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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Colour I.D on Shells

Chris Foster

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In a recent thread, Picture/location request.

RobL kindly posted a picture depicting 18 pounder shells each painted, so that the user would now what the shell contained

Yellow H.E, Black sharpnell etc.

This got me thinking (not an easy option at the best of times). Did colour I.D apply to all calibre of shells ? not just 18 pounder's.

i.e up to the largest gun and Howitzer shells


RobL's photograph of a display of 18 pounder shells with colour code's




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Certainly seems that way - here's a couple of shells as displayed on the 9.2 inch Howitzer at the IWM



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Thanks for those.

I have seen these examples at the IWM, and along with the photograph you posted is what started me to think.

I wouldn't have thought that the IWM would get something like that wrong.



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The short answer to your question is "Yes".

The colour codes were:

HE - Yellow

Chemical - Light Grey

Incendiary - Red

Smoke - Light Green

Shrapnel - Black

Shrapnel Reduced Charge - white from shoulder to driving band

Some early 13 and 18pdr. shrapnel were painted slate colour but this was discontinued.

In addition to the basic colour there were the various coloured rings to indicate everything from "Filled" to the type of gas in chemical shells.



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