Military History/howitzer shell


QUESTION: hi, i have a howitzer shell,and i was hoping you  could tell me aboutit. it's dimensions are 14"x3", and i think it may be a 75mm. on the bottom it says,"75 dec", with a little "f" on top of a hump. it also says,"d" then it has a little triangle pointing up, "1056l" another triangle, "17" yet another triangle, "d". then it says "l", with a large space between the d and l. also, i can send you a picture, if you want.

ANSWER: Can you send a picture?

Its a french 75 mm field gun casing.  The 75 is the size...75 mm and the Dec stands for De Campagne or field gun.  The 17 is the year is was made, 1917.

The other marks are batch numbers, manufacturers marks and inspectors marks.

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QUESTION: sure,heres a picture. and also, i was wondering what war it might be from, and what kind of progectile it might shoot.[ high/low expolosive, gas, etc.]

ANSWER: It is from WWI and was fired by the legendary French 75mm rapid firing field gun.

This gun was supplied to the US Army in large numbers and some of its ammunition was made here int he US, but not yours. It was made in France.  What made the gun so rapid firing and accurate was it had a hydro-pneumatic recoil system that prevented the gun from rolling backwards when fired.  The barrel would travel back, the force absorbed by air and oil filled pistons similar to shock abosorbers on your car.  The wheels would be braked and the barrel would travel.  This meant the gun did not have to be manually repositioned after each shot, which was required by the previous generation of field guns...think civil war era cannond and them having to be rolled back into position after each shot.  With this gun shell after shell could be fired at the same target without having to be reaimed or realigned.

The gun shot both high explosive and shrapnel.  Shrapnel was named after a Col. Shrapnel who invented it.  It was s shell that contained smaller round balls and a bursting charge that would be set to explode x seconds from the barrel while still in the air to shower the target below with bullets.

High explosive was just that, a bursting charge in a relatively thin cased projectile relying on the blast effects to do its work. It would be fitted with a contact fuse, that is, when it hit someting, it would explode.  The inertia fuse consisted of a moving piece the hammer that when the shell struck, would fly forward under the inertia of the shell and strike a primary detonator exploding the shell.   

The various types of projectiles were marked with color coding and so it is impossible to tell whether your cartridge was one or the other.

Yes, the 75s could fire gas shells and were used as the primary delivery gun late in the War...1918.

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QUESTION: thanks,but i just have one more question,i know you sad that it was made in france, but was it fired bythe freanch of the us army? thanks again-skylor

No, in all liklihood it was fired by the French, but if it was returned as a trophy or souvenir by an American, it probably was fired by American Troops supplied with French guns and French ammunition.  Later in the war the Americans made this ammunition in the states but marked it with their own markings designating which American companies made it.  In fact they ended up making this model cannon, but none that were build made it into combat.  This design became regular issue to our army for a number of years before being replaced with field guns of our own design.

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Keith H. Patton


I can answer questions pertaining to weapons and tactics, personalities, battles, and strategies in european and U.S. history.


I was a history major, and had done extensive research in the subject area. I have designed and tested numerous computer games for various
historical periods.

B.A History M.S. Science
I have had the opportunity to live abroad and walk numerous battlefields both in the United States, Europe, and the Pacific.

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