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Shaped Charges and Explosively Formed Penetrators: Background for Clinicians
  1. Capt JJ Morrison, RAMC (V)1,
  2. PF Mahoney2 and
  3. T Hodgetts2
  1. 1E Squadron, 205 (Scottish) Field Hospital (V), Claverhouse Training Centre, 8 Granton Square, Edinburgh 0131 552 2392 0131 552 2397 jonny_morrison{at}
  2. 2ADMEM RCDM, Institute of Research and Development, University of Birmingham Research Park, Vincent Drive, Edgbaston Birmingham


Shaped Charges (SC) have been used in High Explosive Anti-Tank (HEAT) munitions and the mining industry since World War II. An explosive is used to propel a liner material of low mass at speeds in excess of 5 times the speed of sound. The subsequent projectile is capable of penetrating the steel of armoured vehicles and inflicting significant injury to any enclosed personnel. Explosively Formed Penetrators (EFP) are a variant of a SC, using higher mass at lower speed to deliver their kinetic energy. The Iraq conflict has seen the use of Improvised Explosive Devices utilising EFP (IED-EFP) by insurgent groups attacking military vehicles. The major wounding mechanisms are from fragmentation and burns. This article is a brief overview of the history and science behind SC and EFP.

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