British WWII 20 mm Hispano shells

So i have been digging into what 20 mm Hispano shells (20x110) the British used during WWII. Since i do not live in the UK i have only relied on internet sources and it quickly became clear that the internet was as clueless as i am. I have been able to find some “official” lists of shells in manuals etc but none of these lists designations and data.

Here are some examples.

From Hispano Mk.II manual (Air publicaion 1641F)

From Handbook of 20 mm small arm ammunition

So what i can find are:
SAP-I (SAPI Mk.3z?)

Anyway as i do not want to vacuum-clean the internet for info i thought i would start a thread here as this community deals with this kind of stuff actively.

So to start somewhere, here are some basic questions i have:

  • What exact shells did Britain use during WWII?
  • Did the British use the French HE-T shell?
  • What are the designations for the British shells?
  • What’s the performance and data of the British shells? (weight, filler, etc)
  • What experimental shells did Britain dabble with during WWII?
  • What specific manuals most likely contain good information?

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Great, il try to hunt this one down.

Check with

They had some of Labbet’s guides as of 2019.


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Yes, you really need Labbett & Mead for all the details. But to get you started - the RAF began using HE ammo (the one marked obsolescent on the chart) but soon gave up because the fuzes were too sensitive and caused the shells to explode on the surface instead of inside the target. So for a while they used plain ball ammo (black) which was destructive even though it contained no chemicals.

Later, they developed HEI with a delayed-action fuze (bottom left) and also the SAPI (red with white tip). For the remainder of the war, the standard belt make-up was 2x HEI and 2x SAPI.

I have no info on the use of AP ammo, but I presume it was reserved for ground attack.

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Indeed AP was reserved for ground attack.

I have heard from other people that Air publication 2 8688 and Avia 22 456-514 are good places to look as well.

Does anyone know if there is a complete registry of all “Air publications” and similar etc out there somewhere?

And if one has them all in digital do not hesitate to let me know. (smiley)

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20 x 110mm British, Handbook for 20 mm Ammunition, 1943


bdgreen, thanks for showing that manual, great info.

20 x 110mm British, Handbook for 20 mm Ammunition, 1943- PDF

20 x 110mm British (& U.S.), Handbook for 20 mm Ammunition, 1943 .pdf (4.3 MB)


Well it at least gives some info of what shells were used by ground aa crews.