Hale, William (1797–1870)
English inventor who developed the technique of spin
stabilization. Even following William Congreve's
work, the accuracy of rockets was not much improved. The devastating nature
of war rockets was not their accuracy or power, but their numbers. During
a typical siege, thousands of them might be fired at the enemy. All over
the world, rocket researchers experimented with ways to improve accuracy.
It was Hale who thought of the idea of allowing the escaping exhaust gases
to strike small vanes at the bottom of the rocket, causing it to spin like
a rifled bullet in flight. Hydraulic machine presses were used to compress
the gunpowder into the shell, making the manufacture of the rockets safer
and faster than previous methods. The Hale war rocket was patented in 1844.
Versions of Hale's rockets were used by both the British and U.S. armies.
Two sizes were used in Britain, weighing 9 lb. and 24 lb., with ranges of
about 1 mile and 1½ miles, respectively.
|Hale rocket, showing stabilizing fins
Around this time, however, developments in conventional artillery caused
military interest to veer in this direction. Breech-loaded rifled cannon
appeared, with a greatly increased rate of fire and much improved accuracy.
Quite suddenly, rockets disappeared from the military scene. Apart from
use on a minor scale against balloons and Zeppelins in World War I, they
were not to reemerge for nearly a hundred years. In the intervening period,
there were one or two civil developments, such as that of rocket-propelled
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