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beehive round

Beehive (ammunition)

Beehive is an anti-personnel round fired from an artillery gun, packed full of metal darts, flechettes, which are ejected from the shell in front of the target by the action of a mechanical time fuse. It is so-called because of the 'buzzing' sound the darts make when flying through the air and in the manner of numerous bees around an actual beehive. It is deadly when used against concentrations of enemy troops due to its shotgun effect in similarity to claymore mines. The beehive round can be considered an evolution of shrapnel artillery ammunition.

Beehive rounds were extensively used in the Vietnam War, for defence of firebase perimeters against massed enemy attacks, and because it could penetrate the thick canopy of the jungle and "pad" it out. The primary beehive round for this purpose was the M546 APERS-T (anti-personnel tracer) shell which projected 8000 flechettes and was direct fired from a near horizontally levelled barrel of a 105mm howitzer. Beehive rounds were also used by recoiless anti-tank weapons including 90mm, 106mm, Ontos's and the M48 tanks.

Subsequently it was reported that the USSR had developed similar rounds for 122mm and 152mm artillery for use in indirect fire, a practice forbidden by US regulations in Vietnam.

Recently, the use of the 105mm M494E3 APERS-T round beehive round in Gaza and the West Bank by the IDF has been criticized.

Recent developments of tank anti-personnel rounds have trended away from the use of flechettes and towards the use of high density metal balls (tungsten) combined with timed explosives in APAM (Anti-Personnel Anti-Materiel) rounds.

The term may also refer to "Sanshiki" (lit. "beehive") ammunition, a combined shrapnel and incendiary round for anti-aircraft use, used by the Imperial Japanese Navy in World War II.

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