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Exploding ammo


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I wonder why the ammo pile of a gun never explodes, even if the guns gets a direct (artillery) hit. Some dozen of 15cm ammo should make a real big boom and be a bad surprise for close units.

I also noticed that a burning tank never explodes with some delay. This should happen sometimes. Would be a nice effect, and also a bad surprise for close infantry.

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I'd like to hear from some of our resident arty vets... granted it's possible for a hit to blow up the ammo pile, but how likely is it? These are self-contained shells, not open kegs of black powder laying about. Wouldn't it take a sustained fire heating up the ammunition, or maybe a chance hot fragment that penetrated the casing and ignited the HE... but that's only one shell, and I've also read in one or two places that explosives are more difficult to "improperly" detonate than laymen like myself are inclined to think.

I await the wisdom of some gun-deaf veteran...

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<blockquote>quote:</font><hr>Originally posted by Scipio:

I also noticed that a burning tank never explodes with some delay. This should happen sometimes. Would be a nice effect, and also a bad surprise for close infantry.<hr></blockquote>

Actually, I tested this out awhile back, shooting up sherms with Pak43 88s. ( :D )If there's infantry on the ground next to the tanks, the explosion won't hurt them, or even scare them. Possibly this could be changed for CMBB, though.

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<blockquote>quote:</font><hr>Originally posted by Offwhite:

...granted it's possible for a hit to blow up the ammo pile, but how likely is it? These are self-contained shells, not open kegs of black powder laying about. Wouldn't it take a sustained fire heating up the ammunition, or maybe a chance hot fragment that penetrated the casing and ignited the HE... but that's only one shell, and I've also read in one or two places that explosives are more difficult to "improperly" detonate than laymen like myself are inclined to think.<hr></blockquote>

Well, you should ask yourself : would I take a handgrenate, throw it into a bunker full of artillery shells and wait to see what happens? ;)

Artillery can kill a tank. It can also bring shells to explosion.

<blockquote>quote:</font><hr>Originally posted by 109 Gustav:

Actually, I tested this out awhile back, shooting up sherms with Pak43 88s. ( :D )If there's infantry on the ground next to the tanks, the explosion won't hurt them, or even scare them. Possibly this could be changed for CMBB, though.<hr></blockquote>

I have seen something different today, a close platoon took 3 casualties. It was the only shoot in the test (Pak 43 on Sherman II), so there is no doubt...

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<blockquote>quote:</font><hr>Originally posted by Scipio:

Well, you should ask yourself : would I take a handgrenate, throw it into a bunker full of artillery shells and wait to see what happens?

Artillery can kill a tank. It can also bring shells to explosion. <hr></blockquote>

Of course I wouldn't. I'm not disagreeing that an explosive round going off near a bunch of other rounds could set them off, just wondering how likely it is. First, it's not happening in a confined space like your example; second, I suspect explosives are less delicate than the A-Team would have me believe smile.gif If somebody knowledgeable comes on and says "artillery shells can be set off merely by looking at them funny" then fine, I've been educated; I'd be the first one to enjoy the sight of ammo piles going up in-game like a Dutch fireworks factory. All I'm questioning is whether it's likely enough to bother putting in the game.

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<blockquote>quote:</font><hr>Originally posted by Offwhite:

I'd like to hear from some of our resident arty vets... granted it's possible for a hit to blow up the ammo pile, but how likely is it? These are self-contained shells, not open kegs of black powder laying about. Wouldn't it take a sustained fire heating up the ammunition, or maybe a chance hot fragment that penetrated the casing and ignited the HE... but that's only one shell, and I've also read in one or two places that explosives are more difficult to "improperly" detonate than laymen like myself are inclined to think.

I await the wisdom of some gun-deaf veteran...<hr></blockquote>

More or less what he said. Artillery rounds are surprisingly safe. Well, until fired that is. There are seven, IIRC, safety features built into the shell and fuze to prevent a premature detonation.

