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Whooosh, Bang- UK's WWII Rockets

tiv

LE
Just looking at A History of RAF Aberporth for another reason and noticed reference to a 'Z' Anti-aircraft Experimental Battery there:

‘A’ Flight to provide co—operation for 1st Heavy Anti—Aircraft Practice Camp Aberporth and ‘Z’ Anti—aircraft Experimental Battery.

EDIT: Reading on there are brief references to firing rockets from a Mustang and a Swordfish.
 
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Thanks Tiv, into the pile it goes :D

I was beginning to get miserable, I'd only found the well known PAC strike at Kenley in August 40.

However I just found a report of a HE111 who tried dropping in for breakfast (0755) at 100ft on an RAF base. The PAC operator was on the ball and managed to get three hits on the German plane, bringing it down.
 

tiv

LE
Thanks Tiv, into the pile it goes :D

I was beginning to get miserable, I'd only found the well known PAC strike at Kenley in August 40.

However I just found a report of a HE111 who tried dropping in for breakfast (0755) at 100ft on an RAF base. The PAC operator was on the ball and managed to get three hits on the German plane, bringing it down.

I may have misunderstood what you are after but does this fit the bill, from The Secret Way, page 93:

When the first P.A.G.'s were fitted to merchant ships there was the
inevitable tussle before the Admiralty could persuade anyone to give
them a proper trial in action. Perhaps it was not surprising that in
the sudden moment of attack first thoughts went to manning what-
ever guns the ship had; the mysterious rocket apparatus was only remembered when it was too late.

By the spring of 1941, however, encouraging reports began to come in. The mate of one small ship in convoy, the Fireglow, was standing near the windward P.A.C. when a heavy air attack de-
veloped. Seeing one German bomber diving at the Fireglow from dead ahead, he pulled the lanyard, and up soared the cable. A large
section of the 'plane's wing was dragged off by the wire, and the aircraft came down in the sea.

Skipper Soames, of the Milford Queen, had another successful encounter, with a Dormer 17. His guns had hit the bomber on its approach run, and when the P.A.C. was fired it wrapped itself firmly

round the Dormer's wing. Losing height rapidly, the aircraft disap- peared into the haze, and a few seconds later the Milford Queen's

crew heard a loud explosion. Skipper Soames was certain that his P.A.C. had destroyed the attacker.

The success of the device depended largely on the operator's judgment. It was no use waiting until the aircraft was right over the ship. When the s.s. Stanlake was attacked by a Heinkel her captain was able to estimate its distance very accurately in the bright moon- light, and, putting his helm hard over, he fired a P.A.C. when the 'plane was still several hundred yards off.

By the time the parachute opened the Heinkel was right on to the

cable. "I had seen our bullets hitting the forepart of the bomber

with little effect," he said, when he was interrogated later, "but after

I fired my P.A.C. the Heinkel sheered violentiy, and I thought he

was going to carry my bridge away. For a moment the pilot seemed to regain control, but when he was about 900 yards from us, and

hidden in the darkness, we heard his engines suddenly stop dead."

Soon significant evidence began to filter from the German side. An enemy bomber pilot on leave was overheard by one of our agents discussing the hazards he had to face. "It's no joke, I can tell you,"

he complained. "The English are shooting up these spirals from their ships, and you're lucky to get home at all with a thing like that

wound round your airscrew." The captured crew of a Junkers 88

were interrogated. They had been carrying out regular shipping reconnaissance flights, and from one of these, off the East Coast,

they struggled back to their base with a huge gash in one wing, between the engine nacelle and the fuselage. "We could not under-

stand it. It looked as if it had been caused by a wire attached to a

rocket," said their captain.
Greatly encouraged, the department went to work on larger and

more lethal versions of the Parachute and Cable. One, ominously entitled the "Fast Aerial Mine," had an explosive charge attached

to the wire, and Dove, experimenting with an early mod$ of this formidable contraption on Haldon Moor, in Devon, had a memor- able misadventure. The parachute failed to open, and the mine, which was filled with a special coloured liquid, fell through the roof of a cottage, smothering the whole interior with a vivid pink dye.

Close also had some eventful experiences with an apparatus called

"Type J," which had a bigger parachute, a larger rocket than the standard P.A.C., and a 5-ton cable which the rocket could haul up to 600 feet. The trials of this device were carried out in a desolate area on the Somerset coast, but there was farmland near by. Type J fired with a brilliant flash, accompanied by a noise like vast sheets of calico being ripped apart, and this invariably stampeded horses and cattle for miles around. On one occasion it so startled two horses pulling a reaper that they broke into a full gallop with the cumber- some machine and charged a bank bordering the field. In due course

the Director of Naval Accounts received a stiff bill for broken cutter

blades, and this agricultural item was duly charged to scientific research!

