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In warfare, high-explosive incendiary (HEI) is a type of ammunition specially designed to impart energy and therefore damage to its target in one or both of two ways: via a high-explosive charge and/or via its incendiary (fire-causing) effects. Each round has both capabilities.
HEI ammunition is fused either mechanically or chemically. The armor-piercing ability can vary widely, allowing for more focused fragmentation or larger scatter.
HEI ammunition was originally developed for use in large-caliber cannon, howitzer and naval artillery. Currently, HEI rounds are most commonly made in medium-caliber sizes of 20 mm, 25 mm, and 30 mm. They are fired from various platforms, including aircraft, anti-aircraft cannons, and anti-missile systems, as well as common battlefield howitzers, though the latter has gone through a recent decline in use.
HEI ammunition has also been used on the battlefield against tanks and other armoured vehicles, but this has become impractical due to the invention of modern armour systems such as Chobham and reactive armour, which can absorb most high-explosive rounds currently used.
Recently, APIS (armour-piercing incendiary shells) have been used; these penetrate the target using the kinetic properties of the round before the incendiary round goes off, smothering the crew in flames, cooking off ammunition and igniting combustible materials, generally destroying the target.
The shells were first employed in naval batteries, but soon found their way to land-based howitzers as well. They caused fires, which on ships can be difficult to extinguish in the tight spaces. Also, fired at tanks and soft targets, they can cause fires that completely engulf the vehicle, killing anyone inside.
Occasionally, HEIs were used against tanks (heavily armoured) and also lightly armoured vehicles, but, since the invention of modern battle armour, such as Chobham and reactive armour, these shells have become less and less practical for anti-tank work and more useful for destroying "soft" targets such as air bases, trenches, or bunkers, in which they can create fires of over 1000 degrees Celsius. Incendiary shells are no longer in use by many countries due to bans on the use of phosphorus weapons.
Armour-piercing shot and shell penetrate the target using kinetic energy before the incendiary charge ignites, smothering the crew in flames, detonating ammunition, and destroying the target.
A kinetic energy penetrator is a type of ammunition designed to penetrate vehicle armour. Like a bullet, this ammunition does not contain explosives and uses kinetic energy to penetrate the target. Modern KEP munitions are typically of the armour-piercing fin-stabilized discarding sabot (APFSDS) type.
An armor-piercing shell, armour-piercing shell in Commonwealth English, AP for short, is a type of ammunition designed to penetrate armor. From the 1860s to 1950s, a major application of armor-piercing projectiles was to defeat the thick armor carried on many warships and cause damage to the lightly-armored interior. From the 1920s onwards, armor-piercing weapons were required for anti-tank missions. AP rounds smaller than 20 mm are typically known as "armor-piercing ammunition", and are intended for lightly-armored targets such as body armor, bulletproof glass and light armored vehicles. The AP shell is now seldom used in naval warfare, as modern warships have little or no armor protection. In the anti-tank role, as tank armor improved during World War II newer designs began to use a smaller but dense penetrating body within a larger shell. These lightweight shells were fired at very high muzzle velocity and retained that speed and the associated penetrating power over longer distances.
Terminal ballistics, a sub-field of ballistics, is the study of the behavior and effects of a projectile when it hits and transfers its energy to a target. Bullet design and the velocity of impact largely determine the effectiveness of its impact.
High-explosive squash head (HESH) is a type of explosive ammunition that is somewhat effective against tank armor and is also useful against buildings and infantry. It was fielded chiefly by the British Army as the main explosive round of its main battle tanks during the Cold War. It was also used by other military forces, particularly those that acquired the early post-World War II British 105 mm Royal Ordnance L7A1, including Germany, India, Israel and Sweden. In the United States, it is known as HEP, for "high explosive, plastic".
A high-explosive anti-tank (HEAT) warhead is a type of shaped charge explosive that uses the Munroe effect to penetrate thick tank armor. The warhead functions by having the explosive charge collapse a metal liner inside the warhead into a high-velocity superplastic jet. This superplastic jet is capable of penetrating armor steel to a depth of seven or more times the diameter of the charge but is usually used to immobilize or destroy tanks. Due to the way they work, they do not have to be fired as fast as an armor piercing shell, allowing less recoil. Contrary to a widespread misconception, the jet does not melt its way through armor, as its effect is purely kinetic in nature. The HEAT warhead has become less effective against tanks and other armored vehicles due to the use of composite armor, explosive-reactive armor, and active protection systems which destroy the HEAT warhead before it hits the tank. While HEAT ammunition has become less effective against the composite armor found on MBTs from 1964 onward and today pose little threat to any modern tank, they are still deadly against lighter vehicles. In addition, air vehicles are also possible targets.
An autocannon, automatic cannon or machine cannon is a fully automatic gun that is capable of rapid-firing large-caliber armour-piercing explosive or incendiary shells, as opposed to the smaller-caliber kinetic projectiles (bullets) fired by a machine gun. Autocannons have a longer effective range and greater terminal performance than machine guns, due to the use of larger/heavier munitions, but are usually smaller than tank guns, howitzers, field guns or other artillery. When used on its own, the word "autocannon" typically indicates a non-rotary weapon with a single barrel. When multiple rotating barrels are involved, such a weapon is referred to as a "rotary autocannon" or simply "rotary cannon".
