175. The object of this chapter is to give all the information that is required by an officer or man in his ordinary duties on board with respect to:-
(i) Ammunition supplied to Naval guns, including the colour and markings, and the packages in which it is supplied.
(ii) Fireworks supplied to the Service.
(iii) Magazines and shell rooms.
Detailed information regarding the construction and methods of working of the various stores has not been included. If such information is required the various text-books on the subject must be studied.
This chapter should be read in conjunction with the other chapters, certain portions of which are repeated here to make this chapter as self-contained as possible.
176. The simplest form of gun is a strong steel tube into which is placed a projectile; the gun is rifled to impart spin so that the projectile may be rotated and so kept steady in the air. In order to propel the projectile out of the muzzle a charge is placed in the gun behind the projectile; the space occupied by the charge is called the chamber, and the rear end of the chamber is closed with a breech block. Arrangements are made so that the charge can be ignited, with the consequent formation of a large volume of gas, in the chamber behind the projectile; the pressure thus created propels the projectile from the gun.
Guns are divided into two classes, according to the method adopted to make the breech end gas-tight.
First, B.L. (breech loading) guns, in which the breech is made gas-tight by an elastic pad (called the obturator) carried on the face of the breech block. When the charge is ignited, this pad is forced back against the breech block and made to expand outwards against the inside of the chamber, completely sealing the breech during the moment of firing.
Second, Q.F. (quick firing) guns, in which the breech end is made gas-tight by a brass case (known as the Q.F. cartridge case), in which the charge is carried. When the gun is fired, the cartridge case expands and seals the breech end.
177. An explosive is a substance which, on being given a suitable initiation, is rapidly converted into a large volume of hot gases.
Explosives are used in Naval gunnery for two purposes.
Firstly, for the cartridge placed behind the projectile in the gun. When the gun is fired the cartridge is ignited, and the large volume of gas produced hurls the projectile out of the gun at a speed of over 2,750 feet per second (nearly 2,000 miles per hour). This type of explosive is known as a "propellant".
Secondly, to fill, and subsequently burst, the shell. This type of explosive is
known as a "disruptive", and when initiated it explodes with great violence.
The only difference between a disruptive and a propellant is the speed at which
gas is produced when they are ignited. Disruptives explode almost instantaneously. Propellants burn comparatively slowly and regularly.
Cordite is the propellant chiefly used in Naval guns. It is a mixture of nitroglycerine and nitro-cellulose with a stabiliser or preservative. It is pressed into
various shapes which have a brown hornlike appearance and, in the case of tubular
cordite, into sticks not unlike macaroni.
The sticks are pressed in various thicknesses, and each size is given a three-figure number, which is its approximate diameter in thousandths of an inch. For
instance, size 280 means that the stick is .28-inch in diameter, size 070 that it is
.07 inch in diameter. All the cordite of any one size produced by the cordite
factory in a certain period is blended together and given a lot number, which remains
with that cordite throughout its life, thus enabling its behaviour to be observed.
Flashless cordite has a whitish appearance and is usually supplied in the
slotted-tube form and is described in terms of exterior and interior diameters of
the tube in thousandths of an inch, e.g., S.T. 164-048 means that the slotted tube
is .164 inch external and .048 inch internal diameter.
Another form of propellant is called " N.H." or " non-hygroscopic ". This
is a plain nitro-cellulose propellant and contains no nitro-glycerine. It is supplied
in short lengths about .1 inch long and is usually " multi-tubular ", i.e., each piece
is pierced with seven holes longitudinally.
N.H. is described by the " web " size, e.g., N.H. 050 means that the thickness
of the web between the holes or tubes is .05 inch.
178. High explosives or "disruptives", are used for filling shells and aircraft
bombs (and also mines and torpedo war-heads, etc., which do not come within the
scope of this book). When properly initiated, they are instantly converted into
gas with great violence, the process being called detonation. In order to
assist the transmission of the impulse from the fuze to the filling, an exploder
is fitted under the fuze which acts as a booster. The exploder consists of a small
quantity of some high explosive which is more sensitive and therefore more readily
affected by the fuze unit than is the main bursting charge of the shell. The
composition of the exploder depends on whether the fuze gives a combustive or
detonative impulse, i.e., whether the shell filling is required to "explode" or
The high explosives used in the Naval Service as shell fillings are: R.D.X.,
T.N.T., shellite and lyddite (or picric acid).
The following high explosives are in use in the Naval Service as exploders
and fillings for caps, fuzes and gaines: T.N.T., picric acid, C.E. (composition
exploding), fulminate of mercury, lead azide and picric powder. Caps, fuzes and
gaines are described later.
Gunpowder, one of the earliest explosives, was originally used both as a propellant and as a shell filling. Though now superseded in these two functions, it
is still used in the Naval Service for many purposes, such as bursters in shrapnel
and star-shell, and in tubes, igniters, primers, fuzes, blank charges and fireworks,
all of which are described later.
179. For safety, convenience, and rapidity of loading, the cordite charges for
guns are placed in silk cloth bags, or cylindrical metal cases, and are then known as
Cartridges for B.L. Guns.
180. These cartridges consist of a number of cordite sticks, tied together in a
bundle with silk thread, and sewn up in a silk cloth bag. They are made up
containing a whole charge, two-thirds, one-third, one-quarter or one-sixth of a
charge, according to the size of the gun and the method of loading employed.
When firing in action, cartridges are loaded to make up the "full charge". In
peace-time full-calibre (as opposed to sub-calibre) practices, "reduced charges" are generally used for the large guns as they do not wear out the gun so much. Reduced charges are normally three-quarters or two-thirds of a full charge.
To facilitate igniting the cordite, igniters may be employed on cartridges for
B.L. guns. The igniter consists of gunpowder in a red balloon bag, sewn over one or both ends of the cartridge. Gunpowder catches fire more readily than
cordite, and the duty of the igniter is to ensure that the flash from the tube (see
under " Tubes ", paras. 186-189) sets the cordite alight. The igniter, by its
inflammable nature, is a potential source of danger in action; therefore, to reduce
this danger, those cartridges which have igniters and are made up in fractions of
full charges do not have an igniter on each fraction, but two per full charge. B.L.
cartridges must be put into the gun with the red igniter end to the rear and as
close as possible to the breech block of the gun. Special care is necessary in
cordite handing rooms to ensure that where igniters are fitted the cartridges are
placed in the hoists the right way round.
Igniters for certain cartridges are protected by silk igniter covers or millboard "tear-off" discs fitted over the end of the cartridge. These must be
removed in the last place of handling, i.e., in the cordite handing room of turrets
when using main loading, or at the gun in hand-worked mountings. The rear
igniter cover only need be removed. Igniters of other cartridges are protected by
non-removable igniter covers which are coloured red and are sewn both to the
igniter and cartridge bag.
Most B.L. cartridges are fitted with lifting bands of tape or braid to assist in
their removal from the magazine cases. These bands are to be taken off on withdrawal of the cartridge from the case, before passing it to the ammunition hoist.
Tin Foil is introduced into every B.L. cartridge to prevent coppering of
On the silk cloth bag is stencilled all information concerning the cartridge,
(i) The gun for which it is intended.
(ii) Weight of the charge.
(iii) Nature, size and lot number of cordite.
(iv) Fraction denoting size of charge, i.e., 1/4, 1/6, etc.
(v) Date of filling and monogram of filling station.
(vi) N-for Naval Service.
Cartridges for Q.F. Guns.
181. For these the bundle of cordite sticks is placed in a brass Q.F. cartridge
case. The ammunition for Q.F. guns is divided into two classes: fixed ammunition, in which the base of the projectile is secured in the mouth of the cartridge
case, and separate ammunition, where cartridge and projectile are separate.
