Talk:Shell (projectile)

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Shell is often colloquially used to refer to projectiles, but it is correctly an abbreviation for shell casing. Technically, the first usage in incorrect, and many soldiers will wince when they see it used encyclopedically. Would anyone object to merging this article with Ammunition, or changing the title to something else?

I know a merge would be a lot of work, but I'll do what I can. And the results would be a super-article worthy of being featured on the front page. Michael Z. 2005-03-19 15:38 Z

Better to let the two articles lie side by side. lest you end up with an over-size article. The intro to shell should explain what is technically incorrect about the term, then the article can go on to explain things for the layman -which is the intention of any "-pedia"
Explaining to the layman is the whole point, but perpetuating misconceptions or misnomers is definitely not. But now I'm wondering whether I'm thinking of shell being misused when referring to cartridges for small arms. Are there any artillery men out there who can confirm whether shell is a correct name for artillery ammunition? Michael Z. 2005-03-19 23:56 Z
Ian Hogg uses the term in that sense. Shell is the propelled bit; to my mind round is the whole thing including propelling charge. GraemeLeggett 10:45, 20 Mar 2005 (UTC)

The COD has a definition of shell as "explosive projectile or bomb for use in big gun or mortar" GraemeLeggett 16:20, 19 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Ian Hogg and Oxford are more than enough references for me. To quote Emily Litella: never mind. Michael Z. 2005-03-27 06:45 Z

A segestion to start a seperate entry, 'Shot (Projectile)' and move all non-shell projectiles (AP, APC, APCBC, APCR, APCNR, APDS and APFSDS) subsections to it, as none are actually shells!--NeilGibson 10:18, 15 January 2006 (UTC)


Would it be appropriate to create a secton for trajectories of various shells and such? Still new here, so I thought I'd ask. Dp76764 20:17, 18 August 2006 (UTC)

Shrapnel in WWI[edit]

I always heard that WWI's trench warfare led to the replacement of shrapnel shell with high explosive, is there any contradictory citations that could be provided? Wilhelm Ritter 20:55, 13 November 2006 (UTC)

I have heard this as well but can offer no attributable documentation. Supposedly the shrapnel shell had a modest charge of black powder, just sufficient to burst the case and scatter the payload of metal slugs just before the desired point of impact. Velocities were supposedly so low that shrapnel projectiles of this type often failed to break the skin, and so lacked the desired lethality; the shrapnel shells of this obsolete type were also very expensive to produce. But it was discovered that HE shells, basically hollow steel casings filled with (at the time) cast TNT or TNT flakes, produced sharp, jagged steel splinters traveling at multiples of the speed of sound, and so were considered to be more satisfactory.
A projectile with energy of 60 foot-pounds was considered by the British to be lethal. Projectiles were typically 1/41st of a pound. Hence to have 60 foot-pounds of energy, the bullet had to be travelling at 384 ft/sec (The square root of (60 squared, divided by 1/41)). This was the sum of the shell's velocity at maximum range + the small added velocity from the bursting charge (say 100 ft/sec) - typically about 6500 yards. Beyond this the bullets would lack velocity to be lethal. Part of the attraction of the shrapnel shell was limited risk of injury from friendly fire - the shells burst above attackers and the bullets only went forward. And shells accidentally bursting without firing (e.g. in a dump or through accident) would only impart a maximum of about 100 ft/sec to the bullets, i.e. not enough to be lethal.Rcbutcher (talk) 11:51, 1 March 2008 (UTC)

the components of a shell[edit]

What is the term for that brass or copper band fitted around the diameter of a shell near the base, whose purpose is to accept the rifling and spin the projectile? It's a French term. Borroulet? Bouroulet? Borrolette? Google has not been helpful, perhaps because I do not know how to spell the word.

The copper band around the projectile is called the "driving band" and part if it's purpose is to impart spin on the projectile in conjunction with the rifling. It’s made of a soft metal like copper so that the rifling actually engraves itself into the "driving band" and therefore spinning the projectile as it travels up the muzzle.

The other parts of the driving bands purpose is to ensure that the projectile is centred 

in the bore correctly. The driving band also holds the projectile in the bore so it doesn’t fall back on to the charge if the equipment is elevated to a high angle, and forms a means of forward obturation. That is, it stops the gases from the burning charge leaking around the projectile until sufficient pressure is built up to shoot the projectile down the barrel. Ever tried to fire a potato out of a potato gun with a potato that’s way too small for your barrel. Kind of like that.

