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originally an artillery shell filled with round shot. Shrapnel is primarily intended to strike live, exposed targets. It was named for an English officer, H. Shrapnel, who in 1803 proposed filling an artillery shell with cast-iron case shot, thereby intensifying the shell’s effect. Exploded in the air at a predetermined distance from the target, shrapnel was highly effective and was widely used in World War I.
Shrapnel was replaced in the 1930’s by the more powerful fragmentation and high-explosive fragmentation shells. The late 1960’s witnessed the introduction of shrapnel-type artillery shells filled with dart-like projectiles, or fléchettes, intended to strike unconcealed enemy personnel. There are up to 8,000 such projectiles in the US 105-mm shell, each fléchette 24 mm long and weighing 0.5 g. Thrown from the shell as a result of centrifugal force and the pressure of the powder gases of the bursting charge, the fléchettes are scattered in a conical pattern.