Advertisement

Ammunition

From Academic Kids

Missing image
Boxes_of_ammunition_iraq.jpg
Boxes of ammunition clog a warehouse in Baghdad

Ammunition is a generic military term meaning (the assembly of) a projectile and its propellant. It is derived through French from the Latin munire (to provide). Small projectiles, like those fired from rifles and handguns (collectively known as small arms), are called bullets. Large caliber guns often fire explosive-filled projectiles known as shells, the equivalent non-explosive projectile is a shot (see artillery). Large numbers of small projectiles intended to be fired all at once in a single discharge are also called shot; hand-held guns designed for this type of ammunition are generally known as shotguns.


Contents

General information

Missing image
Cartridges.jpg
5.56 mm ammunition

The design of the ammunition is determined by its purpose; anti-personnel ammunition is often designed to break up or tumble inside the target, in order to maximize the damage done. Anti-personnel shells contain shrapnel and are designed to explode in mid-air, so its fragments will spread over a large area. Armor-piercing ammunition tends to be hard, sharp, and narrow, often with lubrication. Incendiary projectiles include a material such as white phosphorus which burns fiercely. Tracer ammunition emits light as it travels, allowing the gunner to see the path of bullets in flight while using a machine gun.

Popular types of military rifle and machine-gun ammunition include the 5.45 mm, 5.56 mm, and 7.62 mm. Main battle tanks use KE-penetrators to combat other MBTs and armoured fighting vehicles, and HE-Frag (High Explosive-Fragmentation) for soft targets such as infantry.

Match-grade ammunition is of exceptionally good quality, intended for target shooting competition.

The components of ammunition intended for rifles and ordnance may be divided into these categories:

Storage

Historical (circa World War I)

These general conditions apply to the storage of ammunition in fortresses. Here the positions for the magazine and ammunition stores are so chosen as to afford the best means of protection from an enemy's fire. Huge earth parapets cover these buildings, which are further strengthened, where possible, by traverses protecting the entrances. For the purpose of filling, emptying, and examining cannon cartridges and shell, a laboratory is generally provided at some distance from the magazine. The various stores for explosives are classified into those under magazine conditions (such as magazines, laboratories, and cartridge stores) and those with which these restrictions need not be observed (such as ammunition and shell stores). The interior walls of a magazine are lined, and the floors laid so that there may be no exposed iron or steel. At the entrance, there is a lobby or barrier, inside which persons about to enter the magazine change their clothes for a special suit, and their boots for a pair made without nails. In an ammunition or shell store these precautions need not be taken except where the shell store and the adjacent cartridge store have a common entrance; persons entering may do so in their ordinary clothes. A large work may have a main magazine and several subsidiary magazines, from which the stock of cartridges is renewed in the cartridge stores attached to each group of guns or in the expense cartridge stores and cartridge recesses. The same applies to main ammunition stores which supply the shell stores, expense stores, and recesses.

The supply of ammunition are either for guns forming the movable armament or for guns placed in permanent positions. The movable armament will consist of guns and howitzers of small and medium caliber, and it is necessary to arrange suitable expense cartridge stores and shell stores close to the available positions. They can generally be constructed to form part of the permanent work in the projected face of traverses or other strong formations, and should be arranged for a twenty-four hour supply of ammunition. These stores are refilled from the main magazine every night under cover of darkness. Light railways join the various positions. The guns mounted in permanent emplacements are divided into groups of two or three guns each, and usually each group will require but one calibre of ammunition. A cartridge store, shell store and a general store, all well ventilated, are arranged for the especial service of such a group of guns. In the cartridge store the cylinders containing the cartridges are so placed and labeled that the required charge, whether reduced or full, can be immediately selected.

