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WASHINGTON, D . C. 20315

31 August 1964

AMCP 706-106, Elements of Armament Engineering, Part One,

Sources of Energy, forming part of the Army Materiel Command
Engineering Design Handbook Series, is published for the information
and guidance of all concerned.




Major General, USA
Chief of Staff

Chief, Administrative Office


This handbook is one of a .series of three comprising Elements

of Armament Engineering and forms part of the Engineering Design
Handbook Series of the Army Materiel Command.

The three Parts of Elements of Armament Engineering were

produced from text material prepar e d for use at m:e United States
Military Academy. They are published as a part of the Handbook
Series to make generally available the wealth of funda.mental infor-
mation contained in the text material, which is of value to those con-
cerned with military design, particularly to new engineers and to
contractors' personnel.

Arrangements for publication of the handbooks compr1smg

Elements of Armament Engineering were made under the direction
of the Engineering Handbook Office of Duke University. prime con-
tractor to the Army Research Office-Durham.

Agencies of the Department of Defense, having need for Hand-

books, may submit requisitions or official requests directly to
Publications and Reproduction Agency, Letterkenny Army Depot,
Chambersburg. Pennsylvania 172.01. Contractors should submit
such r.equisitions or requests to their contracting officers.

Comments and suggestions on this handbook are welcome and

should be addressed to Army Research Office-Durham, Box CM,
Duke Station, Durham, North Carolina 2.7706.


This text has been prepared to meet a specific development and changes in the field of wea-
requirement as a r eference for instruction in pons design.
"Elements of Armament Engineering," a one- References cited are those available to the
semester comse in applied engineering analysis student as the result of study in previ.ous courses
conducted by the Department of Ordnance at at the United States Military Academy. Advanced
the United States Military Academy, for mem- references are available at the D epartment of
bers of the First (Senior) Class. It represents the Ordnance Reference Room.
application of military, scientiiic, and engineer-
ing fundamentals to the analysis, design and op- Contributing authors for 1958-59 revision are:
eration of weapons systems, including nuclear
components. It is not intended to folly orient Maj. W. E. Rafert, Ord Corps Asst. Professor
or familiarize the student in weapons employ- Capt. A. W. Jank, Ord Corps Instructor
ment or nomenclature. Capt. C. M. Jaco, Jr., Ord Corps Instructor
Of necessity, the large volume of classied Capt. J. M. Cragin, Ord Corps Instructor
data used in presentation of this comse has been Capt. G. K. Patterson, USAF Instructor
omitted; hence the text is intended to serve as a
point of departure for classroom discussions. The JOHN D. BILLINGSLEY
text is revised annually by instructors of the . Colonel, U. S. Army
Department of Ordnance in an eHort to assure Professor of Ordnance
that subject presentation will keep pace with August 1958

The usefitlness and dependability of systems which serve man are contingent upon the effective
performance of the components which make up those systems. So it is with the weapon systems of
war. tn centuries past, vast effort has been expended in improving the performance of war machines.
Improvements of tJ1is century have included rigorous application of scientific principles to warfare in
an effort to optimize the performance of mechanjsms of war. As the laws and rules of mathematics,
physics, and chemistry have been applied to war and its machjne5-, war has become more complex
and more deadly.

Perhaps no component of weapon systems has been studied more thoroughly than sources from
which energy can be conveniently and quickly liberated in great quantity. From the days of Crecy
in 1346, when guns began competition wjth sharp-edged weapons, until the end of World War 11,
when 85~ of the casualties were attributed to conventional explosives, the trend toward more and
improved explosive has continued. Since 1945, the use of atomic energy has opened a vast new
magnitude of effectiveness &om a new soUice of energy, the atom and its parts.

In this portion of the tex't those fundamental facts which must be known to permit the student
to understand how energy is stored, liberated, and applied in military devices will be discussed. Those
facts include a discussion of the theory oE the release of chemical and nuclear energy, thermochemistry,
explosives classification, and the properties of representative explosives.

A reasonable knowledge of all these fundamental facts is required if the military leader is to
understand the performance, as well as the capabilities, of his increasingly complex weapons.

The study begins with a review of the theory of basic chemical energy reactions as they apply
to explosives.


Paragraph Page

1-1 INTRODUCTION ................................................................. 1-1

1-2 HISTORICAL NOTES .................................................................... 1-1
1-3 DEFINITION .. . ........................................................................ 1-2
1-3.1 Formation of Gas , . ............ .. .... . ................ ...................... ..... 1-2
l -3.2 Evolution of Heat .. . .................................................................. 1-2
1-3.3 Rapidity of Reaction ......... ............. .......... .................................... 1-2
1-3.4 Initiation of Reaction ............. .. ............................................... 1-2
1-4 CATEGORIZATION ......--.. -.. ...... .... ........................ 1-3
1-4.l Low Explosives ... ...... ............... .................................................. 1-8
1-4.2 lijgh Explosives .... ................................................................ 1-3
1-5 CHEMICAL KINETICS . . .. ...... . 1-5
1-6.1 Load Density ( High Explosives ) ....................................... _... 1-7
1-6.2 Hygroscopicity . ...... ....................................................................... 1-7
1-6.3 Sensitivity .. ___ . ............. ...... ........................................... 1-7
1-6.4 Velocity of Detonation ............................................................... 1-7
1-6.5 Strength .. .. ............................................,........................................... 1-8
1-6.6 Brisance . ........... .. . . ............. ........................................................ 1-8
1-6.7 Power ... . ..... ............. .. . . . .................................. ......................... 1-8
1-6.8 High Order of D etonation ....... ................................................... 1-8
1-6.9 Low Order of Detonation . ..... .... ............................................. 1-8
1-6.10 Stability ........... . . ..................... ................. . 1-9
1-7 EXPLOSIVE TRAINS . ............. . .... ............... . 1-9
1-7.1 Propelling Charge Explosive Train .. ........ ........................... 1-9
1-7.2 Bursting Charge Explosive Trains 1-11


2.-1 CHEMICAL REACTIONS OF EXPLOSIVES .. ........................ 2-1


Paragraph Page
Chapter 2 (cont)


CHEMICAL FUNDAMENTALS ................................................. 2-1
2-2.1 Gram Molecule ....... ...... .. .............. .. ............ ..... ..... .......... ............... 2-2
2-2.2 Gram Formula Weight .................................................................. 2-2
2-2.3 Speciflc Heat .. .. .. ... .. .. .. .. .. .. ..... .. .. .. .. .... .. ..... .. ..... ..... ..... .. ... ..... .... .... .. 2-2
2-2.4 Molecular Specific Heat ................................................................ 2-2
2-2.5 Specific Volume .............................................................................. 2-2
2-2.6 Molecular Volume .. ..................... ................................................. 2-2
2-2.7 Co-volume ...................................................................................... 2-2
2-2.8 Specific Gravity .. ... .. .. ... ..... .. .. ... ......... .... .. .. .. .. ...... .. ... .... .... .... ..... .... . 2-2
2-2.9 Density .. .. ... .. .. .. .... ... .... .. .. ..... ....... .. ..... .. .. ... ....... ... ...... .. .. ..... .. ... .. ..... . 2-2
2-2.10 Densi~ of Loading .... .. .......................................................... ....... 2-2
2-2.11 Calorie ..................... .................................................... ........ ........ ..... 2-S
2-2.12 Kilocalorie ... .. .. ... .... ..... .. ... ..... ....... .. .... .. .. .. .. ..... ..... ..... ... .. .. ... .. .. .. .. ... .. 2-S
2-2.13 Heat of Formation ........................................................................ 2-S
2-2.14 Principle of Initial and Final State ............................................ 2-S
2-2.15 Heat of Reaction ............................................................................ 2-S
2-2.16 Potential of an Explosive ................................................................ 2-S
2-3 POTENTIAL ...... ...... ...... ................ ....... ..... .... ....................... ... ..... ..... 2-4
CONSTANT PRESSURE ................................................................ 2-4
2-5 VOLUME OF GAS LIBERATED ............................................... 2-6
CONSTANT VOLUME .................................................................... 2-7
2-8 POTENTIAL OR WORK .......................................... ...................... 2-8
2-9 SUMMARY OF CALCULATIONS ................................................ 2-8
2-10 TEMPERATURE OF EXPLOSION ............................................ 2-9
2-10.1 Temperature When Solid Products Are Formed .................... 2-12
CONSTANT VOLUME CHAMBER ............................................ 2-12
2-11.1 Basic Equations ............................................................................ 2-12
2-11.2 Pressure in a Gun Propellant Chamber ...................................... 2-13


Paragraph Page
Chapter 2 (cont)

2-11.3 Pressure When Solid Products Are Formed ........................... 2-14

2-11.4 Actual Chamber Pressure ........................... .............................. .. 2-15
CHANGING VOLUME AND PRESSURE ................................ 2-15


3-1 INTRODUCTION ............................................................................ 3-1

3-2 HIGH EXPLOSIVES ........................................................................ 3-1
3-2.1 Greater Potential ................................................................. .... ....... 3-1
3-3 HIGH EXPLOSIVE CLASSES ..... .. .... .. .... ... ........... ... ........... .... ..... 3-3
3-3.1 Primary High Explosive .. .. ...... .... .. .. .. .... ... .. ... .... .. .. .. ... .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ... 3-3
3-3.2 Secondary High Explosive ............................. ............................... 3-4
3-3.3 Comparison of Explosives ............................................................ 3-4
3-4 PRIMARY HIGH EXPLOSIVES ........... ............... ........ ......... .... .. ... 35
3-4.1 Mercury Fulminate ....................... ....................... ............. ............. 3-5
3-4.2 Lead Azide .. .. ... .. ...... ..... .. ..... ..... .. ... ........... ... .. ..... .. .. ... ... ..... ... ... .. ... .. 3-6
3-4.3 Lead Styphnate .. ... .. .... .. ...... .. .. .. .... .. ... .. ... .. ..... .. .. ... .. .. .. .. .... .. .. ... ... .. . 3-6
3-5 SECONDARY HIGH EXPLOSIVES ............................................ 3-7
3-5.1 Tetryl ................................................................................................ 3-7
3-5.2 Trinitrotoluene (TNT) .. .. ... .. ... .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ... ... .. .. ... .. .. .... .. .. .. ... .. .. .. .. 3-7
3-5.3 Tetrytol ............................................................................................ 3-8
3-5.4 Amatol .. ...... .... ... .. ... ..... .. ..... ..... .. .. ... ..... .... .... .. ... .. ... ..... ....... .. .... .. ... .... 3-8
3-5.5 Explosive D .................................................................................... 3-8
3-5.6 RDX .................................................................................................. 3-9
3-5.7 PETN .. .. ........ ..... ... .. .. .... ....... ........ ..... .... ..... ..... .... .. ... .. .. .... .. .. .. .... .... . 3-10
3-5.8 Pentolite .......................................................................................... 3-10
3-5.9 HMX .............................................................................-. ................. 3-10
3-5.10 Dynamites ........... ....... ..... ....... ...... .... ... .. ..... ..... ..... ..... ..... ... .. ..... ... .... . 3-11
3-6 LIQUID HIGH EXPLOSIVES ...................................................... 3-11
3-7 METAL-HIGH EXPLOSIVE MIXTURES ................................ 3-12
3-7.1 Explosive Manufacturing Considerations .................................. 3-13


Paragraph Page
Chapter 3 (cont)


3-8.l Controlled Burning 3-14
3-8.2 Sensitivity .. - . 3-14
38.3 Stability ................................................................................. 3-14
3-8.4 Residue ............ ........................................................ . ............... . 3-14
3-l:S.5 M~nufacture ... .... ........................ .................................................. . 0-14
3-8.6 Erosive Action . ......... ............................................. .................. . 3-14
3-8.7 Flash 3.14
3-8.8 Detonation 3-14
3-8.9 Smoke 3-14
3-9 BLACK POWDER . 3-14
3-10.l Burning Time ....... ... . ............................................................... . 3-15
3-10.2 Burning Action ........................................................... S-17
3-10.3 Degressive Burning .. ....... .......... ...... ........ ................................ .... 3-17
3-10.4 Neutral Burning .. .. . . .... .............................. ............................... 3-17
3-10.5 Progressive Burning 3-17
3-10.6 Web Thickness 3-17
3-10.7 Single-Base Propellants . ............... ............................................ 3-18
3-10.8 Dowble-Base Propellants ........ ...................................................... 3-19
3-10.9 Ball Powder ...... .... ..................... .................................... 3-19
3-1-0.:W Nitroguanidioe Propellants . .................................................... 3-19
3-11 LIQUID CUN PROPELLANTS .. - ............................. . 3-20
3-12 GUN PROPELLANT IMPROVEMENTS .. .. ........... .................... 3-21
3-12.1 Flash .... .... .......... ....... ....... ........ .................................................. ..... 3-21
3-12.2 Smoke 3-21
3-12.3 Higher Potential 3-22
3-12.4 Erosion 3-23
3-12.5 Greater Stability ..... ..... ......... .... ............ ............... ..... ......... .......... 3-23
3-13 PROPELLANTS FOR ROCKETS ... .. ...... ........ ........ .............. . 3-23
3-13.1 Current Solid Propellants 3-24
3-13.2 Current Liquid Propellants 3-25


Paragraph Page
Chapter 3 (cont)

3-14 EXOTIC PROPELLANTS . .................................... ....................... 3-26

3-14.1 Metal Additives ................ .. .......... ............................................. 3-27
3-14.2 Fluoro Compounds ........................................................................ 3-27
3-14.3 Free Radicals ........................................... ,.... ................................ 3-27
3-14.4 Ionic Fuels 3-27



4-1 INTRODUCTION ........................................... ... ............................. 4-1

4-2 ATOMIC STRUCTURE .................................................................. 4-2
4-2.l Elements and Atoms ....... ............................................................ 4-2
4-2.2 Nuclear Composition ............................ ., ............ ,......................... 4-2
4-2.3 Isotopes ... ... .... .......... ... ...... ......... ....... ...... .......... ... ........ ........... .... ... .. 4-3
4-2.4 Symbols ... ........................................................................................ 4-3
4-2.5 Mass of Nuclear Particles ...... ........................................... .......... 4-3
4-2.6 Charge of Nuclear Particles ........................................................ 4-4
4-3 RADIOACTIVITY ............................. ................................... ............ 4-4
4-3.l Nuclear Instability ........................................................................ 4-4
4-3.2 Alpha Decay ......................................................................... - ...... 4-4
4-3.3 Beta D ecay . ..................................................... ........................ .... 4-4
4-~.4 Gamma Rays ........... ...... . _, ........... ... ............ ....................... ....... 4-4
4-S.S ladueed Reacti.os ... .. ........... .... ......... . ..... ... .... ... .. .... ...... ........... 4-5
4-3.6 Radioactive Series .....................................................,.................... 4-5
4-4 ENERGY, FISSION, AND FUSION ........ .................................... 4-5
4-4.1 Equivalence of Mass and Energy .. .. . . ......... ........................... ... 4-5
4-4.2 Fission .. ............................................... ,................. ...................... 4-7
4-4.3 Fusion . ................. .. ............ .......................................................... 4-7
4-4.4 Nuclear Energy ...... . ............. ...................................................... 4-8
AND CRITICALITY ........... ... .... .......................... ......................... 4-9
4-5.1 Cross Section ..................... ..... .... . ... ........... ........................... ........ 4-9
4-5.2 Chain Reaction 4-10


Paragraph Page
Chapter 4 (cont)

4-5.3 Neutron Reactions ......................................................................... 4-1<>

4-5.4 Cla~ses of Chain Reactions and Criticality ................................ 4-10
4-5.5 Means of Increasing Criticality .................................................. 4-11


A-1 INTRODUCTION ......... :.................................................................. A-1

A-2 MANUFACTURE OF TRINITROTOLUENE: .......................... A-1
A-5 PHYSICAL TESTING OF EXPLOSIVES .................................. A-4
A-5.1 Sensitivity to Shock ...................................................................... A-4
A-5.2 Trauzl Lead BJocks ...................................................._. ................. A-4
A-5.3 Ballistic Mortar .............................................................................. A-4
A-5.4 Velocity of Detonation ................................................................ A-4
A-5.5 Relative Brisance .......................................................................... A-4
A-5.6 Additional Tests ........ ....... ...... ............................... ..... ................... A-8
A-6.l Solid Propellant Testing .............. ......................................... A-8
A-6.2 Measurement of Burning Rates .... .. ..... ....... .. ............................ A:.8


INDEX ................................................................................................ I-1


Fig. No. Title Page

1-1 Schematic drawing of detonation showing progress through a

column of explosive ........ ..... ....... ...... ..... ............ ............. ..... .... .... ......... 1-4
1-2 Nitroglycerin 1-5
1-3 Toluene and trinitrotoluene ................................................................ 1-6
1-4 Mercury fulminate and lead azide ........................................................ 1-6
1-5 Explosive ti;ains .... ..... .... .... .... ............ ....... ............. ..... .......... ........ ............ 1-10
1-6 Schematic representation of explosive trains .................................... 1-11

2-1 Curves showing variation of mol specific heat with temperature

for several gaseous explosive products ...... ......................................... 2-10

3-1 Effect of oxygen balance on strength of explosives (compared

with TNT) in the lead block expansion test ... .... ......... .......... .......... 3-2
3-2 Schematic representation of mercury fulminate .. ........ ................ .... .. 3-5
3-3 Lead azide ................. .. ....... .............. ..... ..... .................... ....... ...... .... .. .. ... 3-6
3-4 Lead trinitrorescorcinate ........................................................................ 3-6
3-5 Te tryI ...... ..... ........... .... ...... ...... ....... ....... ..... ..... .. ... ..... ... .......... ..... ... ..... ...... 8-7
3-6 Trinitrotoluene (TNT ) ............ .............................................................. 3-8
3-7 Ammonium picrate (Explosive D ) .................................................... 8-8
3-8 Cyclotrimethylenetrinitramine ( RDX ) ..................... ................ .... ....... 3-9
3-9 Pentaerythritetranitrate ( PETN) ........ .... .. .. ............ ...................... ...... 3-10
3-10 Cyclotetramethylene tetranitramine (HMX) .................................... 3-10
3-11 Typical shapes of powder grains ........................................................ 3-16
3-12 Sizes of some typical grains ................................................................ 3-16
3-13 Web thickness and route of burning progress through a
progressively burning grain .................................................................... 3-16
3-14 Relative areas of burning as a function of percent of individual
grain consumed, for seyeral typical grain shapes ............................ 3-17
3-15 Flash suppressor on 75-mm gun tube ................................................ 3-22

4-1 Isotopes of hydrogen .............................................................................. 4-8

4-2 Uranium ( 4N + 2) series ... .... . .................................. ..... ................... 4-6
4-3 Pseudo-continuous plot of average mass per nucleon versus
atomic number ........ .. ..... ...................................................................... 4-7
4-4 Particles entering a slab of material .................................................... 4-9


Fig. No. Title Page

4-5 Idealized neutron population growth 4-11

A-1 Tri-nitration equation showing some typical polynitrotoluenes . A-2

A-2 Trauzl lead block after test, \vith section showing expansion
of cavity by explosive A-7
A-3 Ballistic mortar ..... ... A-7
A-4 Pressure vessel for measuring burning rates of propellant as
a function of pressure ... . . .. . . ... . .... . .. ......... ... .................. A-9
A-5 The effect of pressure on burning rate of a rocket solid propellant A-10




In explosive chemistry the energy released by How this energy is best contained and con-
rapid chemical reaction is used to provide heat, trolled is left to later chapters on exterior
ballistics, principles of propulsion, and gun
expand gas, create blast and shock, provide
barrel design. This chapter discusses how such
fragmentation and fragmentation velocity, and energy is stored and liberated, and how this
to create forces for propulsion. can be done efficiently, safely, and conveniently.


Great strides forward have been made in T. J. Pelonze. a Frenchman, and later the de-
ex'Plosives since their inception. The earliest velopment1 io 1846, of nitroglycerin by an Italian,
known explosive, called gunpowder or black Ascanio Sobrero. It remained for Alfred Nobel
powder, is generally conceded to have been the ( 1833-1896) of Sweden, a man of practical as
mixture of saltpeter, sulfur, and charcoal, fust well as scientific bent, to develop explosives of
described by the English friar, Roger Bacon, in usable physical properties from nitroglycerin.
the year 1242. This mixture, at that time, was Nobel included . among hfa many accomplish-
not thought of as a propellant, but rather as an ments {l) the method of initiating high explosives
explosive which would cause terror among the by detonation to secure their full power; (2) the
enemy witl1 its bright flash and thundering noise. theory of explosive action; (3) the production
To Berthold Schwartt., a German monk. is given of dynamite; and (4) design of double-base
the credit for having invented, about 1313, a propellants.
firearm using gunpowder as the propellant. The
6rst organized use of guns in open battle was The great number of achievements in the
by the English at the Battle 0 Crecy in 1346. science of explosives accelerated by two great
Prior to the military use of explosives, which world wars, make necessary a second look at
was as early as the seventh century, there were the basic changes which have taken place in
recorded uses of chemicals in forms such as the 6eld of military explosives. World War I
"Creek fue" and Chinese rocket-propelled "fue was fought with only a few standard high
arrows." The prinicpal ingredient of Creek fire explosives, together with some inferior substi-
was probably naphtha, mixed with sulfur and tutes necessitated by material shortages. These
pitch. Chinese rockets were propelled by a shortages permitted little choice of explosives for
combination of sodium chlorate or sodium nitrate special application or specific requirements.
and some combustible material. These chemical Today the Seid has been greatly enlarged with
mixtures were the forerunners of gunpowder. many types as well as large numbers of explosives
The discovery of gunpowder was followed in together with new ranges and increased scope
1838 by the preparation of nitrocellulose by of application.



,An explosive is a chemical compound or not an explosive since it does not evolve heat
mixture which upon the application of heat or but rather absorbs heat during the reaction. To
shock decomposes or rearranges with extreme
be an explosive a substance must exhibit all of
rapidity, yielding much gas and heat. Many
substances not ordinarily classed as elCplosives the phenomena mentioned: formapon of gases;
may do one, or even two, of these things. A mix- evolution of heat; rapidity of reaction; and initia-
ture of nitrogen and oxygen, for example, can tion of reaction by shock or heat. To be a military
be made to react with great rapidity to yield the explosive, an explosive must also be suitable for
gaseous product nitric oxide, yet the mixture is and used for military purposes.


The student is familiar with the burning of The evolution of heat during the reaction
wood or coal in the atmosphere. In this reaction causes a large increase in the temperature of the
the carbon and hydrogen in the wood or coal gases. This increase results in the rapid expan-
combine ~th the oxygen in the atmosphere to sion of the gases and. the generation of a very
form carbon dioxide and steam, together with high pressure. A reaction which fails to produce
flame and smoke. If the wood or coal is this high pressure will not fill the requirements
pulverized so that the total surface in contact of an explosion.
with oxygen is increased, and it is 'burned in a
furnace or forge where more air can be supplied,
the burning can be made more rapid and the 1-3.3 RAPIDITY OF REACTION
combustion more complete. If the wood or coal
is immersed in liquid oxygen or suspended in air Unless the reaction occurs rapidly the ther-
in the form of dust, the burning takes place with mally expanded gases will be dissipated in the
explosive violence. In each case the action is the atmosphere and there will be no explosion. Again
same; the burning of a combustible to form a gas. consider a wood or coal fire; in the fire there is
The difference is the speed with which the re- evolution of heat and formation of gases but
action takes place. Thus, materials which will these are not liberated rapidly enough to cause
burn can be made to explode if sufficient oxygen an explosion.
is made available rapidly. This fact is demon-
strated by the explosion within internal combus-
tion engines where combustible mixtures of 1 -~.4 INITIATION OF REACTION.
gasoline and air explode to .operate. the engine.
In coal mines methane gas and coal dust combine The fourth factor is the requirement that to
with air to produce explosive mixtures, and in qualify as an explosive the material must readily
grain elevators minute particles of dust form undergo rapid reaction upon the application of
explosive mixtur.es with air. Most explosives a certain amount of energy, in the form of shock
utilize this principle except for the fact that they or heat,. to a small portion of its mass. A material
usually contain their own oxygen integrally and in which the first three factors exist is not suitable
so are independent of oxygen supplied from as an explosive unless the reaction can be made
the air. to occur at will.



The chemical decomposition of an explosive classified as low or high explosives according to

may take years, days, hours, or a fraction of a their rates of decomposition. Low explosives
second. The slower forms of decomposition take burn rapidly. High explosives ordinarily aeto-
place in storage and are of interest only from a nate. There is no sharp line of demarcation
stability standpoint. Of more interest are the between low and high explosives. The properties
two rapid forms of decomposition, burning and of the explosive indicate the class into which it
detonation. The "term "detonation" is used to falls. In some cases explosives may be made to
describe an explosive phenomenon of almost fall into either class by the conditions under
instantaneous decomposition. Explosives are which they are initiated.


Low explosives are those materials which High or detonating explosives decompose
undergo rapid decomposition by burning from almost instantaneously by a rupture or splitting
the surface inward. They are usually manu- of the molecule and the rearrangement of the
factured in the form of "grains" and used as atoms into other molecules, mostly gaseous.
propellants. Consider that a number of grains Present day explosive molecules are comprised
of powder have been placed in the breech of a of atoms, mo~t of which are carbon, hydrogen,
gun. Sufficient heat is applied so that the powder nitrogen, and oxygen. While carbon and hydro-
will ignite. Ignition occurs when a temperature gen tend to unite with oxygen, nitrogen usually
is attained which will cause the combustibles returns to its elemental form. The e::q>losive
to react with the self-contained oxygen to form molecule should be considered an unstable mole-
gas and liberate heat. Since this heat cannot cule which tends to revert to a more stable state.
escape because of the confinement of the breech, There are several theories as to the mechanics of
it will heat the next inner layer of powder ex- detonation; the following is one.
posed by the burning away of the original sur- (a) First phase. The first phase is initiated
face layer, ignite it, further increasing and by supplying enough energy to an explosive,
expanding the gases. This continues until the usually in the form of shock, so that the dis-
grain is completely consumed; concurrently, ruptive forces set up within the molecule exceed
each grain ignites adjacent grains until the en- the attractive forces between some of the atoms,
tire charge is consumed. While confined these and decomposition is started. The tendency
individual grains bum from the outside toward toward disruption is caused by the instability of
the center at the rate of about 5 feet per second. the high explosive molecule. The molecular and
In open air where the pressure will not rise atomic attractive forces are the normal bonds
appreciably the rate of combustion would be tying the molecule together. When they are
about 0.01 feet per second. As the burning broken, and the molecule is rearranged, con-
continues through the charge, the pressure and centrated energy is released, which disrupts
temperature rise and the burning becomes more adjacent molecules. If the initial shock wave
and more rapid. The rate of burning is approxi- en~rgy is sufficient, this wave will proceed
mately doubled for every 10C rise in tempera- through the entire mass of explosive until it has
ture. This form of decomposition results in the completely detonated, provided the energy
liberation of large quantities of gas which yield released by the splitting of one molecule is
high pressures making the explosive valuable as sufficient to detonate more than one adjacent
a propellant. In the barrel of a gun, the shell will molecule.
begin to move before expansion is complete, ( b) Second phase. The second phase of deto-
leaving room for more expansion and thus pre- nation consists of the formation and expansion
venting the barrel from bursting. of gas molecules. When the original molecule is

srfit. the heal' of the detonating wave causes the not only this shock front, but also the chemical
rftl'bon and hydrogen atoms to oxidrze thus ex- reaction zone (0.1-1.0 cm}. Behind this detona-
panJing their volume greatly. The entire process ticm zone are the detonation products. In front
of detonation talces place a.lmost instantaneously of the shock zone is the unreacted explo:oive
Explosives wiith extreme rates of detonation are in its origir.2! state of density, pressure, and
temperature. At or near the beginning cf the
!Kl useful as propellants as the pressure developed
chemical reaction zone, the high temperature
wouid burst i.he barrel cf a gun betore it cwer-
tc which the material is raised by compression in
came the inertia of the shell. the shoe~ zone initiates chemicai react:on. Maxi-
The mecha1nism of detonation m1y be visu- mum density and pressure occur at the beginning
alized by rdeJTing to Figure 1-1. Tnis figure was of the re.:iction zone, while the temperature and
developed from facts resulling from hydro- velocity reath their peak at the comr1~tion of
dynamic studies which showf'd that after the the chemical reuction. The detonation products
Jetonator fundioned, a det01.&tion zc,ne which flow with great velocity (but with less velocity
inC'~';.ldes a zone of chemical reactim1, travels than does the detonation zone} tluough the un-
extre1:lely n1pidly through the column of the detonated explosive. This is chara.::teristic of
explo!'iv~. This detonation zone is generally detonation in contradir.tinction to deBa~"ration, in
considere0 to include r. very t.liin (10-~ cm} shock which case the reaction products flow away from
zone or shoe.~ wave. Lit' e or no c ... ! 1iciil re- the unreacted material. The velocity of advance
action occnrs in ~bis shoclc zone, but here pressure of the detonation zone 1s termed the detonation
reaches its peitk. The detonation zone .includes rate, or velocity.

Deto.oatY Expk11ive
A ... Er;plo:tive btefore detonation

\ ( i \ Pet.on~ion 2.::t'lte Undeiouated E:~plosive

\. . ( ,-. . . -,:;;:--=----,,
' IC:. (, )~~-
:'--." '~\_'Jl.....,1---
'"_,-'. (,(_)
\.._ l
. . '. :. ~ - .
./ / ~-/<~ .~ ~~ock Zo~:. ----
\._ Cnemical R~action Zone
Detonation Products
B - E'tplosive partially detonated

FiQ. J. J S:hcmotlt: drawing ol d.tGnOtio11 ~~owing prr>g ~~$S ~.lit"glt a colum~

ol p1osiv.


Explosives are chemical compounds or mix- Heat and large quantities of gas are liberated.
tures of chemical compounds, and like different The reaction is represented by the equation:
chemica] compounds and mixtures have different
physical properties. Their melting points, freez- 10KN03 + 38 + BC - - 3K2SO,
ing points, density, and chemical stability may (heat)
vary widely. Of particular interest to the explo- + 2K2C03 + 6C02 + 5N + heo.t 2
sives user is the stability of the explosive, for
upon this property depends the power, sensitivity, Application over the years of these ideas to
and ease of handling of the ammunition item in more complex organic compounds, containing
which the explosive is used. within themselves au the required ingreilients
Explosives and propellants generally are for reaction, has yielded a variety of explosives
organic compounds made up of varying amounts with a wide range of physical and reactive
of njtrogen, oxygen, hydrogen, carbon, and properties. For example, the addition of nitrogen
metallic atoms. Some of the newer propellants, and oxygen in the form of - N02 groups to
low explosives, contain boron, lithium, and glycerin yields nitroglycerin.
Ruorine. The arrangement and proportion of The structural formula (schematic) of this
these various basic constituents determine, in unstable, reactive explosive is:
large measure, the physical behavior of the
As an integral part of nearly all explosives and
of fundamental importance to the family of ex-
plosive organic compounds is the intractable H H H
element nitrogen. Unlike its behavior in air,
which is four-fifths nitrogen, as a part of an H - c - c - c - H
organjc compound, nitrogen is not an unreactive
bystander, but is combined with difficulty and in 0 0 0
relatively loose union with its neighboring ele-
ments. Its bonds are easily broken. When these N N N
bonds are broken they rupture suddenly and ... ~ .:' ~ _.: \\
violently with the accompanying liberation of 0 0 0 0 0 0
relatively large amounts of energy.
A1so present in .most explosives is the element
oxygen. Oxygen is relatively easily, but loosely, Note: One of the oxygens in the nitrate groups is bound
weakly to the N. This linkage is shown by the
bound in union with other elements. It may be dashed line.
joined with nitrogen but can be caused to break
away easily in order to join elements such as H,
C, S, or itself. A union of greater stability results. Fig. 1-2 Nitroglycerin.
Fluorine when present is, like oxygen, an oxi-
dizer. It too removes electrons. Hence, .in terms
of the reactivity of N and 0 the explosion oI The joining of additional nitrogen and oxygen
gunpowder can be explained. In the pulverized (nHr ating) with toluene gives trinitrotoluene,
mixture of charcoal ( C), sulfur ( S), and salt- TNT.
peter ( KN0 11, potassium nitrate) are seen the Compare nitroglycerin and trinitrotoluene:
requirements of unstable union of nitrogen, Both contain unstable nitrogen; both give off
mixed so that excess Sand Care readily available appreciable en~rgy when they rearrange. In the
for a more stable union once an initiating impe- nitroglycerin the nitrogen is linked onJy with
tus, such as flame, is applied. The N breaks away, oxygen. NitTogen would be in a more stable
reuniting with either the sulfur, carbon, or itself. state if linked with itself; oxygen mo.re stable if


H-C - H H-C-H
c c
H - C
/ ' C -H
OzN - c
/ ""' c - NOz
H - C
C -


'/ c

Toluene Trinitrotoluene

Fig. 1-3 Tolvene and trinHrotolvene.

