By Tommy H. Thomason

Sunday, April 30, 2023



Every once in a while, someone wonders why rocket-assisted takeoff is called JATO (Jet Assisted Takeoff) instead. According to Captain Robert C. Truax, who was literally the Navy's rocket scientist (also see, it was as follows:

"My job at the Bureau of Aeronautics (beginning in 1946) was to set up a permanent jet propulsion deck and to draw up a program for the Bureau to pursue in the field of rocket development. Since at the time 'rocket' was a science-fiction term associated only with crackpots, the term 'jet propulsion' was always used. My program included the setting up of an in-house Navy project at the Engineering Experiment Station to develop liquid-propellant JATOs for the PBY airplane as well as rocket propulsion for guided missiles, sounding rockets, and manned aircraft."

It appears that JATO was generally used to describe solid-fuel propellant takeoff assist and subsequently thrust enhancement using liquid-fuel propulsion was at least sometimes described as a rocket engine.

For my post on his rocket-powered, manned interceptor proposal, see:

For some of my other posts on JATO, see:


Pat Donahue said...

Great photo! Even with the "JATO" pushing look at the amount of right rudder he is carrying
at the beginning of the T/O roll.
Pat D

Wannes said...

A jet is the efflux of high speed gases providing a propulsive force.
The confusion is caused because we've come to call the jet engine and even the entire jet (engined) plane a jet for short.
Even peppermints in carbonated soda will produce a jet.