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The World War II Photo of the Week
for 30 September 2002


Throwing Fog at the Enemy ...

   A pair of mobile Nebelwerfer rocket launchers is shown in July 1944. The Nebelwerfer (literally a "Fog Thrower") was developed in Germany in the early 1930s. "Nebelwerfer" was originally a term for a chemical smoke mortar. The Nebel units were subsequently used for the rocket artillery when actual rockets appeared. For a while (1941 particularly) a Nebel unit could either be a 10-cm chemical mortar unit or a rocket artillery unit. The most mobile launcher consisted of six barrels on a towed carriage adapted from the 37mm antitank gun. The six rockets were electrically fired over a period of 10 seconds. The weapon was designed to saturate a target with spin-stabilized smoke, explosive, or gas rockets, and Nebelwerfer units were first used against the Red Army in the Soviet Union in 1941. The vehicle pictured (fixed with ten rocket tubes) may either be a Munitionskraftwagen für Nebelwerfer Sd.Kfz.4 or a 15cm Panzerwerfer 42 auf Selbstfahrlafette Sd.Kfz.4/1. Both vehicles were developed in 1943 by Opel using the half-tracked chassis of a three-ton Opel Maultier truck. The chassis was mounted with a fully armored body. Three production models were manufactured with differences in shape of the armored body and suspension elements. Some vehicles were also mounted with 24-rail 80mm R-Vielfachwerfer (multiple rocket launchers) used by the Waffen SS. The 150-mm Panzerwerfer 42 rocket launcher had a maximum range of 6700 meters. 300 Sd.Kfz.4/1s were produced by Opel from April of 1943 to March of 1944, while in June of 1944, 19 Sd.Kfz.4s were converted to Sd.Kfz.4/1s. In addition, 289 Sd.Kfz.4s were produced by Opel. Both vehicles equipped Nebelwerfer brigades on all fronts. Photo from the Webmaster's collection.

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