Being on the recieving end of HE fire could cause rounds to go off - or more likely ignite the propellant - but its not a given.

Regards

Jon

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<blockquote>quote:</font><hr>Originally posted by Offwhite:

Of course I wouldn't. I'm not disagreeing that an explosive round going off near a bunch of other rounds could set them off, just wondering how likely it is. First, it's not happening in a confined space like your example; second, I suspect explosives are less delicate than the A-Team would have me believe smile.gif If somebody knowledgeable comes on and says "artillery shells can be set off merely by looking at them funny" then fine, I've been educated; I'd be the first one to enjoy the sight of ammo piles going up in-game like a Dutch fireworks factory. All I'm questioning is whether it's likely enough to bother putting in the game.<hr></blockquote>

Well, I was in a 120mm Mortar platoon in my military service. Beside the shells, you have always lots of propeling charges around, depending on the type of artillery. For a mortar, it's a simple ring of dynamite, sewed in a peace of cotton. I wouldn't beat it with hammer.

[ 10-23-2001: Message edited by: Scipio ]</p>

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<blockquote>quote:</font><hr>Originally posted by Scipio:

Well, I was in a 120mm Mortar platoon in my military service. Beneath the shells, you have always lots of propeling charges around, depending on the type of artillery. For a mortar, it's a simple ring of dynamite, sewed in a peace of cotton. I wouldn't beat it with hammer.<hr></blockquote>

Well, there are two components really, aren't there - the propellant and the round itself. The propellant is more likely to go up in these circumstances, but since it isn't in a confined space (like the breech of a gun, or the bottom of a mortar barrel) it would burn very fiercly rather than explode. The round itself - unless caught in such a fire - would still be quite safe.

Incidentally, I wouldn't fart around with charge bags either, but I sincerly doubt that hitting them with a hammer would cause them to burn.

Consider this controlled experiment (note, there is a good potential for carnage here, so don't try this at home, or at work): Take a rifle calibre round, and pull the projectile out of the end. Pour the powder out. Take a small quantity of this powder and place it onto a brick or concrete surface. Leave it uncovered and uncontained. Now, hit it with a hammer. Anything happen? Would you expect anything to happen? Would you expect a match to burst into flame if you hit it with a hammer?

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<blockquote>quote:</font><hr>Originally posted by JonS:

Incidentally, I wouldn't fart around with charge bags either, but I sincerly doubt that hitting them with a hammer would cause them to burn.<hr></blockquote>

Jon, to let something explode it's not necessary that it burns. Take a bottle of liquid Nitroglyceryn and shake it. Then you will know what I mean.

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<blockquote>quote:</font><hr>Originally posted by Scipio:

Take a bottle of liquid Nitroglyceryn and shake it. Then you will know what I mean.<hr></blockquote>

Yes, but we aren't talking about nitro, are we. We are talking about military ammo, handled by trail apes, throw about during ammo resupply, transported in military trucks over rough roads, etc. This stuff just isn't that fragile or volatile.

[ edited because I made a typo. I hope The Anglophile doesn't see this one redface.gif He might go into an edit-inspired-rage or something ]

[ 10-23-2001: Message edited by: JonS ]</p>

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<blockquote>quote:</font><hr>Originally posted by Scipio:

to let something explode it's not necessary that it burns.<hr></blockquote>

And another point - explosions happen in confined spaces. If it isn't confined, a charge bag burns (very fiercly) but does not explode.

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Okay, forget it. Everything you said is right. I'm a liar, because I excactly know that ammo NEVER explode except when it should. Please excuse that I rised your attention. I've forgotten that you have studied explosives.

[ 10-23-2001: Message edited by: Scipio ]</p>

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Jon, I wonder that you - in your long years as profesional for shells and explosives - have never seen how old ammo is usually destroyed.

You dig a crater, place the shells on the ground, place a charge on the top, and BOOM.

