Gun Systems *online course*



This online 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 full course comprises of 10 modules each of which correspond to approximately 3 hours of directed learning activity. Module 10 comprises of an optional online course test. Each module can be purchased individually.


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.


MODULE 1: Overview of guns

Introduction to concepts | How guns work | Types and calibres of guns (large and small) | An introduction to ammunition types used in guns | Introduction to small arms weapon systems,  towed guns, self-propelled howitzers, tank guns (cannons) and naval guns.

MODULE 2: 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 | An introduction to breech concepts

MODULE 3: Manufacturing fundamentals

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 | When barrels break | Barrel stresses | Manufacturing processes | Autofrettage | Proofing approaches | Proof pressures | An introduction to instrumentation

MODULE 4: Ballistics 1: Internal and intermediate

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

MODULE 5: Ballistics 2: Exterior and terminal

Forces on a projectile / fragment in flight | Coefficient of drag | Projectile stabilisation techniques | Coriolis effect | Magnus effect | Penetration mechanics | Introduction to stress wave theory

MODULE 6: Basic gun calculations

Calculation of barrel droop | Thick-wall pressure vessel theory | Pressure calculations | Projectile velocity calculations | The need for a recoil system | The role of the buffer and recuperator | Examples of recoil systems | Basic recoil calculations

MODULE 7: Alternative launch technologies

Cased telescopic ammunition | Segmented penetrators | Rail guns | Coil guns | Electro-thermal technologies | Light-gas guns | More on terminal ballistics with a focus on higher velocities

MODULE 8: Gun-fired projectile concepts

Types of ammunition | Penetrator materials | Fragmenting munition concepts | Mott’s fragmentation theory | Gurney theory | High-Explosive Squash-Head

MODULE 9: Fuzes and explosives

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

MODULE 10: Assessment

An online test will be available for those wishing to gain post-graduate credit.



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.


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.

Standard price: 10 Modules live via Microsoft Teams - $4,275AUD including GST (minimum of 5 participants per course).  Individual Modules can be purchased for $427.50 each.  Please email for Module packages.

In rare circumstances, the Professional Education office may need to contact you to verify your identity for participation in the online courses.



Professor Paul Hazell has over 25 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).


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