HVAR file photo [31062]

HVAR Missile

Country of OriginUnited States
Diameter127.000 mm
Length1.727 m
Ammunition Weight60.78 kg
Range41.148 km
Muzzle Velocity419 m/s


ww2dbaseThe 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.

United States Navy
Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum
United States Air Force
Spaceline Rocket History
War Thunder Wiki
Encyclopedia Britannica

Last Major Revision: May 2021

HVAR Missile Interactive Map


Underside view of an Eastern Aviation TBM-3 Avenger armed with FFAR rockets, the predecessor of the HVAR air-to-surface rockets, early 1944.Grumman TBF Avenger firing HVAR air-to-surface rockets at a United States test range, mid-1944.Lockheed P-38 Lightning at a training base in the United States, mid-1944. Note wing mounted HVAR air-to-surface rockets.Republic P-47D Thunderbolt 42-28672 ‘Lois’ of the 513th Fighter Squadron armed with bombs and HVAR air-to-surface rockets, probably at Tour-en-Bessin Airfield, France, mid-1944.
See all 37 photographs of HVAR Missile

Did you enjoy this article or find this article helpful? If so, please consider supporting us on Patreon. Even $1 per month will go a long way! Thank you.

Share this article with your friends:


Stay updated with WW2DB:

 RSS Feeds

Posting Your Comments on this Topic

Your Name
Your Email
 Your email will not be published
Comment Type
Your Comments


1. We hope that visitor conversations at WW2DB will be constructive and thought-provoking. Please refrain from using strong language. HTML tags are not allowed. Your IP address will be tracked even if you remain anonymous. WW2DB site administrators reserve the right to moderate, censor, and/or remove any comment. All comment submissions will become the property of WW2DB.

2. For inquiries about military records for members of the World War II armed forces, please see our FAQ.

Search WW2DB & Partner Sites
HVAR Missile Photo Gallery
Underside view of an Eastern Aviation TBM-3 Avenger armed with FFAR rockets, the predecessor of the HVAR air-to-surface rockets, early 1944.
See all 37 photographs of HVAR Missile

Famous WW2 Quote
"Among the men who fought on Iwo Jima, uncommon valor was a common virtue."

Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, 16 Mar 1945

Support Us

Please consider supporting us on Patreon. Even $1 a month will go a long way. Thank you!

Or, please support us by purchasing some WW2DB merchandise at TeeSpring, Thank you!