The Rocketman was a prototype Sea Train designed by Tom's Workers, deemed too dangerous for public use due to its unreliable controls. It was briefly used by the Straw Hat Pirates and their allies to travel from Water 7 to Enies Lobby, where—despite its flaws—it proved an invaluable tool and weapon.
Appearance and Design
In design and size, the Rocketman was broadly similar to the Puffing Tom, complete with 4-4-0 wheel arrangement. Its smokebox was distinctively cone-shaped, and jokingly painted to resemble a shark's head; to this was linked the standard driver's cab, coal-tender, and a single passenger car. As it was never publicly used, its exterior was mostly unpainted.
The Rocketman was considered an experimental failure by all who worked on it, as its engine was only capable of dangerously high speeds, and would not respond to conventional brake mechanisms. This made it largely impossible to stop or even slow at-will, as well as prone to derailing from any solid collision. No amount of adjustments were able to remove these flaws, leading the Rocketman to be dubbed an "inherently" runaway train.
Tom's Workers constructed the Rocketman on Water 7 some time during Tom's ten-year stay of execution, finishing it before the better-known—and more tractable—Puffing Tom. Though they acknowledged the Rocketman was too dangerous to carry passengers, neither Tom nor his subordinates scuttled it, instead locking it away in a derelict warehouse behind the city's garbage dump.
Water 7 Saga
Water 7 Arc
After twelve years of storage, the Rocketman was relaunched by Iceburg and Kokoro in an effort to help the Straw Hat Pirates retrieve Nico Robin from her CP9 captors. As the CP9 convoy was bound for Enies Lobby on the Puffing Tom, no other vehicle could hope to keep pace—especially with the Aqua Laguna still raging on the local seas.
Knowing that the Straw Hats were willing to risk anything, Iceburg serviced and restocked the Rocketman to his best abilities, while Kokoro volunteered as engineer. As the overjoyed Straw Hats boarded the train, they were accosted by the Franky Family, who begged to join their pursuit in order to save Franky (also captured by CP9). While his crewmates voiced reservations, Luffy readily agreed.
The Rocketman, despite its long disuse, successfully raised steam and launched from Water 7; the Franky Family were even able to harpoon-hitch their deluxe houseboat (towed by their King Bulls Sodom and Gomorrah) onto its passenger car without issue. Shortly after, it locked onto the Puffing Tom's tracks, jolting it to maximum speed and revealing numerous stowaways—Paulie, Peepley Lulu, Tilestone, Chimney, and Gonbe—onboard. On learning that the Galley-La foremen also opposed CP9, Luffy welcomed them as additional allies.
- A multi-story Aqua Laguna wave, which Luffy and Zoro (amidst support fire from their allies) pierced with a combination attack.
- Two troop-filled passenger cars from the Puffing Tom (decoupled by Sanji), which Zoro neatly bisected.
- Captain T Bone, commanding officer of the decoupled cars, whom Zoro defeated in one strike.
While the Rocketman was not tangibly delayed by any of these, it still made no significant gain in its pursuit; concurrently, Sanji (backed up by Franky and "Sogeking") launched a separate rescue attempt aboard the Puffing Tom, which proved equally unsuccessful.
Enies Lobby Arc
Further in its pursuit, the Rocketman met its greatest setback: Yokozuna, who successfully derailed it, in the process also decoupling the Franky Family's houseboat. This cost the Rocketman significant time, and ensured the Puffing Tom—with Robin and Franky still in custody—reached Enies Lobby first. Undeterred, Kokoro calmed Yokozuna down, and convinced him to join the Straw Hats' cause; with Nami's help, she then steered the Rocketman back on-rail, in time rejoining the Franky Family as well as Sanji and Sogeking (set adrift by CP9 after their own failure).
As the Rocketman finally neared Enies Lobby, an impatient Luffy launched himself over the island's fence and began fighting alone. Notwithstanding this, the Franky Family and Galley-La foremen volunteered as an advance force, toppling the island's outer garrisons and opening the central gates to give the Rocketman a clear path of entry. While they fought, the rest of the Straw Hats patiently waited aboard the Rocketman, Kokoro driving it in circles before the fence.
However, it soon became evident that Enies Lobby held too many troops ready to guard (and re-shut) its gates, causing Zoro to improvise a drastic new strategy: charging the fence head-on and having Yokozuna strike it at the last second. Against all odds, this successfully tilted the fence into a makeshift ramp, launching the Rocketman straight over the gates; even more miraculously, the "flying" Sea Train crashed into Oimo as it fell, downing the Giant guard while (relatively) softening its landing.
On seeing the Straw Hats emerge from the Rocketman, many of the nearby troops opened fire on it. Before it could be destroyed, however, Kokoro, Chimney, and Gonbe debarked and claimed to be hostages, distracting the troops long enough for the Straw Hats to decimate them. This done, the Straw Hats and the Franky Family pressed on, while the three noncombatants stayed with the crash-landed Rocketman, the Galley-La foremen protecting them from remaining troops.
Despite its ordeals, the Rocketman retained function, and Kokoro reemployed it on learning that Enies Lobby's courthouse drawbridge—the Straw Hats' only passage to the Tower of Justice—had been disabled in mid-drop. With Chimney and Gonbe back onboard, she charged the Sea Train through the courthouse (running over Chief Justice Baskerville on the way) and up the drawbridge, launching a second "flight" that successfully carried the Straw Hats over. This launch was far more violent, crashing the Rocketman straight into the Tower of Justice with no cushion; while the riders survived with only minor injuries, the machine itself was smashed beyond repair.
Inspirations and Influences
Like the Puffing Tom, Rocketman's name was inspired by a prototypical steam locomotive: the Rocket (more commonly known as Stephenson’s Rocket). This machine was constructed in Great Britain during the early 19th century, and broke many contemporary speed trials; today, it is generally recognized as the original template for most modern steam trains.
- The Rocketman appeared as an attack used by Green Generals in the game One Piece: Unlimited Adventure.
- The train's painted "face" was likely inspired by the nose-art of many real-life warplanes, from World War II-era bombers to modern combat jets such as the A-10 Thunderbolt.
- One of the children on Punk Hazard is seen playing with a model version of Rocketman during a flashback.
- South Devon Railway Comet class – Wikipedia article about the class of train the Rocketman was based on.