The M-132 started development in 1938. The first designs had the rockets mounted so that they fired over the sides, but these weren't satisfactory. The ZiS-5 truck was the first chassis used.
The first self propelled artillery weapon produced in quantity by the Soviet Union was the BM-13 rocket launcher.
Under Lend-Lease the Soviet Union received over 100,000 2.5 ton 6x6 Studebaker trucks and almost 10,000 of these were converted to Katyushas. The Studebakers had better cross country capabilities than any of the other chassis available to the Soviet Union.
The cab had anti-blast armor over the windscreen.