Where N.H. propellant is used the propellant is confined to the lower part
of the case by a leatherboard cup held in position by a distance piece, one end of
which bears on the top of the cup, and the other on the base of the shell in fixed
ammunition and on the lid of the case in separate ammunition.
In both classes the Q.F. cartridge case protects the cordite during transport
and stowage, and seals the breech end of the gun when it fires. At the rear end
of the cartridge case is a brass disc and flange, made solid with the case and drilled
and screwed for the primer which initiates the firing of the cartridge (see para. 190).
The primer is protected from accidental knocks by a clip, which is removed before
loading. Clips are not provided for electric primers.
The gunpowder necessary to ensure regular ignition of the cordite is contained
either in the magazine of the primer or in a metal igniter (see under "Primer", para. 190).
The front end of the cartridge case of separate ammunition is closed by a
metal or plastic lid.
Tin foil is introduced to prevent coppering.
All information relating to the charge and cartridge case is stamped on the
base and stencilled on the base or side of the case. This information includes:-
(i) Stamped on base:-
(a) Nature and mark of gun.
(b) Mark of empty case.
(c) Monogram of manufacturer of case and date of manufacture.
(d) Marks by which the history of the case may be read.
(e) Lot No. of cordite and distinguishing letter of cordite manufacturer.
(ii) Stencilled on base or side:-
(a) Lot number of cordite.
(b) Mark of cartridge.
(c) Monogram of filling station and date of filling.
182. To enable loading drills to be carried out, drill cartridges are supplied,
having approximately the same weight and outside dimensions as the cartridges
they represent. Those for B.L. guns are either wood covered with raw hide, or
lengths of rope covered with canvas. Those for Q.F. guns, both fixed and separate, are usually made of wood with brass facings.
183. Blank cartridges, filled with gunpowder, and designed to make a great
deal of noise and smoke, are supplied for saluting purposes and signalling. Blank
cartridges for B.L. guns are enclosed in silk cloth bags, and are only supplied
when specially required.
Blank cartridges for Q.F. guns are contained in Q.F. cartridge cases. They
are usually supplied to ships in their component parts to be made up on board
No projectile is used with a blank cartridge.
As gunpowder is easily ignited, blank charges should be treated very cautiously,
and never exposed to a possibility of a spark or smouldering matter. They are
usually stowed in a separate magazine or shell room, or with small arm
184. All information is stencilled on the B.L. cartridge and on the bag of the
Q.F. charge. This information includes:-
(i) Mark of cartridge.
(ii) Contractor's initials or recognised trade mark.
(iii) Nature of gun.
(iv) Weight of charge.
(v) Class of powder.
(vi) N-for Naval Service.
(vii) Initials or monogram of filling station.
(viii) Date of filling.
The word "BLANK" is stamped or stencilled across the base of Q.F.
cartridges supplied for such use.
Precautions to be observed.
185. On all occasions of withdrawing a blank cartridge from a B.L. gun it
is to be passed overboard.
Before firing blank charges from a B.L. gun, the cartridge is to be kept in a
Clarkson's case or waterproof duck bag and is not to be uncovered until the bore
has been inspected.
TUBES AND PRIMERS.
186. B.L. cartridges are fired by tubes placed in the vent of the breech, while
Q.F. cartridges are fired by primers screwed into the base of the cartridge case.
187. To distinguish them from other types of tube, they are known as tubes,
Tubes, vent, consist of a means of ignition and a magazine of powder pellets
and loose powder contained in a small brass case. The powder pellets, when
ignited, fly, burning, into the igniter (where fitted) of the B.L. cartridge and
ignite it. Tubes are of two types, electric and percussion.
Electric tubes are fired by an electric current passing through an electric lock.
When this current is switched on, by the gunlayer or director-layer pressing his
trigger, it flows along a thin iridio-platinum wire " bridge " surrounded by
explosive inside the tube. The bridge fuses almost instantaneously, and ignites
the explosive and the powder pellets in the tube magazine. Owing to the frailty
of the bridge, electric tubes must be handled with care; otherwise the bridge
may be broken and the tube missfire. Electric tubes are usually balanced by a
megger before firing to confirm that they are electrically correct. Their resistance
should lie between 0.9 and 1.1 ohms. Electric tubes which have missfired (i.e.,
which have been reported as "tube not fired") should be set aside for examination.
Percussion tubes are fired by the blow of the striker of a percussion lock.
The striker, when it flies forward, hits the tube striker at the rear end of the tube
and fires the cap of the tube. A flash from the cap ignites the powder pellets in
the tube magazine. Percussion tubes must be handled with the greatest care, as
an accidental blow on the cap may cause the tube to fire. Percussion tubes which
have been struck, as indicated by a dent in the centre of the striker of the tube,
but have not fired, are dangerous and should be thrown overboard as soon as
188. Tubes are made in three sizes: 1-in., electric, and .5-in. and .4-in.
electric or percussion:-
(i) 1-in. tubes are used in certain B.L. guns the cartridges for which
are not fitted with an igniter.
(ii) .5-in. tubes are used in all other B.L. guns in the service, except
as in (iii).
(iii) .4-in. tubes are now only used in 6-in. Marks VII and XI guns.
Drill tubes, representing .5-in. and .4-in. percussion tubes, for use at loading
drill, and dummy tubes for instructional purposes, are also supplied. Fired tubes
may also be used for drill and at the loader.
189. Tubes can be identified as follows:-
(i) Electric tubes are left plain and smooth. Electric tubes for some guns
have a raised contact piece in the head, and are fired by strikerless
locks; they are called "S" tubes. The others have a small sunk
disc in the head, where the striker makes contact.
(ii) Percussion tubes have four notches cut out of the rim of the head.
(iii) Drill tubes are blackened and have four longitudinal indents impressed
on the body. The heads are milled.
Tubes are packed ten in a flat tin box, sealed by a soldered tear-off band. When
this seal is broken, the date is to be recorded on the tin and the contents relegated
for testing purposes only after one week (one month during war). Tubes are stowed
in a special locker in the gunner's store room. Lockers are fitted near the guns for
a ready-use supply of tubes in action.
190. Primers screw into the bases of Q.F. cartridges and provide the means
of firing them. Three types are used:-
(iii) Electric and Percussion.
Percussion primers consist of a powder magazine and a percussion cap contained in a metal holder. They are fired by a blow from a striker which hits and
ignites the cap; flash from the cap passes into and ignites the contents of the
magazine of the primer.
Electric primers are similar in operation to an electric tube, and are fired by
Electric and percussion primers may be fired either by percussion or by
Primers screw in flush with the base of the cartridge case, and are protected
by a clip, which must be removed before loading. Special keys are provided for
removing the primers after the cartridge has been fired.
191. Cartridges are supplied to ships packed in aluminium alloy, steel or
brass cases, or in steel or wooden boxes. Some of the latter have a tinned plate
lining. The cases and boxes stow in magazines on board in such a manner that,
so far as possible, their contents can be removed while they remain in their stowage.
Boxes, however, may be carried with their contents to the place where they are
required. (See also para. 245.)
Ammunition cases and boxes are made air-tight and water-tight by the use
of luting (a sort of non-drying putty), and rubber or dermatine (a form of rubber)
rings at the lid joint.
Cases and boxes containing cordite cartridges are "sealed" before being
supplied to a ship, so that it will at once be apparent if anyone has opened or
tampered with the lid of a case. The sealing is generally effected by sticking a
station sealing label, with the Royal Naval Armament Depot monogram on it,
over the junction of the lid and the body, or by the use of sealing tapes in conjunction with such labels.
192. The cases and boxes most generally encountered are:-
(i) Cylindrical cases, made of brass or steel. Used for stowing the cartridges
for 14-inch and larger guns. One end has a circular lid, which is
opened and closed with a metal key.
