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I See Red!

From left to right - 3 inch, Revolutionary War period, 155mm 'White Bag' charge, up through the00s, 16-inch single powder increment - the battleships would use at least three of these.

Because I know you woke up this morning wondering about artillery powder charges through the ages.

Left to right - 3 inch powder bag, Revolutionary War. 155mm "White Bag" charge, used up through the 00s. One.single.charge.increment for the 16" battleship guns. They would use at least three of these.

The colored bags are ignitor charges, intended to face the primer vent and to flash nearly instantly, to ensure complete and thorough burning of the powder.

And no, of course, they don't have "energetic" materiel in them. They're training dummies. I live in the house. I do not "bulk store" explosives in it.

Aside from illegal, that would be stupid.


As a battery commander in the early 80s at Graf, I stood behind one of the guns to listen to the fire commands.  We were shooting some old powder dated 1953 and I heard one of the crew yell, "Charge 6 grey bag, I see pink."  Technically he was correct.

is that considered an explosive or propellant?
That can get complicated...  
 Do they use black powder for the priming charge?  That is an explosive.
The igniter pad on the 16 inch bags have black powder iin them and the primer is a brass slug about the size of a 30 cal rifle round that has FFG powder in it to initiate the pad, which ignites the bag. Need a minimum of three bags, and can use up to six normally. If you need more than three bags, you have to push the second and third of the initial bags forward and insert the 'extra' bags because the last bag is the one with the initiating pad. The initiator is actually inserted into the breech plug just after the plug is opened after firing and prior to loading the next round and it's powder. There are mechanical interlocks to keep it from firing before the breech is closed and locked again.
Thats a lotta bang. My Uncle was a captain in the army during the Vietnam war. He was stateside though training tha artillery crews. He cant hear for crap in one ear ;)
I seem to remember, when we were training on the 155-towed at Ft. Sill in '68, that the bottom of the charge had the red-pad, and that the "primer" was something like a rifle-blank that we locked into the "Interrupted, step-threaded, breech-block."
One of the six guns in the battey "failed to fire", but the BDMFS in the crew, including the AG did not realize it.
(If you have ever been sitting on the right trail on a 155-towed, and do not realize that it did NOT fire when you pulled tha lanyard, you are brain-dead.)
They swing open the breach, the cadre saw the red-pad, and "Lost His Shit"!

It seems that an earlier class had done that.
Most of the crew had died when oxygen hit the damp primer-pad, and it decided to ignite.
At least, that's what they told us, while were running until we dropped...

 I should have said "igniter"' as I realise that the "primer" is usually a special brass cartridge inserted into the breech block and fired either by percussion or the later electric ignition.