Gun Systems | Advanced

Course Group: 
Lethality and Survivability

A four-day course

This four-day course provides participants with an in-depth understanding of firepower technologies (i.e., gun systems) 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. This course will consist of a mixture of lectures and tutorials. Days 3 and 4 of this course will focus on calculations associated with aspects of gun design including: recoil calculations, internal ballistic calculations and pressure calculations.

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

Who Should Attend

Course Outline

Presenter Background

Dates & Registration

Duration: 4 days

Delivery mode: Classroom

Location: Canberra

In-house: All states and neighbouring countries, contact the  for more information. Recommended for groups of 10 or more.

What you will receive:

Affiliated course: Gun Design | Introduction (2 days) Gun Design | Overview (1 day)



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.


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 | Recoilless rifles

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 | Polymers | Composites

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

Gun-fired projectile concepts

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

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 | Calculation

Fuzes and explosives

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

Alternative launch technologies

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


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 4.

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.



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).


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6 August 2019 - 9 August 2019