At sea, too, the P.A.C. occasionally provided light relief. A certain coaster on passage from Dover to Hull had two of the rockets in-

stalled, and the firing lanyards straggled somewhat untidily from the mounting into the whedhouse. Off the Essex coast the ship was

suddenly attacked by a dive-bomber, and her master, hearing the

roar of the 'plane, rushed from his cabin to the bridge. As he entered

the wheelhouse he tripped over the lanyard of the starboard P.A.C.

and fell flat on his face, knocking out several front teeth. There was

wild cheering, and he picked himself up angrily; he objected to

being made a laughing-stock by his crew. The uproar on deck, how- ever, was for a very different reason. A million-to-one chance had

come off! In falling he had fired the P.A.C. with his foot, and the

German 'plane, flying straight into the trailing wire, had plunged headlong into the water !

Equally remarkable but less satisfactory was the sequence of events on board another merchant ship in coastal convoy. She was flying from her main topmast the usual barrage balloon. A gust of wind blew the cover off the spare binnacle, and this fell on the lanyard connected to the P.A.C. projector. The rocket fired, and the P.A.C. scored a

direct hit on the balloon, which burst into flames. Its cable, falling over the stern, became wound round the propeller, and this imme-
diately acted as a winch. Before the master realized what had hap-
pened the topmast was pulled out of the ship !
The threat of the P.A.G. led to a radical change in enemy tactics.

For a time the German pilots, learning that the rocket devices were mounted on the bridge, switched the direction of their low-levd attacks, coming in across the stern. To counter this additional P.A.C.'s were placed on the poop, and before long the old attacks at masthead height were abandoned altogether.

Early in 1943 the apparatus came off the Secret List, and D.M.W.D. were able to tell the workers in the Surrey factory some- thing of what the device had achieved. Nine enemy aircraft were known to have been destroyed, and at least thirty-fiv
 
I may have misunderstood what you are after but does this fit the bill, from The Secret Way, page 93:

When the first P.A.G.'s were fitted to merchant ships there was the
inevitable tussle before the Admiralty could persuade anyone to give
them a proper trial in action. Perhaps it was not surprising that in
the sudden moment of attack first thoughts went to manning what-
ever guns the ship had; the mysterious rocket apparatus was only remembered when it was too late.

By the spring of 1941, however, encouraging reports began to come in. The mate of one small ship in convoy, the Fireglow, was standing near the windward P.A.C. when a heavy air attack de-
veloped. Seeing one German bomber diving at the Fireglow from dead ahead, he pulled the lanyard, and up soared the cable. A large
section of the 'plane's wing was dragged off by the wire, and the aircraft came down in the sea.

Skipper Soames, of the Milford Queen, had another successful encounter, with a Dormer 17. His guns had hit the bomber on its approach run, and when the P.A.C. was fired it wrapped itself firmly

round the Dormer's wing. Losing height rapidly, the aircraft disap- peared into the haze, and a few seconds later the Milford Queen's

crew heard a loud explosion. Skipper Soames was certain that his P.A.C. had destroyed the attacker.

The success of the device depended largely on the operator's judgment. It was no use waiting until the aircraft was right over the ship. When the s.s. Stanlake was attacked by a Heinkel her captain was able to estimate its distance very accurately in the bright moon- light, and, putting his helm hard over, he fired a P.A.C. when the 'plane was still several hundred yards off.

By the time the parachute opened the Heinkel was right on to the

cable. "I had seen our bullets hitting the forepart of the bomber

with little effect," he said, when he was interrogated later, "but after

I fired my P.A.C. the Heinkel sheered violentiy, and I thought he

was going to carry my bridge away. For a moment the pilot seemed to regain control, but when he was about 900 yards from us, and

hidden in the darkness, we heard his engines suddenly stop dead."

