The M1916 37mm gun was developed by the French and used primarily by French and American forces in WWI for destroying machine gun emplacements. It was fairly good at this under fluid, mobile conditions, but inferior to mortars for static trench warfare. It was still in limited service by World War II, but generally relegated to training and use as a sub-caliber addition for larger guns.

Ammunition was of two types initially, a 1-pound solid steel shell and a high explosive round. The solid round was found to be largely ineffective, and replaced with a bursting shell of cast iron and filled with black powder. Mounting for the gun was either a fixed tripod or wheeled carriage.

Mechanically, the M1916 used a rotating breechblock and hydraulic recoil absorber coupled with a spring recuperator. In addition to use as an infantry gun, the M1916 was also mounted in the early US M1917 Renault tank.

Manuals

M1916 37mm gun manualM1916 37mm gun parts catalog

Vintage Photos

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41 Comments

  1. I have a 37mm round I found with markings that read E.M. 37mm M55A1-R.L.B I am wondering what these mean the shell is dated 1942

  2. I have a 37mm gun shell, and i dont know where its from or where it was manufactured. there only stands TAMPEON I, 37gun AND GEITILCO 1942.any anwser

  3. My uncle was a Co. Commander in the Texas N.G. before WW2.
    I have two 37 rounds.
    One was a paper-weight on his desk, and has been fired so it’s in two parts.
    The shell has: P.E.&M. Co., 37mm STEEL SHELL MARK I. The brass case has: AM LOT 1075-75-B, 37mm GUN MODEL OF 1916, lot 1075-105 PEM Co. Also carries the US Ordnance Corps. symbol stamped center, just under the primer, at the bottom is a W in a circle. The primer carries it’s own markings.

    • I’m looking to learn more about the 37mm gun model of 1916 empty shell casing I have. It is 2.95″ to the neck down angle, 3.61″ overall. Head stamp AML01090-44-B 4114-33 WPS Co. Was this used as an anti tank catridge? Seems to small to me. Thanks for any help. RJ

  4. I have a related question concerning the 37 mm semi-automatic M1924 gun; this was allegedly fitted to the T1E4 version of the experimental US T1 Cunningham tank of the 1920s.

    Does anyone know more about this?

  5. Hi. I just got one shell and I want to know more about it. Will appreciate any info. Thanks
    It’s shell with the bullet
    She’ll has markings PD.P 32.10.14 (HC). 37-85
    C 1.17.7
    B N3F AO 5.35 G.R
    Bullet has markings – D. M34
    Top of the bullet ( fuse ) has – G15216 and picture of the anchor.
    Please let me know what all this markings mean.
    Thanks.

  6. I was cleaning out parents storage unit and came across a shell casing with what looks to be a candle holder on top with a eagle with some sort of fish in claws, on the other side of the shell there is two flags crossed at the bottom of where the flags make an X there is a capital A an E an F. also at the top of the flags on both sides it reads Souvenir on the other side of the flag it reads Cathedral at the very top where the flags cross there ll.H.E.I.M NOT SURE WHAT ANY OF THIS MEANS IF THERE IS ANY ONE OUT THERE THAT HAS ANY FEED BACK THAT WPULD BE VERY COOL . WHOEVER TOOK THE TIME TO DO THIS DID IT WITH A PUNCH A KNIFE AND TOOK THERE TIME IM ALMOST CERTIN THAT IT NOT PART OF MY FAMILY HISTORY.

  7. I have a 37MM PDPs 338 WWI shell and round. It has no propellant and the round is steel (I checked with a magnet). Is there a possibility that the round has an explosive inside. I have had this souvenier for almost 60 years. The round is approx 3 1/4 inches long and has two copper or brass rings about two thirds down from the top.