C=N-0-Hg-O-N=C N N
II'-.. N-Pb-N /II
N/ '-......N

Mercury Fulminate Lead Azide

Fig. 1-4 Mercury fulminate and lead azide.

joined with carbon or hydrogen; carbon ruid the reactivity or sensitivity of the compound.
hydrogen more stable if bonded to oxygen. Thus The degree of ease of exploding unstable
great instabi1ity exists and, as is well known, the chemical compounds may be an advantage or a
compound is very sensitive or reactive and will disadvantage in the usefulness of aQ explosive.
explode when subject to even a jar. On the other The instability of the -C-0-N = 0 linkage
hand, the TNT molecule also contains nitrogen in nitroglycerin makes it easy to detonate, but
in unstable union, but here the link is with
difficult to transport. Thus, the end use of the
carbon. Also all carbon atoms are joined into a
ring of carbon atoms, some bound by reactive explosive compound often prescribes its con-
double bonds. The ring (or cyclic) configuration stituency. In uses where extremely sensitive
serves also to hold the reaction prone "arms" of but easily detonated compounds are desired,
the molecule farther apart, whereas in the nitro- more unstable linkages and arrangements are
glycerin the "arms" of the N0 2 groups were prescribed.
closer together. Hence, TNT, although rapidly In mercury fulminate for example, not only is
liberating large amounts of energy and gas when the 0 - N bond easily broken, but mercury, a
once detonated, does not fracture easily and may noble metal, is only loosely joined with oxygen.
he handled without excessive danger. In lead azide the nitrogen atoms are mostly
In summary, it may be said then that the joined only with themselves. They are in only a
presence of unstable nitrogen and other reactive weak union with the lead, a metal of low activity.
elements such as oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, and These compounds are very unstable and ex-
active metals is essential to explosive compounds.. tremely sensitive. These easily exploded com-
The relative amounts of these elements, their ar- pounds are useful in small amounts to set off
rangement within the compound, and the nature larger amounts of less sensitive explosives, as will
of their bonding all affect the stability and thus be seen in later lessons.



Almost all physical properties of an explosive be thoroughly understood. The more important
substance must be investigated to determine its characteristics are the load density, hygrosco-
suitability for military use. Before an explosive's picity, sensitivity, velocity of detonation, strength,
usefulness can be fully appreciated these prop- brisance, power, order Of detonation, and
erties and the factors which affect them should stability.

1-6. 1 LOAD DENSITY (HIGH EXPLOSIVES) solvent medium which promotes undesirable
chemical reactions. Since inert materials reduce
The 6nal step in the manufacture of artillery
the continuity of the explosive mass and since
projectiles and bombs involves filling them with
cooling reduces the temperature of reaction,
a high explosive. Depending on the character-
moisture reduces sensitivity, strength, and ve-
istics of the particular high explosive several
locity of detonation. In the case of ammonium
methods may be employed, i.e., cast, pellet, or
nitrate explosives, it may even cause the explo-
press loading. Shells loaded with TNT require
sives to become so insensitive that they will not
an average load density of not less than 1.52
detonate. In addition, the presence of moisture
(weight of explosive per unit volume in cgs units)
promotes decomposition, thereby affecting sta-
with pellet loading, and an average load density
bility. Still another effect may be the corrosion of
of not less than 1.55 with the casting method of
the metal containing the explosive.
loading. Armor piercing shells are press loaded
with Explosive D resulting in an average load 1-6.3 SENSITIVITY
density which varies from 1.45 to 1.55. An in- The term "sensitivity" as applied to explosives
crease in the load density of the charge is highly means the ease with which they may be ignited
desirable. Hence, by pressing, an average density or detonated or, in other words, the amount and
of the loaded charge is obtained which is greater intensity of shock, friction, or heat required for
than the actual density of the particular explosive ignition or detonation. Whether an explosive is
as listed in Table A-1 in the Annex to Part 1. sensitive or not depends in part upon the molec-
High load density reduces sensitivity by making ular make-up of the explosive, and also upon the
the mass more resistant to internal friction and crystal size and distortion, coating of crystals,
to the creation of hot spots. By increasing the density, moisture, and temperature. High density,
continuitv of the explosive mass, velocity of increased moisture, and coating of crystals with
detonati~n is increased, the load is made more wax or a similar substance will tend to reduce
dense, and the tendency for cavities to form is sensitivity. Increased temperature and distortion
decreased. Cavities may cause misfires or pre- of the crystalline structure will increase sensi-
mature detonations. In addition, increased load tivity. The size of the crystals may increase or
density permits the use of more explosive in the decrease the sensitivity depending on the ex-
space provided, thereby increasing the strength plosive considered and the amount of internal
of the ammunition. Given two explosives of equal strain within, or between crystals.
power per pound, if one has an average density
of 1.0 and the other 2.0 after loading, twice the 1-6.4 VELOCITY OF DETONATION
weight of the second explos.ive can be carried in When a high explosive detonates, the action
the same space. Thus, essentially twice the proceeds in a wave through the column of
energy to do work is available. explosive. The speed with which this wave
progresses is termed the "velocity of detonation"
and is usually expressed in meters per second.
Hygroscopicity is the tendency of a material to Under identical conditions, different explosives
absorb moisture. It affects explosives by the detonate at different velocities (see Table A-1 in
introduction of an inert material which when the Annex to Part 1). The factors which ma-
vaporized absorbs heat, and by providing a teriallv affect the velocity of detonation are


reactivity, diameter of the column of explosive, of an explosive to do damage in the close vicinity,
amount of confinement, crystal size, crystal or its ability to shatter its confining medium.
coating, density, and moisture. Increasing the
explosive column diameter, the amount of con- 1-6.7 POWER
finement, or the density will increase the velo_city. Power is defined as the rate of doing work.
Moisture, coating of crystals, or decreasing the This definition applies to an explosive as well as
crystal size will decrease the velocity. to a machine. In explosives power is dependent
1-6.S STRENGTH upon strength and detonation velocity, i.e., the
amount of energy released and the speed with
The strength of an explosive is its ability to do which it is released. Strength, brisance, and
work. It may be denned and measured in two power are closely related. Generally speaking,
ways. From the user or testing standpoint, it is given two explosives of equal strength, the one
defined as the ability of the explosive to displace detonating at the highest velocity will not only
the medium which confines it. From the engineer- have the greatest brisance but will be more
ing point of view it is the amount of energy powerful. It will be more brisant because of
liberated by the explosion or detonation. The the sharpness of the blow and more powerful
constituent atoms and their arrangement deter- because of the speed with which the energy is
mines the energy available in an explosive. The delivered.
degree of rearrangement, the rate of decomposi- Of two explosives of equal velocity, the
tion, and the quantity of gas liberated determines stronger will be more brisant because there is
the amount of work done by the explosive. more force back of the blow. The stronger ex-
plosive will also be more powerful, because more
energy is delivered in the same time. It is pos-
When a force d isplaces a mass through a sible to increase velocity and reduce strength,
distance, the result is work done. The amount thereby increasing both brisance and power.
of work done by a given amount of explosive is ft is also possible to slightly reduce velocity and
determined by the strength of the explosive. The greatly increase strength to increase both bri-
speed of the reaction, or the rate of doing work is sance and power. In the first case, brisance is
called power. Explosives have both strength and increased by the sharpness of the blow, and
power. They also possess a third characteristic power is increased by the increased speed with
which is their shattering effect or brisance (from which the blow is delivered. In the secon d case,
the French, meaning "to break"). Brisance is a both power and brisance are increased by the
unique characteristic of explosives. There is no weight of the blow, in spite of the fact that time
universally accepted precise meaning of brisance of delivery is increased. Power sometimes is
as applied to explos~ves. Brisance describes the expressed as the ability of an explosive to do
extremely disruptive effect resulting &om the damage at a p.istance.
almost instantaneous decomposition of a high
explosive. The causes of this effect are fairly 1-6.8 HIGH ORDER OF DETONATION
well understood. Decomposition proceeds in a
This is the detonation of nearly all of the
self-sustaining wave called the detonation wave.
explosive at the highest velocity possible under
This wave traveling at a high velocity is sur-
existing conditions. In detonations, a high order
rounded by extreme pressures (of the order of
of detonation is desirable in order to produce the
2,000,000 lb/sq in. ) capable of producing mo-
maximum shock wave effect and hence blast
mentary shocks of terrific intensity on contiguous
damage in the proximity of the explosive.
material. It is known that the foregoing qualities
are critically affected by load density. Brisance 1-6.9 LOW ORDER Of DETONATION
is therefore proportional to the product of load
density, reaction zone pressure, and detonation This is incomplete detonation in which all the
velocity. An explosive with great strength and n explosive is not detonated. It is inefficient and
high detonation velocity will have high brisance. undesirable. Low order detonations may be
Brisance is sometimes expressed as the ability caused by:


(a) Initiator of inadequate power. (b) Temperature of decomposition. If the

(b) Deterioration of the explosive. decomposition in storage evolves heat, the reac-
(c) Poor contact with the initiator or lack of tion will be accelerated and a rate of reaction
continuity in the charge. sufficient to c.ause spontaneous combustion may
1-6.10 STABILITY result.
( c) Temperature of storage. Certain explo-
In non-technical language the term "stability"
sives, such as mercury fulminate, are stable at
often is used to mean the opposite of sensitivity,
ordinary temperatures but will decompose at
but from a military standpoint, it is used cor-
elevated temperatures. The rate of decomposition
rectly to indicate stability in storage or the
of explosives increases at higher temperatures.
ability of the explosive to stand storage under all
conditions without deterioration. The fact that (d) Reaction of decomposition products. The
a material is very sensitive does not imply that products of decomposition may accelerate the
it is unstable in storage, nor does the fact that it reaction or they may start a different reaction.
is insensitl\'e mean that it will be stable in For example, ammonium nitrate will hydrolize to
storage. A substance may be extremely reactive ammonia, which will then react with TNT.
chemically, but at the same time may be stable (e) Presence of impurities. Impurities may
in the absence of anything with which to react. make aromatic compounds unstable. For ex-
For exampJe, lead azide may explode from a ample, certain impurities such as dinitrotoluene
slight shock, although it is stable if properly (ONT) lower the melting point of TNT, causing
stored. It is repeated that by stability is meant a sensitive eutectic mixture which may liquefy at
ability to be stored, not sensitivity. The following storage temperatures and exude from the solid
factors affect the stability of an explosive: TNT.
(a) Chemical constitution. Certain explosives, ( f ) Presence of moisture. This will affect some
nitrates, for example, will decompose at ordinary explosives by promoting decomposition at storage
temperatures. This is caused by a change in the temperatures.
molecular structure at these temperatures, and (g) Exposure to sun. Explosives, many of
the reaction can only be minimized by the addi- which contain nitro compounds, are rapidly
tion of stabilizing substances which lower the decomposed by the ultraviolet rays of the sun.
rate of reaction. This decomposition may increase their sensitivity.


A designed arrangement of a single series of bursting charge explosive train. A round of small-
explosives beginning with a small quantity of arms ball ammunition has an explosive train only
sensitive explosive and tenninating with a rela- for the propelling charge. A bomb has no pro-
tively large quantity of comparatively insensitive
pelling charge but may have one or two bursting
though powerful explosive, is termed an "explo-
sive train." A high explosive artillery round has charge explosive trains, depending on the number
both a propelling charge explosive train and a of fuzes used.

1-7. 1 PROPELLING CHARGE initiated by a blow from the firing pin, is trans-
EXPLOSIVE TRAIN mitted and intensified by the igniter so that the
The propelling charge explosive train ejects large, relatively insensitive propelling charge
the projectile from the weapon. This train usually burns in the proper manner and ejects the pro-
consists of a primer, an igniter or igniting charge, jectile from the bore.
and a propelling charge. Thus a spit of fire from In small arms cartridges, where the propelling
a small quantity of sensitive explosive, the primer, charge is small enough to be ignited by the




'~,_:\:. ::=BOO==ST=E=R= = t

' ~~ \



~) ----:~ ~

\ 1

:.-----1 CHARGE


C...~ -~ ~~~~~~-----
R~ PD 80672

Fig. 1-5 Explosive trains.


primer, an igniter is not required. The compo- propelling charge explosive train and the burst-
nents in this train are a percussion primer and a ing charge explosive train, the term "explosive
propelling charge. The firing pin explodes the train," as commonly used, often refers to the
primer, and the flame passes through a vent lead- bursting charge explosive train.
ing to the powder and ignites the propelling Upon impact, or at some point at which the
charge. Pressure of the resultant gases then missile is desired to function, a series of explo-
accelerates the bullet through the bore. sive elements known as the bursting charge
The propelling charge of a round of artillery train or the high explosive train detonates the
ammunition acts somewhat differently from small missile. Basic components which must be pres-
arms ammunition. In artillery ammunition it is ent in practically all high explosive trains are:
necessary to place an auxiliary charge of black primer, detonator, booster, and bursting charge.
powder, called the igniter, between the primer Other elements are sometimes required, but these
and the propelling charge. The addition of the four charges are basic.
igniter charge is necessary because the small The detonator sets up a detonation wave when
flame produced by the primer composition is not initiated by the primer, but this detonation is so
of sufficient mar nitude to initiate properly the small and weak that it will not properly initiate
large quantity 0 1 propellant powder. The igniter a high order detonation in the bursting charge
charge may be contained in the body of the unless a booster is placed between the two. The
primer, making one assembly of the percussion booster does detonate from the small explosive
element of the primer and the igniter charge as wave of the detonator and in tum detonates the
in fixed ammunition, or it may be divided be- bursting charge with a high order detonation
tween the primer body and the igrfiter pad of (Figures 1-5 and 1-6).
separate-loading propelling charges. In order to obtain a particular kind of function-
ing of the missile it may be necessary to incorpo-
1-7.2 BURSTING CHARGE rate other components in the high explosive train.
EXPLOSIVE TRAINS The desired action may be an air burst, an in-
Although there are two explosive trains, the stantaneous burst upon impact with the target,





Fig. 1-6 Schematic representation of explosive trains.


or a delayed burst shortly after the projectile in the body near the booster charge. In this
has penetrated the target. The components which manner the detonating wave is transmitted in-
may be used to produce these various actions stantly to the bursting charge.
are: primer, black powder delay pellet or train, The upper detonator is an assembly which
upper detonator, lower detonator, or some com- contains the primer and detonator. The lower
bination of these components. Regardless of the detonator is an assembly which contains the
arrangement of the components, the basic chain detonator and some booster explosive to lead
of events must be provided. into the booster.
The action which causes a projectile to burst In order to pennit penetration of the target by
in the air may be obtained by placing a primer the projectile before bursting, a delay action is
(which is fired when the projectile leaves the necessary. This js obtained by placing a primer
weapon or when the bomb is dropped) and a and delay element ahead of the detonator.
black powder time train in front of the basic In some cases this cop1bination of primer and
chain. The primer ignHes the time trafo rings, delay is inserted between an upper and lower
which burn for the length of time for which the detonator.
fuze is set, and then in turn initiate the action of A variation of the high explosive train is found
the detonator, booster, and bwsting charge. in chemical shells. In this train there is no large
Other methods for accomplishing the same end bursting charge such as is found in high explo-
result will be discussed under "Fuzes" later in sive projectiles, as it is often desirable to only
the text. rupture the shell case and allow the chemical
To burst the projectile promptly upon impact contents to escape, not to di1fuse the chemical
with the target, a superquick or instantaneous filler. The actual bursting of the case is accom-
fuze action is necessary. Such action is usually plished by an enlarged booster, known as a
obtained by placing an upper detonator in the burster charge, contained in a tube running the
extreme front of the fuze and a lower detonator length of the shell along its axis.


1 T. L. Davis, The Chemistry of Powder and 3 M. Meyer, The Science of Explosives, T. Y.

Explosives, John Wiley and Sons, Inc., N. Y., Crowell Co., N. Y., 1943, Chapter 2.
1942, Chapter 1.
2 P. R. Frey, Chemistry, Prentice-Hall, Inc., 4 Richardson and Scarlett, Brief C allege Chem-
N. Y., 1952, Chapter 2. istry, Henry Holt, N. Y., 1942, Paragraph 52.




The development of new and improved types For most common reactions, tables based. on
of ammunition requires a continuous program previous investigations permit rapid calcula-
of research and development. Adoption of an tion of energy changes. Products of an explosion
explosive for a particular use is based upon remaining in a closed calorimetric bomb (a
both proving ground and service tests. Before constant volume explosion) after coolin.g the
these tests, however, preliminary estimates of bomb back to room temperature are rarely those
present at the instant of maximum temperature
the charncteristics of the explosive should be
and pressure. Since only the final products may
made by theoretical calculations and compari- be analyzed conveniently, indirect or theoretical
sons with laboratory and smaller scale experi- methods often are used to determine the maxi-
mental tests. Such calculations are made using mum temperature and pressure values.
the principles of thermochemistry. Some of the important characteristics of an
Thermochemistry is concerned with the explosive which cab be determined by such
changes in internal energy, principally as heat, theoretical computations and which are discussed
in chemical reactions. An explosion consists of in this chapter are:
a series of reactions, highly exothermic in their (a) Heat of explosion.
summation, involving decomposition of the in- ( b) Volume of products of ex-plosion.
gredients and recombination to form tbe prod- ( c) Potential of the explosive.
ucts of explosion. Energy changes in explosive ( d) Maximum temperature of reaction.
reactions are calculated either from known ( e) Maximum pressure developed in a closed
chemical laws or by analysis of the products. chamber.


An explanation of the chemical ( stoichio- in metric units. Problem solutions are simplified
metric) terms used in the discussion follows. accordingly by using metric units in calculation
The metric system of weights and measures is
used in exp]osives calculations and all tabula- and then, if desirable, by transforming the re-
tions of values of factors and constants are given sults into engineering units.


2-2. 1 GRAM MOLECULE at constant volume is termed k. It is typically

A gram molecule of a compound is a precise larger than 1, actually about 1.2-1.5. Its value is
weight of that compo~d; it is the gram-molecu- a function of the gas.
lar weight, or the weight in grams, numerically
equal to its molecular weight. The molecullll'.
weight of mercury fulminate, Hg(CN0) 2, is The specific volume of a gas is the volume of
284.6, and one gram molecule of this explosive is a unit weight of a gas at 0C and normal at-
284.6 grams (see Table A-5, Appendix). This mospheric pressure ( 103.33 kg/dm2 ).
term is usually written gm mol.
The molecular volume is the volume of a gram
When the explosive is a mixture instead of a molecule of the gas at 0C and normal atmos-
compound, the term gram formula weight is used pheric pressure.
in lieu of gram molecular weight. It indicates a
weight in grams equal to the sum of the molecu- 2-2.7 CO-VOLUME
lar weights of as many molecules of each in-
The co-volume of a gas is defined_ as the
gredient as appear in the formula of the mixture.
smallest volume into which a unit weight of
Thus, a gram formula weight of black powder,
the gas can be compressed. In this course for the
10KN03 + 3S + 8C, is ( 10 X 101.1 + 3 X 32
gaseous products of explosion, the co-volume
+ 8 X 12) grams, or 1203 grams. Similarly, a
will be assumed to be 1/1000 of the specific
gram formula weight of a mixture of TNT and
volume. This is of course not precisely true, but
ammonium nitrate r~presented by the formula little error results.
C11H 2 (N0 2 ) 3 CHa+ 3NH 4 N0 8 is (227.1 +3
X 80) grams, or 467.1 grams. 2-2.8 SPECIFIC GRAVITY
2-2.3 SPECIFIC HEAT The specific gravity of an explosive is the
The specific heat of a substance is the quantity ratio of its weight to the weight of an equal
of heat required to produce a unit change in volume of water at 4C.
temperature in a unit of mass of the substance. 2-2.9 DENSITY
Only small error results if the specific heat of
solids is assumed to be constant through wide The density of an explosive may be expressed
ranges in temperature, provided temperatures in grams per cubic centimeter. In the metric
not too near their melting or their dissociation system, since one cubic centimeter of water
temperatures are approached. A similar assump- weighs one gram, the numerical expressions for
tion may be made as to the specific heats of density and specific gravity are the same. In
liquids, except in ranges close to their freezing, engineering units specific gravity and dens~ty
boiling, or dissociation temperatures. The spe- are not identical values. The term load density
cific heats of gases vary with the temperature, refers to density (or specific gravity in cgs units)
and the specific heat of any gas at constant of the explosive when loaded. This value is often
pressure C,,, is always g~eater than- that at con- slightly larger than explosive density before
stant volume C,., since in the. former case the loading since explosives are sometimes com-
work of expansion is involved. pressed during loading.


The molecular specific heat of -a gas is the The density of loading, as used in calculating
quantity of heat necessary to raise the tempera- pressure in a closed chamber, is the ratio of the
ture of a gram molecule of the gas 1C. It varies weight of the explosive charge to the weight of
with the temperature, and can be defined for the volume of water which would fill the total
constant pressure or constant volume. The ratio chamber in which the charge is to be burned.
of the specific heat at constant pressure to that Note that this is not the same as load density.


2-2.11 CALORIE heat liberated or absorbed in any chemical

A calorie is the quantity of heat required to modification of a system depends solely upon the
raise the temperature of one gram of water (one initial and final states of the system, provided
cubic centimeter) &om 14 to 15C. Tilis quan- the transformation takes place at constant vol-
tity of heat is sometimes called a small calorie. ume or at constant pressure. It ~ completely
independent of the intermediate transformations
2-2.12 KILOCALORIE and of the time required for the reactions.
A kilocalorie is 1000 small calories. In explo- From this it follows that the heat liberated in
sive technology a kilocalorie (kcal) is called also any transformation accomplished through suc-
a large calorie and is abbreviated L.C. cessive reactions, is the algebraic sum of the
The mechanical equivalent of a large calorie heats liberated or absorbed in the different re-
unit of heat, that is, the corresponding amount of actions. Consider the fo1mation of the original
work, is approximately 4270 kilogram-decimeters. explosive from its elements as an intermediate
This value is a conversion factor useful in reaction in the formation of the products of
converting heat energy to work energy. In explosion. The net amount of heat liberated
explosive calculations, work is expressed in kg- during an explosion is the sum of the heats of
decimeters (kg-dm) because it is convenient. formation of the products of explosion, minus the
heat of formation of the original explosive. The
effect of this principle will be first observed in
When a chemical compound is formed &om the calculation of the quantity of heat liberated
its constituents, the reaction may either absorb at constant pressure.
or give off heat. The quantity of heat absorbed
or given off du.ring transformation is called the 2-2. 15 HEAT OF REACTION
heat of formation. The heats of formations for
The net heat difference between heats of for-
solids and gases found in explosive reactions
mations of the reactants and products in a
have been determined for a temperature of 15C
chemical reaction is termed the heat of reaction.
and atmospheric ' pressure, and are tabulated in
For oxidations this heat of reaction may be
units of kilocalories per gram molecule. They termed heat of combustion. In explosive tech-
are listed in the Appendix of Part 1. Where a nology only materials which are exothermic,
negative value is given, it indicates that heat is that is, have a heat of reaction which causes
absorbed during the formation of the compound
net liberation of heat, are of interest. Hence, in
from its elements. Such a reaction is called an
this text heats of reaction are virtually all. posi-
endothermic reaction. The co_nvention usually
employed in simple thermochemical calculations
Since reactions may occur either under con-
is arbitrarily to take the heat contents of all ele-
ditions of constant pressure or constant volume,
ments as zero in their standard states at all
the heat of reaction can be expressed at con-
temperatures. Since the heat of formation of a
stant pressure or at constant volume. As will be
compound is the net difference between the seen in Par. 2-4, the heat of reaction at constant
heat content of the compound and that of its
pressure is equivalent to a change in enthalpy
elements, and since the latter are taken as zero
of the constituents of the reaction.
by convention, it follows that the heat content
of a compound is equal to its heat of formation 2-2.1 6 POTENT~AL OF AN EXPLOSIVE
in such nonrigorous calculations.
The potential of an explosive is the total work
2-2. 14 PRINCIPU OF I NITIAL that can be performed by the gas resulting &om
AND FINAL STATE its explosion, when expanded adiabatically &om
The principle of the initial and final state may its original volume until its pressure is reduced to
be expressed as follows: The net quantity of atmospheric pressure and its temperature to
15C. The potential is therefore the total quan-
The standard state being defined as the state at
which the elements are found under natural or ambient tity of heat given off at constant volume when
conditions. The standard state temperature in this text expressed in equivalent work units and is a
is taken as isc. measure of the strength of the .explosive.



The potential, or the total work that is avail- from a weight of explosive under adiabatic con-
able as a result of explosion under conditions of ditions is calculated and converted from heat mto
constan t volume from a given weight of an equivalent work units, the potential or capacity
explosive, is a useful term in d escribing the for work of that weight of the explosive results.
effectiveness of an explosive. Hence, if:
Using the principle of Lhe initial and final Q,n 11 represents the total quantity of heat given
state, and heat of fonnation tables ( resulting off by a gram molecule of explosive at
from experimental datu). the heat released at 15C and constant pressure ( atmos-
constant pressure may be readily calculated. pheric);
Thjs quantity of heat is different from the Q,.111 represents the total heat given off by a
amount of useful heat actually released by an gram molecule of explosive at 15C and
explosive in a gun chamber, since in a gun, con- constant volume;
ditions approach ing constant volume not con- W represents the work energy expended in
stant pressure are met in practice. Thus, an pushing back the surrounding air in an
explosion may occur under two general con- unconfined expJosfon and thus is not avail-
ditions: the lirst, unconfined, as in the open air able as net theoretical heat;
where the pressure (atmospheric) is constant; E represents the mechanical equivalent of
the second, confined, as in a closed chamber heat ( 4270 kilogram-decimeters per kilo-
where the volume is constant. The same amount calorie, or large calorie):
of heat energy is liberated in each s::ase, but in Then, because of the conversion of energy to
the unconfined explosion a certain amount is work in the constant pressure case,
used as work energy in pushing back the sur-
rounding air, and therefore is lost as heat. In a Q,... = Q,,. 11 + W/E (2-1)
con6ned explosion where the explosive volume is from which the value of Q,.,u may be determined.
small, however (such as occurs in the powder Subsequently, the potential, EQ,,..,, of a gram mol
chamber of a fi rearm) practically alJ the heat of of an explosive may be calculated. Using this
explosion is conserved as useful energy. If the value, the potential for any other wejght of ex-
quantity of heat liberated at constant volume plosive may be determined by simple proportion.


If the energy change in a reaction is known C + Oi C02

this change can be used as a basis for calculation (constant pressure)
of work (and pressure) effects. However, the + heat liberated (94.03 kilocalories)
absolute h eat contents of explosive compounds
There are 94.03 kilocalories "given off' by this
are difficult to calculate, so the quantity of heat
reaction, or a net gain of this amount of heat
liberated in any given reaction may b e calculated
energy iI the end product, C02 , is cooled back
only from the reactants' net change in energy.
to the original room temperature (15C) of the
Such a technique is used in determining heat of
reactants. Looking at this change thermody-
formation of explosive reactions. As a further
namically, if this co~ reaction is carried to
simplification in such calculations, the h eat
completion in the atmosphere, i.e., at constant
contents of the elem ents in their uncombined,
pressure, the beat change is a change in enthalpy
"standard" or elemental state, are assumed to be
of the system (enthalpy decreases). It will be
zero. As a result of this assumption, the total
recalled by the student that heat change of
change in heat of th.e reaction may be assumed
a system at constant pressure is a change of
to be the net change of heat between the ex-
enthalpy. Enthalpy is defined as:
p losive and its (nonelemental, or compound) end
products. For example, in the equation H = U +PV (2-2)


or = C02 +94.38 kilocalories

=CO+I / 2 0t -67.96 kilocalories
(enthalpy) = (internal energy)
+ (energy in pressure-volume terms of system) adding:
Enthalpy is not heat. It has the dimensions of c+o2+C0t=C0t+co+1;2 02.
energy, but while both of its terms are "energy"
~r, cancelling C02's on each side of the equation
terms it may not represent wholly available
energy. It is merely the .sum of U (internal en- gives:
ergy) and PV (pressure-volume energy). Substi- C+I/2 Ot =CO +26.42 kilocalories.
tuting into ( 2-2) the value of U in the first law of
This is the heat of formation per mol of carbon
thermodynamics (conservation of energy law), monoxide formed.
which is:
Using similar reasoning on equations describ-
Q u + w (2--3) ing the formation of simple products, and by
(heat (internal .(work
energy) energy) energy) actually measuring the heat evolved, tables for
the heat of formation (or enthalpy change) have
been compiled (see Table A-5, in the Appendix).
U=Q-W Such heats of formation are for conditions of
and (2-2) becomes: constant pressure and must be adjusted jf con-
H = (Q-W) + PV stant volume conditions are to be met. Thus,
or, differentiating, to calculate the quanfi:ty of beat liberated at
dH = dQ - dW + PdV + VdP, constant pressure, the net beat difference be-
tween the sums of the individual heats of re~ction
and if .only the constant pressure case is consid-
ered, then, since dW = PdV, of the reactants and the products must be de-
termined. For example, the chemical reaction
dH = dQ - PdV + PdV + VdP representing the explosion of nitroglycerin, with
or, since VdP = 0, the total molecular weights and .heats of forma-
dH = dQ (2-4) tion of the explosive (assuming that the products
of explosion will be as indicated) will be:
Hence, under conditions of constant pressure, a
change in heat energy is equivalent to a change CaH,(NOsh ~ 3C02 + 2.5H20
in enthalpy. Mol Wt 227.I 3(44) 2.S(18)
H .F . ( +85.3) 3( +94.39)
Since enthalpy decreases when heat is given
off or lost, ~eats of formation of exothermic + 1.5N2 + .2502
Mol Wt 1.5(28) .25(32)
reactions are given negative signs in many en- H .F . 2.5( +57.8) (assumed 0)
gineering texts. However, in this text in order
This reaction can be expressed in words by
to simplify calculations ( since only explosions
which "give off'" heat are of interest) for any saying that 1 gram molecule (or 227.l grams) of
change where beat is "given off" the heat of nitroglycerin produces upon explosion 3 gram
formation will be given a positive sign: The tables molecules (or 132 grams) of C02 ; 2.5 gram
and illustrative examples in this book are so molecules (or 45 grams) of H 20 (gaseous); 1.5
arranged. The C02 reaction previously described, gram mole~ules (or 42 grams) of N2 ; and .25
would thus have a heat of formation of +94.03 gram molecule (or 8 grams) of 0 2. The heats of
kcal. For many reactions it is very difficult to formation in large calories per gram molecule
ar~ : nitroglycerin, 85.3; C02 , 94.39; water (gas-
form compounds from their elements and sub-
sequently to determine the beat of formation. eous), 57.81. The nitrogen and molecular oxygen
Hence, for these reactions the heat of formation have not combined with other elements in the
must be arrived at by indirect means such as reaction and hence do not give off heat. There-
algebraic addition of simple combustion equa- fore, to calculate Q mp
tions. For example, the heat of formation of Q...p = [3 ( +94.39) + '2.5 ( +57.8))
carbon monoxide is calculated as follows: - [+85.3) = +342.4 L.C.


