Rocket artillery - ‘Katyusha’ BM-13 launching shoe - added to the armory

21 June 1941

On June 21, 1941, on the eve of the Great Patriotic War, the Soviet Army added to its armory the repeating rocket launching shoe BM-13, called ‘Katyusha’. It was developed by NII-3 (Research Institute) under the guidance of A. G. Kostikov.

‘Katyusha’ was the first Russian mobile repeating payload rocket system of volley fire which combined in it rocket missiles, launching shoes, devices for gunfire control and transport means. Self-propelled mounting on automobiles were called a fighting vehicle of the rocket artillery. The repeating payload of the vehicle allowed hitting the target at significant distances. As to the volley fire, it ensured the suddenness and high efficiency of damage and moral influence over the enemy. The BM-13 fighting vehicle had 16 tracks for launching of M-13 missiles each of them weighting 42 kg and flying as far as 8 470 m.

On December 25, 1939 the M-13 132 mm rocket missile and the launching shoe named ‘BM-13’ were approved by the Red Army Artillery Department. NII-3 was ordered to produce 5 such launching shoes and a lot of rocket missiles for military tests. On June 17, 1941 at a firing ground near Moscow during the revision of the new armory models of the Red Army, the multiple launching from the fighting vehicles BM-13 were made.

On June 21, 1941, having revised the rocket weapons models, the Supreme Commander in Chief I. Stalin decided to develop the batch production of M-13 rocket missiles and BM-13 launching shoe and to start the formation of rocket military units.

In the end of June 1941 near Moscow was formed the first independent experimental rocket artillery battery under the commandment of Captain I.A. Flyorov. On July 14, 1941 near the junction Orsha and at Orshitsa River crossing it made its first volleys at the enemy.

On this day the German commandment received a panic-stricken report from the front: ‘The Russians used a battery with the unusual number of guns. The troops fired by Russians evidence: the fire volley is like a hurricane. The losses are quite impressive’.

The ‘Katyusha’ bombardment results were so impressive that by September there had been produced seven more batteries. In August of 1941 the Chief Headquarters made a decision to form eight regiments of rocket artillery armed with BM-8 and BM-13 launching shoes.

The rocket artillery was actively used at the most important sectors of the Soviet-German front and had a great influence on the course of the military actions. On the Army orders during the war had been developed various types of rocket missiles and launching shoes (BM-13-SN, BM-48, BM31-12, etc.). in July 1941 – December 1944 the Soviet industry had produced over 10 000 ‘Katyusha’ fighting vehicles and over 12 million of rocket missiles for them.

The origin of the popular name given to BM-13 launch facility was not defined exactly. The most common versions relate it with the popular at the time song ‘Katyusha’; with a characteristic sound made at the missiles’ launch and with the factory emblem of the producer (Komintern Voronezh factory) represented by the letter “K” marking the launching shoe.


Lit.: Ащеулов О. «Русское орудие, метающее ракетообразные снаряды...»: развитие гвардейских минометных частей в первый период Великой Отечественной войны (июнь 1941–ноябрь 1942 г.) // Родина. 2015. №5 (515) [Электронный ресурс]. Режим доступа:; Габелко Д. Е., Канаев Н. В., Собкалов Р. Ю. История создания и применения первых боевых машин «Катюша» (РСЗО БМ-13-16) // БЕРЕГИНЯ.777.СОВА. 2010. №2 (4). С. 59–62 [Электронный ресурс]. Режим доступа:; Дегтярёв П. А., Ионов П. П. «Катюши» на поле боя. М., 1991; Каргопольцев С. Флёров Иван Андреевич // Герои страны: международный патриотический интернет-проект [Электронный ресурс]. Режим доступа:; Нестеренко А. И. Огонь ведут Катюши. М., 1975; То же [Электронный ресурс]. Режим доступа:; Павлов Ю. А. По дорогам войны с «катюшами». М., 2002; Прохорков И., Трусов В. Реактивная артиллерия в Великой Отечественной войне // Военно-исторический журнал. 1966. № 1 [Электронный ресурс]. Режим доступа:; Шалковский А. Г. Рождение и ошеломляющий дебют «Катюши» // Военно-исторический журнал. 2020. №10. С. 20–25 [Электронный ресурс]. Режим доступа:; Шалковский А. Г. Триумфальная поступь «Катюши» // Военно-исторический журнал. 2020. №11. С. 25–31 [Электронный ресурс]. Режим доступа:


Based on the Presidential Library’s materials:

РГАНИ. Ф. 3. Оп. 47. Д. 266. Л. 32. Записка начальника артиллерии Красной армии Н. Н. Воронова Г. М. Маленкову о применении нового оружия РС ("Катюши"). 4 августа 1941 г.;

БГАКФФД. Арх. № 1-012945. Залпы "Катюши" во время операции "Багратион". Белорусская ССР. Июнь 1944 г.;

БГАКФФД. 0-052680. Гвардейские реактивные минометы М-13 "Катюши" ведут огонь по позициям немецко-фашистских войск под г. Сталинградом. 1942 г.;

Мощь русского оружия: [фрагменты кинохроники / реж. монтажа Т. И. Дьяконова]. СПб., 2010. Источник: Российский государственный архив кинофотодокументов.