The Katyushas were invented by the Soviets and used in WW2. They were trucks with rails firing a bunch of small rockets with a range of 3 to 12 km.

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These were solid-fuel rockets, but I would like to know what exact rocket fuel they used, because it relates to a few of my other questions:

Why was the V2 not a solid rocket?

What was the first rocket to use solid APCP fuel?

Edit: Forgot to post my research. So far the closest thing I found was this page from Russianspaceweb.com on the RT-1, apparently Russia's first large solid rocket. It says "These engines burned essentially same powder fuel which had propelled the famous 1930s-vintage Katyusha rockets. (177)" and down in the chart it says "Propellant Solid --- RSD-4K". I tried googling that but got nothing.

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    $\begingroup$ That's a real puzzler. I wasn't able to find much information on powder fuels online. And like you said, RSD-4K yielded nothing. $\endgroup$
    – called2voyage
    Commented Nov 16, 2016 at 16:42
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    $\begingroup$ Russian wiki on БМ-13 (launcher) states that М-13 rockets were propelled by solid Nitrocellulose. ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D0%91%D0%9C-13 $\endgroup$
    – Flanker
    Commented Nov 18, 2016 at 2:36
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    $\begingroup$ @Flanker Thanks! I then went to wiki's Nitrocellulose page and it actually has a photo of a Katyusha Rocket, the RS-82. The Russian version of that page says therefore, OG Filippov and SA Serikovs developed a fundamentally new gun-cotton-TNT powder (TAP) containing 76.5% of gun-cotton, 23% TNT and 0.5% tsentralita. Not sure what "tsentralita" means, but gun-cotton is nitrocellulose. $\endgroup$
    – DrZ214
    Commented Nov 18, 2016 at 4:08
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    $\begingroup$ @DrZ214 Found page you mentioned, seems централит is centralite - en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Centralite. Also it says that version developed by Filippov & Serikov (in 20s) used for decade for various development but didn't meet some mass production requirements. So in 30s a group lead by A. Bakaev developed another version (version N) - баллиститный нитроглицериновый порох Н содержавший коллоксилина — 57 %, нитроглицерина — 28 %, динитротолуола — 11 %, централита — 3 %, вазелина — 1 %. As I understood, latter one is used primarily in WW2. $\endgroup$
    – Flanker
    Commented Nov 18, 2016 at 4:25

1 Answer 1


From Russian wiki on RS-82:

RS-82 and RS-132 are unguided air-to-air, air-to-ground rockets developed during 1929-1937. Further developed into М-8, М-13 "Katyusha" rockets.

М-8 rocket

It seems the final propellant was a solid fuel N developed by a group lead by A. Bakaev in mid 30s:

  • nitrocellulose (collodion cotton) - 57%
  • nitroglycerine - 28%
  • dinitrotoluene - 11%
  • centralite - 3%
  • vaseline - 1%

Production was organized in south of Ukraine.


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