which is the number of large calories evolved by the gaseous state. However, by considering H 2 0
the explosion of 1 gram molecule (or 227.1 as a gas in all phases of these calculations the
grams) of nitroglycerin at co.n stant pressure. results theoretically obtained are nearer to the
Observe that in calculating this quantity of actual observed results. Thus, H 2 0 will be con-
heat at constant pressure conditions, the assump- sidered to exist as a gaseous product at 15C in
tion was made that the products of combustion calculations in this text.
had been reduced . to atmospheric pressure and To convert the quantity of heat liberated per .
to a temperature of 15C. mol, to the heat which would be liberated by
It should be noted that the heat of formation other weight of explosive such as a kilogram,
of water has been taken as that for water in a the procedure is as follows:
gaseous state. At 15C and atmospheric pressure Since
water is liquid, but at the moment of maximum
Q1<p = the total quantity of heat given off by a
pressure and temperature during explosion, and
kilogram of explosive at 15C and con-
at all working temperatures, the products of
stant pressure (atmospheric);
explosion, including water, are gaseous. Ac-
cordingly, in all thermochemical calculations in Then, using a simple proportion:
this text, water is considered to exist as a gas.
Actually, to be consistent with the thermochem- Qkp 1000
ical reaction in the explosion of nitroglycerin, Qmp mol wt
using heats of formation calculated at 15C and
760 mm pressure, the heat of formation of H 20 Thus, for nitroglycerin:
should be considered for the liquid rather than Qk,, = 342.4 (1000/227.1) = 1507.7 kcal/kg


The law of Avogadro, verified experimentally, n,,. = the number of molecular volumes of gas
states that equal volumes of all gases under the resulting from the explosion of one gram
same conditions of temperature and pressure molecule of explosive;
contain the same number of molecules. From n1c = the number of molecular volumes result-
this law it follows that the molecular volume of ing from the explosion of one kilogram of
one gas is equal to the molecular volume of any explosive;
other gas. The molecular volume of any gas at Vm = the volume of gas in liters resulting from
0C and under normal atmospheric pressure is one gram molecule of the explosive at any
very nearly 22.4 liters or 22.4 cubic decimeters. stated temperature;
Thus, again considering the nitroglycerin re- V" = the volume of gas in liters resulting from
action, one kilogram, at any stated temperature.
CaH5(NOa)a-+3C02 + 2.5H20 + l.5N2 + .2502 Then:
the explosion of one gram molecule of nitro- n,,. X 22.4= V mo, for 0C and normal atmos-
glycerin produces .in the gaseous state: 3 gram pheric pressure; and if
molecules of C02 ; 2.5 gram molecules of H 2 0; n,,. = 7 .25 molecular volumes then
1.5 gram molecules of N2 ; and .25 gram mole- V mo= 7.25 X 22.4 = 162.4 liters since one
cule of 0 2 Since a molecular volume is the molecular of any gas at 0C and atmos-
volume of one gram molecule of gas, one gram pheric pressure always equals 22.4 liters.
molecule of nitroglycerin produces 3 + 2.5 + n1c = 7.25 X 1000/ 227.1 = 31.92 molecular
1.5+ .25 = 7.25 molecular volumes of gas; and volumes.
these molecular volumes at 0C and atmospheric V.1w = 162.4 X 1000/227.1 = 715.1 liters/kg.
pressure fonn an actual volume of 7.25 X 22.4 =
162.4 liters of gas. Hence, representative sym- The above value of V m = 162.4 liters is the
bols can be assigned where: volume of gaseous products from one gram


molecule of nitroglycerin at atmospheric pres- temperature.

sure and 0C. To determine the value of V,,. at Therefore, at 15C the volume of gas from
15C, which is the temperature for which the one gram molocule of any explosive becomes
heats of formation were calculated and tabu-
lated, use must be made of the law of Gay-
V ml5 = 22.4 (1 + 15/273) X n,,, = 23.63 X n,,,
Lussac for perfect gases. This law states that-..at
a' constant pressure a perfect gas expands 1/273 or
of its volume at 0C, for each degree of rise in V ml6 = V mo (1 + 15/ 273)


Immediately upon explosion in the open air, (2-6) becomes

the volume of an explosive substance is greatly
increased. If the quantity of heat consumed in w= f V2 pdV = pf V2 dV
the work of pushing back the surrounding air V1 V1
is calculated and added to Q,,.11 , the resulting = p CV2 - V1) (2-7)
quantity is Q,,..,. The external work performed
in the expansion of the gas may be determined in which V 1 represents the volume of the solid
as follows: explosive and V 2 the volume of the gaseous
Let products. Here V 1 is negligible compared with
V 2 and may be disregarded. Therefore,
p = pressure;
V = the volume of any given weight of gas at (2-8)
any pressure p and any temperature;
s = the surface area of the envelope enclosing From ( 2-5) and ( 2-8), W = 2441.69 n,,. ( kg-dm),
for the work of expansion of the gaseous prod-
the gas; and
ucts from one gram molecule of the explosive at
u = the travel of the surface s, as the gas
atmospheric pressure and 15C. This is derived
as follows:
The work of expansion is given by

W = Jpsdu = J pdV (2-6) W (kg-dm) = pV ml6 = 103.33 ( kg )

dm 2

In this case p is the constant normal atmospheric X 23.63 (dms) X n,,, (mol)
pressure of 103.33 kilograms per square deci- mol
meter, and for the work performed in expansion, = 2441.69 n,,, (kg-dm) (2-9)


The equivalent quantity of heat consumed in (2-11)

expansion at 15C and under constant atmos- For the nitroglycerin reaction, for example:
pheric pressure, but available in confined explo-
sion, is then Q.... = 342.4 + (0.572 x 7 .25)
= 346.5 L.C./gm mol
W/E = 2441.69 n,,,/4270
= 0.572 n,,, L.C. (kilocalories) (2-10) And
Substituting this value in ( 2-1) Q,.. = 346.5 X 1000/227.1 = 1525.8 L.C./kg



It has been shown how the quantity of heat one gram molecule of nitroglycerin,
given off at constant volume by the explosion of
any substance whose chemical reaction is known P,. = Qm X E = 346.5 X 4270
may be calculated. These calculations are made = 1,479,555 kg-dm/gm mo!
on a basis of cooling the products of explosion
Similarly, the potential of one kilogram is
to 15C. Practically, the determination is ac-
complished by the use of the bomb calorimeter pk = 346.5 x 4270 x 1000/ 227.l
immersed in a known quantity of water at a = 6,5141993 kg-dm/ kilogram
known temperature.
Having determined Q m" the potential of any Potential represents the quantity of work that a
weight of the exp.losive can now b e found. For given weight of the explosive can do.


The nitroglycerin reaction, in which all prod- potential

ucts are gaseous, will now be examined as a = Qm X 4270
gram molecule
resume of the foregoing work.
Pm = 346.5 X 4270
CaHs(NOah ~ 3C02 + 2.5H20 + l.5N + .2502
P., = 1,479,555 kg-dm/gm mol
(a) The total heat given off per gram molecule
at constant pressure: (h) The potential of one kilogram
Qmp = 3(94.39) + 2.5(57.8) - 85.3 potential 1000
= 342.4 L.C./ gm mol
kg gram molecule
x -
(b) The number of molecular volumes per gram
+ +
nm = 3 2.5 1.5 .25 + p = 1 479 555 x lOOO
k ) I 227.l
= 7.25 mol-volume/grn mol
(c) The total heat liberated per gram molecule pk = 6,514,993 kg-din/kg
at constant volume: (i) The potential of one poun<d of nit.roglyceriFI
Qm. = Q;..,, + 0 .572 nm in fo0t-po1-mds:
= 342.4 (0..572 x 7.25)
poteAtial kg-clm k-g ft;.;lb
= 34'6.5 L.C./gm mol =--x-x--
(d) The volume of the gas produced per gram Jb kg lb kg-dm
molecule at 0C:
V mo = 7.25 X 22.4 1
Pone lb = 61 514,993 X - - X .7233
= 162.4 liters/ gm mol at. 0C 2.20.5
(e) The volume of gas produced per kilogram
at 0C: ft-lb
Pouelb = 2,137,095 -
Vko = 162.4 X 1000/ 227.1 lb
= 715.1 liters/ kg at 0C
(f) The volume of gas produced per kilogram Note that potential has been calculated for
at 15C: assumed constant pressure adiabatic conditions.
Vrn = Vko (1+15/273) This does not mean to infer that explosives
= 715.1 (1+ 15/ 273) .l iberate their energy o nly under constant pres-
= 754.4 liters/kg at 15C sure conditions. They do not. Actually, neither
(g) The potential (or capacity for work) of oue the gun chamber nor the rocket motor are con-
gram molecule at constant, volume: stant pressure adiabatic systems. R.ather the use


of the potential concept gives an easy and con- pressure calculations, the fact that in the rocket
venient method of comparing two or more motor, combustion of the propellant occurs dur-
explosives under similar assumed conditions. ing a ftow process, alters the method in that the
For rocket propellants as well as for gun reaction occurs during motion of the reactants
propelJants, potential is a measure of energy. and may not be complete before the products
For rocket fuels however, the term "specific are ejected from the nozzle. Further, in a rocket
impulse" (defined as the pounds of thrust de- nozzle chamber the ambient pressure character-
livered per pound of fuel per second) is in more istics influence chamber pressure and therefore
common usage as a measure_ of performance. temperature.
The magnitude of specific impulse is not only In a similar way, pressure in a rocket motor,
a function of propellant characteristics, but also although calcu1ated using the gas laws, is a
is dependent upon the characteristics of the function of the rate of ftow, nozzle character-
system in which reaction occurs. Rocket pro- istics, and thermodynamic properties of the pro-
pulsion will be discussed more fully in Part 2. pellent gas mixture, and thus not a simple,
Similarly, for rocket chamber temperature and constant volume system.


In the analysis of an explosive, in addition to the area beneath each curve represents heat;
an evaluation of the potential which it will hence, for a given mixture, if the heat for each
deliver, it is important to know to what maximum component can be determined between the limits
temperatures the heat liberated will raise the of temperature t0 and t 1 then the heat of the
products of explosion, since these products sub- mixture can be determined by calculation of the
ject the containing system to temperatures re- weighted sum of the heats of all products. For
lated to these heats. For example, gun tube specific heats measured at constant pressure, as
erosion is related to the temperature of explosion. in Figure 2-1, the derivation in total heat be-
Explosion products are essentially a mixture of tween two temperature limits, t0 and t 1, is arrived
gases, each of which has a unique specific heat. at either by rigorous integration, or by more
It should be noted that our calculations thus simple approximation.
far have assumed that reactions give off the For example, in Figure 2-1, the area beneath
same produc-ts each time an explosion takes the curve is:

! " c..,.
Explosions do not always yield similar prod-
ucts. For example, when propellants are burned Q.,. = dt (2-12)
in a rocket motor, combustion products con- 'o
sisting of varying sizes of molecules may be The expression for c...p as a function of tem-
formed. Discussion of temperature calculations perature is not known. However, a close ap-
in this text assume constancy of groups of prod- proximation may be attained by the series:
ucts as shown. In such mixtures, the collective
specific heat of the mixture is a weighted sum C,. = a + Pt + 'Y t + ... zt
2 (2-13)
of the individual specific heats of the mixture For use as constants of each term in this series,
components. values in Table ~l have been obtained for some
Also, since some component gases may have specific products of chemical explosives.
different molecular configurations the specific Using this specific heat-temper~ture relation-
heat of each component may vary differently ship, a general equation may be drafted which
with temperature. The curve for one such com- can be solved for T the explosion temperature.
ponent's specific heat variation, as a function of First, a general heat balance equation can be
temperature is shown in Figure 2-1. Note that written as folJows:


Heat liberated by explosion] [Heat l.iberated] [Heat available fro~. explosive und~r con-]
under constant pressure con- + between o0 c = stant pressure COJ?-d1t1o~s J:>etween ~ C and
[ ditionsbetween 15Cand T:r. and 15C. T:r on a mol basis..This 1s approximately
equal to Qm 11 as previously calculated.

Substituting, keeping in mind that the specilic sion temperature. The fact that the equation is
heat for all products . is given by the exp~ession: expressed as a cubic of temperature complicates
its solution; however, as an approximate solution
C'11 = a' + [j'T + -r'T 2
(2-15) I

where C',, is the weighted sum mol specific heat since the term ; T.,8 is a relatively small per-
of all explosive products, and a, p', and y' are
centage of Q...11 , this term may be ignored in
"'.eighted sum constants of (2-13) for all explosive
order to obtain an approximate solution for T.,
products. Then substitution in (2-14) gives:
so that a trial-and-error technique subsequently

+ 115 C'm11 dt ~ Qmp

may be used to give a more accurate value for
I a
C'mp dt
(2-16) T.,. Once the cubic term is dropped the equation
becomes a quadratic which can be solved using:
Simplifying and substituting values of (2-15) and
(2-16): -b =*= Vb 2 - 4ac
T:=------- (2-19)
('" (a' + fj't + -y't2 + . ..) ~ Q,,.J> (2-17) where
0 {3'
Integrating and _simplifying: a=+-
Rf I
b =+a'
'Y'T% + -"2 T. %
+ -'Y3 T %
~ QlnJ> (2-18)
c = -1000 Q,,.J> (since Q,,.J> is expressed in kilo-
calories and the constants in Table 2-1 are
This can be solved for T $> the approximate explo- expressed in units of cal/C mol)

I Product
,,,,, A
I ,,,,,,.,,
I ,,,,,,
I ,,,,,,,
Molar specific
heat at con- +-----
II,,.,,,. "'
---~--r------------ - _.-- B

Product C
stant pressure
(Cmp) I
I ( Area under curve
I ._I_ _ _ _ between limits is
I in heat units.

Temp~rature (T)

Fig. 2-1 Curves showing variation of mo/ specific heat with temperature lor several gaseous
explosive products.


Substituting these values into (2-18) yields: "( = [3( - 3.405) + 2.5 (0.267) + 1.5 (0.4808)
+ 0.25 (-1.017)) 10-a
Tz: =
-a' + V a' + 2000 fJ' Qm
(2-20) "(
= - .000009051 e -9.051 10-6
Q,,. = 342 .4 kcal
This relationship gives an approximate T"' which 11
can be used in a trial-and-error solution of (2-18)
by trying temperatures in the left side of (2-18) Hence, substituting these value into (2-20):
until this side is identical in magnitude to Q,,.P
of the right side of the equation. -(49.194) +V(49.194)2 + 2000 <.03684) (342.4)
For a specific explosive, since Qmv = Q,,.P + T., = (.03684)
.572n.n, a similar equation for the approximate Tz: ~3170C
value of T., expressed as a functiorl of the con- Solving (2-18) by trial-and-error using this value
stant volume enthalpy change is: as the fust trial temperature a value of T" =
-a'+ Va' 2 + 2000{3' (Qm~ - .572n,,.) 3240C ( = T~ = 3513K) is obtained by succes-
T., = - -- - - - - -- - -- - sive approximation as shown in Table 2-2.
Note, that to be correct, a' and ff are the TABU: 2-1 HEAT CAPACITY (CP) CONSTANTS
weighted sum of all the product gases' a's and P's FOR EXPLOSIVE PRODUCTS AT ONE ATMOS-
(weighted for the mol amounts of the products PHERE PRESSURE lXPRESSED IN CALORIES
liberated). Observe also that T., is a function only PER DEGREE CENTIGRADE PER GRAM
of a', p', and Q mp (or Q ,,.., and n,,.) and is inde- MOLECULE
pendent of such other fact6rs as the density of
loading and the quantity of explosive. fJ 'Y
Product a
Consider a typical example: (X 10-3) (X 10-6)
EXAMPLE: The temperature of the explosion
H2 6.947 -0.200 0.4808
of nitroglycerin is:
02 6.095 3.253 -1.017
C3H~(NOa)a -+ 3C02 + 2.5H20 N2 6.449 1.413 -0.0807
+ I .5H2 + .2502 H20 7.219 2.374 0.267
a' = 3(6.396) + 2.5 (7.219) + 1.5 (6.947) co 6.342 1.836 -0.2801
+ 0.25 (6.096) = +49.194 C02 6.396 10.100 -3.405
{J' = [3(10.100) + 2.5 (2.372) + 1.5 ( - 0.200) NH3 6.189 7.787 -0.728
+ 0.25 (3.253)) . 10-3 CH. 3.381 14.450 0.267
{J' = [36.84) . 10- 3
Note: Data from Thermodynamics for Chemists, Samuel
fJ' = +0.03684 Glasstone, Van Nostrand, Inc., N. Y., 1947



Value of
Value of
T., tried 49.194 T,, + 3.684 . 10-2 T,,2 - 9.051 . 10-s T.,3 Q,,.p
(oC) 2 3 (cal/gm mol)
(calories/gm mol)

3170 331,390 342,400

3360 358,100 342,400
3290 349,450 342,400
3240 342,400 342,400


It shouJd be noted that the temperature of OoH2(N02)aONH4 ~ l.5C02 + 4CO

explosion caJcuJated above neglects heat lost to + 3H2 + 2N + .5C 2

the confining vessel, energy lost in expanding

the container, and the heat content of products
Q11111 = l.5(94.39) + 4(26.43) - (78)
= 169.3 L.C.
between 15C and absolute zero.
Considering carbon as a solid product with a
constant specific heat of 1.98 caJories per gram
molecule, then
In those explosi_ves which are not entirely
converted to gas, the beat absorbed by the solid a" = 1.5 (6.396) + 4(6.342) +'3(6.947)
products must be considered in determining the + 2(6.449) + .5(1.98) = +69.591
temperature of explosion. Equation (2-18) was
derived on the basis of all the products of explo- + 4 (1.836)
13'' = 13' = 1.5 (10.100)
+3(-0.200)+2 (1.413)+(0) .10-3 = +.02472
sion being gaseous. Assume that in addition to
the gases there are x gram molecules of a solid which gives an approximate vaJue of T., of
product having a molecular specific heat of all
the products, and the value of cl for the mixture T - (-69.591) = V(69.591) 2 +2000(.02472)(169.3)
of gases must be increased by a quantity rep- :r - ( + .02472)

resenting the heat content of the solid product.

As in the case of all gaseous products, (2-17)
may be used to determine the temperature of Tx = +46 5 = 1879C (or 2152K)
explosion when sol id products are formed, it
being necessary only to use a value of cl' and {Y' Or by trial-and-error using (2-17) where
for all the products, both solid and gaseous.
EXAMPLE: The explosion of ammonium 69.591 Tx + .02472 Tx 2 -4.95 lQ-G Tx 3
picrate can be represented by the following = 169,300
reaction: T"' ~ 1740C (2013K)


The pressure developed by an eiqilosive on considered. Its vaJue determines the strength,
being fired in a closed chamber will now be and thus the thickness of the container wall.


R = PV or for standard conditions at 0 centi-
From thermodynamic characteristics of all T grade abso!ute
perfect gases for any gas PV = nRT (where n is
the number of mols). For a unit weight of a Po Vo
specific gas
R=-- (2-23)
pv =RT (2-22) The arbitrary "unit" amount for a given gas
Equation (2-22) is called the perfect specific (or mixture of gases) used in this text is one
gas equation and states that the product of the kilogram. Thus defined, R is measured in kilo-
pressure and volume of a unit weight of one gram-decimeters per degree kelvin for one
known specific gas (or mixture) varies directly kilogram, and actually is the amount of external
with the absolute temperature of that gas. Thus, work performed when a unit weight (kilogram)
written for a specific gas, R, the gas constant, of gas (or mixture of gases), expands against
must be a specific and unique constant for that atmospheric pressure owing to a unit increase of
gas. Thus, for a given gas, R becomes temperature. R varies from gas to gas. Use of the


phrase "a unit weight of gas (or a mixture of or,

gases).," stems from Avogadro's law which states:
At identical temperature and pressure, equal p = wRT (2-26)
volumes of all gases eontain the same number of V-a...
molecules; and to Dalton's law which states: Since the co-volume is the limiting volume be-
If two or more different gases exist as a mixture yond which a unit weight of gas cannot be
in a closed vessel, the total pressure exerted by compressed, the expression ( v - a) is sometimes
the mixture on the walls of the vessels will be called the effective volume of the gas.
equal to the sum of the individual pressures For powder gases the co-volume is generally
exerted by the gases making up the mixture. taken as 1/1000 of the specific volume of the
Therefore,. in accordance with these laws, the gas, that is, 1/1000 of the volume of a kilogram
assumption that each constituent of a mixture of of the gas at 0C and atmospheric pressure, a
gases has the same volume and temperature as kilogram being the weight on which all calcula-
the entire mixture, is a valid one. tions in the analysis are based. Thus, a becomes
For real gases ( 2-22) is only approximately
correct and must be corrected for the behavior a=--
vko (2-27)
of actual gases which are not frictionless in their 1000
behavior and are composed of particles of finite
( th~.ugh small) volume. 2- 11.2 PRESSURE IN A GUN PROPELLANT
In this text this correction is handled as a co- CHAMBER
volume correction in which the calculated ideal The calculations above provide a means of
volume is reduced by a correction volume a. a determining the pressure in a closed chamber
is defined as the smallest volume to which a unit where the explosive itself fills the entire volume.
weight of the gas can be compressed whatever A method of determining pressures developed in
the amount of pressure used. It represents the the chamber of a gun, capable of variations in
space occupied by the gas molecules when all charge size, will now be considered.
the space between them is gone. Equation The density of loading, designated by A, has
(2-22) then becomes: been defined as the ratio between the weight of
the explosive charge and _the weight of water
P (v - a)= RT (2-24) which would fill the entire explosive chamber.
Such a correction, though accurate enough for The term should not be confused with the den-
the purposes of this text, is a crude method of sity of the explosive, p.
adjusting the idei gas law for real gas behavior. If the weight of explosive, w, is given in kilo-
Van der Waals, Berthelot, or Virial coefficient grams and the weight of water ( W) to fill the
equation . techniques provide more accurate chamber is given in kilograms, then
methods for corrections of this type. For ex-
ample, Comer, in his book Internal Ballistics, ..:\ = ~or W = ~ (2-28)
uses the relationship w . :\
Numerically, the chamber volume in cubic .deci-
PV = nRT (i + ~v + nC)
v 2
meters is equal to the w~ight in kilograms of an
equal volume of wat~r, thus W represents not
only the weight of water to fill the chamber but
where B and C are constants which are func- also (in metric units) the volume of the cham-
tions of the gas under consideration. ber in liters (or cubic decimeters). Thus, substi-
For weights of gas ( "') greater than unity, tuting this value of W for V in ( 2-26) :
(2-22) becomes
P= ART (2-29)
PV = wRT (2-25) 1 - al\
or, Equation ( 2-29) gives the expression for maxi-
mum pressure to be expected in a chamber of
P(V- wa) = wRT fixed volume.


It must be borne in mind that the derivation of + +

lOKNO. 3S BC-+ 3K.SO. + 2K.co . + 6CO: + 5N:
( 2-29) is based upon the characteristic behavior weights 1203.26 174.3 138.2
of pedect gases only grossly corrected. The
The potassium sulfate and potassium carbonate
actual gases evolved in an explosion are not
are solid products. In such instances the solid
pedect gases, and for this reason the use of ( 2-
products occupy space and must be included in
29) must be restricted even with the correction
the co-volume. Equation (2-29) so adjusted then
to values of 6. which in general are less than one.
It should also be noted that ( 2-29) was derived
using the metric system in which the density of p = ART (2-30)
water is 1. [l - (a + a') A]
Consider an example: in which cl represents the volume occupied by
the solid products of a unit weight of the
EXAMPLE: The explosion of nitrocellulose
smokeless powder may be represented by the
EXAMPLE: Consider the reaction for black
following equation:
powder given above and assume that previous
C2Jf3o(N02ho020-+ 14C02 + lOCO calculations have been made giving V A-o 204.8=
+ 2H20 + 13H2 + 5N2 liters and t., = 2800C. For a density of loading
of 6. = 0.6 find the pressure in a closed chamber.
Calculations previously carried out with the
The solid products of explosion are K2 S04 and
method used for nitroglycerin gave vl'o = 896
K.,CO and the computation of a' is as follows:
liters and T = 2733K (centigrade, absolute). -1. Weight of K2 S04 based on a kilogram of
Assuming a 6. of 0.12, then, since
p = llRT
1 all = lOOO x 3(174.3) = 434.52 gm
103 3 896 1000
0.12 x :7: x 2733 Similarly, weight of K2C03 = .
1203 26
p = - - - 1---(-.89-6-:-)-:-(0-.1-:-2):----
X 2(138.2) = 229.68 gm
where 2. The specific gravity of K2 S04 = 2.66 and
P. Vka
that of K2C0 3 = 2.29. Since in the metric
R=-- system specific gravity and density are nu-
273 merically equal, then the volume of
P0 = 103.33 kg/sq dm or atmospheric pressure K 2SO4 = 434.52
= 163.35 cc, and the volumt of K~co3
p = 0.12 x 339 x 2733
.8926 = 22968 = 100.29 cc.
P = 124,200 kg/sq dm 3. From 2. above, the total volume of solid
or products in liters
P = 17,:420 psia. 1
. .35 + 100.29)
= 063 X - -
1000 = .2636 =a'
2-11 .3 PRESSURE WHEN SOLID PRODUCTS 4.. Then using ( 2-29)
103.33 x 204.8 x 3073
6 x 273
Some explosives, upon combustion, are not
entirelv converted into gas. Consider the re- p = 1 - (.2048 + .2636) .6
action for black powder: P = 198,794 kg/dm 2


2-11.4 ACTUAL CHAMBER PRESSURE not move. Actually, the projectile does m<?ve
which increases the size of the closed chamber
This simpliBed method of pressure determina- before the propellant is completely burned.
tion gives the maximum pressure that might be Now consider briefiy the general case where
encountered in a weapon if the projectile did volume changes during burning.



The calculations thus far considered have been (b ) Rate at whicn gases are discharged
for systems such as artillery propellant cham- (area of throat of nozzle and discharge co-
bers, in which it was assumed that the volume efficient ).
has remained constant during the progress of ( c) Thermodynamic properties of the ex-
the explosive reaction. For propulsion devices haust gases.
such as rocket motors, the energy released dur- ( d) Conditions on either side of, and shape
ing the explosive chemical reaction is released of the exit section.
into an unsealed chamber in which the pressure
is not constant. Nor is the system purely adia- It is repeated that in spite of these differences
batic since hot gases are lost in the jet out the in use, however, the basic calculations of po-
nozzle. In addition, the quantity of explosive tential, temperature, and pressure are applicable
may be changing since the fuel is in motion dur- to rockets as well as to guns. For rockets, a
ing its reaction and some may be lost through the steady state Bow adiabatic condition must be
nozzle. For rocket motors, the amount of energy assumed, and in addition, a solution of several
liberated per unit weight of explosive is only simultaneous equations (required as a result of
one variable affecting the changes in chamber differing exhaust products) must be solved by
pressure and temperature. Also of importance in trial-and-error methods.
rockets ar.:-: A more detailed discussion of propulsion is
( a ) Rate at which the gases are produced. included later in the text.


1 J.
Comer, Internal Ballistics, Philosophical 5 Samuel Glasstone, Thermodynamics for
Library, N.Y., 1951, Chapter II. Chemists, D . Van Nostrand Co., N.Y., 1947,
2 Durham, Thermcdynamics, Prentice-Hall, Chapters I, III, and V.
N.Y., 1954, Chapter II. 6 Hausman and Slack, Physics, Van Nostrand,
3 P. R. Frey, College Chemistry, Prentice-Hall, N.Y., 3rd Ed., 1948, Paragraphs 137, 139-40,
N.Y., 1952, Chapter 8, Paragrap~s 9-3 167-68, 181-3.
through 9-10.
4 Samuel Glasstone, The Elements of Physical 7 James Kendall, Smith's College Chemistry,
Chemistry, D. Van Nostrand Co., N.Y., D. Appleton, Century Co., N.Y., 1935,
1946, Chapter 7. p. 206.




In Chapter 1 it was pointed out that explosive are termed low explosives and are used prin-
compounds or mixtures decompose at differing cipally as propellants.
rates. When this rate is sufficiently rapid to
cause nearly instantaneoU.s decomposition, the This chapter deals with the physical property
explosion is called a detonation and the explosive and military requirements for each of these
is termed a high explosive. On the other hand, explosive classes. It should be noted that the
compounds or mixtures with lesser rates of de- characteristics of low explosives used as gun
composition, which burn beginning at the sur- propellants and rocket propellants differ some-
face of the. explosive and progressing inwards, what, and therefore are discussed separately.


In all military applications of high explosives, conditions of storage. This requirement in am-
the requirement has been to increase effects munition improvement has tended to the utiliza-
such as fragmenting power, blast, and fragment tion of the more potent compounds such as RDX
velocity. This increase requires improvement and PETN. Their application to ammunition
of the two major characteristics, strength and may be considered the most important develop-
brisance, without changing the uniformity of ment in the high explosives field during World
functioning and ability to wi.t hstand adverse War II.

a-~I ...,.. POJBmAI, a negative sifD. Thus, an explosive having per-

TUre ii a tlle&ite correlatioa between the fect balance tq yield car'hoa dioxide and water
poteatial of a eJtPlosive and the degree to hes zero balance; one laddng sdcient oqgen
which the explosive has been oxidized. To ex- has a negative balance; and one containing excess
press the latter the term oxygen balance is oxygen has a positive balance. An oxygen bal-
useful. Oxygen balance is defined as the ratio ance of - 20fi indicates that there is only
(converted to a percentage) of oxygen surplus SOI enough oxygen to fully oxidize the carbon
or lack, to that amowit required for complete and hydrogen present in the explosive. This
conversion of the end products, carbon and means that other, not fully oxidized products,
hydrogen, to carbon dioxide and water. A zero such as H 2 , C, CO, and CH 4 , would be formed
oxygen balance means that oxygen present cor- with less liberation of heat. The following
responds exactly to the amount needed for simple reactions illustrate this reduction in heat.
complete oxidation of all products. If there is an 2C + Ot-+ 200 + 2(26.43) kcal (L.C.)
excess of oxygen, this percentage over is used
and given a positive sign. If there is a shortage
of oxygen, the percentage short is used and given 2C + 201 - 2COs + 2(94.39) kcal


The volume of gas liberated in each reaction from ballistic mortar results by the use of calcu-
is the same, but in the latter case 67.96 L.C. of lated factors, the family of curves which results
additional heat are liberated. On a weight basis, is remarkably consistent. The conclusion is in-
2C + 0 2 - + 2CO + 2(26.43) kcal escapable: Strength is directly related to oxygen
+ 32 -+ 2(26.43) kcal
2(12) balance for these compounds; It is at a maxi-
28 grams of the reacting substance would yie1tl mum in compounds whose balance is close to
26.43 kcal, or we would derive .944 kcal/gram of zero; The four types of explosives are roughly
explosive. equal to each other at a given balance, although
whereas: their indicated maxima may not exactly coincide.
It can also be demonstrated that the sensitivity,
2C + +
202 ---+ 2C02 2(94.39) kcal
power, and brisance of these componds increase
2(12) +
2(32) -+ 2(94.39) kcal
rapidly with increasing oxygen balance, to reach
44 grams of the reacting substance would yield a maximum at the zero balance point. However,
94.39 L.C., or we would derive 2.143 kcaljgram. there appears to be a less rapid falling off of
Th1:15 the ~omplete oxidation of C to C02, not sensitivity in the region of positive balance than
CO, yields (on a weight basis ) some l28i more
in the case of strength. It should be noted that
with very few exceptions, explosives are of a
In Figure 3-1, groups of compounds are graph- decidedly negative balance.
ically compared in strength and oxygen balance.
Considering that all the data available have
been used without regard to quality of source, TNT, CH8 C6H 2 (N0 2 ) 8 , may react as follows
and that some of them have been interpolated and in so doing has an oxygen balance of -63.()j:

.... 12
....0z '
- 0 - - NITRATE
T '


Fig. 3-1 Effed of oxygen balance on strength ol explosives (compared with TNT) In the lead
bloclc expansion fest.


CALCULATION: Or there is a negative 02 balance of:

2CHaCsH2{N02h-+ 12CO + 2CH, + H2 + 2N2 25
- 5- x 100 = -63.6%
Oxygen available:
If a sample of TNT is exploded in a calorimeter
6 mols 02
In 12mo1sof CO thereare 1/2(12)=---- bomb, containing in addition to the TNT a
2molsTNT sufficient quantity of TNM ( tetranitromethane,
or 3 mols 02 are available in TNT per mol an organic compound readily affording oxygen
of TNT to the reaction) to make the oxygen balance more
Oxygen needed: nearly perfect, the explosive power is greatly
For 14 C's are needed: 14 mols 02 increased.
The relationship between oxygen balance and
For 10 H's are needed: 2.5 mols 0 2 potential is a tool in the hands of the explosives
Total 02 needed: 16.5 mols 0 2 research worker. It is not the complete answer in
or the search for stronger explosives. It is quite
16.5 mols 02 conceivable that future work will show that
- = 8.25 are needed for complete certain new arrangements of atoms may give
2 mol TNT
oxidation of TNT. enhanced performance beyond that which would
be expected from oxygen balance or from calcu-
Hence there is a shortage of: lated heats of explosion. Such increased perform-
ance might result, for example, as a result of the
8.25 - 3 = 5.25 mols 02 arrangement as well as the constituency of the
mol TNT explosion.


