Huge cartridges ww2 4"by 16"long

hello everyone- I sure could use some help identifying these cartridges. My 99 year old dad gave me two 4’ diameter by 16" brass cartridges that I think came off a naval destroyer gun ship ww two because they are stamped 1942. they are also stamped with (4" mark 16 & 21 guns lot 39 DA N1960 cad 7097)there are also black painted letters which say STAR mk n7. I am thinking it may be british made for commonwealth countries and used in Canada but I need help to get positive identification. any ideas or help would sure be appreciated. thanks -len

Howdy Friend,

Any chance of a picture of the base of the cart. & an overall measurement in mm please.

If you can’t upload a picture, send it to another member who can, that way we can see the detail for ourselves & decifer the markings?

This info will help in the positive ID & supply of info.


Kind Regards Ozzi.

I collect relatively little stuff, but pending an expert reply, I would say you have the casings for Star shells from the 4" deck gun of a destroyer. A Star shell would also be called an Illuminating round, a sort of flare suspended over the target by parachute.

thanks for the replies- I posted 4 pictures on the international military forum and they turned out perfect but I couldn’t figure out how to post a picture on your site yet . I will do that as soon as possible. thanks again for your response. len

Len–To make the images appear on the IAA Forum, go to Photobucket and select the last choice from the drop down menu (IMG), not http.

They appear to be Canadian, made at Dominion Arsenal (DA).


thanks for the info , now I am wondering where they used them in 1942 and what guns fired them . that would sure be interesting. len


Howdy Jogger,

Thanks for posting the pics.

Looks like the other guys have given you the explanation of the headstamp, but from your pics it seems that the cart. cases have been cut off as they should be 728mm (28 5/8in) long & bottle necked in shape. This type of round was a fixed type (projectile crimped into the cart.) Sometimes shortened carts. were used for blank firing or in other guns, but the original designation should have been crossed out & restamped with the different gun designation or stencilled as BLANK.

Nice stencilling on the base though.

If you Google: QF 4 Inch Mk XVI Naval Gun, there is quite a good explanation of what & where it was used along with a couple of good pictures of the ammo.

Regards Ozzi.

To me the date of the manufacture of the cartridge cases look like 1960 with primers dated 1942, am I interpreting this correctly?


that does sound accurate Ozzi , I was wondering why I saw pictures of people holding the loaded shells for 4" mk16 and they all looked so much longer. I looked closer and one looks like fine powersaw marks while the other looks like it was machined but both the same length - maybe someone wanted original flower vases. Now I guess there not worth as much value if I sell them. If the number 1960 is the year on the casing then I wonder where it was used. well they are still quite interesting to look at even if cut. thanks to all you guys for your help. len

HMCS Haida (Her Majesty Canadian Service) was active from 1943 - 1963, she is one of many ships that used this ammo, as can be seen from Google search! Canada would have still been making ammo for these guns in 1960, they were electric primed & obviously the primers were still serviceable from WWII. Most of the carts. we see in Australia are dated 1953 made by MF (Munitions Footscray- Melbourne) although I have got WWII dated as well.

HMCS Haida now sits as a floating Museum in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, if you are interested in seeing a Canadian specimen that fired the Canadian ammo!

Yes it is a bit of a pity that they have been cut, but can still hold some value either sentimental from your Dad or as pot plant holders!

Have fun.

Regards Ozzi.

I actually made a mistake they are 17 inches long and exactly square and now I am starting to wonder if they were machined that length on purpose for use as an illumination round like someone mentioned because of the star N 7 designation. and if they were cut it is close to perfectly done and any marks are very fine marks. and that would be nice.


They were probably cut in a metal lathe for some reason or other. They would not have been done to be used as any sort of ammunition as they would be marked as such!

Star shell/illumination rnds for this gun were still fixed rounds. A 4inch projectile would fall into the cart mouth as it is with the ones you have.

I stand to be corrected by the collector/historian fraternity, but I believe they have been cut down for other than military purposes.

Regards Ozzi.

They may have possibly been cut down so that they could be “liberated” (not smuggled - am I right there Ray?) from the ship as souvenirs more easily.

I was reading how the star designated shells were actually much shorter and so was there range in illuminating the sky to show enemy aircraft, and most battleships carried them also. anyway I found this all really interesting but now I am going to sell them for a little cash. thanks len…