Need help identifying large shell


Need help identifying large shell. I came across this shell at the local scrap yard recently and am presently trying to figure out whatever i can about it. It is empty and the hole in the bottom shows that it is inert. I’m posting some pics in hopes that someone with more knowledge about these things can help me out. The top color on the fuse appears to be orange. There is a black ring below the orange, and the primary of the shell looks to be silver. Thanks in advance.



Your projectile has the look of a U.S. Navy 5 inch Mark 28 Anti-Aircraft Common Projectile (circa WW2) with an all steel shipping fuze. Not a real fuze, but intended to protect the threads of projectile fuze well until the projectile was loaded with a variable time (VT) fuze for anti-aircraft use. The hole in the bottom of the projectile was most likely threaded and intended to allow the use of a tracer if so desired.


PS- Welcome to the IAA Forum!


You rock.


Without some dimensions it’s hard to tell. The tape measure helps, but an over-all view, with some actual dimensions would be better.

Brian - USN projectiles were fuzed at the Ordnance Plant and taken aboard ship with a protective cap over the fuze. Ships, normally, did not have facilities to install fuzes. The Army, OTOH, would receive the projectiles with a lifting ring installed and install the fuze as necessary for the particular engagement.

The “fuze” on fluidvp’s projectile appears to be some sort of dummy, or a ballistic tip.



It also looks to be missing the copper rotating band so perhaps unfinished?

Or perhaps that was removed to be recycled before the body was scrapped?



Most likely scrapped, with the rotating band removed for salvage.



U.S. Navy 5"/38 caliber.

The copper rotating band was probably removed for scrap value.

The same projectile body could be loaded with a nose fuze or a base fuze, or with either or both plugged, or a tracer in the base.
When fitted with a mechanical time fuze and a base detonating fuze it was known as “anti-aircraft common” and was pretty much the general purpose round which could be fired set for time fuze function, or if the time fuze was left on safe, it would go off on impact from action of the base fuze. Thus it was suitable for both AA use, anti-ship use, or shore bombardment, instead of using separate types of projectiles for each of those purposes. This made the best use of the limited magazine space on ships and allowed rapid response without striking down one type of projectile and bringing up another type if the mission changed.

This one has the nose plug instead of a fuze, and these were almost never changed out in the field, so it is not a “shipping plug.” This round would have had a base fuze and been issued for anti-ship or shore bombardment use if it had HE filler. If it was loaded with inert filler and an inert base fuze it would ahve been “blind loaded and plugged” (BL&P) or if an inert fuze with tracer as “blind loaded with tracer” BL&T.

There are several marks and mods which differ in small details, but the information above applies to most of them.


The shell is 5 inches across the bottom center, and 21 inches tall. As it sits, it is 43lbs. I was also curious as to the value of this monster as inert memorabilia.


Perhaps I should have chosen my wording better.

But I will, in a sense , stick with the idea of the all steel fuze being use to protect the threads. I say that because one of my prized items is a 5-inch antiaircraft, common, mark 35, model 10, Minneapolis-Moline Plant projectile that was given to me by a former neighbor, Hap (Hubert) Welch, who was on the production line and actually was involved in the production of the projectile. It has a solid steel “dummy” fuze (as shown on the projectile in question above) and a threaded steel plug is in the base tracer/ fuze well. Hap said this was done to protect the threads while the projectiles were in shipment, via the railroad, to a separate explosives loading facility. Below is a short history on the projectile I have, that Hap and I wrote together back in 1999, shortly before he passed away.

