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Encyclopedia > Shrapnel
A sectioned Shrapnel shell displayed at the Canadian War Museum, Ottawa
A sectioned Shrapnel shell displayed at the Canadian War Museum, Ottawa

Shrapnel is the term commonly used to describe the metal fragments and debris thrown out by any exploding object, be it a high explosive (HE) filled shell or a homemade bomb wrapped with nails or ball bearings. Image File history File links Please see the file description page for further information. ... Fragmentation is the process by which the casing of an artillery shell, bomb, grenade, etc is shattered by the detonating high explosive filling. ... Image File history File linksMetadata Download high-resolution version (2272x1704, 920 KB) Schnittmodell einer de:Brisanzgranate. ... Image File history File linksMetadata Download high-resolution version (2272x1704, 920 KB) Schnittmodell einer de:Brisanzgranate. ... The Canadian War Museum in Ottawa, Canada. ... Motto: Advance Ottawa/Ottawa en avant Location of the City of Ottawa in the Province of Ontario Coordinates: Country Canada Province Ontario Established 1850 as Town of Bytown Incorporated 1855 as City of Ottawa Amalgamated January 1, 2001 Government  - Mayor Larry OBrien  - City Council Ottawa City Council  - Representatives 8... Shrapnel is the spherical shot or musket balls dispersed when a shrapnel shell bursts. ... This article is concerned solely with chemical explosives. ... A shell is a projectile, which, as opposed to a bullet, contains an explosive or other filling, though modern usage includes large solid projectiles previously termed shot (AP, APCR, APCNR, APDS, APFSDS and Proof shot). ...


Origin of term

The word shrapnel is derived from the name of Major-General Henry Shrapnel (1761–1842), an English artillery officer, whose experiments—initially conducted in his own time, and at his own expense—culminated in the design and development of a new type of artillery shell. Henry Shrapnel (1761 - March 13, 1842) was a British Army officer and inventor Henry Shrapnel was born in Wiltshire, England. ... Motto (French) God and my right Anthem God Save the King (Queen) England() – on the European continent() – in the United Kingdom() Capital (and largest city) London (de facto) Official languages English (de facto) Government Constitutional monarchy  -  Queen Queen Elizabeth II  -  Prime Minister Tony Blair MP Unification  -  by Athelstan 967  Area... Artillery with Gabion fortification Cannons on display at Fort Point Continental Artillery crew from the American Revolution Firing of an 18-pound gun, Louis-Philippe Crepin, (1772 – 1851) A forge-welded Iron Cannon in Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu. ...

The term "Shrapnel" originally referred only to the the spherical shot or musket balls dispersed when a shrapnel shell bursts, and this is still the technical meaning of the term, although it is now used to describe all types of high velocity debris thrown out from an explosion, and makes no differentiation to the process which created or produced the debris. Muskets and bayonets aboard the frigate Grand Turk. ...

Dictionary definition

The Oxford English Dictionary documents that the term Shrapnel is often used to describe fragments or shot intentionally included in explosive devices, such as pipe casings, nails, or ball bearings. The Oxford English Dictionary print set The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) is a dictionary published by the Oxford University Press (OUP), and is generally regarded as the most comprehensive and scholarly dictionary of the English language. ... Look up nail in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... A 4 point contact ball bearing A ball bearing is a common type of rolling-element bearing, a kind of bearing. ...

For shells, bombs or other munitions, the technical term for these particles is fragments, splinters or shards, fragments being the preferred name in scientific documents on the subject.

Another term which can be used to describe a particle other than a bullet which causes a wound is "bomb fragment" or "bomb shard". These terms also include items which were not part of the original explosive device, but which are propelled as projectiles by the force of the explosive or impact.