As for bourrelet, I believe its French. It sounds French any way. It's a part of the projectile body. If you imagine the curved part of the projectile at the tip of a projectile, that’s called the "ogive" then you have a flatter bit past that where the curve starts to go to a flat area. That’s the "shoulder". Just on the other side of the "shoulder" is the "bourrelet". ".

British Pound system[edit]

The article makes comment "This usage continued into the 1950s". I am aware of the pound system being used in the Territorial Armed forces of the United Kingdom into the 1980's, and 25 punder guns still being used in ceremonial situations throughout the 1990's right up to the present day.

I have no specific reference material for this, save my own testimony, and wonder whether it needs recording into the article.

  • Note I was born in 1978, and so surpass the 1950's date given by at least 19 years :) *

Xelous - 15th August 2007.

Fuze is the usual English language spelling for ordnance igniters[edit]

Somebody keeps running a robot to change all occurrences of Fuze to Fuse. Fuze is the customary English language spelling for ammunition igniters. Fuses are something in an electrical layout.Rcbutcher (talk) 11:25, 1 March 2008 (UTC)

Fuzes detonate ordinance, fuses communicate fire. Both are proper when used distinctly and correctly. (talk) 04:14, 16 February 2010 (UTC)

H'mm, lets try from the beginning. First ordinance hasn't hurt anyone for a century or two but might well have annoyed them more recently. However, ordnance in some uses might, munition is a less confusing term because ordnance is the term for the barrel, breach and perhaps muzzlebrake assembly, and we don't want these bursting.

Next fuzes don't necessilly detonate, they may explode if the are using or ignite gunpowder, only high explosives detonate. Igniferous fuzes used a timer powder train, these were in use into the 1950s and called Fuzes, it said so on the ammo box.

So we'll change fuse back tio fuze because that is the correct usage for artillery and similar munitions.Nfe (talk) 09:38, 16 February 2010 (UTC)


APDS was developed by engineers working for the French Edgar Brandt company, and was fielded in two calibers (75 mm/57 mm for the Mle1897/33 75 mm anti-tank cannon, 37 mm/25 mm for several 37 mm gun types) just before the French-German armistice of 1940.

IIRC, this is not a discarding sabot type, the sabot remained with the round in flight right up to impact. APDS was developed in the UK and was first used in the 6 pdr and 17 pdr anti tank guns. Otherwise how did the Germans not come to hear of the French developments, APDS became the best anti-tank round there was right up to the 1980s, and AFAIR, the Germans never knew of it until they captured ammunition for these two guns from the British in 1944. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:38, 10 October 2009 (UTC)

203 mm?[edit]

The page says that there are no shells larger than 203 mm in use today. However, I do know that the Soviet Union made 240 mm mortars, and I am not sure they are completely out of use. Omeganian (talk) 15:07, 12 December 2009 (UTC)

The towed version is no longer in service. It has been replaced by tracked self propelled version, in which the barrel is lowered over the back of the vehicle. It's Russian designation is SM-240 Tyulpan (Tulip Tree) and the NATO designation is M1975. It is believe that the SM-240 fires a special concrete-pierce round. Range for the HE, Chemical and Concrete-Piercing projectiles is 9,700 meters. But their is an extended range round with rocket-assist with a reported range of 25,000 meters. The SM-240 has a very low rate of fire due to its loading procedure. --Jackehammond (talk) 07:25, 3 January 2010 (UTC)

Shell = Shot[edit]

"though modern usage includes large solid projectiles previously termed shot (AP, APCR, APCNR, APDS, APFSDS and proof shot)." where does this claim come from? The under-informed frequently use incorrect terms, nothing new here. This does not make it 'modern usage'.

