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Different trajectories for a crooked throw with the same throwing angle (70 °) under different conditions:
with Newton friction (green below), with Stokes friction (blue center)
and without friction (black above, parabola of free fall ).

The ballistics ( ancient Greek βάλλειν bἀllein , German , "throw ) as" theory of the cast bodies "is a portion of the physics and describes the operations that relate to a body located in a gravity field moved through a medium such as air. In space travel , ballistics is often understood to mean the completely force-free movement according to the laws of celestial mechanics , i.e. abstracted from all disturbing forces.

As an applied science, ballistics deals with the shape and behavior of ballistic bodies during the phases of acceleration, release, flight and impact, especially those projectiles fired from weapons .

History and areas of expertise

The Italian Nicolo Tartaglia (~ 1499–1557) is considered the "father" of ballistics . His work Nova Scientia was one of the most frequently cited writings for determining the trajectory of projectiles by the following scholars. However, he wasn't the first to look into this. Other well-known contemporary scholars were Daniel Sandtbech and Sebastian Münster. However, none of the early scholars succeeded in formulating a formula for determining a trajectory parabola. According to Aristotle's impetus theory, which was still common at the time, the assumption was not a parabolic flight curve, but an approximately sawtooth-shaped trajectory, which is why the early ballistics theorists limited themselves to formulas for calculating trigonometric figures. Only through research into astronomical or geographical calculations and above all research into gravitational force by Galileo Galilei, Isaac Newton and Leonhard Euler were important development steps possible.

In its military branch, theoretical ballistics was for a long time the main content of the curriculum at artillery academies. In fact, however, the artillerymen's practical experience in the field was better suited. Especially in the early phase of ballistics, scholars like Nicolo Tartaglia were much more likely to benefit from the artillerymen's experience than the other way around.

The Artillerieballistik forms the basis of artillery - and missile weapons . It is also a central component of space physics .

In particular, ballistics describes the processes that affect projectiles fired from a weapon . The following sub-areas are addressed:

Study areas

Firing device for a ballistic examination in criminology

The central area of ​​investigation is the ballistic curve , the idealization of which is the trajectory parabola.

In addition, together with explosives chemistry and pyrotechnics , she investigates the interactions between projectile , ejection charge (or propellant charge in military parlance ) and firing device (tube). Since projectiles are fired not only with pyrotechnics but also with compressed air or otherwise, general results of hydrodynamics are decisive, as are fluid dynamics in the investigation of the processes during the launch and during flight.

Important thermodynamic aspects are:

Important pyrotechnic aspects are:

One speaks of a ballistic missile when it flies a ballistic curve in contrast to aerodynamic flight, which theoretically and practically results in the highest effective range for a given amount of fuel . The rocket is only accelerated in the propulsion phase immediately after take-off and then flies without propulsion (even if not uncontrolled) like a projectile.

See also


  • Carl Cranz : Compendium of Theoretical External Ballistics. Teubner, Leipzig 1896.
  • Carl Cranz: External ballistics or theory of the movement of the projectile from the muzzle of the weapon to penetration into the target. 5th edition. Julius Springer Verlag, Berlin 1925, (Carl Cranz: Textbook of Ballistics 1).
  • Carl Cranz: Ballistics , encyclopedia of the mathematical sciences 1903 .
  • Carl Cranz: Annual report DMV 1899 on the constant floor deviations .
  • Martin Prehn : Attempt on the elements of the internal ballistics of the rifled artillery Prussian system. Mittler, Berlin 1866.
  • Peter Haupt: Mathematical theory of the trajectories of drawn projectiles. Vossische Buchhandlung, Berlin 1876.
  • Günther Hauck , The flight of unguided projectiles and rockets. An introduction to external ballistics. Military publishing house of the GDR, Berlin 1990, ISBN 3-327-00081-6 .
  • Beat Kneubuehl (eds.), Robin Coupland, Markus Rothschild, Michael Thali: Wundballistik. Basics and Applications. 3rd, completely revised and expanded edition. Springer Medizin Verlag, Heidelberg 2008, ISBN 978-3-540-79008-2 .
  • Beat Kneubuehl: Bullets . Volume 1: Ballistics, accuracy, mode of action. 2nd Edition. Motorbuch Verlag, Stuttgart 1998, ISBN 3-7276-7119-X .
  • Beat Kneubuehl: Bullets . Volume 2: Ballistics, effectiveness, measurement technology. Motorbuch Verlag et al., Stuttgart et al. 2004, ISBN 3-613-30501-1 .
  • Donald E. Carlucci, et al .: Ballistics - Theory and Design of Guns and Ammunition. CRC- Press, Boca Raton 2013, ISBN 978-1-4665-6437-4 .
  • Beat P. Kneubuehl : ballistics, theory and practice. Springer Verlag, Berlin / Heidelberg 2018, ISBN 978-3-662-58299-2

Web links

Commons : Ballistics  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Albert Ducrocq: Man in the universe. The second stage of development of spacecraft , Rowohlt-Taschenbuch 175/176, Hamburg 1963
  2. ^ Gerhard Arend: The mechanics of Niccolò Tartaglia in the context of contemporary epistemology and science . Munich 1998, ISBN 3-89241-025-9 .
  3. István Szabó: History of mechanical principles and their main applications . Basel, Boston, Stuttgart 1979, ISBN 3-7643-1063-4 , pp. 199-224 .
  4. ^ Richard Emil Kutterer Ballistics
  5. Ballistics (part 1), entry Lueger: Lexicon of the entire technology (accessed on October 3, 2009)
  6. Ballistics (Part 2), entry Lueger: Lexicon of the entire technology (accessed on October 3, 2009)