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RS-82 and RS-132 (Reaktivny Snaryad; Russian: Реактивный Снаряд; rocket-powered projectile) were unguided rockets used by Soviet military aircraft in World War II.
Design work on RS-82 and RS-132 rockets began in the early 1930s, by a team led by Georgy Langemak, and including Vladimir Artemiev, Boris Petropavlovsky, Yuriy Pobedonostsev, and others. The 82 mm (3.2 in) and 132 mm (5.2 in) diameters were chosen because the standard smokeless gunpowder charge used at the time was 24 mm (0.94 in) in diameter and seven of these charges fitted into an 82 mm cylinder. First test-firing was done in November 1929. In 1937, aerodynamically efficient RO-82 rail launchers were designed for mounting these weapons on aircraft.
Following the pioneering use of Le Prieur rockets in the use of air-launched rocket armament in World War I, done since 1916 on the Western Front, and that had been first done for the Central Powers in WW I by Rudolf Nebel from Halberstadt D.II biplanes of the Luftstreitkräfte during the first half of 1916, the earliest known use by the Soviet Air Force of aircraft-launched unguided anti-aircraft rockets in combat against heavier-than-air aircraft took place in August 1939, during the Battle of Khalkhin Gol. A group of Polikarpov I-16 fighters under command of Captain N. Zvonarev were using RS-82 rockets against Japanese aircraft, shooting down 16 fighters and 3 bombers in total.Six Tupolev SB bombers also used RS-132 for ground attack during the Winter War. RS-82 officially entered service in 1937 and RS-132 in 1938.
Like most unguided rockets, RS suffered from poor accuracy. Early testing demonstrated that, when fired from 500 m (1,640 ft), a mere 1.1% of 186 fired RS-82 hit a single tank and 3.7% hit a column of tanks. RS-132 accuracy was even worse, with no hits scored in 134 firings during one test. Combat accuracy was even worse, since the rockets were typically fired from even greater distances. To further complicate the matters, RS-82 required a direct hit to disable light German armor, with near-misses causing no damage. RS-132 could defeat medium German armor with a direct hit but caused almost no damage to light or medium armor with a near-miss. Best results were usually attained when firing in salvos against large ground targets.
Almost every Soviet military aircraft of World War II was known to carry RS-82 and RS-132, often using field-made launchers. Some Ilyushin Il-2 were field-modified to carry up to 24 rockets although the added drag and the weight made this arrangement impractical.
RS-derived M-8 and M-13 rockets were used by the famous Katyusha rocket artillery.[ citation needed ]
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