(ii) Rectangular cases, made of aluminium alloy or brass, the bodies usually
corrugated or indented to give strength. Used for stowing B.L.
cartridges of smaller guns. These cases are fitted at one end with a
round lid, which is opened and closed by a metal key. Certain B.L.
cartridges are enclosed, for additional security, in cardboard or box
cloth wrappers, when in their magazine cases. Such cartridges should
be kept in their containers until just before loading into the gun.
(iii) Boxes for Q.F. Ammunition. Most of these are made of wood and
lined with tinned plate. Some bows arc made of steel. Diaphragms
and packing pieces, termed furniture, are fitted inside the boxes to
prevent movement of the cartridges. Boxes for fixed ammunition are
termed " ammunition boxes "; those for the separate loading
cartridges are termed " cartridge boxes." Various types of lids are
employed, some of which can be opened without a key.
(iv) Metal-lined cases, made of wood and lined with tinned plate. These
are used for small combustible stores and for boat work, as they can
be made water-tight again after being opened. The lining is closed by
a circular bung made water-tight by luting, while the case has a hinged
wooden lid, secured by two screws, for which a key is supplied, over
the bung. These cases are made in three sizes-whole, half, and quarter.
(v) Small arm ammunition (S.A.A.) boxes, made of wood with a tinned
plate lining. These are used for small arms ammunition of all kinds.
They can be opened, without a key, by removing a pin and knocking
out the wedge-shaped sliding lid. The tinned plate lid below, which
is soldered in place, is then torn off. Once opened S.A.A. boxes cannot
again be made water-tight.
All cases and boxes containing ammunition should be handled with care to
avoid injuring their contents. Rough usage of cases and boxes causes them to lose
their air tightness, with detriment to their contents. It may well occasion hangfires, missfires, or even premature explosion, and jamming of the lids which causes
loss of time in opening cases, a common result of rough usage.
COLOURING OF AMMUNITION PACKAGES.
193. Except as stated below, all packages containing ammunition and fireworks are painted a stone colour.
" Packages painted the following colours contain stores as shown:-
Target smoke ammunition. (Never to be stowed below.)
S.A.A. bundled, belted or in cartons (for machine guns) or in chargers (for rifles).
Blank ammunition and cases for detonators.
Drill and dummy ammunition.
Stone with yellow lid
The following packages are not painted externally apart from their special
Magazine cases made of aluminium-silicon alloy.
Boxes for warheads and projectiles.
Galvanised steel packages.
One end of some cylindrical cases is painted blue to show that that end is
The following band markings will be found:-
All packages containing explosives, except those painted red.
Packages for non-explosive Naval armament stores including drill and dummy ammunition boxes.
Practice (bright) yellow
Q.F. target smoke ammunition boxes.
194. To assist in the rapid identification of the type of projectile, all fixed
ammunition packages are marked with a coloured bar on the lid or on the side
bearing the label:-
Bright or practice yellow
Black (broken bar)
Details of the contents of a package are stencilled on the outside of the box,
and are also indicated on the contents label affixed to the outside of the package
(except for cases, magazine).
A.S.A. boxes have coloured labels stuck on the outside so that their contents
can quickly be recognised.
Boxes containing star-shell have a star-shaped piece of brass screwed to the
lid to enable the contents to be identified in the dark by sense of touch.
All packages containing explosives are marked with a government explosives
group label in red with a white numeral indicating to which group the contents
belong for stowage purposes.
195. There are various kinds of projectiles, whose design depends on the
function they are required to fulfil. They can, however, be divided into three
(i) Piercing shell.
(ii) H.E. shell.
(iii) Miscellaneous projectiles.
All projectiles are fitted with copper or cupro-nickel " driving bands " near
their bases. On the projectile being forced through the bore, the grooves of the
rifling bite into the copper and so give the projectile the spin which keeps it
steady in flight. The driving band also prevents any escape of cordite gas past
the projectile while it is in the gun. Rope grommets or carriers for certain
calibres are supplied to protect the driving bands of all separate loading projectiles
during transport and stowage in the shell room bins. They should be removed
when the shells are lifted from the bins preparatory to loading.
Piercing and H.E. shell, which are designed to do as much damage as possible
to the enemy, are steel cases filled with disruptive explosives. The filling is
detonated or exploded by a fuze screwed into the base or nose of the shell.
Between the fuze and main filling is placed a small quantity of fairly sensitive
explosive termed an " exploder " (see para. 178).
196. These shells are designed to perforate thick armour at battle ranges,
and to burst effectively when inside. To achieve this the shells are made with thick
heads and walls, and consequently carry only a small amount of explosive. In
modern shell, to assist perforation a penetrative cap of hard steel secured over
the nose of the shell, is generally employed, the letter "C," for capped, being
added to the title of the shell.
Sometimes light steel domes are fitted on the cap or nose of the shell to bring
it to the best shape for flight through the air. These are called ballistic caps,
and in no way assist the actual perforation. The suffix "B.C." is sometimes used
to indicate the presence of a ballistic cap.
Fuzes of all piercing shell are fitted in the base, where they can be best protected from damage during penetration.
197. The following types of piercing shell are supplied to the Naval
(i) A.P.C. (Armour Piercing, Capped). The principal shell for 14-in. guns
and above for use against battleships and battle cruisers which have
thick armour protection.
(ii) S.A.P.C. (Semi-Armour-Piercing, Capped). Supplied for 8-in. guns for
use against medium thicknesses of armour.
(iii) C.P.B.C. (Common Pointed Ballistic Cap). The latest type of piercing
shell for 6-in. guns.
(iv) S.A.P. (Semi-Armour-Piercing). A type of piercing shell for 5.25-in
guns and below.
(v) C.P.C. (Common Pointed, Capped). An older type of shell with inferior
penetrative qualities but a correspondingly bigger bursting charge,
supplied for 6-in. guns and above for use against unarmoured ships
and light targets.
198. These are designed to burst with great shattering effect on unarmoured
targets, but have little or no penetration. They contain the largest possible
bursting charge consistent with the shell having the necessary strength
to withstand the shock of discharge from the gun. They are made for
guns of all calibres, and are used for anti-aircraft fire and for bombardment. They
may also be used against ship targets. They have nose fuzes.
199. The characteristics of other types of shell which are likely to be met
with are as follows:-
(i) Shrapnel Shell are thin-walled shell containing balls of lead hardened
with antimony and a small burster, and are for use against troops
ashore and low flying aircraft. When the shell is burst by its time nose
fuze, the balls are ejected from the case and spread out, in the form of
a cone, over a large area, the shell being timed to burst a little short
of the target.
(ii) Star Shell contain an illuminating star attached to a parachute, and are
used for silhouetting the target during night actions. When the small
bursting charge in the shell is exploded by the time nose fuze, the
illuminating star is ignited and, with the parachute, blown out through
the base of the shell. The burning star then sinks slowly throwing
out a bright white light until it falls into the water.
These shell must be handled carefully to avoid damaging their
weak bases. They are supplied to ships packed separately in boxes.
The shell have a minimum wall thickness so that there is a
maximum space available for the parachute and the star container.
Until recently no star shell could be fired with a full charge because the
remaining velocity, when the parachute was ejected, was too high for
the parachute to remain intact. Strengthened parachutes are now
fitted in all Star shell 4-inch - 5.25 inch, the shell being marked with a
green star; only the 5.25-inch and the new long range 4.5-inch,
however, may be fired with a full charge because of the limitation of
the strength of shell design of the other calibres concerned.
(iii) Smoke Shell are designed (a) for firing from anti-aircraft guns so that
the burst leaves a small grey smoke cloud which provides a target
for anti-aircraft practice or for wind-finding observation, and (b) to
provide a smoke screen for use in landing operations, etc. Type
(b) can be of similar design to type (a), except that they are fitted
with an impact instead of time fuze or they may be designed so that
the smoke composition is held in a container which is ejected from
the base. Type (a) are distinguished by the term, target smoke shell.