In the shell store, the common shell are separated from the armour-piercing or shrapnel. Each nature of projectile is painted in a distinctive manner to render identification easy. The fuzes and tubes are placed in the general store with the tools and accessories belonging to the guns. The gun group is distinguished by some letter and the guns of the group by numerals; thus A/1 is number one gun of group A. The magazine and shell stores are also indicated by the group letter, and so that mistakes, even by those unaccustomed to the fort, may be avoided, the passages are pointed out by finger posts and direction boards. For the immediate service of each gun, a few cartridges and projectiles are stored in small receptacles (called cartridge and shell recesses respectively) built in the parapet as near the gun position as practicable. In some cases, a limited number of projectiles may be placed close underneath the parapet if this is conveniently situated near the breech of the gun and not exposed to hostile fire.

In order to supply the ammunition sufficiently rapidly for the efficient service of modern guns, hydraulic, electric, or hand-power, hoists are employed to raise the cartridges and shell from the cartridge store and shell store to the gun floor, whence they are transferred to a derrick or loading tray attached to the mounting for loading the gun.

Projectiles for BL guns above 6 inch (152 mm) calibre are stored in shell stores ready filled and fuzed standing on their bases, except shrapnel and high-explosive shell, which are fuzed only when about to be used. Smaller sizes of shells are laid on their sides in layers, each layer pointing in the opposite direction to the one below to prevent injury to the driving bands. Cartridges are stored in brass corrugated cases or in zinc cylinders. The corrugated cases are stacked in layers in the magazine with the mouth of the case towards a passage between the stacks, so that it can be opened and the cartridges removed and transferred to a leather case when required for transport to the gun. Cylinders are stacked, when possible, vertically one above the other. The charges are sent to the gun in these cylinders, and provision is made for the rapid removal of the empty cylinders.

The number and nature of rounds allotted to any fortress depends on questions of policy and location, the degrees of resistance the nature of the works and personnel could reasonably be expected to give, and finally on the nature of the armament. That is to say, for guns of large calibre three hundred to four hundred rounds per gun might be sufficient, while for light QF guns it might amount to one thousand or more rounds per gun.

Modern Era

Modern ammunition includes not only shells for tube artillery and mortars, but increasingly aircraft-delivered bombs, smart bombs, rockets and other explosive-bearing projectiles. The destructive power and lethality of these systems is difficult to appreciate. A single cluster bomb, deliverable by any of the above systems, can sow grenade-sized bomblets across a 100 yard (90m) football-sized field in sufficient density to kill any persons present, even in trenches and wearing body armor.

See ammo dump for discussion of modern ammunition storage facilities.

Supply of ammunition in the field

With every successive improvement in military arms there has necessarily been a corresponding modification in the method of supplying ammunition and in the quantity required to be supplied. When hand-to-hand weapons were the principal implements of battle, there was no such need. But in the Middle Ages, the archers and crossbowmen had to replenish the shafts and bolts expended in action, and during a siege, stone bullets of great size, as well as heavy arrows, were freely used. The missiles of those days were however interchangeable, and at the battle of Towton (1461) the commander of the Yorkist archers induced the enemy to fire arrows in order to obtain them for firing back. This interchangeability of war material was even possible for many centuries after the invention of firearms. At the battle of Liegnitz (1760) a general officer was specially commissioned by Frederick the Great to pack up and send away, for Prussian use, all the muskets and ammunition left on the field of battle by the defeated Austrians.

Captured material is utilized whenever possible at the present time. In the Sino-Japanese War, the Japanese went so far as to prepare beforehand spare parts for the Chinese guns they expected to capture. Though it is rare to find a modern army trusting to captures for arms and ammunition; almost the only instance of the practice is that of the Chilean civil war (1891) in which the army of one belligerent was almost totally dependent upon this means of replenishing stores of arms and cartridges. But what was possible with weapons of comparatively rough make is no longer to be thought of in the case of modern arms.

The Lee-Metford bullet of 0.303 inch (7.7 mm) diameter can scarcely be used in a rifle of smaller caliber, and in general the minute accuracy of parts in modern weapons makes interchangeability almost impossible. Further, owing to the rapidity with which, in modern arms, ammunition is expended, and the fact that, as battles are fought at longer ranges than formerly, more shots have to be fired in order to inflict heavy losses, it is necessary that the reserves of ammunition should be as close as possible to the troops who have to use them. This was always the case even with the older firearms, as, owing to the great weight of the ammunition, the soldier could only carry a few rounds. Nevertheless it is only within the past seventy years that there has grown up the elaborate system of ammunition supply which now prevails in all regularly organized armies. That which is described in the present article is the British, as laid down in the official Combined Training (1905) and other manuals. The new system designed for stronger divisions, and others, vary only in details and nomenclature.

