This tank was part of a static test of a rocket engine made by rocket pioneer Robert H. Goddard at Roswell, New Mexico, in 1931. The tank held liquid oxygen. The gasolene fuel was kept in a separate tank. Both tanks fed the propellants into the engine's combustion chamber for firing.
During the test, according to Goddard's notes, the flame was "short, noisy, and intensely white" and lasted for 15 seconds. The thrust was from 30-40 pounds. After the test, the oxygen tank was cut along the sides for inspection, which accounts for the rectangular hole. The tank was donated to the Smithsonian in 1959 by Esther C. Goddard.
Gift of Mrs. Robert H. Goddard