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  Created in China>The Development of Chinese Military Affairs>Military Inventions
Rockets of Ancient China


Up to Ming Dynasty when General Qi Jiguang fought against Japanese pirates on China's southeast coast, he invented three kinds of jet rockets. The bodies of the rockets were made of hard wood, while the metal arrowheads were composed of a knife, spear, or sword. The rockets could pierce the armor. At the bottom of the jet rockets were the power flasks.

The rockets were positioned on the wood racks. In battles, the soldiers held the rear of the rockets and lit the fuse to fire at the enemies. The device could be used both on land and under water. More than 2,000 rockets were equipped on ten warships. 4,760 rockets were facilitated among the infantry and cavalry troops. Such a great number was unprecedented both in Chinese and world military history. The other countries in the world only knew of this kind of weapon some 240 years later.

Even more advanced was the "multi-shot rockets" which appeared later. A large number of rockets were positioned in a bucket, which had two layers for orientation and direction purposes. Meanwhile, all the fuses of each single rocket were bundled together. Once the soldier fired the fuse, all of shots were made at the same time, covering quite a noticeable range. Besides this kind, there were some other dozens of variations, with 2 to 100 shots at a time.

General Qi Jiguang's troops also put several "multi-shot rockets" on a cart, which could shoot hundreds, or even thousands of arrows at one time. When his troops were guarding the east part of theGreat Wall, Qi would have at least 40 carts equipped with "multi-shot rockets." This was also unique at the time in the world.

The weapon experts in late Ming Dynasty also invented the rockets with wings in the shapes of a ball or crow, with the ball or crow full of powder. A fuse was used to link the powder that pushed forward the rocket with that in the body of the ball or crow. When the rocket reached the enemy, it would also explode, inflicting more damage on the enemy. It was also a very useful weapon in attacking cities. Missiles nowadays use exactly the same basic principle with these winged rockets filled with powder.

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