Gun Systems - Advanced

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5 days

Delivery mode



Canberra or online

Standard price


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This online course provides participants with an in-depth understanding of firepower technologies (i.e., gun systems) in the way they work 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 as well as gun manufacture.

This full course comprises of 10 modules each of which correspond to approximately 3 hours of directed learning activity. Module 10 comprises of an optional online course test. Each module can be purchased individually.


Course content

Module 1: Overview of guns

Introduction to concepts | How guns work | Types and calibres of guns (large and small) | An introduction to ammunition types used in guns | Introduction to small arms weapon systems,  towed guns, self-propelled howitzers, tank guns (cannons) and naval guns.

MODULE 2: 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 | An introduction to breech concepts

Module 3: Manufacturing fundamentals

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 | When barrels break | Barrel stresses | Manufacturing processes | Autofrettage | Proofing approaches | Proof pressures | An introduction to instrumentation

Module 4: Ballistics 1: Internal and intermediate

Introductory concepts | Piobert’s law | Effect of specific surface area on burning rates of propellants | Types of propellants: single base, double base, triple base | Barrel life (corrosion, abrasion, erosion) | Propellant-air interactions

Module 5: Ballistics 2: Exterior and terminal

Forces on a projectile / fragment in flight | Coefficient of drag | Projectile stabilisation techniques | Coriolis effect | Magnus effect | Penetration mechanics | Introduction to stress wave theory

Module 6: Basic gun calculations

Calculation of barrel droop | Thick-wall pressure vessel theory | Pressure calculations | Projectile velocity calculations | The need for a recoil system | The role of the buffer and recuperator | Examples of recoil systems | Basic recoil calculations

Module 7: Alternative launch technologies

Cased telescopic ammunition | Segmented penetrators | Rail guns | Coil guns | Electro-thermal technologies | Light-gas guns | More on terminal ballistics with a focus on higher velocities

Module 8: Gun-fired projectile concepts

Types of ammunition | Penetrator materials | Fragmenting munition concepts | Mott’s fragmentation theory | Gurney theory | High-Explosive Squash-Head

Module 9: Fuzes and explosives

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

Module 10: Assessment

An online test will be available for those wishing to gain post-graduate credit.


Learning outcomes

Skills/competencies/knowledge that would be gained through this course:
  • 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.
  • LO5: Describe the issues associated with gun manufacture.
  • LO6: Explain the differences in penetration mechanisms for high-velocity projectiles compared to low-velocity projectiles.

Who should attend

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
  • end-users.

A technical background or qualification is highly recommended to get the most out of this course.


Professor Paul Hazell

Paul has over 25 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. He has published extensively, appeared in several documentaries, and presented his research work at numerous symposia. He has won several awards for both his research and teaching and recently won a university-wide student’s choice award at UNSW Sydney. His research group (Impact Dynamics) is frequently funded by Defence organisations due to their unique ability to test materials under a range of extreme loading conditions.  He has published two books on protection technologies with the most recent called ‘ARMOUR: Materials, Theory, and Design’ 2nd Ed. (CRC Press, 2022). He is also the author of ‘The Story of the Gun: History, Science, and Impact on Society’ 1st Ed. (Spinger Praxis, 2021).

Cancellation policy

Courses will be held subject to sufficient registrations. UNSW Canberra reserves the right to cancel a course up to five working days prior to commencement of the course. If a course is cancelled, you will have the opportunity to transfer your registration or be issued a full refund. If registrant cancels within 10 days of course commencement, a 50% registration fee will apply. UNSW Canberra is a registered ACT provider under ESOS Act 2000-CRICOS provider Code 00098G.