, Idaho
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Stuka dive bombers preceded the Katyusha in adding a psychological component to the weaponry of the plane. Actually, by 1940, it was near obsolete. But that sound--amazing.

S.
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Old 01-16-2010, 10:10 PM
 
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Actually I have to disagree. Troops guarding an important position, actually any position, are more likely to be afraid of highly accurate fire from a 155mm gun than a rocket that was highly unlikely to hit them.

The stuka was never the wonder weapon claimed at the time. Indeed he head of the German development bureau, Udet, was critical of it. He felt it was far too dangerous for German pilots while delivering nothing a level bomber could not, due to its steep dive. It probably would have been most effective at sea, but the only German carriar the Graf Zeplin was never built and Stukas lacked the range to be used to attack shipping generally. The FW-200 was far better at that given its huge range.

I am fasinated by weapons like the panzerfaust that had signficant impact in combat, but get little attention. Some others.

1) Anti-tank magnetic mines
2) Smoke dischargers, smoke mortars and similar systems on tanks. Cover like this gets little emphais in movies or history but played a key role in the battlefield.
3) Gryostabilizers on US tanks, their biggest single advantage. They were the first systems that allowed tanks to fire while moving effectively.
4) Booby traps and mines played a huge role on both fronts and are largely forgotten. In some cases, like Stalingrad or Kursk, they helped tilt the battle. They were critical in the desert as well.

The US military later estimated that small arms inflicted only 4 percent of WWII battlefield casualities, although I suspect the number was higher on the Eastern Front.
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Old 01-16-2010, 10:40 PM
 
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M-1 "Garand".
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Old 01-16-2010, 10:41 PM
 
Location: Sandpoint, Idaho
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Quote:
Originally Posted by noetsi View Post
The stuka was never the wonder weapon claimed at the time.... The FW-200 was far better at that given its huge range.
I agree on the both points.

That said, the psychological effect of the Stuka surpassed expectations and made the plane effective on this dimension. Think of it as a swarm of bees that you have to fight through. Although you may get through relatively unscathed, the emotional trauma can be great.

Also, the comparison with the FW-200 has limited usefulness. The Stuke was a diver bomber that was also used to strafe and terrorize. The FW-200 was a four engine bomber that was likely used in level bombing and later for transport. Apples and oranges.

Both should have been effective in their defined spaces. However, if the Stukas were used with high expectations over precision bombing, then this would have indeed been a mistake.

The Stukas were a mid-1930s plane that absolutely ideal for its role in the Spanish Civil War and the conquest of Western Europe: spreading fear and panic and with the occasional successful bombing run. Beyond that it appears that its usefulness was questionable.

S.
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Old 01-17-2010, 12:00 AM
 
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[SIZE=3]The sound of the Katyusha rocket launching also was unique in that the constant "woosh" sound that came from the firing of the rockets.[/SIZE]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nebelwerfer ( I think this is the link you were trying to post/TR)

Last edited by Thyra; 01-17-2010 at 10:53 AM..
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Old 01-17-2010, 07:09 AM
 
Location: occupied east coast
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Consider, A sniper or a tank addresses it payload to "YOU!!!".

Rockets, regardless if U.S. Russian, Japanese, British is more in the form of "to whom it may concern".

The rockets are an area denial weapon.

If you have a bunker to destroy, you use a direct fire weapon, IE: canon, tank, bazooka or such.

If on the other hand you are concerned about an enemy advance in a sector, you use a rocket battery to deny access to targets such as hillsides or fields. Nothing pinpoint.

As far as influential weapons, consider the man portable shoulder launched anti tank rocket.

Be it a Panzershrek, Panzer Faust, Bazooka, PIAT or other, this genre of weapon has survived nearly all others from the WWII period.

To this day, the Russian RPG series is feared on the battle field and considered the "freedom fighters" weapon of choice, eclipsing even the AK-47 rifle.
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