RI 502 JATO Rockets

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This object is on display in the James S. McDonnell Space Hangar at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, VA.

James S. McDonnell Space Hangar

The Rheinmetall-Borsig RI 502 solid-fuel JATO rockets were shipped in pairs and are shown here in their original German Air Ministry shipping crate. The RI 502 was specifically designed as a JATO for large troop-carrying gliders, notably the Gotha Go 242, and was manufactured in large quantities at the end of the war. Fueled with a single stick of dyglycol "smokeless" propellant, the RI 502 burned for about six seconds at a nominal thrust of 600 kg (1,300 lb.) but an actual thrust that peaked as high as 900 kg (2,000 lb.). Similar or identical motors were used as boosters for test missiles and as aircraft JATOs in place of the standard liquid-fuel hydrogen-peroxide models.

These rockets were captured at the end of the war and shipped to Freeman and Wright Fields in the Midwest U.S. before being transferred to the Smithsonian by the U.S. Air Force in 1949.