Also need to consider the place of mortar bombs. In some languages I think the terms for shell and mortar bomb are the same, granate in German may be an example (and this term certainly doesn't include shot!).Nfe (talk) 09:31, 26 February 2010 (UTC)

This item is still fundametnally flawed. It correctly recognises that shell is different to shot. It then includes shot on the flimsy premise of 'modern usage' without offering a shred of evidence to support this claim. All the shot stuff should be deleted or moved to a new entry.Nfe (talk) 12:08, 3 June 2011 (UTC)

Some (mainly American) people use the term 'shell' erroneously to mean the entire round. Even worse, some refer to 'shotgun shells' meaning the shotgun's cartridges which is of course anachronistic, as shotguns only fire solid shot, i.e., multiple pellets. This is probably a result of the US using the English language more loosely than we on the 'other side of the pond'. Whether US armourers use these terms themselves I don't know. This may also be the reason why the US refers to mortar bombs as 'mortar shells'. The UK term 'mortar bomb' is used because the projectile is finned unlike a shell.
The correct armourer's terms basically differentiate between a large solid projectile used mainly for armour piercing purposes as shot, whilst a shell is a hollow projectile and contains an explosive or other filling. It's quite simple, shot is solid, shell is hollow. A shell surrounds something.
In short, shot is the same as a very large bullet, whilst a shell goes 'bang!' or something similar when it strikes.
Having written all this, the reader is free to call these things whatever they want. But the precise meanings have important uses in the armament and military fields. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:42, 16 June 2011 (UTC)

Firework Shell[edit]

I'm not sure what the biggest shell allowed for consumer fireworks is, but I know here in PA, we have 3" firework shells for consumer firework displays that are legal if you have a driver's license, and a firework permit, So I think the section about American fireworks should be changed. (talk) 02:39, 18 June 2011 (UTC)Ethan

Added info[edit]

Added this:

Recovering shells Shells of various types of munition are generally made from pure cupper. Due to the high value of this material, some countries instruct their soldiers to recover most or even all of the shells. For example, in 2011, the Belgian army recovered 65000 euro worth of shells.[1] Additional advantages of the recovering of spent shells are the decreasing of environmental pollution (littering) by the army, and the fact that the shells can not be reused by locals (ie to make IED's). Also, in the event that depleted uranium were to (have) be(en) present in the shells, radiation is eliminated, and finally soldiers themselves do not give away the positions they occupied during a battle, making it more difficult for the enemy to study their assault technique.

There are a few problems with the good-faith addition (which another user removed). First, this article is about artillery shells, which are the projectiles themselves—not the cartridge casing, which stays behind after the shot and is ejected from the gun onto the ground nearby. Second, what they are talking about in that Nieuwsblad article is the cartridge casings from small arms, such as shoulder weapons (carbines, assault rifles) and pistols. The Nieuwsblad article is not focused on the cartridge casings of artillery (although I have no doubt that artillery crews do routinely collect their casings, except perhaps in heavy combat). Third, the assertion that [small arms] cartridge casings "are generally made from pure copper" is wrong, to my knowledge. Although the Nieuwsblad article quotes an army spokeswoman as talking about "pure copper", cartridge casings are typically brass, not pure copper, although of course the value of recycling them is still obvious regardless of which alloy is used (there is still plenty of copper and zinc to be recycled). This content and its reference could be useful, with some editing corrections, over at the cartridge (firearms) article. Thanks for making the effort, anyway. — ¾-10 00:10, 24 July 2012 (UTC)
I suspect the original anon IP editor was yet another "GF logged-out edit" by user:KVDP, an editor whose WP:COMPETENCE is way below adding anything to anywhere (demonstrated repeatedly over the last few years). If tracking their roaming IP edits wasn't like trying to nail jelly to a wall, then I'd be in favour of a community ban. Their vast additions of utter nonsense are more trouble than the vandals. Andy Dingley (talk) 12:46, 1 August 2012 (UTC)

Talk:8.8 cm Flak 18/36/37/41 using shrapnel shells[edit]

Wasn't this gun used specifically as an antipersonnel weapon by the wehrmacht and weren't its shells in this capacity of the outlawed shrapnel type. My late father was wounded on the Siegfried Line in September 1944 and claimed that to be true.--johncheverly 20:41, 21 September 2012 (UTC)johncheverly/9/21/12/4:40pm. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Johncheverly (talkcontribs)

What 'outlawed shrapnel'? The shrapnel article makes no mention of it being outlawed. The were incendiary shrapnel type shells for 88mm FLAK but they weren't very effective and the improved version didn't enter service before the war ended.Nfe (talk) 03:04, 22 September 2012 (UTC)

removed claim pending sources[edit]

The following is such a specific and assertive claim 3 months ago by an unsigned user, that it cannot be allowed to remain on display when it is completely unverified, not to mention slightly ridiculous. Considering the only need for fins is with long rod pentrators and the use long rod penetrators was restricted to bunker busting through concentrate with very large rochling shells, it simply does not add up.