The ISU-152 is a Soviet self-propelled gun developed and used during World War II. It was unofficially nicknamed zveroboy in response to several large German tanks and guns coming into service, including Tigers and Panthers. Since the ISU-152's gun was mounted in a casemate, aiming it was awkward, and had to be done by repositioning the entire vehicle using the tracks. Therefore, it was used as mobile artillery to support more mobile infantry and armor attacks. It continued service into the 1970s and was used in several campaigns and countries.
A shell is a payload-carrying projectile that, as opposed to shot, contains an explosive or other filling, though modern usage sometimes includes large solid projectiles properly termed shot. Solid shot may contain a pyrotechnic compound if a tracer or spotting charge is used. Originally, it was called a "bombshell", but "shell" has come to be unambiguous in a military context.
An anti-personnel weapon is a weapon primarily used to maim or kill infantry and other personnel not behind armor, as opposed to attacking structures or vehicles, or hunting game. The development of defensive fortification and combat vehicles gave rise to weapons designed specifically to attack them, and thus a need to distinguish between those systems and ones intended to attack people. For instance, an anti-personnel landmine will explode into small and sharp splinters that tear flesh but have little effect on metal surfaces, while anti-tank mines have considerably different design, using much more explosive to effect damage to armored fighting vehicles, or use explosively formed penetrators to punch through armor plating. Note that while the stereotypical tank is effectively invulnerable to anti-personnel, a lightly armored vehicle will still take damage. Take humvees for example. They have light armor and will take severe damage from say, a claymore. The issue has been patched by the add-on armor, but it can still be pierced by this type in some areas
Armour-piercing discarding sabot (APDS) is a type of kinetic energy projectile fired from a rifled-barrel gun to attack armoured targets. APDS rounds are sabot rounds, firing a spin-stabilized armor penetrating sub-projectile, and were commonly used in large calibre tank guns, up until the early 1980s, but have now been superseded by armour-piercing fin-stabilized discarding sabot-tracer (APFSDS-T) projectiles used in smooth-bore guns, firing a fin-stabilized armor penetrating sub-projectile. However, APDS rounds are still commonly used in small or medium calibre weapon systems. For a given calibre, this type of ammunition can effectively double the armour penetration of a gun, compared to those firing armour-piercing (AP), armour-piercing, capped (APC), or armour-piercing, capped, ballistic capped (APCBC) projectiles. The saboted light armour penetrator (SLAP) concept applies this technology to small arms calibres.
A tank gun is the main armament of a tank. Modern tank guns are large-caliber high-velocity guns, capable of firing kinetic energy penetrators, high explosive anti-tank rounds, and in some cases guided missiles. Anti-aircraft guns can also be mounted to tanks.
20 mm refers to a common firearms bore diameter, typically used for cannon or autocannons. 20 mm cartridges have an outside bullet diameter and inside barrel diameter of 0.787 inches (20.0 mm). Projectiles are typically 75 to 127 mm (3–5 in) long. Cartridge cases are typically 75 to 152 mm (3–6 in) long and most are shells, with an explosive filling and detonating fuze.
The Ordnance QF 75 mm, abbreviated to OQF 75 mm, was a British tank-gun of the Second World War. It was obtained by boring out the Ordnance QF 6 pounder 57-mm anti-tank gun to 75-mm, to give better performance against infantry targets in a similar fashion to the 75mm M3 gun fitted to the American Sherman tank. The QF came from "quick-firing", referring to the use of ammunition with the shell and propellant in a single cartridge. The gun was also sometimes known as ROQF from Royal Ordnance Quick-Firing.
The armour-piercing capped ballistic cap (APCBC) is a type of armor-piercing shell introduced in the 1930s. The ballistic cap was a thin shell, typically metal, that fit over the rounded nose of an otherwise unchanged armour-piercing round to improve its aerodynamics. This allowed the APCBC shells to retain higher velocities, delivering more energy to the target, especially at long range. On impact the shell crumpled, allowing the armour-piercing component to impact as normal.
High-explosive incendiary/armor-piercing ammunition (HEIAP) is a form of shell which combines armor-piercing capability and a high-explosive effect. In this respect it is a modern version of an armor-piercing shell. The ammunition may also be called semi-armor-piercing high-explosive incendiary (SAPHEI)
Armour-piercing fin-stabilized discarding sabot (APFSDS), long dart penetrator, or simply dart ammunition, is a type of kinetic energy penetrator ammunition used to attack modern vehicle armour. As an armament for main battle tanks, it succeeds armour-piercing discarding sabot (APDS) ammunition, which is still used in small or medium caliber weapon systems.
List of abbreviations, acronyms and initials related to military subjects such as modern armour, artillery, infantry, and weapons, along with their definitions.
Ammunition is the material fired, scattered, dropped or detonated from any weapon. Ammunition is both expendable weapons and the component parts of other weapons that create the effect on a target. Nearly all mechanical weapons require some form of ammunition to operate.
The Gryazev-Shipunov GSh-30-1 is a 30 mm autocannon designed for use on Soviet and later Russian military aircraft, entering service in the early 1980s. Its current manufacturer is the Russian company JSC Izhmash.
The Oerlikon KBA is a 25 mm (25×137mm) autocannon, developed as a close range weapon for the mechanized battlefield originally made by Oerlikon Contraves AG.
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