The rifling in the barrel of the gun bites into the soft copper driving band, imparting a rotation to the projectile, and the rate of rotation increases as the projectile approaches the muzzle. As heat accumulates in the chamber of the gun, the powder burns faster and faster; gas and heat and pressure are produced for some time at an accelerated rate, and the projectile acquires
Booster Detonator Bursting charge I (Black pa
Tlme-trsin rings acceleration continuously.- It has its greatest velocity at the moment when it leaves the muzzle. The greatest pressure, however, occurs at a point far back from the muzzle where the gun is of correspondingly stronger construction than at its open end The duration of the burning of the powder depends upon its web thick-ness, that is, upon the thickness between the single central perforation and the sides of the cylindrical grain, or, in the multiperforated powders, upon the thickness between the perforations. The powder, if properly designed, is burned com-, pletely at the moment when the projectile emerges from the muzzle.
The combination fuze contains two primer caps, and devices, more or less free to move within the fuze, by which these may be fired. When the shell starts to move, everything within it undergoes setback, and tends to lag because of its inertia. The fuze contains a piece of metal with a point or firing' pin on its rearmost end, held in place by an almost complete ring set into its sides and in the sides of the cylindrical space through which it might otherwise move freely. This, with its primer cap, constitutes the concussion element. The setback causes it to pull through the ring; the pin strikes the cap; fire is produced and communicates with a train of slow-burning black powder of special composition (fuze powder) the length of which has been previously adjusted by turning the time-train rings in the head of the fuze. The powder train, in a typical case, may burn for any particular interval up to 21 seconds, at the end of which time the fire reaches a chamber or magazine which is filled with ordinary black powder. This burns rapidly and produces a large flame which strikes through to the detonator, containing mercury fulminate or lead azide, which explodes and causes the shell to detonate while it is in flight. The head of the fuze may also be adjusted in such manner that the fire produced by the concussion element will finally bum to a dead end, and the shell in that case will explode only in consequence of the action of the percussion element when it hits the target.
When the shell strikes any object and loses velocity, everything within it still tends to move forward. The percussion element consists of a metal cylinder, free to move backward and forward through a short distance, and of a primer cap, opposite the forward end of the cylinder and set into the metal in such fashion that the end of the cylinder cannot quite touch it. If this end of the cylinder should carry a firing pin, then it would fire the cap, and this might happen if the shell were dropped accidentally—with unfortunate results. When the shell starts to move in the gun, the cylinder lags back in the short space which is allotted to it. The shell rotates during flight. Centrifugal force, acting upon a mechanism within the cylinder, causes a firing pin to rise up out of its forward end. The fuze becomes armed. When the shell meets an obstacle, the cylinder rushes forward, the pin strikes the cap, fire is produced and communicates directly to
Fioubz 2. Cross Section of a 155-ram. High-Explosive Shell Loaded with TNT.
the black powder magazine and to the detonator—and the shell is exploded forthwith.
The high explosive in the shell must be so insensitive that it will tolerate the shock of setback without exploding. Trinitrotoluene (TNT) is generally considered to be satisfactory for all military purposes, except for armor-piercing shells. The explosive must be tightly packed within the shell. There must be no cavities, lest the setback cause the explosive to move violently across the gap and to explode prematurely while the shell is still within the barrel of the gun, or as is more likely, to pull away from the detonator and fail to be exploded by it.
Trinitrotoluene, which melts below the boiling point of water, is generally loaded by pouring the liquid explosive into the shell. Since the liquid contracts when it freezes, and in order to prevent cavities, the shell standing upon its base is supplied at its open end with a paper funnel, like the neck of a bottle, and the liquid TNT is poured until the shell and the paper funnel are both full. After the whole has cooled, the funnel and any TNT which is in it are removed, and the space for the booster is bored out with a drill. Cast TNT is not exploded by the explosion of fulminate, which, however, does cause the explosion of granular and compressed TNT. The explosion of granular TNT will initiate the explosion of cast TNT, and the granular material may be used as a booster for that purpose. In practice, tetryl is generally preferred as a booster for military use. It is more easily detonated than TNT, more brisant, and a better initiator. Boosters are used even with high explosives which are detonated by fulminate, for they make it possible to get along with smaller quantities of this dangerous material.
When black powder burns, the first portion to receive the fire undergoes a chemical reaction which results in the production of hot gas. The gas, tending to expand in all directions from the place where it is produced, warms the next portion of black powder to the kindling temperature. This then takes fire and burns with the production of more hot gas which raises the temperature of the next adjacent material. If the black powder is confined, the pressure rises, and the heat, since it cannot escape, is communicated more rapidly through the mass. Further, the gas- and heat-producing chemical reaction, like any other chemical reaction, doubles its rate for every 10° (approximate) rise of temperature. In a confined space the combustion becomes extremely rapid, but it is still believed to be combustion in the sense that it is a phenomenon dependent upon the transmission of heat.
The explosion of a primary explosive or of a high explosive, on the other hand, is believed to be a phenomenon which is dependent upon the transmission of pressure or, perhaps more properly, upon the transmission of shock.2 Fire, friction, or shock, sThe effects of static pressure and of the rate of production of the pressure have not yet been studied much, nor is there information concerning the pressures which occur within the maas of the explosive while it is exploding.
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