Monday, 20 April 2015

The Gyrojet Rocket Pistol

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The Gyrojet was a rocket pistol developed in the '60s. It's novel design can be appreciated from the following edited patents - US3212402 & US3412641 

Hand weapon
US 3212402 A

A hand-held weapon of the pistol-type side-arm variety wherein novel construction features are employed to ignite and initially restrain miniature ballistic rockets.

Characteristically, small arms weapons have employed bullets which typically have high initial acceleration. This is the result of the containment of high temperature and pressure gases in a relatively heavy barrel wherein the projectile acceleration occurs. Similarly, to contain and absorb the energies released from the ignition of gun powder, the entire weapon has been required to be of heavy durable material. Furthermore, conventional weapons have utilized a percussion ignition system consisting of a movable hammer or mass to impart energy directly or through a firing pin to a percussion sensitive primer cap located in the aft-end of the bullet.

In accordance with the present invention, unique structural features are provided which take advantage of the performance characteristics of miniature ballistic rockets. Handheld weapon systems should be compact and should, therefore, have relatively short launchers or barrels; however, it is an inherent characteristic of the ignition of most miniature ballistic rockets that an ignition pressure pulse occurs before stable and uniform burning of the rocket propellant is achieved. This pressure pulse may cause rockets to be prematurely ejected from short launchers at unstable velocities resulting in unpredictable and dangerous projectile attitudes when uniform ignition and thrust of the rocket is finally achieved. This disadvantage may be overcome by making use of the characteristically low initial rocket acceleration. A mass may be employed which provides a restraining or hold-down force to the rocket during its ignition period, whereby ignition pressure pulses will not result in forward motion of the rocket. This mass may also be used to ignite the miniature rocket by allowing it to impact the nose-end of the rocket thus igniting a primer cap directly or indirectly. The mass or hammer is allowed to impact the rocket nose, and when sufficient thrust is developed in the rocket, the rocket will push aside the restraining mass, thus imparting energy to it, and proceed down the launch tube. The energy imparted to the restraining mass may be stored in a spring mechanism or directed to create potential gravitational energy whereby this stored or potential energy may be used to drive the mass and thus impact, ignite, and restrain subsequent rockets.

This principle may be used to achieve very high firing rates suitable for machine gun devices. As miniature rockets do not depend on high temperature and pressure gases in the weapon, a rocket hand weapon is recoilless and its barrel tends not to become corroded or over heated. Moreover, reduction or elimination of these disadvantages allows the tiring rate of the weapon to be in creased by almost an order of magnitude (from 2 to 7 rounds per second for conventional machine guns to 40 rounds per second for rocket weapons).

Other embodiments which utilize a restraining force to effectively control rocket launching and to insure uniform ignition of miniature rockets are contemplated. The restraining force which is applied may take the form of a wire which is pulled through a cup in the rocket nozzle whereby friction of the wire and pyrotechnic coating material may be used to ignite the coating and the miniature rocket. This friction force also restrains the rocket during the propellant ignition. Similarly, hold-down systems do not necessarily have to be mechanical, for ex ample, a magnetic field furnished by a permanent magnet may be used to hold back or restrain the miniature rocket during its early flight period.

All of the above systems may be incorporated into a relatively light housing. As the miniature rockets employed do not require containment of hot gases nor high pressures in the launcher, launcher materials may be lightweight plastics or metals. An entire hand weapon system with six rocket projectiles would weigh about one half pound as compared to standard service automatics which weight about two and a half pounds unloaded. The advantages of such a system in applications Where there is a premium on the weight of a weapon that may be electively handled, may be readily seen. Other advantages, such as lack of weapon recoil and the unusual ordnance effects achieved by the miniature ballistic rockets may be seen.

FIGURE l is a side view, in section, of a hand weapon illustrating the present invention.

FIGURE 2 is a side view, in section, of an alternate embodiment illustrating the miniature ballistic rockets suitable for the present invention as well as an alternate ignition and hold-down means.

FIGURE 3 is a side view, in section, of a miniature ballistic rocket illustrating an alternate ignition system.

FIGURE 4 is a side view, in section, illustrating still another means of achieving ignition and controlled launching by exploiting the initial performance characteristics of the miniature rockets of the present invention.

