What is this shooty thing?
September 13, 2015 2:19 PM   Subscribe

What is this old artillery-shell-type thing that I bought at a flea market? Side view; underside view.

It's about 36 mm in diameter (give or a take a mm), and about 92 mm long.

The only writing on it is:

P.E.& M.CO.
U.S.A. ℗

Some Googling suggests that this is Poole Engineering & Machine Company from Baltimore, who were active in the WW1 era.

The hole on the underside is threaded (as you can see in the second photo), suggesting that it was originally attached to something.

I bought it at a flea market for ten bucks.

What type of shell is this? What kind of weapon would it have been fired from? And is this specific part of the shooty thing most properly termed a "shell", or something else?

posted by escape from the potato planet to Grab Bag (11 answers total)
A "shell" contains explosives.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 2:26 PM on September 13, 2015

Some kinds of construction equipment have claws, and the claw points are replaceable because they can be damaged or become dull. (Think "jackhammer".) I suspect that's what you have. It doesn't look like the part of any weapon I've ever heard of.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 2:34 PM on September 13, 2015

If it's not a shell, I'd guess it's part of a plumb bob.
posted by drezdn at 2:35 PM on September 13, 2015

My guess is that it is anti-tank.
posted by BWA at 2:36 PM on September 13, 2015

Poole Engineering & Machine Company makes sense to me, as they made 37mm shells.
posted by MonkeyToes at 2:47 PM on September 13, 2015

It definitely seems to be some kind of shooty thing. It closely resembles a number of WW1-era shooty things I found on Google, such as this one and this one.

BWA's link seems very close—here's a side-by-side comparison. Barring anything more conclusive, I think that's it.

So what kind of weapon would the US have used to fire a 37 mm anti-tank round during WW1? Maybe this?
posted by escape from the potato planet at 2:52 PM on September 13, 2015

Not an answer, but perhaps a clue--the Research Center at the Baltimore Museum of Industry holds this little pamphlet on the Poole Gun. If this is not your answer, you may want to contact someone at the center. Good luck!

ETA: Try searching for the M1916 37mm infantry gun.
posted by MonkeyToes at 2:57 PM on September 13, 2015

Yep, the M1916 is the American version of the French weapon I linked above. Seems legit. Thanks everyone for your help!
posted by escape from the potato planet at 3:05 PM on September 13, 2015

If you can measure the diameter (or use a tape measure and get the circumference, which might be easier) that will really narrow it down.

The Poole Gun described in MoneyToes linked pamphlet was a 3" gun, so that is clearly not it, although a similar design may have been built in a small caliber.

But I do think it is correct to call what you have a "shell", though, because it has threading on the bottom where a burst fuse (specifically, a base fuse) would presumably be installed. Base fuses were used on both anti-tank weapons and some light naval guns, so it doesn't say definitely whether it was a land or naval projectile.
posted by Kadin2048 at 3:08 PM on September 13, 2015 [2 favorites]

And now that I posted, I just saw MonkeyToes update suggesting that it's from the M1916 37mm gun, which seems plausible (assuming it actually is 37mm in diameter).

You may find this thread on vintage 37mm cartridges of interest; various manufacturers made lots of different components for different end uses. The fact that it was made by PE&M Co. doesn't necessarily mean that it was made for the US 37mm M1916; it could have been made on contract for the British QF-1, which was used by a number of countries in a number of variations. One of its available ammunition loadings was a steel shell with a base fuse.

There was also a 37mm "Bethlehem Gun" (so-called because it was made by Bethlehem Steel), a light field piece which seemingly fired the same type of round, described on p.56 of this artillery handbook.

It may not be possible to tell which system that round was from, as they all seem to have used 37mm solid steel base-fused projectiles (at various times). Although I don't think they were compatible, the key differences in ammunition seem to have been in the cartridge rather than the projectile.
posted by Kadin2048 at 3:27 PM on September 13, 2015

Kadin2048: thanks; that is helpful. As noted in the question, the shell is, in fact, 37-ish millimeters in diameter.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 4:16 PM on September 13, 2015

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