Fei Kong Sha Tong (飛空砂筒)

Ming Dynasty Sand Rocket
Drawings of Fei Kong Sha Tong and its launch tube, from 'Wu Bei Zhi (《武備志》)'.
Fei Kong Sha Tong (飛空砂筒, lit. 'Flying sand tube') is a very unique rocket that is designed to release poisoned sand to blind enemy soldiers. It consists of two rockets and a warhead, all connected to one fuse, as well as a narrow bamboo slip that stabilises the flight. Several metal barbs are attached to one end of the bamboo slip so that the rocket will latch onto its target before detonation. This weapon can supposedly fly to its target with its first rocket, detonate the payload, and then return to its sender with its second rocket.

Needless to say, it is totally impractical, not to mention completely pointless. It is needlessly complex for a weapon that is meant to disrupt the enemies (a simple, non-returning rocket with poison smoke warhead can do the job better while being cheaper), and it is practically impossible to ensure the second rocket will return the weapon to its sender (given that Fei Kong Sha Tong has barbs). Even if the weapon somehow always work as intended, a returning Fei Kong Sha Tong will only cause confusion on other friendly troops, as there is no way to tell apart a returning Fei Kong Sha Tong from an actual rocket launched from the other side.


  1. haha....a returning rocket. Thank you, always enjoyed your posts. It seems that Wu Bei Zhi contained a number of weapons that are questionable in nature. Were weapons such as these ever put into the development stage or were simply made up and put into the manual? This and the water skipping two-stage Dragon head rocket comes to mind.

  2. @Raymond Lau
    Good evening and welcome to my blog.

    Of all the weapons tagged as 'impractical weapon' in my blog, only Shen Huo Fei Ya (flying crow-rocket thing) had been deployed for actual use, as far as I know. Others are... weird gadgets, at best.

  3. Good to know...your blog has been a joy. I'm a ABC that can't read much Chinese so I'm limited to what's available for English-language sources (incl. those awful Osprey books) and snooping around google. Please keep posting!

  4. @Raymond Lau
    Glad you like my blog. I will keep on writing.