Type (b) deliver a larger quantity of smoke.
(iv) L.A. Practice Projectiles contain no explosive filling, and are used
for practice firings. They are frequently old shell with the explosive
filling removed and replaced by an inert substance to keep the shell
correctly weighted. Solid shot are also used.
(v) H.A. Practice Shell, designed to do the minimum of damage when
they burst, contain a small powder burster and a few smoke pellets.
On bursting, the fuze is blown out and a black smoke puff appears,
while the body of the shell continues its flight. Their use enables a
greater variety of firings at sleeve targets to be carried out than when
H.E. shell, with the many safety restrictions necessary, are used.
(vi) Special Bombardment Shell are designed to do as little damage as
possible, consistent with producing a burst large enough to be seen.
They are H.E. shell with a large part of the filling removed, and
replaced by an inert substance.
(vii) Drill Shell of wood and Dummy Shell of wood covered with a tan hide
are supplied for loading drill at the guns. Drill at the loading teacher
is carried out with practice projectiles. Drill shell of iron (or practice
projectiles) are also supplied for pusher hoists or Fuze Setting Drill,
and are marked NOT TO BE LOADED IN GUN.
SUPPLY AND CARE OF PROJECTILES.
200. Projectiles 5.25 inch and above, except star shell, are supplied in bulk.
Projectiles 4.7 inch and below, and star shell of all calibres, are packed in boxes
which are returned to the depot after the shells have been stowed in the bins.
Capstan-headed grabs are supplied for embarking and disembarking shell 8-inch
and above. Quick-action grabs, as used in shell rooms, are never to be used for
embarking or disembarking shell.
When handling projectiles, care should be taken:-
(i) That driving bands are not damaged. (Rope grommets are provided,
to protect them.)
(ii) That caps are not subjected to any strain.
(iii) That markings are not obliterated.
(iv) That heavy shell are slung slightly nose heavy.
(v) That star shell are not subjected to rough usage or dropped. A drop of
two feet on to its base may be sufficient to render a star shell unserviceable.
TRACERS AND IGNITERS.
201. To enable the flight of the projectile to be seen, a tracer may be fitted
into the base. A tracer consists of a small tube or disc filled with tracer composition, which is ignited when the gun fires.
The igniter is a device to ensure self-destruction of the shell if the fuze has
not operated by a given time.
The tracer and igniter is a similar device combining the functions of tracer and
202. In order that they may readily be distinguished, types of projectile are
painted differently (see Plate 19).
The bodies of shell are painted:-
All shell filled with high explosive. These include A.P.C., C.P.B.C., C.P.C., S.A.P., S.A.P.C., and H.E.
All shell filled with gunpowder and practice projectiles. These include Star Shell, Shrapnel, Practice, H.A,. Practice, and Smoke Shell (old method only).
Smoke Shell (new method only).
The points or caps of shell are painted the same colour as the body, with the
Green cap or point
Shell filled with shellite.
203. The following coloured bands are painted round projectiles:-
(i) Old Method.
POSITION OF BAND
COLOUR OF BAND
NATURE OF PROJECTILE
Head or shoulder
All shell filled explosive.
Shell is filled with explosive.
Shoulder, above red band.
Shell is filled with T.N.T.
Practice and target smoke.
Shell is for practice firings.
Two green with bright yellow between.
H.E., special bombardment practice.
Shell is tilled with T.N.T. (green) and is for practice firings (yellow).
Two bright yellow
Target ship practice.
Suitable for practice firings at target ships.
White, 1/4-inch wide
Centre of gravity.
White, 1-inch wide
14 and 16-inch
Position for grab.
(ii) Present Method.
POSITION OF BAND AND MARKING
COLOUR OF BAND AND MARKING
NATURE OF PROJECTILE
Head or Shoulder
Shell is filled with explosive.
Shoulder above red band
S.A.P.C. and S.A.P.
Shoulder, above and below red band.
A.P. and A.P.C.
A.P. or A.P.C. shell.
Shoulder or body
Green or black and green.
Shell filled T.N.T. or head filled T.N.T.
Shoulder or body
Black zig zag
H.E. (Radar) shell.
Shell filled RDX/BWX.
Blue with T.N.T. stencilled below band.
Shell filled RDX/T.N.T.
Shell is for practice firings.
Above driving band
Fitted with live tracers.
Two green with bright yellow between.
H.E. special bombardment practice.
Shell is filled with T.N.T. (green) and is for practice firings (yellow).
White, 1/4-in. wide
Centre of gravity.
White, 1-in. wide
Position for grab.
(G. 6619/46.-A.F.P. P.75147.
"Starshell have a green or red star painted on a white circular background."
The letter "S" on a white circle denotes that the shell is fitted with a smoke
box (present method).
The method of painting target smoke shell is best seen from Plate19.
Stencilled on the shell are the calibre of gun from which it is to be fired, the
date and place of filling the shell, and particulars of the exploder and the fuze,
and game or tracer if fitted.
The gas check cover plate or disc tracer of base fuzed shell and the screwed
ring which holds the cover plate in position are coloured to indicate what fuze is
204. Fuzes screw into the nose or base of shell, and are used to start the
explosion or detonation of the bursting charge in the shell. They fall into three
(i) Percussion (D.A. and base).
(ii) Time (Combustion and Mechanical).
(iii) Time and Percussion.
Fuzes contain a detonator, i.e., a small quantity of sensitive high explosive
and a magazine.
Percussion Direct Action Fuzes.
205. These are the simplest kind of fuze. They screw into the noses of H.E.
shell and burst them on impact. When the fuze hits the target, a striker in its
nose is forced into the detonator which fires and detonates the fuze magazine,
and thence the exploder and the shell filling. There are two main types of this
fuze, direct action (D.A.) and direct action impact (D.A.I.). D.A. fuzes are very
sensitive and are used for bombardment and in 2-pdr. shell. D.A.I. fuzes require
a harder blow to cause them to work and are used in H.E. shell which is fired at
The larger D.A. and D.A.I. fuzes have caps to protect them from accidental
damage, spray, and moisture during transport and stowage. These fuzes are
prepared for firing by removing the caps in the following manner:-
Nos. 44 and 45 P. .. (Old types of fuze screwing into a G.S., i.e.,
tapered, fuze hole). Pull out the pin securing
the cap. Take off the cap, which fits on a bayonet
joint. A second pin secured to die bottom of
the cap by twine is pulled our when the cap is
removed. In No. 44, Mark X and later fuzes,
the second pin is secured to the first and is
removed with it.
Nos. 118 and 230 .. (Modern D.A. fuzes, for all H.E. shell, 3 inch. to
15 in., screwing into a 2 in. fuze hole.) Unscrew
the cap, which is lightly held by a flat spring.
There is no pin. The striker cover, which acts
as a wind cap, must not be removed.
If a fuze is prepared for firing and then not fired, the cap and pin, where fitted,
should be replaced, except in No. 44, Mark X and later fuzes. In No. 44 Mark
X and later fuzes, and in fuzes where the pin is difficult to replace the fuze should
be carefully removed from the shell and thrown overboard.
H.E. shell for low angle work are supplied already fuzed to small ships. For
larger ships the fuzes are supplied separate from the shell, the hole in the nose of
the latter being plugged. On the outbreak of war, or when required, the shell
are fuzed on board (see para. 210).
If nose-fuzed shell are to be left for more than a few hours on the weather deck,
those fuzes which are not fitted with watertight caps are protected from damp by
rubber covers or kit plasters which fit over them.
Percussion Base Fuzes.
206. Piercing shell, which are required to perforate armour before bursting,
are fitted with base fuzes which are not damaged by the passage of the shell through
the armour. The action of the fuze is started when the shell strikes, but the burst
does not occur until a fraction of a second later, when the shell has got well inside
the enemy ship.