High explosives are divided into two classes Because of this inherent sensitivity they are used
distinguished according to their sensitivity. These only in primers and detonator mixtures. Second-
classes are primary high explosives and second- ary high explosives are relatively insensitive to
ary high explosives. Primary high explosives are
shock, friction, and heat. They will usually burn
extremely sensitive to shock, friction, and heat.
They will not burn, but will detonate if ignited. rather than detonate when ignited in small un-
Their strength and brisartce are inferior, but are confined quantities. They are used for boosters
sufficient to detonate secondary high explosives. and bursting charges.

3-3.1 PRIMARY HIGH :EXPLOSIVE the explosives are used. A moderately high ve-
locity of detonation is acceptable for primary
The following requirements are considered in high explosives used as booster or bursting
selecting an explosive substance as a primary charges.
high explosive: ( c) Stability. Good stability is important in
(a) Sensitivity. The explosive must be quite primary high explosives. Deterioration in storage
sensitive, compatible with an acceptable degree may result in. a low order of detonation for a
of safety in manufacture, transportation, storage, primer or detonator which would render an entire
and use. ammunition item ineffective.
( b) Velocity of detonation. The explosive ( d) Hygroscopicity. Absorption of moisture
must attain maximum velocity of detonation in affects stability, sensitivity, and velocity. Thus,
a very short column since very small amounts of hygroscopicity is to be avoided, particularly in


this class of sensitive explosives. of the explosive, i.e., its ability to liberate much
Since only small amounts of primary high energy, but also by the rate at which this energy
explosive are used, neither the cost of manu- is liberated. An explosive can conceivably be
facture nor the availability of raw materials are strong but not very powedul, if it liberates energy
important factors. Their melting points are not slowly. This is not usually the case since, if
a consideration except as they affect storage detonation occurs, it provides for very rapid
characteristics, and any tendency to react with liberation of energy.
metals can be readily avoided. Strength is not ( c) Sensitivity. The explosive must be safe to
always a factor for, in many cases, a long hot manufacture, transport, store, load, and use. It
Bame, not strength, is the principal requirement. must withstand the force of setback when used Qi
shelJs, and must be safe to jettison in the case of
3-3.2 SECONDARY HIGH EXPLOSIVE bombs. At the same time, it must be readily
The following requirements must be con- detonated by the action of a suitable explosive
sidered in selecting an explosive substance as a train.
secondary high explosive for use in components ( d ) Stability. Explosives must be able to re-
of ammunition. main unchanged after long periods of storage in
(a) Velocity of detonation. A pbund of coal any climate.
has five times the energy of a pound of explosive. ( e ) H ygroscopicity. Absorption of moisture
Thus it is easy to see that the rate with which must be low because of its effect on stability,
energy is released is important to explosives. sensitivity, velocity, and strength.
This is of special importance from a military ( f) Melting point. This is important particu-
standpoint since military high explosives must larly for those explosives which are cast (melt)
often be detonated without tamping. They must loaded. The melting point should be between
detonate rapidly in order that they may attain a 80 and 100C. If it is much higher than 100C,
maximum gas pressure before the gases are the explosive cannot be melted by low pressure
appreciably dissipated in the atmosphere. For steam and the use of other forms of heat for
example, in a 2000-pound bomb detonated by a melting has been found to be more hazardous.
nose fuze, if the explosive detonates slowly, the ( g ) Reaction with metals. The tendency to
expanding gases from the nose will start toward react with metals is undesirable but is not a
the objective before the tail part has detonated. controlling factor in the selection of an explosive.
If a fast-acting explosive is used, the pressure Metal containers can now be insulated from their
build-up is faster, and a larger amount of energy fillers with unreactive substances.
will be delivered at one time. Therefore, the ( b) Availability and cost. The best explosive
faster the explosive velocity the more violent the known could not be used if its raw materials
action of the explosive mass. were not plentiful. For this reason, in the past,
(b) Strength .and power. The total capacity many reserve explosives such as the Amatols,
of an explosive is a function of the total available became first-line explosives during wars: Cost is
heat liberated during detonation. The ability of not critical in time of war. However, if other
an explosive to deliver this work energy is a fac.tors were equal, it would be the deciding
measure of its strength. Strength is of particular factor.
importance when the explosive is confined. In
an underwater detonation, water "tamps" the 3-3.3 COMPARISON OF EXPLOSIVES
gases and permits a high pressure ~o be built up The important characteristics of the more
before the energy is dissipated throughout a commonly used explosives may be studied on
great volume. An explosion in water is thus four Table A-1 in the Annex of Part 1. Explosives are
and one-half times more effective at the point of listed in the order of their sensitivity and are
explosion than in air. If the explosive detonates compared to TNT, the characteristics of which
adequately, the more energy liberated, the are well known. The methods of conducting the
greater is its strength. tests, from which the table was compiled, are
Power is determined not only by the strength discussed in the Part 1 Annex.


Primary high explosives are used principally agents. These compounds may be used as prim-
an initiating agents in items of ammunition. As ing compositions which burn only if they are
such, they are used in both priming compositions combined with less active ingredients such as
and as initial detonating agents. ground glass, sulfur, lead thiocyanate, or anti-
Priming compositions are mixtures of com- mony sulfide. Mt:rcury fulminate will burn if its
pounds or materials which by their chemical particles are only one crystal in thickness or when
and/ or physical nature are very sensitive to desensitized by pressing to 25,000 psi or more
impact or percussion. When set off, they undergo (dead pressing).
very rapid decomposition. This decomposition
is generally auto-combustion, and not detonation. For initial detonating agents, azides, fulminate,
When initiated, they give off hot gases and diazo, nitro, and ni~oso compounds are often
incandescent solid particles. Initial detonating used. These compounds will detonate. Many
agents likewise are sensitive to heat, friction, or compounds that have good initiating character-
impact, but detonate rather than bum when istics are too sensitive or unstable to be used in
set off. ammunition. Most initiating agents have a dis-
Materials such as lead azide, mercury fulmi- tinctly lower velocity of detonation and brisance
nate, or lead styphnate are used as initiating than do the high explosives which they initiate.

3-4. 1 MERCURY FULMINATE 145 to 215C under normal conditions. How-

Mercury fulminate is the oldest primer and ever, it can be dead-pressed at 28,500 psi. In this
detonator. It is extremely sensitive to shock, condition, hot gases will not penetrate into the
friction, and heat. It produces a strong, hot flame. interior portion of the explosive, and it will
bum without detonating although it will detonate
from a mercury fulminate priming charge.
Mercury fulminate is unstable. Decomposition
C =N - 0 - Hg - 0 - N =C begins after storage for 10 months at 50C, or
for 3 years at 35C after which it will not deto-
nate from i~pact or flame. After 17 months at
Fig. 3-2 Schematic rep resentation 50C, the brisance decreases by over 50%. This
of mercury fulminate. characteristic makes it unsuitable for use in the
tropics. The fact that moisture will prevent func-
tioning is usually immaterial as it is loaded into
a sealed container.
Because of its sensitivity to flame and percussion, Mercury fulminate is used in primer composi-
it was for many years the most important material tions and detonators in the explosive train. As
used in primer composition and detonators. Since a primer, about 30% mercury fulminate is usually
1930, it has been replaced in most military am- combined with potassium chlorate, antimony
munition by lead azide. sulfide, and quite often with an abrasive. The
Mercury fulminate is a crystalline solid, white chlorate will oxidize the carbon in the compound
when pure, but in actual use usually grayish- to carbon dioxide, increasing the completeness
yellow. It discolors with deterioration. As of combustion and the efficiency of the explo-
mercury fulminate explodes before it melts, it sive. An 80:20 (potassium chlorate: antimony
is press-loaded. sulfide) mixture is considered most efficient.
Its sensitivity increases with the crystal size Mercury is a semistrategic short supply metal
due to increase in internal stress. The presence in time of war in the U.S. Mercury fulminate will
of any foreign material, such as sand, will in- not detonate cast TNT and Explosive D (unless
crease its sensitivity to friction. It detonates at an unsafe quantity is used).


3-4.2 LEAD AZIDE fact that lead azide attains its maximum velocity
Lead azide is perhaps the most important of detonation in a shorter column than mercury
primer-detonator explosive now in general use. fulminate. This permits a one-third reduction
Although less sensitive than mercury fulminate, in the amount of the detonator, and the use of a
lead azide is extremely sensitive to shock, heat, longer column of tetryl booster.
and friction. Lead azide is one of the few The disadvantages of lead azide are its lack of
explosives that contain no oxygen. The azide sensitivity to stab action and flame, and the fact
breaks down into lead and nitrogen with the that it does not produce an intense flame. The
evolution of much heat. first two objections are easily eliminated but
mercury fulminate is generally used when flame
is desired, as with delays.
This primary high explosive whose basic
chemical designation is lead trinitrorescorcinate,
Fig. 3-3 Lead azide. has largely replaced mercury fulminate in prim-
It is white to buff in color, but will become gray- ing compositions. It is very sensitive, stable, and
brown if exposed to light. Since it explodes produces a strong flame. It has limited use as a
before melting it is pressed into its container to detonator except as a sensitizing agent, although
a specific gravity of about 3.8. It cannot be dead- its power and velocity of detonation is good. It
pressed. It is transported and stored in, or under cannot detonate TNT, tetryl, PETN, or RDX.
water to reduce danger of ignition. Its sensitivity It is used to lower the ignition temperature of
to impact depends on the crystal size. If the lead azide.
largest dimension of each crystal is over 1 milli-
meter, it may detonate spontaneously. This is
due to an increase in crystalline internal stresses
with increased crystal size. It requires a heat of
245 to 330C to detonate and will always deto- OzN -
nate if ignited. Lead azide is inferior in strength
'(40% of TNT) but this is not important to its use
as a primary explosive. Lead azide is stable under
the most adverse storage conditions. It will
detonate with as much as 50% moisture present.
After hot storage, it becomes slightly more sensi-
tive to shock. It reacts with copper to form super-
sensitive copper azides and, for this reason, is I
pressed into aluminum containers. NOz
Lead azide is used both as a primer and adeto-
Fig . 3-4 Lead trinitroresc:orc:inate.
nator. As it is not sufficiently sensitive either to
stab action or flame to insure 100% operating Lead styphnate varies in color and may be a
efficiency, about 30% lead azide is usually used light straw to red-brown. It is press-loaded.
with other ingredients such as antimony sulfide, Lead styphnate is very slightly less sensitive then
potassium chlorate, and an abrasive. As a mercury fulminate. Its sensitivity is increased
detonator, it is generally sensitized by the ad- considerably after two months' storage at 75C.
dition of lead styphnate to lower the ignition It detonates at temperatures from 200 to 300C. It
temperature. has about the same strength as lead azide. When
Lead azide overcomes most of the disadvan- properly primed, it detonates with a brisance of
tages of mercury fuhninate. Although brisance 21.4, compared with 20.3 for mercury fuhninate.
figures show mercury fuhninate to be slightly However, when ignited by flame its brisance is
superior to lead azide, the latter is a much more only 9.5 compared with 17.0 for mercury fulmi-
efficient detonator. This efficiency is due to the nate. It can be made from nonstrategic materials.



This class of high explosives, though less sensi- dynamites. Chemically, these explosives are most
tive than primary high explosives, might be often aliphatic, aromatic, and heterocylic com-
thought of as noninitiating high explosives. They pounds which include nitro compounds, nitrates,
are used as boosters, bursting charges, or demo- and nitramines. Of the many hundreds of com-
lition charges. They require initiation to deto- pounds which have secondary high explosive
nation by a primary high explosive. Secondary characteristics, only a few meet the tough sensi-
high explosives may be divided into the follow- tivity, stability, brisance, hygroscoplcity, and
ing types: single-compound, bjnary, plastics, and availability requirements.

3 -5. 1 TETRYL appreciably better fragmentation of these shells

Tetryl (2, 4, 6-trinitrophenylmethylnitramine) than TNT. It is also more readily detonated, yet
is the standard booster explosive. It is also used in small caliber shells better withstands the force
as an ingredient in binary explosives and in deto- of setback in the weapon. It is also a component
nators and blasting caps. Its violence of detona- of tetrytol (75/ 2.5, tetryl/TNT), a demolition.
tion insures a high-order detonation. Brisance Tetryl, when pure and freshly prepared, is
tests show tetryl to have a very high shattering colorless but will yellow when exposed to light.
power. It has brisance superior to picric acid or It melts at 129.45C (265F). When heated,
TNT, and its brisance is exceeded only by PETN tetryl first melts and then decomposes and deto-
and some of the newer military explosives such nates. It is quite sensitive, can be detonated in
as RDX. storage, and is very nearly nonhygroscopic.


C H3 This secondary explosive, the most widely used
r - NO z bursting charge explosive, commonly known as
TNT, is also a constituent of many explosives,
such as amatol, pentolite, tetrytol, torpex, tritonal,
picratol, cyclotol (Composition B), and ednatol.
It is known by such nicknames as triton, trotyl,
OzN - - NOz
trilite, trinol, and tritolo.
TNT is relatively insensitive to blows or fric-
tion. It is slow to detonate when ignited by a
flame. If unconfined it bums slowly, without
explosion, giving off a heavy oily smoke. How-
ever, burning or rapid heating of large quantities
of TNT, especially in closed vessels, may cause
violent detonation. TNT in crystallille form can
be detonated readily by a blasting cap, but when
NOz cast it is necessary to use a booster charge of
pressed tetryl or an explosive of similar brisance
Fig. 3-5 Tetryl. to insure complete detonation. Although it does
not form sensitive compounds with metals, TNT
Tetryl is sufficiently insensitive when com- is readily acted upon by unstable compounds
pressed to be used safely as a booster explosive. which are very sensitive to heat and impact.
It is used in the form of pressed cylinders (called When stored in warm climates or during warm
pellets). Tetryl is the standard bursting charge summer months, some ammunition loaded with
for 20-mm and 37-mm projectiles. It produces TNT may exude an oily brown liquid. This


exudate oozes out around the threads at the work. It is less sensitive to shock and friction
nose of the shell and may form a pool on the than tetryl and only slightly more sensitive than
Boor. The exudate is a mixture of TNT and TNT. Tetrytol is nonhygroscopic and is suitable
impurities (such as DNT), and is highly explosive. for underwater demolition since submergence for
<(H3 24 hours does not appreciably affect its character-
istics. Tetrytol is used as a burster charge in
chemical and smoke shells, and demolition blocks.
3-5.4 AMATOL
C>iN - - NOz This explosive is a mechanical mixture of
ammonium nitrate and TNT, and has approxi-
mately the same general characteristics as TNT.
It is crystalline, yellow to brownish, and insensi-
tive to friction; but it may be detonated by severe
impact. It is less likely to exude than TNT. It is
hygroscopic and in the presence of moisture
attacks copper, brass, and bronze, forming dan-
I gerously sensitive compounds.
NOz Amato! 50/50 consists of 50% ammonium
Fig. 3-6 Trinitrotoluene (TNT). nitrate and 50% TNT by weight. When hot, it
is sufficiently fluid to be poured or cast like TNT.
TNT is used as a bursting charge for high Amatol 80/20 consists of 80% ammonium nitrate
explosive shells and bombs, either alone or mixed and 20% TNT. It resembles wet brown sugar.
with ammonium nitrate to form 50/50 or 80/20 When hot, it becomes plastic, and in that state is
amatol. Flake TNT is used in 37-mm shells and pressed into shells and bombs. Amatol is a
in fragmentation hand grenades. Other military substitute for TNT in bangalore torpedoes.
uses of TNT are in mines and for parts of certain Amatol 50/50 is used for 3-inch and larger sheIJs,
shell and bomb bursters. and amatol 80/20 is used for 155-mm (and larger)
TNT is 1used for demolition of bridges, rail- shells. Amato} is also used in large bombs.
roads, fortifications and other structures, and for
land mines. For such purposes TNT is formed
into a large-shaped charge or a small, highly Ammonium picrate, or Explosive D, is the
compressed block and enclosed in a fiber con- least sensitive to shock apd friction of military
tainer which makes it waterproof and protects it explosives. Henqe it is well suited as a bursting
from crumbling in handling. charge in armor-piercing proj~tiles. It also
is used as an ingredient of picratol and some
TNT is suitable for all types of blasting. It
produces approximately the same effect as the propellants.
same weight of dynamite of 50% to 60% grade.
It is manufactured from toluene and nitric acid.
In the prime state it is crystalline and nearly
white, but usually it resembles a light brown OzN - -NOz
sugar. Pure TNT has a freezing point of about
177F. The freezing point is more reproducible
than the boiling point. Unlike some high explo-
sives, TNT does not undergo partial decom-
position when melted and can be remelted and
solidified without significant change in its freez-
ing point.
Tetrytol is a mixhue of 75j; tetryl and 25% TNT. NOz
It has higher brisance than TNT and is more ef- Fig. 3-7 Ammonium picrate
fective in cutting through steel and in demolition (Explosive DJ.


It is slightly weaker in explosive strength than partially overcome by improved manufacturing

TNT. When heated it does not melt but de- processes.
composes. It is nonhygroscopic in humid air, All nations are interested in devising means of
but moisture has a marked effect on its sensitiv- utilizing RDX in a desensitized form. It is being
ity making it more sensitive. Explosive D is combined with nitro hydrocarbons, which will
yellow to orange in color and is not very reactive. permit cast loading, or with waxes or oils in
press loading. At present the chief advantages
3-5.6 RDX
of ROX are its tremendous power, good stabil-
This explosive ( cyclotrimethylenetrinitramine) ity, and the fact that it uses nonstrategic raw
was patented in Germany in 1899, as a medicine. materials. Its disadvantages are its high melting
The British patented it as an explosive in 1920, point, its sensitivity, and its low yield with.result-
and termed it Research Department EXplosive, ing high cost in manufacture.
ROX. It achieved prominence during World (a ) ROX wax mixtures. Composition A is
War II as a "super" explosive. In recent years it the U.S. name for the ROX mixture which uses
has become widely used as a base for many wax as a desensitizer. The original mixture,
explosive mixtures of which Composition B and which included beeswax, was not a particularly
Composition C are examples. Note that this a good explosive as the wax did not enter into the
heterocyclic, not a benzene ring compound. In detonation, and therefore, reduced the detona-
addition to its true chemical name, it is also tion velocity. In burning, it also took some of the
called: oxygen from the explosive, reducing its strength.
Cyclonite or ROX- United States This mixture was used by the U.S. for press load-
ROX ( Research Dept. Explosive )-Great Britain ing 20-mm, 37-mm, and 40-mm shells. It has
T4- Italy been used in foreign countries as a booster,
Hemgen (H)- Germany bursting charge for grenades, and for armor
Tanoyaku- Japan piercing shells.
The composition of prime interest at present
~Oz is A-3. This uses a hydrocarbon wax as the de-
~ensitizer and gives excellent pedormance
/N"'. compared to Composition A. It is used in 5-inch
Hz c c Hz naval shells and in high explosive rounds.

I ( b) Cyclotol. This was the most popular

ROX derivative in use during World War II. In
this country it is called Composition B, and con-
sists of 60% RDX and 40% TNT with 1% hydro-
carbon wax added. Foreign nations use other
percentages, 50:50 being the most popular. The
Italians call it tritolite.
Fig. 3-8 Cyclotrimethylene-
Composition B is cast-loaded, with a pouring
trinitramine (RDX).
temperature between 85 and 100C and a den-
ROX is manufactured synthetically using sity of 1.6.5. It is entirely stable but corrodes
formaldehyde, ammonia, and nitric acid. For- steel, magnesium, copper, and copper alloys very
maldehyde and ammonia are condensed to form slightly. Its main disadvantage is its sensitivity.
hexamethylenetetramine (hexamine) which is Table 3-1 compares its efficiency with that of
nitrated to ROX. Earlier use of RDX was pre- TNT.
vented by the large methyl alcohol requirements, TABLE 3 - 1 EFFICIENCY COMPARISON
and the fact that eleven pounds of nitric acid are OF TNT AND CYCLOTOL
required to produce one pound of RDX. It is Shaped
difficult to recover the nitric acid after manu- Peak I l Water
Explosive Pressure mpu se Shock Charge
facture, due to the reaction between liberated Efficiency
formaldehyde and the spent acid. The first TNT roo 100 100 100
obstacle has been overcome by the p roduction Cyclotol
of synthetic methyl alcohol, and the second (CompB) 110 110 12:~ 169


3-5.7 PETN Because PETN is so sensitive, pentolite is pre-

Pentaerythritetetranitrate (or its acronym, pared by coating the PETN grains with TNT,
PETN) is restricted in its use because of its thus reducing the overall sensitivity. Pentolite is
sensitivity. It is one of the strongest known not entirely stable in storage. The TNT, acting
explosives, being 661 stronger than TNT. Its as a solvent for PETN, accelerates the natural
primary use originally was for boosters and tendency of the PETN to decompose. Storage at
bursting charges in s.m all caliber ammunition; high temperatures may actually result in separa-
later it was used very extensively as a TNT tion of the two explosives.
diluent. Specific uses by the U.S. are for the Pentolite is a very effective explosive and is
upper detonator in some land mines and shells, 49$ more efficient in shaped charges than TNT.
and in primacord (velocity 6200 meters per Its high sensitivity "precludes its use in ammu-
sec). nition, which should not detonate from shock
impact. Pentolite has been used for bursting
charges in small caliber shells (e.g., 20-mm);
shaped charge ammunition of all types (e.g., AT,
C Hz 0 - NOZ ri.8e grenade and bazooka); and shaped demo-
I lition charges. Currently, Composition B is re-
0 z N 0 Hz c - c - CHz ONOz placing pentolite for use in shaped charge
I ammunition.
c Hz 0 - NOz
3-5.9 HMX
Cyclotetramethylene tetranitramine, like RDX,
Fig. 3-9 Pentaerythritetetranifrate
is a nitrated cyclic ( heterocyclic ) compound. As
would be expected from its configuration and
constituency, its properties are similar to those
This material was patented in Germany in
of RDX, being nearly equal in sensitivity, 91~
1894. Although it has been used commercially
as brisant, and 90% as powerful.
since 1937, little er no use was made of it for
military purposes until World War II. In this NOz
country interest was awakened by reports that I
the Germans had replaced TNT with a more N

brisant explosive, believed to be PETN mixed
with TNT, in charges to be detonated under
water. The effectiveness of the new fl.Her was
demonstrated in World War II when the British
battleship "Royal Oak" was sunk with a single
torpedo. When used alone it is pressed, as its Oz.N-N
melting point of 138 to 141 C prevents casting.
PETN is the most sensitive of the secondary
high explosives in general use. It will always HzC
detonate from the imp.a ct of a rifle bullet, and it
has an ignition temperature of 172 to 210C. It
is a white to light-buff crystalline solid, and the
milit.ary grade must be about 99% pure because it
is quite sensitive, particularly"to gritty iinpurities.
"' I
Fig. 3-10 Cyclotetramethylene
tetraniframine (HMX).
This has been the most widely used PETN-
base explosive. It is also known as pentol (Ger- HMX, a hard, dense, white solid is a by-
man) and pentritol. The usual mixture is PETN product in the RDX manufacturing cycle. As a
and TNT ( 50:50), with wax added as a de- result of the rupture and degradation of hexa-
sensitizer. methylene tetramine, HMX is produced in very


small quantities. U acetic anhydride is added to Dynamites are all very sensitive to shock,
the nitration vat, yield is approximately 10 per- friction, and heat, and will definitely detonate
cent. from the impact of a bullet unless they are de-
Since separation and vigorous purification are sensitized by addition of inert materials, which
subsequently required, this explosive is quite in turn would reduce explosive power. When
expensive and has not met general purpose use frozen they become extremely sensitive due to
as a high explosive, but does enjoy increasing segregation of the nitroglycerin. For the same
special purpose use. reason they are less efficient and may give a low
order detonation. Dynamites are approximately
equal to TNT in strength, but in velocity and
Nobel gave the name dynamite to a mixture brisance they are inferior to TNT, having a
of nitroglycerin and kieselguhr..The strength of rate of detonation of about 6000 meters per sec-
dynamite was indicated by the percentage of ond and a brisance figure of about 35. They are
nitroglycerin in the mixture. Later it was dis- considered unstable due to the hygroscopicity
covered that stronger dynamites could be made of certain ingredients, and the ~endency of nitro-
using either sodium or ammonium nitrate and a glycerin to segregate after prolonged storag~.
combustible binder (such as wood pulp). These The United States Engineers use 50% dynamite
have been called gelignite or "active dope" dyna- for demolitions in this country. The British use
mites. By including nitrocellulose with "active gelignites under the names of Nobel's S0.3, 808,
dope" dynamites the gelatin dynamites were 823. The Germans used gelignites for a variety
formulated. of purposes, particularly in grenades. Dyna-
Dynamites have been the chief commercial mites are used for military purposes prin1arily
blasting explosive for years. They have little for their economy. Also, they do not require a
military application except for demolition pur- booster and are very sensitive to detonation by
poses, because of their sensitivity. Dynamites propagation. Their main disadvantages are their
are usually brownish in color. In form they may sensitivity and lack of stability. The British use
be either a powder or a plastic, putty-like ma- one pound of gelignite to detonate bombs up to
terial. The two types in general military use 250 kilograms and five pounds for bombs over
are 50% nitroglycerin dynamite and gelignites. 250 kilograms.


Periodically, there are reports of new. liquid Explosive Strength Sensitivity

superexplosives, many times more powerful than
Picric acid 100 100
the standard high explosives. Such reports should
Methyl nitrate 174 29
be studied with care. From the previous discus-
F.thyl nitrate 128
sions concerning the nature of explosions and the
Ethylene glycol dinitrate 170 13 plus
example of nitroglycerin which, even with com-
Diethylene glycol dinitrate 130 127
plete oxidation, is only 60% stronger than TNT,
it would not seem very probable that this figure Nitroglycerin 160 13
Chlorhydrindinitrate 125 120 plus
could be exceeded by very much unless nuclear
energy is utilized. Nitromethn.ne 127 100
Anilite (nitrngen
peroxide/ butane) 161 sensitive
The following is a list of typical liquid high Dithekite (ni tric acid/
explosives. They are compared with picric acid nitrobenz( 1ic/ wa.ler) 110 100
in strength and sensitivity. Liquid 0xygPn/ larnpblack 100 50


Most of the presently proposed liquid high ex- stronger than standard explosives, this advantage
plosives are too sensitive for general military use. often is offset by low density. Since liquid high
Some are unstable in storage. Others, such as explosives present many problems and few ad-
anilite, must have their components in separate vantages much development remains to be done
compartments with the mixing taking place just upon them before they become generally useful,
before detonation. Some, such as liquid oxjTgen,
except possibly to circumvent material shortages.
must be used shortly after manufacture qr they
evaporate. U high vapor pressure liquids are However, if further research yielded a stable,
sealed in a thin-walled container, the evapora- high energy, explosive, temperature-insensitive
tion and condensation can rupture or collapse liquid, it would be of great interest as a high
the container. While some liquid explosives are explosive.


In recent years the effect of the addition of underwater, and underground explosion. HBX
metals such as boron, zinc, beryllium, lithium, (70'i Comp B~ TNT/ 18$ Al/51 waxes, nitro-
silicon, magnesium, and aluminum to explosives cellulose, lecithin) has been developed to fill the
has been studied extensively, because of the ex- need for an aluminized explosive with high re-
cellent results predicted by theoretical thermo- sistance to impact. As indicated previously it
dynamic computations. These predictions proved achieves this by the addition of wax to the com-
inadequate, in that reactions were not as ex- position.
pected and the metal was not oxidized ap- To illustrate how the aluminum can increase
preciably in the detonation reaction. High the blast effect of an explosive consider the deto-
detonation rates were not observed; in fact, rates nation of Torpex. Torpex is composed of 40%
were lowered and brisance characteristics re- TNT, 42i RDX, and 18$ powdered aluminum.
duced. Surprisingly enough, however, it was (Proportions may vary slightly from this general
found that in the case of aluminum that the oxi- formulation.) When pure TNT or RDX react,
dation of the aluminum did occur after detona- one of the products of the explosion is C02 , ac-
tion was complete, and that the energy so released cording to the following thermochemical re-
contributed markedly to the power and blast ef- action.
fects of the aluminized products. The nature of
the expanding Bame-gas surface provided a
C + 01 - t 002 + 94.39 L.C. (kilocalories)
mechanism by which external oxygen reached Powdered aluminum at the temperatures prevail-
the aluminum. The oxygen thus utilized, effec- ing in the explosion is a more powerful reducing
tively increased the performance of the filler agent than carbon. As a result, instead of C02
weight of the component. Expandfug products being formed, the products are CO and ~08 ,
have been observed to occupy about thirty times according to this reaction:
the volume that would be predicted on the as- C + 20 + 2AJ - t CO + AIO + 26.43 L.C.
sumption that the expanding products merely + 389.49 L.C. + 415.92 L.C.
push the surrounding atmosphere ahead of them.
This discovery led to the development of several The weight of the reactants in the first in-
castable aluminized materials for bomb filling, stance is 12 + 32 =44. In the second case the
e.g., MinoL Torpex, Tritonal, DBX, etc.. It was weight of the reactants is 12 + 2(32) + 2(26.97)
found after considerable testing that aluminized = 129.94. The heat liberated in the first case is:
explosives had signiflcantly greater blast effects,
or damage radii, than their nonaluminized coun- 94 39
= 2.143 L .C. per gram
terparts. Particularly strong effects resulted from 44


The heat liberated in the second case is: safety or corrosion problems, nor should it re-
quire excessively large quantities of strategjc raw
41592 = 3.2 L.C. per gram materials. Of course, no explosive which would
129.94 require an imported raw material would be con-
sidered. The considerations have led to an ex-
Thus, the reaction involving aluminum is about tensive examination of the field of synthetics for
150$ more efficient as a beat producing reaction, use as raw materials in military explosives. The
while at the same time an equal volume of gas development of improved manufacturing tech-
is evolved In addition the aluminum is oxidized niques to obtain greater yield, safety, and more
by the oxygen in the air, which in effect allows stable explosives is a continuing problem. For
the explosive-contained oxygen to be used more example, Tetryl of acceptably good quality can
effectively. be produced from dimethylaniline by a two-
Composition B consists of a mixture of 60% stage, continuous process. Current research is
RDX and 40$ TNT. A comparison between Tor- being directed so as to determine whether
pex and Composition B shows that Torpex pro- equally good results can be obtained with a
duces an area of blast damage about 30$ greater single-stage; continuous process which would ap-
than the same volume of Composition B. pear to offer advantages with respect to design
and operation of equipment and savings in manu-
The addition of metals to low explosives pro- facturing costs. It would also be safer since less
vides comparable increases in propellant per- Tetryl would be in process at any time.
formance, but since slower rates of energy Efforts are constantly being made to improve
liberation are desirable in a propellant, the en- the storage life of explosives. In World War I
ergy per unit weight improvement is generally a considerable quantity of TNA ( tetranitroani-
lower, and thus, this technique bas not enjoyed line) was manufactured as an experimental shell
wide acceptance for propellants. filler. After being stored for several years it un-
derwent an autocatalytic reaction with the for-
mation of highly sensitive compounds which led
3-7.1 EXPLOSIVE MANUFACTURING to explosions in storage. TNA therefore is not
CONSIDERATIONS used today by the United States as a shell filler.
Since funds (in time of peace) are not avail- This type of failure points out that it sometimes
able to maintain large establishments for the takes ten or fifteen years to uncover stability 8aws
preparation of explosives, it is highly desirable in an otherwise acceptable explosive. Ammunition
that any standard military explosive be capable must be capable of tong storage, sometimes as
of being made in existing chemical plant facili- long as twenty-five years, with no loss in ballistic
ties. Preparation should not introduce extreme efficiency or safety.


