Military Guns and Ammunition

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Field artillery versus barbed wire.   General Military Discussion

Started 1/9/20 by 17thfabn; 1107 views.

From: 17thfabn


How effective is / was high explosive artillery projectiles against barbed wire, or more modern concertina wire?

Reading on World War I, reference is made to using artillery to clear barbed wire.

The newer concertina wire is much tougher than the old barbed wire. Is it more resistant to explosives?

I understand a bangalore torpedo or mine clearing line charge would probably work better.

Reading World War I material got me thinking about this. So I am more interested in high explosive artillery versus barbed wire. Especially World War I era barbed wire and artillery.


From: Farmplinker


As you have probably guessed, it depended. How much wire, how much artillery, how was the artillery used? And most importantly, how accurate was the artillery? 

I've read of situations where things went great, even more where things went totally wrong. It was not uncommon to remove the wire in one spot, only to have it pile up in front of another part of the line being attacked. Worst case scenario, artillery hits in front of the wire, attacking troops in the mud, being shot at, while trying to cut the wire.

In short, trench warfare sucks, maneuver or die!


From: njslim


British originally thought that shrapnel shell with lead balls shot out would clear barb wire entanglemebts

Didnt work  Also using HE shells had problem with large proportion of duds some 25-30 % do to faulty fuses 

In reply toRe: msg 3

From: Farmplinker


Thanks. I had forgotten how many duds there were.


From: Parnis


In his book "The Defeat of Imperial Germany, 1917-1918" , Rod Paschall remarks that the use of newly-developed "super-quick" fast acting fuzes on high-explosive shells significantly increased the effectiveness of British artillery against German barbed wire in the battles of 1917, but that the British ran short of such fuzes as the fighting went on.  

  • Edited 21 September 2020 23:03  by  Parnis

From: Kocur_


A Polish 1931 manual - undobtely based on WW1 French data - gives the following.

Making a 5-10 meters deep and 20 meters wide gap in barbed wire takes 400 75 mm HE rounds at range below 3000 m, 500 rounds at up to 4 km, 700 rounds at up to 5 km, 800 rounds at up to 6 km and 800 at up to 7 km.

For 100 mm caliber the count would be 300, 400, 500, 500 and 600 rounds at aforementioned distances.

For 155 mm caliber it would be 160, 200, 230, 260, 300 rounds.

Ricochet fire would cut it to 2/3.

  • Edited 23 September 2020 2:53  by  Kocur_
In reply toRe: msg 6

From: 17thfabn


From the Polish report it took a huge amount of artillery to clear a path through barbed wire.

I wonder why the expenditure went up with increased range. The explosive power of the projectile would be the same regardless of range.  Perhaps greater spread of the projectiles with increases in range?


From: Kocur_


Undoubtely dispersion was the reason.