Wire/net trailing AA Rockets

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Senior Airman
Dec 17, 2004
Apparently in WW2 anti aircraft rockets trailing long wires or nets designed to snare aircraft were used. I have heard of a Dornier Do 17 being damaged or destroyed in 1940 by one of these rockets during an attack on an allied airfield. They were apparently also carried on ships. Does any one have any info on these wire/net trailing rockets?
For example HMS Hood had such rockets (in 1940 5 launchers on deck). They were called UP (Unrotated Projectile). One launcher consisted a block of 20 tubes. Caliber was probably 170mm. Probably there were also 2,3 and 5 inches caliber rocket launchers.
Their efectivness was rather poor, so they were withdrawn from "service" quickly.
And they were NOT wire guided, that's for sure ;)
Does anyone have any information on the AA rockets that were on japanese battleships, mainly the Musashi and yamato? Ive heard they carried, along with many 25mm aa guns, several rocket launchers for shooting down an enemy aircraft. Since both ships were sunk by air power, and allied losses during the attacks were minimal if any, does anyone have any information, pcitures, or links to sites that would give me more information?
Launchers were installed on a large number of ships in the RN from trawlers upwards.
The small ones were single launchers and were fired using compressed air not rockets. The projectile trailed a wire that had a small explosive on it and a parachute. The idea being to dangle the wire in the air snag the wing and drag the explosive onto the aircraft. Fine in theory against torpedo bombers and totally useless in action. They were often used to fire spuds at rival allied ships. Versions were also installed around airfields to try to protect them from attack.
The ones on the Battleships were 'proper' rockets and equally useless as well as being heavy and a huge fire risk and were replaced as fast as possible by multiple 2pd AA guns.
An interesting variation was designed to be dropped by bombers flying ahead of and above of incoming bomber formations. A Hampden or Wellington could carry a lot of these and the idea was to lay a curtain in front of the enemy who would fly into them. Amazingly we actually managed to destroy one German bomber in the Blitz using this but there were two massive drawbacks: -
a) It took a massive amount of effort for negligible gain
b) They kept falling and littered the ground with hundreds of explosives which sort of defeated the object.
Apparently in WW2 anti aircraft rockets trailing long wires or nets designed to snare aircraft were used. I have heard of a Dornier Do 17 being damaged or destroyed in 1940 by one of these rockets during an attack on an allied airfield. They were apparently also carried on ships. Does any one have any info on these wire/net trailing rockets?

When I was a child and living at the Manchester Grammar School, the adjacent Birchfields Park was equipped, early in the war, with barrage balloons. Later, strange-looking anti-aircraft guns arrived and we learned that these fired wire-carrying rockets.
They comprised launching ramps of two steel tubes about 18"(?) apart and a few feet long and protective steel shields on either side for the gunners.
I don't know if they were ever fired (they certainly did not deter the bomber which dropped a land-mine uncomfortably close to our house during the "Manchester Blitz") but we did hear a report of someone who awoke one morning to find a very large amount of wire in his back-yard!
The standard UP rocket did not trail wire but carried a 22lb warhead. They were fired in salvos of 128 rockets, rather like a large shot gun. The warhead exploded at a pre-set time after launch. They could reach 19,000ft but were less effective than normal anti aircraft artillery and not widely used.

I think the parachute and cable system is being described. This was usually placed around airfields as a defence against low level attack. This was a system which fired salvos of nine rockets to a height of about 600 feet. Each rocket trailed a 480 foot long cable. When the rocket reached its maximum height a small parachute opened to suspend the cable. Should an aircraft hit the cable the shock caused another parachute to open at the bottom of the cable, the combined drag being enough to stall the aircraft, fatal at such low altitude.

A variation was the Long Aerial Mine which was dropped in the path of incoming aircraft from a bomber, the obsolete Handley Page 'Harrow' was used, 93 Squadron converting for this task.. This system also incorporated an explosive device beneath the smaller upper parachute which would be dragged down onto the target aircraft by the larger drag of the lower parachute. These wires were much longer at 2,000ft but the weapon had to be dropped over the sea as the explosive device did not incorporate a self destruct system and littering the countryside with 'friendly' bombs was understandably deemed a bad idea.


Popular Mechanics magazine for January 1943. This shows ship-borne rockets. I think I saw the land based versions in another issue. I will give a look.
Those very nice pictures (thanks for them) are of a version of the parachute and cable system. They had a maximum altitude of about 600 feet and as the article implies were a defence against low level or even a dive bombing attack.
I didn't know the system had been used on ships though it makes sense that it was. It was initially deployed as an airfield defence, but was soon deemed ineffective.

I do like the rather fanciful illustration on the front of the magazine! The parachutes only trailed one cable, why would they trail more? It triples the weight and the target aircraft was no more likely to strike three than one!!!

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years ago i had heard of the viet cong/nva using something similar to bring down hueys and cobras....but when they were landing or dropping off troops I have never read an authentic account of it as of yet tho.
Here's a 1940 vintage photo of U.P Launchers on top of HMS Nelson's turrets:


How the Parachute and Cable (PAC) launcher worked, and the rocket itself:



On 18 August 1940, "The Hardest Day", PAC launchers on Fighter Command's Kenley airfield functioned exactly as they were supposed to do when 9./KG76's Dornier Do 17s made a low-level attack:




(Alfred Price Battle of Britain:The Hardest Day)

The concept of the Long Aerial Mine was similar; one aircraft type used to distribute them was the obsolete Handley Page Harrow:


Oberst. Dr. Otto Sommer was 49 years old when he was killed that day, more than twice the age of the youngest member of the crew, 24 year old Feldwebel. Hans Dietz.

Sunnycroft was rebuilt and is one of those properties you look at today and wonder how they can be worth half a million plus!

I think that the veteran Handley Page 'Harrows' of 93 Squadron were the only aircraft to drop the Long Aerial Mines. The weapon was credited with one 'destroyed' and one 'probable', on radar evidence, before being abandoned in late 1941. It didn't give a good return on investment.


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