Development of shrapnel shell

In 1784 Lieutenant Shrapnel of the Royal Artillery began the course to develop an anti-personnel weapon. At the time artillery could use "canister shot" or "case-shot" also known as grape shot, to defend themselves from infantry or cavalry attack. 1784 was a leap year starting on Thursday (see link for calendar). ... Tactical Recognition Flash of the Royal Artillery The Royal Regiment of Artillery, generally known as the Royal Artillery (RA), is, despite its name, a corps of the British Army. ... An anti-personnel weapon is one primarily used to injure or kill people. ... Canister shot was a kind of anti-personnel ammunition used in cannons. ... Examples of case shot Caseshot is a projectile used in ordnance for fighting at close quarters. ... Grapeshot was a kind of anti-personnel ammunition used in cannons, was similar to canister shot. ... Infantry of the Royal Irish Rifles during the Battle of the Somme in World War I. Infantry are soldiers who fight primarily on foot with small arms in organized military units, though they may be transported to the battlefield by horses, ships, automobiles, skis, or other means. ... Soldiers or warriors who fought mounted on horseback in combat are commonly known as cavalry (from French cavalerie). ...

Instead of a cannonball, a tin or canvas container filled with small iron or lead balls was loaded. When fired, the container burst open during passage through the bore or at the muzzle, giving the effect of an oversized shotgun shell. At ranges of up to 300 m canister shot was still highly lethal, though at this range the shots’ density was much lower, making a hit on a human target less likely. At longer ranges, solid shot or the common shell — a hollow cast iron sphere filled with black powder — was used, although with more of a concussive than a fragmentation effect, as the pieces of the shell were very large and sparse in number. Cannonball can refer to: The ammunition for a cannon. ... A shotgun shell is a self-contained cartridge loaded with shot or a slug designed to be fired from a shotgun. ... The metre (or meter, see spelling differences) is a measure of length. ... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged with Blackpowder. ...

Shrapnel's innovation was to combine the multi-projectile shotgun effect of canister shot, with a delayed-action fuse to take the effect of canister shot to the enemy at a distance. His shell was a hollow cast-iron sphere filled with a mixture of balls and powder, with a crude time fuse. If the fuse was set correctly then the shell would break open, either in front or above the intended target, releasing its contents (of musket balls). The shrapnel balls would carry on with the "remaining velocity" of the shell. In addition to a denser pattern of musket balls, the retained velocity could be higher as well, since the shrapnel shell as a whole would likely have a higher ballistic coefficient than the individual musket balls (see external ballistics). In an explosive device, a fuse (or fuze) is the part of the device that causes it to function. ... Muskets and bayonets aboard the frigate Grand Turk. ... The ballistic coefficient (BC) is the mass of the object divided by the diameter squared that it presents to the airflow divided by a dimensionless constant i that relates to the shape. ... External ballistics is the part of ballistics tht refers to the behavior of a bullet after it exits the barrel and before it hits the target. ...

The explosive charge in the shell was to be just enough to break the casing rather than scatter the shot in all directions. As such his invention increased the effective range of canister shot from 300 to about 1100 m.

He called his device 'spherical case' shot, but in time it came to be called after him; a position formalised in 1852 by the British Government.

Initial designs suffered from the potentially catastrophic problem that friction between the shot and black powder during the high acceleration down the gun bore could sometimes cause premature ignition of the powder. This problem was overcome by placing the powder within a central metal tube, or a separate area within the hollow shell. As a buffer to prevent lead shot deforming, a resin was used as a packing material between the shot. A useful side effect of using the resin was that the combustion also gave a visual reference upon the shell bursting, as the resin shattered into a cloud of dust.

British artillery adoption

It took until 1803 for the British artillery to adopt it, albeit with great enthusiasm when it did. Shrapnel was promoted to Major in the same year. The Duke of Wellington used it beginning in 1808 against Napoleon, including in the Battle of Waterloo, and wrote admiringly of its effectiveness. 1803 was a common year starting on Saturday (see link for calendar). ... Major is a military rank the use of which varies according to country. ... Field Marshal Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, KG, GCB, GCH, PC, FRS (c. ... 1808 was a leap year starting on Friday (see link for calendar). ... For other uses, see Napoleon (disambiguation). ... Combatants France Seventh Coalition: United Kingdom Prussia United Netherlands Hanover Nassau Brunswick Commanders Napoleon Bonaparte Michel Ney Duke of Wellington Gebhard von Blücher Strength 73,000 67,000 Coalition 60,000 Prussian (48,000 engaged by about 18:00) Casualties 25,000 dead or wounded; 7,000 Captured; 15...

