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20MM Flak 38 - Is it safe? What happened?

Article about: Hey guys! Newbie to the forums here. Dug up this 20mm flak head somewhere in Germany, in a small river not far from a railroad. It seems like the fuse/detonator is gone and part of the shell

  1. #1
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    Default 20MM Flak 38 - Is it safe? What happened?

    Hey guys! Newbie to the forums here. Dug up this 20mm flak head somewhere in Germany, in a small river not far from a railroad. It seems like the fuse/detonator is gone and part of the shell is still there. Unfired but destroyed like this... Do you guys have any idea what I'm looking at? Is it safe? Can it still explode?

    Thanks!

    20MM Flak 38 - Is it safe? What happened?

    20MM Flak 38 - Is it safe? What happened?

  2. #2
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    20MM Flak 38 - Is it safe? What happened?20MM Flak 38 - Is it safe? What happened?

    This is an early type example made round about 1936-1940. Under the assumption the fuze was on tight. I highly suspect that theres still a sprengkapsel inside with 6,2g of nitropenta along side the main charge of explosive.

    I would not feel safe having this in my collection.

    Wait for other members opinions but i dont think they will differ from mine.

  3. #3

    Lightbulb

    I agree with Jb4046. This looks distinctly dangerous. I have found similar items in Normandy and always left them well alone - the explosive charge in a 2cm FlaK can retain a lot of power. It's really better to be 'safe than sorry', also these are not rare - deactivated examples can be bought relatively cheaply.

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    Okay that's pretty much all I need. I first thought it wasn't weapon related, more like part of a tool or hose or whatever. So I just cleaned it with heated water, metal brush (that's why it's so clean) he he he he.... anyway, putting it in the front yard and calling the explosive ordenance unit to pick it up. Thanks for the replies guys!

  5. #5

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    The golden rule is to ALWAYS treat ordnance as being 'live' unless there is concrete proof that it is inert.
    Author of... 'Belfast Diaries: A Gunner In Northern Ireland'... 'A Tough Nut To Crack: Andersonstown.. Voices From 9 Battery Royal Artillery In Northern Ireland'... 'An Accrington Pal: The Diaries of Pte Jack Smallshaw, September 1914 To March 1919'.... 'A Salford Pal: Pte Thomas Jay.'

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    I still find it difficult to judge this item. So the fuze is gone, and there are no pins/detonators in there, just multiple explosive materials without anything to fuze it. Is there a possibility there's phosphor in there that might ignite when it touches air? I mean, it's been under water for over 78 years... isolated from air...

  7. #7

    Lightbulb

    Unexploded ordnance - no matter how old - is never 'safe' as such.

    Admittedly, the media can be hysterical on the subject - almost as if just looking at an unexploded shell will be enough to kill you...but there's always an unpredictable element.

    Say for instance you keep it on a shelf, untouched - you're OK - but you move house..someone else throws some 'old junk' on a fire....or it gets thrown out with some refuse which goes into an incinerator...or some kids ( maybe yours ) find it, throw it on a garden fire to see if it will go 'bang'.....or maybe someone accidentally drops it on the floor ( old explosive can become quite unstable )......BANG !

    No - have it safely disposed of. Always remember that some years ago a British historian and author picked an object like this off a battlefield, started fiddling with it in the comfort of his home, and it literally blew up in his face.

    These things are designed to do one thing and no-one wants to be near one when they finally do it !

  8. #8

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    Quote by Rethox View Post
    I still find it difficult to judge this item.
    Which is exactly why the approach to leave it alone and call the authorities is the only right one.

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    I completely agree with you. For now I just want to know how safe it is when it's laying there on a glass plate, not moving. And in the end, I will always treat it as dangerous. I just like to have a realistic understanding of what scale of dangerous. Yesterday I handled it like a piece of rock. Now it feels like a nuke in my house with an invisible timer to it. :P

    Just to be clear, I have to run to the cinema now, will call the EOD later today.

  10. #10

    Default

    Unless you were expecting to keep this under water in a blast proof building it is extremely unwise to have it in your home. Don't tamper with it and get it collected, you have had a lucky escape.

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