Ammo Discussion Shell / Case Shot Live Fire Examples

Zack

Corporal
Joined
Aug 20, 2017
Location
Los Angeles, California
I've seen plenty of videos of cannons live-firing solid shot or canister rounds, but I don't think I've seen any of shell or case. I imagine this is because it's more dangerous to use, but wanted to know if anyone had an example of those rounds in use.

These videos are close but not quite....the first is shell but with an impact fuse:

And this is a mortar firing shell with a timed fuse:

But they're just lobbing it into the air and letting it burst way up high.

This appears to also be a shell with an impact fuse

I think this is solid shot:

At about 13:20 this video says these twins MAKE explosive rounds but don't use them at the games. It DOES however show what I think is a video of case shot exploding? Shrapnel? Is there a difference? It looks like the round bounces off the ground first and then explodes in the air? The video calls them shrapnel rounds.

But when it came to case shot and shell the more effective means of use was an air burst in front of advancing troops (so momentum would carry the shot / fragment into the mass)

Has anyone ever live fired case shot on video to show its effect?
 

Rhea Cole

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Case shot is the round that Sir Henry Shrapnel invented. It consisted of a spherical hollow cast iron ball that was filled with pistol balls & had a small bursting charge. A timed fuze caused the round to burst, ideally, 10 meters above & in front of the target. At that point, the round was just under the speed of sound & that momentum is what propelled the burst casing & pistol balls.

Ideally, the target was the locus of interlocking fire coming in at 45 degree angles. Given the small size of the pistol balls, case shot was not necessarily all that lethal. However, it could inflict wounds on a large number of men, rendering them ineffective. Gen Hanson of the Orphan Brigade was killed by the fuze of a case shot at Stones River.

A shell is a thin walled projectile filled with black powder & a timed fuze. Smoothbore cannon did not fire rounds with contact fuzes, only rifle bolts did. 6 pdr cannon did not fire shell.

I have seen hundreds of rounds fired with bursting charges. Stones River NB shot a 12 pdr four times seven days a week all summer long, back in the day. Reproducing a case shot would be challenging.

A premature detonation by any timed round in the bore could cause a catastrophic incident. That is what accounts for all those photos of Parrott’s with half their length blown off. The friction between the rough inner wall of the spinning projectile & the powder ignited the charge. A lining of naturally occurring ’asphaltium’ solved the problem. The premature detonation of the round could turn the cannon into a giant pipe bomb, which might account for their absence in today’s live fire practice.
 
Last edited:

Cycom

Private
Joined
Feb 19, 2021
Location
Los Angeles, California
I've seen plenty of videos of cannons live-firing solid shot or canister rounds, but I don't think I've seen any of shell or case. I imagine this is because it's more dangerous to use, but wanted to know if anyone had an example of those rounds in use.

These videos are close but not quite....the first is shell but with an impact fuse:

And this is a mortar firing shell with a timed fuse:

But they're just lobbing it into the air and letting it burst way up high.

This appears to also be a shell with an impact fuse

I think this is solid shot:

At about 13:20 this video says these twins MAKE explosive rounds but don't use them at the games. It DOES however show what I think is a video of case shot exploding? Shrapnel? Is there a difference? It looks like the round bounces off the ground first and then explodes in the air? The video calls them shrapnel rounds.

But when it came to case shot and shell the more effective means of use was an air burst in front of advancing troops (so momentum would carry the shot / fragment into the mass)

Has anyone ever live fired case shot on video to show its effect?
Those videos were cool. Always fun seeing cannon wheeled back after firing. In the movies they never (or hardly) move. I know why, but it does take away from the authenticity.
 

Zack

Corporal
Joined
Aug 20, 2017
Location
Los Angeles, California
Those videos were cool. Always fun seeing cannon wheeled back after firing. In the movies they never (or hardly) move. I know why, but it does take away from the authenticity.

I think Waterloo is the funniest, when the guns recoil a good 3 seconds after actually firing! I appreciate the effort though!

Peter Watkin's film Culloden actually does a solid job with recoil. No idea how they did it though (23 minutes in) -
 

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