Hale war rocket, 1844-1918.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Close-up of fins. The Hale war rocket was patented by Englishman William Hale (1797-1870) in 1844. Hale's principal innovation was the elimination of the need for a cumbersome wooden guidestick: stability in flight was obtained by the exhaust gases rotating the rocket on it's axis by use of the vents. Hydraulic machine presses were used to compress the gunpowder into the shell, making the manufacture of his rockets safer and faster than previous methods. The rockets were used extensively by the British army until the turn of the century, by which point the design had been superseded.