Military History/WW2 shell casing


QUESTION: Hello Paul,
I actually don't know what you'd call this - but casing is the best I could come up with.  In 1993 I was given this by a man in Russia - he did not speak English.  I am trying to find out what it is.  It is 5# tall, seems to be brass, and as you can see, it tapers at the top and is flat with a slit for the wick which is singed on the ends.  I do remember that at one time it smelled of kerosene (not anymore).  The bottom reads 606 and BC-81.  I'd also like to know if this is dangerous, what country it's from and is it worth anything?  My grandson is very interested in WW2 and am thinking of giving it to him to keep as memorabilia.
Thanks you so very much for your time,
Connie sorry they don't allow a third picture where it shows the burnt wick which is about 1" long

ANSWER: Greetings
You indeed have a shell casing.  Not sure of the type right now
First off it is not dangerous the explosive is spent so no issue there.  I do need the diameter.  If you can give that to me in either inches or centimeters that would help in identifying.

Thank you

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Hi Paul, thanks for identifying that it is a shell casing and that it's spent - phew.  The diameter is an inch. I hope this helps.

Thanks again,

ANSWER: Greetings

A one inch diameter would be a 20mm shell casing.  This could have come from many guns the German MG 151 cannon, the Oerlikon 20mm which was used by both the Axis and Allies, the German 20mm Flak 38 antiaircraft gun, ShVAK 20mm cannon from the Soviet Union.  The shell was modified after the war and used as a candle holder.  You said it had a wick in it.  This is sometimes referred to as Trench art.  Using battlefield left overís for new uses.  
I wish I could tell you which gun but this is most likely a World War 2 artifact.

Thank you and check out the links

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Paul thanks so much for your quick response and loose identification.  The smell it had when I received it was of kerosene.  So in it's original state, it contained a bullet?  Sorry, I guess this is a kindergarten question.  Can you explain to me how it was used and what are those numbers on the bottom?
My grandson is 7 1/2 yrs old and is really into WW2 and I'd like to be able to give some rudimentary explanation from me (smile).  
Thank you for the links also, I'll have to wade my way through them.


The numbers are inventory control numbers.  Such as lot or date of manufacture.  BC-81 is most likely the name of the company or factory that made the ammunition but I have not found a name to go with BC-81.  The shell casing is either Soviet or German most likely World War 2.  

I wish I had more.

Thank you

Military History

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Paul Sutton


I can answer questions on World War Two weapons, tactics, and strategy. I can answer questions on Weapons systems and their development. I can answer guestions on Space exploration history. I am a World War 2 expert. I study Military Weapons Systems and the usage of those systems.


I work for Saint Petersburg College as a TRS or Technology resources specialist. I read 10 to 15 books a year on World War 2 and weapon systems. I also have a BA in History from USF.

I have a BA in history from USF.

©2017 All rights reserved.