Base fuzes are supplied screwed into their shell. Normally no preparation
is required. Care must be taken not to damage them with the point of another
shell. Base fuzes must never be removed on board.
207. These are supplied for H.E. shell to be fired at aircraft, and for star shell
H.A. practice, and target smoke shell. There are two types, powder burning and
mechanical. In the powder-burning fuze, a powder train is started burning by
the action of a detonator when the shell is fired. By revolving a ring the effective
length of the train can be so adjusted that the projectile will burst in the air at any
desired interval after leaving the gun. In the mechanical fuze, revolving the
dome similarly causes the fuze to fire after the desired interval. Both types of
fuze are "set" by revolving to the required setting immediately before loading
the shell into the gun.
The setting must never be zero or very close to zero, as this may have the effect
of bursting the shell whilst the gun and crew are still within the danger zone.
Some time fuzes have, in addition, a percussion arrangement that causes the
shell to burst on impact if it strikes anything before the time fuze works. These
fuzes are called time-and-percussion fuzes, and are used mainly with shrapnel.
Time mechanical fuzes will also cause the shell to burst on impact with substantial
The fuzes used in the ammunition for close range A.A. weapons must not be
confused with time-and-percussion fuzes. The fuze in this case is a D.A. fuze. A
self-destroying element, operating after a fixed length of time, is fitted inside the
shell to prevent it returning to earth intact and possibly causing injury to a friendly
Most time fuzes have a cap as a protection. The cap must be removed
before the fuze can be set and should immediately be replaced if the fuze is not
going to be fired.
208. In addition, the following fuzes have safety pins which must be removed
before loading: Nos. 65a, 81, 92, 93, 181 and 192. These pins are on no account
to be replaced. If the pin has been withdrawn and the shell is not required for
immediate use, the fuze is to be carefully removed from the shell and thrown
Time and time-and-percussion fuzes are always supplied to ships separately in
suitable packages. The shell are fuzed with them on the outbreak of war, or when
required in peace-time. If the shell are going to remain fuzed on the weather
deck for more than a few hours, the fuzes, if not fitted with water-tight caps,
should be protected by rubber covers or kit plasters.
If a time or time-and-percussion fuze has been set and is then not fired, it is
reset to SAFE usually indicated by a small red triangle a little beyond the highest
setting mark. It is then removed from the shell, sealed in its tin and, unless it
has got wet, may be considered serviceable for three months. After this period,
or if it has got wet, it should be returned to an armament depot. When resetting
a mechanical time fuze to SAFE the motion of the dome must always be clockwise
as viewed from above.
Safety Arrangements of Fuzes.
209. In addition to the caps and pins mentioned above, all fuzes have internal
safety arrangements to prevent their functioning accidentally during transport
or stowage. The chamber pressure, shock of discharge, and rotation, " arm "
the fuze when it leaves the gun, so that it may function correctly at the end of its
FUZING OF SHELL.
210. The regulations concerning this are laid down in N.M. and E.R. Detailed
directions are given in the Handbook on Ammunition (B.R.932/45).
The most important points to remember are:-
(i) Fuzing must be done on the upper deck.
(ii) No two fuzing parties may be within 100 feet of each other.
(iii) Only one shell at a time may be fuzed at each position.
(iv) No other shell may be within 10 feet of shell being fuzed.
(v) Screw-threads must be scrupulously clean.
(vi) Special fuzing keys are required, and no force may be used except that
which can be normally applied by the hand.
(vii) No tools are to be used other than those supplied for the specific purpose,
or otherwise than in the manner prescribed.
211. A gaine is a small magazine of sensitive high explosive which is placed
between time fuzes (except No. 211, which has the gaine incorporated in it) and
the exploders of the shell in which they are fitted. Its object is to step up the
explosion of the fuze so as to produce detonation of the shell filling. Shell fitted
with gaines are also used occasionally with D.A. fuzes, for bombardment.
212. Bombs at present in use can be divided into 7 groups:-
(i) A.P. (Armour-Piercing) and S.A.P. (Semi-Armour-Piercing)
(ii) G.P. (General Purpose) and M.C. (Medium Capacity)
(iii) A/S (Anti-Submarine).
The main filling of H.E. bombs is detonated by similar means to those
employed in shell, i.e., by an exploder which in turn is ignited by a detonator. The
detonator is initiated by means of a pistol. In some bombs the detonator and pistol
mechanism are combined in one unit termed a fuze. In either case when a bomb is
fitted for service it is said to be fuzed. Mechanical arrangements in the pistol
or fuze allow the bomb to be dropped "Safe" or "Live" as desired. When
dropped live, the fuze cannot function until the bomb has travelled through the
air far enough to " arm " the fuze. This travel is called the " arming distance."
(i) A.P. Bombs-2,000 lb.
These bombs are designed for use against heavily armoured targets and are
made of steel. They contain a comparatively small charge in relation to the total
weight. Detonation is initiated by a fuze in the tail.
S.A.P. Bombs-500 lb. and 250 lb.
These bombs are designed for use' against lightly armoured targets. They
are made of steel and contain a comparatively small charge. Earlier types are
fitted with a tail fuze, and the latest type with a tail pistol and detonator, giving
the required delay.
(ii) G.P. 250 lb. and M.C. Bombs, 500 lb.
These bombs, as the name implies, are used to attack a variety of targets.
They rely chiefly on blast effect to cause damage and have a relatively large charge.
They are fitted for nose (instantaneous) or tail (delay) fuzing, and use a pistol and
detonator in both cases.
(iii) A/S Bombs, 100 lb.
These bombs are used against submarines, and also against certain targets
where a large blast effect is required. They have a relatively large charge,
and are fitted for a tail pistol and detonator. (Earlier types were fitted for a nose
(iv) Anti-Personnel Bombs, 40 lb. G.P. and 20 lb. Fragmentation.
These bombs are designed to give a large number of small fragments on bursting
and are fitted with a nose pistol and detonator only. Otherwise they are generally
similar to the larger G.P. bombs.
(v) Incendiary Bombs, 25 lb. and 30 lb.
The 25 lb. incendiary bomb consists of a metal case containing seven magnesium and thermite firepots which are ejected at 4-second intervals by means of
small explosive charges.
The 30 lb. incendiary bomb contains an incendiary filling which is ignited and
spread by means of an exploder contained in a nose fuze.
(vi) Practice Bombs. 8 1/2 lb., 10 lb. and 11 1/2 lb.
These bombs contain either a smoke flame or a flash composition; smoke
for day and flame or flash for night use respectively. On impact a small detonator-burster is ignited by means of a pistol which is an integral part of the bomb.
(vii) Drill Bombs.
These may be of any of the above types differing only in that the filling is
213. Bomb pistols and fuzes are fitted with safety arrangements to prevent
detonation of a bomb before it is required for use or in the event of a crash or
premature release. The safety arrangements take the following forms:-
(i) Safety Pillar: This is fitted to fuzes to prevent the rotation of the
arming vanes (see below) during transit and is removed only after the
bomb is loaded on to the aircraft.
(ii) Safety Clips: These are fitted to pistols and fuzes to prevent the rotation
of the arming vanes whilst attached to the aircraft in the air. They are
removed when the bomb is released " live," or remain on the bomb
if it is dropped " safe."
(iii) Arming Vanes: These are fitted to fuzes and pistols and rotate as the
bomb falls through the air if the safety clip has been removed. In the
case of fuzes they drive a system of gears which renders the fuze " live "
requiring only the shock of impact to fire the detonators. In the case
of pistols they unscrew an arming nut or cap from the striker which is
then held by a creep spring or shear wire only.
Note. In the case of tail pistols the arming vane is fitted on the bomb tail and
connected to the pistol by means of a spindle.
Supply and Fuzing.
