An axial crack in a cylindrical shell is investigated by use of a 10th order shell theory, which accounts for transverse shear deformations as well as a special kind of orthotropy. The symmetric problem is formulated in terms of two coupled singular integral equations, which are solved numerically. The asymptotic membrane and bending stress fields ahead of the crack are found to be self similar. Stress intensity factors are given as a function of the shell parameter for various values of the ratio shell radius to shell thickness. Considerable differences from 8th order shell theory results are found for the bending stresses, while the membrane stresses of the 8th order theory seems to be a lower limit reached for very thin shells.