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Armor/AFV: AA/AT/Artillery
For discussions about artillery and anti-aircraft or anti-tank guns.
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shell casings
Biggles2
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Quebec, Canada
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Posted: Thursday, May 23, 2019 - 02:59 AM UTC
Here's one for HeavyArty (or anyone else!): the color of shell casings. I know there are brassy ones, coppery ones, and steel ones. First, what color are they when first unpacked from their containers for use - are they nice and bright polished brass, or dulled and dingey-looking? And then after firing - are they discolored from heat in any way, or any black propellant residue? Do they, in any way, resemble the turned brass shells and casings available? I painted some plastic ones with Alclad's "Polished Brass" and buffed with a piece of flannel, and even though they came out looking very metallic-looking (old or dulled brass) they certainly don't look like turned brass ones.
I already Google-imaged, but photos are of shells up to (and more) 70 - 80 years old. Of course they're going to be tarnished and discolored! Any input into what a freshly-used brass shell casing is going to look like (WWll era)?

blacksad
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Quebec, Canada
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Posted: Thursday, May 23, 2019 - 03:32 AM UTC
It depends on the way they are stored. When they get out of their packaging they are shiny (but not shiny as if youve polished them) with light, chemical like colors on them (hard to describe but its the same as if you dropped gasoline on the ground during a sunny day, you can see each colour of the visible light). I dont know why, but smoke shell casings are always more dull and have more of these colours on them. After firing they get burned powder residues at the end and are mostly bent from getting dropped; because the casing is hot and gets easily bent.

Hope this helps..

18Bravo
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Colorado, United States
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Posted: Thursday, May 23, 2019 - 03:40 AM UTC


Ft. Sill 1998
Kevlar06
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Washington, United States
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Posted: Thursday, May 23, 2019 - 03:41 AM UTC
The answer to your question is--yes, to all of your descriptions! They can appear bright, shiny or dull depending on differences in lots, manufacture or type. It might help to know exactly what type of round you are looking for, as differences will occur between calibers as well. I was on a 105mm "unpack crew" in 1989 on Johnston Island, where we demilitarized chemical munitions. And I served in the 9th Divisional Artillery. Before that I was an M60 and M551 platoon leader (the M551 doesn't use a cased round tough). For the most part, the casings came out a semi-shiny-very slightly tarnished shade of brass, many of the munitions I've seen were manufactured late 40s-early 50s or later. As an M60 tank commander, our ammo was a dull steel color, but I've seen 75mm, 90mm and 105mm rounds that were a shiny brass color as well. As far as discoloration goes, there really isn't a lot of noticible change, it's so slight I doubt it would be noticble in scale, maybe more of a "dulling" of color than anything else. I can't comment much on WWII powder staining, but my experience during the Cold War is that propellant burns so thoroughly and breech tolerances are so thight there's not a lot of powder stains that would be noticeable in small scale, except in the inside of the round. Most (if not all) US Artillery rounds are sealed in cardboard-tubes for protection, and are unpacked on-site for firing (Tank ammo is usually unpacked in the upload area, or directly at the ammo dump) so these rounds don't get a lot of handling and wear before firing. Hope this helps, I'm sure others will weigh in.
VR, Russ
HeavyArty
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Florida, United States
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Posted: Thursday, May 23, 2019 - 06:17 AM UTC
Looks like the others set you straight; good info above.
Biggles2
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Quebec, Canada
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Posted: Thursday, May 23, 2019 - 11:01 AM UTC
I should have led off with this. This is what I have so far. Plastic shells painted matte black and brush painted with Alclad Polished Brass, then buffed. I prefer Alclad because they have extremely fine pigments.



Ammunition is British 17 lb AT.
Biggles2
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Quebec, Canada
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Posted: Friday, May 24, 2019 - 10:57 AM UTC
Bump!
Kevlar06
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Washington, United States
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Posted: Friday, May 24, 2019 - 12:26 PM UTC
Looks good to me, might be just a bit more glossy, it's really hard to tell from a photo. Try to avoid a "gold metallic flake" color for sure, those always come out looking toylike. Yours look pretty good though-- I'd get rid of that "glue joint" between the two expended rounds--it ruins the realistic look of the scene.
VR, Russ
panzerbob01
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Louisiana, United States
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Posted: Friday, May 24, 2019 - 12:39 PM UTC
Big...;

It's more than a bit open-ended, but!

IF we are talking about what happens to brass casings... anything from very slightly sooted at the immediate opening up to seriously dirty and even heat-burnished (annealed). Denting is optional but when a casing is thrown, quite possible. Big brass casings are quite similar to little, small-arms brass casings.

The fired casings will ALWAYS look a little less bright and clean than a new round (unless of course we're talking something like one of those loose dirty rounds seen lying around in a turret-basket or something on a Syrian T-55!). And a fired casing will ALWAYS be dirty INSIDE.

Howitzers and other "medium-to-lower pressure" guns may cause less annealing than a big AT rifle might.

Modern big-gun ammo can be quite a range of case and projectile colors when going in.

To see what different types of modern ammo look like - Google subjects like "Artillery", "Artillery in (and name a war - Syria, Afgan., etc.)", "tanks in Syria", and other queries to see tanks, big guns, etc. You will see many things in the Images. Look for Merk crews or M1A or other crews loading rounds, handling ammo, etc., and look at the ready-use stock behind howitzers and field guns. The Google potential is huge - just keep trying different queries - and follow leads provided among images when you see "view more" in an image- box.

You will see a LOT of different types of stuff - separate charges (w or w/out casings), cartridges w brass casings, painted casings, many different projectiles, etc. LOTS of stuff. Each army has its own codes and color-schemes for different types of rounds for different weapons.

Eventually you, too, will reach some saturation-point!

Cheers! Bob

PS: I always lightly-soot and lightly heat and anneal my "used" real brass casings. I think it adds a little "life" and deters viewers from thinking that I simply dropped a couple casings onto a build from some package, as if they were just big salt crystals! To the extent possible, I try to make painted plastic "brass" casings also look sooted and annealed.