Britain's completely underrated role in WWII

So land mattress was a good use and further development of something we had the kit to built in store. Interesting that it was possibly deemed unsafe/unsuitable post war yet the US Army developed a similar one and it saw limited use in Korea. I would think that anywhere massed infantry in the open is a target description something like a regiment of Land Mattress would be devastating!
Yep, land mattress certainly was a use of an existing resource, but I suspect you are in danger of situating the appreciation. Launchers like this are not manned and take a long time to deploy. They cannot be re-aimed at a target of opportunity at short notice as the crew has to withdraw and fire them from cover. They can only really be used in a set piece attack or as part of a defence plan to cover a specific piece of ground. To be honest, a few rounds of fire from effect from a conventional battery using VT fuzes would probably have the same effect on troops in the open, but be deliverable over a much wider section of the battlefield. They are really more of an off route mine than a piece of artillery..

Yes the Americans had a similar capability, and I suspect for the same reasons. Don't forget, the Americans retained a chemical capability for a long time after WW2. The 4.2"/120mm mortar was originally procured for chemical use. You need to appreciate the volume of chemical agent, particularly with things like Mustard, that you needed to put down to have a practical effect. You need to achieve something like crop spraying levels of distribution. Mortars and multi launch rockets are good for this as they have a high capacity, high rates of fire and are relatively cheap to manufacture and stockpile.

Rocket motors need some heavy investment in propellent manufacturing plant, but once this is done, they are relatively cheap to make. Because of the gentle launch stresses they do not need to have robust or precision warheads and the launchers can be light and simple. They are however a PITA to store and use. They have a tendency to go bad in store due to temperature cycling and uneven ageing, and are prone to damage by pioneers with fork lift trucks! They are also very temperature sensitive in use, with changes in burn rate giving ranging errors. They are also very prone to cross winds on launch and have a nasty habit of turning into the prevailing wind..

Until the advent of guided weapons, rockets were always going to be "cheapskate artillery".
 
Last edited:

ugly

LE
Moderator
, but I suspect you are in danger of situating the appreciation.
Actually I get the idea about not using the later on. The arty build up for veritable was astonishing. The ammo was stockpiled and fed to the guns constantly, eventually on the break out only medium and heavy guns were useable because they had exceeded the range for light guns and the ground was unsuitable for vehicles of any type unless amphibious.
I particularly appreciated the Stackers use of dummy dumps to replace live stockpiles when moved to ensure enemy recce wouldn't twig the feeding forward. Most of the artillery needed only deployed after last light the night it kicked off thanks to the exposed nature of the gun positions. The arty plotters work was amazing and the FOO's were brilliant!
 
The 3"UP rocket was a UK development by Dr Alwyn Crow
Crow was also one of the V-2 'deniers'. He didn't believe that the V-2 could be liquid-fuelled and perpetuated the expensive myth long range rockets would be solid-fuel and launched form a projector (ie a large milk bottle).

At the end of the war, he interviewed von Braun in London and made a half-hearted attempt to recruit him in London, but was never convinced of the utility of a long-range rocket for strategic purposes, and killed off a General Staff proposal for a ultra-long range rocket in 1945/46.
 
Last edited:
The 3"UP rocket was a UK development by Dr Alwyn Crow, and used in a number of applications from anti aircraft to shore bombardment and fighter ground attack, The No 8 Mattress was also developed in UK, although used by Commonwealth units.

Although it does not register in the official record, the mattress's intended use was for laying chemical agent. This has a need to throw a load of agent a short distance in a short time interval, and without a need for pinpoint accuracy. A rocket projector was ideal for this task, and was the genesis of many of these multiple launch rocket systems.

Thankfully they were never used in this role, and were used in various guises to add background sound effects to the more serious business of war fighting..
Rocket projectiles were used by naval aircraft such as the Swordfish against U boats on the surface, why is why later marks of Swordfish had metal lower wings (instead of fabric). Later the same weapon, adapted for an armour piercing role, was used by the RAF against German armour in 1944/1945.

Are you saying the same weapon was used as a rocket to be fired ashore from a landing craft? Amazing!
 
Last edited:
Rocket projectile were used by naval aircraft such as the Swordfish against U boats on the surface, why is why later marks of Swordfish had metal lower wings (instead of fabric). Later the same weapon, adapted for an armour piercing role, was used by the RAF against German armour in 1944/1945.

Are you saying the same weapon was used as a rocket to be fired ashore from a landing craft? Amazing!
French WWI anti-balloon/ anti-Zeppelin rockets. The UK used them as well Le Prieur rocket - Wikipedia
 

DaManBugs

LE
Book Reviewer
Coastal Command used rocket projectiles - three-inch rockets with a 25-pound armour-piercing charge - carried by RAF and RCAF Beaufighters against enemy merchantmen and mine detonating vessels.

1553614014307.png

1553614112694.png

A Beaufighter, flown by Lt L.C. Boileau, 404 Squadron, firing rockets at German merchantmen Aquila and Helga Ferdinand near Fjord Migdulen, November 8th, 1944. Both ships were sunk. National Defence Image Library, PMR 93-073.

--
Stringbags also used rocket-assisted take off gear (RATOG).

Fairey Swordfish
The Mk II was equipped with up to eight 60 lb. (27 kg) RP-3 series rockets (four to a side), mounted under the wing. They later carried a single 1,500 lb mine for anti-submarine role, effective against U-boats.
Fairey Swordfish - Aircraft - Fighting the U-boats - uboat.net

Aviation History Fairey Swordfish

IWM ROCKET FIRING FAIREY SWORDFISH. 1 AUGUST 1944, ST MERRYN ROYAL NAVAL AIR STATION. PRACTICE WITH AN OPERATIONAL SQUADRON OF ROCKET PROJECTILE FAIREY SWORDFISH, COMMANDED BY LIEUTENANT COMMANDER P SNOW, RN.
 
