Question on German wartime case


Hi all

I’ve been interested in military history for years now, after moving to France and visiting flea markets and yard sales I’ve started to build up a collection of shell cases, some are trench art shaped or indented but also some standard empty cases.

I’ve managed via the power of the internet to identify this weeks purchase as 4 x 2cm German flak 38 shell cases, all Waffenamt stamped, so here goes the noob question…

One of these cases has a copper finish to it, I have three brass and one copper finish. So what was the purpose of the copper finish on this one case?

On the base of the case I can see some steel, so this could be a steel case with a copper finish?

Would anyone be willing to help identify some oddities I’ve found?

All the best



Edgar, correct! Your copper colored case is actually a copper clad steel case.
There are also copper washed ones but then you have them fully coated as they are getting galvanized then.

Steel cases were made due to limited brass resources and the copper coating was used for corrosion protection and when copper clad then also for a easier extraction from the chamber (the latter is my conclusion).
EDIT: Galvanized cases in 7.9 for example caused problems with extraction as the crystalline surface was rough (on micro level) and stuck to the chamber walls in MG34s for example.

Today some cases are made of steel to withstand the high feeding forces as brass is too soft.

It is a wide spread missassumption that steel cases are cheaper than brass cases (maybe with small arms i.e. pistol cases it may be almost equal in cost). This goes only for the material as the cost for the production of a steel case is higher than for a brass case.


Thanks very much for that very detailed answer. I suspected that could be the case…
Today’s 4 euro purchase for 4x 2cm can go in the cabinet next to the pair of 3.7cm cases (I bought those minus the pink feathers that they were on sale with) The 8.8 is out there I just haven’t found it yet.

I have another pair I purchased recently, calibre is 37mm x 200mm I’ve found this listed as a 37 x 200R WW1 M1902 ‘tube canon’ a/c.

Any ideas what this is actually from, is it a standard tube cannon round?

Edit, I think it’s actually 201mm which would make it from a French 37 mm airborne cannon?


Your case sounds French but like with all ID requests it is advisable to add sharp photos including the headstamp.
And of course propper measurements are needed. At best including the head/rim diameter of the case.

I edited my posting above as I forgot one detail.


Thank you again

I have much to learn, i will measure and record the stamps tomorrow and post a new identification thread with photos.


I believe that the cases for the Tube Canon and the aircraft gun round were the same. The Tube Canon was specifically designed for sub-calibre training; the guns which fired it were intended for mounting within or on much larger calibre (usually naval) guns for cheap firing practice. This was common practice at the time, and can still be found in service today (e.g. 27x173 Mauser Score for tank guns).

During WW1 the French (who were then the main users of large-calibre guns fitted to aircraft) decided that they wanted a lightweight 37mm cannon with a higher muzzle velocity than the usual 37 x 94R Hotchkiss round provided, so decided to convert the Tube Canon for aircraft use. The cartridge was loaded with different projectiles, most notably a long, pointed incendiary shell which produced flames through holes in the nose section. This was intended for use against hydrogen-filled airships and artillery observation balloons, and was also loaded into the 37 x 94R cases for aircraft use.

You can see the Tube Canon case fitted with the incendiary shell in the second group shown on this web page (from the Ammo Photo Galley on my website):

You can learn more about WW1 aircraft cannon here:

For case identification you may also find my Ammo Data Tables of some use:

Good hunting!