New Gyrojet Web Site


Today I opened up my new web site, Hope you all will take a look. The site’s designed to promote my new book, but also, and more importantly, to become a central internet location for all things having to do with Gyrojets, etc. It was a fun putting the site together, and there will be a lot more coming in the near future, including a Gyrojet census and an Excell spreadsheet of Gyrojet prices realized at every known public auction since Jim Tillinghast. I look forward to hearing what you think, either here or via my contact page. Thanks.



That is a very well done website. I would think that it should serve as both an interesting extension of your new book as well as an enticing promotional tool!

I look forward to seeing it grow and I’m sure it will become an internet standard for all those interested in rocket ammunition and collectors of cartridges in general as well.

For ease of access to all those collectors out there, here is the link:

Thanks for the impressive work you have done for the advancement of this specialty field!



Nice one Mel! I look forward to buying a book soon!


Great work Mel…

I send you a email

best regards


Mel - have not looked at the site yet. I will soon. However, got your book yesterday. It is great and an absolute must addition to the library of anyone in cartridge collecting with the slightest interest in Gyrojets. I don’t have a single Gyrojet cartridge, as I don’t collect rockets in any form, as you know, but I wouldn’t be without this in-depth study.

Thanks for all you hard word with this study, and for the hobby of cartridge collecting in general.

John Moss




Sir… Question. During my TDY and PCS trips to VietNam in the 60’s (4) through last PCS in 73 we were issued what we called “Pen Flare’s” which consisted of a pen gun launcher and 5 flares attached on a cord. I was in various Special Forces detachments and projects. We got a lot of “things” the conventional troops didn’t I’m sorry to say. These were (about 2.5" long and 9mm Dia) red and screwed into the pen launcher (about 6" long). They were great in open country or in a clearing, but could not get through the thick high canopy in forest and jungle. In I think it was 68 or 69 we got what we called “Canopy Busters” which also screwed into the same launcher but the body was much larger in diameter, maybe 45 cal and were heavy bodied and simi-pointed. I seem to have given all of them away that I somehow “forgot” to turn in, but may have a few somewhere other ones. Were these Pen flares MBA produced. At the time … the only ammunition I collected was to shoot!

Your web is great.//


1SFG - You’re probably thinking of this one:

Mel or others will know more history than I, but I do sometimes see these for sale on Gunbroker and other places. It’s one of the easier to collect MBA items since it is more common. Here’s one that sold for $65.00 back in 2003:


DKconfig. That is the one we called “canopy buster” exactly. They were in many cases true life savers. If there is any “dust-off” or A1 drivers out there they have seen these little jewels popping up out of the green. I had no idea they would sell for that much. Thanks DK.



Thanks for the great question. I’ll answer it here and on the Q&A page of the web site. The “Pen Gun” flares you were issued in the early 1960s were made by Penguin Associates, Inc., Malvern, PA and issued as MK 79, Mod O Signal Kits, Illumination, in ziplock plastic bags. I carried these during my deployments to Vietnam, as did all Navy flight crews. The individual flares did in fact screw into the pen gun launcher - named that because it resembled a pen for writing - and the empty fired case had to be unscrewed and discarded before a fresh flare could be loaded. Or, if the flares were all taped together, the launcher was unscrewed and moved over to the next live flare. These flares were loud and had a lot of recoil, about like a .38 special, and went about 400 feet above the ground. The flare composition - red only - was fired out of the flare case, similar to a cartridge bullet. The flares would not penetrate a jungle canopy, which is why MBA designed the M201 “foliage-penetrating” flares, first in red and later in white and green. The U.S. Air Force and Army bought millions of them, and they made a lot of profit for MBA, the only Gyrojet to do so.

DK’s MBA launcher is a Model 207, the last of the series which is still in use today. The 13mm MBA flares were nearly silent, had almost no recoil, easily penetrated the jungle canopy, and went up to about 1,000 feet, depending on how much foilage they had to penetrate first. The MBA flares did not screw into the launcher’s mouth. They were held by friction, and when they fired, the whole rocket launched with nothing left behind.

Chapter 15 in the book, 18 pages, covers all the flares, including smoke, chaff, and infrared and all the launcher variations with color illustrations of everything.

There’s an interesting story, not politically correct, I did not include in the book. In the early and mid 1960s when I was in and out of Vietnam, U.S. military personnel in civilian clothing in Saigon were not allowed to carry firearms. Some of them decided to carry a pen gun, cocked, with a flare loaded for personal protection and a few extra flares. In one case late at night, after he left a bar, a U.S. soldier in civies was chased into an alley by three locals, Viet Cong or not, possibly just to rob him, but who knows. As the three approached him, the soldier pulled out his survival flare gun and fired a round at the first attacker. The burning flare composition stuck like glue to the bad guy’s chest as it burned a hole right into him. His screams of pain convinced the other two to “beat feet” as they say, and the soldier’s life was saved without the use of a “firearm.”

The Navy didn’t buy the MBA flares because they did not begin their pyrotechnic display until they were several hundred feet high. The Navy had to have something that started burning right at the surface, so a man overboard or a pilot in a life raft’s position could be pinpointed at night. There is little jungle foliage that needs to be penetrated over the Gulf of Tonkin or the South China Sea.


Mel … Thanks you. I do remember using them, both types. Like me; most guy’s in a recon teams carried several signal items and NEVER in a pocket or ruck. Always around our neck. When ya gotta run … first thing to go is the ruck, then anything but weapon, ammo, emergency radio (URC 10) and signal items. I carried a 25 Cal, signal mirror and my “Pen Gun” on a cord around my neck . We had little Kodak cans of CS and smoke, but for signaling smoke was mostly a wast of time. I know the chopper guys spotted a lot of teams because the team had these signals. Me included!! Only me and the laundry man know just how “concerned” I was several times !!! hahahaha Again thanks for the information and story. I’ll get your book even though I don’t collect Gyro’s.


Very nice and user friendly website Mel. Book looks like something I will want to get at SLICS. I don’t really collect gyrojets but because of SLICS last, I have a bag of goodies and a nice 13mm. Sorta need the book to go with them!


Easily seen by going to Mel’s link…but…

I was going to say something nice about the book I had my nose in last night…but figured why not copy what the “Godfather” has written?

I will only say I am in awe of Mel’s research and what both Mel & Bill (Woodin) have accumulated to be the 1st and 2nd greatest collections of Gyrojet’s known to man (and someone will have to determine which is #1 & #2)

Nice work Mel

(now I can figure out what is in my drawer !



That is some high praise from a man who knows.


The Gyrojet book is available and worth every penny. Mel put thousands of hours of research into this and it shows. You can finally identify all of those GYROs . This is a first rate publication with plenty of color photos.