Air & Surface-Launched Rockets
The concept of rocket propulsion
was not new in World War II, but it was the first time that extensive use
of the propulsion system was made. First to mind probably come the German
V-1 and V-2 rockets, and the rocket-driven fighters, but the Allies too
employed this engine, if less spectecular.
The original desire for rockets as weapons came from the British, who needed
a more effective weapon than the depth charges. A rocket, because it was
forward-firing, could serve to surprise a U-boat before it could dive.
Like an archer's weapon of old, these first airborne rockets carried
a simple steel head. If they hit a submarine,
they would penetrate the
steel hull and hopefully prevent
its diving. This weapon was 3.5" in diameter, and a explosive warhead could
be fitted for use against all kinds of targets, though the power of that
warhead was insufficent to damage major warships. This was among the reasons
that a large rocket was developed using the 3.5" rocket motor in conjunction
with a 5" AA shell. Much of the velocity inherent in the lighter rocket
was lost, however.
|Stats 3.5" Rocket:
Weight: 25kg / 55lbs
Length: 1397mm /
Warhead: 9kg / 20lbs
solid steel or explosives
Speed: 358m/s / 1175f/s
of rockets based on the 3.5" rocket engine were initially launched by means
of a rail extending along th eentire length of the rocket and attached
to the wings of a plane. From this rail, the rocket was fired with great
accuracy. It did, hoever, create an inordinate amount of drag, causing
the loss of 17 knots of speed, an inacceptable condition for fighter planes,
which were among the foremost platforms for the use of the new weapons.
Testing finally resolved the issue in favor of a new method of firing,
two hardpoints which provided sufficent stability to achieve reasonable
accuracy at the usual ranges, at much reduced drag.
use of these rockets, as mentioned, was in ASW, and a quite successful
start it was too. However, it was quickly established that this was not
the only possible use of such weapons, which turned out correct -- it was
a very accurate weapon for ground and naval targets alike. This usefulness
triggered the development of another rocket that was designed with just
these targets in mind.
rocket sported a 5" rocket engine, to regain the velocity lost with the
adaption of a five inch shell to a 3.5" engine; in the end it turned out
even fast than the regular 3.5" rocket, which resulted in its designation
as High-Velocity Aircraft Rocket, or HVAR. The Pacific theater was only
minor in regard to this rocket, but the earlier 5" variant was highly useful
in attacking pillboxes, ships, and other point targets. Especially for
the Pacific, however, the Navy
armed fighters. Intrepid's
results with the weapon are unknown.
reason for the employment of rocket systems in seaborne invasions was a
lack of intermediate support for the landing troops. The odd amphibious
operation would be supported heavily by air strikes and ship artillery
fire, which, however, had one critical flaw: it could not be timed too
accurately. The possibility existed that, given the time between the lifting
of both air- and sea bombardment, and the arrival of the troops ashore,
enemy forces ashore previously pinned by the onslaught, would recover.
Rockets, lifted close to shore in craft accompanying the landing
craft, could cover the distance
in short time and thus, a covering fire could be sustained until the very
last moments before invasion.
the development of a weapon of
incredible power, the so-called "Tiny Tim" 11.75"rocket. This awesome weapon
was developed as a weapon useable by fighters against ships, especially
such ships that were heavily protected. Against them, high-speed attacks
were favorable, but torpedo-bombing and dive-bombing weren't fast enough.
A rocket promised a quick run in and a weapons release 2000 yds off the
diameter was dictated by the warhead -- a 227kg (500lbs) semi-armor piercing
bomb -- and the casing of the rocket engine, a standard oil-well casing.
It was not particularly accurate, with a 4000yds error, due to the fact
that it could not be launched from rails or hardpoints, but had to be free-falling
before the rocket engine couldignite. They were issued to carriers Franklin
and Intrepid, but Franklin's damage in March 1945 prevented
the carrier from using the new weapon, although they did serve to increase
the carnage on the ship as they exploded underneath
Weight: 63.5kg /
Length: 1829mm /
Warhead: 25kg / 55lbs
Speed: 419m/s / 1375f/s
|Stats "Tiny Tim":
Weight: 581kg / 1280lbs
Length: 3124mm /
Warhead: 227kg /
Speed: 247m/s / 810f/s
| The first
momentum for the development of such devices was gained when in mid-June
1942, Commander, Amphibious Forces, Pacific, Vice-Admiral Wilson Brown,
attended a demonstration given for Mousetrap and other rocket systems.
He suggested such rockets be used in support of amphibious landings to
overcome the problems detailed above. A mere month later, using heavily
parts already existing, CalTech, the developer of the U.S. Hedgehog, tested
the first 4.5" rocket, using a Mousetrap rocket and a 20lbs bomb as head.
for Shore-Bombardment Rockets:
available, it is not significantly different from that of air-launched
weapons of the same diameters. Range is quoted in the text.
use of the new rocket system was made during the invasion of North Africa,
when LCS, mounting two launchers with 12 rockets each, used it to shell
The 5" aircraft rocket was
used for a short while in lieu of more specialized rockets, but reload
was laborious and led to the weapon's abandonment.
these weapons were short ranged, they forced upon the firing craft a undue
closeness to the target, which might dislike being shot at and return fire;
the benefits of the rocket as a weapon, however, precluded its abandonment.
Ergo, a 10.000 yards system was developed, using both 3.5" and 5" rockets.
These weapons, contrary to the 4.5" types, would be spin-stabilized, favored
over the fin-stabilization because it would yield more rapid fire and shorter
out that the 3.5" weapon did not provide sufficent accuracy at 10.000 yards,
causing it to be not pursuit further. Rockets
were one of the mainstays of amphibious support, being in every operation
after "Dragoon", the landing in southern France. For
the ships that carried these weapons, see the forthcoming section on amphibious