Ammunition found near a plane crash site

I am abusing your patience in asking to identify the following ammo found near a plane crash site where Stuka ( Junker) fell in 1941. Could it be from the machine gun of the plane?many thanks in advance

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Hard to tell. The headstamp is for a 1936 made cartridge…I doubt very much it would be used in the Luftwaffe in 1941…due to the age of the primer especially…Luftwaffe ammo had to be high reliability, for a malfunction in air combat could be and was often fatal.
So like most air forces, the Luftwaffe would be using very new made ammo to higher primer standards than Ground ammo (army)
I would say it is a ground use cartridge…5 years was the normal max.age for ammo to be issued for combat
" Rule of Fives".
By 1941 the Germans were using up ammo from 1936 onwards, as seen by post war surplus coming out of the Balkans (1941) and the Russian Front (1941).

Is the area a known land battle area… I assume from your name you are from Russia/Ukraine/Belarus etc?

Doc AV.

Hi! No I am Italian from the North and since my name is Piero which translated stands for Peter hence my surname! The picture of the plane is exactly the one related to the plane which fell.They were not belonging to the Luftwaffe but to the Royal Italian Airforce and in that area due to bad weather conditions 2 planes out of 4 crashed. We found several pieces belonging to the planes and few ammo. In 1941 German troops were not in the area yet but they came after 1943. Can you anyway identify the cartridge? Thanks

This case is a German 7,9 x 57. Standard kaliber for German small arms. The Stuka had three machine-guns in that kaliber. Case was made in 1936, lot number 15 by Hugo Schneider A.G, Werk Berlin-Köpenick. The S* indicates the used material is brass with a percentage of 72% copper. The green annulus indicates the case was loaded with a s.S Patrone (schweres Spitzgeschoss Patrone or heavy pointed bullet) . Let’s say, standard German ball ammunition.

Thanks! we found two exactly identical.Who knows…

I’m not a Luftwaffe-crack and do not know whether spent cases stayed inside a Stuka or not. It seems reasonable the Italian airforce bought a lot of ammunition together with the planes but I learned to be careful with reasonable assumptions in this field…

The flight was meant to reach area of operations in Lybia transiting from Pisa

Far as I know (from modelling airplanes and airplane simulators) the MG15 on the R-2 would eject cases inside the rear gunner’s compartment (there was a shell catcher if I am not mistaken?)

As for the MG17 mounted in either wing, I assume the ejected cases will fall out of chutes in each wing.


Number 4 in the picture

The problem is that air plains were not loaded with sS rounds.
They used SmK, SmK Lsp, PmK and B-cartridges.

For night hunt, SmK Glimspur instead SmK Leuchtspur.

I can show a box label with cartridge lot 16.
It is packed i.L. (in clips) These were used in a rifle.


I wonder if the fact they were Italian planes allowed some “exception”… 😩

Unfortunately I cannot answer this question.
It is not a matter of firing at enemy airplanes; it is the penetration from the bullet with a hardened core.

Dutch, You make an excellent point; however, this was an Italian AF aircraft so I doubt Luftwaffe practices apply.

I don’t recall the Italians having any 7.9x57mm machine guns, or other weapons in this caliber, at the beginning of WWII or into the 1941 time frame. Their standard aircraft weapons were Browning style Breda-SAFAT machine guns in 7.7mm and 12.7mm. The closest cartridge to the 7.9mm Mauser was their 8x59mm MG cartridge used by the Army.

Since they apparently had no Italian source for 7.9x57mm ammunition the Italian aircraft probably used German ammunition. The first Ju-87s were delivered to the Italian AF in the Spring of 1940. As duqjans points out it would seem probable that the Italians bought ammunition from the Germans at the same time. It is also likely that 1936 manufactured infantry ball rounds were more readily available from the Germans than the ammunition used by the Luftwaffe, and likely less expensive.

I would be very surprised to find this ammunition associated with a German Ju-87 wreak, but not at all surprised when the wreak is an Italian Ju-87.

