An investigation was performed to determine the fracture patterns produced by localized impulsive loading on brittle beams and plates and their dependence on the intensity and area of the load. Experiments were performed on effectively infinite beams and plates loaded over a finite area with sheet explosive. The mechanisms, location, and time sequence of deformation and fracture were determined by terminal observation, high-speed framing camera photographs, and strain gages. It was found that all fractures were initiated by bending stress. In the experiments three fracture patterns in beams and two fracture patterns in plates were produced. Beam and plate response was also predicted analytically by numerically integrating the characteristic equations of Timoshenko beam theory and Mindlin plate theory.