Huo Che

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Rocket cart illustrated in Si Zhen San Guan Zhi Fire arrow cart Si Zhen San Guan Zhi.jpg
Rocket cart illustrated in Si Zhen San Guan Zhi

Huo Che (Chinese :火車) or rocket carts (Chinese :火箭車) are several types of Chinese multiple rocket launcher developed for firing multiple fire arrows. The name Huo Che first appears in Feng Tian Jing Nan Ji (Chinese :奉天靖難紀), a historical text covering the Jingnan War (1399 – 1402) of Ming dynasty. [1]



Depiction of rocket arrows known as "divine engine arrows" (shen ji jian Shen Ji Jian ) from the Wubei Zhi. Ming Zhao De Shen Ji Jian .jpg
Depiction of rocket arrows known as "divine engine arrows" (shen ji jian 神機箭) from the Wubei Zhi .
A "nest of bees" (yi wo feng Yi Wo Feng ) rocket arrow launcher as depicted in the Wubei Zhi. So called because of its hexagonal honeycomb shape. Yi Wo Feng .jpg
A "nest of bees" (yi wo feng 一窩蜂) rocket arrow launcher as depicted in the Wubei Zhi . So called because of its hexagonal honeycomb shape.

The dating of the invention of the first rocket, otherwise known as the gunpowder propelled fire arrow, is disputed. The History of Song attributes the invention to two different people at different times, Feng Zhisheng in 969 and Tang Fu in 1000. However Joseph Needham argues that rockets could not have existed before the 12th century, since the gunpowder formulas listed in the Wujing Zongyao are not suitable as rocket propellant. [2]

Rockets may have been used as early as 1232, when reports appeared describing fire arrows and 'iron pots' that could be heard for 5 leagues (25 km, or 15 miles) when they exploded upon impact, causing devastation for a radius of 600 meters (2,000 feet), apparently due to shrapnel. [3] A "flying fire-lance" that had re-usable barrels was also mentioned to have been used by the Jin dynasty (1115–1234). [4] Rockets are recorded to have been used by the Song navy in a military exercise dated to 1245. Internal-combustion rocket propulsion is mentioned in a reference to 1264, recording that the 'ground-rat,' a type of firework, had frightened the Empress-Mother Gongsheng at a feast held in her honor by her son the Emperor Lizong. [5]

Subsequently, rockets are included in the military treatise Huolongjing , also known as the Fire Drake Manual, written by the Chinese artillery officer Jiao Yu in the mid-14th century. This text mentions the first known multistage rocket, the 'fire-dragon issuing from the water' (huo long chu shui), thought to have been used by the Chinese navy. [6]

Rocket launchers known as "nest of bees" were ordered by the Ming army in 1380. [7] In 1400, the Ming loyalist Li Jinglong used rocket launchers against the army of Zhu Di (Yongle Emperor). [7]

The American historian Frank H. Winter proposed in The Proceedings of the Twentieth and Twenty-First History Symposia of the International Academy of Astronautics that southern China and the Laotian community rocket festivals might have been key in the subsequent spread of rocketry in the Orient. [8]

As multiple rocket launchers, rocket carts were used in the Ming dynasty in the Jingnan War (1399 – 1402) and were carried on the ships of Zheng He (1371 – 1433) during his voyages to India and Africa. Huo Ches were primarily used in a defensive manner for close-range infantry support. [9]


Huo Che

Fire cart (Chinese :火車; lit. 'fire cart'): A fire arrow engine deployed in Jingnan War, recorded in Feng Tian Jing Nan Ji.

Jiahuo zhanche

Wheelbarrow fire engine (Chinese :架火戰車; pinyin :Jià huǒ zhàn chē; lit. 'rocket chariot'): Multiple rocket launcher supported by a wheelbarrow cart, recorded in Wubei Zhi . The frame of the cart can be attached to variable sizes of rocket pods, including Chang She Po Di Jian (Chinese :長蛇破敵箭) with 30 rockets per pod, and Bai Hu Qi Ben Jian (Chinese :百虎齊奔箭) with 100 rockets per pod.


Huojianche (Chinese :火箭車; pinyin :Huǒjiàn chē): It's a type of multiple rocket launcher supported by a two-wheeled cart, recorded in Si Zhen San Guan Zhi.

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Thunder crash bomb

The thunder crash bomb, also known as the heaven-shaking-thunder bomb, was one of the first bombs or hand grenades in the history of gunpowder warfare. It was developed in the 12th-13th century Song and Jin dynasties. Its shell was made of cast iron and filled with gunpowder. The length of the fuse could be adjusted according to the intended throwing distance.