I also wonder that - during your time at the Navy SEALs - you've never learned how to destroy for example a anti ship mine: Place a (relativ) small pack of C4 on it, and blow it away.

In princip, that's what happens when a shell falls from heaven into the pile of shells next to your gun. Always? No, of course not always. But often enough to consider it into the game.

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<blockquote>quote:</font><hr>Originally posted by JonS:

Yes, but we aren't talking about nitro, are we. We are talking about military ammo, handled by trail apes, throw about during ammo resupply, transported in military trucks over rough roads, etc. This stuff just isn't that fragile or volatile.

[ edited because I made a typo. I hope The Anglophile doesn't see this one redface.gif He might go into an edit-inspired-rage or something ]

[ 10-23-2001: Message edited by: JonS ]<hr></blockquote>

I have seen and noted it in my 'Little Black Book of People who Edit Their Posts'™.

Scipio - you should listen to Jon - he knows his stuff. Anyway, if you can't handle disagreement without Schmollen in the corner, why ask the question in the first place? Since you obviously believe you know the answer.

Tank ammo cooks off in most cases because of the fire in the tank, AFAIK, but I am no expert, so I may not have got this right.

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<blockquote>quote:</font><hr>Originally posted by Germanboy:

Scipio - you should listen to Jon - he knows his stuff. Anyway, if you can't handle disagreement without Schmollen in the corner, why ask the question in the first place? Since you obviously believe you know the answer.<hr></blockquote>

Sorry, on this board it's difficult to dicern people who know something and people who only want have the last word.

As you see, I'm in the last group ;)

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An explosion in an ammo dump will probably detonate some of the shells, but the rest will be scattered around undetonated. Destroying ammo by putting C-4 on top of it works fine, destroying ammo by letting some other kind of ammo explode nearby is not guaranteed to give the same results.

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<blockquote>quote:</font><hr>Originally posted by Kurtz:

An explosion in an ammo dump will probably detonate some of the shells, but the rest will be scattered around undetonated. Destroying ammo by putting C-4 on top of it works fine, destroying ammo by letting some other kind of ammo explode nearby is not guaranteed to give the same results.<hr></blockquote>

Who was speaking about a guarantee?

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<blockquote>quote:</font><hr>

JonS wrote:

Incidentally, I wouldn't fart around with charge bags either, but I sincerly doubt that hitting them with a hammer would cause them to burn.

<hr></blockquote>

Hitting black-powder with a hammer can cause it to burn, since it can be ignited by the static electricity.

<blockquote>quote:</font><hr>

Scipio wrote:

For a mortar, it's a simple ring of dynamite, sewed in a peace of cotton

<hr></blockquote>

According to Scipio which has used mortars in real-life the propeling charge consists of dynamite and not powder. Dynamite does not burn, it detonates. And since, it does not matter that much whether it is confined or not (as it would if we were talking about powder). Also dynamite is much more sensetive to shocks than powder (its through a shock that you cause dynamite to detonate and not through a flame). So in my opinion you (Scipio and JonS) are talking about different things.

This is my first reply - be nice...:)

Johan

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I was never in the artillery, but I did do basic dems a very long time ago. Gunpowder and smokeless powder, cordite etc is classed as low explosive - it pushes shells/ bullets out of their respective barrels at (often) very high velocities. High explosive - TNT PE4 Semtex Dynamite etc is much more rapid in action: it shatters!!! You would not use it as propellant for mortars - or any kind of round although it might well be used in the warhead of the shell itself. I hope this clarifies things.

All the best,

Richard.

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Err, the propellant charges for mortars aren't dynamite. They're a reasonably stable substance that doesn't ignite unless the at the base of the round goes off; and that won't happen unless the safety ring in the top of the mortar is pulled. These features are, as far as I know, common to all NATO ammo for mortars.

