USN 20mm Ammo cans.... again


Just thought this was interesting (to my simple mind) and thought I would pass the discovery on.
Both of the cans in the pictures are marked “20MM AMM BOX MK3 MOD3” On the right is a more modern one (1980s?) marked as being made by U.P.C. This is the same can I posted on a few months back. On the right is one discovered on a submarine that was decommed in 1975. It had several different colors of paint on the lid, including red, and contained spares so undoubtedly its last use was not for ammunition. Based on the remnent markings on the sides, it saw several different types of ammunition in its time. What I found most interesting was the difference in size, outside as well as inside! The older one was made by ESM CO but you would expect a MK? MOD? to be made to specific milspecs and obviously that did not happen or the size was not spec’d out.



Here’s one from 1944. Latches are different but looks a lot like your later one, otherwise. Minor differences in construction. Also, there is no green grass or flowers around mine.



I forgot the most important part.

Are you sure that the MK 3 MOD 3 refers to the can rather than the cartridge. Does yours say 20 MM AMM BOX? Notice that mine doesn’t.



Yes Ray, these are the can markings taken from the lid where they are a raised stamp and read exactly as follows.
(left, older, can)
INSP (Naval anchor) NORD 14267 OR 982437A

(right, newer, can)
NORD 12468 INSP F.C.B. OR 982437A

Obviously, because of the Mod #, mine are much later than WWII. From personal experience I know ammo cans such as these were often reused for ammunition and other reasons too. Being watertight, they were popular as tool and storage boxes, on the ship and at the humble dwelling of the one who was able to slip it ashore on a dark duty night!



Interesting. I’ve always assumed that mine identified the cartridges inside the can. Maybe I need to re-think this.

I can tell you from actual experience that these cans will not fit inside a USN seabag. ;)



But wait, there are more!

Here is the Mark 1 Mod 0 version.
Everyone is familiar with the heavier boxy gray ammo cans with the six clamps to hold the lid on, usually referred to as 20mm ammo cans. The two most common types have been shown in the previous photos.

However, here is a “Ammunition Box, 20mm, Mark I [Drawing number] 300904," with 1942 date. This is an earlier design made of much lighter weight galvanized steel stampings with only four flimsy latches. It is painted gray with stenciled 20mm markings as shown in the photos.


John’s is certainly different as he stated but it sent me out to look again at mine.
The info I posted above was taken from the lids but when I looked at the lefthand can I found something else on the end. “SMALL ARMS AMM. BOX MK1 MOD 0 439183-1A (ordnance mark) FA 54”. So now I wonder if I have an ‘add on’ lid, which is quite possible and likely.
My older can has six latches (had, 1 missing) but the newer one on the right had only 4.

Ray, I had these cans outside because the weather is great here and the Blue Angles were buzzing around, so I wanted to enjoy the show.


Looks like Shotmeister’s been using the can on the right for beer storage; or perhaps the ‘LITE’ refers to something else. ;-)


“Lite” or “short” were terms sometimes used to indicate boxes/cans which were not fully loaded. [E.g.- 4,000 rounds orders, but normally a can was packed with 1,500 rounds, so they would send two full cans and one with only 1,000 rounds. The latter can marked to indicate which one was not full.]



LITE, at least in the AF in the 70s, was for “Less Items Than Expected” or any quantity less than the “unit pack” described in technical data.


i need 2 lids for those 1940S cans does any one got any laying lose ???