Saturday, 29 November 2014

Congreve rockets modeled afterTipu Sultan's Mysorean rockets -1800s

Lagâri Hasan Çelebi's rocket flight depicted in a 17th-century engraving. Pic:

The ''Congreve rocket''
'The ''Congreve rocket'' was an important British military weapon designed and developed by Sir William Congreve in 1804. Tipu Sultan's Mysorean rockets were used as  main models for the new version of Congreve Rockets and these were trump cards for the British military whose supremacy and prowess went a few scales up in the 1800s. These were introduced to frighten the French army which was a major threat to British imperialism.

The development of this rocket by the Royal Arsenal was based on the knowledge and experiences gained at Second, Third and Fourth Mysore wars fought between the British East India Company and the Kingdom of Mysore in Southern India, During these wars rockets were the potent weapons strategically and intelligently used both by Hyder Ali and his son Tipu. Not only did they act as deterrent but the also had a severe impact on the British forces and, of course, on their morale as well. After the wars, several Mysorean rockets were sent to England for scrutiny and scientific analysis. In 1801, William Congreve founded  a research and development program at the Arsenal's laboratory and undertook detailed studies on application of missiles in the battle fields. After  several trials, the solid fuel  rockets were first successfully  demonstrated in 1805  by Congreve and his co-workers. They were used effectively during the Napoleonic Wars and the War of 1812.

Second Anglo-Mysore War:

The British Press had a field day with the British
At the Battle of Pollilur (1780), during the Second Anglo-Mysore War, Colonel William Braille led the British army against  that of Tipu's.  His  ammunition stores built in a secure place  were packed  with  arms  and ammunition. Targeting them was not that easy.  When the rockets
were coming from the enemy line, all of a sudden,  the ammunition stores were ablaze  and thought to have been detonated by a hit  from one of Tipu Sultan's Mysore rockets. The intense heat  of  the rockets, speed and direction 
 made the  British troops  run for their lives  and  finally contributed to a British defeat. On the walls of  Dharya  Daulat,  Srirangapatnam one could see a scene depicting the Mysore army's victory over the British.  One soldier, who was a witness, lamented:
Mysorian rockets.
"So  pestered  were  we  with  the  rocket  boys  that there  was  no  moving  without  danger  from  the destructive  missiles ...". He continued: "The rockets and  musketry  from 20,000  of  the  enemy  were incessant. No hail could be thicker. Every  illumination of blue  lights  was  accompanied  by  a  shower  of rockets,  some  of  which  entered  the  head  of  the column,  passing  through  to  the rear, causing  death, wounds, and  dreadful lacerations  from  the long  bamboos  of  twenty  or  thirty  feet,  which are invariably attached to them."
William Congreve:

Sir William Congreve (20 May 1772 – 16 May 1828)  was an eminent English expert  in  rocket  artillery and their application in military warfares. He began  a  military rocket  R & D  program in 1801 exclusively  for the British  military's separate department of Royal Arsenal using the Indian rocket experiences and Hector Munro's book of 1789. Several rocket cases were  additionally collected from Mysore and sent to Britain for analysis.
Congreve rocket launching
The development  was chiefly  the work  of Col. (later Sir) William  Congreve, son of the Comptroller of the Royal Arsenal, Woolwich, London,  The rockets  were produced on a large scale according to R & D 's specification. Congreve was told that "the British at  Srirangapatam  had suffered more from  the menacing rockets  than from  the shells  or any other weapons used by the enemy." "In at least one instance",  an eye-witness told Congreve, "a single rocket had killed three men and badly wounded others".

Congreve prepared a new special propellant mixture, 
and developed a special rocket  motor with a  strong  heat-resistant iron tube with conical nose, weighing about 
32  pounds (15 kg). His experiences at the lab using Mysorean  rockets  as models  for better fire power and efficiency  at last led Congreve to publish three books on rocketry.

Their first demonstration of solid-fuel rockets came in 1805 and was followed by publication of  'A Concise Account of the Origin and Progress of the Rocket System in 1807' by William Congreve,  son of the arsenal's commandant. Congreve rockets were soon systematically used by the British during the Napoleonic Wars and the  War of  1812. These  descendants  were used  in the 1814  Battle of Baltimore
.Sir William Congreve, 2nd Bt, by James Lonsdale (died 1839)./

and are mentioned in the
Star Spangled Banner.They  played a major role in their victories in many wars which established them as a powerful nation.

The highly innovative humble Mysorian rockets formed the bases of modern  missile  technology through the pioneering works of the British and the simple Indian rocket technology used in the Angelo-Mysorian wars gave the inspirations to the later rocket scientists. 

Werrett, Simon. ‘William Congreve’s Rational Rockets.’ Notes & Records of the Royal Society 63 (2009): 35-56.

Roddam Narasimha (1985). "Rockets in Mysore and Britain, 1750-1850 A.D". National Aerospace Laboratories, India. Retrieved 30

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