RE: Le Prieur Rocket Questions
28 Aug 95 13:11:00 EDT


You pleaded:
> Woe is me 80(.

> I don't have Vol. 10 of Windsock or the "Over the Front" issues that
> suggested.

> Are there any other kind souls out there that can help satisfy my
> hunger of the operation of the Le Prieur rockets????

Oh heck, I can't bear the ethereal sight of a fellow enthusiast in pain

I brought the relevant issue to work with me on the off chance you'd want
me to copy and post the article. (offer still stands BTW)

Since you are starting to sound desperate, I've summarised and extracted
some appetisers from the texr. No pictures though :-(

To save a bunch of typing I'll summarise the description as:

A cardboard tube filled with black powder. A wooden conical head is
attached by doped paper or linen tape and has a triangular knife blade
inserted in a slot across its' apex rather like a spear point. A square
section pine stick is taped to the rocket with about 1.5 metres (5 feet)
extending from the base of the rocket. This fits into a tube attached to
the aircrafts interplane struts. The article says that the stick was
slightly thicker at one point which "allowed a good fit but not too

The rocket was discharged electrically by switch from the cockpit. Safety
breaks were also made in the rockets wires for obvious reasons.

The rockets _may_ have been dark red but Woodman is not entirely

Quoted by Harry Woodman in Windsock, from Recherches et Inventions, April

"The rockets were charged with about 200 grams of black powder and at the
front they had a wooden penetration cone to which was fixed a triangular
knife blade. The rockets were launced by an electric switch in the
cockpit, in groups of several ata a time (bouquet!). The aircraft was in
a nose dive at the time of ignition and the rockets launched at a range
of 200 metres woulds penetrate the envelope of a German 'sausage' and set
it on fire thanks to the stream of incandescent matter which continued to
spout from the rear of the rockets. On May 22nd 1916, the 'rocketeer'
Charles Nungesser and five other great war aces effectively participated
in the recapture of Douamont, setting afire most of the Drachens along
the 35 km front, depriving the German general staff and most of the enemy
artillery of valuable information. Mr Le Prieur's invention caused the
destruction of about 50 German kite baloons."

An American observer is quoted from a US War Dept report of Dec 1916

"The fire is commenced at 100-150 metres whilst diving at an angle of 45
degrees. The steeper the dive the greater the trajectory and the more
effective the attack. The attack should be made in the direction of the
length of the baloon and against the wind... the ring of the front sight
permits the pilot to calculate the distance at which the firing is to
commence ..... the pilot should fire as soon as the balloon fills the
front ring.

The discharge of the rockets does not occur immediately the button is
touched and the delay varies slightly from one rocket to another. It is
absolutely necessary to continue to hold the target in sight and the dive
until the last rocket has been discharged. If the pilot breaks off or
pulls out of the dive too quickly the last rockets will go in different
directions and give a dispersion which is altogether inadmissable."

Hope that eases the hunger,


Brisbane Australia