SdKfz 251/1 Mittlere Schutzenpanzerwagen mit Wurfrahmen 40

SdKfz 251/1 Mittlere Schutzenpanzerwagen mit Wurfrahmen 40 (Medium Half Track with Rocket Throwing Frame 40) carries several German soldiers. These rockets earned the nicknames "Stuka zu Fuss" (Stuka on Foot) and "Heulende Kuh" (Bellowing Cow). After the Fall of France, the reliance on Junkers Ju-88 medium bombers and Junkers Stuka Ju-87 dive bombers for infantry support was found to be inadequate. Germany developed several rocket launchers to compensate for a lack of conventional artillery, especially after encountering large Red Army artillery formations during Operation Barbarossa in June 1941. The Wurfrahmen 40 mounted six 280mm (11 inch) Wurf-Korper 42 Sprenger, or 300mm (11.8 inch) 280mm Wurf-Korper-Sprenger high explosive rockets or 320mm (12.5 inch) Wurf-Korper Flamm incendiary rockets. While the Hanomag SdKfz 251/1 was the most common vehicle, these rockets were also mounted on captured French Renault UE Chenillette (two or four rockets) and Char léger modèle 1935 H (Hotchkiss H35) light tank (two rockets). The rockets came mounted in shipping crates; you can see the empty mounting bracket in this view. The rockets were simply bolted onto the half track sides and fired. Later versions came in a steel frame. While not as accurate as tubed artillery, massed concentrations of Wurfrahmen rocket launchers simultaneously releasing high explosive had a demoralizing and devastating effect on Allied forces. The long column of smoke that pointed back to the launcher meant that the vehicle had to evacuate soon after firing to avoid counter-battery fire. The Wurfrahmen and the later Nebelwerfer towed rocket artillery were overly mechanically complicated compared to the Soviets' simple "Stalin Organs" as the Germans called them. The longer time to build and operate these rockets precluded their deployment as a war-winning weapon, but they were encountered in almost every theatre. Soviet trucks with 132mm (5.2 inch) Katyausha rockets were built in numbers far surpassing the German equivalents. The British and the Americans had similar systems as well. The Americans called their ownrocketeers "Buck Rogers Men" after the popular science fiction comic. German rockets had many American nicknames, but "Screaming Mimie" was common.
Caption Written By: 
Jason McDonald
Date Photographed: 
Thursday, January 1, 1942
Soviet Union