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to ID metal detecting shrapnel and bullets

Article about: Hi. Have been detecting near a WW2 airstrip and am starting to find period artifacts. Could anyone here ID the two bullets (303 case is just for scale) and also what type of shell the shrapn

  1. #1
    mpw
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    Default to ID metal detecting shrapnel and bullets

    Hi.
    Have been detecting near a WW2 airstrip and am starting to find period artifacts. Could anyone here ID the two bullets (303 case is just for scale) and also what type of shell the shrapnel originated from. Many thanks in advance.

    Mark.
    Click to enlarge the picture Click to enlarge the picture IMG_0691.jpg   IMG_0692.jpg  


  2. #2

    Default Re: to ID metal detecting shrapnel and bullets

    Hi Mark. The top one looks like a 20mm and the bottom is a .50. Don't know about the shrapnel, I'm afraid.

    Martin.
    "You will never know the whole truth" ~ Erich von dem Bach-Zelewski

  3. #3
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    Default Re: to ID metal detecting shrapnel and bullets

    Top photo - Yes top one is 20mm HE and obviously still live - outside in a bucket of earth would be a good place for it - detonators on these deteriorate. Next down looks to be .50 ball and below that is .303 case. Sorry not much good on artillery fuse fragments either, though one with timing marks looks similar to an 18 pdr fuse I have. Note: a ruler for scale may help when asking fo ids - otherwise nice clear photos.

  4. #4
    mpw
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    Default Re: to ID metal detecting shrapnel and bullets

    Thanks guys. The 20mm shell resides outside awaiting disposal... By pure chance while looking on Ebay today I came across this......

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    A piece of 'Anti-aircraft dial shrapnel' which looks very similar to the fragment I found. Can anyone tell me how an Dial anti-aircraft shell opersted and what it looked like?

    Mark.

  5. #5

    Default Re: to ID metal detecting shrapnel and bullets

    Quote by mpw View Post
    A piece of 'Anti-aircraft dial shrapnel' which looks very similar to the fragment I found. Can anyone tell me how an Dial anti-aircraft shell opersted and what it looked like?
    Well, first of all, there is no such thing as "Anti-aircraft dial shrapnel" or a "Dial anti-aircraft shell".

    The thing on eBay is a fragment from a Time Fuze, very likely attached to an anti-aircraft shell. They work like this:

    Click image for larger version. 

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    This is a picture of a typical AA Time Fuze, the No 199. Basically, you set the Fuze by rotating the 'dial' to the required time setting. Then, after the shell is fired, the fuze will cause the shell to explode after the set time. These fuzes could be either mechanical (a clockwork mechanism basically), or contain a low explosive which would burn for the required time (Combustion Fuzes). Ideally, the shell would explode at the same height as the aircraft thowing fragments all around. Getting this timing right is the key to AA. Of course, by late WW2, the proximity fuze had been developed, which was basically a miniature radar which detected the proximity of a plane and blew the shell. The Fuze would set off a small primer charge inside the shell (the exploder) which would cause the whole thing to blow.

    Other types of Fuze include Direct Action (blow up on hitting something), Graze (blow up just after hitting something), Proximity and mixtures of these, mechanical, combustion etc. Physically, they are just screwed in to the nose of the shell.

    My second point is that bits of shells, fuzes etc are not shrapnel, they are Shell Fragments. Shrapnel are small balls of lead-antimony that were carried in a shell with a Time Fuze, and blown out the front of the shell as an anti-personnel weapon. They were the main type of British shell in WW1, and the 18-Pdr was developed especially for shrapnel, and didn't do any other type of shell very well (the weapon's main limitation).

    Sorry, but this shrapnel/shell fragment thing is one of my pet hates

    Rob
    Last edited by Battery Command Post; 04-08-2012 at 12:35 AM.

  6. #6

    Default Re: to ID metal detecting shrapnel and bullets

    Here is a picture of a basic shell, with Fuze, exploder and main charge:

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    Rob

  7. #7
    mpw
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    Default Re: to ID metal detecting shrapnel and bullets

    Thank you Rob for taking the time to give me such a detailed reply. I shall never miss use the shrapnel word again.

    Mark.

  8. #8

    Default Re: to ID metal detecting shrapnel and bullets

    You're welcome

    If it's important to use 'proper names' for German medals on this forum, I think we should try to extend that to other, more interesting things, such as this

    I don't think you could ever identify the shell fragments as being from anything in particular. Certainly all the screw threads were the same across different calibres of shells, so a best guess is uaually all you could do. The likelihood is that they are bits of 3.7-in AA Gun rounds.

    Rob

  9. #9
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    Default Re: to ID metal detecting shrapnel and bullets

    Things like wall thicknesses at various points and the threading size can potentially help with identification- if you can match the threads, especially, to a particular primer or series of primers, that would give you about as specific an ID as you can get; the fuze for a 40mm is very different from a 3.7in, for example
    Ohhhhh- pillage then burn...

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