8”/55 Cal Naval Shell Casing Questions

USSubs posted a nice photo of large caliber projectiles and nearby was a stack of three powder bags for 16" naval guns. There appears to be two different types of powder bags. See photo #1 and #2. Does anyone know any details about the differences between these two powder bags? #1 has a vertical stitched seam whereas #2 does not appearPowder
to have any seams. Is one 1950’s and the other 1970’s?

It looks likes someone lost her corset in the loading plant!

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The answer is in the nomenclature printed on the bags. On the top bag, (first photo below) you can see that the total charge weight is 600lbs. At six bags that comes to a simple 100lbs per bag. Most propellant bags are made of silk or something similar, which is consumable in the firing of the charge without affecting the burn rate or leaving contaminating (or long burning) residue. One time use and requires some care in handling.
Reading the nomenclature of the lower bag (second picture below) these are Dummy charges - used in practice loading of the guns. They contain wooden blocks weighing the correct 100lbs and have been used many many times. They are extremely robust. While travelling home with these bags newly added to the collection, we had an incident involving black ice, resulting in the trailer taking lead and literally beating my truck repeatedly into the guardrails on either side of the highway. These bags were packed into the back of the truck and went end to end multiple times, crushing fuzes, cartridge cases, metal boxes - pretty much everything else in the back of the truck. Zero damage to the bags, built to last.

USSubs - Excellent. Thank you very much for the information. And quite a harrowing story.

USSubs, sorry but I cannot see the answer to Grimpeur question in your reply, 2 different styles of powder bag for a 16"/ 50 CAL gun. both of the different styles you show in your pic are DUMMY bags, although the top one is not listed on the bag anywhere that it is a DUMMY but the bottom 2 are clearly marked as such. The top 1 is noticeably smaller than the bottom 2 bags. I get the nomenclature bit- but.
My question is: why the different types of bag? Different era, different manufacturer, different use?
It is hard enough to get 1 of these bags in Australia, let alone 6!
Thanks in advance for your reply.
Regards Ozzi.

Top bag is later type- circa desert storm with different type fabric used for the bag, more or a tight knit canvas (but made of some combustible/consumable substance, very white in color.

The Dummy bags look like they might actually be canvas (cotton) for durability.

Actual service bags up thru the Vietnam era were a sort of loosely woven material with a sort of fuzzy texture, and distinctly gray in color more than white, although the gray in the examples I have seen may be discoloration from powder reside after being loaded, then emptied.

Greetings JohnS, your reply is very informative, thank you, but then it also gives rise to further questions.
So is the top bag specifically a DUMMY bag or is it an actual/service bag that has been repurposed & filled with an inert material for sale/display outside of military use?
I note from specimens that I have seen of the top bag that some have igniter pads on the base, the writing on the base indicates Grams for the igniter weight which is a metric term & the charge listed on the top of the bag is in pounds, this being an imperial weight term. This would indicate as you mentioned that these very white coloured bags are a later manufacture.
Regards Ozzi.

I own a 16” powder bag like the one on top (#1) and I bought mine (empty) from the Kentucky arsenal, near Louisville, that made these powder bags for the Navy. So I am quite certain that these are real powder bags (inert) and not intended as dummy charges.

Ozzi, have you filled the bag I sent you for your display yet?


Howdy Jack, no I have not filled the bag yet, I am still working out how to go about it & what tooling to use as well as the filling.
Regards Ozzi.

Grimpeur, thank you for your reply, that helps clarify the differences a bit.
Regards Ozzi.

Cool, I left as much of the stitching intact, and did not cut any. You should be able to just [just?!] re-stitch it back, with the round cardboard end pieces, by the pictures I posted of the emptying process.
If anything, all you may need is a sail-makers needle, with an eye big enough for the line that attaches the top…
If you can not find one, let me know.


Thanks Jack, can we go back to using e-mail please instead of forum?
Thanks. Regards Ozzi.

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I believe it’s 260 pounds.

I have two photos of authentic, inert powder bags for 16" naval guns that were sent to me by the guy who sold them at SLICS a few years ago. As you see, when the powder bags are stored in the cannister the bag is enclosed in a fiberboard sleeve. Three 100-lbs bags to a cannister.