Soon significant evidence began to filter from the German side. An enemy bomber pilot on leave was overheard by one of our agents discussing the hazards he had to face. "It's no joke, I can tell you,"

he complained. "The English are shooting up these spirals from their ships, and you're lucky to get home at all with a thing like that

wound round your airscrew." The captured crew of a Junkers 88

were interrogated. They had been carrying out regular shipping reconnaissance flights, and from one of these, off the East Coast,

they struggled back to their base with a huge gash in one wing, between the engine nacelle and the fuselage. "We could not under-

stand it. It looked as if it had been caused by a wire attached to a

rocket," said their captain.
Greatly encouraged, the department went to work on larger and

more lethal versions of the Parachute and Cable. One, ominously entitled the "Fast Aerial Mine," had an explosive charge attached

to the wire, and Dove, experimenting with an early mod$ of this formidable contraption on Haldon Moor, in Devon, had a memor- able misadventure. The parachute failed to open, and the mine, which was filled with a special coloured liquid, fell through the roof of a cottage, smothering the whole interior with a vivid pink dye.

Close also had some eventful experiences with an apparatus called

"Type J," which had a bigger parachute, a larger rocket than the standard P.A.C., and a 5-ton cable which the rocket could haul up to 600 feet. The trials of this device were carried out in a desolate area on the Somerset coast, but there was farmland near by. Type J fired with a brilliant flash, accompanied by a noise like vast sheets of calico being ripped apart, and this invariably stampeded horses and cattle for miles around. On one occasion it so startled two horses pulling a reaper that they broke into a full gallop with the cumber- some machine and charged a bank bordering the field. In due course

the Director of Naval Accounts received a stiff bill for broken cutter

blades, and this agricultural item was duly charged to scientific research!

At sea, too, the P.A.C. occasionally provided light relief. A certain coaster on passage from Dover to Hull had two of the rockets in-

stalled, and the firing lanyards straggled somewhat untidily from the mounting into the whedhouse. Off the Essex coast the ship was

suddenly attacked by a dive-bomber, and her master, hearing the

roar of the 'plane, rushed from his cabin to the bridge. As he entered

the wheelhouse he tripped over the lanyard of the starboard P.A.C.

and fell flat on his face, knocking out several front teeth. There was

wild cheering, and he picked himself up angrily; he objected to

being made a laughing-stock by his crew. The uproar on deck, how- ever, was for a very different reason. A million-to-one chance had

come off! In falling he had fired the P.A.C. with his foot, and the

German 'plane, flying straight into the trailing wire, had plunged headlong into the water !

Equally remarkable but less satisfactory was the sequence of events on board another merchant ship in coastal convoy. She was flying from her main topmast the usual barrage balloon. A gust of wind blew the cover off the spare binnacle, and this fell on the lanyard connected to the P.A.C. projector. The rocket fired, and the P.A.C. scored a

direct hit on the balloon, which burst into flames. Its cable, falling over the stern, became wound round the propeller, and this imme-
diately acted as a winch. Before the master realized what had hap-
pened the topmast was pulled out of the ship !
The threat of the P.A.G. led to a radical change in enemy tactics.

For a time the German pilots, learning that the rocket devices were mounted on the bridge, switched the direction of their low-levd attacks, coming in across the stern. To counter this additional P.A.C.'s were placed on the poop, and before long the old attacks at masthead height were abandoned altogether.

Early in 1943 the apparatus came off the Secret List, and D.M.W.D. were able to tell the workers in the Surrey factory some- thing of what the device had achieved. Nine enemy aircraft were known to have been destroyed, and at least thirty-fiv

Outstanding! that was exactly what I needed! can I have a source please?

edit:
Just seen that you already included it. so NM. It gives me some ships names to look into which is awesome.
 

HE117

LE
Fuelling likes like the sort of process you wouldn't want to do under pressure in less than ideal conditions. I wonder how long they could be maintained like that without firing?
Quite a while actually.. Unlike the V2/A4 which used liquid oxygen and alcohol the Wasserfall used Butyl Ether and Red Fuming Nitric acid as fuels, which were well on the way to being pre-packed... this is very close to what was eventually used in Lance... they were also hypergolic, which was nice!

RFNA did have problems though, as it would eventually break down and emit nitrous oxide. This was eventually solved by the Americans who developed Inhibited Red Fuming Nitric Acid or IRFNA.
 
Quite a while actually.. Unlike the V2/A4 which used liquid oxygen and alcohol the Wasserfall used Butyl Ether and Red Fuming Nitric acid as fuels, which were well on the way to being pre-packed... this is very close to what was eventually used in Lance... they were also hypergolic, which was nice!

RFNA did have problems though, as it would eventually break down and emit nitrous oxide. This was eventually solved by the Americans who developed Inhibited Red Fuming Nitric Acid or IRFNA.

We looked at RFNA for tank gun propellent at one point.
 

HE117

LE
We looked at RFNA for tank gun propellent at one point.
IRFNA and Gunners were not a good combination..

I shudder to think about RFNA and Tankies..!
 
