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Military History/Trench art cannon shells


Second shell
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First shell
First shell  
QUESTION: Hi, I  purchased two trench art cannon shells in France this week and would really like to find out some history on them.
The first: 90 mm diameter 230 mm height.
On the base it has: SEPT 1917 across the centre, other marks: EN in a circle, st, 160, and AL over 27.

The other: 85 mm diameter, 260 mm height.
On the base: 15 DEC, D 129L 18D with a small triangle between the 8 and D.
This is a new area of interest for me and I would really appreciate any information you may be able to give me regarding age and origin.
Many thanks,


You appear to have one older cartridge th 90mm from a gun that were first fielded in the late 1800's by the french army and used into WWI due to shortages of more modern types and large ammuniton stocks.

The 85 mm was not used in WWI but was already withdrawn from service by then.

The DEC stands for De Campagne a field gun, and the 15 is the year of manufacture.  Check your measurement again on this one, you will probably find it is 75mm not 85.

This was the 75 mm Field gun, one of the first to have a recoil mechanism, which allowed rapid fire because the gun did not have to be reset in place, aimed and fired after each shot.

The EN, AL and D are probably factory ID marks but none of them show up on the list at his link.

Some of the marks are lot numbers, and inspector's initials, powder charges and the like.

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QUESTION: Hi again,
Thank youmvery much for the information which I found very helpful.
I rechecked the diameter of the second shell, it is definitely 85 mm across the base. Would it still be a De Campagne field gun , but of a different calibre?
Thank you,

Ahh...measure it at the open throat.  The diameter of the projectile is what dictates the caliber or bore diameter.  The projectile would fit the open throat.  Your measurement at the base would also include the flange.  Most shells are wider at the base than the top.  The slight taper allows for easier ejection from the chamber after firing.

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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
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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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