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"German Rockets in Eight Different Calibers Are Now Identified" from Tactical and Technical Trends

A U.S. WWII intelligence report on German rockets, from Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 51, October 1944.

[DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from the U.S. War Department publication Tactical and Technical Trends. As with all wartime intelligence information, data may be incomplete or inaccurate. No attempt has been made to update or correct the text. Any views or opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the website.]


Eight different calibers of German rockets have now been identified: 70-mm, 86-mm, 88-mm, 150-mm, 210-mm, 280-mm, 300-mm, and 320-mm.

The several models of the recoilless antitank grenade launcher (Faustpatrone; See New Hollow-charge Antitank Grenade, in this issue) are not actually rockets, as is sometimes thought, because the propelling charge is contained in the launching tube and not in the grenade itself.

The 70-mm rocket was encountered in Tunisia. It is designed for distributing propaganda leaflets. The launcher from which the rocket is fired has not been recovered.

The 86-mm rocket has been used so far only as an antiaircraft rocket in defense of Germany. The round contains 300 feet of steel cable with a parachute attached at one end. The parachute opens at the top of the rockets trajectory and supports the cable in the air as an aviation hazard.

The 88-mm rocket is the counterpart of the projectile used in the United States "bazooka." A hollow-charge rocket, it is fired from the German equivalent of the "bazooka," designated the 8.8-cm R.P.B. 43, or from a tube with breechblock mounted on a carriage (8.8-cm Raketenwerfer 43). Rocket projectiles for the "bazooka"-type launcher are electrically fired; those for the carriage launcher are percussion fired.

The 150-mm rockets appear in two types, high-explosive and smoke. They are fired from the 6-barrelled 15-cm Nebelwerfer 41, the 10-barrelled 15-cm Panzerwerfer 42, and the 15-cm Do-Gerät 38. They can be ignited either electrically or by time-cord and ordinary pull igniters such as are used for the "egg-type" hand grenades.

The 150-mm field howitzer (15-cm s.F.H. 18) employs a rocket-assisted shell, the Raketengranate 19.

The 210-mm rocket differs from the other rockets in that its shape more closely resembles that of a standard artillery projectile. It is fired from the five-barrelled 21-cm Nebelwerfer 42, which is similar in design to the 15-cm Nebelwerfer 41. It is also fired from aircraft against other planes. Of all the rockets the 210-mm is reported to have the longest range, 9,950 yards. It has been encountered with high-explosive filling only.

The 280-mm rocket also has been encountered with high-explosive filling only. It resembles the 320-mm incendiary rocket. These rockets both may be fired from their packing crates, the crates being individually supported in an inclined pit or trench, or placed on either the Schweres Wurfgerät 40 (a wooden rack), the Schweres Wurfgerät 41 (a steel rack), or the Schwerer Wurfrahmnn 40 (six plates on a half-track to hold packing crates). The 23/32-cm Nebelwerfer 41 launches 320-mm rockets, and can also launch 280-mm rockets upon the addition of liners to each of its six launching frames, which are mounted on a two-wheeled carriage.

The 300-mm rocket, the largest of the high-explosive rockets, is very similar to the 280-mm rocket and to the 320-mm incendiary rocket. The 300-mm rocket, however, has a much better streamlined contour than either of the other two, and also has a much higher ratio of propellant weight to total weight, which should give a range considerably greater than that of 2,400 yards for the 280-mm and 320-mm rockets.

Weights of the three rockets (in pounds):

     280-mm HE    300-mm HE    320-mm
Weight as fired     180     278     176
Weight of propellant      14.25     33.2     14.5
Weight of filler     106.75     98.4     87.7

The 300-mm rocket is launched from its packing crate in the same manner as the 280-mm and 320-mm rockets—as well as from the 30-cm Nebelwerfer 42. It can be used for demolition or against personnel; but in either case the effect is gained chiefly by blast, since it has little penetration and the thin walls of the HE head give comparatively poor fragmentation.

The fuze employed in the 300-mm rocket is the same as for the 320-mm incendiary rocket, a point-detonating, instantaneous nose fuze (Wgr. Z. 50). This fuze of aluminum with a zinc adapter is armed by pulling the safety pin. On impact, the firing pin is driven into the fuze primer, causing a flash to the detonator-booster, which in turn sets off the main high-explosive charge, 98 pounds 6 ounces of 60-40 Amatol.

[WWII German 300-mm HE rocket projectile with carrying-crate launcher.]
German 300-mm HE rocket projectile with carrying-crate launcher..

The high-explosive head is made in three sections of pressed steel welded together and has a threaded hole in its nose to receive the booster well. The German designation of the projectile (30-cm WK 42 Spr.) is stenciled in white about four inches below the nose. The base of the head has interior threads for attaching the motor body.

The rocket motor and its components are similar in construction and identical in operation to those of the 320-mm incendiary rocket.

The 320-mm rocket is an incendiary projectile, described in detail in the August Tactical and Technical Trends.

Stability of flight in the case of all but the 88-mm rockets is achieved by rotating the rockets in flight. This is effected by inclining the Venturi propulsion jets at an angle to the center-line axis of the rockets. The 88-mm rockets are stabilized by fills or vanes.

More detailed articles on various rockets and launchers may be found in the following issues of Tactical and Technical Trends:

 Rocket or launcher  Issue No.      Pages   
8.8-cm R. Pz. B. 43      46 13   
8.8-cm Raketenwerfer 43      49 28   
150-mm HE and Smoke rockets        17 39-41   
15-cm Nebelwerfer 41      10 23   
15-cm Panzerwerfer 42      49 11   
Ranges of rockets      43 16   
320-mm incendiary rocket      49 30   


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