Naval Bombardment Rockets

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A thread for naval bombardment rockets and their launchers.

First up, Creusot-Loire's "Storm".
  • Rocket calibre 160mm.
  • Displayed in model form at Bourget Naval 1984 and 1986 French Naval Exhibition.
  • Structural trials were due in 1987 with first land firings in 1988.
  • French Navy interest was for launching countermeasures and sonobuoys.
  • Lacroix were said to be developing a cargo projectile with flashbang submunitions.
Reference: International Defense Review 1/1987.

Additional information from the 1984 French Naval Exhibition, when the system was being aimed at supporting amphibious landings:
  • Launcher 3.3t empty
  • Each 18 round container 540kg empty and 2.5t loaded.
  • Each rocket had 50kg HE warhead (36 rockets = 1.8t HE)
  • Range 28km with 10.3mils dispersion
  • RoF at least 36 rounds/minute
Reference: International Defense Review 1/1985.

Best available scan (1987 version):
storm.png
 
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Okay, second: Soviet/Russian "Grad-M" system.

* Rocket caliber 122-mm
* Reloadable 40-tube launcher (four blocks of ten rocket tubes each)
* Maximum range - 20,7 km
* Reload time - 120 seconds
* Could use all assortment of "Grad" rockets. Also specific depth charge rockets PRS-60 were developed for naval use.

Installed since 1978 on large amphibious ships and small artillery boats.

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The Breda SCLAR is well-known and in service, but an interesting variant was proposed at Mostra Navale 1989 - with two three-round pods for Mistral missiles fitted above the rocket tubes.
 

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Oh, I've got some fun ones for this.

Okay, this right here is a US Navy 5-inch High Velocity Spinner Rocket or simply Bombardment Rocket, AKA 5" HVSR or BOMROC. Developed starting in 1943 at CalTech as a 3.5" system to replace the 75mm M1/M116 pack howitzer used by the Marines, the 3.5" version proved to be a dead end because of accuracy issues. However, a 5" version was under concurrent development, and it proved much more useful and was chosen to replace the 4.5" Beach Barrage Rocket. Production took a bit to ramp up, and the earliest Landing Ship Medium, Rocket conversions were armed with launch rails for the larger and less ideal 5" FFAR, those were designated the LSM(R)-188-class.

bomroc.jpg

5in-gpsr.jpg
But once the HVSR design matured and was mated to the LSM(R)-401 and LSM(R)-501 series, things started getting a bit more interesting. These would be armed with 8 to 20 Mk 102 continuous-loading 5" ship-to-shore rocket launcher units and a single 5"/38-caliber gun. The Mk 102 launchers were a double-barreled turret design seen here on USS LSM(R)-401 (aka USS Big Black River) in Korea.

100640119.jpg

And as you can see, they could throw some serious firepower.

100640105.jpg

Redesignated in 1969 as Inshore Fire Support Ships (hull classification LFR), the -401 and -501 LSM(R)s would see use from the invasion of Okinawa to the end of the Vietnam War, mostly being retired by 1970 and either scrapped or demilled and sold off.

There is, however, one short-lived addendum to the LFR series: USS Carronade (IFS-1). The only ship of her type ever built, the Carronade was first commissioned in 1955, she was placed on reserve status in 1960 only to be reactivated in 1965 and finally decommissioned for good in 1970. The final evolution of the rocket support ship concept, the Carronade differed a bit from her predecessors, packing "only" eight twin-tube Mk 105 launchers...but the Mk 105 was an upgraded design, and combined with the more advanced gun control and direction computers, could lay down a truly impressive amount of munitions. Each of the eight launchers could fire up to 30 rockets per minute, in other words plastering a given area with 240 50lb (total weight) rockets in 60 seconds.

80-G-689756.jpg

There was also a brief attempt to mount a 10-round double-barrelled HVSR launcher in the nose of a B-25 Mitchell, but that apparently went nowhere.

xagqzp1jyrv21.png
 
I believe it's the one-off Chinese navy fire support ship 516 Jiujiang. She was an 053H frigate converted to the fire support role, which makes those launchers 122mm MRLs


 
Oh, I've got some fun ones for this.

Okay, this right here is a US Navy 5-inch High Velocity Spinner Rocket or simply Bombardment Rocket, AKA 5" HVSR or BOMROC. Developed starting in 1943 at CalTech as a 3.5" system to replace the 75mm M1/M116 pack howitzer used by the Marines, the 3.5" version proved to be a dead end because of accuracy issues. However, a 5" version was under concurrent development, and it proved much more useful and was chosen to replace the 4.5" Beach Barrage Rocket. Production took a bit to ramp up, and the earliest Landing Ship Medium, Rocket conversions were armed with launch rails for the larger and less ideal 5" FFAR, those were designated the LSM(R)-188-class.

