Directory of U.S. Military Rockets and Missiles
Appendix 4: Undesignated Vehicles
5-Inch Rockets
Copyright © 2003-2006 Andreas Parsch

Air-Launched 5-Inch Rockets

5-Inch FFAR (Forward Firing Aircraft Rocket)

The first air-launched 5-inch rocket of the U.S. Navy was a derivative of an earlier 3.5-inch FFAR, which was developed by the Navy from June 1943 as an aircraft-launched ASW (Anti-Submarine Warfare) rocket. The 3.5-inch FFAR was considered accurate enough for use against surface ships and land targets, but needed an explosive warhead for these missions. A 5-inch anti-aircraft shell was modified as a warhead for the 3.5-inch rocket motor. The resulting rocket was the 5-Inch FFAR, which entered service in December 1943. Because of the increased weight, the speed of the 5-inch FFAR was only 780 km/h (485 mph).

Image: via ORDATA Website
5-Inch FFAR

The 5-inch FFAR was also used from LSM(R) (Medium Landing Ship, Rocket) type vessels as an interim 5-inch beach bombardment rocket before the better-suited spin-stabilized 5-Inch HVSR (High-Velocity Spinner Rocket) became available.

Holy Moses HVAR

The 5-inch FFAR suffered from insufficient speed because of its small motor. Therefore the development of a larger rocket motor with 5-inch diameter was begun, and the first test firings occurred in December 1943. When fitted with the warhead of the 5-inch FFAR, the rocket achieved a velocity of 1530 km/h (950 mph), making it a very powerful weapon for its time. It was officially designated as 5-Inch HVAR (High-Velocity Aircraft Rocket), but often called Holy Moses. It became operational in July 1944, and was used by Army Air Force and Navy aircraft.

Photo: U.S. Navy
Holy Moses

During World War II, two versions of Holy Moses were built, one general-purpose with base and nose fuzes, and one with a semi-armour-piercing warhead and a nose fuze only. Postwar developments added a shaped-charge anti-tank warhead, and a new general purpose type with a proximity fuze. More than one million Holy Moses HVARs were built until production ended in 1955.

MK 16 Zuni FFAR (Folding-Fin Aircraft Rocket)

In the early 1950s, the NOTS (Naval Ordnance Test Station) China Lake began to develop a new 5-inch rocket to replace the Holy Moses HVAR. The new rocket used folding fins to allow efficient carriage in streamlined multi-tube launch pods. The rocket, known as Zuni 5-inch FFAR (Folding-Fin Aircraft Rocket), was designed as a modular system, and allowed the use of different types of warhead and fuze. Options included general-purpose and shaped-charged warheads, point-detonation, delayed-action and proximity fuzes. The latter option was intended for air-to-air application, but Zuni was almost exclusively used as an air-to-ground weapon. For a list of current warheads, see section on the MK 71 motor below. The Zuni FFAR was approved for production in 1957 and quickly replaced the earlier HVARs. Although a number of different launchers were tested with Zuni, the rocket was eventually deployed primarily in four-tube pods of the LAU-10/A series. The exact length and weight of the Zuni depends on the warhead, but typical values are 2.79 m (110 in) and 48.5 kg (107 lb), respectively.

Photo: via Ordway/Wakeford
Zuni MK 16

Designation Note: No formal designations are allocated to all-up 5-inch Zuni rockets. Instead, the rocket type is generally identified by the designation of the motor assembly, which is the main body of the rocket and includes nozzle and fins. The original production Zuni motor is designated MK 16, and the ultimate variant is the MK 16 MOD 3. The various warheads are typically usable with all available motors, and are presumably often fitted to the rockets in the field only briefly before actual use. Therefore it was apparently deemed unnecessary to assign MK/MOD designations to every specific combination of rocket and payload. In fact, the original edition of the current designation system for rockets and missiles explicitly excluded unguided line-of-sight rockets from the system.

Photo: McDonnell Douglas
Zuni MK 16

The Zuni was widely used by U.S. Navy and Marine Corps aircraft in Vietnam. However, the rocket was also the cause of the worst accident on a modern USN aircraft carrier, when a Zuni motor was inadvertently ignited on deck of USS Forrestal in July 1967.