The second family of explosives, called pro- charge is defined as a powder charge used in a
pellants or low explosives, differs from high ex- weapon which when ignited produces large
plosives in that their rate of decomposition is volumes of gas which rapidly force the projectile
slower. They burn rather than detonate. out the barrel. Although for several hundred
The general properties of low explosives which years black powder was the only practicable
distinguish them from high explosives were cov- propellant, it has many undesirable f~tures:
ered in Chapter 1. The major use of low ex- Consequently, it has been replaced in most uses
plosives is as a propelling charge. A propelling as a low explosive. (It is still used as an igniter


compound.) All explosives currently in use as as well as freedom from changes in chemical
gun propellants have a nitrocellulose base and composition.
are commonly known as "smokeless powders." 3-8.4 RESIDUE
These substances are not powders in the true
sense of the word nor are they smokeless. Rather The exploded propellant should leave little or
they are manufactured as flakes, strips, pellets, no residue. Unexploded powder and unoxidized
spheres, or cylinders. The last type of grain is residue will corrode gun barrels, create smoke,
by far the most common, especially in this coun- and reduce efficiency.
try. Continuous effort has been expended to de- 3-8.5 MANUFACTURE
sign a smokeless, flashless powder. However, The propellant should be easy to produce in
as will be explained later, the complete absence quantity from plentiful raw materials.
of smoke or Bash can be accomplished only by
accepting other unfavorable characteristics. 3-8.6 EROSIVE ACTION
The qualities desirable in a good gun propel- The burning temperature should be kept at
lant will now be considered. a minimum to prevent erosion of the gun barrel.
Any good propellant should produce a large The explosive gases must be as cool as possible
volume of hot gas and should burn at a controlled to prevent muzzle Hash which will indicate the
rate. Guns are designed to withstand a maxi- position of a gun fl.red at night.
mum gas pressure which occurs when the pro- 3-8.8 DOONATION
jectile has moved only a short distance in the The propellant should be incapable of detona-
bore. It is desirable for the propellant to attain tion as this will burst the barrel of the gun. This
this maximum gas pressure by a gradual and pro- implies no tendency for the grains to break up
gressive rise in pressure. Control of this pressure under stress of firing.
lies in the composition of the powder, the form
or shape of the individual grains, and the dimen- 3-8.9 SMOKE
sions of any particular form of grain. Granula- The explosion should be smokeless, or the posi-
tion determines the area of the burning surface tion of a gun fl.red during the day will be revealed.
of the grain. This, in turn, partly controls the Whether ammunition upon firing is Hashless,
rate of combustion and pressure. smokeless, or both, depends upon the weapons in
3-8.2 SENSITIVITY which used, the type of ignition used, weapon
wear, the temperature of the tube of the weapon,
The propellant should be readily ignited but as well as the quantity and design of the pro-
safe to manufacture, transport, load, and store. pellant powder. "Flashless" and "smokeless" are
It should not bum or detonate under the shock relative terms and have been defined as follows:
of being struck by a nonexplosive bullet or a flashless ammunition does not flash more than
shell fragment 5i of the time in weapons of average life under
3-8.3 STABILITY standard conditions; smokeless ammunition pro-
duces less than half the amount of smoke pro-
The propeUant must be able to withstand long duced by ammunition not so designated. A
storage under all climatic conditions without complete round having both these characteris-
deterioration. This means lack of hygroscopicity tics is designated "flcishless-smokeless."


Black powder is manufactured in small shiny mate mechanical mixture. The charge is pressed
black grains. The ingredients are usually finely into a cake and pressed or extruded to the de-
pulverized potnssium or sodium nitrate, charcoal, sired grain size and shape. The grains are glazed
and sulfur which are incorporated into an inti- with graphite to prevent caking and accumula-


tion of static electricity. The potassium or sodium to heat and friction, and therefore, must be
nitrate (about 75% ) acts as an oxidizing agent, handled very carefully. It is hygroscopic which
while charcoal (about 15%), and sulfur (about requires that sealing precautions be taken to re-
10%) are combustibles. Sulfur also lowers the tain stability. Its strength is relatively low and
ignition temperature of the mixture from $40 the Jarge amount of solid residue which it leaves
to 300C. The sulfur ignites first and communi- makes smoke reduction difficult. Fla,o;h reduc-
cates the Bame throughout the mass. Sulfur has tion is also a problem with black powder.
colloidal qualities and fills the spaces between The manufacturing process is both easy and
other components. It also acts as a catalyst and cheap. The required raw materials are plentiful.
reduces the solid residue. Potassium nitrate is An advantage for certain uses is that blade pow-
expensive but only slightly hygroscopic, so it is der, in small quantities (such as those used in
used in fuze powders, while sodium nitrate, be- military applications ), does not detonate..
ing cheap but very hygroscopic, is used in blanks Black powder, in its several grades, is still
and spotting charges. . used for the following military purposes:
Black powder is no longer considered suitable
as a propeUar c because of its many objection- (a) lgniters in artillery shell.
able features ...nd because of the development of ( b) Delay elements in fuzes.
newer powders in which the undesirable quali- ( c) Saluting and blank charges.
ties have been overcome or improved. It is ( d) Spotting charges for practice ammunition.
difficult to control accurately the burning speed ( e) Safety i~ (burning rate, 1 ft in 30-40
of black powder. Consequently, the range of a seconds).
projectile propelled by it may vary. BJack pow- ( f ) Quickmatch (burning rate, 9-120 ft per
der is too easily ignited, being extremely sensitive second).


Smokeless powders are forms of nitrocellulose how size of grain varies for the various calibers
explosives with various organic and inorganic of gun. The grains for a cal. .30 cartridge are
additives and are used as propellants. They may 0.032 inches in diameter and 'o.08.5 inch~ long,
be divided by composition into classes of which while those for a 16-inch round a.re 0.947 inches
two, the single-base and double-base, are the in diameter and 2-7/ 16 inches long. The per-
most common. Both classes are manufactured forations shown in Figure 3-11 are for the pur-
in quantity in a variety of shapes including flakes, pose of controlling the rate of gas liberation as
strips, sheets, pellets, or perforated cylindrical well as buming time. The single perforated
grains ( Figure 3-11 ). The cyJindrical grains are grain is used in small arms, while those with
made in various diameters and lengths depend- seven perforations are used in large caliber
ing on the size of the gun. Figure 3-12 shows weapons.

3-10.1 BURNING TIME th~ web, the longer the burning time (Figure
3-13 ).
The burning time can be controlled by the fol- ( c) The quickness or rate of burning of the
lowing means: powder.
( d) The percentages of volatile materials,
(a) The size and shape of the grains including
inert materials, and moisture present. A 1%
the number of perforations (Figure 3-11). change in volatiles in a low volatile content pro-
( b ) The web thickness or amount of soMl pellant may cause as much as a 10% change in
powder between burning surfaces; the thicker burning rate.




Fig. 3-11 Typical shapes of powder grains.

75-MM 75- M_M

I ,l 37-MM

+. t i
16-IN . 12- IN. PYRO 8-IN. FNH 155-MM 105-MM
ell ~;;.085

Fig. 3-12 Sizes of some typical grains.


Fig. 3-13 Web thickness and route of burning progress through a
progressively burning grain.


3-10.2 BURNING ACTION of a powder is a relative term only, express-

Unconfined smokeless powder bums with little ing its rate of burning compared with other
ash or smoke. When confined, its rate of burn- powders. A quick powder will bum more rapidly
ing increases with temperature and pressure. In and produce a higher pressure in a given gun
orde.r not to exceed the permissible chamber than a slow powder. Powders of fixed weight,
pressure of the weapon, the time of burning o1 chemical composition, and grain geometry may
be made quicker by decreasing size, thus in-
the propelJant is controlled. At constant pressure
the time of burning is proportional to the amount creasing burning area.
of exposed powder surface. Therefore, powder
is made into accurately sized grains of selected 3-10.3 DEGRESSIVE BURNING
Since powder bums only on its exposed sur- As the total surface of smokeless powder
faces, the rate of gas evolution for a given powder changes with burning, on cord and strip forms
will depend upon the area of the burning sur- the surface area of the grain decreases. The
face. For a given weight of powder the initial burning action of these grains is classified as
burning surface will depend upon the form and degressive.
dimensions of the grains. As burning continues,
the rate of combustion and of pressure variation 3-10.4 NEUTRAL BURNING
wilJ depend upon how the area of surface
changes, that is, upon the rate of area increase As a single-perforated grain bums, the outer
or decrease. surface decreases and the inner surface increases.
The rapidity with which a powder will burn The result of the two actions is that the net burn-
depends upon the ch~mical composition, pres- ing surface remains approximately the same.
sure, and area exposed to burning. The quickness The burning of this type of grain is known as


When the multiperforated grain burns, the to-
tal surface area increases since the perforated
grain bums from the inside and outside at
the same time. This type of burning is called
"'~u progressive (Figure 3-13). When a multiper-
forated grain is not completely consumed, por-
en tions of the grain remain in the form of slivers
I:> and may be ejected as such from the weapon.
0 Web thicknesses for most rocket propellant
c grains are considerably larger than for gun pro-
c pellant grains, making burning time long~r. For
thick-webbed propellant it is difficult and expen-
0 20 4'0 60 80 100 sive to remove solvent from a solvent-type
PERCENT BY WEIGHT extruded grain. To avoid this problem, dry ex-
trusion, lamination, and casting are used The
added expense, and often unpredictable per-
formance of large grains formed by these
Fig. 3-14 Relative areas ol burning as a func- techniques has limited the popularity of nitro-
tion ol percent ol individual grain consumed, cellulose-base propellant in large rocket motor
for several typical grain shapes. applications.


3-10.7 SINGLE-BASE PROPELLANTS and gradually replaced black powder. At

Single-base propellants are essentially gelat- present, all nations use some form of gelatinized
inized nitrocellulose to which various organic nitrocotton as a propellant. This type of ex-
substances are added either to produce improved plosive is referred to by various names as fol-
qualities or for special purposes. Single-base lows:
propellants are amber, brown, or black in color, (a) Nitrocellulose: A highly puri6ed com-
depending on the additives present. pound produced from a combination of cellulose
Single-base powder is rather insensitive. In and nitric acid.
fact, it is difficult to ignite, requiring a power- ( b) Nitrocotton: Nitrated cotton.
ful primer and additionally, in large ammunition, ( c) Pyroxylin: Nitrocellulose containing less
a black powder igniter. It ignites at 315C. In than 12% nitrogen.
the open, single-base powder burns very much ( d) Collodion cotton: That type of nitro-
like celluloid. Seemingly, this explosive is very cotton which dissolves most readily in a solvent.
safe but the fact should not be overlooked that, It usually contains about 12.1% nitrogen.
although it is ' used as a low explosive, single- ( e) Pyrocotton (Pyrocellulose): Nitrocellu-
base powder is an organic nitrate and may deto- lose containing about 12.6% nitrogen.
nate if burned in large quantities. (Single-base ( f) Guncotton: Nitrocellulose containing
powder detonates with a velocity of 4600 meters 13.35% or more nitrogen.
per second.) It may also detonate sympathetically To summarize, the characteristics of single-base
from the detonation of other explosives, al- propellants are:
though in actual practice this rarely occurs. (a) Controlled burning. The burning time of
Single-base powder is stronger than black pow- single-base powder can be controlled to a point
der, giving off 1000 calories and 900 cubic centi- where the maximum propelling effect is obtained.
meters of gas per gram, compared with 700 ( b ) Sensitivity. Ignition is difficult, and the
calories and 300 cubic centimeters per gram of powder is reasonably safe.
black powder. It _has a burning speed of 0.1 to ( c) Stability. The powder is unstable, but
18 centimeters per second at pressures up to this can be controlled to within acceptable limits.
60,000 pounds per square inch. . ( d) Residue. There is some residue and
Single-base powder is unstable and decom- smoke.
poses in hot moist storage. It is hygroscopic, al- ( ~) Manufacture. This is complicated but
though not as hygroscopic as black powder. safe. Raw materials are plentiful.
Nitrocellulose in the presence of moisture hy- (f) Erosive action. Single-base powder erodes
<lrolizes to free acid, which takes the form of the bore, but not quite as much as black powder.
oxides of nitrogen. These oxides accelerate the Its combustion temperature is 2700 to 3500C.
decomposition, building up heat to an ignition ( g) Flash. This is caused bv hot gases which
temperature, and spontaneous combustion may ignite when they come into co~act with oxygen
result. at the muzzle. It can be conttolled by adding
Nitrocellulose is one of several nitrated cellu- cooling materials to the powder.
lose compounds useful as explosive compounds. Single-base powder can be produced in a form
The nitration effect of nitric acid on cotton was lacking most of the objectionable features. For
first observed in 1838. Nitroglycerin was pro- this reason, it has been adopted as the standard
duced in 1846, and guncotton in 1848. Around U.S. propellant for small arms and artillery wea-
1880, the gelatinizing effect of combining nitro- pons.
glycerin and nitrocellulose was discovered and The powder for small arms is usually glazed
led to the production of blasting gelatin, which with graphite to facilitate machine loading and
is still one of the strongest explosives known. t<;> prevent the accumulatiOh of large charges of
. Smokeless powder (nitrocellulose ) was first static electricity, and thus presents a black,
used for blasting, but was gradually developed polished appearance. Since the powder grains
as a propellant to overcome the objectionable are small, they ignite more readily and burn
features of black powder. About 1886, pyro- more freely than cannon powder. When mois-
cotton, cordite, and ballistite were all developed ture is present or abnormal temperatures prevail,


they are subject to more rapid deterioration than to World War I and decided in favor of the former
the larger grains. due to the great erosive effect of ballistite on the
guns. In various forms and compositions, double-
3-10.8 DOUBLE-BASE PROPELLANTS base powders are used in the U.S. in mortar
This foim of smokeless powder is known as propellants, small rocket engines, shotgun shells,
ballistite in the U.S., and as cordite in Britain. It and the new T65 cal. .30 NATO rifle cartridge.
is essentially a combination of nitroglycerin and
nitrocellulose with certain additives to give spe- 3-10.9 BALL POWDER
cial properties. The nitroglycerin, usually 30 to With the stand:1rdization of the caliber .30
40% by weight, serves to increase the potential carbine by this nation, another form of double-
and reduces hygroscopicity, the latter improving base propellant became standard. This configu-
stability of the powder. The color of the grains is ration of ballistite in tl' e form of spheres
gray-green to black, and the forms are the same 0.02-0.03 inch in diameter is called ball powder.
as for single-base powders. It is produced by dissolving wet nitrocellulose
D ouble-base gun powders are more sensitive in a solvent (ethyl acetate) with additives. When
than single-base powders, igniting at 150 to a protective colloid is added and the solution is
160C. They detonate more readily than do agitated, small globules are formed. When the
single-base powders, and can be made to yield a volatile solvent is removed by evaporation the
higher potential and liberate more heat, but globules solidify, and when coated, dried, and
produce a smaller volume of gas. The burning graphited, become balls or spheres. A wide va-
rate, generally faster than that of single-base riety of double-base (and single-base as well)
powder, can be controlled similarly. compositions may be produced by this technique.
The desired characteristics of these propellants Because of the economy and speed with which
are, in summary: ball powder can be manufactured, this propellant
(a) Controlled burning. Burning can be con- has promise in future applications not limited to
trolled, as with single-base powders. small anns.
(b ) Sensitivity. This is greater than for single-
base powder, and slightly more hazardous. 3-10.10 NITROGUANIDINE PROPELLANTS
( c) Stability. Double-base powders can be A double-base propellant containing nitro-
made stable by the addition of stabilizing ingre- guanidine in addition to nitroglycerin and nitro-
dients. cellulose as principal ingredient, is sometimes
( d ) Residue. Since there is not so much inert referred to as "double-base" propellant, although
material, there is little solid residue. Smoke can it is more specifically a "poly-base" propellant.
be controlled. This type of propellant was developed by Great
( e) Manufacture. Not as safe as single-base Britain as a result of research for a powder with
powder due to presence of nitroglycerin. Raw desirable properties such as cool burning, low
materials are readily available. erosion, and fiasblessness, without decrease in
(f ) Erosive action. High temperature and stability or potential. The British have desig-
heat of explosion from the higher potential nated their nitroguanidine propellant as Cordite
double-base powders cause more erosion than N. The nitroguanidine propellant, designated
single-base powders. M-15, developed by the United States, represents
( g) Flash. As is the case with single-base pro- an interim solution for selected rounds of ammu-
pellants, flash can be controlled to a certain nition where the obscuration problem is critical
extent by the use of additives. The presence of and where its special properties are particularly
nitroglycerin accentuates the tendency to flash needed.
by increasing the Bame temperature. The M-15 propellant has a ballistic potential
Double-base powders have limited use in artil- comparable to single-base powders currently in
lery weapons in the U.S. However, they are use but with a lower erosive effect and less ten-
used as the standard propellants in most other dency to Hash.
countries. The U.S. Army and Navy both evalu- The major drawback to the use of this new
ated single-base and double-base powders prior propellant is the small nwnber of domestic

3-1 9

facilities for the manufacture of the principal of electrical power required and the inability to
ingredient, nitroguanidine. Our major supplier recover the sulphuric acid whicl) must be used.
of this item is Canada. Even if facilities are ex- One production advantage is that M-15 propel-
panded, production would be li1ited in that the lant can be manufactured by any facility which
basic raw material, cyanamide, must be imported is equipped to make double-base powder.
and was in short supply during World War II. Nitroguanidine propellants are currently used
The current method of producing nitroguanidine in this country for a 90-mm round and the M-35
has two undesirable features: the large amount bazooka round.


For a number of years the feasibility of em- Two additional types of systems were sub-
ploying liquid propellants for high pressure pro- sequently investigated. The first, a "preloaded
jectile launchers has been considered. A vigorous chamber" gun utilized separate containers of
program to investigate this possibility has been N 2H 4 and H 20 2 initially located in the gun cham-
initiated. Numerous improvements over conven- ber, with firing initiated by container rupture
tional solid propellants are conceivable if such and propellant mixing through mechanical
an application can be successfully reduced to means. Velocities in the 11,000 ft/sec range could
practice. Among these may be mentioned the be reached with this launcher: Second, it was
following: considered desirable to revise the earlier "ex-
(a) Elimination of the ca'idge case. ternally pressurized" injection gun to provide for
( b) Shaped propellant tanks in remote (safer ) propellant introduction at a controlled rate with-
location in aircraft, ships, and tanks, with pipe- out the use of auxiliary sources .of high pressure.
line transfer to gun or launcher. Consequently, several systems were built and
( c) Reduced gun length and weight. successfully operated on a "regenerative injec-
( d) Higher velocities by reason of higher pro- tionn principle, in which the injection pressure
pellant potential of some liquid propellants. was derived from the chamber press~e through
( e) Control over chamber pressure-time curves the use of differential area pistons. Experimental
by control of rate of propellant injection, employ- models of both caliber .50 and 37-mm launchers
ing hypergolic bi-propellant systems such as were employed in tests of this principle.
hydrazine-hydrogen peroxide or hydrazine-nitric In the course of the exploratory work per-
acid. This in turn would give higher velocities formed during the contract, a numb~r of engi-
at lower peak chamber pressures. neering problems were uncovered, practical
The work thus far performed on the project solutions to which are necessary before prototype
indicates that several of the above advances may models of any conceivable field weapons can be
be realized in a weapoi:i of practical design. designed. For injection launchers, improved
Initial experiments employed a caliber .50 tube methods of sealing liquid propellants at high
attached to a block incorporating a combustion pressures are required. Correspondingly, meth-
chamber and piston injectors for introducing ods {or absorbing the. high impact loads at the
N2 H 4 and H 2 0 2 over a very short time interval. end of the injection stroke must be improved pr
Pressure for liquid propellant injection was sup- developed, if a reasonable launcher life is to
plied by igniting a charge of powder in a sub- be achieved. For both preloaded chamber and
chamber behind the injection system. With such injection launchers, a more thorough understand-
a gun system, muzzle velocities above 8000 ft/sec ing of the propellant mixing and combustion
were obtained at lower peak chamber pressures process is necessary in order to eliminate pres-
than have been observed with solid propellant;s sure fluctuations of considerable m:lgnitude.
for corresponding performance. These problems are under current investigation.



The principal aim in low explosives research permit peacetime storage; and high potential
for guns has been to find the ideal propellant. with minimum erosion effect on the weapon.
This propellant would have to meet many re- Although work is underway to find new composi-
quirements, the foremost of which are the elimi- tions based on nitrocellulose powder, the most
nation of flash while still retaining the property extensive effort is directed toward the develop-
of being substantially smokeless; high stability to ment of new double-base combinations.

3-12.1 FLASH Mechanical methods of suppressing flash in-

True muzzle flash is a secondary explosion clude increasing tube length and use of flash
phenomenon as distinguished from the muzzle hiders and flash suppressors. Increasing the
glow caused by incandescent gas or powder par- length of the tube will cause a lowering of the
ticles that have not, up to that point, been temperature of the gases as they. are discharged
burned. The emerging powder-gas mixture con- into the atmosphere. This has practical limita-
tains hot combustible gases, such as CO and H 2 tions. A flash hider is a conical shaped nozzle
Th.ese g~ses react with the atmospheric oxygen attached to the muzzle and acts mainly to con-
outside the muzzle and even though they are so ceal the flash from observers not in the direct
diluted, they are above their ignition tempera- line of fire. Flash hiders do not actually reduce
ture (750C) , and subsequently may explode. the volume of flame although they may cause it
The resulting muzzle flash appears from a dis- to become narrower and longer. The flash sup-
tance as a ball of fire. Flash effects are pro- pressor (Figure 3-15) now in use is a three
moted by moderate humidity. They will increase pronged elongation of the barrel. The reason as
with rapid firing of the gun due to heating of to why this suppressor reduces flash is not com-
the barrel. On the other hand, high humidity, pletely understood. However, firings indicate
fog, dew, formation of drops, and low air tem- excellent results in eliminating flash, probably
perature hinder muzzle flash but increase forma- because of the suppression of intermediate, high-
tion of smoke. Both chemical and mechanical energy, luminescent, chemical-reaction radicals
means have been developed for reduction of in the hot gas envelope as a result of the presence
muzzle flash. Both methods have the same basic of a metallic surface in the envelope.
objectives; to completely oxidize the gases within
3-12.2 SMOKE
the tube, or to rediice the temperature of the
gases below ignition temperature prior to their Frequently a promising development from one
leaving the tube. point of view ihas disadvantages when viewed
The chemical method introduces an additive from another. So it is with chemical flash re-
to the propellant. Most flash reducing agents ducers, the use of which leads to an unacceptable
simply evolve considerable gas. This gas in heat- amount 'o f smoke. For daytime use the smoke is
ing to explosion temperature cools the com- nearly as objectionable as the night-time fl.ash.
bustible gases below their ignition points. This, For this reason some weapons have fl.ash elimi-
of course, reduces the energy of the explosion; nation pads only for night firing, flash being ac-
however, the loss can be partly overcome by use cepted in day firing in preference to smoke.
of additives, such as DNT, which are partially Research organizations presently are working
combustible themselves. The increase in gas to determine the nature of the smoke from
volume keeps up pressure and work done by gas, weapons. The smoke from actual gun firings is
while permitting lower temperature. The potas- collected and analyzed for composition. At the
sium salts which are used extensively are thought same time optical measurements are made for
to suppress re-ignition by their anticatalytic ac- the computation of distances at which the smoke
tion. They somehow interrupt the reaction be- is visible. It has been determined that the visible
tween powder gases and oxygen. smoke from artillery powder is due principally




RA PO 138228

Fig. 3- 75 Flash suppressor on 7 5-mm gun tube.

to unburned carbon, inorganic noncombustible and a shorter time of flight for antiaircraft pro-
constituents, and metallic vapors from the ro- jectiles. In addition, higher-potential propellants
tating band of the projectile. Recommendations make possible lighter-weight ammunition and
which have been made to minimize smoke in- smaller weapons, provided no increase in per-
clude the elimination of hygroscopic salts from fonnance is sought. For example, a rifle propel-
the products of combustion and the use of un- lant has been developed using nitroglycerin as
sulfated powder. one of the ingredients. Use of this propellant
Another method of reducing smoke is to les- makes possible a smaller caitridge case and hence
sen tl1e quantity of black powder used in ignition a lighter weight of the complete round.
of the propellant. Beyond a certain point, how- Once again, however, a gain in one direction
ever, such reduction of black powder is unde- may cause losses in another. Generally speaking,
sirable because it is accompanied by an increased the propellants of increased potential cause more
tendency to flash and unfavorable ballistic uni- erosion and greater flash. This requires that
formity . . efforts be directed towards the development of
While a truly smokeless powder has not yet propeIJant compositions which will provide min-
been attained, propellants which are practically imum flame temperatures (low erosion) at maxi-
free of smoke have been developed for specinc mum performance (a combination which implies
weapons. It has become obvious that more can high gas volume and low heat of com bus ti on).
be accomplished in fitting powders, if the overall The M-15 ( nitroguanidine) propellant was de-
weapons system is considered from the begin- veloped as a result of the search for high poten-
ning. Previously the weapon diniensions, pro- tial and low erosion and flash.
jectile weight, and velocity requirements were In developing powders of higher potential the
set and then the propellant was d~signed to search has led to double-base propellants. In
make them function efficiently. Now considera- past years the undesirable features of nitro-
tion is given to designing weapons systems, glycerin have restricted their use in this coun-
including ballistics, as well as performance 'param- try: Explosives chemists have been searching
eters. Such design is termed "weapons system" for many years for a material which imparts to a
design and differs from the old "component" de- powder tlie same desirable properties as does
sign. nitroglycerin, with superior waterproofing prop-
erties, superior igniting properties, and excellent
3 -12.3 HIGHER POTENTIAL ballistic uniformity, and which does not have the
The current trend in weapons development is manufactming hazards of nitroglycerin. A num-
toward higher muzzle velocities. Such velocities ber of substances show promise for use as nitro-
make possible longer ranges for artillery, greater glycerin replacements but none have been
penetration depth for armor-piercing projectiles, developed to the point where a new double-base


powder can be standardized. "Diglykol," as the result of a search, started years

It has been the policy of the Ordnance Corps before, for the ideal propellant. The U.S. Army
to use nitroglycerin in the propellant powder also took part in this search and developed its
only when a definite improvement in the specific Nitroguanidine Propellant (similar to Cor-
weapon which fires the round is needed. Such dite N).
has been the case of the rifle propellant or when
ease of ignition is required to give acceptable 3 12.4 EROSION
velocity uniformity. In mortar ammunition, espe- This is a three-fold problem inasmuch as the
cially in the lower zones, the double-base roll extent of the erosion can be minimized by char-
sheet powders show vast improvement over acteristics of the propellant, the projectile, and
granular powders. In this case higher production 'the physical properties and compositions of the
costs of roll sheets and greater hazards of nitro- alloys used iQ the gun tube.
glycerin manufacture are justifiable to obtain Considering propellant requirements only, the
ballistic requirements. problem is to achieve high potenti~l (which gives
Although foreign powers have tended (in gen- high muzzle velocities) and yet have low tem-
eral) to use nitroglycerin in double-base artillery peratures of combustion. The use of additives
propellants, early in World War II the Germans has helped a great deal in this requirement.
showed a tendency to drift away from the use
of nitroglycerin propellants. The main reason 3-12.5 GREATER STABILITY
was the difficulty and danger of manufacturing A major recurring expense to the armed serv-
nitroglycerin, as well as shortage of raw ma- ices is the necessity for maintaining continual
terials. Contributing factors included the storage surveillance of ammunition. In order to help
difficulties of nitroglycerin powder in hot climates keep this expense low it is essential that propel-
such as Africa where the high temperatures lants have as long a storage life as possible. For
caused shorter storage life, as well as great ero- example, a large number of 90-mm H.E. rounds
sion of gun bores. The Germans made use of a were loaded during World War II. Post-war
propellant having nitrocellulose and diethylene- surveillance tests showed that the propellant in
glycol-dinitrate as its principal explosive ingredi- these rounds had deteriorated to such an extent
ents and called this "Diglykol." It was used in 88- that the original ballistic performance could no
mm ammunition, and rockets. longer be expected. As a result, these rounds
The British developed Cordite N for many of had to be opened and the propellant charges
the same reasons that the Germans developed adjusted.


A propellant is a compound or mixture which suitable for use depends upon the demands
contains in the correct proportions a fuel and an placed upon the rocket. In general, small, smaller
oxidizer which will support high-performance thrust, quick-burning, but high pressure motors,
combustion. While oxygen is the most common use solid propellants while large, high-thrust,
oxidizer, fluorine, chlorine and other elements long-burning, low-pressure motors use liquid
will likewise oxidize fuels. propellants.
Such propellants may be solid, liquid, or An ideal rocket propellant should possess the
gaseous. In gun propellants solids have been in following characteristics:
favor up until recent years; in rockets both soliQ. (a) Uniform ignition and burning.
and liquid propellants have found wide-spread ( b) Reproducible composition with constant
use. Gases are too bulky per unit weight to be heat of explosion.
efficient propellants. The type of propellant most ( c) Smokelessness.