214. Bombs of 100 lb. and above are supplied unboxed, their tail units
and nose pistols being in separate containers. Tail pistols are usually
supplied in position in the bomb. Smaller bombs are supplied boxed with pistols
in position. Detonators and fuzes are supplied in separate boxes.
Fuzing is carried out in accordance with N.M. and E.R. Article 249.
215. Stencil markings on bombs give the following information:-
(i) Nomenclature and mark.
(ii) The monogram of filling station or trade mark of filling contractor.
(iii) The date of filling.
(iv) The lot number of filling.
Coloured markings are as follows:-
(i) H.E. bombs are coloured green (old supply were yellow).
(ii) A red band round the nose denotes Filled.
(iii) A white band contiguous to the red band denotes S.A.P.
(iv) A white band either side of the red band denotes A.P.
(v) A plain green band denotes T.N.T. filling. T.N.T. is stencilled on or
near the band.
(vi) A plain green band with a numeral above and a fraction below indicates
an amatol filling of low grade.
(vii) A criss-cross green band with a fraction below denotes an amatol filling
of high grade.
(viii) Incendiary bombs are painted dull red.
(ix) Practice bombs are painted white. Two green bands on the tail denote
"filled with smoke composition "; two black bands on the tail and a
red band on the body denote" filled with flash composition."
(x) Drill bombs are painted black with yellow band.
Note. In (v) and (vi), new supply, the green band is of a lighter shade than the
... such as smoking ... (para 126)
SMALL ARMS AMMUNITION.
216. The term Small Arms Ammunition includes ammunition for aiming
rifles, machine guns, aircraft guns, rifles and pistols of 1 inch or less calibre.
Various types are supplied. Except for 20 m.m. Oerlikon the type is indicated
by letters preceding the mark number stamped on the base of the cartridge. The
interpretation of the letters is as follows:-
Letters after the mark of a cartridge are an indication of the nature of the
propellant, e.g., Cartridge, S.A. .5 inch W Mark I Z. has an armour piercing
bullet and a nitrocellulose propellant. Similarly, the letter T in place of Z would
indicate a black powder propellant, and absence of a final letter a cordite filling.
(i) 1 inch Aiming Rifle Ammunition is fired from aiming rifles, which
fit into parent guns. It is manufactured either for electric or percussion firing.
(ii) 20 m.m. Ammunition of various types is fired from 20 m.m. automatic
guns such as the Oerlikon and Hispano. It fires by percussion and is supplied in
bulk. The different types are distinguished by the colour of the shell.
(iii) .5 inch Ammunition is fired from Vickers and Browning machine guns.
It fires by percussion and is supplied in bulk and in articulated belts. Care should
be taken that this ammunition is fired only from guns for which it is intended.
Types now available are Ball, Tracer, A.P., S.A.P., S.A.P. Tracer, Incendiary
(iv) .303 inch and .30 inch Ammunition is fired from machine guns,
including aircraft machine guns, and rifles. It fires by percussion. The cartridges
are supplied in chargers, bandoliers, strips, articulated belts, and in bulk. Ammunition is not to be fired from synchronised aircraft machine guns more than
fourteen days after the box has been opened and the rounds " exposed "; this
period may be extended to forty days if such ammunition has been exposed and
subsequently kept in airtight lockers. Types now available are Drill, Blank,
Dummy, Ball, Armour Piercing, and various sub-types of Tracer and Incendiary.
(v) .45 inch Ammunition is fired from the Thompson sub-machine gun.
(vi) .455 inch Revolver Ammunition is fired from the Webley Revolver
(Pistol, revolver, No. 1). It is supplied in packets of six (828 rounds in box,
A.S.A. 1/2 N., H.3).
(vii) .38 inch Revolver Ammunition is fired from the .38 inch Revolver
(Pistol, revolver, No. 2). It is supplied in cartons of twelve (360 rounds in boxes
(viii) .22 inch Ammunition is fired from Service rifles and pistols that have
been tubed to fire this small cartridge. Unique amongst percussion-fired cartridges, it is fired by a blow on the rim of the base instead of in the centre. The
designation R.F. means rim-fire. It is supplied in boxes of 100 (10,000 rounds
in case, powder, M.L. quarter).
217. The No. 36M grenade, the only one likely to be encountered, consists
of a Mill's bomb, to the bottom of which a gas check plate has been screwed.
The grenade is projected by a special blank cartridge, out of a 2 1/2 inch discharger,
which can be fixed to the muzzle of a rifle; the latter is specially strengthened
for the purpose. The special blank ballistite cartridge is blackened for half its length
from the mouth, which is not crimped. No other cartridge is to be used.
Outside the grenade is a striker lever. Before it is projected, one end of this
lever holds the striker against its spring away from the detonator, while the other
end of the lever is kept into the side of the grenade by a retaining pin. When
the grenade has been loaded into the discharger, this retaining pin is removed;
the striker lever is then held against the grenade by the wall of the discharger.
218. On firing, the striker lever is no longer restrained by the wall of the
discharger, and is thrown off by the striker travelling downward under the action
of its spring. The striker fires a cap, which ignites a length of safety fuze in the
grenade. The safety fuze burns for four or seven seconds before firing the detonator
which detonates the filling. If for some reason the grenade is not projected, either
from the discharger or by hand, the pin retaining the safety lever must be replaced
before the safety lever is released either from the side of the discharger or the hand.
Should the safety lever be released inadvertently, there must be no hesitation in
throwing the grenade clear, or serious injury, possibly death, will result to anyone
Detonators for grenades are issued separately and are provided with instructions
for fitting them to the grenades.
219. The fireworks supplied to the Service are:-
Illuminating Rockets 9 lb. and 3 3/4 lb.
Line Carrying Rockets.
Rockets, Target, Practice.
P.A.C. (anti-aircraft) Rockets.
220. Rockets are employed for signalling and display.
Rockets on board are fired from a rocket machine by means of a copper friction
tube. Before the rocket is put in the machine, the tear-off disc or plug in the
base of the rocket is removed, and a stick is attached to it by pushing the stick up
into the socket on the side of the rocket, and pressing in the tongue. One end of
the stick is shaped to fit the socket, and has a small piece cut away to take the
The friction tube is a small copper cylinder in which fits a friction bar. When
the bar is pulled out smartly the tube fires and its flash ignites the composition in
the base of the rocket.
Rockets are fired from a boat by means of a rocket upright, a portfire or
slow match being employed to ignite the rocket.
At the end of its flight the rocket bursts, and throws out a number of white
stars. The rocket supplied to the Service is:-
Rocket, Signal, 1 lb., Service, with red, green, or white stars.
Line-carrying Rockets. (see para. 239.)
Rockets, Target Practice.
221. These are ignited by friction match and safety fuze: 'they eject a paper
or cotton red parachute as an aiming mark for A.A. practices.
222. Short Lights burn with a white light for about two minutes, and are
used for signalling and illuminating purposes. They are supplied fitted with a
handle, which has an igniter plug in the bottom like a large match. To ignite
the light, tear off the cap, pull out the plug, and draw its primed end lightly across
the top of the light in an upward direction. Hold the light so that it points away
from the body and with the back to the wind.
223. Portfires are brown paper cylinders filled with composition, and are
used for lighting rockets or setting fire to anything They burn for about 10
minutes and normally cannot be put out by water. They can be lit by short light
or slow match, and put out by cutting off the burning end.
224. Slow Match is hemp soaked in saltpetre. It is generally used for keeping
a light burning, as in a boat. It burns at a rate of one yard in eight hours. A yard
weighs about 1/4 lb.
225. Signal Cartridges (1 inch) are fired from a special pistol and are used for
signalling at night and by day at limited distances. When fired, a star is shot a
short distance into the air, and burns red, green or white as it travels. Where
practicable the pistol should be fixed to a bracket or otherwise secured, and fired
by a lanyard.
