Directory of U.S. Military Rockets and Missiles
Appendix 4: Undesignated Vehicles
Tiny Tim
Copyright © 2004 Andreas Parsch

CalTech/NOTS Tiny Tim

In early 1944, the U.S. Navy was in need of a powerful anti-ship weapon with some stand-off range to keep the attacking aircraft outside the range of heavy air defenses. The new fast fighter-bombers of that time couldn't drop torpedoes, and the existing rockets were not large enough to be useful against heavy shipping. In March, CalTech showed that a large caliber air-launched rocket was feasible, and the Navy subsequently ordered to develop such a weapon with the highest priority. The result was a rocket of 11.75 inches diameter, which eventually gained the nickname Tiny Tim (obviously an ironic pun on its size). The apparently odd dimension was chosen, because it matched the diameter of the standard 500 lb SAP (Semi-Armor Piercing) bomb, which was used as the warhead, as well as the diameter of standard oil well steel tubing, which was used as the casing.

Photo: U.S. Navy
Tiny Tim

The Tiny Tim was first fired from the ground in late April 1944, and the first air launch from a TBF Avenger succeeded on 22 June that year. A rocket as large as Tiny Tim could not be launched from directly beneath the aircraft, because the blast would severly damage the latter. The NOTS (Naval Ordnance Test Station) tested two different launching methods. The first was a displacement launcher, which moved the rocket some feet below the aircraft's fuselage before ignition. However, this didn't work satisfactorily, and therefore a second method was developed, which eventually became standard. The rocket was simply dropped from the aircraft, and a lanyard extended between the latter and the weapon. When the lanyard was exhausted and the connection broke, the rocket was ignited. The solid-propellant rocket accelerated the fin-stabilized Tiny Tim to about 885 km/h (550 mph), and the effective range for the typical low-altitude launch was about 1500 m.

Photo: Phil Callihan
Tiny Tim

By December 1944, the Tiny Tim was ready for deployment and pilots had been trained. The rocket could be fired from F4U Corsair, F6F Hellcat, TBF/TBM Avenger and SB2C Helldiver aircraft. However, the weapon came effectively too late for use in World War 2, and was reportedly only used at Okinawa in small numbers (with unknown results). Tiny Tim was later used with some success during the Korean War, but was most likely removed from service soon after the end of that conflict.


Note: Data given by several sources show slight variations. Figures given below may therefore be inaccurate!

Data for Tiny Tim:

Length3.12 m (10 ft 3 in)
Wingspan0.91 m (3 ft)
Diameter29.8 cm (11.75 in)
Weight583 kg (1285 lb)
Speed885 km/h (550 mph)
Range1500 m (1640 yds)
PropulsionSolid-propellant rocket; 13.3 kN (3000 lb) for 1 s
Warhead68 kg (150 lb) high explosive

Main Sources

[1] Norman Friedman: "US Naval Weapons", Conway Maritime Press, 1983
[2] J.D. Gerrard-Gough, Albert B. Christman: "The Grand Experiment at Inyokern", Naval History Division, 1978
[3] Norman J. Bowman: "The Handbook of Rockets and Guided Missiles", Perastadion Press, 1963
[4] Frederick I. Ordway III, Ronald C. Wakeford: "International Missile and Spacecraft Guide", McGraw-Hill, 1960

Back to Directory of U.S. Military Rockets and Missiles, Appendix 4

Last Updated: 13 July 2004