Big guns

Sometimes you see random question out there in the aether of the Internet (Quora) to which you are uniquely qualified to give an experiential answer. To wit:

Can a direct hit from artillery destroy a tank? (stay with me to the's not all boring math stuff)

Answer: Most certainly. In fact if you do the math and work out just how many ft/lbs of "muzzle energy" are generated by a 155mm artillery shell the answer will surprise you.

Bear claw estimates....all in ft/lbs

  • Average 9mm bullet: ~350
  • Average .45acp: also 350 (slower, but heavier)
  • Average 10mm auto: 500-ish

So pistols are pretty "plinky"

  • .308 Winchester : 2600 (getting better)
  • .50 BMG: 12,500 (starting to get serious). .50 BMG can penetrate light armored vehicles in some cases.

Bringing me to the fun part...measuring muzzle energy as if this were a rifle requires a calculator...155mm HE rounds are about 95 lbs if memory serves, and if we fired that round at max charge from an M198 howitzer (8 "red bag") the tabular firing table would say muzzle velocity is about 2400 ft/sec. That's rifle speed, ppl...

95 pounds= 1520 ounces times 437.5 equals...665,000 grains. The average .30 cal is 150-180 grains, by comparison. And it doesn't explode at the end of its trip....but I digress...665,000 grains going 2400 fps = (drumroll)

8,504,535 ft/lbs of muzzle energy... So even if it's just a slug, any tank that encounters HALF that energy at distance is soup. And then the fuse lights off and it explodes for good measure....



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