Most military ammo is stable; it will not ignite unless placed in conditions of extremely high temperatures and pressure. You can happily toss TNT or C4 into a fire and use it to cook with; just for GOD'S SAKE don't stamp on the fire to put it out.

As for bag charges, I can testify that they burn, but do not explode. I had the joy of going along for the battery disposal of unused charges after a three day live-fire exercise; the flame -- and I don't think I'm exaggerating -- must have been at least thirty metres high. From ten metres away, we could feel a _scorching_ heat.

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<blockquote>quote:</font><hr>Originally posted by Scipio:

Okay, forget it. Everything you said is right. I'm a liar, because I excactly know that ammo NEVER explode except when it should. Please excuse that I rised your attention. I've forgotten that you have studied explosives.

[ 10-23-2001: Message edited by: Scipio ]<hr></blockquote>

Between this and the post that followed, I take it you didn't agree with what I was saying. Fine.

In your world mortar propelling charges are made of dynamite, and rounds of all types will go off if you so much as look at them wrong.

In my world, military ammuntion is as safe and stable as something which is built from several explosive parts practically can be. It will stand rough handling and being thrown about with safety, yet when called upon to fire will do its job.

I never said that rounds would under no circumstances explode if subjected to shelling. I did said it was rather less likely than Hollywood would have you believe.

You disagree with what I say. Fine. If it's any consolation I believe you are wrong also.

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I'm pretty sure WWII weapons weren't as stable as modern ones. The U.S. learned this lesson after the carrier incidents in Vietnam. Also with tanks, the main cause of ammo detonation is usually the fact the a penetration sprays a lot of molten metal around the crew compartment which tends to burn through shell casings and set off the propellant. Being in a hard case, it is in a confined space and therefore explodes rather than burns, giving the turret a nice little jack in the box effect.

[ 10-23-2001: Message edited by: panzerwerfer42 ]</p>

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Propellant charges are not Dynamite. The shells of the modern German 120mm 'Tampella' mortar are filled with 2-4-6-Trinitrotoluol (TNT). The propellant charges for most guns and mortars is usually Nitrocellulose (or based on it). Like blackpowder, Nitrocellulose does NOT tend to explode unless it's compressed or packed in a small room. It also can be burned like black powder.

A close explosion can ignite propellant charges, and the darting flame can hurt (very) close infantry, especially the gun crew. But I guess that's a secondary effect, cause the incoming shell would cause more damage.

High explosives like TNT, DNB, Picrinacid or Hexogen are very save to use and must be ignited with a detonator like Mercury-Fulminate or Tetrazen. Remember the many duds - they hit the ground with very high energy, but when the detonator doesn't work, they don't explode.

BUT an incoming shell can rupture and then ignite gun ammo - in this case, the explosion of the incomming shell works as detonator. But it really must be a direct or very very close hit. For a pile of shells it is possible that a few shells explode, but the most of them will fly around without big damage.

It's a different thing in a (burning) tank - a tank is a small, closed room. Heat can bring the propellant charges to burn. In a tank, the darting flame can't escape and cause a big concentration of heat, this may cause a chain reaction and bring other propellant charges to explosion, and in the small room of the tank, it's possible that this will also ignite the HE charge - but even without that, the explosion of the propellant charges would be enough to blow the tank. AFAIK, this has destroyed the 'Arizona' in Pearl Harbor. Of course this can also happen with some delay. That's a reason why a bailed tankcrew don't returns to their abandoned tank to fast.

So, both JonS and Scipio are partially right and wrong.

IMO, the explosion of fieldgun ammo can be neglected - even if it's modeled, you wouldn't notice it in the game, cause all you see is the (incomming) shells explosion.

The delayed explosion of a tank is something that should be considered. It's realistic, it's likly enough to be modeled, it's noticeable as an independent event - and yes, it would be a very nice effect! :D

[ 10-24-2001: Message edited by: Phantom Rocker ]</p>

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