The U.S.S.R. started producing BM-13 multiple rocket launchers from June 1941, almost immediately after Nazi Germany’s attack on the U.S.S.R.
The launchers acquired broad fame under the name Katyusha (diminutive form of Russian female name Yekaterina). In terms of its destructive effect, Katyusha was considerably superior to German analogues; its mobility made it possible to escape a retaliatory strike and its high density of fire stunned the enemy forces.
The launchers were so secret that the combat crew had to shout “sing” instead of “fire” in an apparent link to the popular military song also called Katyusha.
During the Second World War, aircraft of this type were produced more than the aircraft of any other type (36,163 planes). Being the key strike force of Soviet aviation, the Il-2 ground attack aircraft played an outstanding role in the war and rendered noticeable influence on the course of warfare on the Soviet-German front.
For its ability to sustain damage, German pilots called it “Betonflugzeug” — “a concrete plane” or “Zementbomber” — “cement bomber.” The plane enjoyed its bad reputation with Wehrmacht’s ground forces. It received several unflattering nicknames, such as “butcher” (Schlächter), “meat grinder” (Fleischwolf); some Wehrmacht soldiers called it “the plague” (Schwarzer Tod).
Heinz Wilhelm Guderian, Wehrmacht general:
“...in November 1941, well-known designers and officers came to my tank army to get familiarized with the Russian T-34 tank, superior to our combat vehicles... They wanted to clarify how we can again achieve technical superiority over the Russians. Frontline officers suggested that we produce tanks similar to T-34s...”