The design was improved by Captain E M Boxer RA in the 1840s and crossed over when cylindrical shells for rifled guns were introduced. // Events and Trends Technology First use of general anesthesia in an operation, by Crawford Long The first electrical telegraph sent by Samuel Morse on May 24, 1844 from Baltimore to Washington, D.C.. War, peace and politics First signing of the Treaty of Waitangi (Te Tiriti o Waitangi) on February...

Later designs

For use with cylindrical shells, the design was slightly modified; the new hollow cylindrical shells had a nose mounted time fuse, a central flash channel around which the resin-encased shrapnel balls were placed, and a hollow containing black powder at the base, above which was a plate that was joined in the centre to the flash tube. At a preselected time during flight, the fuse functioned — the flash was directed down the central tube and ignited the rear powder charge. The powder charge was just enough to shear the fuse threads or pins, and force the shrapnel balls out. The vast majority of the balls' velocity came from the terminal velocity of the shell. Once loosed, the shrapnel balls became a cone of spherical bullets following the line of fire, creating an oval pattern upon striking the ground. Though highly effective against unprotected troops, they were useless when the troops are protected by cover, such as in trenches, although they had a suppressive effect. By the late 19th Century bullets were usually an alloy, typically lead and antimony, which was harder than lead and gave somewhat better penetration.

World War I era

During the initial stages of World War I, shrapnel was widely used by all sides to attack troops in the open, trench warfare reduced its use as high explosive shell became the predominant type of 'explosive' shell used. While shrapnel made no impression of trenches and other earthworks it remained the favoured weapon of the British (at least) to support their infantry assaults. It prevented the Germans manning their trench parapets and was less hazardous to the assaulting British infantry than HE. Shrapnel being non-cratering was also advantageous in an assault. Shrapnel was also useful against counter-attacks, working parties and any other troops in the open. However, shrapnel was unable to cut the barbed wire entanglements in no man's land, defeat troops under protection, or destroy positions all of which were required in the preliminary bombardment to an attack. “The Great War” redirects here. ... A selection of forms of barbed wire. ... 29th Infantry Battalion, 2nd Division, Canadian Corps. ...

With the advent of relatively insensitive high explosives which could be used as the filling for shells, it was found that the casing of a properly designed high explosive shell fragmented effectively. However, this fragmentation was often lost when shells penetrated soft ground and becasue some fragments went in all directions it was a hazard to assaulting troops. For example, the detonation of an average 105 mm shell produces several thousand high velocity (1,000 to 1,500 m/s) fragments, a lethal (at close range) blast overpressure and, if a surface or sub-surface burst, a useful cratering and anti-material effect — all in a munition much less complex to make than the later versions of the shrapnel shell.

One item of note is the 'Universal Shell', a type of field gun shell developed by Krupp of Germany in the early 1900s. This shell could function as either a shrapnel shell, or high explosive projectile. The shell had a modified fuse and instead of resin as the packing between the shrapnel balls, TNT was used. When the fuse was set to time, the fuse functioned in the normal way, ejecting the balls and igniting (not detonating) the TNT, the TNT giving a visual puff of black smoke. In impact mode the TNT filling was detonated, so becoming an high explosive shell with a very large amount of low velocity fragmentation and a milder blast. Again due to its complexity, it was dropped in favour of the simple high explosive shell. For the U.S. town, see Krupp, Washington. ... R-phrases S-phrases Related Compounds Related compounds picric acid hexanitrobenzene Except where noted otherwise, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 Â°C, 100 kPa) Infobox disclaimer and references Trinitrotoluene (TNT) is a chemical compound with the formula C6H2(NO2)3CH3. ...

World War II era

By World War II shrapnel shells, in the strict sense of the word, fell out of use, the last recorded use of shrapnel being 60 pdr shells fired in Burma in 1943. A new shrapnel shell, Mk 3D a steamlined shell had been developed for 60 pdr in the early 1930s, it contained 760 bullets of 41/lb size. There was some use of shrapnel by the British in the campaigns in East and North East Africa at the beginning of the war where 18-pdr and 4.5-inch Howitzers were used. In 1945 the British conducted successful trials with shrapnel shells fuzed with VT. However, shrapnel was not developed for any of the post World War I guns. Combatants Allied powers: China France Great Britain Soviet Union United States and others Axis powers: Germany Italy Japan and others Commanders Chiang Kai-shek Charles de Gaulle Winston Churchill Joseph Stalin Franklin Roosevelt Adolf Hitler Benito Mussolini Hideki Tōjō Casualties Military dead: 17,000,000 Civilian dead: 33,000... 1943 (MCMXLIII) was a common year starting on Friday (the link is to a full 1943 calendar). ...

