The Physics
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Range of an Artillery Shell

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Serway, Raymond A. & Beichner, Robert J. Physics for Scientists and Engineers with Modern Physics. 5th Edition. Orlando, FL: Saunders College Publishing, 2000: 102. "An artillery shell with an initial velocity of 300 m/s at 55 degrees above the horizontal. It explodes on a mountainside 42.0 s after firing. What are the x and coordinates of the shell where it explodes relative to its firing point?" 9180 m
Bussier, Frances M. "Mortar." World Book Online America's Edition. Chicago: World Book, Inc. 2002. "Mortars are light, can be moved easily, and have a great fire power. For example, the 81-mm mortar can fire an 11 lb (5 kg) shell nearly 3 miles (4.8 km)." 4800 m
The Diagram Group. "Artillery." Weapons An International Encyclopedia from 5000 BC To 2000 AD Updated Edition. New York: Diagram Visual, 1980. "Copperhead, the first of its kind has been in the US artillery service since 1980, its range is 10 miles (16 km)." 16,000 m
Wendel, Svante. Svante Wendel's Unofficial Swedish Army Page. "The 80 mm mortar is used in the Army's ranger units. It fires HE, smoke and illumination shells. The mortar can be taken apart and carried by the crew. Range is approximately 6 km." 6000 m

What is an artillery? No, it's not "the thing like the vein" that brings blood to the heart. That's an artery. An artillery is a large weapon used by ground, air, or naval forces such as large guns, mortars, Howitzers, rocket launchers, or overall cannons. Like the gun, the mortar is a cannon that fires projectiles. This projectile is called a shell and is fired in a high arcing trajectory that allows the shell to travel past obstacles to its target over a certain amount of distance or range. As a result, the range of an artillery shell depends on the weapon in use and the time period of the artillery, for with time comes advancements in technology and weaponry. Through much research, various ranges of artillery shells have been found on distinct weapons and their time.

Range is equal to the horizontal velocity multiplied by the time. The time a projectile is in the air is determined from its initial vertical velocity. For example…

vx = vicosθ = (300 m/s) × (cos 55°) = 172 m/s
vy = visinθ = (300 m/s) × (sin 55°) = 246 m/s
t = 2·vy/g = (2 × 246 m/s)/(9.8 m/s2) = 50.2 s
x = range = vxt = 172 m/s × 50.2 s = 8640 m

Overall, as a result of these great advances in increasing the ranges of artillery shells overtime, arm troops are now able to stay farther away from the enemy and still manage to cause great and devastating damages to enemy turfs. However, more civilians can also be killed in the process where long-ranging exploding artillery shells can impact nearby towns, cities, or villages.

War is around the corner and terrorism at its peak, the more one knows, the better it is. And in conclusion that determines the significance of researching, investigating and analyzing the range of an artillery shell in the past and the present. How far we will range? Only the future can tell what science will bring.

Nickisha N. Berlus -- 2002