The cartridge which contains the star is made of metal or cardboard, and
the end is closed by a paper disc of the same colour as the star. In the dark the
colours may be recognised by feeling the rim at the base of the cartridge:-
Red is milled. Green is smooth. White is half milled and half smooth.
A useful mnemonic is to associate the colours of road-crossing lights, viz., Red
the way is barred, Green the way is clear, and White is halfway between the other
The foregoing markings identified by sense of touch are being superseded in the 1 inch signal cartridges by a metal closing disc at the mouth of the cartridge
on which is embossed a different mark for each colour as follows:-
To fire a signal cartridge, open the pistol by pressing down on the catch on the
side. Insert the cartridge and close the pistol. If the pistol is not held in a
holder, it should be lashed to a boathook or an oar. Before pressing the trigger,
the head should be turned away. The pistol should be pointed about 60 degrees
in the air to windward.
226. Magnesium Flares are of two types:-
(i) Flare illuminating white, Type 26. Fired by friction.
(ii) Flare illuminating white, Type 26E. Fired by an electric current (an
ordinary service torch battery will do).
Two flare stands are allowed to each small vessel supplied with flares. Instructions for firing appear on each flare. Flares can be burned either from the
rigging or from the special stand supplied. When the flare is burned from the
rigging, precautions must be taken to ensure that the molten residue does not
set fire to anything on which it may fall. When burned from a stand this residue
falls into the sea. Flares burn for about 4 1/2 minutes. As they temporarily blind
personnel in the ship burning the flares, full value is only obtained when observing
vessels are present. The flares illuminate an area of water which extends for a
range of about 3/4 mile, and hence any object between the observer and the flare
will be illuminated or silhouetted. The flare burning vessel should be to leeward.
When flares are required for immediate use they should be kept away from heat.
The packages in which flares are supplied should be kept in a cool dry place and
no more should be taken out than necessary.
FIREWORKS SUPPLIED FOR USE IN AIRCRAFT.
227. A Distress Signal is ignited in the same way as a short light. When
ignited, it shows a red flare for about 10 seconds and then ejects 5 red balls like a
signal cartridge at approximately five second intervals to a height of about
Flotation Gear Actuating Cartridge when fired allows carbon dioxide to
inflate the collapsible dinghy carried in aircraft. It functions by means of an
electrical circuit which is completed on immersion in salt water and which ignites
a filling of guncotton dust.
The above-mentioned fireworks are kept stowed in or near the aircraft
228. Cartridges, 1 1/2 inch are fired from a 1 1/2 inch signal pistol in a similar
manner to the 1-inch cartridges described in para. 225 above. They include:-
(i) Signal Cartridges, emitting red, white, yellow, or green, stars or combination of stars and used for various signalling purposes.
(ii) Smoke Drill Cartridges (large brown or small white), producing smoke
for windfinding and signalling purposes.
(iii) Illuminating Cartridges, giving a bright illumination for about 10 seconds
and used to obtain a fleeting glance of an object when the use of a
reconnaissance flare is unjustifiable.
229. Reconnaissance Flares have a candle power of about 750,000 and are
fitted with parachutes to reduce the rate of fall to 500 ft. per minute.
230. Various pyrotechnics are used for marking positions on the sea. They
(i) Aircraft Navigation Smoke Floats, producing white smoke for about
(ii) Flame Floats giving a calcium phosphide flare for about six minutes. Flame floats must be kept dry when not in use. Flame Floats, Message Carrying, are similar to Flame Floats,
only their buoyancy chamber is fitted to take a piece of paper coiled
round a wire inside a cylinder. To get the message the man in the
dinghy must hold the burning float under water with one hand while
with the other he unscrews a plug, which brings the cylinder containing the message with it. The float will flood and sink when its plug
(iii) Sea Markers which scatter aluminium dust on the surface thus forming
a patch easily recognisable in daylight.
(iv) 13-lb. Smoke Float which is dropped from a ship to indicate a departure
point in the sea.
231. Engine Starting Cartridges are filled with a propellant charge in the form
of pellets. Five cartridges are carried in the breech of the starter in certain aero-engines and their explosion drives the piston for the first stroke.
232. Fireworks are supplied to ships in firework boxes or metal-lined cases,
which are stored in the Firework Magazine, Firework Tank or Shell Room.
But as fireworks may be wanted in a hurry, ready-use supplies are kept in the
Night signal box,
Boats' magazines and gigs' magazines.
233. The Night Signal Box is kept on or near the fore bridge. It contains:-
3 signal rockets.
1 tin of friction tubes.
18 1-inch signal cartridges, 6 of each colour.
1 pistol, signal, 1 inch.
2 short lights.
As the firing of a rocket is the signal at night for " man overboard," the rocket
machine is always kept loaded and lashed to the weather side of the bridge between
sunset and sunrise. The placing of the rocket is the duty of the Seaman Gunner
of the Watch.
234. A Sea-boat's Box is kept in each sea-boat whilst the ship is at sea. It
24 1-inch signal cartridges, 6 red, 6 green and 12 white.
1 pistol, signal, 1-inch.
4 short lights.
235. A Boat's Magazine forms a ready supply of ammunition and fireworks
to be taken away in case of prolonged duty in a cutter or larger boat armed with
3-pdr. Q.F. or .303-inch machine guns. It contains:-
204 rounds of pistol ammunition in a special pouch with a strap.
1 key for metal-lined cases.
1-1b. slow match.
2 1-lb. signal rockets.
2 Short lights.
236. A Gig's Magazine is supplied for boats armed with rifles only. It
96 rounds of pistol ammunition in a pouch with strap.
1 signal rocket.
1 short light.
1-lb. slow match.
1 key for metal-lined cases.
237. Power-worked boats are at all times to carry:-
18 1-inch signal cartridges, 6 of each colour.
1 pistol, signal, 1-inch.
6 short lights.
238. All ships are supplied with one or more of these. Older ships are supplied
with Coston guns, but these are being replaced by rifles, M.L.E. .303-inch, (long).
Both types of gun are supplied with special projectiles and blank cartridges. The
cartridge for use with the Coston gun has a diameter of nearly .5 inches, that
for the M.L.E. .303-inch rifle is blacked all over.
The guns are fired as follows:-
(i) Attach the line to the projectile and coil it down, free for running, in the
box provided or in a Clarkson's case.
(ii) Load the projectile into the muzzle of the gun and load the blank
cartridge provided into the breech.
(iii) See the range clear, and line clear outside the left arm and berthing
(iv) Fire the gun with an elevation of about 20° and slightly to windward.
The butt of the Coston gun should be rested on the deck
or against a stanchion. The rifle may be fired from the shoulder, but
the face should be kept clear and the trigger pulled with the tip of the
finger, keeping the part of the hand between the first finger and the
thumb well clear of the bolt.
(v) The cartridge cases for Coston guns occasionally split on firing. Should
this occur, any piece of brass remaining in the chamber should be
removed before re-loading.
239. The Schermuly line-carrying rocket is supplied for carrying the end of a
line through the air. It consists of a steel tube, filled with rocket composition,
to the outside of which a short steel rod, or outrigger with a thin wire pennant, is
attached; to this is secured the end of the line.
The rocket is to be fired as follows:-
(i) Coil down the line free for running in the box provided or in a Clarkson's
case, having secured the standing end.
(ii) Attach the free end of the line to the rocket.
(iii) Load the rocket into the muzzle of the pistol and the cartridge into the
(iv) See the range clear and the line clear outside the left arm.
(v) Hold the pistol at an elevation of about 20 degrees, and fire it pointing
slightly to windward as necessary.
MAGAZINES AND SHELL ROOMS.
240. Cartridges for guns are kept in magazines. Projectiles are stowed in bays
or sliding shell stowages, in shell rooms. Fixed ammunition is stowed in magazines.