Ammunition for infantry

Ammunition for infantry refers to the ammunition carried by a typical foot (infantry) soldier. Someone serving in the infantry generally carries, in pouches, bandoliers, etc., one hundred rounds of small-arms ammunition (S.A.A.), and it is usual to supplement this, when an action is imminent, from the regimental reserve (see below). Like any trade, the proper tools are necessary for the task at hand. Infantry need to be provided with the weapons and ammunition to deal with the expected threat, be it another foot soldier, a mounted warrior, armoured vehicle or aircraft.

History

Every reduction in the caliber (size) of the rifle's ammunition means an increase in the number of rounds carried. One hundred rounds of the Martini-Henry ammunition weighed 10 pounds 10 ounces (4.8 kg); the same weight gives 155 rounds of 0.303 in (7.7 mm) ammunition and at 0.256 in (6.5 mm) the number of rounds is still greater. The regimental reserves were historically carried in six S.A.A. carts and on eight pack animals. The six carts are distributed, one as reserve to the machine gun, three as reserve to the battalion itself, and two as part of the brigade reserve, which consists therefore of eight carts. The brigade reserve communicates directly with the brigade ammunition columns of the artillery (see below). The eight pack animals follow the eight companies of their battalion. These, with two out of the three battalion carts, endeavour to keep close to the firing line, the remaining cart being with the reserve companies. Men also are employed as carriers, and this duty is so onerous that picked men only are detailed. Gallantry displayed in bringing up ammunition is considered indeed to justify special rewards. The amount of S.A.A. in regimental charge is 100 rounds in the possession of each soldier, 2000 to 2200 on each pack animal, and 16,000 to 17,600 in each of four carts, with, in addition, about 4000 rounds with the machine gun and 16,000 more in the fifth cart.

Current Small Arms Ammunition

Currently, every army of an internationally recognized country (except those who rely on others for defense, such as Andorra, and those that do not have a true army, such as the Vatican City) has adopted assault rifles as the main infantry weapon.

In western (NATO) forces, the 7.62mm (.308 Winchester) round has been mostly replaced by the lighter 5.56mm (.223) round, which allows each soldier to carry more ammunition. The heavier caliber ammunition is often still retained for machine guns and sniper rifles.

For instance, the infantry of the United States Army is equipped with a Colt M16 as the main weapon, and carries six magazines each holding 30 rounds of 5.56 mm ammunition. Infantry in the Royal Norwegian Army carry the Heckler und Koch G3, and five 20-round magazines. Less affluent nations, and forces with former ties to the Soviet Union tend to use rifles in the AK-47 family.

Anti-Tank

The use of vehicles in combat made horse mounted cavalry obsolete and meant that those weapons provided to infantry to deal with a horse-borne enemy (quite often the same as that for defeating a man) would have to be replaced by ordnance capable of defeating significant armour protection moving at speed. Initial anti-tank weapons (being useful against all lesser vehicle threats) allocated to inantry were often upsized small arms (for example the anti-tank rifle and Brownings original 0.50 inch machine gun). These were in turn made obsolete by the rapid development of the tank, with the use of more powerful engines, more and more armour was capable of being carried and the ability of ammunition that relied solely upon kinetic energy to penetrate this armour would be as prohibitively heavy as the bulky weapon needed to fire it. Enter the shaped charge warhead. Coupled to a rocket motor, the shaped charge warhead provided a powerful, yet compact weapon that became a mainstay to infantry from World War II onwards. Typified by the US Bazooka, German Panzerfaust and Russian RPG these weapons were ideal for close range usage which allowed a soldier to strike at a vehicles weakest points. Post-World War II missile technology was applied to the shaped charge and provided infantry with a weapon that could reliably destroy the heaviest main battle tanks at relatively great distances, finally superseding anti-tank artillery and infantry support weapons like the recoiless rifle.