Referring now to FIGURE 1, there is shown a pistol-type side-arm or hand weapon generally designated 5 which is comprised of a launch tube, or barrel 7, and handle 9, in which miniature rockets 11 are disposed; and a trigger mechanism 13, which activates a mass 15. The barrel 7 and the handle 9 may be made of a lightweight plastic such as polyethylene or nylon or a metal such as aluminium. As the performance of the miniature ballistic rockets of the present invention do not require the containment of hot gases in the barrel; barrel corrosion and strength requirements are eliminated. This is particularly important in applications which require, or in which it would be advantageous, to employ very high projectile ring rates.

The exact trigger mechanism 13 should not be considered critical, as most trigger mechanisms suitable for conventional weapons will be suitable for this purpose.

The impacting-restraining means includes a mass or hammer 15 which operates against gravity, with energy provided by a spring 17, but could readily operate as well `by using gravity to activate it. The trigger mechanism 13 with the single round catch 14 releases the mass 15, which the spring 17 causes to swing up into the barrel 7 and impact with the rocket 12 on the nose 19. This impact forces the rocket 12 back against the tiring pin 21 which ignites a percussion cap 22, whereby the rocket propellant is ignited. The ports 24 allow exhaust gases to escape from the barrel 7. The mass 15 and the spring 17 then restrain the forward motion of the rocket 12 until the rocket propellant is completely and uniformly ignited; whereupon the mass 15 is pushed or thrust down to its initial position against the force of the spring 17 as the rocket 12 proceeds down the barrel 7 and is launched. The effect of the mass 15 upon the rocket 12 is two-fold: (1) the mass 15 achieves ignition of the rocket 12: (2) it prevents premature launching of the rocket 12 and thus insures uniform launching conditions. Once the rocket 12 has left the launcher 7, the next rocket in the handle 9 is forced upward into the barrel 7 by means of the spring 23, and if the trigger mechanism 13 is -still clear (triggering systems which allow single and automatic operation are contemplated and well developed in conventional weapons) of the mass 15, the spring 17 will cause the mass to again move into the barrel 7 and impact this next rocket on the nose, thus igniting it. Mechanisms to eject rockets which have malfunctioned and failed to leave the launch tube 7 may be provided and would be analogous to the mechanisms used to remove bullet cartridges from conventional weapons. Similarly a mechanism may be provided to cock the hammer 15 for subsequent rounds.

The use of a mass-spring combination to ignite and restrain miniature rockets may be effectively done with negligible decrease in the projectiles energy. The extremely high acceleration of bullets makes the operation of this system unsuitable for conventional weapons as the acceleration force on the hammer would be too severe.

In FIGURE 2 there is shown a miniature ballistic rocket generally designated 27 which is comprised of casing 29, propellant 30 with cylindrical perforation 31, and nozzle 33 with nozzle ports 35 and ignition cup 37. The casing 29 may be constructed of steel or aluminium while the propellant 30 may be any suitable double-base propellant such as IPN. The nozzle 33 may be fabricated from aluminium, nylon, phenolic base resin, or steel or other materials. The nozzle ports 35 are skewed to the longitudinal axis of the rocket 27 to provide stabilization. The nozzle ports 35 may also be parallel to the longitudinal axis of the rocket with fins  being provided to maintain stability. The rocket ignition structure comprised of the cup 37 formed in the nozzle 33; a pyrotechnic material 39 disposed in said cup 37; a wire material 41, which is coated with another pyrotechnic material 43; and a means to pull .the wire 41 through the cup 37. As the wire 41 is drawn through the cup 37, friction between the pyrotechnic materials 43 and 39 will cause ignition of said materials, which will discharge against the propellant perforation 31 and ignite the propellant 30.

The rocket 27 is located in a launch tube or barrel 48 and ignition of the rocket 27 is achieved by thrusting the triggering arm 49 away from the rocket thus pulling on the ignition wire 41. This causes the rocket 27 to bear .against the rolled over portion 50 of the launch tube 48. The rocket 27 is ignited and then proceeds to move forward against the curved portion of the wire 41 as it is pulled through the opening 45 in the rock-et nozzle 33. The curved portion of the wire 41 restrains the rocket 27 during its initial propellant burning `and thereby insures uniform and complete rocket ignition. This restraining, or hold-down force may be varied by suitably designing the curved portions of the wire 41 and selecting wire materials. The elect is similar to that shown in FIGURE 1, wherein the ignition means is used as a restraining force during the stage when the internal ballistics of the miniature rocket are approaching a steady state condition (about the first l to milliseconds of burning).