History of rockets First rockets

The first rockets were used as propulsion systems for arrows, and may have appeared as early as the 10th century in Song dynasty China. However more solid documentary evidence does not appear until the 13th century. The technology probably spread across Eurasia in the wake of the Mongol invasions of the mid-13th century. Usage of rockets as weapons before modern rocketry is attested to in China, Korea, India, and Europe. One of the first recorded rocket launchers is the "wasp nest" fire arrow launcher produced by the Ming dynasty in 1380. In Europe rockets were also used in the same year at the Battle of Chioggia. The Joseon kingdom of Korea used a type of mobile multiple rocket launcher known as the "Munjong Hwacha" by 1451.

Gunpowder weapons in the Song dynasty

Gunpowder weapons in the Song dynasty included fire arrows, gunpowder lit flamethrowers, soft shell bombs, hard shell iron bombs, fire lances, and possibly early cannons known as "eruptors". The eruptors, such as the "multiple bullets magazine eruptors", consisting of a tube of bronze or cast iron that was filled with about 100 lead balls, and the "flying-cloud thunderclap eruptor", were early cast-iron proto-cannons that did not include single shots that occluded the barrel. The use of proto-cannon, and other gunpowder weapons, enabled the Song dynasty to ward off its generally militarily superior enemies—the Khitan led Liao, Tangut led Western Xia, and Jurchen led Jin—until its final collapse under the onslaught of the Mongol forces of Kublai Khan and his Yuan dynasty in the late 13th century.

The siege of De'an (德安之戰) was fought as part of the Jin-Song Wars of China in 1132, during the Jin invasion of Hubei and Shaanxi. The battle between the besiegers, a group of rebels led by Li Heng and the Song Chinese defenders is important in global history as the first recorded instance of the fire lance, an early ancestor of firearms, being used in battle.

Hu dun pao

Hu dun pao (虎蹲砲) is the name of two different missile weapons in Chinese history. In the Song dynasty (960–1279), it was a trebuchet and its name is translated into English as Crouching Tiger Trebuchet; in the Ming dynasty (1368–1644), the name was given to a type of bombard and it is known in English as Crouching Tiger Cannon.

This is a timeline of the history of gunpowder and related topics such as weapons, warfare, and industrial applications. The timeline covers the history of gunpowder from the first hints of its origin as a Taoist alchemical product in China until its replacement by smokeless powder in the late 19th century.

Gunpowder weapons in the Ming dynasty

The Ming dynasty continued to improve on gunpowder weapons from the Yuan and Song dynasties. During the early Ming period larger and more cannons were used in warfare. In the early 16th century Turkish and Portuguese breech-loading swivel guns and matchlock firearms were incorporated into the Ming arsenal. In the 17th century Dutch culverin were incorporated as well and became known as hongyipao. At the very end of the Ming dynasty, around 1642, Chinese combined European cannon designs with indigenous casting methods to create composite metal cannons that exemplified the best attributes of both iron and bronze cannons. While firearms never completely displaced the bow and arrow, by the end of the 16th century more firearms than bows were being ordered for production by the government, and no crossbows were mentioned at all.

Military history of the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms

The military history of the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms covers the period of Chinese history from the collapse of the Tang dynasty in 907 to the demise of Northern Han in 979. This period of Chinese history is noteworthy for the introduction of gunpowder weapons and as a transitional phase from the aristocratic imperial system to the Confucian bureaucracy which characterized the Song, Ming, and Qing dynasties.

Military history of the Song dynasty

The military history of the Song dynasty encompasses military activity of the Han Chinese state of Song from 960 AD with the overthrow of Later Zhou until 1279 AD when China was conquered by the Mongol-led Yuan dynasty.

Huolongchushui were the earliest form of multistage rockets and ballistic missiles used in post-classical China. The name of the weapon was used to strike fear into enemy troops. If the enemy was out of range, the fire dragon had a contingency: a magazine of three rocket driven arrows located within the mouth of the missile. It acted as one of the world's earliest multistage rockets and ballistic missiles, and was fired at enemy ships in naval battles.


  1. "三"  . 奉天靖難記  (in Chinese). 1403 via Wikisource.
  2. Lorge 2005.
  3. "A Brief History of Rocketry". Retrieved 2012-06-14.
  4. Lorge 2005, p. 379.
  5. Crosby, Alfred W. (2002). Throwing Fire: Projectile Technology Through History. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 100–103. ISBN   0-521-79158-8.
  6. Needham, Volume 5, Part 7, 510.
  7. 1 2 Needham 1986, p. 514.
  8. Frank H. Winter, "The `Boun Bang Fai' Rockets of Thailand and Laos:", in Lloyd H. Cornett, Jr., ed., History of Rocketry and Astronautics - Proceedings of the Twentieth and Twenty-First History Symposia of the International Academy of Astronautics, AAS History Series, Vol. 15 (Univelt Inc.: San Diego, 1993), pp. 3-24.
  9. "Rocket carts of the Ming Dynasty". Great Ming Military. 14 April 2015.


See also