16 August 2009

During the war in the Pacific, the kamikaze threat required increasing numbers of fighters in the Navy's carrier air groups which in turn displaced bombers like the TBF Avenger. To give the fighters more offensive air-to-ground striking power, unguided rockets became standard for fighter aircraft like the Corsair and Hellcat. One of the ultimate unguided rockets to be used in the Pacific was the Tiny Tim, which was created by adding a 500-lb armor piercing bomb to the front of a standard oil well casing which was filled with rocket propellant. The oil well casing had the same 11.75 inch diameter as the 500-lb bomb. Finished off with a rocket nozzle and fins, the Tiny Tim was 10 feet long and weighed 1300 lbs.

The first firing took place in June 1944 and unlike previously used smaller rockets, it couldn't be fired off the rail due to the blast. As a solution, the rocket was dropped and a lanyard ignited the rocket motor once clear of the aircraft. The first aircraft carrier carrying Tiny Tim, the USS Franklin, was nearly sunk near Okinawa from kamikaze attacks before strikes with the rocket could begin. But the rocket was employed to effect against Japanese shipping by land-based Marine Corps PBJ bombers (B-25 Mitchells).

Source: Strike from the Sea: U.S. Navy Attack Aircraft from Skyraider to Super Hornet, 1948-Present by Tommy H. Thomason. Specialty Press, 2009, p17.

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