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Are "warhead weight" and "explosive weight" the same thing for missiles ?

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  • Are "warhead weight" and "explosive weight" the same thing for missiles ?

    I wonder if the warhead weight numbers we commonly find on the internet are the same as the weight of the actual explosives in a missile.

    For example, a Hellfire missile is said to have either a 20 lb (9 kg) HEAT warhead or a 18 lb (8 kg) shaped charge blast fragmentation warhead. So when stated this way, does this mean that the metalic components of the warhead for example are included ? Or this weight is just the actual explosive filler of the missile ?

  • #2
    I may be being simplistic but I would have thought that 'warhead' included everything in the warhead.
    Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe (H G Wells)
    Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens (Friedrich von Schiller)

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    • #3
      No, because the warhead is in a heavy casing and comes with accessories, fusing mechanism, etc. The actual explosive filling is relatively light compared to total warhead weight.

      For example, Mk 82 aviation bomb weighs 227 kg but only 87 kg of that is tritonal filling. This is an ordinary blast bomb so it has relatively thin walls.

      One of the latest things they are perfecting is explosive fuel. A cruise missile is fueled with special fuel of epic destructive power when detonated. When the warhead explodes, remaining fuel also explodes with tremendous blast, enhancing destructive power.

      "Artillery adds dignity to what would otherwise be a ugly brawl."
      --Frederick II, King of Prussia

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      • #4
        Originally posted by MonsterZero View Post
        No, because the warhead is in a heavy casing and comes with accessories, fusing mechanism, etc. The actual explosive filling is relatively light compared to total warhead weight.

        For example, Mk 82 aviation bomb weighs 227 kg but only 87 kg of that is tritonal filling. This is an ordinary blast bomb so it has relatively thin walls.

        One of the latest things they are perfecting is explosive fuel. A cruise missile is fueled with special fuel of epic destructive power when detonated. When the warhead explodes, remaining fuel also explodes with tremendous blast, enhancing destructive power.
        Its the same with shell weights so there wasn't 18 pounds of explosive in an HE shell from a WW1 18 pounder and also the weight of different types of shell fired by this gun was not necessarily 18 pounds the weight designation came from he weight of the shrapnel round (which was 18.5 pounds). It was the same for most guns and still is
        Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe (H G Wells)
        Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens (Friedrich von Schiller)

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        • #5
          What? You mean those ten 750KT warheads in the nose of an SS-18 ICBM does not really weigh 7.5MT?
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          • #6
            When it comes to 'weights' as related to weapons using explosives to increase effectiveness, you can generally follow this progression:

            Gun Shells (Naval Rifles, Artillery, Autocannon, etc.) have the least explosive filler. It takes a thick wall and a well built shell to withstand the force of being fired. The High Capacity shell (Blast/Fragmentation as primary method of destruction) for a 16in gun has only 153lbs of explosive in a 1900lb shell (the AP shell is 41lbs and 2700lbs respectively).

            Mortar or Low Pressure Gun shells (Recoilless Rifles would count here as well). Lower forces acting on the shell means that the walls can be made thinner and the explosive content increased proportionately. Their aerodynamic shapes are also somewhat different and that can leave a bigger cavity for explosives to fit.

            Missiles. Subtracting the rocket motor and associated guidance system, Missile warheads can be relatively thin walled and lightweight. Missile bodies do have to hold up under substantial acceleration in some cases however, and the relative explosive weight to weight of warhead section can vary depending on the fuzing system used or the number of Gs the missile is designed to pull.

            Bombs. On the most basic level a bomb is a metal box you use to cart explosives to a target. There are plenty of different types of bombs, some of which will have artillery shell ratios of filler due to special armor or ground penetrating abilities. But if you're looking for the most efficient ratio of materials used to sheer blast, bombs are the way to go.
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            • #7
              Originally posted by TacCovert4 View Post

              Gun Shells (Naval Rifles, Artillery, Autocannon, etc.) have the least explosive filler. It takes a thick wall and a well built shell to withstand the force of being fired. .
              Possibly the worst extreme being the Kaiser Wilhelm Geschuetz more commonly known as the Paris Gun or Lange Max. Although each shell fired weighed 120 kg it only contained 7 kg of explosive.
              Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe (H G Wells)
              Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens (Friedrich von Schiller)

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