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Other WWI Aviation Airfields, equipment, tactics, training, uniforms and all other WWI aviation topics

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Old 4 February 2024, 11:53 AM   #1
Volker_Nemsch
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Wink WW1 "air to air missiles"…

.
I just found this strange artwork:



Was something comparable ever (successfully) tried?

My guess is, that starting those rockets in direction of an enemy aircraft would have caused not much more than surprise as well as a few seconds of fright, when the white trails passed the enemy machine. Not to forget that it was an unsuitalbe weapons to destroy an aircraft - except when directly hitting the pilot or the fuel tank.

As far as I know, they were only successfully used against observation balloons. Zeppelins might also have been a probable target, but I never heard about a successful attack with these rockets.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Le_Prieur_rocket

Any comment is welcome…

.
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Old 4 February 2024, 07:58 PM   #2
Gregvan
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Hello Volker,

The artwork you referenced depicts Albert Ball’s action on the evening of 15 September 1916, and I think I have commented on this action before – it’s quite interesting.

On the morning of the 15th, No. 60 Sqn had been tasked with the destruction of 8 German kite balloons with Le Prieur Rockets, in conjunction with the third phase of the Battle of the Somme. Quoting from Colin Pengelly’s “Albert Ball” biography, page 118: “Ball had Nieuport A200 on this occasion and took off from Savy with 2nd Lt Walters about 7:30 AM. Both Nieuports were armed with Le Prieur Rockets. On reaching the German balloon line they found that the balloons were not yet up. Looking for other targets Ball sighted a “Roland “scout" (? or a "Fokker D") and fired his rockets which missed their target, but in the meantime Ball had closed to 50 yards and fired one drum at the Roland which went down and crashed E of Beugny. 2nd Lt Walters also achieved success, but with his rockets. He had attacked the LVG two-seater which the Roland had been escorting. One of his rockets entered the fuselage and the machine burst into flames and crashed.”…”In his last mission for the day, Ball took off at about 6:30 PM with his machine once again fitted with rockets. Again, he was diverted before he reached his intended target when he saw a formation of 5 Roland two-seaters NE of Bertincourt. He dived on the formation and fired his rockets to break them up (this is the event portrayed in the painting). As the Germans scattered he attacked the nearest, firing one drum into it at 20 yards. The Roland fell away and Ball saw it crash.” It would appear that 2nd Lt Walters was credited for what might be considered as the first 'successful' air-to-air missile attack against a heavier than air machine.

Chaz Bowyer's biography of Ball gives much the same account.
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Old 4 February 2024, 08:03 PM   #3
Gregvan
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You can check Graeme's 100 years ago thread for more information on the activities of 15 September:

100 years ago today - 15 September 1916
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Old 5 February 2024, 02:05 AM   #4
Kanzler
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Very interesting indeed!
Did the "Le Prieur Rocket" have any warhead with an impact fuse? Or was it the burning rocket engine that was supposed to ignite the gas in the balloons?

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Old 5 February 2024, 05:42 AM   #5
Volker_Nemsch
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Arrow The warhead...

.
"Did the "Le Prieur Rocket" have any warhead with an impact fuse? Or was it the burning rocket engine that was supposed to ignite the gas in the balloons?"
(Kanzler)


The latter. The propellant was - more or less - the warhead. The rocket simply cut through the balloon fabric and the flame of (the rest of the 200g black powder propelling the rocket) ignited the hydrogen inside the observation balloon.


https://imgur.com/zhaHhGh
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yves_Le_Prieur
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/art...-airships.html
https://i262.photobucket.com/albums/...20rockets..jpg
https://theatrum-belli.com/wp-conten...e-Prieur-2.jpg

There were no impact fuses. After burning all the powder inside the rocket fell down like a modern fireworks rocket. Just an empty hull.

.
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Last edited by Volker_Nemsch; 5 February 2024 at 05:59 AM. Reason: ... minor changes...
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Old 5 February 2024, 05:52 AM   #6
Volker_Nemsch
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Thumbs up Hello Greg!

.
Thank you for your answer. "As far as I know" was pointing out my limits.


But today I had the experience of having a steep learning curve. A good feeling...

.
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Old 6 February 2024, 03:38 AM   #7
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Hi Volker,

amazing stuff, thanks! I like the new photo of the replica. The little nasty knife-like tips of the rockets...

Compare this to todays Air-to-air missiles, with Infra red seeker heads, some even radar equipped, with proximity fuses and a range of many many miles... at a prize of hundreds of thousands of Euros..
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Old 3 March 2024, 07:05 AM   #8
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Hello,

Well, it seems that Farré also painted Lt. Walters' rocket attack against a German LVG, over 100 years ago. I just discovered this image. The artist was careful to paint British cockades on the wings and fuselage of the Nieuport, and it is captioned as "Lt. Walters' victory using rockets," I believe.

Rockets_Lt Walters victory using rockets.jpg
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Old 1 April 2024, 01:41 PM   #9
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Angles

Good info. I always wondered why the rockets were angled up. Guessed it was to allow for trajectory fall. True? How did pilots aim the things? The famous TLAR method?
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Old Today, 04:07 PM   #10
R Gannon
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21 Sep 16

21 Sep 1916

In addition to what Gregvan kindly provides in relation to 15 Sep 16, Ball attempted another air-to-air balloon attack on 21 Sep 16. Flying A213 on a HA Patrol during the afternoon and flying at 6,000ft he spotted, ‘6 Rolands in formation. Single seaters. Front gun…’ providing the following narrative,

HA seen N of BAPAUME in formation. Nieuport dived and fired rockets. Formation was lost. Nieuport got under nearest machine and fired a drum. HA dived and landed near railway. Nieuport then attacked another machine and fired two drums from underneath. HA went down and was seen to crash at side of railway. After this the rest of the HA followed S towards the lines. Nieuport turned and fired remainder of ammunition, after which it returned to aerodrome for more. Second machine was seen to crash by lieut. Walters.’ The combat which terminated at 2,000ft was timed ‘3.30 – 4.30 pm’ and the location given as St Ledger (8km north of Bapaume). A railway line did run north of St Ledger to Croiselles.

Of course, this does beggar the question as to the identity of the six ‘Roland single-seaters’ flying in formation. There are really only two plausible resolutions – Jasta 1 or Jasta 2 – indeed there is circumstantial evidence which might point to the latter.

Cheers Russ
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