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  #21  
Old 11 July 2018, 03:47 PM
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Originally Posted by GenYus234 View Post
Would fired be safer? (less dangerous?) than not fired? Not fired you have the additional worry of the propellant charge plus the (often not as stable) primer.
I would imagine it would depend on the munition. I think the point, though, is that having been fired it was subjected to forces that may make it behave in unpredictable ways (whereas before firing, you could generally be able to rely on it to not explode upon rolling it over or lightly touched). But then being well-past its "best by" date would also likely have that effect, whether it had been fired or not.
Quote:
Wouldn't be an issue with a WWII shell, but nowadays that type of shell could be dangerous too since it could be depleted uranium.
Depleted Uranium isn't THAT bad as an inert/external source.
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  #22  
Old 11 July 2018, 04:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GenYus234 View Post
Would fired be safer? (less dangerous?) than not fired? Not fired you have the additional worry of the propellant charge plus the (often not as stable) primer.
Artillery rounds don't come in one piece. The projectile and the propellant are separate. So, there is rarely a full "bullet". You will find casings (used to contain propellant) and projectiles, but not together. In fact, even back then, but more so today, there is no casing for most rounds. They put the propellant in the chamber of the howitzer directly (cloth bags). That means the only metal part of the artillery round is the projectile. However, in WWII, there were casings.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ASL View Post
I would imagine it would depend on the munition. I think the point, though, is that having been fired it was subjected to forces that may make it behave in unpredictable ways (whereas before firing, you could generally be able to rely on it to not explode upon rolling it over or lightly touched). But then being well-past its "best by" date would also likely have that effect, whether it had been fired or not.
I want to echo ASL's comment and expand upon it. Artillery rounds since they were first fused (just before WWI) have had safety mechanisms put into place. In order to prevent rounds from detonating prematurely, such as in a battle, there are always 2, and some times more, safety mechanisms.

First, a round itself won't explode. The fuze explodes creating a big enough charge for the round to explode. A round without a fuze can be handled roughly without worry as it takes a massive shock to get the explosive contained within to blow up. That massive shock is provided by the explosive in the fuze, which is more volatile than the projectile itself (in the link, the fuze is the part on the nose of the round).

In order for the fuze to function, two things must happen. Both happen during a firing. Initial action is a set back. A fired artillery projectile is subjected to a massive change in inertia. This causes a mechanism inside the projectile to activate, allowing the explosive chain to be connected.

Second action requires rapid rotation of the projectile (which occurs anyways due to stabilisation and the use of rifling in the gun). The centripetal forces cause safety pins to be pulled to the outer parts of the fuze, thus allowing a spring to snap components together, and completing the explosive chain. Now, when the fuze hits, a very small explosion takes place in the nose, which then causes a moderate explosion in the body of the fuze, causing a much larger explosion in the base of the fuze, which ignites the explosive in the projectile.

This round in the article has been fired. The setback forces and rotational forces have caused all safety mechanisms to be removed. The explosive chain is complete. All it needs is a small force at the nose to cause the whole thing to blow.

And, after potentially 70+ years of sitting there, the explosive has undoubtedly degraded. This is the randomness that scares me. Sometimes, it degrades into stable components and the round is less dangerous. Sometimes, it degrades into more volatile components and a subtle movement will cause it to detonate.

I have been in the artillery for over 30 years. I have seen plenty of blinds in my time. The biggest culprit for causing blinds is deep snow. The deep bank of snow will slow a projectile and the boat shaped nose will cause the path of impact to curve when it hits. This frequently causes blinds because rounds are not impacting on the nose (I suspect this one is like that) or are curving and impacting the side of the projectile.

Given that this is Austria, at some time in the past, a 105mm High Explosive round was fired into deep snow (possibly on the mountain) and remained there for years until a hiker found it.
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  #23  
Old 11 July 2018, 04:44 PM
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I can understand not realizing the danger. I don't know that, if I were hiking and saw something like that, I'd think "danger! Bomb! Don't touch!" But I feel like something might have triggered me to ask around or Google before taking it all the way to the airport. If nothing else, I'm accustomed to not being allowed to keep whatever I find--pinecones in the forest, historical artifacts in historic places, etc. If it's cool enough for me to want it, there's probably some restriction on me just taking it.
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  #24  
Old 11 July 2018, 06:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UEL View Post
Artillery rounds don't come in one piece. The projectile and the propellant are separate. So, there is rarely a full "bullet". You will find casings (used to contain propellant) and projectiles, but not together.
Aren't they assembled prior to firing? Images and movies of loading show a single unit of casing and shell being loaded into the breech.
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  #25  
Old 11 July 2018, 07:59 PM
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Here is a Vietnam era video showing the casing and projectile sitting next to the gun apart from one another at about 3:30, but then being inserted as one soon after:

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Fm2Dalx8oB0

This shows a much clearer picture from the ongoing unpleasantness in Afghanistan with the best view starting at about 4:10, to include joining the projectile with the casing:

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=I5Zi-Jm9DVk

In naval *guns, the projectile is inserted into the breach first, then the charges are inserted after. There’s video of that too if you’re interested.

It may be that movies have given us an overly simplistic view of things.

*ETA: I should clarify that to read naval guns with old school manner turrets like those used in WWII (and after in the case of older ships that continued on in service).

Last edited by ASL; 11 July 2018 at 08:13 PM.
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  #26  
Old 11 July 2018, 08:13 PM
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So it looks like there is a brief window when they are assembled, but only just before they are fired. I'm assuming SOP is to remove the shell casing immediately if the round is not used. So it would be very unlikely to find an assembled round.

PS. I assume the rifling groves on the brass band is how you could tell that the round had been fired?
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  #27  
Old 11 July 2018, 09:51 PM
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I agree that assuming she was entitled to take the thing home, even if it had been inert, was a problem in itself.

"Finders keepers" is an attitude that I thought had mostly gone out of style.
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  #28  
Old 12 July 2018, 03:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GenYus234 View Post
So it looks like there is a brief window when they are assembled, but only just before they are fired. I'm assuming SOP is to remove the shell casing immediately if the round is not used. So it would be very unlikely to find an assembled round.

PS. I assume the rifling groves on the brass band is how you could tell that the round had been fired?
Correct on all points.

Round is assembled only in the seconds before being loaded. And by assembled, the projectile sits on the end of the casing. There is no seal. A lot like putting two glasses together to put in the cupboard.

If the order unload comes down, first thing that happens is the casing is removed from the chamber and moved to the loading area. Then any propellant that has been removed is replaced in the casing. Then the crew manually push out the projectile from the barrel.

And, true on the rifling. Any projectile that has been seated (loaded into the firing position) will have rifling grooves. But the fired round has those grooves deeply etched.

All told, GenYus, you'd have made a decent artillery gunner.
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  #29  
Old 12 July 2018, 03:32 PM
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Thanks, but my career took a different trajectory.

Sorry.
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  #30  
Old 12 July 2018, 03:57 PM
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Joined the air force did you?

Because that joke you just dropped was a bomb.
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  #31  
Old 12 July 2018, 09:05 PM
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The original cite didn't give much detail on the munition. I figured it could have been a 50 caliber slug, which would be completely safe. The later post with a link to an image suggests ... how the heck was she lugging this thing around? A 105 mm projectile has got to weight 30 or 40 pounds.
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  #32  
Old 12 July 2018, 09:30 PM
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Good guess. 13 - 15.5 kg (28.6 - 34.1 lbs) according to the Austrailians. (pdf)

ETA: Not small either, it would be something like 14 - 15 inches long and 4 inches around.
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