When extremely high firing rates are desired (about 20 rounds/second) the firing pin may become excessively heated or corroded from the rocket exhausts. This problem may be eliminated by utilizing the hammer as a firing pin :as is illustrated in FIGURE 3. There is shown a firing pin 51 which acts as the movable hammer 15 in FIGURE 1 and impacts the front end of the rocket on the primer cap 52. The primer cap 52 discharges down the propellant perforation 53 igniting the propellant. Exhaust gases discharge out the nozzle 54 but now may pass out the end of the launch tube 55 causing no heating or corrosion. (Suitable shielding may be provided for various weapon designs.) The launch tube may be slightly rolled over 56 or tapered to resist the force of the hammer blow. The inertia of the rocket could also be used to overcome the force of the hammer blow as could the friction of the rocket with the launch tube caused by a spring :or other mechanism used to feed successive rockets.

For larger devices (rapid fire machine guns) it may be advantageous to employ an externally driven hammer 51. Similarly, f-or both large and small devices the hammering pin S1 could be spring loaded so as to move axially with the launch tube 55. A variety of loading mechanisms could be employed some being more suitable to rapid ring than others. Actual models of the device of FIGURE 1 have achieved firing rates above 30 rounds/second.

The weapon shown in FIGURE 4 illustrates an alternate embodiment of the principles of FIGURES l and 2. There is shown a launch tube 57 wherein three rockets, 59, 61, and 63 are disposed. The a-ft rocket 59 is provided With an ignition means as shown in FIGURE 2, wherein a trigger 65 ignites the rocket 59 and propels it toward the rocket 61 down the launch tube 57. Impact of the rocket 59 with the rocket 61 causes a percussion cap 67 to ignite the rocket 61. Both rockets are then propelled toward the rocket 63, which the rocket 61 impacts and ignites the percussion cap 69. All three rockets then leave the launcher in succession. This system may be used to achieve extremely high re power from a very simple and compact launcher or gun.

Pistol for firing a miniature ballistic rocket
US 3412641 A

A pistol which ignites and initially restrains a miniature ballistic rocket before leaving the firing chamber in a slide at the rear end of the pistol having a fixed firing pin therein.

The pistol has a receiver made of two mating parts on and between which the various elements are assembled. A slide is provided on the rear top of the receiver which is movable rearwardly so that the miniature ballistic rockets may be moved downwardly into the magazine cavity in the handle against a spring. The spring moves the rockets seriatim into the slide after each firing or upon the movement of the hammer to cocking position. A safety slide is provided in the handle section which is movable upwardly over the firing point of the firing pin to prevent the accidental ignition of a rocket should it be moved backwardly toward the firing pin point. The safety slide carries a spring which locks the slide in safety position. The slide on the frame is latched in forward position by a spring pressed finger which is automatically moved within a notch in one edge of the slide when the slide is moved forwardly.

A pivoted spring pressed pawl has an edge in the form of a sear located in a position to be engaged by a notch in the hammer when the hammer is swung downwardly to cocked position. The hammer spring is further compressed as the hammer is moved out of the path of the projectile. A link connects the pawl to the trigger by a notch which is engaged by a finger on the trigger. When the trigger is pulled the finger pushes the lever toward the pawl and thereby swings the pawl away from the hammer to have the sear edge move out of the hammer notch and permit the spring to swing the hammer upwardly to strike a rocket in the slide chamber and move it toward the firing pin. The end of the firing pin is struck by the cap at the base of the rocket and the fuel thereof becomes ignited. The spring retains the hammer in the path of movement of the rocket until a force is built up by the rocket sufficient to swing the hammer out of its path into latched, cocked position as the rocket travels forward through the barrel and out the muzzle thereof.

Accordingly, the main objects of the invention are: to provide a rocket pistol with a slide which is movable rearwardly to expose the elevator for rockets located within the handle and which is movable downwardly therein against a spring; to provide a safety slide between the firing pin and projectile which is movable upwardly to cover the end of the firing pin where it is latched by a spring finger; to provide a frame for a rocket pistol which is made of two parts of cast material with a cylindrical barrel of a hard metal fixed to one-half portion of the frame; to provide a pivoted pawl within the one-half of the frame which is spring pressed toward the hammer and limited in its outward movement to a position of engagement with a notch on the end of the hammer from which it is released by a lever engaged with a finger on a trigger when the trigger is pulled to move the lever and pawl away from the hammer, and in general, to provide a rocket pistol which is simple in construction, positive in operation and economical of manufacture.