Vietnam era

Although not strictly shrapnel, a 1960s weapons project produced splintex shells for 90 and 106 mm RCLs and for 105 mm Howitzer where it was called 'Beehive'. Unlike the shrapnel shells’ balls, the splintex shell contained flechettes. The result was the 105 mm M546 APERS-T, first used in the Vietnam in 1966. The shell consisted of approximately 8,000 half gram flechettes, these arranged in five tiers, a time fuse, body shearing detonators, central flash tube, smokeless propellant charge with a dye marker contained in the base and tracer element. The functioning of the shell was as follows; the time fuse fires, flash sent down the flash tube, shearing detonators fire, and the forward body splits into four pieces, body and first four tiers dispersed by the projectile's spin, last tier and visual marker by the powder charge. The flechettes spread, mainly due to spin, from the point of burst in an ever widening cone along the projectile's previous trajectory prior to burst. The round is a highly effective anti-personnel weapon, but complex to make. It is said that the name beehive was given to the munition type due to the noise of the flechettes moving through the air resembling that of a swam of angry bees. The word flechette is French and means dart (literally, little arrow). It is a projectile having the form of a small metal dart, usually steel, with a sharp-pointed tip and a tail with several vanes to stabilize it during flight. ...

Modern era

Soviet shell of 125 mm for tanks

Though shrapnel rounds are now rarely used, there are other modern rounds, apart from the Beehive shell, that use, or have used the shrapnel principle. The DM 111 20 mm cannon round used for close range air defence, the flechette filled 40 mm HVCC (40 x 53 mm HV grenade), the 35 mm cannon (35 × 228 mm) AHEAD ammunition (152 x 3.3 g tungsten cylinders), RWM Schweiz 30 × 173 mm Air-Bursting munition, 5-Inch Shotgun Projectile (KE-ET) and possibility many more. Also many modern armies have canister shot ammunition for tank and artillery guns, the XM1028 round for the 120 mm M256 tank gun being one example (approx 1150 tungsten balls at 1400 m/s). Image File history File links 125mm_he-frag_OF-19. ... Image File history File links 125mm_he-frag_OF-19. ...

At least some Anti-Ballistic Missiles (ABMs) use shrapnel like warhead instead of the more common blast/fragmentation (blast/frag) type. As with a blast/frag warhead, the use of this type of warhead does not require a direct body-on-body impact, so greatly reducing tracking and steering accuracy requirements. An anti-ballistic missile (ABM) is a missile designed to counter ballistic missiles. ...

At a predetermined distance from the incoming re-entry vehicle (RV) the warhead releases, in the case of the ABM warhead by an explosive expulsion charge, an array of mainly rod-like sub-projectiles into the RV's flight path.

Unlike a blast/frag warhead, the expulsion charge is only needed to release the sub-projectiles from the main warhead, not to accelerate them to high velocity. The velocity required to penetrate the RV's casing comes from the high terminal velocity of the warhead, similar to the shrapnel shell's principle.

The reason for the use of this type of warhead and not a blast/frag is that the fragments produced by a blast/frag warhead cannot guarantee penetration of the RV's casing. By using rod like sub-projectiles, a much greater thickness of material can be penetrated, greatly increasing the potential for disruption of the incoming RV.

Other uses of term

Shrapnel is also British English slang for loose change. British English (BrE) is a broad term used to distinguish the forms of the English language used in the United Kingdom from forms used elsewhere. ...

See also

Look up shrapnel in
Wiktionary, the free dictionary.

  Results from FactBites:
Shrapnel - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (1491 words)
Shrapnel shell for 18-pdr QF In 1784 Lieutenant Shrapnel began the course to develop an anti-personnel weapon.
The dropping of the shrapnel shell from use was due to the advent of trench warfare, the shrapnel was unable to cut the barbed wire entanglements in no man's land, crater the ground, or to defeat troops under cover, all of which were required as a precursor to an attack.
On october 16th, 1944 a shrapnel shell was used in a bombing on Kerkrade, The Netherlands.
  More results at FactBites »



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