A form of armour piercing ammunition in which the Munroe effect is exploited by shaping a charge of explosive so that it generates a focused 'beam' of force from its detonation. The category also includes a few other kinds of rounds in which focused explosive force is used to penetrate armour.
The first shaped charge weapons appear around the start of WW2 - first as hand deployed demolition charges and then in large calibre, low velocity cannon in order to give them some capability against enemy armoured vehicles.
Shaped charge munitions divide broadly into the following groups:
- HEAT rounds, which rely solely on the Munroe effect.
- HESH rounds, where the warhead flattens against the target before detonating in the hope of spalling pieces from the inside of the armour.
- EFP Rounds which use the shaped charge to forge a kinetic penetrator.
Since shaped charge weapons are directional by definition, they make a poor substitute for general purpose explosive rounds in most cases. This has lead to the developement of HEDP (High Explosive Dual Purpose) which adds some non-directional explosive capability to the directional charge to allow it to be used against non-armoured targets to greater effect.