Davey Crockett Practice Spotter

I recently acquired the projectile below. It is blue with a magnetic screw off nose. The body is hollow and nonmagnetic. I think the round is a Davey Crockett Practice Spotting Round. It is 20mm. The fellow I got it from said he had 3 others, a red, yellow, and black different from this blue round brought back from Germany in the late 1950’s. What are the colors distinguishing? Is the body possibly deleted uranium?

Gary, the regular rounds had DU projectile bodies. Here it is hard to say since we would need more details and better images. Is the metal of the projectile body almost black?

The upper part of the round is nearly black with a gray/black rotating band. The lower part that connects to the aluminum tail is more blue.

The black is no paint cover right? Is ist very heavy?

It is not painted. It has a dark blue/black anodized coating. The inside looks dark blue and it is very heavy but nonmagnetic.

Gary then I assume it to ba a DU projectile. Please do not burn, cut or grind it.

I’m surprised that DU is used like that for a component that is exposed, isn’t it usually sealed inside something on an intact, unfired round?


Nice piece of history you have there.


If you refer to the potential hazzards of DU, as far as it being encased in something, they may have been considered minor compared to the health risks of firing the projectile for which it was spotting!

Does anyone know if these spotter rounds (20mm or 37mm) were the first application of DU projectiles by the US? I assume it was used here for its density to provide desired ballistics rather than any other characteristics of DU. Perhaps there were other reasons?


Dave, as far as I know DU is pyrophoric so the projectile will create a very well visible flash, right what is needed when spotting.

Falcon, the danger from Du is not the often assumed radiation which is actually almost zero. DU becomes only dangerous as a heavy metal with it’s toxic effect. Means as long as it stays in one piece it is no problem just when broken into “dust” it can enter your lungs and so with your blood vessles. This is the dangerous part then.

Some artillery ranges in the US have today serious problems with the remains of such projectiles.

An interesting tidbit on these projectiles.
mauipeace.org/5-11-07_HonAdv … ftover.doc

I just found this link and I am reading the article now.

I always did wonder about tactical nuclear weapons on this level - control and deployment issues. It does give a rather scary idea of the mindset at that time.



Dave… hope it is ok to jump into the conversation. I was a Davy Crocket crewman in 1963-64 in a HVY Mortar Battery (4.2in). We had both the XM28 and XM 29 Light and Heavy systems. Both system used the XM388 Nuclear Srvice round. The 20mm was a standard item of issue, for the light system (155mm), the Practice round XM 389 (HE) was the spotter for the Hvy system (120) until the 37mm spotting ammunition became available. Our location had the 37mm gun, but never received any ammunition. The projectile shown is a DU. The anodizing is the protective coat. The 20mm had the XM538 Etectro/Mechanical PD fize, which was graze safe/always acting, pull wire/pin safe and bore safe. The only other round issued to use at that time was the XM 174 Cartridge 20mm Drill. I believe any crocket spotting rounds are SCARCEY today, especially the actual service rouinds. The 37mm is the hardest to find. Because of the DU and fuzing the 20mm live are also VERY rare. Does the pictired projectile have a screw thread inert fuze, or is it press fitted? Things were a lot different then han today, we had a 5 man crew… If people only knew the giration we went through during a training shoot or a TPI… Like the Key Stone cops!!! We were an Airborene unit (meaning parachute). Yes… it was a very serious time considering a Cavalry Mech unit had M113’s for their Crockets, and carried 10 warheads. Yae… 10 tactical nuc’s in one vehicle.


Scary job. Wasn’t being a crewman on these devices considered to be kind of…a suicide mission? Not that any place on the battlefield would’ve been safe, with nukes flying all over the place.

Mike and others,
Thanks for the great information. The pictured item has a screw in nose that is solid and the hollow cavity below is empty with no indication of having been loaded with anything. I am still in wonder what the other colors may have been, the person from whom I acquired had already sold the red, black, and yellow anodized versions.


WOW!! Great input on this facinating subject!

Welcome to the forum!


I knew that DU wasn’t dangerous from the radiation, but I have never seen information any other rounds containing it where it was exposed like the projectile in this thread.

Ah, I got your point. You are right it is a somewhat unusual application of DU in projectiles, mainly because here it is not the AP role of this material and I really wonder why it was done. Was it that much better than a pyrotechnical composition?

Hi again… just a couple thoughts. 1. Some agencies really get upset about anyone having DU projectiles tucked away in their garage. 2. The FM 23-20 as I remember in the section of projectiles states the For ballistic purposes the body of the XM101 spotting projectile is a heavy metal. 3. At that time we did not call anything DU. 4. There are several types of DU by %. 4. You should try to locate a FM 23-20 to get specific info/data… it was unclassified in 1961 when published. It was our basic unclassified text book.//Mike//

I have an Unclassified 12 Minute color movie of the firing of the XM28 Light System…Bobby Kennedy was an observer… pretty good info on the system tactical use… gimmie a note and I’ll try to get onto a DVD… It has the Declassification data on the header. OH Yea… I made a mistake earlier about the Dummy round…It was the XM147 NOT XM174. Just reread my data I sent, and the HE Training was a XM390 not the XM399 which was never produced.//Mike//

Mike, you got any documents on the 20mm and 37mm rounds?