Fuzes for artillery shells are sensitive and complex pieces of machinery. For safety, they are seldom attached to shells at the factory and are normally shipped alongside the shells and fitted at the last possible moment. This not only prevents damage to the fuze, but also reduces the risk of the entire warhead being accidentally detonated in transit. These fuzes do, however, need their own packaging to protect them in transit and today we are looking at a British Army fuze cylinder which is a cardboard tube, painted brown and with pressed metal caps to either end:
The tube splits in half at its centre point to allow the fuze to be inserted and removed. A strip of tape would original have encircled this join to seal the contents and keep the two halves of the container together:
The outside of the tube is marked up with details of the contents, in this case there is a warning that the fuze is explosive and that is it a percussion fuze, L112A1, packaged in 1979:
The L112A1 was for use with the 155mm guns of the M110 Self Propelled Howitzer which saw limited service with the British Army until the mid-1990s. The L112A1 fuze was interchangeable with the US M572 fuze which perhaps explains why this container was made in the US, even if the markings on the outside are British. We can conclude that the design of the container is American because it is marked ‘M43A2’ on the end stamping, this being a US ‘M’ number rather than a British ‘L’ number:
These little containers were essentially disposable, giving protection to the fuze until it was used and then just thrown away with the other detritus of battle. As such, although not rare, they are not as common as one might expect given the number of shells produced and fired.
Very similar, pretty much identical, shipping containers came in a lot of sizes.
There are a lot of pictures of artillery and mortar crews in action with stacks of this sort of tube heaped up around them after the rounds were taken out for use.
We used a lort of them too, building up 2.75″ rockets for example meant opening hundreds if not thousands of longer ones, other ammunition bits and pieces used ones this size or smaller, sometimes they were returned to stores to be shipped off and reused, but most ammunition items were single use only and if not used in the Sqn to hold things in various shops like maps in the Int section, or fillet strips for various shops or welding and metal stock rods in the metal shops or cloth in the Safety Systems shop or various other things in various other places on Base, were spray painted and taken home to be used as fishing rod holders or the like, or if supple exceeded demand, simply taken to a pit and burned.
One of the guys doing it for the first time wasn’t aware of just how hot these things get when you burn a few thousand at once and blistered the paint off the side of a brand new truck 😉
That last one is probably not an option today so I suppose there are warehouses full of empty tubes of all sorts collecting dust while someone figures out a way to recycle preservative soaked cardboard and paper with metal bits mixed in…or shipped to China or some other East Asian country to be burned like most of the ‘recyclables’ you so diligently sort out of your trash are. The ironic part is that the stuff still gets burned, there’s just extra ‘greenhouse gases’ produced operating the sorting plants and then shipping it around the world.