Whooosh, Bang- UK's WWII Rockets

tiv

LE
At the risk of bogging down in detail, how is the deploment of the towing parachute enacted?
This may answer your question, taken from here Free Balloon Operations in World War Two

The resulting weapon fitted into a cylindrical container 14in long and 7in in diameter, and weighed 141b. After release from the aircraft the obstacle deployed.

It comprised, from top to bottom: a supporting parachute, a length of shock-absorber cord, the cylindrical container, an AAD bomb, 2,000ft of piano wire and, at the bottom, a second furled parachute.

When an aircraft struck the piano wire the shock wave ran up the wire, causing a weak link to break, releasing the main supporting parachute and the cylindrical container. As the container fell away the bomb was armed and a small stabilising parachute connected to the weapon was released. Simultaneously, the shockwave travelled down the piano wire and caused the lower parachute to open. This took up a position behind the aircraft and pulled the bomb smartly down on the aircraft.

However, in autumn 1940 Fighter Command's most difficult problem became how to counter the night raider. The long-term answer was the Bristol Beaufighter, fitted with airborne interception (AI) radar, directed on to its prey by a ground-controlled interception (GCI) precision radar. But each of those systems was in an early state of development, and some time would elapse before they were available in quantity. In the meantime, anything even remotely likely to be effective against the night bombers was pressed into use, including the Long Aerial Mine. German bombers attacking at night did not fly in formation. Instead, they approached their targets at irregular intervals, following their radio beams. At night, the mines were to serve a different purpose than that originally proposed. Instead of being used to split up an enemy formation, a line of mines would serve as an "aircraft trap" to destroy bombers.

Somewhat obsolete Handley Page Harrow twin-engined bombers were used for aerial mine laying. The device was successful as in 1941 there were six German bombers destroyed by the Pandoras.
 
Right we're getting somewhere now.

From reading between the lines of the comments of VSO RAF officers, the PAC systems were a direct response to the Luftwaffe. Having seen the low level attacks on airfields in Poland the RAF had a bit of an "oh shit" moment. At the time they had insufficient Light AA (Wiki says there was only 233 Bofors 40mm's at the outbreak of the war), and they can't deploy Barrage balloon's round an active air field. So what you need is a quick and dirty way of getting a barrage balloon effect in the path of a low flying raid. Enter the rocket.

Then on Aug the 18th 1940, we have this chap, with his slightly worrying name:


Writing explaining the Germans had not to date used low level attacks over the UK, although they had in France. It's the same day of the infamous Kenley raid, where PAC gets one confirmed, and one possible (although we know the possible got back to Germany).
 
Sorry if this is a re-post:
I haven't seen it yet! So thank you.

I might add that the reson why we've been focusing on PAC for the last few pages, is because that's how the alphabetical sorting has presented the files, and I'm working through them in order. Admiralty and Air Ministry vs War Office. So its not that I am uninterested, it's just what's first on the pile of 1500 documents I've got to read. We'll get back onto the 3-inch in the following weeks and months, which is something I'm looking forward too, as it seems to be even more forgotten than PAC.
 
I haven't seen it yet! So thank you.

I might add that the reson why we've been focusing on PAC for the last few pages, is because that's how the alphabetical sorting has presented the files, and I'm working through them in order. Admiralty and Air Ministry vs War Office. So its not that I am uninterested, it's just what's first on the pile of 1500 documents I've got to read. We'll get back onto the 3-inch in the following weeks and months, which is something I'm looking forward too, as it seems to be even more forgotten than PAC.
It is all good. I was just browsing Yandex (which tends to show different results to Google) and came across that article.
PAC is very interesting tbh.
 
A Russian article from Live Journal with some interesting text and good images:


If viewed on an Android device, the device will prompt you to select English, and will show you an auto - translated English version.

Some images from the article:
6PAC_02.jpg
zbattery_woolwich.jpg
6PAC_01.jpg

Note: the middle image is from the now (closed I believe) RA museum at Woolwich, so there's a launcher out there somewhere.
 
A Russian article from Live Journal with some interesting text and good images:


If viewed on an Android device, the device will prompt you to select English, and will show you an auto - translated English version.

Some images from the article:
View attachment 503416View attachment 503417View attachment 503418
Note: the middle image is from the now (closed I believe) RA museum at Woolwich, so there's a launcher out there somewhere.
My hunch is that's a later PAC design, due to the centralised container can. I swear I read that somewhere.

Ironically in the museum thread running at the moment I mentioned I was planning on arranging a visit to the launcher
 

tiv

LE
The 3" rockets were attached to the launching rails by a pair of clips fitted around the motor body. If you look just behing the warheads in this photo the clips can just be made out.


large_CH_013181_1.jpg
 
The 3" rockets were attached to the launching rails by a pair of clips fitted around the motor body. If you look just behing the warheads in this photo the clips can just be made out.