View attachment 650968

View attachment 650969
But once the HVSR design matured and was mated to the LSM(R)-401 and LSM(R)-501 series, things started getting a bit more interesting. These would be armed with 8 to 20 Mk 102 continuous-loading 5" ship-to-shore rocket launcher units and a single 5"/38-caliber gun. The Mk 102 launchers were a double-barreled turret design seen here on USS LSM(R)-401 (aka USS Big Black River) in Korea.

View attachment 650970

And as you can see, they could throw some serious firepower.

View attachment 650971

Redesignated in 1969 as Inshore Fire Support Ships (hull classification LFR), the -401 and -501 LSM(R)s would see use from the invasion of Okinawa to the end of the Vietnam War, mostly being retired by 1970 and either scrapped or demilled and sold off.

There is, however, one short-lived addendum to the LFR series: USS Carronade (IFS-1). The only ship of her type ever built, the Carronade was first commissioned in 1955, she was placed on reserve status in 1960 only to be reactivated in 1965 and finally decommissioned for good in 1970. The final evolution of the rocket support ship concept, the Carronade differed a bit from her predecessors, packing "only" eight twin-tube Mk 105 launchers...but the Mk 105 was an upgraded design, and combined with the more advanced gun control and direction computers, could lay down a truly impressive amount of munitions. Each of the eight launchers could fire up to 30 rockets per minute, in other words plastering a given area with 240 50lb (total weight) rockets in 60 seconds.

View attachment 650972

There was also a brief attempt to mount a 10-round double-barrelled HVSR launcher in the nose of a B-25 Mitchell, but that apparently went nowhere.

View attachment 650973
Filling this out some more:

The launcher you see there is a design Bell Labs came up with for the M8 5" spin stabilized rocket. The launchers were made by the Harvey Machine Company in late 1945 and fitted to PBJ-1J 35849 (ex- USAAF 44-30980). Each launcher carried 5 rounds in a revolving drum with a launch interval of 3/10ths of a second when salvoed.
During testing it was found that the optimal length of the launch tube had to be fitted to make the rockets stable in flight, otherwise dispersion would occur. The magazines for this design could be reloaded in flight. But because of the dispersion problem and many rockets failing to stabilize in flight on firing, the project was cancelled because the results were deemed mediocre.
So, while it looks impressive the results weren't.

An earlier design fitted in a similar manner using 4.5" rockets with a six round magazine was built by the United Shoe Machinery Company and fitted to a B-25H. This was first tested at Dover Delaware in May 1945. The aircraft was then sent to the CBI theater and with 10th AF was tested in Burma.

The tail turret X2R-1 launcher using 4.5" rockets was derived from this and tested on a B-17 very late in the war. There's a thread somewhere on the board about that.
 
View: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=9U0Mex36J_4



Our magazine carried 20,000 rockets. We would fire them off in about 10 days. We would return to Cam Ranh Bay, where we would reload rockets into the ship's magazine.
...
The rockets were allegedly left over from World War II. They were not wholly reliable. Some would launch and splash down in the water. Others were duds that would not exit the launch tubes. The first time I saw one of the gunners mates pounding on the nose of a rocket with a 2 X 4 stuck in the launcher I almost ducked for cover. CARRONADE reportedly fired more ordnance in the Vietnam war than any other ship. We received the Navy Unit and Navy Meritorious ribbons for our performance.
 
View: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=9U0Mex36J_4



Our magazine carried 20,000 rockets. We would fire them off in about 10 days. We would return to Cam Ranh Bay, where we would reload rockets into the ship's magazine.
...
The rockets were allegedly left over from World War II. They were not wholly reliable. Some would launch and splash down in the water. Others were duds that would not exit the launch tubes. The first time I saw one of the gunners mates pounding on the nose of a rocket with a 2 X 4 stuck in the launcher I almost ducked for cover. CARRONADE reportedly fired more ordnance in the Vietnam war than any other ship. We received the Navy Unit and Navy Meritorious ribbons for our performance.
Impressive little ship - sadly, underestimated....
 
So what I've taken from this is just like Western Armies post-WWII, their navies have also neglected ship-based rocket artillery....

Regards
Pioneer
 
So what I've taken from this is just like Western Armies post-WWII, their navies have also neglected ship-based rocket artillery....
Essentially yes. In late 1950s-1960s it was assumed on the West that in future all such fire support missions would be done with tacical nuclear warheads. Thats why artillery rockets fell out of favor.
 
I would speculate that bombardment rockets have fallen out of favor because of the availability of PGM's. One PGM taking out an intended target beats smothering it with hundreds of unguided rounds that might not do the job. When you look at the overall cost, the PGM is probably cheaper from production to destruction than dealing with say five hundred cheap but unguided rounds of munitions that would be equally effective against a small, specific target.
 
