By U.S. ArmyMay 30, 2019
Nebelwerfer is German for "smoke projector." This six-barreled rocket launcher was standard equipment in the German Army during World War II. It was called the "Moaning Minnie" by American troops due to the sound its cluster of rockets made in flight. It was fired electrically by remote control at a rate of six rounds every 90 seconds. It was one of the most effective and sophisticated pieces of rocket artillery used in the war.
A Weapon of Deception
The Nebelwerfer were a series of rocket-launching systems produced by Nazi Germany from 1934 through the end of World War II. The launchers were given their name as a method of disinformation to fool members of the League of Nations. Since the literal translation meant "smoke mortar" or projector, the weapon system was overlooked under the assumption it was being designed as a defensive weapon to create a smoke screen. Nine different variations of Nebelwerfer were produced, which ranged from the 100MM NbW-35 to the 300MM NbW-42.
The NbW displayed at Rock Island Arsenal is an NbW-41 150MM rocket launcher.
Entering service in 1941, the NbW-41 was a key weapon used by Germany on the eastern front. It was also used in limited quantities in France and Italy. The weapon was fired via remote control and could empty all six tubes in 90 seconds. The weapon required some distance between the point of launch and the front line, as its resupply needs made it vulnerable to enemy attack. This meant that the first strike was critical, as an incomplete attack would compromise its position.
The weapon fired a large assortment of rocket types including smoke projectors, incendiaries, and chemical weapons, making it one of the most psychologically destructive weapons on the battlefields of World War II.