Are you saying the same weapon was used as a rocket to be fired ashore from a landing craft? Amazing!
We used rockets for the following roles in WWII. AA, naval bombardment, Air/surface and Surface to surface, I have a suspicion, although I'm still reading up on it, that they were largely the same rocket (Or damn close to it!), just with different warheads and launchers.
But I'm still gathering sources, and haven't really started reading. As others have said once you started production they're horribly cheap.
 
I'm not sure how else it could be done.
well... friction portfires were originally used for firing signal rockets!

But yes, electric igniters were in use from the 1850s..
 
Coastal Command used rocket projectiles - three-inch rockets with a 25-pound armour-piercing charge
Sadly not. The 60pdr had an HE head but the 25pdr was just a shaped lump of steel intended to punch through a hull just under the surface - they were aimed in a shallow dive to enter the water about 30yds from the hull and 'bounce' so that they came up to the hull.
 
We used rockets for the following roles in WWII. AA, naval bombardment, Air/surface and Surface to surface, I have a suspicion, although I'm still reading up on it, that they were largely the same rocket (Or damn close to it!), just with different warheads and launchers.
But I'm still gathering sources, and haven't really started reading. As others have said once you started production they're horribly cheap.
Was just reading on navweps about the UP system on RN ships and this caught my attention

UP stands for "Unrotated Projector." "Unrotated" meant that the barrel did not have any rifling, i.e., the projectile was not spin-stabilized. Each emplacement was a set of twenty smooth-bore tubes, usually fired ten at a time. Cordite was used to ignite ("Project") a 3-inch (7.62 cm) rocket motor which propelled a fin-stabilized 7-inch (17.8 cm) diameter Parachute and Cable (PAC) rocket which carried a 8.4 oz (238 g) mine. When the rocket reached approximately 1,000 feet (330 m), it exploded and put out the mine which was attached to three parachutes by 400 feet (122 m) of wire. The design concept was that if a plane hit the parachutes or the wire, it would then pull the mine into itself.

These UP projectiles were kept in ready lockers close to the projectors. The sinking of HMS Hood showed that these stored weapons were rather flammable. They were also found to be an almost totally ineffective weapon, as the barrage took too long to establish and was easily avoided. In addition, reloading was slow and the mines showed an alarming tendency to drift back onto the firing ship.




Britain Unrotated Projector AA Rocket - NavWeaps

As if the deck crews didnt have enough to worry about
 
Was just reading on navweps about the UP system on RN ships and this caught my attention

UP stands for "Unrotated Projector." "Unrotated" meant that the barrel did not have any rifling, i.e., the projectile was not spin-stabilized. Each emplacement was a set of twenty smooth-bore tubes, usually fired ten at a time. Cordite was used to ignite ("Project") a 3-inch (7.62 cm) rocket motor which propelled a fin-stabilized 7-inch (17.8 cm) diameter Parachute and Cable (PAC) rocket which carried a 8.4 oz (238 g) mine. When the rocket reached approximately 1,000 feet (330 m), it exploded and put out the mine which was attached to three parachutes by 400 feet (122 m) of wire. The design concept was that if a plane hit the parachutes or the wire, it would then pull the mine into itself.

These UP projectiles were kept in ready lockers close to the projectors. The sinking of HMS Hood showed that these stored weapons were rather flammable. They were also found to be an almost totally ineffective weapon, as the barrage took too long to establish and was easily avoided. In addition, reloading was slow and the mines showed an alarming tendency to drift back onto the firing ship.



Britain Unrotated Projector AA Rocket - NavWeaps

As if the deck crews didnt have enough to worry about
I am not so sure.
I've seen a lot of apocryphal tales around UP's. Yet they were widely issued and had quite a lot of development placed in them. Merchants were often found with them.
What I suspect has happened, is that anytime a historian has seen the phrase "UP" they've gone off half-cocked. Especially as mocking the silliness is a great way of adding a bit of joviality into your text while staying on topic.

For example the Navy's Department for Miscellaneous Weapons Development had some fie Rocket projector projects (Plus another three associated) during the war, and that's not counting the two PAC devices, and associated technological developments.

The British were not in the habit of wasting resource's on stupid projects that wouldn't work. Especially not to this extent this would imply.
At Kew there is a ledger detailing production of Rocket Projectors. It's f'king massive! About two inches thick of A3 paper!

As I said I haven't really begun really gluing all the pieces together, but just skimming through it I see far too much, and far to many hits to be crazed inventors roaming around the country. In the environment controlled by the MoS there is just too many hits for them to be ineffective.

Equally you get results like the TONSIL battery, I scribbled some notes on it here. It's one of the DMWD projects:
OVERLORD'S BLOG: Shadow of the Conqueror
 
Just reading Johnny Kent's memoirs "One of the Few"
Pre war, he was assigned to the RAE, and conducted over 300 tests consisting of flying a plane into a wire, to see what the effect on the plane would be and to gauge the effectiveness of barrage ballons, UP, and some other variants.
For this, he was awarded an AFC, and a permanent commission in the RAF.

RAE also experimented with wire cutters on the wings (basically a shotgun cartridge firing a cold chisel toward an anvil), and he reports that this was used operationally on at least one occasion.
During the Battle of France two a/c were fitted with cutters and flew down a canal cuting balloons free (like naval minesweepers) so that the following bombers could attack a viaduct.

In the 1930s, wires were taken very seriously as an anti-aircraft weapon.
 

Similar threads


Latest Threads

Top