Shrapnel - what is it? What does shrapnel look like?

The article describes what shrapnel means when this type of projectile was used and how it differs from the others.


Mankind is fighting for almostthe whole time of its existence. In ancient and modern history there was not a single century that passed without this or that war. And unlike animals or our human ancestors, people exterminate each other for various reasons, and not just for the sake of the banal living space. Religious and political strife, racial hatred and so on. With the growth of technical progress, the methods of waging war have changed greatly, and the bloodiest ones began precisely after the invention of gunpowder and firearms.

At one time, even primitive muskets and cannons,shooting shot, significantly changed the methods of fighting and tactics. Simply put, they put an end to the era of chivalry with its armor and long battles. After all, what is the point of carrying heavy armor, if they do not protect from a rifle bullet or cannonball?

For a long time, weapons masters tried to improvethe design of guns, but it turned out only in the second half of the XIX century, when artillery shells became unitary, and the trunks - rifled. But the real technological breakthrough in the sphere of artillery ammunition was made by shrapnel. What this is and how such shells are arranged, we will disassemble in the article.


shrapnel what is it?

Shrapnel is a special type of cannon shell,which is designed to defeat and destroy the enemy's manpower. The name he received in honor of his inventor, the British officer Henry Shrapnel. The main and distinctive feature of such an ammunition was that it exploded at a given distance and showered the enemy's forces with shells rather than shell fragments, and hundreds of steel balls that were scattered by a cone directed towards the ground, which is shrapnel. What it is, we now know, but we will consider in more detail the design features and history of the creation of such munitions.


what is shrapnel

At a time when powder artillery receivedwide distribution, one of its shortcomings was very clearly manifested - the nucleus, released on the enemies, did not possess sufficient damaging factors of a mass nature. Usually it killed only one or several people. In part, they tried to correct this by charging cannon with cannon, but in that case the range of its flight fell heavily. Everything changed when they started using shrapnel. What it is, we already know, but we will consider in more detail the design itself.

Initially, this projectile was aa cylindrical box made of wood, cardboard or thin metal, inside which steel balls and powder charge were stacked. Then a firing tube was inserted into the special hole, stuffed with slowly burning powder, which was ignited at the moment of the shot. Simply put, it was a primitive fuse-retarder, and by adjusting the length of the tube, it was possible to calculate the height and range at which the projectile would rupture, and he would throw the striking elements on the enemy. So, we sorted out the question of what shrapnel means.

This type of shell very quickly proved itsefficiency. After all, now it was not necessary to get into anyone at all, the main thing is to calculate the length of the ignition tube and the distance, and there the steel grapes will do their thing. The year 1803 is considered to be the year of the invention of shrapnel.

Cutting tools

what does shrapnel mean

However, for all the effectiveness of the liveforces of new types of shells, they were far from perfect. The length of the firing tube must be calculated very accurately, as well as the distance to the enemy; they often gave misfires due to the different composition of the powder or its defects, sometimes exploded early or did not ignite at all.

Then in 1871 the artilleryman Shklarevich based onthe general principle of shrapnel shells produced a new type of them - unitary and for rifled guns. Simply put, such an artillery shell of the "shrapnel" type was connected to the gunpowder by a liner and was charged through the breech of a gun. In addition, inside it was a new type of fuse, which did not give misfires. A special form of projectile threw out spherical bullets strictly along the axis of flight, and not in all directions, as before.

True, this type of ammunition was not deprivedshortcomings. The main thing was that the burning time could not be regulated, so, the artillery calculation had to carry different types of it for different distances, which was very inconvenient.

Adjustable undermining

It was fixed in 1873, when they inventeda blasting tube with a rotary adjusting ring. The meaning of it was that on the ring were marked divisions, denoting the distance. For example, if it was required to detonate the projectile at a distance of 300 meters, then the fuse was turned by a special key to the appropriate division. And this greatly facilitated the conduct of the battle, because the marks coincided with the notches in the artillery sight, and additional devices for determining the range were not required. And if necessary, installing the projectile for the minimum time of detonation, it was possible to shoot a cannon from a cannon, as from a boxer. There was also an explosion from a blow to the ground or other obstacle. What shrapnel looks like, you can see in the photo below.

what shrapnel looks like


Such shells were used from the very beginninginvention and until the end of the First World War. Despite their advantages over old solid-cast shells, it became clear over time that shrapnel also has shortcomings. For example, its striking elements were powerless against enemy soldiers, who were hiding in trenches, dugouts and in general any shelters. And poorly trained artillerymen often set the wrong firing time, and in production was expensive such a type of shells, like shrapnel. What is it, we dismantled.

shell-type artillery shell

Therefore, after the First World War shrapnel completely replaced the fragmentation shells with a blast-type fuse.

But in some weapons it stillwas used, for example, in the jumping German mine Sprengmine 35, - at the time of activation, the knock-out charge pushed a "glass" filled with spherical bullets to a height of about one and a half meters, and it exploded.

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