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A shell, in a military context, is a projectile whose payload contains an explosive, incendiary, or other chemical filling. Originally it was called a bombshell, but "shell" has come to be unambiguous in a military context. A shell can hold a tracer.
All explosive- and incendiary-filled projectiles, particularly for mortars, were originally called grenades, derived from the French word for pomegranate, so called because of the similarity of shape and that the multi-seeded fruit resembles the powder-filled, fragmentizing bomb. Words cognate with grenade are still used for an artillery or mortar projectile in some European languages.
Shells are usually large-caliber projectiles fired by artillery, armoured fighting vehicles (e.g. tanks, assault guns, and mortar carriers), warships, and autocannons. The shape is usually a cylinder topped by an ogive-tipped nose cone for good aerodynamic performance, and possibly with a tapered boat tail; but some specialized types differ widely.
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