5 inch Navy Projectile
Produced at the Minneapolis-Moline
Como Ordnance Plant
(Minneapolis-Moline Power Implement Company)
World War II

In 1945 near the end of WWII the U.S. Navy canceled many orders for ordnance. When this happened at the Como Ordnance Plant, workers were offered the chance to take a projectile from the production line as a souvenir of their efforts in helping to win the war. One of the workers was Hap (Hubert) Welch who picked this projectile as his war memento on the last day of production. Hap began working on the “5-inch” line in mid-1944. His job was running a lathe that cut and shaped the copper driving band and gas seal located near the base of the projectile. Besides manufacturing various tractors used to pull military equipment and 5-inch projectiles Hap indicated that the Como plant also produced Navy 6 inch and Army 155mm projectiles. The plant was located on Como Ave. in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Hap’s description of the production line for the Navy 5-inch projectile-

Long bars of steel, approximately 2 to 3 inches square were shipped to the plant. These bars were sheared into sections around 24 inches in length. “You always knew when the shear was in operation since the entire floor of the building shook and there was a loud ‘thud’ with each section cut.” The resulting short bars were sent to a furnace and heated orange hot. From there each heated bar moved through a series of rams that compressed the bar lengthwise until the steel was formed into a billet slightly larger in diameter than the actual projectile. A cavity was bored in the billet and in turn an inside lathe enlarged the cavity to the proper size. The outside of the billet was cut to size on a lathe and another lathe cut a grove for the copper band. Then a band was slipped onto the projectile and pressed into place. During the final lathe work the driving band/gas seal was formed from the band. Fuse and tracer wells were then threaded; a solid steel dummy fuse and a steel tracer/fuze well threaded plug were screwed into each projectile to protect the threads during shipment. Finally the projectiles were prepared for shipment to another facility to be charged with explosives.

Markings on the base of this projectile: 5IN AA COM MK 35 MOD. 10 MMP 37LOT.
Translation: 5-inch antiaircraft, common, mark 35, model 10, Minneapolis-Moline Plant, 37th lot.


FWIW; from U.S. Navy Projectiles and Fuzes, 1945, pp. 88 – 89, the overall length of the 5 inch A.A. Common Mark. 28, with nose fuze, is listed as 20.70 inches. Weight of filled projectile is 51.7 lbs, explosive filling is 7.33 lbs.

51.7 - 7.33 = 44.37 lbs for an empty projectile, take in to account the misssing copper driving band and the base plug and one could expect the weight to be around 43 lbs.

To confuse things a bit on page 89, in the remarks section-

(a) This projectile is fuzed with V.T. fuzes only.
(b) The projectile adaptor is removed and a gas check base plug is inserted. No base fuze is used with this projectile.
(e) This round is also issued BL & P or BL & T with the Mk 6 tracer and adapter (or a cut off Mk 13 fuze) for target practice.


U.S. Navy Ordnance Pamphlet 1664- U.S. Explosive Ordnance dated May 1947 with changes through January 1969 shows the following options for loading the 5"/38 Anti-Aircraft Common projectile Mark 35 Mods 1-12

Mechanical time fuses (nose) Mark 18 Mods 1-4; Mark 50 all Mods; Mark 61 Mod 0; Mark 63 Mod 0
Point Detonating Fuzes (nose) Mark 29 Mods 1-3; Mark 66
VT (Proximity) Fuzes Mark 32 all Mods; Mark 40 all Mods; 53 all Mods;
Aux Detonating Fuze Mark 17 all Mods; Mark 44 Mods 0-1; Mark 46 Mod 0; Mark 54 Mods 0-1
Base Detonating Fuze Mark 28 all Mods, with Tracer mark 9

With the VTF Mark 32 the projectile adapter ring is removed and the fuze threaded directly to the threads in the body, the larger diameter needed for the larger physical size of the VT Fuze.

It also ntes that these maybe issued as BL&P or BL&T rounds for target practice as noted in my earlier post.

And, just to further confuse people, these projectiles were used normally in the 5"/38 guns, but ALSO were used in the 5"/51 BAG type guns, but not the 5"/51 CASE type guns!


At the risk of repeating myself, 5" projectiles used on board USN ships would have come onboard already fuzed. I was a 5" Gunners Mate and I can assure you that we had no facilities to install or change fuzes, nor were we trained to do so. If the projectile shown is, indeed, a 5" Common, it would have looked exactly like that when taken aboard. It has an adaptor which can be removed in order to install a Proximity fuze but notice that there is no provision for removing the adaptor. Only an Ordnance Plant would have been equipped to do so.


#13 … vo%203.wmv
Interesting video involving the 5" gun.