Hypotheses Regarding Star-Shell Detonations

K.L. and B.J Kosanke

ABSTRACT: Fireworks star shells occasionally explode upon firing while they are still inside the mortar. Most often, this occurs with approximately the same level of violence as when the shell explodes after having left the mortar, and often even relatively weak mortars survive the experience intact. While unnerving to the firing crew, this represents relatively little hazard for crew or spectators. However, on rare occasion, the in-mortar star shell explosion achieves a level of violence substantially greater than normal. These more powerful explosions represent a potentially life-threatening hazard for both the firing crew and spectators. Unfortunately, the cause for these more violent explosions has not been definitively established, and without knowing the cause, relatively little can be done to prevent them from happening. In this article, two hypotheses are suggested as possible explanations for these dangerous malfunctions. Basic information and some empirical evidence are presented in support of two potential theories.

Keywords: aerial shell explosion, aerial shell malfunction, in-mortar explosion, flowerpot, star-shell-detonation, VIME

Ref: Selected Pyrotechnic Publication of K.L. and B.J Kosanke, Part 6, (2001-2002), pp 26-34

© Journal of Pyrotechnics and CarnDu Ltd

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