View Full Version : Found a WW2 tank shell - don't know if its still live!

12-12-2015, 03:35 AM
Hi there, not sure if anyone can help. Ive found a tank ammunition shell. On the bottom is stamped 1944 - 19mm M19 Lot CB & C CO. Inside the shell the primer rod is still intact - as is the pin on the base - the inside of the shell is clean looking - no evidence of soot or blackness you might expect to find if it had been discharched. I don't want to phone local authorities and bother them unneccesarily if the shell is safe and inactive. I don't know enough about ammunition to know if the shell is safe or not. Any advice would be appreciated. I logged on to the Inert Ordnance Collectors website but I can't post this question online until a 'moderator' checks my details and allows me to join - which is taking a frustratingly long time to happen. I have young kids so don't want an active tank missile lying around - but can't exactly throw it away either!

Rising Sun*
12-12-2015, 04:11 AM
If the primer hasn't been fired, it's not inactive and it's not safe. And, given its age and unknown history, it may be unstable.

Leave it where it is and get the appropriate authorities to check it.

12-12-2015, 04:50 AM
Thank you very much for your reply - most appreciated.

Rising Sun*
12-12-2015, 06:04 AM
You're welcome.

BTW, whatever it looks like now, I doubt it was originally marked 19mm, which is a tiny shell for a tank. Less than an aircraft 20mm cannon. More likely 90mm, which was standard for M19.

12-12-2015, 06:50 AM
Yes you're right it says 90mm

12-12-2015, 09:28 AM
A spent Primer will show a dent in its center, as if made by a center punch. this will be safe to handle. If the primer is smooth with no dent, then it's intact, and dangerous. Primer fillings in those days were for the most part fulminate of Mercury, and will become unstable with time as RS* has pointed out. If you can post some pictures of it that would help a great deal.

12-12-2015, 02:47 PM
Hi everyone, the local army ammunitions department is taking it to check it out for me. They said that era of shell has two different thypes of primer that was used - the technology was developing rapidly apparently so there were changes to ammunition in a short space of time. If its an electrically charged primer its safe because it has no current to it - if its the other type of primer its not safe - but there's no way to know without taking it out - which isnt something the layperson should do. So Im happy the army is looking at if for me. Thanks to everyone for your feedback. I'll follow up here with the answer I get from the army just in case anyone is curious and for future reference should someone else happen to find a WW2 shell sitting out on the footpath one day ;)