FIG. 1 is a left-hand side view in elevation of a rocket pistol embodying features of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a right-hand view of the rocket pistol illustrated in FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a broken view of the structure illustrated in FIG. 2, showing the slide in open position;

FIG. 4 is an enlarged view of the inside of the section of the frame illustrated in FIG. 2 with parts in section;

FIG. 5 is a sectional view with the structure illustrated in FIG. 4, taken on the line 5-5 therein;

FIG. 6 is an exploded view showing all of the components employed in the pistol illustrated in FIGS. 1 to 5, and

FIG. 7 is a sectional view of the handle of a frame half illustrated in FIG. 6, taken on the line 7-7 thereof.

The pistol has a frame 10 made of two halves 11 and 12. It will be noted in the exploded view of FIG. 6 that the two halves of the frame 11 and 12 are shown as outside and inside views. The frame has a downwardly extending handle section 13 and a forwardly extending barrel section 14. The two frame halves 11 and 12 are made of cast material which may be plastic, white metal and the like. The barrel section 14 has a recess section 15 in which a tube of hard material, such as stainless steel, is bonded with a plastic or other suitable bonding material. The handle sections 13 contain a coil spring 17, having one end abutting the base plate 18 and the upper end engaged with a magazine follower 19. The frame half 12 has recesses to receive and support a firing pin 21 in axial alignment with the tube 16 with its firing point 22 disposed adjacent to the follower 19. The frame also carries one of the pintles of a hammer 23, a swingable pawl 24 having an edge 25, which forms a sear and a finger 26 that is disposed within a slot 27 in the frame half.

A trigger link 28 is secured on a pivot 29 of the pawl 24 to swing forwardly and backwardly therewith, the link having a stud 31 which receives the coil spring 32, the ends 33 of which are in engagement with the inner face 34 of the frame half 12. The spring urges the link 28 and pawl 24 toward the hammer 23 in position to have the sear 25 engage a notch 35 on the hammer end to latch the hammer in cocked position out of the path of movement of the rocket. The hammer 23 is mounted on a pivot 36 and a coil 37 of a spring 38 is mounted about the pivot on each side of the hammer. A U-shaped portion 39 joins the two coils 37 and engages the rear of the hammer to have it swing counter-clockwise to strike the end of a rocket 'when released. The pair of legs 41 of the spring 38 bear against a pin 42 on the frame half 12. A trigger 43 is mounted on a pivot 44 on the frame half 12 and is urged counter-clockwise by a U-shaped spring 45 of flat material. A finger 46 extends upwardly on the trigger in a position to engage a notch 47 on the under face of the link 28 which occurs when the hammer is swung clockwise to have the notch 35 engage the sear 25. The link 28 is urged counter-clockwise by the spring 32 which movement is limited by a boss 48 on the hammer which moves out of engagement with the link when the hammer is cooked permitting the notch 47 to move downwardly where it is engaged by the finger 46 of the trigger.

By pulling the trigger rearwardly, the finger 46 moves forwardly, moving the link 28 forwardly therewith and thereby moving the sear 25 from the notch 35 to permit the hammer to be swung counter-clockwise into the firing position illustrated in FIG. 4. Such movement moves the rocket in the chamber 49 within the slide to the rear to have its cap strike the point 22 of the firing pin 21. The firing of the cap and the ignition of the propellant builds up a force rearwardly of the rocket which is retained from movement by the hammer 23 which remains in engagement therewith. The rocket is held in this manner until sufficient pressure has been built up to have the projectile move forwardly and cause the clockwise rotation of the hammer into latched position. When this has occurred, the next adjacent rocket within the handle magazine is moved upwardly into the chamber 49 in position to be fired 'upon the next actuation of the trigger 23.

