Category Archives: Ammunition Box

H82 7.62mm Ammunition Box

The 7.62mm GPMG ammunition belt was covered on the blog last month here. These belts were provided in a number of different forms of packaging, but the tradition metal ammunition box was the most common, a belt of 200 rounds of ammunition fitting neatly inside a H82 can:imageThe ammunition box is identical to the .30 cal version we looked at here but with different markings to reflect that it was for use with 7.62mm ammunition:imageThe top of the can has a large pull out handle that allows it to be carried:imageA large catch is fitted to one side of the can to secure the lid:imageThis also allowed the box to be mounted alongside a GPMG when it was used aboard a vehicle in a special mounting. Beneath this the box’s designation, H82, and the year of manufacture 1964 are stamped into the metal:imageThe contents of the can are marked on the side in yellow paint, 200 rounds of 7.62mm ammunition:imageThe markings indicate that for every four ball rounds there is a single tracer round and that the rounds are linked together. The ball ammunition is L2A2 whilst the tracer is L5A3. These markings had been overpainted with the same brown as the rest of the can, careful scraping with a sharp blade revealed them again, but has resulted in a rather jagged appearance to some of the markings.

The rear of the can has another small stencilled marking that is presumably the lot numbers for this batch of ammunition:imageThe H82 was a remarkably strong ammunition box, even when the ammunition within was subject to intense heat. One former soldier remembers:

I had to deal with the same in Basra about ten years ago.. The fire was intense and there was not much left apart from the gear box and engines. All the ammo on the pintle mount GPMG had cooked off as had the contents of the packed 7.62 link. The H82 ammo boxes had swelled with the pressure, but nothing had come out.

Belgian Contract 7.62mm Ammunition Box

Most post-war ammunition boxes you come across form British small arms rounds are painted green, with details stencilled on in yellow. It was therefore somewhat surprising to be given a box in red oxide that the previous owner assured me had been rescued form a British Army dump many years before:imageFurther research, and the help of an old friend, revealed that the box was Belgian in origin, but produced under contract for the British. This then explained the odd size and colour compared to normal British boxes! The design of the box is very square in profile, with a heavy duty metal handle on two sides. One of the sides with a handle has a large spring clip for securing the lid:imageThe opposite side is stencilled up with the boxes weight and the initials FNB indicating that the ammunition was made by Fabrique Nationale, Belgium:imageThe date of packing is marked on as 16th April 1985. The date is repeated on one of the sides of the box along with details of the original contents:imageFrom this we can see that the box held 1200 rounds of 7.62mm ball ammunition in cartons. The four and final side of the box is marked up with the words ‘Cartridges for Weapons’:imageAlthough Britain has long produced its own ammunition at factories such as Radway Green, at times it has supplemented this manufacture with foreign contracts. Sometimes it would have been because the ammunition was a specialist type and it was not cost effective to set up a full production line for it, at others the factories in the UK were too busy producing other ammunition. In 1985 I suspect that the UK factories were flat out producing 5.56 rounds for the newly introduced SA80 in order to build up a stockpile in warehouses for the new weapon. As such they would not have had capacity to produced 7.62mm rounds and so the British Government turned to FN to fill the shortfall.

My thanks go to Ian Ward for kindly giving me this box.

B.166 Ammunition Box

We are continuing our survey of British Army ammunition boxes by looking at the B.166 box tonight. This is one of the larger boxes and is amongst the easiest patterns for collectors to find- its large size making it popular as a tool box which has helped many survive to the present day. My example was bought as such and has been sanded, repainted and stencilled to make it look a little more like it did when first manufactured, as such the holes drilled through the outside of the box are not original and date from its post war life in someone’s workshop:imageThe official designation for the box is B.166 and this is stamped into the lid:imageThis particular example is dated 1945. Other features of the box are identical to British ammunition boxes of the period. The lid is attached with a pair heavy duty hinges that allow the lid to be held away from the main body of the box for easy removal of the contents:imageA pair of metal clips hold the lid down and cleats are included to allow the clips to be wired shut:imageA heavy duty metal handle is fitted to each end of the box to allow it to be carried:imageThe full weight of these boxes is such that it is easier and safer for two men to carry the box between them if possible rather than one man risk injuring himself by moving it alone. The box was used for a number of different types of ordnance, the most common being for 3” mortar rounds. The list of potential contents include:

3 in M.L. Mortar HE

3 in M.L. Mortar Smoke

3 in M.L. Mortar Chemical

3 in M.L. Mortar Practice

Number Packed: 6

Gross weight: 88 lbs

Grenades No. 73

Number Packed: 10

Gross weight: 62 lbs

Grenade No. 77

Number Packed: 34

Gross weight: 41 lbs

Grenade No. 79

Number Packed: 24

Gross weight: 56 lbs

Portfires, common

Number Packed: 200

Gross weight: – lbs

Bombs, P.I.A.T., H.E.

Bombs, P.I.A.T., Inert, practice

Of all the ammunition boxes in my collection, the B.166 is the most useful as its large size means I can pack a lot of kit inside it for storage. I now have three of this particular type of box and none have cost me more than £10 each.

P60 25 Pounder Ammunition Box

Continuing our look at a selection of British Army ammunition boxes from the Second World War, tonight we have an example of the ‘P60’ box:imageThis box is unusually shallow in depth and originally held four projectiles for the 25 pounder field gun. The 25 pounder used separate projectiles and propellant cases, the gunners adding or removing charge bags to alter range. The projectiles were packaged into separate metal ammunition boxes for safety and this is an example of one of these and was used for armour piercing shells. The box’s designation can be seen embossed into the lid:image‘MC’ would be the manufacturer’s mark and I suspect this might be Morris Cars but I cannot be sure yet; this box dates back to 1943. Apart from its shape the box is pretty conventional and has metal handles at both ends for carrying it:imageNote that as a later box this does not have the rubber grips of the M104 we looked at a few weeks back. The lid is secured with two heavy duty hinges:imageAnd a pair of wire spring clips:imageThis particular box is one of the more common to find, the 25 pounder remaining in service for many years after the Second World War, this example survived as a tool chest and has been repainted by me back into it’s original service-brown colour. Ammunition for the 25 pounder was normally held in a special armoured limber that was pulled behind the quad tractor. These limbers had their own ammunition trays and were armoured for use in a battlefield, therefore it would have been the job of the gun crew to replenish these armoured limbers form ammunition boxes such as this one during quiet times so as to keep the gun fed during battle.5796b58ae2b1a

M104 Ammunition Box

It has been a while since we looked at any ammunition boxes on the blog. Tonight we have the first wartime box I ever picked up. When I first acquired this box it was painted black and had clearly been used for a tool box at some time. Since then I have stripped it back and repainted it in ‘service brown’ and applied some markings. These are based off an original example of the box and although a little crude (I am not that good at cutting out stencils with a Stanley knife) they really help the box look the part:imageThis box is stamped into the top with its designations ‘M104’:imageThis type of box was used for carrying fuzes for artillery shells, either the 117 fuze for 25 pounders or the No213 fuze. This fuze was used for high explosive and bursting smoke rounds for the 25 pounder, 5.5 and 7.2 inch guns and was both timer delayed and percussion fired. For an excellent information sheet on this fuze, please look here. The other use it saw was to carry the ammunition shell for ‘U’ type 3” rockets. Originally the box would have had cardboard inserts to protect the contents and hold them securely for transit.

This particular box is dated 1941:imageAnd has a manufacturer’s code of AMC:imageThis is probably the mark of the Austin Motor Company who made ammunition boxes and jerry cans during the war. The box is made of steel and has a hinged lid with two wire spring fasteners to secure the lid:imageNote the small lop above the fastener- this was to pass a piece of wire through to allow the fastenings to be wired shut so it was clear the box had not been tampered with. With its early date, this box still has the rubber grips on the handles:imageThese were later deleted to save valuable rubber supplies after the Japanese invasions in the far east. The main details of the contents of the box are stencilled on the front in yellow, again this is a direct copy of an original marked example:imageI went through a phase of buying a lot of ammunition boxes a few years back, and I do really like them. Unfortunately they take up a lot of room and although useful for storage there has to be limits so I now restrict myself to only picking up nicely marked examples (and preferably the smaller boxes!)

