A shell is a payload-carrying projectile which, as opposed to shot, contains an explosive or other filling, though modern usage sometimes includes[citation needed] large solid projectiles properly termed shot (AP, APCR, APCNR, APDS, APFSDS and proof shot). Solid shot may contain a pyrotechnic compound if a tracer or spotting charge is used. Originally it was called a "bombshell", but "shell" has come to be unambiguous in a military context. "Bombshell" is still used figuratively to refer to a shockingly unexpected happening or revelation.

All explosive- and incendiary-filled projectiles, particularly for mortars, were originally called grenades, derived from the pomegranate, whose seeds are similar to grains of powder. Words cognate with grenade are still used for an artillery or mortar projectile in some European languages.[1]

Shells are usually large-calibre projectiles fired by artillery and combat vehicles (including tanks), and warships.

Shells usually have the shape of a cylinder topped by an ogive-shaped nose for good aerodynamic performance, possibly with a tapering base; but some specialized types are quite different.

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