fusing shells

Guns, torpedoes, mines, bombs, missiles, ammunition, fire control, radars, and electronic warfare.
Senior Member
Posts: 687
Joined: Fri Mar 26, 2010 10:25 pm

fusing shells

Post by paul.mercer » Tue Dec 25, 2018 9:23 pm

How were shells kept in the shell rooms of ships?
I understand that they would have been kept in holders or containers until they were moved to the lift to the turret, but were they all kept ready fused or were the fuses inserted before the went up? What puzzles me is that some ships like Barham exploded as she rolled over which would suggest that all her shells were 'live'. So what was the procedure, as if they were surely there could always have been a danger of one breaking loose in heavy seas?

User avatar
Dave Saxton
Posts: 2995
Joined: Sat Nov 27, 2004 9:02 pm
Location: Rocky Mountains USA

Re: fusing shells

Post by Dave Saxton » Sat Jan 12, 2019 7:54 pm

Tommy303 can give you much more detailed information.

Armor piercing units are screwed into the base of the main body like a bolt is screwed into something by wrench. They work by inertia, so when the shell encounters sufficient deceleration it goes off. The deceleration causes a firing pin to strike an explosive primer or the other way around. They are designed so it takes a short period of time before it will ignite the shell's explosive filler. Technically these are call Graze Action fuses. Fuses must be "permanently" installed in such cases. They are always "armed" as I understand it.

High Explosive shells and some semi armor piercing have a nose fuse. These are also percussive fuses. Since the shell strikes the target by the nose the firing pin is triggered by contact with the target. Technically these are called Direct Action fuses.

With either type a falling or tumbling shell could have its fuse could go off.

A bomb or a torpedo may need to have the fuse "armed" first before the firing pin or other actuator can work. This is is often done by some kind of a spinning motion. In the case of a torpedo it might have a small propeller that spins as the torpedo travels through the water. A bomb may use the same principle as it travels through the air.

Entering a night sea battle is an awesome business.The enveloping darkness, hiding the enemy's.. seems a living thing, malignant and oppressive.Swishing water at the bow and stern mark an inexorable advance toward an unknown destiny.

Post Reply