|Building Needed||Ordnance Factory|
Hollow projectiles, filled with gunpowder, which, by use of a timed fuse, explode near enemies.
Cannonballs are usually exactly that: solid lumps of iron (or stone, for some early weapons) that do damage on impact. They must hit the target to have an effect. Explosive shells, however, are cunningly contrived to explode after a set time, causing damage and injury to everything within the blast. A cast iron sphere contains gunpowder, a lit fuse burns down a set rate until the blasting charge is reached. The skill of the gunner is in judging the trajectory of the shot and the length of fuse required to explode the shell over or amongst the enemy.
Historically, the weapons used for shells were most often short-barrelled mortars or howitzers. Apart from anything else, the gunner had to reach down the barrel to ignite the shell fuse, and then get out of the way before the piece fired or the shell exploded. It was not unknown for gunners to be killed by premature shell bursts, either in the barrel or shortly after firing! The explosive shell lives on today in the form of cartoon bombs with the word "BOMB" on the side in large, unfriendly letters.
Research of explosive shells unlocks explosive shells for howitzers and mortars, and unlocks more advanced artillery. Explosive shells are deadly at best and inconsistent at worse. Should their fuse go off prematurely (a common occurrence), then the shells explode near-harmlessly in the air and cause nominal casualties, if any. However, if they explode in the midst of an enemy formation, they can take dozens of men with them and inflict large morale penalties. In either case, they are generally superior to Round Shot when it comes to targeting enemy armies, but they are largely ineffectual when attempting to destroy walls and other barricades.
Explosive shells are supplanted by Percussion Shells once they are researched.