MK 71 Zuni

The current 5-inch Zuni rockets use the MK 71 motor. It uses a smoke-less propellant and has a completely new nozzle/fin assembly. The latter has four wrap-around type fins, and therefore the MK 71 is sometimes called a WAFAR (Wrap-Around Fin Aerial Rocket) instead of an FFAR. The actual diameter of the MK 71 is quoted as 130 mm (5.12 in). The MK 71 MOD 0 began to replace the MK 16 in June 1971, but was soon superseded by the MK 71 MOD 1, which entered full production in September 1973. The MK 71 MOD 1 is the only Zuni motor currently in use, and is a HERO (Hazards of Electromagnetic Radiation to Ordnance) safe modification of the MOD 0. The MK 71 rockets are fired from LAU-10C/A and LAU-10D/A 4-tube pods, the earlier launcher versions (through LAU-10B/A) being incompatible with the new motor. The LAU-10C/A is for shore-based use only, because it lacks the thermal protection coating of the -10D/A.

Photo: U.S. Navy
LAU-10C/B or -10D/B (exact model unknown)

A wide variety of warheads is available for the MK 71 rocket. The following table lists the basic characteristics (length, weight) of MK 71 Zuni rockets with the warhead/fuze combinations currently used by the U.S. Navy:

Warhead Warhead Type Fuze Length Weight
MK 24 MOD 0/1General Purpose MK 93 MOD 0249.4 cm (98.18 in)56.8 kg (125.2 lb)
MK 188 MOD 0240.0 cm (94.48 in)
MK 352 MOD 2
MK 32 MOD 0Anti-Tank/Anti-Personnel MK 93 MOD 0277.9 cm (109.41 in)56.3 kg (124.13 lb)
MK 188 MOD 0268.5 cm (105.71 in)
MK 352 MOD 2
MK 33 MOD 1Illumination FlareMK 193 MOD 0274.6 cm (108.12 in) 56.9 kg (125.4 lb)
MK 34 MOD 0Smoke (White Phosphorus) MK 93 MOD 0247.1 cm (97.28 in)58.2 kg (128.33 lb)
MK 188 MOD 0237.7 cm (93.58 in)
MK 352 MOD 2
MK 34 MOD 2Smoke (Red Phosphorus) MK 188 MOD 0
MK 352 MOD 2
MK 63 MOD 0Fragmentation MK 93 MOD 0287.5 cm (113.19 in)62.7 kg (138.3 lb)
MK 352 MOD 2278.1 cm (109.49 in)
MK 84 MOD 4Chaff/CountermeasuresFMU-136/B 240.0 cm (94.48 in)56.8 kg (125.2 lb)
MK 6 MOD 7Practicen/a (nose plug) 237.7 cm (93.58 in)58.2 kg (128.33 lb)
MK 24 MOD 0n/a (ogive)241.9 cm (95.25 in)58.0 kg (127.84 lb)
WTU-11/Binert MK 93 MOD 0268.5 cm (105.71 in)56.3 kg (124.13 lb)


Note: Data given by several sources show slight variations. Figures given below may therefore be inaccurate!

Data for 5-inch FFAR, 5-inch HVAR, Zuni MK 16, Zuni MK 71:

 5" FFAR5" HVARZuni MK 16Zuni MK 71
Length1.65 m (5 ft 5 in)1.83 m (6 ft)1.95 m (77 in) (motor only)* 1.94 m (76.3 in) (motor only)*
Weight36 kg (80 lb)64 kg (140 lb)26.7 kg (58.9 lb) (motor only)* 36.1 kg (79.5 lb) (motor only)*
DiameterWarhead: 12.7 cm (5 in)
Motor: 8.9 cm (3.5 in)
12.7 cm (5 in)12.7 cm (5 in) 13 cm (5.12 in)
Speed780 km/h (485 mph)1530 km/h (950 mph)2600 km/h (1615 mph)
Range< 1.6 km (1 mile)5 km (3 miles)8 km (5 miles)
PropulsionCaltech 3.5-in. rocketSolid-fueled rocketSolid-fueled rocket; 3.6 kN (800 lb) for 1.3 s Solid-fueled rocket
Warhead20 kg (45 lb) HE warhead (& others)(various)
*Note: Total length and weight depend on warhead; see main section for data on all-up rounds

Main Sources

[1] Navy Training System Plan for the Consolidated Rocket Systems (N88-NTSP-A-50-9801/A), August 2000 (formerly public, but access now restricted to authorized persons only)
[2] Norman Friedman: "World Naval Weapons Systems, 1997/98", Naval Institute Press, 1997
[3] Norman Friedman: "US Naval Weapons", Conway Maritime Press, 1983
[4] Norman J. Bowman: "The Handbook of Rockets and Guided Missiles", Perastadion Press, 1963
[5] Frederick I. Ordway III, Ronald C. Wakeford: "International Missile and Spacecraft Guide", McGraw-Hill, 1960

Back to Directory of U.S. Military Rockets and Missiles, Appendix 4

Last Updated: 31 January 2006