Also which British major? which battle? where are the results from the after battle report of the tanks by the techs who check every single tank kill for evidence of what happened to it?

Yes the Germans devloped sabot, first for their anti aircraft guns, to increase the maximum altitude Yes the Germans had experimental fin stabalised sub caliber sabot HE rounds for increased range. Yes the Germans had long rod penatration shells for bunkers, called PGG which were huge and fired from superguns.

All of the above can be easily verified, but the claim that the germans were using APFSDS in tank guns and anti tank guns is proving elusive to put it mildly, so we should not be filling peoples heads with it.

removed section. Originally developed by the Germans in World War 2,[citation needed] as PzGr.44., it was designed to be fired by German 88 mm, 105 mm and 128 mm tank and anti-tank guns. Extensive Rheinmetall-Borsig range tests were conducted and these were recovered by the Allies after the war's end. The earliest documented evidence of use is of a spent PzGr.44. APFSDS "dart" being discovered stuck into the ground by a British army major after a tank battle, Germany in February 1944. A APFSDSHE version was also under development for the Kriegsmarine in 1945.

Another spin off development was the Fin Stabilised Descarding Sabot High Explosive (FSDSHE) shell intended to increase the range, with obvious reduction of explosive potential, of German artillery. It is not known if FSDSHE was ever produced or used in combat.

Kyphen (talk) 15:50, 8 January 2013 (UTC)

Tank battles in Germany in Feb 1944? With British majors in attendance? Andy Dingley (talk) 18:36, 8 January 2013 (UTC)
Kyphen, you did the right thing. If something is unsourced and seems dubious or you suspect it is biased, it should be completely removed on the spot. --Kubanczyk (talk) 20:48, 8 January 2013 (UTC)

Meaning of sentence in paragraph no. 5 of the "History" section?[edit]

The sentence in paragraph no. 5 of the "History" section beginning "English inventor notable Armstrong, Whitworth and Lancaster ..." (marked by me with "[?]") has been edited into senselessness; would the article author care to fix this? Epischedda (talk) 11:44, 18 February 2013 (UTC)

Types of explosives used in shells?[edit]

Certainly this article's "History" section could bear some delineation of the different explosives used in explosive shells. Gunpowder was used up to when? When did TNT become favored, and why? Answers to questions like these are the main reason I sought this article and they remain lacking. Epischedda (talk) 13:19, 18 February 2013 (UTC)

La crise de l'obus torpille / Brisanzgranatenkrise[edit]

I am no native speaker; therefore; I ask so. else to bring the following into the article:

when new explosives were discovered and used in 'Brisanzgranaten' – especially Pikrinsäure (TNP), the ancestor of TNT – a feeling of crisis came up among military in France (La crise de l'obus torpille, source [1]) ; in Germany [ Brisanzgranatenkrise. The french army shelled the Fort de Malmaison to test the new grenades and had to discover that almost any brickwork was damaged or destroyed. The french 'Barrière de fer' built after the franco-gerrman war 1870/71 lost a big part of its value. Some parts of the forts / blockhouses were fortified with extra hard concrete.

At the beginning of WW I, the german army sieged the Fort of Maubeuge. Two weeks after the shelling began it had to capitulate. Around 1890, a fort was built in the Sanssouci Park as a model to demonstrate which types of hard-facing against brisance shells were possible / imaginable.

--Neun-x (talk) 14:30, 20 March 2013 (UTC)

Increasing HE content[edit]

" The key requirement for increasing the HE content without increasing shell weight was to reduce the thickness of shell walls, this required improvements in high tensile steel."

I don't understand. Had the shells not been completely filled before or what? It might be helpful to clear up if "content" in this context means a percentage of the weight (probably) or a fraction of the volume.

It is a load of poo really, it does nothing but blow people up and kill them. What's the fun of that?

″Just stop all this nonsense″ that's what I say! now go look at some ponies okay. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:08, 1 December 2014 (UTC)

  1. ^ Het Nieuwsblad, 23 juli 2012, Leger verdient 65.000 euro aan oud ijzer