Abstract The present paper deals with the experimental and computational analysis of the deformation behaviour of the metallic spherical shells subjected to axial compression. Axial compression of aluminium spherical shells of R/ t values ranging from 26 to 45 was performed between two parallel platens. In experiments all the spherical shells were found to collapse in an axisymmetric mode. A finite element computational model of the development of the axisymmetric mode of collapse is also presented. In the proposed finite element model the material of the deforming dome has been idealized as rigid viscoplastic. Experimental and computed results are compared to validate the computational model. Effects of different process parameters on the deformation behaviour of the shells are presented and discussed.