BRITISH 1895 SHELL ID help please

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BRITISH 1895 SHELL ID help please

Postby ploughman » 15 Aug 2017 08:40

I have acquired this shell recently and wonder which type is is . Weighs approx 12 lb, height inc fuze approx 11 inches , base diameter approx 3 inches . Markings on fuze are RL , IV 6/95 & 23 . The base of the shell has a few marks but hard to make out , can see RL and F S .
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Re: BRITISH 1895 SHELL ID help please

Postby RobD » 15 Aug 2017 09:03

The fuse looks like that on the common 12 pdr shrapnel shells used in the Boer War... but a few things puzzle me:
- the nose should be riveted on, not integral to the cylindrical body
- there should be markings on the side of the shell
- there should be a copper driving band.
(See http://angloboerwarmuseum.com/Boer70u_h ... shell.html for a typical 12 pdr shell. Like the one in the picture, these were re-built as souveniers from components picked up on the battlefields, which were often in good shape. I have one and I have seen several others - the clue that they've been fired is the grooves in the driving band]
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Re: BRITISH 1895 SHELL ID help please

Postby ploughman » 15 Aug 2017 09:35

the 'nose' does appear to be a separate component but the the thick paint has partially obscured the join . The ar markings on the side of the shell but again the paint has made them illegible.
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Re: BRITISH 1895 SHELL ID help please

Postby ploughman » 15 Aug 2017 09:39

CORRECTION ... I originally stated this weighed 12 lbs ... that was a typo I meant to say that its weight (inc fuze ) is just under 10lbs ... apologies.
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Re: BRITISH 1895 SHELL ID help please

Postby Frogsmile » 15 Aug 2017 14:21

RL relates to the Royal Laboratories at Woolwich in South London (originally Kent before London sprawled outwards).

It looks like it might be a 4 inch Mark IV Gun, first used only by the Royal Navy circa 1895, but used by the Army in WW1 as an anti-aircraft armament.
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Re: BRITISH 1895 SHELL ID help please

Postby ploughman » 15 Aug 2017 15:10

Frogsmile wrote:RL relates to the Royal Laboratories at Woolwich in South London (originally Kent before London sprawled outwards).

It looks like it might be a 4 inch Mark IV Gun, first used only by the Royal Navy circa 1895, but used by the Army in WW1 as an anti-aircraft armament.



Thanks for that but can it be a 4'' shell when the widest part of it only measures 3'' ?
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Re: BRITISH 1895 SHELL ID help please

Postby Frogsmile » 15 Aug 2017 16:49

ploughman wrote:
Frogsmile wrote:RL relates to the Royal Laboratories at Woolwich in South London (originally Kent before London sprawled outwards).

It looks like it might be a 4 inch Mark IV Gun, first used only by the Royal Navy circa 1895, but used by the Army in WW1 as an anti-aircraft armament.



Thanks for that but can it be a 4'' shell when the widest part of it only measures 3'' ?


No, I'm sorry I missed your mention of 3 inches. There were several guns firing 3 inch ammunition with shells varying in weight between 13 and 15 Pounds Imperial. All were Quick Firers (QF) and included Naval guns, anti-aircraft and light field guns. It was something of a jack of all trades calibre.

Given its age 6/95, I think that a Naval provenance is the most likely. The Army was much slower to develop sophisticated projectiles with rotary fuses.

Land service shell cases are marked on the bottom with the weight of the projectile, e.g. 13 Pdr. Sea service shell cases are marked on the bottom with the size of the bore, e.g. 4.5 inch.
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Re: BRITISH 1895 SHELL ID help please

Postby ploughman » 15 Aug 2017 17:07

Frogsmile wrote:
ploughman wrote:
Frogsmile wrote:RL relates to the Royal Laboratories at Woolwich in South London (originally Kent before London sprawled outwards).

It looks like it might be a 4 inch Mark IV Gun, first used only by the Royal Navy circa 1895, but used by the Army in WW1 as an anti-aircraft armament.



Thanks for that but can it be a 4'' shell when the widest part of it only measures 3'' ?


No, I'm sorry I missed your mention of 3 inches. There were several guns firing 3 inch ammunition with shells varying in weight between 13 and 15 Pounds Imperial. All were Quick Firers (QF) and included Naval guns, anti-aircraft and light field guns. It was something of a jack of all trades calibre.

