Rocket Ship (ETW unit)
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A rocket ship is a floating arsenal, usually converted from a two-masted ketch-rigged vessel. The whole ship is given over to a rocket battery and the necessary stores.
A rocket ship is intended to plaster a large area with a huge number of rocket projectiles in a very short time. The need for a large deck space to be clear for the rockets’ launch troughs compromises the ship’s handling and sailing qualities, but this is a small price to pay for horrendous and terrifying firepower! There is also the danger to the crew: the risk of explosion is enough to age any captain prematurely, and rigging chains (not ropes) and wetted sails are standard features.
Military rockets are the result of European troops getting some very nasty surprises when campaigning in India (Congreve’s rocket system was designed to copy Indian weapons). The large variety of warheads, including explosive shells, makes rockets a versatile but often inaccurate weapon. The best way of using rockets is en masse: the more fired at a single target, the better, given that some are almost inevitably going to fly astray – not that this inaccuracy matters to those on the receiving end!
Historically, the Royal Navy used rockets to bombard ports and enemy fortifications. The phrase “the rockets’ red glare” in the US national anthem commemorates the use of Congreve rockets against Fort McHenry, which guarded the harbour entrance at Baltimore, Maryland, during the War of 1812