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Thread: Under fire from artillery/mortars? Quick question

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    Under fire from artillery/mortars? Quick question

    For our ground pounder folk in the army/marines and other branches..

    In many Hollywood films and TV shows (like band of brothers), we continually see artillery shell/mortar shells impact "Preceded" by a whistle like sound, warning our "heroes" of said incoming fire.

    But is that realistic, or done just for the shows?

    Has anyone here ever been under fire and can comment on whether they heard anything before the big boom!

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    Administrator UncaRastus's Avatar
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    Not that I can recall. But then, my hearing started to fail from the exposure to small arms fire, from when I was a Drill Instructor. Wearing ear plugs at that time in my life was excruciating. My ear canals were super sensitive. So, I didn't wear ear plugs at that time. If mortar rounds made any noise while incoming, which I encountered after being a DI, I couldn't hear the noise. I would have been a bad choice if I were picked to go to a listening post, to be sure!
    Last edited by UncaRastus; 02-15-2015 at 05:08 PM.

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    Senior Member Stalwart's Avatar
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    You can.

    Artillery doesn't sound like the movies, it is a deeper sound, like a rumble ... not a whistle. The only time I have heard it was during a training exercise where I was forward of the firing battery and within about 100 yd perpendicular of the impact.

    LGB's make a similar sound, it is a deep rumble.

    Mortar rounds are a bit higher pitched but the sound is quieter than artillery.

    For the most part once we knew we were getting attacked things got kind of loud and I didn't pay much attention if I could hear the incoming mortar fire over the sound of small arms.
    The most important six inches on the battlefield is between your ears.

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    Senior Member Absinthe Anecdote's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stalwart View Post
    You can.

    Artillery doesn't sound like the movies, it is a deeper sound, like a rumble ... not a whistle. The only time I have heard it was during a training exercise where I was forward of the firing battery and within about 100 yd perpendicular of the impact.

    LGB's make a similar sound, it is a deep rumble.

    Mortar rounds are a bit higher pitched but the sound is quieter than artillery.

    For the most part once we knew we were getting attacked things got kind of loud and I didn't pay much attention if I could hear the incoming mortar fire over the sound of small arms.
    Wouldn't there be a very big difference between the velocity of artillery rounds and mortar rounds?

    I'm pretty sure that an artillery round is traveling faster than the speed of sound, and you wouldn't hear it until it passes over or past your position. That rumble you describe is likely the disturbed air in its wake.

    Small mortars are traveling below the speed of sound, and any whistling might be caused by air rushing over the small fins on the back of the shell.

    Don't know about LGBs being super-sonic, but I would think they possibly could be traveling at or very near the speed of sound in most cases. Depends a lot on the speed and altitude of the aircraft that dropped them.

    However, a 2000lb LGB is a very big hunk of metal moving through the air and it is going to displace a lot of air as it falls/glides to target.
    All behold that fancy strutting peacock, the bake sale diva...

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    Senior Member Stalwart's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Absinthe Anecdote View Post
    Wouldn't there be a very big difference between the velocity of artillery rounds and mortar rounds?
    Yes, round size and muzzle velocity is different.

    Quote Originally Posted by Absinthe Anecdote View Post
    I'm pretty sure that an artillery round is traveling faster than the speed of sound, and you wouldn't hear it until it passes over or past your position. That rumble you describe is likely the disturbed air in its wake.
    Probably, the muzzle velocity for a 155mm howitzer is supersonic at sea level. Either way, I knew something was coming our way.


    Quote Originally Posted by Absinthe Anecdote View Post
    Small mortars are traveling below the speed of sound, and any whistling might be caused by air rushing over the small fins on the back of the shell.
    Not sure.


    Quote Originally Posted by Absinthe Anecdote View Post
    Don't know about LGBs being super-sonic, but I would think they possibly could be traveling at or very near the speed of sound in most cases. Depends a lot on the speed and altitude of the aircraft that dropped them.
    Depends on the speed of the aircraft upon release, altitude etc.


    Quote Originally Posted by Absinthe Anecdote View Post
    However, a 2000lb LGB is a very big hunk of metal moving through the air and it is going to displace a lot of air as it falls/glides to target.
    Pretty much.
    The most important six inches on the battlefield is between your ears.

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    So, film portrayals of bombs/mortar/artillery shells as being 'heard before impact' is based on reality then.

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    Administrator Mjölnir's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by garhkal View Post
    So, film portrayals of bombs/mortar/artillery shells as being 'heard before impact' is based on reality then.
    It isn't out of the realm of possible. But I wouldn't say that most of the movies I have seen get it exactly like I experienced.
    The most important six inches on the battlefield ... is between your ears.

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    After returning from a few tour’s in those lovely “places”, I can say the whistle is real and typically means it’s near and has just passed overhead and about to impact; at least when it comes to artillery shells, the enemy tool of choice.

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    Senior Member Absinthe Anecdote's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Speakit View Post
    After returning from a few tour’s in those lovely “places”, I can say the whistle is real and typically means it’s near and has just passed overhead and about to impact; at least when it comes to artillery shells, the enemy tool of choice.
    Which one of our current enemies is using artillery on us?

    If you had said mortars, then I wouldn't have questioned you.

    There is a damn big difference between the two. How in the hell could you mix that up?
    All behold that fancy strutting peacock, the bake sale diva...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Absinthe Anecdote View Post
    Which one of our current enemies is using artillery on us?

    If you had said mortars, then I wouldn't have questioned you.

    There is a damn big difference between the two. How in the hell could you mix that up?
    Notice, how I didn’t say which locations or which enemy; nevertheless, who cares about the semantics they all have the same damn results and they all had the whistle, if close enough. Some of us have been to locations outside the norm. Last I checked the U.S. has a multitude of enemies and is in a multitude of location not publicly broadcasted and not operating in a war like capacity.

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