One point seems a bit strange. From the background Piero provided, this aircraft was not yet in combat, and had a long way to go before it would potentially be in combat. The photo provided is a fired case. I would expect loaded ammunition associated with the crash site, not fired cases. One explanation could be that the gunner had test fired his weapon, which during WWII was, I understand, a common event in most air forces before entering combat . Still, I would have expected the few fired cases to be associated with live ammunition. It is possible the Italians cleaned up the site immediately after the crash since the aircraft was also almost certainly carrying bombs. The other explanation for the cases being fired is that they have nothing at all to do with the crash site!

Just the musings of someone who is not an expert in any of the areas being discussed.


Lew, you have a good point.
I see it from the regulations from the German side.
It is always possible that they used what was available.

Found also an interesting link;


Lew: I don’t think was too uncommon for aircraft from non-native sources to retain their original armament in WW.2. The specific needs of mounting for flexible guns and for remote triggering of wing guns (synchronized or not) made it simpler just to get ammunition from the original source of the plane. The many hundreds of Bell P-39s used by Russia for three years of the war carried their original guns in three different non-Soviet calibers. Jack

Having watched military procurement, and the laxity during war, it is well possible that the Italian Air Force paid for the fancy Luftwaffe ammunition but received the out of date s.S. ammunition, and two or more individuals walked away with a tidy profit. It has sure happened before and since. I suspect the Italian ground crews would not have known the difference, and the aircrews fired what the ground crews loaded.

I was a cynic long before I got old!


In full agreement with you Lew. My father and his age group had numerous accounts of profiteering in the corrupt Italian supply system…water instead of gasoline for North Africa, Cardboard soled boots for the Russian Front, Wrong caliber ammo, Used tyres for new, and so on.
Doc AV

Well maybe in this case surprinsigly the Italians were the victim . With all respect but corruption was quite everywhere …

First, I can guarantee that this type of corruption is NOT unique to the Italians. I believe every military ever created has these kind of stories about their quartermasters. The US has, over the last 10 years, some real horror stories, but other militaries have as well, and WWII is full of them.

Piero, in the end “Italy” may have been the victim, but if this happened (and I have no proof, just a suspicion) then it required at least one active participant on each side of the transaction, Italian and German .

I will give you a very minor example where I was a participant. When I was a two stripe airman (Airman Second Class-the USAF no longer has a rank by that name), I lived in a squadron barracks with 40+ other airmen. When Kathleen & I got married in August 1961, we rented two rooms with a shared bath off base and I moved out of the barracks. When I did that, I had to turn in my bedding, which included two olive drab color wool blanks. I handed them across the counter in our small squadron supply office to the Airman First Class who was our one man supply. He signed my “hand reciept” that I had signed when I received the bedding noting that I had returned the items and handed it to me. Then he pushed the two blankets across the counter and said “Denver is cold in the winter.” I thanked him and walked out with the blankets. I still have them and, for years have used them for table covers at SLICS because they bring back a good memory.

The Supply guy was interesting. He was tall and broad and blond. He had been in the USAF for about 10-12 years, but during WWII he had been a Sgt in the Luftwaffe, and was a Messerschmidt 109 maintenance crew chief in Italy. He got that job because the fighter engine was started by a hand crank and required a pretty big guy to crank it effectively. A few years after the war he talked his way into the USAF, but I never knew how he accomplished that, and a few years later, got his citizenship. I am sure he is long gone, but I still have good memories of him. And I still thank him for his bit of corruption. Those blankets were very welcome in Denver and even more welcome a year later when we moved to Laramie Wyoming where, one morning, it was -58 degrees F when I left our apartment.



In your first sentence above, I think you meant to say "I can guarantee that this type of corruptions is NOT unique to the Italians.

Someday I will tell you a story about my time with Yukon Command, USARAL, similar to that of your supply sergeant. Not for here and now, though.

John M.