These are models of an ordinary arrow, an incendiary arrow, and an early Chinese rocket arrow of about 1,000 years ago. The models convey one theory as to how the Chinese may have originated the rocket. The Chinese may have experimented with incendiary mixtures attached to an ordinary arrow, then later added saltpeter (potassium nitrate) to make the incendiary stronger. They could have thus discovered gunpowder and its propelling, as well as explosive, properties.
The container was turned around compared to the forward facing incendiary arrow tube. The exhaust gases of the powder drove the arrow forward, becoming the first rocket. These models were donated to the Museum in 1976 by the George Marsden Design Company.
Gift of George Marsden Design