1950s 40mm Ammo?

I watched a show I had TiVoed off of the Military Channel just now about Air Force Special Forces. They spent a lot of time, predictably, on the AC-130 gunship. One of the officers interviewed for the show said that the 40mm Bofors cannon used “1950s vintage” ammunition.

Did he really mean ammo manufactured in the 1950s? Or just the same spec as 1950s ammunition?

If it’s actually ammo that’s fifty years old, is there any problem with dud rounds? I know we build stuff to last, but five decades seems a bit extreme for something like this. I could understand 16″ naval ammunition, for instance, since no contemporary capability exists to manufacture it. No such restriction applies to 40mm ammo.

I always figured it was the same old 40mm ammo from the good old days, but I didn’t think it was the ammo produced in the good old days.


  1. I am not sure about the bofors guns having rounds from the 50s. But… I know that B-26 (in Vietnam I think they were renamed A-26) bombers used WW-2 era magnesium bombs. These bombs burned at some 1200F and were better than Napalm according to the article that I read. According to the writer the pilots used to highly regard these bombs and only use them when there was a definite target. Also pilots used to land back on the ground with these bombs. In my example – 1945 to 1960 was 15 years, so if any decay were to have occured I think it would have already happened – It all depends on if these rounds are properly sealed. Which I presume they are.

  2. Might be…the40mm used to be the main AAA gun of both the Navy-find a pic of a WWII battleship-and the Army-M42 Duster, anyone? Once the Navy transistioned to SAMs for air defense, with the CWIS for close-in, I’ll be they had metric buttload of 40mm sitting around.

  3. Jeez, I’ve ate c-rats that were that old. I’m sure they tasted just as bad as when they were new. Papa Ray

  4. I concur with that Papa Ray, The C’s I was consumming in 1964 were labelled: Mfd-1944. The beans and motherf*ckers weren’t bad if you laced ’em liberally with ‘T’ sauce. My 2 favorites were spagetti and meatballs and the ham and eggs. HOT or COLD! Of course the cans of peaches were worth their weight in gold. Unfortunately, the cigarettes, which came in 4-packs and olive drab wrappers suffered a might, but the nicotine still did its job.

  5. The 40mm ammo we used on our ship’s fore and aft quad 40’s in Vietnam were all stamped in the early to mid 40’s. Rarely did we see any from the 50’s or later. I can’t remember but a few duds with all of the thousands of rounds that we fired.