View attachment 503826
Same rocket propellent, different warheads and fins. Also different attaching means, as the aircraft will be throwing itself around the sky in the way that a Z Battery will not be. According to Boscawen's book, there's also a sheer wire to hold the rockets on the launch racks.

That's a nice picture as well.
 

tiv

LE
Same rocket propellent, different warheads and fins. Also different attaching means, as the aircraft will be throwing itself around the sky in the way that a Z Battery will not be. According to Boscawen's book, there's also a sheer wire to hold the rockets on the launch racks.

That's a nice picture as well.
Just found a close-up showing the clip in Guns of the RAF 1939-45. In the text it mentions a lever and copper shear pin to retain the rockets.

Rocket Clip.jpg
 
You wouldn't want to be in the plane if the rocket jammed on the rail - a thought that must have been in the pilot's mind.
 

tiv

LE
Hoep this is useful, the pages were so wide I had to scan each column alone. From Naval Anti-Aircraft Guns and Gunnery - Friedman.

Rocket 1.jpg
Rocket 2.jpg
Rocket 3.jpg
Rocket 4.jpg
 
Ehehehe... I know which document's he's been reading! I've been reading exactly the same ones myself.
Have you looked at Colin Dobinson's AA Command? Has a fair bit on the distribution of the UP launchers, esp in 1940 and 1941, with single barrel projectors envisaged as substitutes for LAA, and multi barrel launchers as substitutes for HAA. Also states that they were then deployed initially for dive bomber defence, esp at the ports, but then the Z Batteries were moved back to being substitute HAA when it was realised that the dive threat had largely gone.

Just had a quick flick through my copy - had missed when I first read it that the RA, in a move worthy of the Crabs, decided on an essential long term testing deployment from 1938 onwards to Jamaica for "better weather", leaving poor old Dr Crow and his civvy colleagues behind at Halstead....
 
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Oh, and also note that in an oh so British military style, the 1940 production of UP launchers (because they were so simple) far outstripped production of the projectiles. Which led to thousands of the launchers being "stored" in the open air. Which led to a FFS exchange between Gen Sir Tim Pile and the War Office, the former asking what the hell sort of state they thought these launchers would be in by the time they got round to issuing them...
 
Oh, and also note that in an oh so British military style, the 1940 production of UP launchers (because they were so simple) far outstripped production of the projectiles. Which led to thousands of the launchers being "stored" in the open air. Which led to a FFS exchange between Gen Sir Tim Pile and the War Office, the former asking what the hell sort of state they thought these launchers would be in by the time they got round to issuing them...
Weirdly same problem for PAC issued to the RAF. Rockets left out in the open, Banks not camouflaged, Projectors not painted, aimed at weird angles etc. On one case they even had sandbags placed over part of the installation to keep the weather off.

People question why the PAC's didn't get more kills in the battle of Britain... I'm beginning to think it's a wonder that they managed to get any!
 
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The ultimate - but also one of the very first - such applications being on the Catapult Armed Merchantman ships to power the catapult for the Hurricane. Big difference being that the rockets were on the catapult, not the aircraft. Nine combat launches, nine German aircraft claimed as kills, eight Hurricanes ditched (the ninth managed to reach a Soviet airfield safely), and one pilot - Flying Officer Kendal - died after bailing out. To my mind, the miracle was that any successful launches were made, given that the aircraft, catapult and rockets had of necessity sat exposed in the bows of the ship, ready for action, for the whole of the voyage.
One of my uncles (RAF) spent some time in MSFU and did two launches - but I don't think either were against enemy aircraft, probably just training flights.
Got some good photos of him doing a crossing from Canada on the Empire Tide.
 

tiv

LE
You wouldn't want to be in the plane if the rocket jammed on the rail - a thought that must have been in the pilot's mind.
The Airborne Launcher went through several versions as shown here:

Airborne Rockets 01.jpg
Airborne Rockets 02.jpg
Airborne Rockets 03.jpg


This would appear to be the Mk 1 with the drag inducing steel plate and quite substantial rails

MkI.jpg


and this the Mk III, dispensing with the steel plate and using a simplified rail.

MkIII.jpg
 

tiv

LE
Oh dear, wish I'd said nowt about rails now, it just got a bit more complicated. Was looking through a book on the Beaufighter and came across a photo showing a Beau with an underwing pylon having a pair of vertically stacked rails on each side.

MkVI Rails.jpg


After a bit of searching this turned up calling it a MkVI rail with photos of it on a Beau and Mustang.

vwairframealbum14reviewdc_2.jpg


It also appears that the Beau retained the blast plate, allbeit a neater design

s704314100658416967_p166_i13_w900.png


and that at least three designs of saddles were used.

s704314100658416967_p3_i9_w900.jpg
 

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