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This picture doesn't make sense. Who would want to carve a head statue just for a rocket that will blow up?

How does it work?

  • 3
    Itt seems this "rocket" is not intended to blow up.This appears to be decorative tube with four gunpowder engines tied to it. When ignited the four engines lift the tube into the air at an angle, stabilized by the fletching at the bottom of the sticks attached to the engines., I would think such a device could be used multiple times by replacing the engines after each flight..While such a device might "Blow up" if a proper charge were set forward by the fuse attached to one of the engines, most likely it simply "spit" fire and flames (out of the mouth) on the way down. Scary,,not destructive.
    – J. Taylor
    Mar 23 '19 at 18:54
  • 4
    It seems more likely that this is nothing more than artistic. It seems doubtful that the rockets here would all have exactly the right thrust to keep this object in stable flight. This illustration seems modern and somewhat fanciful in nature.
    – user22859
    Mar 25 '19 at 11:01

The decorated part does not explode b/c it is a launcher, not a bomb. It does not break upon falling either, b/c it was used by the navy, so the used-up launcher falls into the water, and can be recovered later.

Decorations make sense. They scare the enemy (who will think they are facing a fire-breathing dragon). And they inspire pride into own soldiers. I am pretty sure early rocket weapons were focused on psychological effect, due to low accuracy.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Huolongjing#Fire_arrows_and_rockets , last paragraph:

The Huolongjing also describes and illustrates the oldest known multistage rocket; this was the "fire-dragon issuing from the water" (huo long chu shui), which was known to be used by the Chinese navy.[32][33] It was a two-stage rocket that had carrier or booster rockets that would automatically ignite a number of smaller rocket arrows that were shot out of the front end of the missile, which was shaped like a dragon's head with an open mouth, before eventually burning out.

Painting above is probably inspired by this illustration: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Huolongjing#/media/File:Chinese_Multistage_Rocket.JPG

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