Air-to-air rocket

An air-to-air rocket or air interception rocket is an unguided projectile fired from aircraft to engage other flying targets. They were used briefly in World War I to engage enemy observation balloons and in and after World War II to engage enemy bombers. Fighters were too maneuverable to be effectively engaged with rockets.


World War I

Rockets were used in World War I to engage observation balloons and airships. Success rates were low and the rockets were dangerous to handle in the early fighters built from highly flammable materials. [cite web|url=|title=NASA Spacelink - "A brief history of rocketry"|accessdate=2006-08-19] By the end of the war they were replaced by the incendiary Pomeroy bullets. [cite web|url=|title=First World - "Le Prieur Rockets"|accessdate=2006-08-20] One of the notable rockets from World War I was the Le Prieur rocket which had a range of about 115 m (125 yd), limited by inaccuracy. It was first used in the Battle of Verdun.

Interwar period

The first known example of a successful attack of air-to-air rockets on another plane took place on August 20, 1939 during the Battle of Khalkhin Gol. A group of Soviet Polikarpov I-16 fighters under command of Captain N. Zvonaryev succefully destroyed a few Japanese warplanes by launching of RS-82 rockets. Soviet RS-82 rockets were mounted on special pylons under wings of Soviet fighters.

World War II

Air-to-air rockets were utilized in World War II to engage bombers because cannon fire proved ineffective at high closing speeds. On top of that, getting in the range to fire one's guns also meant getting in the range of the bomber's tail gun. The German R4M rocket was the first practical rocket. It was highly successful, but came too late to win the war for Germany. After experiencing the effectivity of the German rockets, both the Soviet Union and the United States started developing their own.

The invention of effective air-to-air missiles spelled the end for their unguided counterparts in the 1950s. The capability of steering during the flight trajectory significally increased the hit percentage over rockets. The United States built one last air-to-air rocket, the AIR-2 Genie. It used a nuclear warhead with a blast radius of 300m to compensate for its inaccuracy.

List of air-to-air rockets by country

*Le Prieur rocketGermany
*Nebelwerfer derived "Werfer-Granate 21" (Wfr. Gr. 21)
*R4M rocketUSA
*Fin-Folding Aerial Rocket (FFAR)
*AIR-2 GenieUSSR
*RS-82 and RS-132


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Rocket Racing League — Type Private Industry Air racing · Sports · Entertainment Aerospace engineering Founded 2005 Headquarters New York, Bost …   Wikipedia

  • Air (disambiguation) — Air is that part of Earth s atmosphere that humans breathe and as such one of the four classical elements.Air may also refer to:Music* Air (music), French for aria , various song like vocal or instrumental compositions ** Air on the G String ,… …   Wikipedia

  • Rocket mail — For the webmail service that became Yahoo! Mail, see Rocketmail. The SSM N 8 Regulus cruise missile was used for one attempt to deliver mail. Rocket mail is the delivery of mail by rocket or missile. The rocket would land by deploying an internal …   Wikipedia

  • Air-to-air missile — An air to air missile (AAM) is a guided missile fired from an aircraft for the purpose of destroying another aircraft. It is typically powered by one or more rocket motors, usually solid fuelled but sometimes liquid fuelled. Ramjet engines, as… …   Wikipedia

  • AIR-2 Genie — The Douglas Genie (MB 1 Ding Dong, AIR 2) was an unguided air to air rocket with a 1.5kt W25 nuclear warhead. It was deployed by the United States Air Force (from the late 1950s) and the Canadian Forces Air Command (from 1 February 1968 to the… …   Wikipedia

  • Air Force Research Laboratory — Emblem of AFRL …   Wikipedia

  • Air-augmented rocket — Air augmented rockets (also known as rocket ejector, ramrocket, ducted rocket, integral rocket/ramjets, or ejector ramjets) use the supersonic exhaust of some kind of rocket engine to further compress air collected by ram effect during flight to… …   Wikipedia

  • Air launch to orbit — is the method of launching booster rockets at altitude from a horizontal takeoff turbojet aircraft, either subsonic or supersonic. This method, when employed for orbital payload insertion, presents significant advantages over conventional… …   Wikipedia

  • Rocket propellant — is mass that is stored, usually in some form of propellant tank, prior to being used as the propulsive mass that is ejected from a rocket engine in the form of a fluid jet to produce thrust.Chemical rocket propellants are most commonly used,… …   Wikipedia

  • Air launch — Air launching is the practice of dropping a parasite aircraft, rocket, or missile from a mothership. The parasite aircraft or missile is usually is tucked under the wing of the larger mothership and then dropped from underneath the wing while in… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.