The Physics
Factbook
An encyclopedia of scientific essays

Speed of an Artillery Shell

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Cart wright, Michael. Physics at Shiloh High. Mindspring. 1997. "An artillery shell has a mass of 5 kg.The shell is fired from the muzzle of a gun with a velocity of 770m/s.The gun barrel is 1.5 m long." 770 m/s
O'Malley, T J. Artillery: Guns and Rocket Systems. n.p.: Merlin Publications, 2000: 16-17. "Начальная скорасть снаряда 1575 м/с 100-мм противотановые пушки T-12, буксируеые гусеничными тягачами MT-ЛБ" 1575 m/s
Pittety, Viimeksi. Presentation of Equipment: Artillery. The Finnish Defense Forces. 13 January 2003. "The armoured howitzer … muzzle velocity at maximum charge 680 m/s" 680 m/s
Goebel, Greg. Space Guns.Federation of American Scientists. May 1998. "By 1918 Germany had developed an artillery piece of unprecedented range.This weapon was known as the Wilhelmgeshuetze or Paris Gun. The Paris Gun fired a 106 kg shell, driven by a explosive charge of 200 kgs that produced an acceleration of 7500 gees and a muzzle velocity of almost 6000 km/hr." 1667 m/s
Bridges, Andrew. Army's Laser Shoots Down Shell. Government Technology. 25 May 2002. "Defense officials who used a laser to shoot an artillery shell out of the sky last week. The shell moving at about 1000 mph was tracked by radar and heat sensing infrared sensors, then was locked onto and exploded by the laser beam traveling at light speed." 444 m/s

An artillery piece is a firearm just as a rifle only much, much bigger. The barrel gives the projectile its direction. After the projectile has left the barrel, it flies to the target unguided. Today however there are also "smart" guidable projectiles. The effect of a projectile on its target is determined by the kinetic energy of the projectile or the explosive charge in it.

The caliber of a gun refers to the diameter of its barrel. It is usually given in millimeters (mm). The smallest caliber handgun is 2 mm, for example. Barrel length divide artillery into three basic classes: cannons, howitzers and mortars. These classes are further divided by diameter into light, heavy and super heavy.

artillery caliber (mm) length (calibers)
cannon, light < 100 > 20
cannon, heavy 100-150  
cannon, super heavy > 150  
howitzer, light < 150 12-20
howitzer, heavy 150-200  
howitzer, super heavy > 200  
mortar - < 12

A cannon is usually a weapon, which has a barrel length of at least 20 calibers. The longer barrels make the cannons heavier than howitzers, but gives them superior range. This gives them higher muzzle velocity. The cannons fire usually with a flatter trajectory than howitzers.

Howitzers usually have a barrel length between 12-20 calibers, making the howitzers lighter than cannons. Howitzers usually have higher maximum elevations than cannons, and are often fired with higher elevations and rough and hilly terrain.

Mortars are simple artillery weapons. Mortars have a barrel length under 12 calibers. The mortars are relatively light weapons and this makes them extremely useful in rugged terrain. The short barrel and lower firing pressure restricts the maximum ranges of mortars to much shorter than the ranges of other artillery pieces.

The speed of these artillery shells can reach up to speeds of about 1600 m/s or, in English units, about one mile per second.

Gabriela Bis -- 2003