Is it true in TV shows that soldiers can avoid death by lying down during the shelling of 203mm and 155mm howitzers?

Crouching significantly reduces the lethal radius of artillery impacts compared to standing. Most artillery shells use impact fuses, which have a brief delay between hitting the ground and detonation, allowing the shell to explode at a negative height. At this point, the surrounding soil absorbs much of the shockwave and fragments, with more absorption the lower it is. However, if you encounter an airburst anti-personnel fragmentation shell while merrily crouching, disregard this advice. Try standing instead; it might look more heroic.

The Brutal Reality of Artillery Warfare

Wishful thinking won’t save you; let’s not even mention 203s. A 155mm artillery shell generally has a shrapnel lethal radius of 50 meters and an “absolute lethal radius” of 10-15 meters. In real life, if you encounter shelling as close as depicted in TV dramas, the outcome is obliteration. Even if the artillery explodes nearby, flying shrapnel and shockwaves are enough to tear a person apart.

In many wars both domestic and international, armies covered by heavy artillery invariably suffer heavy casualties. Once the density of fire exceeds a certain threshold, there is virtually no place to hide; mimicking TV dramas would mean a myriad of deaths.

The best way to avoid artillery fire is to hide in well-constructed bunkers, trenches, dugouts, or foxholes, which can significantly reduce casualty rates from shelling. For instance, during the Battle of Shangganling (Korean War), the tunnel fortifications were relentlessly bombed by U.S. forces, shortening them by several meters. However, it was precisely these structures that preserved the integrity of the Chinese People’s Volunteers.

In fact, the Volunteers often had no choice but to rely on reverse slope positions and tunnels, sending out only a handful of observers for reconnaissance, and then increasing personnel based on the intensity of the battle situation. This way, even under artillery fire, they wouldn’t suffer significant casualties.

During World War I, the German army had already developed construction standards for trenches based on fluid dynamics, requiring trenches to have right-angle turns to minimize the propagation of shockwaves. Artillery dominated warfare, as seen in the preliminary barrage by the British Army against the Germans at the Battle of the Somme. The Germans kept digging trenches, which was the only thing that allowed them to conserve their forces. However, once you’re in the “absolute lethal zone,” being in a trench is just as deadly.

Nowadays, only the modern U.S. military, accustomed to emphasizing rapid mobility in counterinsurgency and firepower-dominant warfare, neglects the construction of comprehensive field fortifications. They often make do with foxholes or small slopes, especially when facing opponents equipped with mortars or rockets.

It’s also worth noting that modern artillery is far more advanced than in the past, capable of programmed airburst, leaving fewer safe spots. Lying flat not only doesn’t help but also increases the target area, making it impossible to hide.

So, don’t take TV dramas too seriously; they are just for entertainment.

Artillery is the god of war.

Stalin said,

When under bombardment, if you can dive into a bomb shelter, don’t stay in the trenches.

Lying down in the trenches, one must not press their chest to the ground, as the shockwave travels along the surface. If close enough, it can shatter the internal organs.

Even bomb shelters aren’t absolutely safe. Stacking sandbags at the entrance can provide better protection against getting killed.

As for lying down in the open field, I think it depends on luck.

If you’re lucky enough and far enough from the point of impact, you might survive.

But if you’re not far enough, whether standing or lying down, you’re dead.

Movies and TV shows are ultimately for entertainment, so enjoy them. Don’t take them too seriously.

203mm and 155mm howitzers have immense firepower. Within a certain range, most people are not killed by shell fragments but by the shockwaves of the explosion. Without proper training in avoiding artillery attacks, simply lying down won’t be enough, as your internal organs will likely be damaged.

The general method for avoiding such attacks is to lie down, cover your head with your hands, and try to elevate your body slightly using your elbows and toes to reduce the chances of injury.

Nowadays, no country dares to attack mainland China, so there’s no chance of artillery shells falling on us. It’s just common knowledge to be aware of these facts.

This is a video from NetEase showing the use of a 40mm automatic cannon to attack simulated fortifications with programmed ammunition. The advancement of technology has rendered many tactics obsolete, and lying down in the face of such ammunition will only expose a larger body surface area.

The Importance of Proper Combat Posture

It can indeed reduce casualties. When veterans lie down, their bodies don’t touch the ground, leaving about a fist’s distance.

In reality, during wartime, military units dig artillery shelters. Otherwise, with today’s firepower intensity, a single salvo can wipe out an entire unit, especially heavy artillery, which can turn brains into mush with its shockwave.

Sometimes, it’s not even possible to find the bodies.

In this regard, the lessons from the Korean War still resonate. The aftermath of that war’s fungal artillery fire remains untreated even today. So many young soldiers fell under the artillery’s wrath, some still buried in foreign lands. Did they not know they should lie down when the artillery came?

Landing at your feet, whether standing or lying down doesn’t make a difference.

Landing 50 meters away, standing turns you into a sieve, lying down might leave you as a whole body, with luck, you might survive.

Landing 300 meters away, standing has a high probability of death, lying down has a high probability of survival.

Anyone with a bit of brains knows how to choose, right?

155 can’t blow up a house. There are so many videos of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Israeli military dropped a 500-pound aerial bomb on a 4-story residential building, but it didn’t completely destroy it. The 155mm artillery shell doesn’t have the capability to leave more than a crater. It can only collapse a single-story house. The rooms are about the same.

