Gun Systems | Advanced


Course Overview:

This five-day course provides participants with an in-depth understanding of firepower technologies (i.e., gun systems) in the way they work and an overview of the equipment and systems that are used in, and with guns. The course will begin with an overview of firepower technologies and then introduce participants to the way guns work. The course then covers aspects of recoil, installation and ammunition concepts as well as gun manufacture. This course will consist of a mixture of lectures and tutorials.

Attendees will receive a comprehensive set of notes covering the lecture content.

Who should attend?

This course is a technical course and is aimed at anyone requiring an advanced understanding of firepower technologies including (and not limited to): design engineers; material scientists; systems engineers; serving officers; and end-users. A technical background or qualification is highly recommended to get the most out of this course.

Course Outline:

Day 1

Introduction and build up of a gun

Introduction to concepts | How guns work | Types and calibres of guns (large and small) | An introduction to ammunition types used in guns

An introduction to gun types

Small arms weapon systems | Towed guns | Self-propelled Howitzers | Tank guns (cannons) | Naval guns

Platform integration

Gun location in a turret | Recoil constraints and balance | Autoloaders | An introduction to recoil | Muzzle brakes | Fume extractors | An introduction to potential gun problems


Day 2

An Introduction to materials science, steels and other materials used in gun construction

Basic concepts in materials science | The structure of materials | Elasticity and strength | Mechanical testing | Thermal expansion | Processing of steels | Effect of cooling rates on heated steels

Breeches and Barrels

Breech concepts | Barrel concepts | When barrels break | Barrel stresses | Manufacturing | Autofrettage

Gun proofing

Proofing approaches | Proof pressures | An introduction to instrumentation

An introduction to Recoil

The need for a recoil system | The role of the buffer and recuperator | Examples of recoil systems


Day 3

Gun calculations

Basic gun calculations | Barrel calculations (droop) | Pressure calculations | Basic recoil calculations

Internal and intermediate ballistics

Introductory concepts | Piobert’s law | Effect of specific surface area on burning rates of propellants | Projectile velocity calculations | Types of propellants: single base, double base, triple base | Barrel life (corrosion, abrasion, erosion) | Propellant-air interactions

Alternative launch technologies

Cased telescopic ammunition | Segmented penetrators | Rail guns | Coil guns | Electro-thermal technologies | Light-gas guns


Day 4

Exterior ballistics

Forces on a projectile / fragment in flight | Coefficient of drag | Projectile stabilisation techniques | Coriolis effect | Magnus effect

Stress waves

Why stress waves and shock waves are important in gun design and ammunition construction | Wave propagation problems | Elastic wave transmission | Plastic wave theory | Calculations

Fuzes and explosives

Types of fuze | Operation | Explosive types | The explosive train | Models showing the effect of explosions | Explosives in ammunition

Gun-fired projectile concepts

Types of ammunition | Penetrator materials | Fragmenting munition concepts | Mott’s fragmentation theory | Gurney theory | HESH


Day 5

Gun manufacturing

Manufacturing processes | Drilling | Honing | Rifling | Forging | Introduction to polymers and composites | Integration of composite components

Material failure mechanisms

Causes of material failure | Examples | Spall | Tensile failure | Shear

Computational modelling

Introduction to computer codes including hydrocodes | Discretisation | Empirical vs analytical vs computational | Equations of state | Strength models | Failure models | Erosion models

Terminal Ballistics

Penetration mechanisms | Low-velocity impact | de Marre theory | High-velocity impact | Hydrodynamic penetration theory 



Sessions will be provided throughout the course so that the student can work through some of the issues raised under the guidance of the course presenter.



An optional test will be provided on Day 5.


Course Learning Outcomes

At the end of this course, the student will be able to:

LO1: Explain in detail the principles of gun design and operation with respect to the materials used in construction.

LO2: Present calculations on recoil, gun droop, anticipated projectile velocities, fragment velocities and stress wave propagation and reflection.

LO3: Articulate the physics of gun operation and firing.

LO4: Describe alternative projectile launch possibilities.

LO5: Describe the issues associated with gun manufacture.

LO6: Explain the differences in penetration mechanisms for high-velocity projectiles compared to low-velocity projectiles.


Reviews:  "For me general understanding of dynamic response of materials, Internal ballistics and revision of energy calculations were valuable".  August 2019.

"The topics and practical examples used to demonstrate the topics were valuable.  Efforts were made to adapt course content to the specific field the students were working in".  August 2019

 Presenter information:

Professor Paul J Hazell

Paul has over 20 years of experience studying the impact behaviour of materials. In 2012 he moved to Canberra, Australia from the UK to take up the post of Professor of Impact Dynamics at UNSW Canberra. Before taking this position he was Head of the Centre for Ordnance Science and Technology at Cranfield University’s Shrivenham campus (at the UK Defence Academy). He has published extensively, appeared in several documentaries and presented his research work at numerous symposia. He has published two books on protection technologies with the most recent called ‘ARMOUR: Materials, Theory, and Design’ (2015, CRC Press).