IRFNA and Gunners were not a good combination..

I shudder to think about RFNA and Tankies..!
Wasn't even the reason why it was rejected... Although they did create a detector to pick up on the fumes from spillage

Edit:
As you're here, What's "Flake cordite?" I'm guessing its just run of the mill standard cordite?
 
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HE117

LE
Wasn't even the reason why it was rejected... Although they did create a detector to pick up on the fumes from spillage

Edit:
As you're here, What's "Flake cordite?" I'm guessing its just run of the mill standard cordite?
Flake cordite was made by running cordite through a fine cutter, something like a mincer with a rotating blade. What you got was thin discs of cordite something like confetti.

It was very fast burning and used for things like pistols and low pressure, shotgun like applications where the chamber pressure was not high enough to ensure an efficient burn in anything more solid.

British policy was to minimise the number of varieties of cordite with different ingredients and produce the burning characteristics by varying the shape and surface area of the propellant. This is not to say that there were no changes to Cordite. The initial formula was found to be too hot and erosive, so the NG content was reduced which had a cooling effect. Other changes were to add ingredients to reduce flash and to save on the use of acetone as a gelling agent. The main manufacturing site in the latter stages of WW1 was at Gretna along the shores of the Solway. Navy had its own separate Cordite factory at Holton Heath.

The US used single base Nitrocellulose powder almost exclusively for their artillery, and the UK had a lot of US ammunition for its US made guns such as the 155 and 175. The Italian Pack Howitzer also used NC powder, although the UK designed Light Gun and Abbot used Cordite.
 
Flake cordite was made by running cordite through a fine cutter, something like a mincer with a rotating blade. What you got was thin discs of cordite something like confetti.

It was very fast burning and used for things like pistols and low pressure, shotgun like applications where the chamber pressure was not high enough to ensure an efficient burn in anything more solid.

British policy was to minimise the number of varieties of cordite with different ingredients and produce the burning characteristics by varying the shape and surface area of the propellant. This is not to say that there were no changes to Cordite. The initial formula was found to be too hot and erosive, so the NG content was reduced which had a cooling effect. Other changes were to add ingredients to reduce flash and to save on the use of acetone as a gelling agent. The main manufacturing site in the latter stages of WW1 was at Gretna along the shores of the Solway. Navy had its own separate Cordite factory at Holton Heath.

The US used single base Nitrocellulose powder almost exclusively for their artillery, and the UK had a lot of US ammunition for its US made guns such as the 155 and 175. The Italian Pack Howitzer also used NC powder, although the UK designed Light Gun and Abbot used Cordite.

So flake cordite used as a propellent in a rocket body would be a different substance to the extruded cordite mentioned earlier?
 

HE117

LE
So flake cordite used as a propellent in a rocket body would be a different substance to the extruded cordite mentioned earlier?
The only thing I think you would use flake in a rocket motor would be as part of the igniter system to produce a flash from the initiator and ignite the burning surface of the main propellant grain. Normally this would be done with a gunpowder charge, but there are situations where this may not be possible (i.e. where you needed to reduce the smoke on launch)

Even in fast burn motors such as the Bazooka one, the main propellant charge would be sticks held in a cage like structure..

Which motor are you referring to?
 
The only thing I think you would use flake in a rocket motor would be as part of the igniter system to produce a flash from the initiator and ignite the burning surface of the main propellant grain. Normally this would be done with a gunpowder charge, but there are situations where this may not be possible (i.e. where you needed to reduce the smoke on launch)

Even in fast burn motors such as the Bazooka one, the main propellant charge would be sticks held in a cage like structure..

Which motor are you referring to?
I saw a document mentioning that the Mk.VIII (Type J) PAC rocket was powered by flake cordite.
 

HE117

LE
I saw a document mentioning that the Mk.VIII (Type J) PAC rocket was powered by flake cordite.
I don't think so... unless it had a very short and spectacularly noisy flight profile!
 

HE117

LE
Well it is described as getting higher, faster than the previous Marks.
I will have to have a look, but it simply does not ring true that you would use a flake powder as a rocket propellant! It may be some hybrid mortar design like a Bombard, however it makes no sense as a rocket.. the burn time would be over in an instance and there would be no efflux as such..
 
I will have to have a look, but it simply does not ring true that you would use a flake powder as a rocket propellant! It may be some hybrid mortar design like a Bombard, however it makes no sense as a rocket.. the burn time would be over in an instance and there would be no efflux as such..
I can only go with what the doc's say. Of course its highly likely the VSO got the wrong end of the stick and wrote it into his report.
 
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