When required, the cartridges are passed from the magazine to the handing room
outside, and thence to the guns. Handing rooms are not found in sloops or
destroyers. In some ships shell-handing rooms are also fitted.
241. Magazines of big ships, i.e., battleships, battle-cruisers, cruisers,
aircraft carriers, and depot ships, are built as water-tight compartments and
protected from shell fire by armour. They are fitted with ventilation arrangements; magazines sited in hot positions (e.g., near machinery spaces) and also
those in certain ships in which bare cordite charges are handled have, in addition,
cooling arrangements incorporated in the ventilation system. By adjusting the
valves in the ventilation system the fan can supply fresh air direct to the magazine
or alternatively recirculate the air on a closed circuit, either through or by-passing
the cooler, as desired. Magazines with cooling arrangements are fitted with long-distance thermometers, or with thermometers in tubes, called temperature tubes,
which project into the magazine, so that the temperature can be taken without
entering the magazine. When cooling arrangements are fitted the temperatures
are taken every watch. The temperatures of all magazines are taken daily and
entered into the magazine log.
The principal magazines of big ships are protected from flash, such as might
occur if a cartridge became ignited on the way to or at the gun, by flash-tight doors
and scuttles, through which the cartridge must pass on its way to the gun. Smaller
magazines in big ships and magazines of small ships are not fitted with any special
flash-tight arrangements. This is to save weight and because Q.F. cartridges,
which are better protected against flash than B.L. cartridges, are usually stowed
in these magazines.
Magazines of small ships are either unprotected or protected by light armour
only. In some cases the magazine and shell room together make a water-tight
compartment, the bulkhead between magazine and shell room being flash-tight
Magazines, handing rooms, and shell rooms are inspected every 24 hours
and after work, drill, or firing.
242. Points to receive special attention at inspections are:-
(i) Doors, hatches, and man-holes efficient and properly secured.
(ii) Compartments properly stowed, battens and stanchions in place.
(iii) Lids of cases and boxes on and properly secured.
(iv) Deck clean and free from dust.
(v) No cleaning gear, rags, inflammable material or other unauthorised
articles in the compartment.
(vi) Oil from glands efficiently caught.
(vii) Flooding and spraying arrangements correct and free from leaks.
(viii) Lighting switches efficient and properly covered.
(ix). Clarkson's cases clean, empty and dry.
(x) Temperatures; these are also noted.
Much of the responsibility for the state of the magazines, on which the safety
of the ship depends, rests on the men forming their crews.
243. In the event of fire, the magazines and shell rooms of big ships can be
flooded through pipes running directly from the ship's side. In addition, the
cordite cases in the main magazines can be sprayed with salt water from the ships
The valves operating the flooding gear can be worked from at least two positions,
one close to the magazine and the other in a flooding cabinet or locker some distance away. The spraying gear can be operated from inside the magazine, from
outside the magazine, and from the cabinet or locker.
Flooding arrangements are to be tested weekly, except when the valves are
too numerous to be worked conveniently once a week. In this case they are
divided into groups, each group being worked in rotation so that every valve is
tested during the course of each month.
Valves on the spraying system are to be worked weekly or, by groups, at least
once a month. The perforated pipes are to be blown through every two years.
A thorough test of the system by the admission of water is to take place whenever
the magazine is cleared.
The above systems are quite separate from the drenching system which in the
case of 15 inch or 14 inch turrets works off the hydraulic pressure main.
Magazines of "small" ships have no cooling plant, and usually no spraying
arrangements. Water for flooding is supplied by the fire main system.
244. To prevent unauthorised persons from entering the magazines and shellrooms, all doors and hatches which lead to these compartments are kept locked.
The keys for these locks are called " Magazine Keys," and are grouped 1, 2 and 3,
according to their importance. They are kept on a special key board, under the
charge of a sentry, and only officers and certain specified ratings are allowed to
The times when magazine keys are drawn from and returned to the magazine
keyboard are recorded, against signature, in the magazine log. In the log are also
recorded magazine temperatures and results of the various inspection rounds.
The sentry signs the log at the end of each watch to attest the accuracy of the
entries relative to the issue and return of the keys during his watch.
Before a party goes into a magazine, all knives, matches, and anything which
may cause sparks or fire must be left outside. To obviate any possibility of
sparks being caused by the sole of a boot striking the deck, special rubber or felt-soled shoes are always to be worn in B.L. magazines.
The lights are switched on by special switches outside the magazine, and a
light shows at the magazine keyboard when these switches are all off. The
sentry is thus able to check that all the lights have been switched off when the
keys are returned. Should the main lighting fail, portable electric hand lamps are
245. The cases in the magazine are stowed in bays, care being taken that,
when possible, the lid of each case is accessible without having to remove stowage
battens. Lids of cases are removed by hand or by gunmetal keys, but must not
be taken off until the contents are actually required. In modern warships with
Q.F. ammunition the cartridges are removed from the transport cases and stowed
in bottle-rack stowages built into the magazine. The cartridges are kept in place
by a spring-loaded clip which takes over the edge of the base of the cartridge.
A small key is supplied to lift the clip against the pressure of the spring, thus
enabling the cartridge to be removed from the rack.
Shell rooms of big ships are fitted with flooding, but not spraying, arrangements. They are kept locked with their keys on the magazine keyboard. They
are inspected daily.
246. The regulations regarding this are laid down in N.M. and E.R. The
more important of them are summarised below.
Before commencing to embark ammunition, all stowages are to be thoroughly
cleaned; ventilation, flooding and spraying arrangements tested, and compartments dried out.
No smoking material is to be taken into the hold of the ammunition ship or
lighter. Smoking is prohibited while work is going on. When work is not going
on, smoking may be permitted in places set apart and well removed from the
explosives; the latter are to be guarded by sentries.
Explosives or cases and boxes containing explosives are to be hoisted and lowered with care. Shot mats are to be used at the dumping positions. Rough usage
is liable to loosen shell caps, injure driving bands, impair the flash-tight, and
water-tight properties of cases, and render tubes dangerous or inefficient.
The receipt or discharge of ammunition should never be treated as an evolution,
and care should be taken not to bump cases on the deck. Cylindrical cases should
not be rolled. Should a box or case catch or jam in any way such that damage
may be caused, it should be set aside and carefully examined. If any damage or
suggestion of damage be found the package should be returned to an Armament
Depot for examination.
247. Embarking or disembarking ammunition is not to be carried out in very
wet weather if it can be avoided. If it cannot be avoided, protection from the wet
is to be provided. Wet cases and shell are to be wiped thoroughly dry before
W/T transmission is prohibited when embarking or disembarking ammunition.
In the event of a thunderstorm, the operation of embarking or disembarking
ammunition is to be suspended from the time the first thunderclap is heard until
the storm has ceased. During this period, whips must be removed at least 6 feet
from any explosive.
248. None other than the authorised appliances are to be used for lifting and
transporting explosives, and the proper lifting handles and beckets fitted to the
cases and boxes are to be used. Where two or more beckets are fitted, two of these
are always to be used. In many ships special whips for hoisting ammunition are
provided, and are to be used; they are not to be used for any purpose other than
ammunitioning. Ammunition whips are to have the standing part of the wire
secured to the drum of the winch.
Special capstan-headed grabs are supplied for hoisting shell 8 inch and above.
Care must be taken that the grab is screwed properly down before lifting and
that, when removing it, it is pulled clear of the shell before "Hoist" is ordered.
249. All whips, tackles and other appliances used for embarking or disembarking ammunition are to be examined before starting work, and occasionally
afterwards, to ensure that they are sound.
Double or multi-legged, slings are not to be used for shell grabs owing to the
possibility of damage to, or the opening up of, the palms of the grabs. This may
be caused by their clashing together when being hoisted. An exception to this
is allowed for 8-in. projectiles; for these, a steel spreader, to which two grabs
are shackled directly, may be used for hoisting two shells simultaneously.