Directory of U.S. Military Rockets and Missiles
Appendix 4: Undesignated Vehicles
Copyright © 2005 Andreas Parsch


Around 1950, the U.S. Navy's ASW (Anti-Submarine Warfare) sonars had been improved to a point where their range surpassed that of available anti-submarine weapons (torpedoes and depth-charge projectors). Therefore the Navy came up with the idea of a rocket-assisted torpedo, where a simple solid-fueled motor would lob a homing torpedo into the water a few thousand feet away from the launching ship. In 1952, the NOTS (Naval Ordnance Test Station) at China Lake successfully test-fired a rocket-assisted torpedo (MK 24) named RAT 'A'. This was followed by RAT 'B' in 1954 with a larger MK 43 torpedo.

Drawing: via Ordway/Wakeford

When the RAT was fired, it was launched on a ballistic trajectory so that motor burnout would occur at the desired target range. Then the booster and aerodynamic surfaces were discarded, and the torpedo dropped to the water under two parachutes. The RAT 'B' had an effective range of around 1400-2700 m (1500-3000 yds). However, operational tests in 1957 showed that it had unsatisfactory ballistic characteristics and failed to achieve the required accuracy. The rocket could not reliably place the torpedo within the lethal distance from the target submarine. Therefore the initial RAT was never deployed, and abandoned in favour of a new RAT 'C', which eventually became the RUR-5 ASROC (Anti-Submarine Rocket).


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

Data for RAT 'B':

Length4.11 m (13 ft 6 in)
Diameter39.4 cm (15.5 in)
Finspan84 cm (2 ft 9 in)
Weight218 kg (480 lb)
Range2700 m (3000 yds)
PropulsionSolid-fueled rocket
WarheadMK 43 homing torpedo

Main Sources

[1] Norman Friedman: "US Naval Weapons", Conway Maritime Press, 1983
[2] 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: 7 March 2005