May 18

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World’s first Rocket warfare – Explain Stuff Fact of the day.

Explain stuff takes a step into the World’s history and explains how and who used World’s first Rocket Warfare. Today’s Fact of the day talks about Chinese invention, Tipu Sultan – First to use rockets in wars, British – who upgraded the initial rockets, anglo-mysore wars, and about APJ Abdul Kalam who touched this topic in his renowned book “Wings of Fire”

Read on to enjoy today’s fact of the day.

Chinese are generally credited with the first use of rockets. However, Tipu Sultan (the Tiger of Mysore) is the first person to have used rockets for the purpose of warfare. The rockets used by in Mysore were far more advanced than those used for the purpose of entertainment as fireworks. These rockets were superior in that they used iron tubes for holding the propellant and weighing between 2.2 to 5.5 kg with greater pressure, thrust & range (1.5 to 2.5 Km).We could as well see this as the birth of the modern rocket launcher.
First warfare

From 1750 AD -1799 Haider Ali (Father of Tipu Sultan) and his son perfected rocket’s use for military purposes, very effectively using it in war against British colonial armies. In the Second Anglo-Mysore war, at the Battle of Pollilur, Hyder and Tipu achieved a grand victory, the contributory cause being that one of the British ammunition tambrils was set on fire by Mysorean rockets.

Rockets were also used in the 3rd and 4th Anglo-Mysore Wars as well; although they caused much confusion and fear especially when used against massed troops or cavalry, they were too inaccurate to tilt decisively the fortunes of battle in favor of Tipu.

Thanks to the interest of the British in these rockets, they were studied more scientifically!! The British were greatly impressed by the Mysorean rockets using iron tubes. At the end of war more then 700 rockets and sub systems of 900 rockets were captured and sent to England. William Congreve thoroughly examined the Indian specimens to reverse engineer and making its copies that were later used successfully in their naval attacks. The industrial revolution provided the tools and materials needed to further the development of rockets. However, it was as late as the end of second world war that Rockets were used as effective weapons.

The sorry state of affairs is that the only specimen of the Mysore rockets used by Tipu Sultan is in London in the Royal artillery museum .The Rocket court in Srirangapatnam now lies in ruins, being used as a public toilet. The fate of rockets in Mysore seems to have suffered the same fate as rest of the scientific and technical developments in British India.

The recent interest in the rockets of Mysore was stimulated by our Honorable President APJ Abdul Kalam. In his book “Wings of Fire” he mentions, how he saw the picture of the Mysore’s Rocket war in NASA. The fact that today India is not inferior to any other nation in its potential to develop and launch rockets is very reassuring. The Tiger of Mysore, Tipu Sultan would have indeed felt proud of this fact.

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  1. Sam Schiller

    Great blog, found you by accident, bookmarking now for future reference, thanx.

  2. klee

    the actual first rocket is developed in Korea in 1377. see wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Singijeon

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