    • Hello Blake, I was just reading your comment on the WW 1 shell you have and was wondering what response you received. I have a similar situation. I inherited the shell and no one knows anything about it. I’m concerned as you were if the shell has an explosive projectile. The casing is empty of powder as I can pull the projectile out. Thanks for whatever info. you may have. Regards, Terry

  8. I have 2 shells but one is different than the other 37mm mk3a2 and it has some more numbers on it 6-225 78-15 m23a2
    and it says a.p wich is armour piercing.
    the other is weird looking mk 3 a2B1 lot e.c.a.s o.a.s. 1943 and on the big part not the casing but the main part of the shell has lot n.c.-13-1943-37mm

    any idea what I have

  9. I have some questions about my 37-85 shell:
    1)on the shell it has two weird markings followed by the numbers 1 8 3
    2)on the fuse, the charachters T,45217 are across the side
    If you know what these markings mean, pleade share. Any and all help will be gladly accepted.
    (The charachters on both the shell and fuse are read left to right while the shell is pointed away from you)

  10. I read an account by Gen. George Patton, a young officer in WWI, about firing these in training. A round exploded in the barrel of one gun, blowing the gunners head off.
    After things were cleaned up, training resumed and, as unit commander, he felt called upon to set an example and fire the next shot.
    He described it as a moment filled with reluctance.

  11. I have 2 shell cases,1 dated 1916 must be German, 75m/m, markings dez, polte, Magdeburg.
    2nd dated 1915, is 10cm & marked 18 pr11 as in2, inverted v 82 below it, think maybe British.
    Cheers M.Turner.

  12. Closing out the parents estate. FouND a 37mm that contained a note from my great grand father he was employed at the clear spring MD army proving ground as a kid I played around the long since abandoned grounds I understood they had biplane as well
    Where could I find out more about its history? I’ve sent emails to Aberdeen and no responses. Any ideas?
    Thanks

  13. I have part of a shell on which the following has been stamped: 37-85 PDPs 272 9 17 and a symbol resembling an old-fashioned badminton birdie. Interestingly, it was fashioned into a dress uniform cap by my mother’s German-American uncle, a machinist living in California, who would have been about 24 years old in 1917. Thanks to this Web page, I now know that it would be a 37-mm 1885-model shell manufactured in the Pouderies de Paris factory in September 1917. I guess it hasn’t been clarified, yet, what is signified by “272.” I’m grateful to discover that my mother’s assumption that it is from WWII instead of WWI is incorrect, which makes sense, since her uncle would have been double that age by the time the Americans finally joined that latter war.

  14. My Grandfather was in WWI and I found a keepsake he had for years. It is a DWM 1918 undischarged bullet. It appears as thought it was shot but was a dud. I guess it was from a German Luger or some sort. I was just wandering about it, It is three inches long and 7/16th wide. Any info on this would be nice.
    Thanks

  15. Thanks for the info on this round.

    I came upon a WW1 foot locker with a bunch of military stuff in it. I’m trying to return these items to places that will appreciate them.

    One of the items is a 37mm explosive round that was made inert and converted to an oil lamp. It has Argonne Forest, Sept 30, 1918 Sgt CJ Gleneland etched on the side of the casing and Froidos (a small town in France) Nov 11 1918 etched into the base of the casing. Along with the manufacturing date of 1/18 and lot number of 278.

  16. I also have an inert 37mm shell that my grandfather (89th Div, artillery) brought home from WWI. It’s engraved for Armistice Day and the place he was when it occurred, Stenay, France.

  17. Hi, I have a large shell, and a round here. They’re both imprinted with ‘souvenir villers-bretonneux’ and dated 1914-1919. Can anybody tell me anymore about them? I’m also a little concerned as to if this is an actual live round! If you’d like to see a picture please ask and I’ll email you one.

  18. I live in Estonia and in digging some post holes this week I found a bullet with the headstamp:
    18 37 P69 (or P88) S*
    DO you think this means – it was made in 1917, 37 mm, German manufacture.
    I can find no reference re S*
    Any info is appreciated

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