( d) Flashlessness. Application of this concept to rocket propul-

( e) Stability in storage. sion theory will be discussed in Part 2 of the
( f) Low sensitivity to temperature variation text.
and high resistance to fracture or deformation at
extremes of temperature. 3-13.1 CURRENT SOLID PROPELLANTS
( g) Availability, cheapness, and safety in
manufacture. Solid rocket propellants may be classed into
In' addition to these, solid propellants should three general groups: double-base propellants;
possess: cast perchlorate propellants; and composite pro-
(a) Well-defined, reproducible, and near con- pellants.
stant rate of burning. (a) Double-base propellants. These propel-
(b) Nonhygroscopicity. lants usually are known under the trade name
( c) Ability to be worked into grains of widely "Ballistite." Ballistite as used in rockets is a solid
varying sizes, shapes, and burning times. solution of nitrocellulose and nitroglycerin in
( d) Adequate mechanical and physical prop- roughly equal proportions with usually about 5
erties to allow it to be "cycled" through extremes to 15% additives. It has good pedormance, an
of temperature without cracking and have suffi- I.,, of over 200 seconds, and produces negligible
cient strength to prevent "sagging" at higher smoke. It is limited by its temperature sensitivity
temperatures, or imbrittlement at low tempera- (almost 1% per F). It is fairly difficult and dan-
tures. gerous to manufacture.
Liquid propellants should additionally possess: ( b) Cast perchlorate propellants. This type
(a) Low toxicity. comprises our largest tonnage of solid rocket
(b) Low corrosiveness. propellants. Two of the better known ones are
( c) Ease of handling. Galcit and Thiokol. Galcit is a heterogen~us
Of all propellants yet considered, no single pro- mixture of about 3' asphalt-oil fuel with about "
pellant possesses all of these characteristics, for perchlorate oxidizer, having a speci.6c impulse
some are obtained at the expense of others. around 185 seconds. It was developed at Cali-
Propellants particularly must be rated or com- fornia Institute of Technology during World
pared from a pedormance standpoint, because a War II. Thiokol propellants incorporate the
logistically pedect propellant might have such a perchlorate oxidizers in a matrix of polysulfide
low pedormance rating as to render it useless rubber. They have a speci.6c impulse of about
from strictly military considerations. The two 180-215 seconds, good lemperature limits, and
most important rocket pedormance parameters reduced temperature sensitivity.
are the constancy of burning rate over the re- ( c) Composite propellants. 'I'Rese propellats
quired temperature range and specific impulse. contain ammonittm picrate, p()tassiatn or ~
It should be remembered that rocket motors are nitrate, and a plastic bindet-. ~y tend to tte
thrust-producing power plants and that the brittle at Jew temperatures.
greater the thrust per pound of motor weight, Small ( 6-8 inch diameter of motor and smaller)
the more desirable the unit. Speci.6c impulse I,,,, solid propellant rockets have in recent years
is the ratio between the thrust and the number enjoyed a wide variety of uses because of their out-
of pounds of propellant consumed per second. standing thrust-to-weight ratio and relative sim-
In other words, it is the thrust that would be plicity. However, because of limited web thick-
gelivered if the pr.opellant were consumed at the nesses in double-base propellant motors (difficult
rate of one pound per second. The equation for solvent evaporation limits web), and because of
specific impulse is: slump (sag due to cantilever loading by its own
weight) and nozzle burn-out in single-base pro-
I,,, = pounds force of thrust pellants, only today are large solid propellant
pounds of propellant consumed per second rockets enjoying wide acceptance. Also, the lack
of ability for precise fuel shut-off has deterred
(with units of ~ sec) the use of large solid propellant rocket motors in
missiles. This deficiency too; has been recently


overcome. To overcome initially these undesira- ignition, "hypergolic." Table 3-2 gives the im-
ble features, liquid propellant rockets were de- portant characteristics of some common liquid
veloped. rocket propellants. The oxidizer-to-fuel weight
ratio is the ratio of the weight of the oxidizer to
3 13.2 CURRENT LIQUID PROPELLANTS the weight of the fuel.
Liquid propellants for rockets usually consist In addition to burning ;equirements (of differ-
of two liquid elements, an oxidizing agent such ing duration), which have made liquid propel-
as liquid oxygen, and a reducing agent, often a lants popular for weapons requiring long
hydrocarbon fuel. Both the oxidizer and the re- duration of thrust, solids are most useful for short
ducer may, however, be an integral part of the duration high total impulse requirements.
same compound. Nitromethane (in Table 3-2) With liquid fuels, tremendous numbers of po-
is an example of such a monopropellant. Such tential fuel combin~tions are available and hav~
single compound propellants, however, are often been tested. The German B. M. W. concern alone
unstable and have low specific impulse. Many tested more than 3000 differing combinations
propellant combinations are feasible. In recent during World War II. Liquids which have a high
years many new ones have been tested. Liq- heat of combustion per pound of propeiiarit and
uid propellants which ignite spontaneously when give both a high chamber temperature and re-
mixed are termed "hypergols" and their self- action products of low mean molecular weights


Oxidizer- l.p
Oxidizer Fuel Fuel Ratio (sec) Remarks
Liquid Gasoline 2.5/1 248 Low boiling point of liquid oxygen,
Oxygen 02 CJI1s -298F, makes it difficult to handle
and impossible to store.
Liquid 1.5/l 244 Alcohol requires less ozjrgen for its
Oxygen burning than gasoline does. Both
gisoline and alcohol are satisfactory.
Liquid Hydrazine 0.5/1 259 Hydrazine is flammable, toxic,
Oxygen (CHshNNH2 a strong solute with a . high vapor
Liquid Liquid 3.8/1 353 Has highest I ." of any known fuel.
Oxyaee 02 Hydrogen Ht Impractical because of low tempera-
tures, -424F, and density, .07, of
liquid hydrogen.
Red-fuming 3/1 221 Hypergolic (self-igniting). Nitric
Nitric Acid acid is highly corrosive and requires
HNOr.N02 special handling technique. Aniline
is toxic.
Fluorine Hydrazine 1.9/1 299 Fluorine is extremely corrosive, poi-
sonous, reactive, and expensive.
Hydrogen 3.66/ 1 225 Hydrogen peroxide is quite unstable
Peroxide and requires special handling tech-
H202 nique.
(02 con- Nitromethane 218 This is a monopropellant, that ~.
tained with- CHaN02 only one chemical is needed. It
in fuel) is unstable and requires special
handling techniques.


are best. Generally, propellants having a large oxidizing (and hypergolic) nature of some, scru-
weight percent of hydrogen in pref~r~nce to car- pulous care of handling is required. Concen-
bon meet these conditions J>est because of the trated hydrogen peroxide, for example, if
higher heat of combustioi;i.. of .hydrogen and be- contaminated with organic matter such as wood,
cause the products of th~ hydrogen reaction ( H 2 rags, gasket bits, etc., may ignite. This hazard
and H:.P) are lighter than the carbon end prod- has probably been overemphasized in test situa-
ucts (CO and C02 ). tions, but will require considerable work in future
years if liquid rockets are to be truly mobile and
easily serviced.
Liquid propellant rockets currently are most
Present work on liquid propellants is directed
useful where long thrust durations are typical.
in large measure today to combustion problems
Hence large quantities of propellant usually are
and handling considerations. Handling difficul-
required. For this reason wh~t apparently at first
ties of some liquid propellants are one reason
gl~ce appears to be a small difference in density
that solid propellants for intermediate size rocket
of the propellant may be, on closer scrutiny, of
engines are increasing in the favor of the services.
interest. Thus, liquid propellants are judged in
The previous discussion of rocket propellants
part by their density impulse. This parameter is
makes it clear that solid propellants are n'Ot ideal
obtamed by multiplying the specific impulse by
rocket propellants. While some of the disadvan-
the propellant's specific gravity. The resulting
tages can be minimized by careful choice of the
"density impulse" is a measure of the propellant
ingredients and proportions, as yet no new ma-
impulse as a function of its density. Many of the
terials have been found which, when used in
propellant combinations which the German
conventional propellants, produce large scale im-
rocket scientists used rated well on this evalua-
provements in ballistic properties; nor are the
tion. Nitric acid-aniline has a density impulse of
potentials (in rocketry specific impulse) for
290 seconds. Surprisingly, liquid oxygen-hydro-
either solid or liquid propellants high enough.
gen is very poor in this regard yielding only 85
Consequently, in the hope of producing new pro-
seconds in density impulse.
pellants with few disadvantages and greater
strength, considerable work has been directed
In liquid propellants too, due to the highly towards entirely new rocket propellants.


The conventional fuels of the future are the of the hydrocarbon petroleum base variety. Oxi-
exotic fuels of today. In the popular press the dation of these fuels caused oxidation of mostly
word "exotic" has been applied in recent years, hydrogen and carbon by rupture of C-H and
not to fore~gn or outlandish fuels, but only to C-C linkages.
unusual ones. A few years ago JP-4 and chemical Propellants which have different common link-
additi'.~e (commonly boron) fuels ("zip" fuels) ages such as B-H and .C-F can theoretically
were not in common usage. In a few years liberate greater energy by oxidation than can the
perhaps li~ium, fluorine, and even ion fuels common hydrocarbon propellants since greater
(such as cesium) will be as commonplace as JP-4 net energy is available .after oxidation of such
is today. A more proper name for the new fuels linkages. Note that fluorine is the oxidizer and
would be new or novel rather than "exotic." boron is the reducing agent in such arrange-
Chemical fuels liberate energy of association ments. It is also important to remember that
by decomposition and reassociation. Oxidation boron, used as a fuel alone liberates some 29,000
(removal of electrons) is most frequently used as BTU's per pound when oxidized which compares
the mechanism for such a change. Fuels most with some 19,000 BTU's per pound liberated by
commonly used in past years were predominantly hydrocarbons, a 40% increase.


3 - 14. 1 METAL ADDITIVES above are the "free radicals," or unstable mole-
cule fragments. These particles are of interest in
Metal additives such as boron are increasingly
rocket propulsion since their presence gives a
popular. Most typical forms of boron fuels now
rocket much higher thrust (through increased
in use (or study) are the boranes, such as
momentum discharge) than do chemical fuels.
dibor~e ( B2 H 6 ) a poisonous gas, pentaborane
These pieces of fuel are at present difficult to
(Br.Ho) a volatile liquid, and decaborane
create, have a lifetime of only a few millionths of
( B10H 14 ) a solid. In liquid propellants, such as
a second. They recombine readily. The fact that
hydrocarbons, these can be premixed with the
they are present in flames and in common chemi-
liquid petroleum base. They may be used alone
cal reactions does, however, give promise of their
as fuel, or they can be combined with polymeric
use as efficient fuels if economical ways can be
binders and used as a solid fuel constituent.
found to generate and use them, before they re-
Toxicity, and the fact that combustion of fuels
with some borane additives often produces a
readily depositing crust or syrup on adjacent
parts, has deferred their popularity. 3-14.4 IONIC FUELS

3-14.2 FLUORO COMPOUNDS Still further in the future lies the use of ionic
Compounds containing fluorine show promise propellants. These fuels, as exemplified by the
as oxidizers for propellants. Some fluorine com- metal cesium, would owe their use to their ability
pounds presently under investigation include ele- to be readily ionized and discharged as charged
mental fluorine, halogen fluorides, nitrogen ionic particles.
trifluoride, and oxygen difluoride. Fluorides are As a rocket fuel, such materials would yield
corrosive and often unstaole. Hence, some em- efficient thrust by a contribution to rocket mo-
phasis is placed on compound stability. In mentum since their discharge velocities would be
rockets fluoride fuels offer a good balance be- very high ( 1.4 107 ft/sec), and would be sub-
tween low molecular weight combustion products ject to magnetic acceleration.
and high flame temperature. The use of ionic fuels would be limited to
Lithium fuels, such as LiNF2 , which utilize space where drag is negligible since the total
fluorine, are also of current interest. thrust produced by the ion discharge motor
would be very small (about .01 pounds of force,
3-14.3 FREE RADICALS for example, for a 150 kw motor) even though
Potentially more powerful rocket propellants the particle velocities are very high ( 13.0 107
than the newer chemical energy fuels discussed ft/sec) since mass rate of discharge is so low.


1 J. Comer, The Theory of Internal Ballistics of VI, VII, and IX.

Guns, Philosophical Library, N. Y., 1951, 3 P. R. Frey, College Chemistry, Prentice-Hall,
Chapter 2. N. Y., 1954, Chapters 26 and 27.
2 T. L. Davis, The Chemistry of Powder and 4 Hausman and Slack, Physics, Van Nostrand,
Explosives, John Wiley and Sons, N. Y., N. Y., 3rd Ed., 1948, Paragraphs 173, 174,
1941, Vol. I, Chapters I, IV; Vol. II, Chapters 176, and 346.




Thus far the text material has been confined to a comfort and convenience.
discussion of the liberation of energy from chemi- The next big step forward did not take as long
cal reactions. In this chapter attention will be to achieve, but it has resulted in even more ex-
focused on another source of energy, that which citing applications. This was the discovery that
holds together the particles of atomic nuclei. the atom is not a single solid unit, but con-
Such energy might be thought of as that which tains particles much smaller yet, electrons, which
binds together the sub-atomic particles of mat- through their application in electricity and e1ec-
ter, nuclear energy. tronics, enable man to develop and efficiently
There is a vast difference in the magnitude of handle far greater amounts of power than before.
energy available from nuclear, as opposed to
chemical reactions. Chemical explosives, such
as TNT, can be made to release on the order of
84,000 foot-pounds of work per pound, whereas 1811-Avogadro's Law
plutonium, a nuclear explosive, may deliver 1831-Faraday's Law
about 3.0 X 1015 foot-pounds, per pound. This 1881-Helmholtz "Element of Charge"
vast potential of work is of interest to the military 1895-Discovery of X-rays
engineer because of its application to the 1896-Discovery of natural radioactivity
weapons of war. 1897-Discovery of the electron
Man's successful exploitation of atomic en- 1902-Theory of radioactive decay
ergy in the form of an explosive device took only 1905-Special theory of relativity
five years to accomplish. Behind that "bomb," 1911-Theory of the atomic nucleus and
however, there stand thousands of years of study Millikan oil drop experiment
and research, theory and experiment. It was only 1912-Theory of isotopes of the elements
after decades of effort that investigators by the 1913-Theory of atomic structure
thousands in every civilized country of the world 1913-Atomic numbers of the elements
have built up, bit by bit, today's broad under- 1915-General theory of relativity
standing of how nuclear energy is liberated and 1919-First experimental nuclear reaction
how the different elements are constructed (see 1920-Discovery of the prott>n
Table4-l). 1928-Theory of alpha particle emission
The first step was the discovery that all matter, 1932-Discovery of the neutron
whether in the liquid, solid, or gaseous state, is 1933-Discovery of artificial radioactivity
composed of extremely tiny particles, atoms, and 1939-Discovery of nuclear fission
that all the millions of different substances on 1942-First successful atomic pile
the face of the earth are only different combina- 1945-First atomic (fission) device
tions of the atoms of 98 different elements. With 1953-First fusion device
this discovery came the development of chemis-
try and all its subsequent contributions to man's


The third, and to date, the most spectacular chemical reaction for securing power, such as
step, has been the discovery that the heart of the the burning of coal, wood, or gasoline, the power
atom, the nucleus, is also composed of small in- produced comes only from the rearrangement of
dividual particles; that one element differs from the atoms in the substance. In a typical mole-
another only in the number of these particles cule of- coal, wood, or gasoline, the atoms are
arranged in one way, and in the products of
in its nucleus; that one element can be converted
combustion, the atoms are arranged in a different
into another by changing the number of these
way. There is no change in the number or char-
particles; and that such changes can be utilized acter of the atoms, only in their arrangement,
to produce millions of times as much energy as and in this change, the energy holding them to-
any electrical or chemical process known. gether is released. This is true whether the
Until 1945, only the comparatively tiny energy comes from the burning of coal, wood, or
amounts of energy stored in the outermost fringes gasoline; from the explosion of TNT; or from
of the atom could be utilized. In every type of chemical reaction in storage batteries.


4-2. 1 ELEMENTS AND ATOMS nucleus. The neutron has a neutral charge. Pro-
An element may be defined as a substance tons and neutrons often are referred to as nu-
which cannot be separated by chemical means cleons because both exist within nuclei. A
into substances different from itself. The proper- nucleon is much heavier than an electron. It
ties of an element originate in the atoms that takes about 1840 electrons to weigh as much as
make up the element; consequently, the atoms one nucleon. Therefore, most of the weight of
of different elements are not the same. An atom an atom is concentrated within its nucleus (see
then is the smallest part of an element that still Table 4-2).
retains the properties of the element. The number of protons in an uncharged atom
Although atoms of one element differ from is equal to the number of electrons. There can
those of another, all atoms have the same general be from 1 to 100 or more protons in an atom.
structure and often are described by comparing The number of protons in an atom determines its
them with our solar system. At the center of characteristics as an element. For example, all
every atom is a nucleus with positive electrical atoms of hydrogen have 1 proton; all atoms of
charge. Moving . about the nucleus in orbits, helium have 2 protons; all atoms of oxygen have
much like planets move around the sun, are a 8 protons; and all atoms of uranium have 92 pro-
number of particles called electrons. The elec- tons. The number of protons in an atom is the
trons have a negative charge and are held within atomic number of the atom, while the total num-
the atom by the attraction of the positive nucleus. ber of nucleons (number of protons plus the
For convenience, the charge of an electron is number of neutrons) in an atom is the atomic
assigned the unit -1. mass number.


Physicists now recognize at least ten different Charge Mass (amu)*
nuclear particles. This text discusses however
just two of these particles, the proto~ and neu~ Proton +1 1.00758
tron. The positive charge of a nucleus is at- Neutron 0 1.00894
tributed to component. particles called protons. Electron -1 0.00055
The charge of a proton is + 1. A second type of An amu (atomic mass unit) is equivalent to 1.6603 x
particle, called a neutron, also exists within the 10-" grams = M6 mass of ,o atom.



Since atoms were thought of as the smallest Common

divisible particles of matter for many years, and Hydrogen Deuterium Tritium
it was 'known that the number and arrangement (Hydrogen-I) (Hydrogen-2) (Hydrogen-3)
of atoms gave elements their properties, the pos- The four isotopes of helium are written:
sibility that aitoms with slightly differing masses
2He 3 2He4 2He5 2He6
might possess identical ?hemical properties was
Helium-3 Helium-4
Helium-5 Helium-6
delayed until after the discovery of radioactivity.
In an effort to logically support the arrangement The general symbol for any atom is then:
of the periodic table, the possibility of isotopes, zX 4
atoms with different masses but identical chemi-
cal properties, was suggested by Frederick where,
So<;ldy, an English physicist, in 1912. The num- X = symbol of the element. 0
ber of isotopes now known totals several hun- Z =the atomic number (number of protons).
dred. Among them are many artificially produced A= the atomic mass number (the sum .o f the
isotopes, including at least 1 radioactive isotope number of protons and the number of
for every known element. Isotopes are atoms neutrons, i.e., the number of nucleons).
with the same atomic number (number of pro- Thus, A - Z = the number of neutrons.
tons) but different total numbers of nucleons.
For instance, 92U 234, and 92U 238, are different va- 4-2.5 MASS OF NUCLEAR PARTICLES
rieties or isotopes of the same element, uranium. The mass of nuclei and nuclear particles is
The element hydrogen has three known isotopes based on a system in which the mass of the 80 16
indicated schematically in Figure 4-1. atom is 16.00000. The unit of mass is called a
mass unit; it is 1/16 of the mass of this isotope of
oxygen, and equals 1.6603 x 10- 24 gram. The
Chemists many years ago prescribed a short- atomic weight M, of an atom is its. mass written
hand system for describing elements. Instead of in mass units. The mass of an atom to the
the full name of an element, a brief symbol is nearest whole number is called its mass number,
used, e.g., the symbol for hydrogen is the letter A.
H; the symbol for helium is He.
In nuclear physics a subscript is added to the
symbol to show the atomic number of the ele-
ment and superscript is used to show which iso-
tope of the element is being considered. This 0
Those sub-atomic particles with no chemical ele-
superscript is the atomic mass number of the m~nt symbols are given a letter abbreviation. Thus, the
isotope. electron, with a charge of -1 and negligible mass is writ-
Thus, the three isotopes of hydrogen are ten _,e0 ; the neutron is written un'; the proton (hydrogen
written: nucleus ) is written ,p'.

Common Hydrogen Deuterium Tritium

Fig. 4-1 Isotopes of hydrogen.


4-2.6 CHARGE OF NUCLEAR PARTICLES has a charge of the same magnitude (but of
opposite sign). By various ingenious experiments
In nuclear physics, the unit of electric charge the magnitude of the electronic charge has been
is the positive charg~ of the proton. This charge accurately determined to be 4.8024 x io- 10
is often called the electronic charge, or the electrostatic units ( esu), or about 1.60 x io- 19
electronic unit of charge, because the electron coulomb.


4-3.1 NUCLEAR INSTABIUTY particle emission, consider the isotope of uranium

Negative electrons are, bound to the atom by with 146 neutrons and' 92 protons (92U28&). This
the attraction of the positive protons. Within the is a naturally occurring isotope but is radioactive
nucleus, however, only positive charges exist, and and ~ alpha partic;:le emitter. Since the alpha
these charges should repel each other. There- particles take away two protons~ the Uranium
fore, other forces strong enough to overcome changes to an entirely new element, thorium, with
the. repelli:ng forces of the protons, must exist 90 protons and 234 nucleons.
between nucleons. Since these forces are of
very short range, acting only between nucleons
close to one another, it is possible in isotopes It often happens that unstable nuclei emit
of heavier elements for the electro.static forces high-speed electrons called beta particles (sym-
between protons to overcome the strong nuclear bol p), to indicate that they originate in the
forces. If this happens, part of the nucleus actu- nucleus instead of outside the nucleus. The
ally may break off and escape. In other cases, source of p particles is interesting since there are
rearrangements may take place which lead to no electrons in a nucleus. The paradox is ex-
more stable configurations within the nucleus. plained by breakdown of a neutron into a proton
Nuclei in which this happens are said to be and an electron. When this happens, the electron
unstable or radioactive. All isotopes with atomic (P particle) is ejected from the nucleus while the
number greater than 83 are naturally radioactive proton is left behind.
and many more isotopes can be made artifi.
cially radioactive by adding neutrons, protons, 4-3.4 GAMMA RAYS
or groups of these to a normally stable configura- Previously it was said that an unstable con-
tion. The time that it takes for the product to figuration of neutrons and protons in a nucleus is
be half-transformed into the succeeding product sometimes made more stable by a rearrangement
is called its halflife. It is a measure of the relative of the components with no particles emitted. Such
stability of the radioactive element. In most cases changes are accompanied by radioactivity in the
an atom always b~eaks up in the same way, giving form of energy. With different configurations of
a second atom and an a or p particle. In certain the nucleus the components are bound with
cases, some atoms break up in two distinct ways, different energies, and so upon rearrangement
giving rise to what are called branch products. energy is often released in the form of electro-
magnetic waves called gamma rays (symbol 1).
4-3.2 ALPHA DECAY They come from the nucleus rather than from
Natural radioactivity occurs in three basic the excitation of planetary electrons, as in the
ways. Many unstable nuclei emit a particle case of X-rays. No change in atomic structure
composed of 2 protons and 2 neutrons, called an accompanies 'Y emission (A and Z numbers remain
alpha particle (symbol a) . This configuration is the same); the only effect upon the nucleus in-
also the nucleus of a helium (2He4) atom and is volved is to leave it with less energy and usually
very stable. To evaluate what results. from alpha with less tendency for further decay.



While only three radioactive particles are The step-by-step process by which radioactive
emitted from naturally occurring radioisotopes, elements emit radiations and change into other
there are a great many more types of decay from elements and .finally reach a more stable state is
artificial isotopes. In addition to alpha and beta called a decay series. The steps from 92U 288 to
p~cles and gamma rays, certain nuclei m~J 90T h
284 to 23
01 Pa { described above, represent two
emit neutrons, positive electrons, or other parti- steps in what is called the natural radioactive
cles. The neutrons are especially important in uranium series, 02 U 238 being the original element
applications of atomic energy for they can cause in the series. Several other steps, not described
nuclear .fission, a reaction fundamental to atomic here, occur in this uranium series ~efore stability
explosions and sources of atomic power. The is reached and radioactivity no longer exists. The
surplus neutrons from atomic explosions which last step in this process occurs when the element
impinge on atoms of the earth, induce sufficient polonium (114Po21 0 ) emits an alpha particle and
radioactivity in some elements found in the earth becomes the element lead (82 Pb206), which is
in the vicinity of ground zero to be of military stable. This terminates the uranium series. There
importance. are four radioactive decay series (see Figure 4-2).


Until a few decades ago two separate laws de- gold nucleus for example, a mass of 79 X 1.00758
scribed tlJe conservatfon of mass and the con- plus 118 X 1.00894 = 198.654 amu would be ex-
servation of energy. These laws were: In any pected if the law of conservation of mass held.
reaction or system, the amount of mass existing It was found by experiment, however, that a gold
prior to a given reaction must be equal to the nucleus has a mass of only 196.996 amu; a loss
amount of mass present after the reaction; and, of 1.657 amu. Similar discrepancies have since
The amount of energy inherent in the system been found for every type of nucleus. These dis-
before a reaction must be equal to the amount turbing violations of hitherto accepted laws of
of energy present after the reaction. These Jaws pl1ysics were resolved in a brilliant work in 1905,
of conservation were used for many years with- by Albert Einstein, in which he showed that mass
out disproof until deviations were detected by of all matter and energy are equivalent, and that
research scientists using refined techniques of it is possible for one to be changed into the other.
measurement. One such deviation was a loss in Although this would seem to negate the laws of
mass within the atomic nucleus. For example, it conversation, it did not. Rather, energy and
was known that a free neutron mass is 1.00894 mass are conserved as 0:1 sum., that is:
amu; and a free proton, 1.00758 amu. When 79
protons are combined with 118 neutrons to form a (mass + energy)btfore = (mass + energy)uuer

4-4.1 EQUIVALENCE OF MASS where c is the velocity of light (3 X 1010 crn/ sec).
AND ENERGY For example, if 1 gram is converted into energy,
A major result of Einstein's theory was that the result is 9 X 1020 ergs of energy.
if a quantity of matter of mass m, is converted E = 'f1tC 2 = (1 gm) (3 X 10 10 cm/ sec) 2
completely into energy, the amount of energy =
9 X 1020 ergs
created is given by the equation:
A conception of the tremendous amount of en-
E(ergs) = m(grams) c2 ergy thus liberated can be judged better if it is


u238 4. 4 x 10 9 yrs Th234 24. 5 days p 234 1.14 min

9Z 90 91 a
Cl ~ ~

234 3. 4 x 10 5 yz:s Th230 8.3xl0 yrs R 226 1590 yrs
0 90 88 a
9Z Q Q Cl

3. 05 min Pb

R ZZ2 3. 825 days p218 ~

86 n Cl
84 ~

19. 7 min 8 4Po

214 10 -6 sec

Bi214~ 22 yrs
~ ~

ci ~ 8 1Tl

5 days 82Po

210 ~ Pb206
93B I ~ 82


Note: N = an integer between 52 and 59, thus the ( 4N + 2) Series is the 4 X 59 +2 =

238 or Uranium Series. Other Series are Thorium (4N), Neptunium (4N + 1).
and Actinium ( 4N + 3).

Fig. 4-2 Uranium ( 4N + 2) series.

conceived that it would take about 20,000 tons when they were combined into a nucleus must
of TNT to release the same energy by chemical have gone into energy. Consequently, this
amount of energy must be supplied to the gold
nucleus in order to completely separate all of
Consider the example of gold again. The mass the component particles. Energy of this type is
of 1.657 amu lost by the neutrons and protons called the binding energy, of the nucleus.


1. 008
0 1. 006
...:i 0. 004
~u o.ooz
(j :::>
<Z 1. 000
~ ~ 0. 998
> p,.
< 0.99 7

Atomic Mass No.
Fig. 4-3 Pseudo-continuous plot of average mass per nucleon
versus atomic number.

4-4.2 FISSION To completely dismember an atom of atomic

If a nucleus has a mass greater than the sum number about 80 into its constituent sub-atomic
of masses of the particles into which it may be particles would require the addition of mass
subdivided, then such subdivision wquld yield (initially in the form of energy) to bring the av-
energy. Our problem then is to cause subdivisions erage mass per nucleon up from about .998 to
of large nuclei. It has been found that certain about 1.008 amu.
large nuclei, notably U 23n and Pu 239, wiJl sub- Of the fission energy released in the reactions
divide or fission when struck by a neutron. The described by ( 4-1) and ( 4-2) about 80% takes
nucJear reaction equations are: the form of kinetic energy of fission fragments;
about 2% kinetic energy of prompt neutrons;
+ on 1
- (92U
]- 1X..t1 about 2% gamma radiation; about 12% ,8-decay
+ ,2 Y..t2 + S 0n 1 +energy (4-1) of fission fragments; and about 4% is lost to de-
where X and Y are fission fragments with a bi- layed neutrons. The delay of a portion of the
nodal frequency distribution such that neutrons allows time to control (by neutron cap-
ture in control rods) an atomic reactor which
Z1 + Z2 = 92, and A1 + A2 + S = 236 may be operating at too high an energy level.
+ on 1
- So1}

+ 2 fission fragments+ energy (4-2) 4-4.3 FUSION

The energy results from a conversion of mass, Since nucleons in the very light nuclei are
i.e., the mass of the right side of the equation is heavier than those in nuclei of intermediate mass
Jess than the mass of the left side: (see Figure 4-3), the fusing together of light
nuclei to form a larger nucleus should result in
E = (mien - 1nrigb1)c2 = Amc2
the release of energy. It has been found that
Hence, new "structures" have been created extremely high temperatures are required to pro-
which have less mass but the same number of duce a fusion reaction. Hence, the name thermo-
nucleons. Thus, the average mass per nucleon is nuclear is often applied to fusion reactions.
less for the fission fragments than for the heavy Some examples of fusion reactions follow:
atoms. Figure 4-3 is a plot of the average mass
per nucleon versus atomic number. The varia- 1H 2 + 1H2 - 1H3 + 1H 1 + energy (4-3)
tion is explained by the difference in energy re- 1H 2 + 1H2 - 2He3 + oN1 +energy (4-4)
quired to hold the various configurations. In each case the mass on the right side is less
than the initial mass, thus:
The brackets around the ..u... indicate a compound
nucleus which is short lived. Energy = (m1.h.a. - mr.i....) c2 = Amc2


4-4.4 NUCLEAR ENERGY E = .00427 X 931 = 3.98 Mev

Since nuclear masses are ordinarily given in 1H 2 + 1H2 ~ 2I-Ie3 + 0n 1 (4-6)
4.02942 3.01700
amu ( 1/ 16 the mass of an 80 16 atom), it will be
instructive to compute the energy which is
equivalent to 1 amu. 4.02594
E = mc 2, 1 amu = 1.66 X 10-24 gm -4.02594
E (ergs) = 1.66 X 10-24 X 3 2 X (100)2
Am= .00348
= 14.92 X io- 4 ergs
E = .00348 X 931 = 3.24 Mev
= 9.31 X 10 8 ev "" 931 Mev
Other fusion reactions might prove useful.
Assuming the mass of right side of ( 4-1) is .215
Consider, for examp1e, a lithium ( 4-6) tritium
amu Jess than the mass of the left side, the energy
released by this fission is:
very hi
931 X .215 = 200 Mev
3Li6 + tll 3 - t on + 22He 11

Table 4-3 gives the masses of several different temp

isotopes. With the aid of this table, the 6m. for 1.00894
several promising fusion reactions can be com- 6.01697 4.00390
puted. 3.01702 4.00390
9.03399 9.01674

z elm = .01725
Element A Mass (amu)
E = .01725 amu X 931 Mev/ amu
0 Electron 0 0.00055 = 16 Mev
0 Neutron l 1.00894
Note that besides 16 Mev of energy we have also
Proton l.00758
Hydrogen L
gained, by this reaction, a neutron which might
be useful to prodtice fission.
(Deuterium) 2 2.0147L
(Tritium) The possible use of deuterium, tritium, and
3 3.01702
lithium in fusion reactions of commercial or
2 Helium 3 3.01700
military importance would be influenced by cer-
4 4.00390
tain of their characteristics. Deuterium occurs
6 6.02090
naturally (about .015% of allhydrogen is 1 H 2 ); it
3 Lithium 6 6.01697
can be separated (at considerable expense) from
7 7.01822
water. It is useful since it can be made to fuse
8 8.02502
more easily than 1Ht.
To find the energy released by the deuteriurn- Tritium does not occur natura1ly and must
deuterium reactions ( 4-3) and ( 4-4), the follow- therefore be produced in an atomic reactor (at
ing simple calculations can be carried out. tremendous expense). Further, tritium is radio-
active and has a short halflife (or the order of 12
verv years). T his means that it is dangerous and has
hi a limited shelflife. However, it can be made to
1H2 + 1H 2
~ 1H3 + 1Hl (4-5)
fuse more easily than deuterium.
Lithium occurs naturally and is, relatively
2.01471 3.01702
speaking, cheap.
2.01471 1.00813
The tremendously high temperatures required
4.02942 4.02515 to produce fusion reactions can be attained most
4.02942 simply by Sssion reactions. Fission reactions are
-4.02515 controllable. It is desirable, therefore, to go to
11m = .00427 a more detailed examination of these reactions.




4-5.1 CROSS SECTION The greater u, the greater the probability of

Consider an incident beam of particles ( T0 ) interaction. Hence a gives an indication of the
entering a slab of material within which inter- probability of a given interaction. The unit in
actions will occur (see Figure 4-4). which a is usuaJly given is the barn ( 1 barn =
io- 2 1 cm 2 ). Since heavy nuclei have a diameter
of the order io- 12 cm, 10-24 cm 2 is relatively
"big as a barn.'' 0 0
We are interested in ,neutron interactions, par-
ticularly that one which fissions 02U 235 The fis-
sion cross section u1, gives a measure of the
probability that a neutron incident on 02u 23r.
will produce a fission. But there are other pos-
sible interactions, e.g., scattering and capture.
The total cross section, u 1, which is a measure of
the likelihood of some interaction, is given by
<Tt = <r, + <r, + cr1 + ...
fig. 4-4 Particles entering a slab of material. The microscopic (very small scale) cross sec-
tion a can be converted to a macroscopic (large
Let N = number of nucleijcc scale) cross section ~. by multiplying it by the
<T = microscopic cross section or the ef- number of nuclei per cc (N) .
fective area of au individual nucleus 2
of the slab (or target) material 1: = N<r =nuclei X cm = cm-i
The decrease in intensity ( -dl) of the beam as - cm3 nucleus
it travels the infinitesimal distance dx, will be
Avogadro's No.
I <TNdx. The intensity (I) at any point ( x) in tbe SinceN = . X density
slab is a function of the distance the beam has atomlc wt.
= Nop, it follows:
-dl = l<TNdx A
Solve by separation of variables. .E = o-Nop. (4-8)
dJ fz dx A

J- =
- <rN
The reciprocal of ~ has the units of length and is
To I o
called mean free path:
-lnl]c = oNX
to >.. = ~ = average distance a particle goes before
or 1: interaction. 0 0 0

l=hr~ ~~ It will be remembered that moderators are

This general type of equation may be described used in some atomic reactors to slow down neu-
as an exponential attenuation. 0 trons because slow neutrons cause fissions of
The same form of equation describes radioactive decay. 0 0
Improbable interactions have cross sections given in
Thus, N = N,e ->.t wbete N, the number of undecayed "sheds" or even "out-houses."
nuclei, is a function of the number with which~ we start
( N.}, the time ( t), and a decay constant ( X) which is
0 0
By setting X in ( 4-1) equal to )., we 6.nd lo is reduced
a property of the :particular material. Elsewhere, >. de- 1
by a factor - ; thus >. is sometimes called the "e-folding
notes mean free path; the different uses of the symbol e
should be noted to avoid confusion. thickness."


