|Country of Origin||United States|
|Ammunition Weight||60.78 kg|
|Muzzle Velocity||419 m/s|
Contributor: David Stubblebineww2dbaseThe High Velocity Aircraft Rocket was officially abbreviated HVAR but they were more widely known as "Holy Moses." HVARs were unguided air-to-ground rockets developed by the United States during World War II and were used extensively in 1944 and 1945 and also in the Korean War.
The HVAR was developed by engineers at California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena, California, United States as an improvement on the FFAR, the Forward Firing Aircraft Rocket (not to be confused with the later Folding Fin Aerial Rocket, an air-to-air missile also called FFAR). The original FFAR had a 5-inch diameter warhead on a 3-inch rocket motor. The HVAR had a similar 5-inch warhead but was mounted on a 5-inch rocket motor. The larger rocket housed almost three times as much propellant and gave the HVAR higher velocities with increased impact forces. The bigger advantage from the higher velocities, however, was a flatter trajectory that greatly improved accuracy over the FFAR.
Initially, HVAR warheads were modified shells from the Navy's ubiquitous 5-inch guns. Later HVAR warheads were purpose-built for different applications including general-purpose, armor piercing, and white phosphorous; but the high-explosive general-purpose variant was by far the most common. HVAR development was completed in time for them to be first used in Jun 1944 as part of the D-Day operations in Normandy, France, particularly after the landings during the breakout period.
HVARs could penetrate four feet of reinforced concrete and were used against all manners of surface targets including pillboxes, anti-aircraft gun emplacements, ammunition and fuel dumps, tanks, locomotives, bunkers, parked aircraft, and surfaced submarines.
These rockets were most frequently loaded onto Navy F4U Corsairs, F6F Hellcats, and TBF/TBM Avengers in the Pacific theater but they were also fired from a vast array of other aircraft types including P-47 Thunderbolts, P-51 Mustangs, P-38 Lightnings, SB2C Helldivers, PV-2 Harpoons, and B-25 Mitchell bombers. The British Coastal Command specially modified their Liberator III long-range patrol bombers to fire the HVAR, which they found particularly effective against surfaced German submarines.
Over a million HVARs were produced during World War II and production continued until 1955. HVARs remained in the US Navy's inventory until the mid-1960s.
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Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum
United States Air Force
Spaceline Rocket History
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Last Major Revision: May 2021
HVAR Missile Interactive Map
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