Created By: flamedarkfire on October 4, 2013 Last Edited By: flamedarkfire on October 7, 2013
Nuked

All Tank Rounds Are Explosive

Main gun rounds from a tank always explode on their own

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
In Real Life tankers have a variety of ammunition to select from but they can be boiled down to two types: Kinetic and chemical. Kinetic, or sabot as they're often known (for 'saboted slug') used a hardened tip and kinetic energy to penetrate and hopefully damage a vital system of an opposing tank. Chemical rounds more often refers to explosive shells, such as HESH (High Explosive Squash Head), HE, and HEAT (High Explosive Anti-Tank). Tanks may also employ anti-infantry shots like canister shot. Also of note is that it is against the Geneva Convention to use a round designed to defeat armor against human targets.

In addition, explosive rounds were virtually unheard of in artillery such as 10lb. Napoleon cannons before the 1800's and still wasn't primarily used until WWI. Cannons at the time fired either "ball" shot to take out infantry or batter fortifications, or "grape" shot to act as a large shotgun against infantry. Naval guns might also employ chain shot for taking out masts.

Not so in video games, where the designers just assume every tank shell is explosive, unless it is in a tank simulation game. The explosive shells will be used against all targets, though if there isn't much enemy armor in the game there will just be infantry deaths from player actions. This may be because Stuff Blowing Up is an action trope, or they just feel lazy. Can also be a case of Dan Browned and the developers did assume that every tank shell explodes on their own, which isn't the case. This is primarily a video game trope, but can crop up in other media. In historical movies one will often see a cannon fire a shot, then a piece of a hillside or plain exploding, and possibly soldiers being flung into their air, regardless of the period the piece is set in.

Examples

  • Most James Bond games that had tanks have featured this, starting with GoldenEye (1997).
  • All versions of the Scorpion in Halo had explosive shells
  • Every tank in the Command & Conquer had HE rounds
  • World in Conflict is an aversion, as explosive rounds are a special attack with a cooldown.
  • In Iron Man, during Tony's first combat test of the suit, he gets shot down by an tank using an explosive shell, probably because it had been busy blowing up houses at the time. Ironically, if it had actually used a normal kinetic round, it would have won the battle right there.
Community Feedback Replies: 14
  • October 5, 2013
    Koveras
    • Averted in World In Conflict, where all tanks shoot kinetic ammo by default, while HEAT rounds are a Special Attack with a Cooldown (and only for heavy tanks—other models have different special ammo, e.g. anti-infantry rounds).
  • October 5, 2013
    kjnoren
    The description suffers from not getting the physics right for the various rounds. There are various types of rounds that tanks may use, though in practice I think most tanks only carry two of them (and possibly smoke as well):

  • October 5, 2013
    dalek955
    Tanks also use canister shot or plain old high-explosive shells. In fact, designers who make every round explode are probably thinking about HE shells, which existed long before HEAT ones and have the flashiest effects.
  • October 5, 2013
    flamedarkfire
    OP here, updated with the information offered.
  • October 5, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    The title should be simple enough for the average reader to understand the content of the trope just by reading it. The average reader probably doesn't know what the acronym "HE" means. It would be better to use terms everyone can understand like All Tank Rounds Are Explosive or something like that.
  • October 5, 2013
    Cider
    Okay, who put the "trope worthy" tag here. Could that be explained if you are going to use that tag please?
  • October 5, 2013
    flamedarkfire
    The OP tagged it that. As there is a question mark there I figured it was an invitation for discussion about if it was tropeworthy or not.
  • October 5, 2013
    Bisected8
    • Played straight in Warhammer 40 K. All ordinance (including the shells fired by tanks) used by the Imperium is either "Frag" (fragmenting anti-personnel rounds) or "Krak" (generally portrayed as HEAT rounds). Justified by the fact that solid slug kinetic firearms ("stubbers") are more or less obsolete (Lasrifles capable of blasting off limbs are the weakest weapons in the setting); even non-laser handguns and rifles ("bolters") use explosive ammunition.

    • In keeping with Warhammer 40K canon (cannon canon?), the Ciaphas Cain novel "Death or Glory" has a tank which joins the convoy stocking up on krak and frag shells.
  • October 5, 2013
    Arivne
    Namespaced and italicized work names.
  • October 5, 2013
    zarpaulus
    ^^ I'm pretty sure "autocannons" are just solid slugs. And by the 2008 codex I've got right here the Leman Russ Exterminator has twin-linked autocannons as its primary weapon while the Punisher has a gatling gun, to say nothing of the Executioner's Plasma Cannon.
  • October 5, 2013
    dalek955
    Non-game example:
    • In Iron Man, during Tony's first combat test of the suit, he gets shot down by an tank using an explosive shell, probably because it had been busy blowing up houses at the time. Ironically, if it had actually used a normal kinetic round, it would have won the battle right there.
  • October 6, 2013
    kjnoren
    Coming back to this, I think this can be made a little more general, and cover all sorts of guns, and maybe even catapults.

    Explosive shells (ie grenades) were not starting to move into wide use until the American Civil War, and even then solid shot was the most common type of artillery round. But look at just about any movie about early modern warfare, and you see hardly any ricochets/bounces from artillery fire, but instead explosions.

    A solid shot fired from a early modern cannon would be fired at just above chest height, and if the ground was hard and the artillerymen skilled, the shot would bounce up (similar to a flat rock thrown onto water) and continue to bounce. It was the bouncing part of the shot that was truly dangerous.
  • October 7, 2013
    DAN004
  • October 7, 2013
    dalek955
    Generally the format goes: short paragraph about the reality, description of the trope, THEN the long version of reality.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=0jh20olyjiz2cv6yghahmv66&trope=DiscardedYKTTW