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Chinese Gunpowder Rockets

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Nick1986 View Drop Down
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  Quote Nick1986 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Chinese Gunpowder Rockets
    Posted: 24-Feb-2012 at 19:31

A dragon-shaped Chinese incendiary rocket from the Middle Ages
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  Quote TheAlaniDragonRising Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25-Feb-2012 at 05:41
Originally posted by Nick1986


A dragon-shaped Chinese incendiary rocket from the Middle Ages
That's an incredible weapon, Nick.

"The ancient Chinese multi-stage rockets were used both on land as well as naval warfare. They were known as "Huo Long Chu Shui 火龙出水", literally "Fire Dragon Coming Out of the Water". The "Fire Dragon Out of Water" was a two-stage rocket and was mentioned in the Chinese source Wubeizhi 《武备志》(1621).

It was comprised of about a 1.65m long tube equipped with many rockets inside. The front was designed to look like a dragon head while the back was designed to look like the tail of the dragon. The two ends of the rear body of the fire dragon were equipped with two rockets. These rockets were linked by strings to the ignite the inside. One used a final string to ignite the 4 rockets at the lower portion of the fire dragon. The lower portion of the dragon's bodies are the 1st stage rockets, while the inner bodies of the dragons are the 2nd stage rockets.

When "Fire Dragons out of water" were placed onto a warship and used for attacking enemy ships, one would ignite the 4 first-stage rockets at the lower portion of the dragon's body. This act as a rocket booster propelling the dragon body forward for a certain distance. After the combustion of the 1st stage rocket is depleted, it would automatically ignite the 2nd stage rockets on the inside body of the dragon. These 2nd stage rockets would be fired out of the dragon's mouth towards the enemy ship, creating explosions on the enemy ship. Each rocket has about 750 g of gunpowder. The weapon is about 5-10 kg and can traverse a cruise distance of 1.308-1.962 km

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk%3AHistory_of_science%2FArchive_7#Multistage_Rocket.3F

What a handsome figure of a dragon. No wonder I fall madly in love with the Alani Dragon now, the avatar, it's a gorgeous dragon picture.
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  Quote Nick1986 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25-Feb-2012 at 19:16
Originally this was part of the Eastern Weapons thread, but i believe it deserves its own topic. I'd like to learn more about these early incendiaries
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  Quote TheAlaniDragonRising Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26-Feb-2012 at 10:11
This is more I have found on the subject.


Rockets of Ancient China


undefinedChina has always been hailed as the hometown of ancient rockets, which was made by ancient scientists via applying the counterforce produced by ignited gunpowder. Through longtime evolvement combined with the theory and research of natural science, the ancient rockets finally turned into the modern launch vehicles, which are indispensable to the development of aerospace exploration.

The word "rocket" appeared as early as in the third century during the Three Kingdoms period (220-280). In 228, the Wei State took the lead by applying a torch to each arrow in an attempt to guard Chencang (in today's Baoji City of North China's Shannxi Province) against the invading troops led by Zhuge Liang, the prime minister of the Shu State.

Hao Zhao, the Wei general, used fire arrows to burn down the cloud ladders (mobile siege ladders) of the Shu troops, and was therefore able to defend Chencang. Thus the word rocket, meaning fire arrow, came into existence, referring to the inflammable materials attached to the end of an arrow, which was mainly used as a weapon to set a fire.

By the late 10th century in the Song Dynasty (960-1279), the Chinese had adapted gunpowder to rockets. To make such an arrow, first a paper tube was made; then the gunpowder was put inside the tube, which was then attached to an arrow to be launched by a bow. Those were the first and most primitive rockets in the history of humankind.

Later, improvements were made on such arrows. For example, the gunpowder was directly carried inside an arrow, and the thunderous sound from the explosion of the gunpowder could frighten away the enemy.


An ancient rocket consisted of four parts: arrowhead, arrow barrel, arrow feather, and gunpowder tube. The gunpowder tubes, which were mostly made from bamboo tubes or paperboard, were filled with gunpowder, with one end closed and the other end open. A small hole was left for the blasting fuse. When ignited, the gunpowder would burn inside the tube, producing a large amount of gas, which, while shooting backwards at high speed, would produce enormous forward-propelling force.

This was believed to be the embryonic form of modern rockets. The gunpowder tube compared well with the modern propelling system, and the sharp arrowhead, with its piercing power of destruction, compared favorably to the warhead of a modern rocket. While the feather helped to stabilize the arrow, just like the modern stabilizing system, the barrel was similar to the body part of modern rockets.

After their appearance, the ancient rockets were widely adapted in military activities and folk entertainments. In the war between the Song, Jin and Yuan States between the 10th and 13th centuries, gunpowder weapons, such as fire guns, and flying fire cannons, were widely used. The then flying fire cannons, a primitive rocket weapon, were much similar to today's flamethrowers.

At the end of the 12th century, primitive rockets were greatly improved and widely employed in weaponry. During the Yuan (1271-1368) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties, rocket weapons received further development, as many new types of rockets were invented, including Nine-dragon arrow and A-flock-of-bee arrow, which were very similar to the modern rockets.

The Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) witnessed significant development in Chinese rocketry, with many rockets propelled by the counterforce produced by ignited gunpowder used in military wars. In the early Ming Dynasty,Zhu Di (the fourth prince of the first Ming Emperor Taizu), who intended to seize state power, led his troops to fight those led by the reigning Emperor Jianwen and was attacked by a a-flock-of-bee fire arrow, which was the earliest record on the application of jet rockets in warfare. From then on, one-stage jet rockets were used more and more on a daily basis, including single-shot and multi-shot ones.

Up to Ming Dynasty when General Qi Jiguang fought against Japanese pirates on China's southeast coast, he invented three kinds of jet rockets. The bodies of the rockets were made of hard wood, while the metal arrowheads were composed of a knife, spear, or sword. The rockets could pierce the armor. At the bottom of the jet rockets were the power flasks.

The rockets were positioned on the wood racks. In battles, the soldiers held the rear of the rockets and lit the fuse to fire at the enemies. The device could be used both on land and under water. More than 2,000 rockets were equipped on ten warships. 4,760 rockets were facilitated among the infantry and cavalry troops. Such a great number was unprecedented both in Chinese and world military history. The other countries in the world only knew of this kind of weapon some 240 years later.

Even more advanced was the "multi-shot rockets" which appeared later. A large number of rockets were positioned in a bucket, which had two layers for orientation and direction purposes. Meanwhile, all the fuses of each single rocket were bundled together. Once the soldier fired the fuse, all of shots were made at the same time, covering quite a noticeable range. Besides this kind, there were some other dozens of variations, with 2 to 100 shots at a time.

General Qi Jiguang's troops also put several "multi-shot rockets" on a cart, which could shoot hundreds, or even thousands of arrows at one time. When his troops were guarding the east part of the Great Wall, Qi would have at least 40 carts equipped with "multi-shot rockets." This was also unique at the time in the world.

The weapon experts in late Ming Dynasty also invented the rockets with wings in the shapes of a ball or crow, with the ball or crow full of powder. A fuse was used to link the powder that pushed forward the rocket with that in the body of the ball or crow. When the rocket reached the enemy, it would also explode, inflicting more damage on the enemy. It was also a very useful weapon in attacking cities. Missiles nowadays use exactly the same basic principle with these winged rockets filled with powder.

In the late Ming Dynasty, the rockets with double boosts were also produced. At the rear of the rockets, there were four gunpowder boosters. These two features resembled the basic characteristics of the rockets nowadays. The weapon could fly for a few miles above water. What's more, three other kinds of rockets with double boosters that used recyclable body were also invented, which greatly inspired the research and development of modern rockets.

Not only were the rockets used in the military domain in the Ming Dynasty; there were also men's attempts to fly together with the rockets. The scholar Wan Hu in the Ming Dynasty, who is regarded as the originator of the manned rockets, was the trailblazer in doing experiments aimed at taking human being to space.

On the basis of his research about the boosting power generated by the rockets, he made a chair with 47 rockets, the maximum number that could possibly be tied to his chair. He tied himself to the chair, and held two big kites in each of his hands. Then he asked his assistants to fire the fuses of the 47 rockets at the same time, hoping to fly in the sky with the boosting power from the rockets and the kites.

Though doomed to fail, Wan Hu has been universally acknowledged as the first man to try flying to space with the help of rockets. In memory of Wan, one of the lunar craters on the back of the moon is named after him.

Around the end of the 13th century and the beginning of the 14th century, Chinese inventions of powder and rockets spread to India, Arab, and in turn, Europe. With centuries of development and application, rocketry began to be used for spatial exploration after World War Ⅱ.

Despite the fact that powder and rocket were first invented in China, the ancient rocketry failed to develop into modern rocketry due to longtime neglect in science and technology. Consequently, powder and rocket were only used in fireworks for centuries.

http://www.chinaculture.org/gb/en_madeinchina/2005-07/21/content_70826.htm


What a handsome figure of a dragon. No wonder I fall madly in love with the Alani Dragon now, the avatar, it's a gorgeous dragon picture.
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  Quote Nick1986 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26-Feb-2012 at 19:54
Howard Rickets' book on firearms had some interesting illustrations of early Chinese gunpowder weapons. One of these was a 20 shot rocket launcher
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  Quote heyamigos Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31-Aug-2012 at 19:30
These were the kind of rockets that Guo Kan used to sack Baghdad under the service of the Mongols.  I heard it was also used against the Hungarians and German knights when mongols invaded Eastern Europe.
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  Quote Nick1986 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04-Nov-2012 at 07:42
Did rockets start out as weapons of war, or fireworks for the amusement of the wealthy?
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  Quote longbaby Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04-Nov-2012 at 08:17
Well as weapons of art. Refer to the post by Alani, which stated that Chinese used rockets first time in Three Kingdoms period.
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  Quote BoPoMoFo Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05-Nov-2012 at 03:56
Originally posted by Nick1986

Did rockets start out as weapons of war, or fireworks for the amusement of the wealthy?
 
Gun powder started off as elixir to immortality!
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  Quote Nick1986 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08-Nov-2012 at 08:49
Originally posted by BoPoMoFo

Originally posted by Nick1986

Did rockets start out as weapons of war, or fireworks for the amusement of the wealthy?
 
Gun powder started off as elixir to immortality!

Reminds me of something i read in Ricketts' firearms book: a German monk discovered gunpowder when trying to transform lead into gold
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