U 235 better than fast neutrons. This fact is more escape from the mass of fissionable material with-
properly stated: The fission cross section for out having entered into a fission; or, many are
um is greater when the velocity (and thus merely scattered and slowed down to impotent
kinetic energy) of the incident neutrons has a velocity by "billiard ball"-type impacts with
certain range of values. In general we may say nudei.
that cross sections are highly energy depend-
The idea that only uza;; and plutonium are fis- AND CRITICALITY
sionable is erroneous. With neutrons of sufficient Depending upon the relative frequency of these
energy u 2~ 11 protactinium, and thorium can be events, chain reactions have been classified in
fissioned. The reason these reactions are not three types that may occur in a mass containing
more important is that neutrons of required en- fissionable material: ( 1 ) nonsustaining or con-
ergy are hard to obtain. vergent; ( 2) sustaining; and ( 3) multiplying or
divergent. In a nonsustaining reaction, the
4-5.2 CHAIN REACTION chance that a neutron will escape or become
When it was discovered that the fission of a captured is much larger than the chance that it
nucleus, caused by a neutron, results in the emis- will cause fission; therefore, the chain reaction
sion of 2 to 3 neutrons, a startling possibility was dies out quickly if started. In a sustaining reac-
suggested. If most of the neutrons emitted could tion the chances of neutron capture or escape are
each be made to cause another fission resulting in less, such that on the average, 1 of the 2 or 3
the emission of more neutrons, in a few genera- neutrons produced per fission in tum will pro-
tions the number of free neutrons present could duce a fission itself, and the number of free
be made to increa~e astronomically. The fission neutrons remains fairly constant with time. This
process then would proceed at an exponentially is the desired condition for a source of nuclear
increasing rate until aU of the fissionable ma- power since a constant energy output results.
terial had been disintegrated. Due to the high Finally, in a multiplying chain reaction, an av-
speeds of these fission neutrons and due to the erage of more than one neutron per fission will
negligible time required for a fission to be com- go on to produce additional fissions with a rapid
pleted, it might be possible for a tremendous increase in neutron population and fissions oc-
amount of energy to be released in a small frac- curring per unit time. This type of reaction is
tion of a second. The process could result in an essential to a nuclear weapon.
explosion; or if the process could be controlled, One thing that must be done to achieve a mul
it could serve as a nuclear source of usable tiplying chain reaction is to minimize escape and
power. This process, where the product neutrons capture, for these effects result in an unproduc-
of an initial fission produce additional fissions, as tive loss of neutrons. Studies of capture effects
described above, is called a chain reaction. have been made and, brie8y, it has been found
that capture varies with the energy (or speed)
4-5.3 NEUTRON REACTION S of the neutrons which strike a nucleus. Fortu-
Several possibilities, which tend to impede the nately, for pure samples of some materials, there
occurrence of a chain reaction, exist for fission are fairly wide ranges of energy for which fission
neutrons. Often, neutrons are captured by a processes dominate over capture. However, the
nucleus without producing a fission: they may be loss of neutrons through the surface can retard
captured by a nonfissioning impurity; they may a chain reaction even in the best materials, if the
mass is small. By increasing the amount of ma-
terial, the probability that a neturon will escape
can be reduced because a larger volume contains
This fact can be explained quaUtatively by realizing
that there is a wave length associated With a moving par-
more nuclei with which a neutron can interact
ticle which depends on its velocity. When the velocity before reaching the surface, or, in other words,
(and thus the wave length) of the particle attains a increasing the diameter of a sphere, for example,
reson;mt value, the probability of interaction is clra- will add more volume, but the volume increases
mntically increased. at a faster rate than the surface area. Therefore,


it is found that there is a certain volume, or, in ( c) Reflect neutrons. Surround the active
weight, a specific mass necessary to sustain a material with a material that will scatter the
chain reaction. This amount is called a critical escaping neutrons back into the .6ssionable
mass. Sinlilarly, a mass is said to be subcritical material.
or supercritical if it is capable of a nonsustaining ( d) Best shape. Use shapes with low surface-
or a multiplying chain reaction, respectively. to-volume ratios to reduce escape, and to increase
The multiplying chain reaction can be under- volume within which interactions take place.
stood qualitatively as a population growth. ( e) Moderate. Surround the actjve material
Assume, for example, that each free neutron pro- with material that will slow the velocity of the
duces a .6ssion which, in turn, produces 2 more liberated neutrons thereby increasing the fission
neutrons (these conditions are optimistically cross section.
over-simplified). Figure 4-5 shows the growth This last method is used especially in nuclear
schematically. power plants. The materials used for slowing
down neutrons are called moderators. Nearly
all light elements are good moderators, especially
those with small tendencies for neutron capture.
Moderators have little value in weapon use, how-
ever, because there is no time for signi.6cant
slowing down of neutrons during explosion. The
other four means are applicable to weapons.
Application of these principles to an ordnance
device was accomplished in strictest secrecy by
members of the Manhattan Project druing World
War IL The project's success introduced a new
era in warfare when in August of 1945, the first
Fig. 4-5 Idealized neutron population growth. atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and
Nagasaki. This was the first time that nuclear
At the end of 20 generations, each initial energy had been used in military operations
neutron will have produced 220 = 1,048,576 against an enemy. The devastating effects of
neutrons; at the end of 4 generations over
these weapons have been adequately reported.
1,000,000,000,000 will have been produced. Gen-
At these two locations approximately 10 square
erations are in the order of 10- 14 sec, hence,
miles were destroyed and more than 100,000
after 1 sec, 2 ' 00 000 000 000 000 neutrons will have
descended from one neutron. casualties resulted. The energy released by each
of these bombs was roughly equivalent to that
4-5.5 MEANS OF INCREASING CRITICALITY produced by the explosion of 20,000 tons (20 KT)
Many things can affect the size of a critical of high explosive {TNT).
mass. lt is possible to reduce this size by opera- The research and testing of nuclear reactions
tion such as the following: and their application to atomic weapons have
(a) Enrichment. Purify the material so that continued up to the present time. Military nu-
the number of nuclei capable of capture, but not clear weapons in our stockpile now include the
fission (i.e., impurities), is minimized. use of fusion as well as fission type reactions, and
( b) Compression. lncrease the amount of include artillery projectiles, missile warheads,
fissionable material in a given volume by com- demolitions, and bombs. In post-war tests, yields
pression. This increases the density of the fission- equivalent to approximately 10-20 million tons
able material, and thus [~y (4-2)] l. of TNT (20 MT) have been attained.

1 Samuel Glasstone, Sourcebook on Atomic 2 Otto Oldenberg, Introduction to Atomic Phys-
EMrgy, D. Van Nostrand Co., Inc., N.Y., ics, McGraw-Hill Book Co., Inc., N. Y., 1954,
1950. 2nd Edition.

4- 11



As has been learned in earlier chapters, within (a) The manufacture of TNT, the most used
the family of explosives, different chemjcaJ ex- high explosive compound.
plosive molecules have different make-up and ( b) The manufacture of the single-base pro-
configurations. Such characteristics determine, to pellant, nitrocellulose, a typical cannon powder.
a large degree, the explosive behavior of such ( c) The manufacture of one type of rocket
compounds. As might be eiq:>ected, such unique propellant, the polymer-perchlorate type, fre-
characteristics mean a dissimilarity of problems quently used in booster units and aircraft rockets.
in the manufacture of these compounds. In order Following the discussion of these examples,
to better understand the problems, consider these typical tests to which high explosives and pro-
typicaJ examples: pellants are subjected are discussed.


Of various high explosives expended during synthesized from fractionated or cracked pe-
World War II, T NT was the greatest in tonnage. troleum. Facilities for the manufacture of toluene
For this reason it was essential that national were established so that approximately twice as
sources of raw materials, particularly toluene, much toluene was available as was required for
were readily available for TNT production. the manufacture of TNT. This manufacture of
During World War I and until about 1939, toluene actually consumed about 0.5 to 1%of the
toluene was procurable from two sources. Prima- amount of crude petroleum that was used in the
rily it was available as a by-product of coke. A manufacture of gasoline during the same years.
lesser amount was found to occur naturally in This had little effect on the supply of motor fuel.
certain petroleum deposits, but these two sources As exemplified by this case of toluene, and in
together were unable t~ satisfy the U.S. require- the more recent synthesis of some rocket fu els,
ments in World War l. Consequently, vigorous the petrochemicals industry has become one
measures were taken to increase the supply of of the most important industries which support
toluene. City gas mains were stripped of their the manufacture of explosives.
small quantities of toluene but still there was an The other raw material required in tbe manu-
insufficient amount. The dilution of TNT with facture of TNT, nitric acid, is obtained by niho-
ammonium nitrate was tried; however, the result- gen fixation. In peacetime, nitrogen is mainly
ing product, amato~ lacked the brisance and blast used in the manufacture of fertilizer. Today, the
effects of TNT. Ammunition loaded with amatol nitrogen fixation facilities which were built and
was not as effective as desired. expanded during the war are for the most part
lt is doubtful that the United States Army busily engaged in supplying the great domestic
could have conducted the vast operations of and foreign demand for fertilizers, chieBy am-
World War II, consuming mHlions of Lons of monium nitrate and anhvdrous ammonia. As a
TNT, if their sources of toluene had been those of result of World War TJ e~pansion, these facilities
World War 1. Fortunately, a process was de- are sufficient to rapidly and quickly supply large
veloped in 1939 by which toluene could be quantities of explosives raw materials. Using


Stage 1 Stage Z Stage 3



- NOz - NOz OzN- -NOz

+H N-3 +HN03 -- +HN0

3 ~


T o luene mon o - Dini t r ot oluene Tr in i tr otol uen e

Nitrotol uen e
Fig. A-1 Tri-nitration equation showing some typical polynitrotoluenes.

toluene, the manufacture of TNT involves the stops and an equilibrium condition is reached
following processes: due to the presence of excess H 2 0. Thus, in order
(a) Three stages of nitration: toluene to mono- to tri-nitrate, or replace three hydrogens with
nitrotoluene, to dinitrotoluene, to trinitrotoluene. three -N02 groups, water must be removed,
(b) Washing finished product in water until the temperature raised, and the concentration of
free of acid. the nitric acid increased. Since chemically it is
( c) Purification by remelting and chemical easier to substitute the first - N0 2 group than the
treatment. second, and easier to replace the second than the
( d) Drying and flaking. third, the strength an:d temperature of the nitrat-
Since so many present day explosives must be ing mixture should be highest for tri-nitration,
nitrated, a summary of nitration fundamentals and lowest for mono-nitration. Thus, tri-nitration
is of interest. When the organic compound of toluene is carried out in three stages.
toluene (cold), is treated with concentrated nitric A three-stage process, in which heated toluene
acid, the following reaction occurs: was passed successively through a series of vats
CH3C6H5 + HN03 t::t CH3CeH.N02 + HiO provided with agitators, and with acid flowing
The end products are water and mononitro- countercurrently, was used extensively before
toluene, one of the hydrogens on the toluene and during World War II. Sulfuric acid, an in-
having been replaced by the - N0 2 group, giving expensive and effective dehydrating agent, was
the toluene explosiv.e characteristics. However, used throughout the process to remove the H 2 0.
as soon as the concentration of the nitric acid The resulting TNT was collected, washed, puri-
drops below a certain lower limit, the reaction fied by remelting, and dried into a finished form.


Single-base powder consists mainly of nitro- These inert materials, of course, decrease the
cellulose into which various additives are in- potential of the powder. However, the resulting
corporated to give improved qualities. These product is improved in certain useful qualities.
additives are frequently inert materials which The additives generally found in single-base
absorb heat, increase stability, or reduce smoke. powders are:


Diphenylamine as a stabilizer; mixed in. Next, the powder is forced through

Dibutylphthalate as a coolant; extrusion dies to give it the desired shape. The
Dinitrotoluene or trinitrotoluene to control long tubes of extruded powder are then chopped
burning rate and reduce hygroscopicity; into grains of the proper length and allowed to
Triacetin as a gelatinizing agent; dry until they contain about 0.3% to 0.4% of the
Centrolite as a stabilizer and coolant; volatile alcohol-ether solvent.
Vaseline as a stabilizer and coolant. After a considerable quantity of powder has
been prepared as described, it is passea through
In the preparation of nitrocellulose, cotton a blending tower where each batch is thoroughly
linters (cellulose) are digested by caustic soda mixed with each other batch so that the 6nal
under pressure in order to eliminate oils and powder lot will be as homogeneous as possible.
resinous materials, and then are washed and (A blending tower may have a capacity of
bleached. After drying, nitration is done at 30C
1,000,000 lb of powder which represents on the
(86F) with a mixture of nitric and sulluric acids.
After nitration, the acid and most of the water order of two weeks production. ) The ballistic
are removed. Alcohol under pressure is then properties of the lot are then tested and analyzed
forced into the block of nitrocellulose to displace so that the proper amount of each lot of powder
the remainder of the water; ether is used to help can be loaded into the cartridge cases or powder
the alcohol disperse the disintegrated nitrocellu- bags to secure uniformity of ballistic perform-
lose into a colloidal state; then additives are ance to meet specifications.


As was mentioned in an earlier chapter, pro- while mixing, blend in the perchlorate.
pellants formulated of organic fuel, such as an Mixing is done in a slurry tank or kettle.
asphalt-oil mixture and an oxidizer (potassium Viscosity control is critical; into the viscous
or ammonium perchlorate), offer the advantages liquid polymer, only particles of great purity and
of high speci6c impulse (about 185 seconds), a controlled size (or size distribution) are blended.
wide range of desirable physical characteristics, This mix is used to fill the rocket motors by pour-
and competitive cost. Such propellants have the ing around a removable mandrel. The rocket
advantages of a very wide range of temperature motors are then cured, i.e., the rubber polymer
limits, rugged handling characteristics, ease of is polymerized by resting the 6lled motors in
loading, and simplicity of manufacture. They a heated, constant high-temperature chamber.
were originaJJy thought of as useful for only After several hours the mandrel is removed from
small rocket motors and jatos carrying not more each motor and the motor is ready for inspection
than a few hundred pounds of propellant. Future (often radiographic) and shipment, or assembly.
Manufactured in this way the propellant is
years will see the use of very large rocket motors
extremely sensitive to curing (i.e., heat transfer)
loaded with this type of propellant.
rates during polymerization. In addition, homo-
Thiokol, one popular propellant of this type, geneity is of considerable importance. The distri-
is made using a poJymerizable rubber base as the bution, size, and size distribution of the oxidizer
fuel, to which carefuUy sized granular perchlorate influence the rate of burning. Engineering ad-
is added. The general scheme is to create a vances in this method of manufacture have been
carefully blended slurry of the polymer, and great in the last decade.



The present standard military explosives ha'.ye very nature of high explosives sometimes pre-
been tested by actual use over a long period of vents the use of highly refined or delicate appara-
time and their points of superiority and weak- tus. Because of such limitations, it is difficult to
nesses are known. When a hew explosive is devise tests of a rigidly scientific type. The re-
proposed to meet a particular use, it is compared sults obtained by standard tests on high explo-
with the explosive it is intended to replace. It sives usually consist of the measurement of that
is impossible to obtain a satisfactory comparison specific characteristic for which the test was de-
by subjecting the new explosive to the test of veloped. Of ten such tests are so encumbered
actual use, because the period of time in which with partial measurements of several other char-
the old explosive has been so tested comprises acteristics that it is difficult to estimate or sepa-
many years. A new explosive, therefore, is com- rate their relative magnitudes. For this reason
pared with the old, or accepted explosive, by it is necessary to consider the results of the en-
subjecting both to certain arbitrary tests, and in tire series of tests before a verdict is rendered on
the interests of economy, rapidity of examination, the relative merits of two different high ex-
and safety, the preliminary comparison tests are plosives.
made on a small scale in the laboratory. H the
laboratory results seem promising, further tests The chart of high explosives (Table A-1 )
are conducted on a larger scale. contains the results of some important physical
Practically all tests of high explosives (both tests. The methods employed to obtain the in-
small and large scale) are empirical because the formation listed on this table are as follows:

A-5.1 SENSITIVITY TO SHOCK (COLUMN 5) to be tested is placed in the mortar and deto-
This test is conducted by loading 0.02 gram nated. The deflection of the mortar resulting
of the explosive in a cup and dropping a 2-kilo- from the explosion is measured and compared
gram weight on it. By this method the distance with that resulting from a standard explosive,
through which it is necessary to drop the weight usually TNT ( Figure A-3 ).
in order to secure one detonation in ten drops, A-5.4 VELOCITY OF DETONATION
is determined in inches and given as the sensi- (COLUMN 8)
tivity of the explosive. The higher the value, the
lower the sensitivity. The figures given iil column This test is usually conducted by' detonating
5 are the averages of many figures and are cal- an unconfined tube of explosive of a given length
culated to show the sensitivity of the various ex- and one inch in diameter. The time for the deto-
plosives as compared with TNT. nating wave to pass from one end of the tube
to the other is recorded and the velocity in meters
A-5.2 TRAUZL LEAD BLOCKS (COWMN 6) per second computed.
The trauzl lead block test measures the com- A-5.5 RELATIVE BRISANCE (COLUMN 9)
parative disruptive effect of an explosive when
Bred in a lead block. The volume of the bore The figures are grams of a unique sand which
hole is measured before and after the explosion will be crushed by 0.4 gram of the explosive. The
and the expansion caused by the explosion is test is conducted by loading 0.4 gram of the
computed to the nearest cubic centimeter. This explosive into a gilding metal shell. The shell is
gives a measure of the strength of the explosive placed in a bomb containing 200 grams of Ottawa
(Figure A-2). silica sand which will pass through a twenty-
mesh screen and still be retained by a thirty-mesh
screen. After Bring, the number of grams of sand
The ballistic mortar tests the strength of an that will be sifted by a shaker through the thirty-
explosive. The mortar is suspended by a pen- mesh screen in three minutes is measured and
dulum supported on knife edges. The explosive listed as the brisance of the explosive.

Explosive* Formula or Proportions Color Density (Dre
(1) (2) (3) (4)
1. Mercury Fulminate Hg(ONCh White - Grayish Yellow 3.55

2. N it.roglycerin CaH.(ON02)a Pale Yellow Liquid 1.60

3. Lead Styphnate CeH(N02h(02Pb) Deep Yellow 3.1 ('


Lead Azide ~
4. PbNe White- Buff 3.8 -
5. PETN C(CH20N02)4 White 1.63
6. Cyclonite (RDX) (CH2)aNa(N02)a White 1.65
7. Te try I CsH2(NOi)a(NCHaN02) Buff - Lemon Yellow 1.57
40/37 .7/20/ 0.8/1.5, NS/SodNit/
8. Nitrostarch BarNit/Oil/Stabilizer Gray 1.6
9. Pentolite 50/50, PETN /TNT Dirty White - Buff 1.56-1.63
10. Torpex 42/ 40/ 18, R DX/TNT/AL Gray 1.73

11. Tetrytol 75/ 25, Tetryl/TNT Light Yellow 1.60

12. Minot II 40/40/ 20, NH4N0a/TNT/AL Gray 1.65 1(
13. Cyclotol (Comp B) 60/40, RDX/ TNT Dirty White - Buff 1.65
14. Trit.Qnal 80/20, TNT/AL Gray 1.7
80.1/4/10./4/1/.9, RDX/MNT/DNT/TNT/
15. Composition C2 Collodion Cotton/Dimethyl Formamide Yellow Brown 1.57
16. Picric Acid CeH20H(N02)a Light Cream 1.6 l~

17. TNT CeH2CHa(1'102)a Buff - Light Brown 1.55

18. Composition C 88/ 12, RDX/Oil Brown 1.50
19. Amato! 50/50 50/50, Ammonium Nitrate/TNT Buff - Dark Brown 1.54
20. Composition A-3 91/9, RDX/Wax White- Buff 1.62
21. Amato! 80/20 80/ 20, Ammonium Nitrate/TNT Buff - Dark Brown 1.38
22. Pierato I 52/48, ExD/TNT Brownish Yellow 1.61
Lemon Yellow
23. Explosive D CeH2(0NH4) (N02)a Orange - Reddish Brown 1.48

Listed in order of their sensithrity.

Explosives l thru 4 are primary high explosives.
Explosives 5 thru 23 are secondary high explosives.


Trauzl Block Ballistic Detonation Melting

Sensitivity Test Mortar Velocity Brisa.nee Point
to Shock (Strength) (Strength) Meters Grams oc Use
Density (Drop Test) Cubic 3ofTNT per of Sand (Castability)
Inches Centimeters Second
(4) (5) (6) (7) (8) (9) (10) (11)
Yellow 3.55 2 150 4700-5400 15.5-22.4 Explodes Primers and Detonators
Double-Base Powder,
1uid 1.60 2-3 515- 600 156 8400 60.0 13 Dynamite
Primers, Sensitizer for
3.1 2-3 120 4900-5200 9.5-21.4 Explodes Primers and Detonators
3.8 3-4 115 4000 - 5000 13.9-18 Explodes Detonators and Primers
1.63 6 500-560 166 8300 61.9 138- 141 Booster Mixtures, Primacord
1.65 7 525 162 8400 61.0 200- 203.5 Booster Mixtures
ellow 1.57 8 375 120-125 7500 53.5 128.5 ,. 130 Booster Mixtures

1.6 8 275 96 6100 37.7 Explodes Demolitions

;uff 1.56-1.63 9 345 130 7500 53.0 80-90 Bursting Charge
1.73 9 475 140-170 7300 57.9 88-95 Bursting Charge
Burster, Chemical Shell
1.60 10 350 120 7300 50.0 65-90 Demolitions
1.65 10-11 465 143 5400 - 5700 40-41 80-90 Bursting Charge
;uif 1.65 11 375 135 7800 51.8 85 - 100 Bursting Charge
1.7 12 360 118 5500 42.0 80-90 Bursting Charge

1.57 12.5 450 135 8000 55.0 67 Bursting Charge, Demolitions

1.6 12 -13 300 106 7200 45.0 120.3 - 122.5 Mixtures
>WO 1.55 14 285 100 6900 43.0 80.2 Bursting Charge
1.50 14 360 125 7400 46.5 200-203.5 Demolitions, Bursting Charges
WD 1.54 14 330 109 6500 38.0 80-85 Bursting Charge
1.62 14 410 130 7500 49.6 200-203.5 Bursting Charge
Wll 1.38 15 360 117 5400 32.0 76 (Softens) Bursting Charge
w 1.61 18 280 (?) 100 6972 43.0 (?) Casta.ble Bursting Charge
1h Brown 1.48 18 275 96 6500 35.0 265 Bursting Charge


Fig . A-2 Trouzl lead block ofter test, with sedion showing expansion
of cavity by explosive.

Fig . A -3 Ballistic mortar.


A-5.6 ADDITIONAL TESTS sensitivity, the explosive is tested for sensitivity

Still other physical tests are conducted to to detonation by heat and friction. Large scale
determine the suitability of explosives for military tests are conducted outside the laboratory to
purposes. determine other qualities such as:
For all types of explosives, the bomb calorime- (a) Explosive train tests, to determine the
ter is used to obtain the quantity of heat given functioning and effectiveness of each element in
off in a closed chamb~r, the volume of gases the explosive train.
produced, and the pressure developed. From this ( b) Setback tests, to insure safety and cer-
data the potential of the explosive or its capacity tainty of action of all components after under-
for doing work is determined. For low explosives going setback in the gun or set forward on
the products obtained from the explosion in the impact
bomb calorimeter can be analyzed to determine ( c) Fragmentation tests, to determine the
smokiness. effectiveness with which a high explosive filler
The rate of combustion of propellants varies will fragment a standard shell.
with the specific rate of burning and the pressure, For primers the tests include the comparative
and may be computed by empirical formulas effect of a black powder Bame on the form,
based upon experimentally determined values. volume, and duration of the primer blast The
The specific rate of burning is the depth or thick- duration of primer Hames is measured in order to
ness of the ]ayer burned, measured normal to the determine their suitability for the ]ow explosive
burning surface, per unit time under specified train. The impulse (or shock action) at the primer
conditions. The rate of burning of a propelling is also tested.
charge profoundly influences the ballistic effects In addition, there are many other physical tests
produced in a weapon. The temperatures of of explosives. The student can appreciate the
flames or explosions can be determined by optical magnitude of the test program by recalling that
or spectroscopic methods. many hundreds of explosive compounds have
For high . explosives, in addition to impact been or are in the process. of being tested.


Evaluation of . rocket propellants depends in Measurement of rates of burning of solid pro-
large measure upon the evalution of their chem- pellants requires specialized equipment and
ical kinetics. Problems of principal interest are: experience. Measurements should be made under
(a) The effect of pressure, temperature, and conditions which approach as closely as possible
composition on the linear burning rate of the those which the propeJlant is to meet in actual
propellants. use,- since the combustion reaction is influenced
( b ) The temperature gradients in the pro- by a large, and not individually predictable,
pellant while burning in the motor. number of factors. During tests the propellant is
( c) The determination of intermediate chem- immersed in its own propellant gases at high
ical reactions, their mechanisms, and effects on pressures. Since rates of burning are on the
the burning reaction. order of l to 2 inches per second, very good
( d) Fina] products at reaction temperature. resolution in time is required in order to obtain
( e) Effects of composition changes on the acceptable exp!=lrimental accuracy. Since scaling
above parameters. up of results on smaU lots of propellant introduces
In recent years each of the above problems has errors, a number of separate propellant tests
received much investigation, but by far the most must be made. This introduces a safety require-
effort has been devoted to those characteristics ment for small lot manufacturing and calls for
enumerated in (a), above. specialized facilities. To illustrate measurement



Pr edetermined
along strand
~"'+IH--- Propellant mounting
bracket (removable)

T iming leads

Pressurizing tap

Fig. A-4 Pressure vessel for measuring burning rates of propellant as a function ol pressure.

of burning rates consider two typical methods: the time taken for the burning to travel between
(a) Strand burning. A strand of the test pro- the accurately known distance along the strand.
pellant about 1' inch in diameter and 6-8 inches This method is well suited to laboratory investi-
long, coated with some inert plastic to restrict gation in that only small quantities of propellant
burning to the ends only, is supported by. a wire are required for each test. However, the strands
bracket in a heavy-walled bomb pressurized to must be carefully formulated and extruded. Prop-
the desired value with inert gas. Through the
erties of propellants of differing compositions
strand are passed two electric leads of fine wires
located a known distance apart along the strand. may be checked in this way. In this method
The strand is ignited and as the strand bums results must be adjusted using empirical data
an electrical impulse passes into a recording in order to correct them to actual burning rates
device, through each wire in tum, as the com- of propellants immersed in their own propellant
bustion consumes the strand. Thus, a measure- gases. A drawing of a typical strand burning
ment can be taken of the effect of pressure on apparatus is shown in Figure A-4.


3. 0


v~ ,5 I> ..
v -. s
J--~ ~ ~
I> t:

~v v

......... l. 0 ~ /



... v
a: ,
...i:: 0.5 i..... / ~
i:Q I' ~""" ./
I/ v
o. 3 I/'

o. 5 l. 0 z. 0 3. 0 5. 0
Ln Average Pressure( 1000 lb. /in. Z)

Nitrocellulose 57. 55
(including 13. Z 10/o N)
Nitroglycerin 39. 96
Potassium Sulfate 1, 48
Ethyl Centralite l. 01
Volatiles 1. 00
Carbon Black 10
Fig. A-5 The effed of pressure on burning rote of a rocket solid propellant.

( b ) Vented-vessel techniques. In this equip- and recorded on film using a drum camera. In
ment the propeliant is burned in a simple rocket this apparatus the effect of time on burning rate
motor provided with a variety of ~ozzles, the may be measured by suddenly dunking the vessel
purpose of which is to provide a means of vary- containing the burning propellant into water
ing the pressure. The test motor and propellant during burning. Analysis of the pressure-time
are kept under controlled (and predetermined) curve, coupled with a knowledge of the rate of
temperature conditions until needed. The burning, gives data which is the linear rate of
pressure-time curve of the burning charge is burning in a particular pressure region. A number
measured with a strain gauge which is part of a of tests permit construction of a family of curves
wheatstone bridge. The unbalanced emf of the of burning rate as a function of pressure. Typical
bridge is amplified, applied to an oscilloscope, curves so arrived at are shown in Figure A-5.



Atomic Atomic Atomic Atomic

Symbol Symbol
N umber W eight Number Weight
Aluminum ..... . Al 13 26.97 Mercury ........ Hg 80 200.61
Antimony ...... Sb 51 121.76 Molybdenum .. .. Mo 42 96.0
Argon ....... . .. A 18 39.944 N eodymium .... Nd 60 144.27
Arsenic ......... As 33 74.91 N eon ........... Ne 10 20.183
Barium . .... ... . Ba 56 137 .36 Nickel .. . ....... Ni 28 58.69
Beryllium .. . . ... Be 4 9.02 Nitrogen ........ N 7 14.008
Bismuth .. . . .. . . Bi 83 209.00 Osm ium ...... .. Os 76 191.5
Boron . .... . .... B 5 10.82 Oxygen ......... 0 8 16.0000
Bromine ... . .... Br 35 79.916 Palladium ...... Pd 46 106.7
Cadmium . ..... Cd 48 112.41 Phosphorus ..... p 15 31.02
Calcium ........ Ca 20 40.08 Platinum ....... Pt 78 195.23
Carbon ......... c 6 12.Q.l Potassium ...... K 19 39.096
Cerium ... . . . .. . Ce 58 140.13 P raseodymium .. Pr 59 14-0.92
Cesium ........ . Cs 55 132.81 Radium ........ Ra 88 226.05
Chlorine ..... . .. CJ 17 35.457 Ra.don ......... Rn 86 222.
Chromium ... . .. Cr 24 52.01 Rhodium ....... Rh 45 102.91
Cobalt ......... Co 27 58.94 Rubidium ...... Rb 37 85.48
Columbium ..... Cb 41 92.91 Ruthenium ..... Ru 44 101.7
Copper ..... . . . Cu 29 63 ..57 Samarium . ..... Sm 62 150.43
Dysprosium ..... Dy 66 162.46 Scandium ... . ... Sc 21 45.10
Erbium .... . .... Er 68 167.64 Selenium ....... Se 34 78.96
Europium .. .... Eu 63 152.0 Silicon ......... Si 14 28.06
Fluorine .. ... . . . F 9 19.00 Silver ......... . Ag 47 107.880
Gadolinium ..... Gd 64 156.9 Sou~11m ... . .. . . . Na 11 22.997
Gallium . . . ... . . Ga. 31 69.72 Strontium ... . . . Sr 38 87.63
Germanium ... . . Ge 32 72.60 Sulphur . ...... . s 16 32.06
Gold .. . .. . . . . .. Au 79 197.2 Tantalum .. .. . . Ta 73 180.88
Hafnium .. . . . .. Hf 72 178.6 T ell urium ...... . Te 52 127.61
Helium ..... . ... He 2 4.002 T erbium . ...... Tb 65 159.2
Holmium .. . . . .. Ho 67 163.5 Thallium ....... Tl 81 204.39
Hydrogen . . ... . H 1 1.0078 Thorium ....... Th 90 232.12
Indium ... . ..... In 49 114.76 Thulium ........ Tm 69 169.4
Iodine .......... I 53 126.92 Tin ............ Sn 50 118.70
Iridium ........ Ir 77 193. l Titanium ....... Ti 22 47.90
Iron . .......... Fe 26 55.84 T ungsten . . ..... w 74 184.0
K rypton .. . .... . Rr 36 83.7 Uranium .... .. . u 92 238.07
Lanthanum ..... La 5i 138.92 Vanadium ..... . v 23 50.95
Lead . . ......... Pb 82 207.21 Xenon ........ . Xe 54 131.3
L it hium . Li 3 6.940 Ytterbium ...... Yb 70 173.04:
L utecium ....... Lu 71 175.0 Y ttrium .... ... y 39 88.92
M agnesium ..... l\fg 12 24.32 Zinc ........... Zn 30 65.38
Manganese . . .. . Mn 25 5-! .93 Zirconium . . .. . . Zr 40 91.22

Dalo for this Table furnishe d by Picatinny Arsenal.



