3 inch shell help


Hello all,

I’m new here and was looking for a little help identifying a shell I have had for many years. It was given to me by someone that knew nothing about it. Can anyone give me some information of this shell?


The shell is about 11.5 inches long and about 3 inches in diameter.



There are several cartridges that the projectile could have come from. It would take better photos and a close examination of the fuze to pin it down. All were in the 3" - 75mm range.

Here’s one, a US Navy 3" Shrapnel from early 1900s.



What is stamped on the side of the shell or on the fuse?

It has the look of an 18Pdr, but as Ray says, it could be any of the 75mm type shells.



The most common version of this type seems to be the U.S. 3"/75mm shrapnel with the M1907 fuze. Apparently these were quite popular souvenirs circa 1918.



Yes, there are a lot of the Shrapnel projectiles around. That’s because they didn’t “explode” like many other projectiles and you can find many that are like new (except for the rotating band), and the fuzes too which were thrown out of the projectile and landed with only minor damage.



Ray and all,

Thanks for your response.

I have taken a closer look at the shell.

Using a magnifying glass this is what I think is stamped on the base of the shell tip. Some of the characters are difficult to read.

LOT 5170 18 MODEL 1907 73-2-93 I. A. & F. CO

Stamped on the body of the shell just above the rotating band.

NO. 2530 E.M.C



Well, THAT explains it. Have had this fuze for awhile and always wondered how it survived the initial explosion of the round. The nose cap is pretty buggered, but overall intact. Didn’t have a clue about its being ejected in the process.



The fuze is the typical 21-Second M 1907 powder train time fuze.

I’m afraid that the stamping on the projectile body tells me nothing. Maybe Tony or John will know.

Look at the bottom of the projectile. Does it have a threaded hole in the base?


A Shrapnel projectile is designed to eject it’s entire guts intact. The head has a very fine thread which is designed to strip when the black powder charge is ignited. The fuze, head, ignition tube, diaphragm, and shrapnel balls all depart together. Centrifical force spreads the balls into a pattern while the other parts fall to the ground.

The fuze in your photo looks like it was fired at the Battle of the Little Big Horn. Probably quite valuable.




I had never thought about why there are so many fired 3" / M1907 fuzed shells in great shape…Makes sense to me. The fuze thread still work nicely on my example but I’ll take a closer look to see if there’s any evidence of strip out.

Do you know if the M1907 has a secondary function as an impact fuze? It probably wouldn’t work well that way unless you’re trying to get rid of burrowing varmints…




The fuze thread is the standard V type. It screws into the head. The head has fine threads and it screws into the projectile body. The thread on the head will probably only look a little “rounded over”. It is so shallow that it didn’t take much for it to strip.

The 21-second powder train fuzes come both with and without a percussion function. Those with percussion are called Combination fuzes. I believe that the Frankford Arsenal fuze is a Combination and the M1907 is a simple time fuze. The M1907 can be made into a Combination with the installation of a secondary fuze in the base.

I wish there were more “artillery” guys on the Forum to answer some of these questions.




Thanks for the input. I was told this was dug from the base of the bridge at Concord. Was the first shot of the day, so would assume Paul Revere fired it. There is a ‘‘P.R.’’ inscribed on it somewhere. Could have been scratched there by Gen. U.S. Grant when he traded it from his collection to Pres. Abe Lincoln. Bumping the value a bit, considering the prez probably had a lot of money from all the war industry kickbacks. It was found in the glove compartment of Gen. Patton’s staff car shortly after the ‘‘accident’’. No one can state specifically how it got there and went missing until the restoration crew of the Enola Gay found it under the Norden bombsight, wrapped in a letter from JFK stating its importance to history. Funny how it ended up in W’s hands before ending up in my possession. Sandy Burger’s fingerprints were all over it.
I’m thinking of polishing it up, maybe try an acid bath to remove the crud that has built up over the years. And I’ll get rid of that bent up part. It takes away from the aesthetics, ya know.
Oh, by the way, it’s in the tradeable section of my collection. I collect sacks of $100 bills, too, in case anyone is SERIOUS about a trade.

;-) Slick






For a good review of the Shrapnel round and how they work see the January 2007 Cartridge of the Month


A little better view of that Paul Revere fuze I spoke of earlier. Note it is stamped “DUMMY”. Sure looks like it went terminal at some point.



For anyone interested, Google Books has available online the delightful “Handbook of the 3-Inch Gun Materiel Model of 1902” which has a whole bunch of great information on the subject. A rather large download, but well worth the time.



Expanding on John S.‘s comment regarding the COTM pics, there is also a section in cartridgecollectors.org/introtoa … toarty.htm
depicting "in action’ drawings of this projectile. Its a little past halfway down the page.