Military Wiki
M8 rockets being launched from a "Calliope" multiple launcher mounted on a Sherman tank.
Type Air-to-surface and surface-to-surface rocket
Place of origin United States
Service history
Used by United States Army, United States Navy
Production history
Designer Picatinny Arsenal
Designed 1941
Produced 1941-1944
Number built 2,537,000[1]
Weight 38 lb (17 kg)
Length 33 in (840 mm)
Diameter 4.5 in (110 mm)

Warhead None
Warhead weight 4.3 lb (2.0 kg)

Engine Solid-fuel rocket
4.75 lb (2.15 kg) fuel
4,600 yd (4.2 km)
Speed 600 mph (970 km/h)

The M8 was a 4.5-inch (110 mm) rocket developed and used by the United States military during World War II. Produced in the millions, it was fired from both air- and ground-based launchers; it was replaced by the M16 rocket in 1945.


The M8 rocket was developed by the National Defense Research Committee and the Army Ordnance Department in the early 1940s;[2] at Picatinny Arsenal.[3] Ground tests began in 1941, while the first air launch of the system was conducted in 1942, from a Curtiss P-40 pursuit aircraft.[2] It was fin stabilized, and had a diameter of 4.5 in (110 mm).[4]

The initial production model was given the Army designation of M8; improvements resulted in the M8A3, with a more powerful rocket engine and enlarged fins,[1] and the T22, which had improved reliability and modifications to make the rocket safer.[2]

Operational history

Entering service in 1943, the M8 family of rockets saw service with the United States Army, which classified the M8 as a "barrage rocket".[2] The rocket was also widely used by the United States Army Air Forces.[2] Over 2,500,000 of the M8 type rocket had been produced by the end of the war.[1]

Operational service showed some drawbacks in the M8's performance; ground launch resulted in the rockets' fin stabilizers proving ineffective,[4] reducing the accuracy of the rocket; despite this, it was considered an effective barrage weapon.[5] Due to the lack of accuracy, when ground-launched, it was being launched from large multiple launchers; the most commonly used being eight- and 60-tube launchers, called "xylophones" and "calliopes" respectively.[1][2] The "calliope", given the official designation T34, was mounted on top of a M4 Sherman tank; once fired, the launcher could be detached and discarded, allowing the tank to be used in conventional combat, while the "xylophone", officially the T27, was carried on a 2½-ton truck's cargo bed.[1] A 120-round launcher, designated T44, and a 144-round T45 launcher were also developed; these were intended for use by the United States Navy, being mounted on DUKW amphibious vehicles and LST amphibious warfare vessels. Single- and twin-14-round launchers were also developed.[1]

The M8 showed poor effectiveness against hardened targets;[2] this resulted in the development of the Super M8, which had larger fins, a more powerful rocket and a more powerful warhead. The Super M8 underwent testing in late 1944, but failed to see combat.[2] The M8 was replaced by the improved spin-stabilized M16 rocket during 1945.[1][4]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Chris Bishop, ed (1998). The Encyclopedia of Weapons of World War II. New York: Orbis. p. 175. ISBN 1-58663-762-2. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 Parsch, Andreas (2006). "Air-Launched 4.5-Inch Rockets". Directory of U.S. Military Rockets and Missiles, Appendix 4: Undesignated Vehicles. Designation-Systems. Retrieved 2012-01-19. 
  3. Lassman, Thomas C. (2008). Sources of Weapon Systems Innovation in the Department of Defense: The Role of In-House Research and Development, 1945-2000. United States Army Center of Military History. p. 22. ISBN 978-1-4609-5845-2. Center of Military History Publication 51-2-1. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Parsch, Andreas (2006). "U.S. Army 4.5-Inch Barrage & Bombardment Rockets". Directory of U.S. Military Rockets and Missiles, Appendix 4: Undesignated Vehicles. Designation-Systems. Retrieved 2012-01-19. 
  5. van Riper, A. Boudoin (2004). Rockets and Missiles: The Life Story of a Technology. Baltimore, Maryland: Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 44. ISBN 978-0-8018-8792-5. 

External links

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