The Impact of Artillery Shells: Survivability and Psychological Fear

Artillery shells primarily rely on impact and shrapnel for lethality. Going prone can effectively reduce the impact and shrapnel damage. In various rugged natural environments, it’s possible to survive even at a distance of 10 meters from the explosion point. The psychological fear of artillery shell explosions is significant. I remember during my military service, we conducted improvised TNT explosive experiments, creating a small bomb with just 30 grams of explosives. It had less explosive content than 155mm and 120mm artillery shells, but the explosion’s effect felt terrifying even at a distance of 50 meters, instilling deep fear. When observing 155mm howitzers firing from a distance, the power is palpable even several kilometers away. Although it’s known that survival is still possible within 10 meters, I’ve been to the explosion site of a 155mm artillery shell, and the crater is not very large. Nevertheless, I believe it can genuinely terrify people.

Surviving Artillery Shelling: Understanding the Impact and How to Stay Safe

Artillery shells, whether 203mm or 155mm, are deadly. Getting close to them, whether lying down or not, greatly reduces the chances of survival.

Don’t be misled by TV shows where a single artillery shell leaves a building intact. In reality, especially with 155mm shells, direct hits on a building result in complete destruction, leaving nothing but rubble.

TV shows are for entertainment, and they don’t always depict reality accurately. The key is to understand that they are a form of art that can deviate from real-life scenarios.

So, how do you protect yourself from incoming artillery shells? The answer is to go prone!

But wait, you might be wondering, what if someone is angry that going prone is the only advice given? Well, it’s essential to understand the dynamics of artillery explosions.

Firstly, artillery shells are not just about shrapnel. When an artillery shell explodes, it releases a shockwave that can be just as lethal. This shockwave is invisible but can internally damage the human body, even if there are no visible injuries.

Surviving the shockwave requires the right posture. A proper prone position involves using your forearms to lift your upper body slightly off the ground, creating a gap between your chest and the ground. Cover your ears with your hands to minimize the impact. This posture reduces the risk of internal injuries caused by the shockwave.

The distance from the explosion point also matters. The closer you are to the blast, the more dangerous it becomes. The shockwave is most intense near the ground, so being prone helps, but it’s not a guaranteed safeguard if you are too close.

Artillery shells have evolved with technology, including radio proximity fuzes that increase their effectiveness. These fuzes allow shells to explode near the target, improving their lethality.

In the end, war is unpredictable, and artillery shells remain a threat. Understanding how to protect yourself from them, even in the age of advanced technology, is essential. Soldiers are trained to go prone not only to survive artillery but also to respond effectively during combat situations. In modern warfare, infantry remains a crucial element, regardless of the advancements in technology.

Of course not, but lying down can help avoid getting hit by the shrapnel from shells exploding too close to you.

Wearing a bulletproof vest, what is the level of full-body protection? 155mm shells explode half a meter away, and you won’t lie down or be fatally injured!

Rules and Norms in Peaceful Times vs. Survival on the Battlefield

In peaceful times or daily life, rules and norms often signify reliability. However, when faced with potentially life-threatening situations, all rules become a summary of experience. In matters of life and death, rules are never foolproof.

Compared to daily life, battlefield rules are probabilistic in nature.

For example, if you were to read earthquake emergency guidelines, you would find that in most cases, the preferred response upon receiving an earthquake warning is to find a sturdy corner to take cover in.

However, when reading survivors' accounts, you might discover that there seems to be no one-size-fits-all approach. Many people survived by quick thinking, escaping their homes before they were buried in rubble.

So, how can you ensure survival during an earthquake? The answer is unknown. There is no guaranteed way to handle the unpredictability of natural disasters, but within the same building, most survivors tend to be in supported areas like corners or under tables and beds.

Those who hide in corners may die, those who run away may die, and those who take cover may still be crushed by falling debris. Survivors who take cover outnumber those who flee, leading to earthquake guidelines that aim to increase everyone’s chances of survival.

Warfare follows a similar pattern.

The battlefield is an extremely unlucky place. Once you step onto the frontlines of a heated battle, you never know how long you will survive or how long your comrades will.

You could be ambushed by bandits while doing logistics work for your own side, or you could face a relentless barrage of rockets without the enemy even realizing you’re there. All the rules of war and extensive combat experience can only increase your odds of survival—but those odds will never be 100%.

For instance, knowing the firing gap of an aircraft’s machine gun is 50 centimeters means you won’t foolishly lie down parallel to its flight path. Bombs create shockwaves, so you should puff out your belly. However, even if you choose the right way to lie down, it doesn’t guarantee that a bullet won’t hit you in the back.

The battlefield ultimately claims lives.

Television dramas only tell the stories of the successful.

This question is quite problematic:

The difference in outcomes between detonating explosives right on you and detonating them at distances of one meter, several meters, tens of meters, or hundreds of meters away varies significantly.

I’ll just point out one thing: if a projectile hits you directly, you won’t survive, even if you’re lying down and wearing bomb-resistant gear.

The outcomes at other distances can vary, and it depends on factors like terrain, surroundings, and the number of people nearby.

  1. The lethality of shells has a certain range. Within a certain distance, due to the shock wave and shrapnel density, casualties are certain, but they may survive if they are farther away. The radius of this life and death circle is different for standing and lying positions.

  2. Multiple shells cover a target area, and there will inevitably be differences in the proximity of people’s positions. Combining point 1, lying down can increase survival rates.

Surviving is possible by lying down and propping up the chest and abdomen with both fists, even when hit from a hundred meters away.

Waiting for a diagram depicting the assembly of component B4 into Number Four.

If the projectile is an airburst bomb…