Since in normal operation the point 22 of the firing pin 21 is always directly adjacent to the cap on the rocket within the slide, a safety element 51 is mounted in a slideway 52 which directs a cavity end 53 over the point 22 to present a flat face 54 to the butt end of the rocket which is out of engagement with the cap carried thereby. The element 51 has a knurled knob 55 which extends through a slot 56 in the receiver half 12 which when moved upwardly moves the cavity end 53 of the safety element 51 upwardly to extend over the point 22 of the firing pin 21. A flat U-shaped spring 57 disposed in a recess 58 in the element 51 urges the elements to the left, as viewed in FIG. 5. This movement causes a notch 59 on the bottom left-hand corner of the element to move over the top of the bottom edge of the slot 56 and thereby lock the element against downward movement.

The rear end of the top edge of the two halves 11 and 12 of the frame have projections 61 received by recesses 62 in a slide 63 which is aligned with the barrel 16 of the pistol. The slide covers the metal portion 64 in the two halves of the frame which receive and support the rearwardly projecting end 65 of the firing pin 21. As illustrated in FIGS. 2 and 3, the slide carries the rear partridge type sight 66 and has a notch 67 at the bottom edge of its right-hand wall. A latch 68 having a projecting finger 69 is supported on a shaft extension 71 located in an aperture in the frame element 11. A flat spring 71a extends through a slot 71b in the body of the shaft extension 71 for biasing the finger 68 upwardly toward the slide notch. When the slide is pushed forward to have the front end engage the barrel end of the pistol, the finger 69 is urged within the notch 67 to latch the slide in forward position. The latch 68 has a ball recess 710 containing a ball 72 which is retained in the recess by the safety element 51 to securely lock the slide 63 from being opened when the safety element 5.1 is in Off position. It will be noticed in FIG. 5 that the ball 72 is released to permit the latch 68 to be released from the notch 67 when the element 51 is moved upwardly into safety position. In this position a recessed portion 73 is opposite to the ball 72 permitting the ball to move to the left out of the ball recess 710. To move the safety element 51 downwardly out of safe position, the latch 68 must be moved upwardly in latched position to permit the ball 72 to move into the recess 710 as it moves out of the recess 73 upon the downward path of the element 51.

A sight ramp 74 is provided on the top forward barrel walls for receiving therebetween the front sight 75 which is aligned with the square notch in the sight 66 on the slide when secured by a set screw 70. It will be noted the slide 63 and barrel portions have apertures 76 in side walls to permit the escape of the hot gases. A plurality of screws 77 connect the two halves 11 and 12 of the receiver together in firm fixed relation to each other. Each handle section 13 is enclosed by wall portions 78 which are arcuate in shape having a bottom flange 79 and a top projection 81. Grip elements 80, which may be ivory, wood, plastic, and the like, have internal and external arcuate shapes, the former mating with the arcuate wall of the handle sections to which they are secured by a suitable adhesive and protected by the extending flange 79 and top projection 81.

It will be noted in FIG. 1 that an arcuate slot 82 is provided in the wall of the frame half .12 through which a finger 83 on the hammer 23 extends to permit the manual operation of the hammer to latched position. The magazine followers similarly has a projection 84 which operates in a slot 85 in the handle section of the frame half 12 to permit the follower 19 to be moved downwardly to assist in the loading while providing visible indication of how many rockets remain within the handle.

When the pistol is prepared for firing, the safety slide 51 is moved upwardly to release the ball 72 and permit the latch 68 to pivot downwardly so that the slide 63 can be drawn to the rear and expose the magazine follower on which the miniature rockets are placed and moved downwardly to tension the spring 17 against the butt end of the handle section. After the magazine is filled, the slide 63 is moved forwardly to retain the topmost rocket within the chamber 49 thereof. Upon the forward movement of the slide the finger 69 of the latch 68 engages the notch 67 to retain the slide in forward position. The hammer 23 had been cocked to clear the area above the magazine follower.

To fire the weapon, the safety element 51 must be moved downwardly and in doing so, the ball 72 is moved into the recess 710 of the latch element 68 to thereby lock the slide 63 in forward position. Since the hammer is cocked by the clockwise movement imparted thereto by the projectile as it moves forwardly, it is only necessary to repeat the pulling of the trigger to fire all of the rockets contained within the magazine in the handle section. The pistol embodies desirable safety features and is capable of rapid fire, being constructed of a minimum number of rugged parts that are very durable and very cheap to manufacture.

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First American Bessemer Converter - 1891

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