Density lb per cu ft
Gas Formula Air= I cu ft per lb
Acetylene .. . ..... ..... ...... ..... . ... C2H2 0.9073 .07324 13.654
Air1 . . . . . . , . 1.0000 .08072 12.390
Ammonia . .... ......... . ......... .. .. NH3 0.5963 .04813 20.777
Bromine2. .. . ......... . '. .. . .... ...... Br2 5.516 .44525 2.246
Carbon dioxide ... ............. . ...... C02 1.5290 .12342 8.102
Carbon monoxide . ... .. ......... . . . ... co 0.9671 .07806 12.810
Chlorine .. ..... ......... .. ... ..... ... Ch 2.49 .20099 4.975
Coal gas . .. .......... . . .. .. .......... . 0.504 .04068 24.58
Cyanogen ...................... . .... . C2N2 1.804 .14562 6.867
Ethane ............. ... .... . ....... .. C2He 1.0493 .08470 11.806
Ethylene ...... .. .. ..... .... . ......... C2H 0.9710 .07838 12.758
Fluorine .. . . ... .... ...... ........... . F2 1.312 .1059 9.443
Helium ..... ... .. ... . . . .. ........... . He 0.1381 .01115 89.69
Hydrogen ........ . .. .. . ... . .......... H2 0.06952 .005612 178.19
Hydrogen bromide .. .... .............. HBr 2.8189 .22754 4.395
Hydrogen chlor!de ........... .... ..... HCl 1.2678 .10234 9.771
Hydrogen fluoride ........ . .. . ......... HF 0.713 .0576 17.361
Hydrogen iodide .............. ...... .. HI 4.4776 .3614 2.767
Hydrogen sulphide ..... ..... . . . . ... ... H2S 1.190 .09606 10.411
Methane . ... ..... ..... . ....... ... ... . CH. 0.5544 .0448 22.32
Nitric oxide ...... . ................ ... NO 1.0366 .08367 11.953
Nitrogen . ..... ... . ... .... ..... . ...... N2 0.9673 .07808 12.807
Nitrogen dioxide 2 N 02 1.588 .1282 7.800
Nitrogen tetroxide2 .. .... ..... ...... ... N20 3.176 .2564 3.900
Nitrous oxide .. ........... .. .......... N20 1.530 .12350 8.097
Oxygen ..... . .. . .... ...... .. .. .. .. . . . 02 1.1053 .08922 11.208
Steam (at 100C.) . .. .. . .. . .... ...... .. H20 0.46183 .03728 26.824
Sulphur dioxide . .. . .... .. ............. S02 2.2638 .18273 5.473
Water gas . .... .. .... . . .... ... . . ..... . 0.684 .05521 18.11
Dry atmospheric air at sea level has approximately the following composition by volume:
Per Cent Per Cent
N2 ................. .............. .... ............. ...... .. 78.03 CO. ............... ....... .. ................ ........... ... 0.03
o. .. ............. :........................................ 20.99 Ha ..................... ............. ... ................... 0.01
A ...... .................................................... 0.94 Rare gases ....................................,....... 0.002
Not gaseous under standard conditions. Density is calculated assuming' molecular volume
equal to 22.411 liters.
Compared to air at 0C.

Data for this Table furnished by Picatinny Arsenal.



Specific Heats
Molecular Calories per Gram
Name Formula
Weight per Gram Molecule or
Gram Atom
A,lcohol (liquid) .. . . . .. . . .. .. ..... C2H&OH 46.l 0.581 26.8
Aluminum oxide . . . .... . . . .. .. . .. Al203 101.9 0.188 19.2
Ammonium chloride .. ... . . . .. ... . NH4CL 53.5 0 .376 20.1
Ammonium nitrate . . . . .. ......... NH 4N03 80.0 0.4c7 32.6
Antimony .. .... . . ... .. ....... . .. Sb 121.76 0.0503 6.12
Antimonous oxide . .. ............. Sb203 291.5 0.0829 24.2
Arsenic (metallic) . . . ......... . ... As 74.91 0.0822 6.16
Barium carbonate ..... . ....... ... BaC03 197.4 0.1030 20.3
Barium chloride ........... ....... BaCl2 208.3 0.0875 18.2
Barium nitrate ... . . . .. . . . ...... .. Ba(NOah 261.4 0.1523 39.8
Benzene (liquid) . ........ . . . .. ... C&Ha 78.l 0.406 31.7
Calcium carbonate ........ ... . . .. CaCOa 100.1 0.206 20.6
Calcium chloride ........... ...... CaCl2 111.0 0.1642 18.2
Calcium sulphate (cryst. anhyd.) ... CaS04 136.1 0.169 23.0
Carbon (graphite) .. ... . . . . ....... c 12.01 0.165 1.98
Chromium trioxide ... ... . . .. ... . . Cr203 152.0 0.178 27.1
Copper sulphate (anhydrous) . . .. .. CuS04 159.6 0.157 25.1
Glycerin (liquid) .. ... .......... .. CaH&(OH)3 92.1 0.580 53.4
Iron sulphide ..... . . ... ...... . . .. FeS 87.9 0.139 12.2
Lead . . . ............ ..... . . ..... Pb 207.21 0.0305 6.32
Lead carbonate ..... ..... . .... ... PbCOa 267.2 0.0971 26.0
Lead nitrate .. . .. .......... . . ... . Pb(N03)2 331.2 0 .1173 38.8
M agnes1a. . .. . ..... . .. ... ... ..... MgO 40.3 0.235 9.46
Mercury (liquid) . ...... . . . . ...... Hg 200.61 0.03325 6.67
Nitric acid (liquid) . ..... . ..... ... HN03 63.02 0.476 30.00
Phosphorus (Red) . . .. . ...... ... . . P. 124.08 0.1829 22.7
Potassium dichromate ... . ... . . . . . K2CR201 294.2 0 .182 53.5
Potassium carbonate .. . . . . ... .... K2C03 138.2 0.2162 29.9
Potassium chlorate .... . . . .. .. .. . . KCl03 122.6 0.196 24.00
Potassium chloride .. .. . .. .. . ..... KCl 74.6 0 .164 12.2
Potassium ferrocyanide ... .. . . .. .. K 4Fe(CN)a 368.3 0.218 80.3
Potassium nitrate ............ . ... KN03 101.1 0.220 22.2
Potassium perchlorate . . ... .. . ... . KClO. 138.6 0:191 26.5
Potassium sulphate (cryst.) ....... K~O. 174.3 0.182 31.7
Potassium sulphide . . .... . ... . .... K2S 110.3 0 .091 10.0
Silica (quartz) . . . . ............. . . Si02 60.l 0 .188 11.3
Silver ...... . . . . .. ... . ........... Ag 107.880 0.05625 6.07
Silver chloride (cryst.) ............ AgCl 143.3 0.0878 12.6
Silver nitrate (fused) . .... .. . . . ... AgN03 169.9 0.144 24.5
Sodium carbonate . . . ............. Na2COa 106.0 0.2728 28.9
Sodium chloride ... . ............. . NaCl 58.5 0.208 12.2
Sodium nitrate .. ................. NaNOa 85.0 0.259 22.0




Specific Heats
Name Formula Molecular Calories per Gram
Weight per Gram Molecule or
Gram Atom
Sodium sulphate . . ... .. .... ... .. . Na2SO. 142.1 0 .207 29.4
Sodium sulphide ........ . ..... .. . Na~ 78.1 0.091 7.11
Strontium nitrate ......... ...... . Sr(NOah 211.6 0.182 38.5
Strontium sulphate . . .......... . . . srso. 183.7 0.1428 26.2
Sulphur (Rhombic) . .......... ... . s, 64.12 0 .1728 11.1
Sulphuric acid (liquid) ........ .. . . H2SO. 98.1 0.345 33.8
Water ......................... . H 20 18.0 1.000 18.0



I l t>nl::; of Formal ion in Large

~lolec- C'alories per Gram ~Iolecule
:'\nmc Fom1ula uJar
Weight Dis-
(hs Liquid SoLid solved
Ace lone ........ . . . CH3COCH 3 58 I .):l I l'il .5 64.0
Acetylene . .............. C2H: 26.0 -51 8()
Am111011i11. ... . . . ~H, li.O 10.U 15.8 19. 1
Ammo11ium hicu.rbonu.le . ~H4HC03 7!>. I 208.6
Arnmo11ium chlo1ide .. ... . :'-1H,,CJ 53.5 :3s.n 76.8 72.8
Ammonium dichromll.te . . . (NH4hCr201 252. 1 420.l -l07A
Ammonium 11itrnte . .. ... . NH41'\Q3 80.0 88.1 82.8
Ammo11i11rn picrale .. : . . . . C6H 2(N02)30 NJ [ 4 246. 1 78.0 69.3
Anili11c .. . .. . . - . CJii.NH2 93.l -6...J -4.3 -6.6
Antimonic oxide. .... " Sb205 :323.5 230.9
Antimonous oxide ........ Sb~Oa 291.5 166.9
Antimony sulphide ....... ~b~s3 339.7 34 .4
Barium chlorate .. ...... Ba{ClOih 304.3 171.2 167.2
Barium oxide ......... BaO 153..1 133.1 169.1
Barium nitrate .......... Ba.(.K03): 261.4 238.3 180.0
Barium peroxide ........ Bao, 169 4 151.7
Benzene ...... - C.H. 78. l -16.8 - 12.0 -9.7
Calcium picrate ......... (CJI2(X0~) 30hCa 496.3 185.4 187.o
Camphor ........... C1oHiaO 152.2 79.8
Cane sugar . ........ C1Jl11011 3-12.3 535.0
C'11rbo11 dioxide .......... co, l4.0 ut:m 100.3 99. J
Carbon disulphide . ..... cs~ 76. L -26.-l - 1!1.0
Carbon monoxide .... . ... co 28.0 2!iAa
Cellulose ........ . . ... . . C24Fl.oO:a 6-18.() 920.9
Cellulose ace ta Le (pc11 ta) . . C6H b(02CCH ~h 372.3 520.0
Copper picro.te .... ...... [ CGH2(N0~)30]2Cu 519.8 60.4 U3.7
Oya nogo11 . .. ... ... ...... C2N2 52.0 - GG .7 - 05.5 - 64.0
Dcxtrinc .. .. . . ...... ... CaHrnOs I 02.l 242.0
Dibu t.ylphthulatc .... . ... CJI,(CO~C.H.9) 2 278.3 199.8
Dielhylphthnlate ...... . . CJL(C02C2H ~h 222.:l 180.3
Diuitrobenzene (or tho) . .. C6H(~02): 168.J -0.2
Dinilrobem:ene (met.a.) .... C,H.(NO:h 168. l 6.0
DiniLrobcnzene (para) .... CJlc(NO:h 168. I 8.0
Dinitronuphthalene (1 : 8) C1oH,(XO:h 218.2 -2.7
Oinitrophenol (2 : 3) .. Cslia0H (:\02h 184 1 14.0
Dinitrophenol (2 : 4). ... C~30H (XO:h 184.l 55.6
Dinitrophenol (2 : 6) ..... CJ:hOH(N02h 184.1 17.0
Dinitrotoluol (2 : 4) ... ... C&HaCHj(XO!h 182.1 12.2
Dinitrotoluol (3 : 4) ...... C&liaCli3(l\Oih 182.l 5.1
Dinitrololuol (3 : 5) ...... C,H~CH1(NU2h 18:.U 12.0
Diphenylamine . ......... CJf 5r\H CJf, 169.2 - 2:&.2 -27.6
Ethane . . ... .. ... . .... C2H, 30.l :25 ..3
Ethyl alcohol. .......... CJI60H 46. l 50.0 lili.3 69.2




Heats of Formation in Large

Molec- Calories per Gram Molecule
Name Formula ular
Weight Dis-
Gas Liquid Solid solved
E thyl et her ............. (C2H5)tO 74.l 39.l 46.8
Ethylene ............. . . CJI, 28.1 - 6.5
Formaldehyde ........... CH20 30.0 28.8 40.4
Glucose ........ .. .. .. .. CH20H(CHOH).CHO 180.2 303.6 276.
Glycerin (glycerol) . .. ... . CH20H CHOH CH20H 92.1 159.7 163.6 165.1
Glycol ... ... . . : . .. ..... (CH20H)t 62.1 99.9 112.0 99.9
Glycol dinit rate . . .. . .... ~H, (NO ah 152.l 58.7
Guanidine . .... .. . . .. . .. C(NH)(NH2h 59.1 19.2 28.4
Guanidine nitrate ..... ... CHsNaNOaH 122.l 79.3 89.2
Hydrocellulose ........ .. C12Hu011 342.3 453.8
Hydrogen peroxide . . .. ... H202 34.0 46.84 56.0 45.3
Hydrogen sulphide .... .. . H2S 34.l 5.26 9.26 9.32
Lead azide ..... .... . .. .. PbNe 291.3 - 105.9
Lead oxide .... ... ...... . PbO 223.2 52.47
Lead nitrate .... .... .... Pb(NOah 331.2 108.3 101.7
Lead picrate ............ [CJi2(N02)a0]1Pb 663.4 82.2 75.1
Magnesium picrate . ... .. [C,H2(N02)a0)2Mg 480.5 172.6 187.3
Mannite ..... .. . . . ... .. . (CH20Hh(CHOH), 182.2 317.9 282.4
Mannitol hexanitrate .. . . . CJia(NOa)s 452.2 179.1
Mercuric oxide . ....... .. HgO 216.6 21.7
Mercury fulminate ....... Hg(CNOh 284.6 -64.5
Mercury picrate ......... [C,H2(N02hO]tHg 656.3 42.8 38.1
Methane ............... CH, 16.0 20.3
Methyl nitrate . .. . ..... . CHsON02 77.0 39.9
Mononitrobenzene ....... C,HsN02 123.1 -11.7 -2.0 0.7
Nitric acid ...... ....... . HNOa 63.0 35.3 42.4 43.0 49.8
Nitric oxide . ... ...... .. . NO 30.0 - 21.6
Nitroacetanilide {ortho) .. CaHaN20a 180.2 52.6
Nitroacetanilide (meta) ... CaHaN20a 180.2 54.6
Nitroacetanilide (para) .. . CaHaN20a 180.2 60.6
Nitrobenzaldehyde (ortho) C,H,QHON02 151.1 19.9
Nitrobenzaldehyde (meta) . CaH.CHON02 151.1 19.9 31.6
Nitrobenzaldehyde (para). C,H,CHON02 151.1 19.9 44.1
Nitroca.mphor (alpha) .. . . C!1Gff 1s(N02)0 197.2 85.4
Nitrocamphor (phenol) ... C!1Gff 1s(N()2)() 197.2 125.2
Nitrocellulose (12.6% N ) .. C!uHao. 100 lo. u (N()ah.a1 1090.0 665.5
Nitrocellulose {12.75% N). C2,IIao01o(N()a) 10 1098.6 659.3
Nitrocellulose (13.15% N). CuH20.4509. cs(N Oa) 10. u 1123.3 643.l
Nitrocellulose (13.75% N) . C2,H29,a20s.a1(N()a) 1o.eo 1129.6 639.9
Nitroethane .... . ........ C!2HsN02 75.I 30.6 37.5
Nitrogen chloride ... . . .. . NCla 120.4 -38.5 -54.8
in C!C!l,
Nitrogen pentoxide ... . . . NtO, 108.0 - 1.2 3.6 14.6 28.6

A -16



Heats of Formation in Large

Molec- Calories per Gram Molecule
Name Formula_ ular
Weight Dis-
Gas Liquid Solid solved
Nitrogen peroxide ........ N02 46.0 -7.4 -12.6 25.6
Nitrogen sulphide . ... .. .. N.S4 184.3 - 19.0 -31.9
Nitrogen trioxide ........ N20a 76.0 -21.4 -14.7
NitroglyceI."in ... ..... .... CaHs(N03)a 227.l 85.3
Nitroguanidine .... .. .... CNH NH2NHN02 104.1 12.6
Nit.romethane ........... CH3N02 61.0 14.0 27.6
Nitronaphthalene (alpha). C1Ji1N02 173.2 -2.2 -7.1
Nitrophenol (ortho) . ..... C6H,N020H 139.l -56.1 47.2
Nitrophenol (para) . . . .... C6H,N020H 139.1 -57.0 50.l
Nitrous oxide ... ....... . N iO 44.0 -17.0 -18.7 -14.4
Ozone .................. Oa 48.0 -34.4 -32.5
Picric acid ....... ..... .. C&H2(N02hOH 229.1 56.0
Potassium carbonate ..... K2COa 138.2 275.0 281.5
Potassium chlorate ... _ .. . KC103 122.6 89.9 79.5
Potassium chloride ....... KCl 74.6 104.3 99.9
Potassium dichromate . . .. K2Cr201 294.2 481.7
Potassium njtrate . ... .... KN03 101.l 114.2 119.0 110.14
Potassium perchlorate .... KClO, 138.6 113.5 100.2
Potassium picrate ........ CeH2(N02)sOK 267.2 110.1 100.l
Potassium sulphate ...... K2SO, 174.3 338.5
Silver ni trat~ ........ .. AgNOa 169.9 16.0 30.11 24.66
Sodium carbonate ........ Na2COa 106.0 272.6 276.2
Sodium chlorate . .. . ..... NaCIOa 106.5 79.6 82.34 77.06
Sodium chloride ......... NaCl 58.5 90.7 98.4 97.1
Sodium nitrate ........ .. NaNOa 85.0 106.0 112.5 107.4
Sodium perchlorate ...... NaClO, 122.5 100.3 97.25
Sodium picrate ...... ... . CsH2(N02)aONa 251.l 103.4 97."
Sodium sulphide .. ....... Na2S 78.1 89.7 105.5
Starch ......... .. ..... .. (C&li100&) .. 162.1 230.8
Strontium nitrate ........ Sr(NOah 211.6 234.4 230.6
Strontium oxide ........ . SrO 103.6 140.7 237.1
StrontiUm picrate ........ [CeH2(N02)aO]t8r 543.8 196.0 196.8
Sulphur dioxide .......... S02 64.1 69.3 75.3 77.9
Sulphuric acid ....... ... . HtSO, 98.l 188.4 189.8 192.2 208.8
Sulphur trioxide .. . ...... SOa 80.l 91.5 101.1 103.2 139.0
Tetryl ..... . . .... .... ... C1HsN(1'if02) 287.1 -10.4
Toluene (toluol) ....... .. CsHsCHa 92.1 -9.0 0
Triacetin .. .... ....... .. CaHs(CHaCOO)a 218.2 307.3
Trinitrobenzene (1 : 2 : 4). C&Ha(N02)a 213.1 -5.4
Trinitrobenzene {l : 3 : 5). CeHa(N02)s 213.1 4.9
(1 : 3: 8) ... . . . .. .. ... C10Hs(N02h 263.2 5.7
Trinitrophenol . .. . ... .. . (Same as Picric Acid)




Heats of Formation in Large

Molec- Calories per Gram Molecule
Name Formula ular
Weight Dis-
Gas Liquid Solid solved
Trinitrotoluene (2 : 4 : 6) .. C6H2(N02)aCHa 227.1 16.5
Urea ....... ... . . . . ... . . CO(NH2h 60.1 79.1 77 .2
Urea nitrate .... . . ...... . CO(NH2)tHNOa 123.1 136.8 126.0
Waier . ............ . ... . H20 18.0 57.81 68.38 69.7
Wood meal (hardened)
corresponding to . ..... . C50H120aa 1201.1 1494.
Zinc picrate . ... . ....... . [C6H2(N02)a0]2Zn 521.6 102.8 114.3

Data for this Table furnished by Picatinny Arsenal.


Alpha decay, 4-4 Composition A, 3-9

Aluminized explosives, 3-12 Composition B, 3-9
Amatol, 3-8 Cordite ~. 3-23
Ammonium picrate, 3-8 Co-volume, 2-2
explosion of, 2-12
Criticality, 4-10
Atomic mass nwnber, 4-2 increase of, 4-11
structure, 4-2
Critical mass, 4-11
weight, A-11
Cross section, fission, 4-9
Average density, 1-7
Avogadro's Jaw, 2-6, 2-13
(see HMX)
Cyclotol, 3-9
Bangalore torpedoes; 3-8
Beta decay, 4-4
(see ROX)
Black powder, 3-14
Booster, 3-3 Decomposition of explosives, 3-5
Brisance, 1-8 lead azide, 3-6
relative, A-4 mercury fulminate, 3-5
trinitrotoluene, 3-7
Bmning action of smokeless powder, 3-17
Density, 2-2
Burning, controlled, 3-14 average, 1-7
degressive, 3-17 impulse, 3-26
neutral, 3-17 load, 1-7
progressive, 3-17 of loading, 2-2
relative areas, 3-17
Detonation, 1-4
Burning rates, measurement, A-8 high order of, 1-8
Burning time of smokeless powder, 3-15 low order of, 1-8
velocity of, 1-7
Ballistic potential, 3-19 test for, A-4
Ballistite, 3-24
Diglycol, 3-23
Bursting charge explosive train, 1-11
Dynamites, 3-11

Calorie, 2-3
Electron charge, 4-2
Categorization of explosives, 1-3
Elements., symbols, 4-3
Chain reaction, 4-10
Energy, equivalence with mass, 4-5
Chamber pressure, actual. 2-15 nuclear, 4-8
Charge of nuclear particles, 4-4 Enthalpy, 2-4
Chemical explosive reactions, 1-1 Erosion of gun tube, 2-9
Chemical explosives, properties, 1-7 Expansion, work performed in, 2-7
thermochemistry, 2-1
Exp]osion, ammonium picrate, 2-12
Chemical kinetics, 1-5 smokeless powder, 2-14
Chemical reactions of explosives, 2-1 temperature, 2-9, 2-11

Explosive D, 3-8 :.Heat, evolution of, 1-2
(see also Ammonium picrate) of formation, 2-3
at STP, A-15
Explosives, 3-1
of carbon monoxide, 2-5
aluminized, 3-12
of nitroglycerin, 2-5
categorization, 1-3 of reaction, 2-3
characteristics, 3-1
chemical, 1-7 Heat capacity constants, 2-11
comparison., 3-4 High explosives, 1-3, 3-1
decomposition of classes, 3-3
(see Decomposition of explosives) primary, 3-3, 3-5
definition, 1-2 secondary, 3-3, 3-7
high liquid, 3-11
(see High explosives) load density of, 1-7
High order of detonation, 1-8
(see Low explosives)
manufacture, A-1 HMX, 3-10
military, 3-1
Hygroscopicity, 1-7
mixtures with metals, 3-12
potential of, 2-3
primary high, 3-3, 3-5 Impulse, specific, 2-9
properties of, A-5, A-6
Initial and final state, principle of, 2-8
reactions of
(see Reactions of explosives ) Isotopes, 4-3
secondary high, 3-3, 3-7 masses of, 4-8
(see Testing of explosives)
Kilocalorie, 2-3
Explosive trains, 1-9
Kinetics, chemical, 1-5

Fission, 4-7 Law of Avogadro, 2-6, 2-13

Fission cross section, 4-9 of Gay-Lussac, 2-7
Fission-fusion reactions, 4-1 Lead azide, 1-6, 3-6
Flash, 3-21 Lead styphnate, 3-6
Flash hider, 3-21 Lead trinitrorescorcinate, 3-6
Flash suppressor, 3-22 Liquid high explosives, 3-11
Fusion, 4-7 Load density, 1-7
Loading, density of, 2-2
Gamma rays, 4-4
Low explosives, 1-3, 3-13
Gases, densities, A-12 sensitivity, 3-14
formation, 1-2 stability, 3-14
Gas liberated, volume, 2-6 Low order of detonation, 1-8
Gelignite, 3-11
Mass, critical, 4-11
Gram formula weight, 2-2
equivalence of with energy, 4-5
Gram qiolecule, 2-2 of isotopes, 4-8
of nuclear particles, 4-3, 4-7, 4-8
Gunpowder, 1-1
Mean free path, 4-9
Half life, 4-8 Melting point, 3-4

Mercury fulminate, 1-6, 3-5 high-potential, 3-22.
hypergolic, 3-25
Metal-explosive mixtures, 3-12
improvements in, 3-21
Military explosives, 3-1 ionic, 3-27
Molecular specific heat, 2-2 liquid, 3-25
liquid gun, 3-20
volume, 2-2
metal-additive, 3-27
nitroguanidine, 3-19
Neutron reaction, 4-10 perchlorate, A-3
rocket, 3-23
Nitration, A-2
testing, A-8
Nitrocellulose, 3-18 single-base, 3-18
(see also Single-base propellants)
Nitroglycerin, 1-5
solid, S-24
Nobel, Alfred, 1-1 testing, A-8
Nuclear energy, 4-8 Propelling charge explosive train, 1-9
particle charge, 4-4
Properties of explosives, 1-7, A-5

Pentolite, 3-10 Proton charge, 4-2

Perchlorate propellant, A-3

Radioactive series, 4-5
Perfect gas law, 2-7
Radioactivity, 4-4
PETN, 3-10
RDX, 3-9
Poly-base propellants, 3-19
(see also Propellants, double-base~ Reaction, heat of, i-3

Potential, 2-4, 2-8 Reactions, fission-fusion, 4-1

of an explosive, 2-3, 3-1 induced nuclear, 4-5
neutron, 4-10
Powder, ball, 3-19 reactions of explosives, chemical, 1-1
black, 3-14 decomposition products, 1-9
gun, 1-1
initiation of, 1-2
smokeless, 3-15
rapidity of, 1-2
Powder grains, sizes, 3-16 with metals, 3-4
shapes, 3-16
Rocket propellants, 3-23
Power of an explosive, 1-8 physical testing, A-8
Pressure, basic equations of, 2-12 Rockets, liquid propellant, 3-26
chamber, 2-15
Pressure determination at constant volume, 2-12 Sensitivity of explosives, 1-7
Pressure in propellant chamber, 2-13 low explosives, 3-14
to shock, A-4
Pressure of solid product formation, 2-14
Single-base propellants, 3-18
Primer, 1-9 additives, A-3
Propellant chamber pressure, 2-13 manufacture, A-2
Propellants, 3-19 Smoke, 3-21
composite, 3-24 Smokeless powder, burning action, S-17
double-base, 3-19 burning time, 3-15
exotic, 3-26
Buoro, 3-27 Solid propellants, testing, A-8
free radical, 3-27 Specific gravity, 2-2

Specific heat, 2-2 Tetryl, 3-7
molecular, 2-2
Tetrytol, 3-8
variation with temperature, 2-10
of solids and liquids, A-13 Thermochemistry of chemical explosives, 2-1
Specific impulse, 2-9, 3-24 TNT, 3-7
Specific volume, 2-2 efficiency, 3-9

Stability of explosive, 1-9 Toluene, 1-6

low explosive, 3-14 Torpedoes, bangalore, 3-8
Standard state, 2-3 . Trinitrotoluene, 1-6, 3-7, 3-8
Strength, 1-8 manufacture, A-1
Structure, atomic, 4-2
Uranium series, 4-6

Temperature of decomposition, 1-9

of explosion, 2-9, 2-11 Velocity of detonation, 1-7
of solid product formation, 2-12 test for, A-4
of storage, 1-9 Volume, molecular, 2-2
Testing of explosives, A-1, A-4 specific, 2-2
ballistic mortar, A-7
explosive train tests, A-8 Web thickness, 3-16, 3-17
fragmentation tests, A-8
relative brisance, A-4 Weight, atomic, A-11
sensitivity to shock, A-4 Work, 2-8
setback tests, A-8 (see also Potential )
trauzl lead blocks, A-4, A-7
velocity of detonation, A-4 Work determination in dynamic system, 2-15
Tetranitroaniline, 3-13 Work performed in expansion, 2-7

Listed below are the Handbooks which have b een published or submitted for publication . Handbooks with publica-
tion dates prior to l August l962 were published as 20-series Ordnance Corps pamphlets . AMC Circular 310- 38, 19
July 1963, rede s i gnated those publications as 706-series AMC pamphlets (i. e., ORDP 20-138 was redesignated AMCP
706-138). All new, reprinted, or revised Handbooks are being published as 706-series AMC pamphlets.

General and Miscellaneous Subjects Ballistic Mis s ile Series

No. Title No. Title
106 Elements of Armament Engineering, Part One, 28l(S-RD) Weapon System Effectiveness (U)
Sources of Energy 282 Propulsion and Propellants
107 Elements of Armament Engineering, Part Two, 283 Aerodynamics
Ballistics 284(C) Trajectories (U)
108 Elements of Armament Engineering, Part 286 Structures
Three, Weapon Systems and Components
Ballistics Series
110 Experimental Statistics , Section l, Basic Con-
cepts and Analysis of Measurement Data 140 Trajectories, Differential Effects , and
111 Experimental Statistics, Section 2., Analysis of Data for Projectiles
Enumerative and Classificatory Data 150 Interior Ballistics of Guns
112 Experimental Statistics, Section 3, Planning 160(S) Elements of Terminal Ballistics, Part
and Analysi s of Comparative Experiments One, Introduction, Kill Mechanisms,
113 Experimental Statistics, Section 4, Special and Vulnerability (U}
Topics 16l(S) Elements of T erminal Ballistics, Part
114 Experimental Statistics, Section 5, Tables Two, Collection and Analysis of Data
121 Packaging and Pack Engineering Concerning Targets (U)
134 Maintenance Engineerin g Guide for Ordnance 162(S-RD) Elements of Terminal Ballistics, Part
Design Three, Application to Missile and
135 Inventions, Patents, and Related Matters Space Targets (U)
Carriages and Mounts Series
1 36 Servomechanisms, Section l, Theory
137 Servomechanisms, Section 2, Measurement 340 Carriages and Mounts--General
and Signal Converters 341 Cradles
138 Servomechanisms, Section 3, Amplification 342 Recoil Systems
139 Servomechani s ms, Section 4, Power Elements 343 Top Carriages
and System Design 344 Bottom Carriages
170(C) Armor and Its Application to Vehicles (U) 345 Equilibrator s
250 Guns--General (Guns Ser ies) 346 Elevating Mechanisms
252. Gun T~bes (Guns Series) 347 Traversing Mechanisms
270 Propellant Actuated D evices
Military Pyrotechnics Series
290(C} Warheads--General (U)
331 Compensating Elements (Fire Control Series ) 1 86 Par t Two, Safety, Procedures and
355 The Automotive Assembly (Automotive Series) Glossary
(Revised) l87 Part Three, Properties of Materials
Used in Pyrotechnic Compositions
Ammunit ion and Explosives Series
175 Surface-to-Air Mi!lsile Series
Solid Propellants, Part One
l 76(C) Solid Propellants. Part Two (U) 291 P a rt One, System Integra tion
177 Properties of Explosives of Military Interest, 292 Part Two, Weapon Control
Section l 293 Part Three, Computers
178(C ) Properties of Explosives of Military Interest, 294(S) Part Four, Missile Armament (U)
Section 2 (U) 295(S} Part Five, Countermeasure s (U)
179 Explosive Trains 296 Part Six, Structures and Power Sources
210 Fuzes, General and Mechanic al 297(S) Part Seven, Sample Problem (U)
2 1 l(C) Fuzes, Proximity, Electrical, Part One (U)
2.l 2(S) Materials Series*
Fuzes, Proximity, Electrical, Part Two (U)
213(S) Fuzes, Proximity, Electrical, Part Three ( U) 149 Rubber and Rubber-Like Materials
214(S} Fuzes, Proximity, Electrical, Part Four ( U) 212 G asket Materials (Nonmetallic}
215(C) Fuzes, Proximity, Electrical, Part F ive (U) 69 1 Adhesive s
244 Section l, A rtillery Ammunition--General, 692 Guide to Selection of Rubber 0-Rings
with Table of Contents , Glossary and 693 Magnesium and Magnesium Alloys
Index for Series 694 Aluminum and Aluminum Alloys
245(C) Section 2, De sign for Terminal Effects (U) 697 Titanium and Titanium Alloys
246 Section 3, Design for Control of Flight 698 Copper and Copper Alloys
Characteristics 699 Guide to Specifications for Flexible Rubber
247 Section 4, Design for Projection Products
248 Section 5, Inspection Aspects of Artillery 700 Plastics
Ammunition Design 721 Corrosion and Corrosion Protection of
249 Section 6, Manufacture of Metallic Components M etals
of Artillery Ammunition 722 Glass
*The Materials Series is bei ng published as Military Handbooks (MIL-HDBK-) which are available to Department of
Defense Agencies from the Naval Supply Depot, 5801 Tabor Avenue, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19120,