9mm H52 Ammunition Carton

At the start of last year I looked at a wooden H51 ammunition box here. These boxes are fairly common, what is far rarer is the sealed metal container that went inside each of these boxes, the H52 box. I was lucky enough to pick up one of these, opened, last week and the condition of this tin is fantastic:The container is made of pressed tin, soldered together and painted black. The main markings on the front indicate that it was used to hold 9mm ammunition and held 1250 cartridges in Mk 2z cartons:Beneath this is stencilled ‘RG’ for the Radway Green arsenal and the packaging date of 17th September 1959. The large white marking is a standard Government Explosives classification marking used to ensure that the ammunition is handled correctly and stored in suitable conditions to prevent deterioration or danger. The container itself is stamped on one end:These stamps indicate the box type, H52 Mk 2, and a manufacture date for the tin (as opposed to the filling date on the front) of 1957:The can was soldered shut with a pull tab lid to open, which has been pulled off and discarded from this can:These cans were fitted into the wooden H51 box, with spacers made from wood and sorbo-rubber that helped keep it tight and prevented it from moving around. Two of these H51 boxes then fitted into a metal H50 box. A quick trawl of the net suggests this carton is rather rare- presumably most were just thrown away as they are not easily reusable in the way other ammunition boxes are. Either way it is a great addition to the collection.

Grenades Ammunition Box

Update: Sean Featherstone has kindly been in touch to help with the markings on this box and given me a lot more information about their meaning. I have updated the text below to reflect his information.

I have a lot of ammunition boxes, and I must confess I have largely stopped buying them as they take up a lot of room, and although they are useful for storing things inside there has to be a limit! Having said all that, if a nice one comes up at a good price with some interesting markings I will bend my rules and pick it up regardless…This particular box came up last week for £6 and although it is a very modern example, the markings are really interesting so it came home with me!imageThe tin itself is an H83Mk2, this example dating from 1978 and manufactured by Radway Green:imageThe other markings and excellent condition of the box lead me to believe this tin has been refurbished and stripped of old paint schemes and reissued. The H83 box is very common and is used for a wide variety of ordnance. The markings on the side of this box reveal it last contained 12 smoke hand grenades. The markings in the bottom left hand corner indicate the box was packed in June 2012:imageThe markings in the bottom right hand half of the box give storage instructions with maximum and minimum safe temperatures in the square box and maximum and minimum temperatures for use in the circle, the weight of a filled box and the cubic volume of the box for transport purposes are marked below. The bottom left hand corner has the ‘Batch Key Identity’ with a  mark ‘PWD’ indicating a manufacturer, ‘Pains Wessex Defence’ followed by the month, year and batch number. Similar information is displayed on the opposite side of the ammunition box:imageThe hand written note indicates that the box has been certified free from explosives before being sold as surplus. There are extensive rules surrounding certifying ammunition boxes before they go for scrap. JSP482 explains:

The Certification Free From Explosives (CFFE) regime is applicable to all packages which have contained explosives, arisings from the firing or proofing of ammunition, munitions kept in museums or as souvenirs and displays etc, and for training aids, all arisings from breakdown and disposal of ammunition and explosives and platforms and any other equipment expected to use or hold munitions. It is also applicable to equipment used to process explosives and subsequently in need of maintenance or repair. CFFE is required when such items are to be transported as non-explosives or sent to recipients for re-cycling who, because of a complete lack of knowledge of explosives, would be at risk if explosives were to be inadvertently left in a nominally empty article or package. Those at particular risk are people outside of the MoD and those who receive items for scrap. The same regime should also be used to ensure the absence of other hazardous substances e.g. White and Red Phosphorus and CS which may be associated with the Munitions.

The lid of the ammunition box has a large warning that the smoke grenades are not to be used in a confined space:imageThe hinge end of the box repeats the contents so they can be identified quickly regardless of how the boxes are stacked on a pallet:imageThe nature of the ammunition tin means that the fourth side of the tin has to have the details printed on the large catch:imageAs can be seen, for those of a geeky nature (which I am guessing is a lot of you), there is a lot of information that can be pulled off from the markings on these modern boxes. Whilst I am certainly not going to pick up loads of them, I will continue to keep an eye out for attractively marked examples.