Two types of shell bending elements are presented for the analysis of both moderately thick and thick shells of general shape. The first is a 2-D curved trapezoidal finite element with eight nodes, and it is based on a formulation that includes thickness shear deformation and does not neglect z/R in comparison with unity. The second is a 3-D rectangular prism isoparametric finite element with 20 nodes based on 3-D elasticity theory. To demonstrate the accuracy of these finite elements, a number of examples ranging from moderately thick to thick shell applications are presented and discussed with respect to thickness-to-shell radius ratios. In each example, the transitions from moderately thick shells to thick shells are calculated and compared with each other. (c) 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.