Ammunition for artillery

Modern artillery ammunition is generally of two types: separate loading and semi-fixed. Semi-fixed ammunition (rounds) appear in the form of a projectile mated with a cartridge case which contains the propellant and they resemble small arms rounds.

The canister is outfitted with a primer on its base which fires upon contact from the firing pin. Black powder, precision machined to burn evenly, is contained inside of cloth bags that are numbered. US/NATO 105mm howitzers use semi-fixed ammunition, containing seven powder bags referred to as increments or charges. Putting the powder in bags allows the howitzer crew to remove the increments when firing at closer targets. The unused increments are disposed of by burning in a powder pit at a safe distance from the guns.

Above a certain size, semi-fixed rounds are impracticable; the weight of the whole assembly is either too much to be carried effectively. In this case separate loading ammunition is used: the projectile and propelling charge are supplied and loaded separately. The projectile is rammed home in the chamber, the powder charge(s) are loaded (usually by hand), then the breech is closed and the primer is inserted into the primer holder on the back the breech. Separate loading ammunition is typically used on 155mm and larger howitzers. Several propellant types are available for 155mm howitzer.

All normal projectiles arrive at the weapon with a plug in the fuze well on the nose of the projectile. Using a special fuze wrench, the plug is unscrewed and a fuze is screwed in. The decision as to which type of fuze to use is made by the fire direction center and carried out by the gun crew.

Fuzes

Common artillery fuzes include point detonating, delay, time, and proximity (variable time). Point detonating fuzes detonate upon contact with the ground. Delay fuzes are designed to penetrate a short distance before detonating. Time fuzes, as the name implies, detonate a certain time after being fired in order to achieve an air burst above the target. Time fuzes are set to the tenth of a second. Proximity or variable time fuzes contain a simple radio transceiver activated a set time after firing to detonate the projectile when the signal reflected from the ground reaches a certain strength, designed to be 7 meters above the ground. Fuzes are armed by the rotation of the projectile imparted by the rifling in the tube, and usually arm after a few hundred rotations.

See also

References

fr:Munition

Navigation

Academic Kids Menu

  • Art and Cultures
    • Art (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Art)
    • Architecture (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Architecture)
    • Cultures (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Cultures)
    • Music (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Music)
    • Musical Instruments (http://academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/List_of_musical_instruments)
  • Biographies (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Biographies)
  • Clipart (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Clipart)
  • Geography (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Geography)
    • Countries of the World (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Countries)
    • Maps (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Maps)
    • Flags (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Flags)
    • Continents (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Continents)
  • History (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/History)
    • Ancient Civilizations (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Ancient_Civilizations)
    • Industrial Revolution (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Industrial_Revolution)
    • Middle Ages (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Middle_Ages)
    • Prehistory (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Prehistory)
    • Renaissance (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Renaissance)
    • Timelines (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Timelines)
    • United States (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/United_States)
    • Wars (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Wars)
    • World History (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/History_of_the_world)
  • Human Body (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Human_Body)
  • Mathematics (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Mathematics)
  • Reference (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Reference)
  • Science (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Science)
    • Animals (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Animals)
    • Aviation (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Aviation)
    • Dinosaurs (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Dinosaurs)
    • Earth (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Earth)
    • Inventions (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Inventions)
    • Physical Science (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Physical_Science)
    • Plants (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Plants)
    • Scientists (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Scientists)
  • Social Studies (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Social_Studies)
    • Anthropology (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Anthropology)
    • Economics (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Economics)
    • Government (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Government)
    • Religion (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Religion)
    • Holidays (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Holidays)
  • Space and Astronomy
    • Solar System (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Solar_System)
    • Planets (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Planets)
  • Sports (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Sports)
  • Timelines (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Timelines)
  • Weather (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Weather)
  • US States (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/US_States)

Information

  • Home Page (http://academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php)
  • Contact Us (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Contactus)

  • Clip Art (http://classroomclipart.com)
Toolbox
Personal tools