WW2 Spitfire shell?


Complete novice here…I have a 20mm Cannon (?) shell in an empty brass catrtridge case dated 1943 which I inherited from an uncle.
He always told me it was a cannon shell from a Spitfire.
The shell is painted black, in good condition, with a flat tip.
It is stamped WMC-3
3 - 43
It has a 5 or 6mm copper ring around the base with rifling grooves, the bottoms of which are unbroken and level with the outer surface of the ring.

My question is, is this SAFE? It has sat next to a coal fired hearth for some fifty years, so I hope so!
Has it any value, moneywise or to a museum?

Also, I have the rear magazine cover from a machine gun of a Junkers 88 that was shot down over Dunkirk, as well as other relics. Is this likely to be of interest to a museum?

Any help gratefully received.


Please could you post some photos. Also, are there any markings on the base of the brass cartridge case? The proper term for these markings is headstamps, and the “base” is called the case head. If there are any markings, please could you type them out.


tThere must have been a huge number of such shells ejected from planes over Southern Britain during the early years of WW2
the provenence really is based on where and when it was found.

Yes it is undoubtedly safe, a good keepsake from the war. Hang on to it, it is not valuable but it is a unique reminder of a difficult time.
The bits from a Junkers will have interest to aircraft buffs but again not that rare. So many were shot down.
The school that I went to aged 5-11 had the remains of a German bomber on the field beyond the play ground. Men came and cleared it when I was aged about 6-7 but up until that time we used to play in it. It had been stripped of guns and ammunition, also wings and engines but I can remember it vividly. We used to run through the fusilage and the teachers didn’t stop us . Nobody thought it was that exceptional. Which it wasn’t in those days.
It still had all the instruments and had I known then what I know now I should have stripped it bare.


Thank you for the replies. All very interesting to me - especially stories of childhood Vince, playing in a downed bomber!
I have no provenence for the cannon shell - other than the fact that my Uncle ‘aquired it’ during the war - along with an incendiary bomb and hand grenade - both pristine (and empty!)
The cartridge base says
GMS 1943
20mm M21A1.

The second cartridge says

With my reckoning that it was a cannon shell, maybe unfired with the unbroken copper at the base of the rifling band, I assumed it had a charge inside?
I have taken some photos, but unfortunately cannot work out how to post them here!
Many thanks for taking an interest!


Forgot to say (in my assumption I could load photos) that there are two cases in part of an ammo belt, only one having a shell in it.


It would seem unlikely that these two rounds were originally in the same belt. The first cartridge is American, made by the Globe Manufacturing Company in Cleveland Ohio. The second cartridge headstamp will be BMARC (for British Manufacturing and Research Company, the British arm of the gun’s designer Hispano-Suiza), and the 1940 date is very early.


I’m sure many kids in Britain , France, Holland, Belgium and Germany can tell similar stories to mine. The amount of war debris was everywhere.

Falcon has quite a collection of such stuff. He buys it from Car boot (trunk) sales. I think the average price for such things is around £8 ($12)


Vince, you are right, there are still alot of artillery shell cases around. 1st World War 18 Pounder, WW2 25 Pounder, 40mm Bofors and 2 Pounder are commonly found at junk sales in the UK. I have a similar 20mm case with a practise projectile that I bought at one of these sales when I was 13 (in 2004) for £1 for the case and projectile.


I admire Falcon very much for his tenacity in this but what never ceases to amaze me is how much stuff he manages to trawl up from these sort of sales.

There is a lot of stuff still out there. very collectable and reasonably priced.

Trench art was once like this but it has now gone silly, Falcon is doing the right thing IMO.


Thank you everyone for your comments, all very helpful and interesting to me.
Good luck with your collection Falcon, I never realised there was so much of the older stuff to still find.Hard for me to imagine finding this debris / playing in wreckage as being ‘normality’!
Thanks again.