I would speculate that bombardment rockets have fallen out of favor because of the availability of PGM's. One PGM taking out an intended target beats smothering it with hundreds of unguided rounds that might not do the job. When you look at the overall cost, the PGM is probably cheaper from production to destruction than dealing with say five hundred cheap but unguided rounds of munitions that would be equally effective against a small, specific target.

That said, guided rockets (actually guided tactical ballistic missiles) have a pretty good value proposition these days, just not in the volume of a ship like Carronade.
 
Mass bombardment can have desirable effects downrange other than the destruction of a specific building or vehicle.
For similar reasons there exist crew served weapons, which are not going to be replaced by sniper teams.

With naval bombardment in particular, the value is generally considered to be from suppressive and cover effects by continuing fire into a specific area in a way that precision weapons don't generally deliver.

Targeting a specific bunker or vehicle is great if you know where exactly where the target is. Targeting every potential foxhole or wooded area with precision weapons isn't generally practical.

On the otherhand a barrage into a relatively small area, is likely to destroy targets in that area, and also suppress the ones it does not destroy. Every second a bad guy is huddled in his slit trench is one less second he is doing his job of trying to find or kill friendlies.
 
I was reading through one of my old books from the mid-80s, and came across an interesting paragraph. Apparently the USN considered putting MLRS on the Iowa-class BBs and the Newport-class LST. I’ll post some images when I get home from school.
 
Navalized Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS), called the Assault Ballistic Rocket System (ABRS). These proposals were very prevalent in the 70s-90s.

I found this image on Twitter, appearing to show ABRS on a Newport-class LST. Reverse searches show nothing, so the source is unknown.
1639707424333.png
I took the liberty to throw it in an online colorizer, I am quite happy with the result.
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Also some of the Arsenal Ship concepts at ABRS. Apparently they also carried rockets in the VLS.
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Also found this on Twitter, also from an unknown source. The turret thing tells us it's German.
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Also found this on Twitter, also from an unknown source. The turret thing tells us it's German.
Found the source. Its a KMW patent. Took me a while to find the right combination of keywords for the patent search.
US version of the patent
Another related patent (only in German)

Both patents focus on the storage of the rocket containers in a on-deck munitions room.
 

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So what I've taken from this is just like Western Armies post-WWII, their navies have also neglected ship-based rocket artillery....

Regards
Pioneer
Largely because all western militaries have given up on the idea of forcing a defended beach a la Normandy or any of the pacific islands. Opposed landings suck, so DON'T DO THEM.
 
No one plans on doing opposed beach landings, except the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps who think they can assault Chinese sandbar bases, I guess. Of course, if the U.S. Marines can land in Tarawa or Okinawa I guess they can land in Chinese sandbars too.

The long range artillery requirements are for destruction of anti-landing forces like motor rifle brigades, which would be approaching 30-50 km inland, and for providing direct support to vertical envelopment troops who would be first point of contact against the anti-landing forces. These are vital to ensuring that the landing beaches are unopposed and unmolested by anything except the occasional aviation bomb, reactive artillery barrage, or small nuclear weapon. Those are much more easily managed than an opposed medium tank battalion.

Normandy might have been a "blood bath" (not really, every Pacific landing was worse because there was literally no other option) but Dieppe showed that isolation of the beachhead from mechanical troops is necessary, or else the entire landing force gets repulsed, no matter how large it is. The only reason D-Day succeeded is because the Nazis weren't able to mass their tank divisions and throw the Allies back into the Atlantic before they built up sufficient combat power on the beaches. This was primarily due to the outstanding success of the deception planning in Bodyguard, but also to a good sized part of it was owed to the 1st Allied Airborne Army.

Hell, Sedan and the Waterline showed that, even if they were a mere river obstacles as opposed to an oceanic obstacle.

If you don't have long range artillery on your warships, you don't have a serious naval landing capability. Aircraft aren't really capable of doing the type of immediately available, fast response like a rocket can, and well-supported air assault forces are the most important element of a amphibious landing force. The most important element of an amphibious landing, of course, is proper deception planning, but that's beyond the scope of fire support.
 
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Navalized Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS), called the Assault Ballistic Rocket System (ABRS). These proposals were very prevalent in the 70s-90s.

I found this image on Twitter, appearing to show ABRS on a Newport-class LST. Reverse searches show nothing, so the source is unknown.
View attachment 669931
I took the liberty to throw it in an online colorizer, I am quite happy with the result.
View attachment 669932
Also some of the Arsenal Ship concepts at ABRS. Apparently they also carried rockets in the VLS.
View attachment 669933
Also found this on Twitter, also from an unknown source. The turret thing tells us it's German.
View attachment 669930

1700926794412.png

field artillery journal Oct 1987
 
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I seem to remember footage of an explosion of a rocket spewing small naval craft in WWII that went up like a junior league Beirut explosion.

Those more than destroyers needed the moniker "Tin Can."
 

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