P85 105mm Ammunition Box

The 105mm High Explosive shell was used with both the FV433 Abbot self-propelled gun and the L118 105mm Pack Howitzer. Like all artillery ammunition, the rounds for these guns were supplied in metal ammunition boxes to protect them during transit. The 105mm shells were packaged in plastic or cardboard tubes and these in turn were fitted, two to a box, into a metal ammunition crate. This ammunition box, the P85, was a large metal box with hinged lid and handles at both ends:

As is typical for British ammunition boxes, this example is profusely marked on the outside. Left to right we have details of the explosive contained within; that the box contains two 105mm fuzed high explosive shells, L31A3 packaged in containers and that the fuzes are L32A2:

The ends of the box have handles to help carry it and as well as the fuze type again there is an NSN stores code and the weight of the box when filled, 94lb:

Finally the top of the box indicates that the contents are 105mm shells, which are fuzed high explosive and there is an explosives warning label pasted on:

The details of the box itself, rather than its contents, are stamped into the bottom of the box and show that this is a P85 Mk 1 box and it was manufactured in 1970:

The lid is hinged along its long side and can be opened to provide access to the ammunition box:

A cushioned pad is provided at each end to protect the shell containers from shock whilst in transit:

In addition a pair of light webbing straps pass over the shells and allow the containers to be tightened down to hold them securely:

The underside of the lid has a pair of paper labels, one giving lot details of the shells contained within:

And a second indicating when the box had been filled etc:

Unusually this box seems to have only ever been used once, as the dates of the contents are 1971 and the box itself is 1970, indicating a short service life and probably just a single opportunity to carry its contents in anger.

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