Shrapnel shell


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 (albeit with great enthusiasm) the shrapnel shell (as "spherical case").


The first recorded use of shrapnel by the British was in 1804 against the Dutch at Fort Nieuw-Amsterdam in Suriname.


The Duke of Wellington's armies used it from 1808 in the Peninsular War and at the Battle of Waterloo, and he wrote admiringly of its effectiveness. The design was improved by Captain E.


As such his invention increased the effective range of canister shot from to about . He called his device 'spherical case shot', but in time it came to be called after him; a nomenclature 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.

However, in 1852 Colonel Boxer proposed using a diaphragm to separate the bullets from the bursting charge; this proved successful and was adopted the following year.

Boxer of the Royal Arsenal around 1852 and crossed over when cylindrical shells for rifled guns were introduced.


Lieutenant-Colonel Boxer adapted his design in 1864 to produce shrapnel shells for the new rifled muzzle-loader (RML) guns: the walls were of thick cast iron, but the gunpowder charge was now in the shell base with a tube running through the centre of the shell to convey the ignition flash from the time fuze in the nose to the gunpowder charge in the base.


The system had major limitations: the thickness of the iron shell walls limited the available carrying capacity for bullets but provided little destructive capability, and the tube through the centre similarly reduced available space for bullets. In the 1870s William Armstrong provided a design with the bursting charge in the head and the shell wall made of steel and hence much thinner than previous cast-iron shrapnel shell walls.


Britain adopted this solution for several smaller calibres (below 6-inch) but by World War I few if any such shells remained. The final shrapnel shell design, adopted in the 1880s, bore little similarity to Henry Shrapnel's original design other than its spherical bullets and time fuse.

During the 1880s, when both the old cast-iron and modern forged-steel shrapnel shell designs were in British service, British ordnance manuals referred to the older cast-iron design as "Boxer shrapnel", apparently to differentiate it from the modern steel design. The modern thin-walled forged-steel design made feasible shrapnel shells for howitzers, which had a much lower velocity than field guns, by using a larger gunpowder charge to accelerate the bullets forward on bursting.


However, this fragmentation was often lost when shells penetrated soft ground, and because some fragments went in all directions it was a hazard to assaulting troops. ===Variations=== One item of note is the "universal shell", a type of field gun shell developed by Krupp of Germany in the early 1900s.


This design came to be adopted by all countries and was in standard use when World War I began in 1914.

It was the only type of shell available for British field guns (13-pounder, 15 pounder and 18-pounder) until October 1914.

However, the onset of trench warfare from late 1914 led to most armies decreasing their use of shrapnel in favour of high-explosive.


This was called 'neutralization' and by the second half of 1915 had become the primary task of artillery supporting an attack.

This perception was reinforced by the successful deployment of shrapnel shells against Germany's barbed wire entanglements in the 1915 Battle of Neuve Chapelle, but the Germans thickened their barbed wire strands after that battle.

Douglas Hamilton mentions this shell type in passing, as "not as common as other types" in his comprehensive treatises on manufacturing shrapnel and high explosive shells of 1915 and 1916, but gives no manufacturing details.


5 Wire-cutting" was issued in June 1916.

Douglas Hamilton mentions this shell type in passing, as "not as common as other types" in his comprehensive treatises on manufacturing shrapnel and high explosive shells of 1915 and 1916, but gives no manufacturing details.


3 Artillery in Offensive Operations", issued in February 1917 with added detail including the amount of ammunition required per yard of wire frontage.

Nor does Ethan Viall in 1917.


Hence the US appears to have ceased its manufacture early in the war, presumably based on the experience of other combatants. ==World War II era== A new British streamlined shrapnel shell, Mk 3D, had been developed for BL 60 pounder gun in the early 1930s, containing 760 bullets.


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.


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. ==Vietnam War era== Although not strictly shrapnel, a 1960s weapons project produced splintex shells for 90 and 106 mm recoilless rifles and 105 mm [where it was called a "

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