Given its age 6/95, I think that a Naval provenance is the most likely. The Army was much slower to develop sophisticated projectiles with rotary fuses.

Land service shell cases are marked on the bottom with the weight of the projectile, e.g. 13 Pdr. Sea service shell cases are marked on the bottom with the size of the bore, e.g. 4.5 inch.


Thanks I will check , but its difficult to read
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Re: BRITISH 1895 SHELL ID help please

Postby ED, in Los Angeles » 15 Aug 2017 19:16

RobD made the observation that there is no copper driving band on this projectile. I'll add, that the projectile body is not even machined with a groove to accept the driving band. This shell was never meant to be fired from a gun. Never. All large projectiles made of iron or steel has to have a driving band to be thrust into the lands and grooves of the barrel rifling to give it spin and accuracy. Otherwise, the projectile would, without a band, bounce around in the barrel upon firing.

(See the link RobD has provided for a cross section of a similar shell with driving band.)

My guess is that this is either a training round for ordinance or artillery personnel, or a souvenir or military collectible item made from an incompletely manufactured shell casing and an inert fuse. Since it is marked, I would tend to go the way of a training round, but you never know.
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Re: BRITISH 1895 SHELL ID help please

Postby Frogsmile » 15 Aug 2017 20:43

Ed you are of course absolutely correct, but as a long shot (pun not intended) I wonder if it might be an experimental projectile for the WW1 Stokes Mortar. I suggest this on the basis that the shells used had no fins, were 3 inches in calibre and weighed around 10 pounds. Because they had to be muzzle loaded and with sufficient tolerance that they could be dropped down the barrel under their own weight, there was no drive band. I am wondering if 1895 period shells might have been used initially, but I do not know.
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Re: BRITISH 1895 SHELL ID help please

Postby ED, in Los Angeles » 16 Aug 2017 04:37

Frogsmile, I do not think that this round has any thing to do with Stokes mortar development. First, this projectile would need a propellant charge in an attached case to get the shell out of the mortar tube. Making a one piece, purpose built mortar round would be a lot easier than cobbling a propellant base to this shell. Also, this projectile is meant to both explode in the air, it has a proximity fuse on it, AND penetrate a berm or ship hull with a contact fuse. Most likely, the ballistics of an indirect fire mortar and direct line of sight 3 incher, are not compatible.

Funny, when the Stokes mortar was used in WWI Europe, Victorian trough rockets were in use in the German colonies in Africa at that time.
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Re: BRITISH 1895 SHELL ID help please

Postby Frogsmile » 16 Aug 2017 15:28

ED, in Los Angeles wrote:Frogsmile, I do not think that this round has any thing to do with Stokes mortar development. First, this projectile would need a propellant charge in an attached case to get the shell out of the mortar tube. Making a one piece, purpose built mortar round would be a lot easier than cobbling a propellant base to this shell. Also, this projectile is meant to both explode in the air, it has a proximity fuse on it, AND penetrate a berm or ship hull with a contact fuse. Most likely, the ballistics of an indirect fire mortar and direct line of sight 3 incher, are not compatible.

Funny, when the Stokes mortar was used in WWI Europe, Victorian trough rockets were in use in the German colonies in Africa at that time.

Hello Ed. Yes, I think that you make a very convincing point about the absence of any obvious propellant charge.

It is indeed an intriguing projectile (and conundrum!).
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Re: BRITISH 1895 SHELL ID help please

Postby ploughman » 18 Aug 2017 06:55

I have cleaned up the base to reveal these markings ..
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Re: BRITISH 1895 SHELL ID help please

Postby Frogsmile » 18 Aug 2017 08:28

Although the copper drive band (and its seating groove) seems to be missing, to me the markings on the bottom confirm it as a 15 pounder Mk VI shell (possibly a 'drill' round of lesser weight) from a land service, breech loading (BL) field gun made at the Royal Laboratories, Woolwich (both 15pr and RL are clearly marked on the bottom). The propellant charge was separately loaded. It was the principal field gun used by the British Army in the 2nd Anglo/Boer War:

1. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ordnanc ... iagram.jpg

2. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ordnanc ... eMkIVC.jpg

3. http://digital.slv.vic.gov.au/webclient ... ePid2=true

4. http://angloboerwarmuseum.com/Boer20c_techofwar.html
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Re: BRITISH 1895 SHELL ID help please

Postby ploughman » 21 Aug 2017 23:51

thank you that was a most interesting piece of info and much appreciated
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