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« More Photos (and Mystery) from Iraq | Main | Freedom's Sanctuary in Iraq »

March 19, 2007

Found on a Mountainside

-Patrick S Lasswell

Rule Number One: Do Not Touch It!

Found on a Hillside.jpg

I saw this lying in a broken culvert on the roadside and had our fixer stop so we could take pictures. This is the first such object I have seen here, and I suspect the only reason we found it is because we were slightly lost on an unused road. (Slightly lost being defined as going in the right direction on the wrong road.) I handled literally hundreds of tons of ammunition when I was on active duty in the Navy and took appropriate precautions. We had driven by the round already before I spotted it and I never got within a foot of the object. It was settled in a stable position and probably came to rest there after a spring thaw.

Rule Number Two: Do Not Think About Touching It!

Found on a Hillside 2.jpg

There was literally nobody around for miles and it was on an unused road. If somebody was setting this up an IED, they would not have done it so far away from potential victims, foreign journalists, and the opportunity to observe the wreckage. Stafford Clarry, an old Kurdistan hand, told us last summer that we would probably find these things up in the mountains. The chance of this exploding while we were there and not disturbing it was less than the odds of the gas tank in your car exploding the next time you start it. This was a moderate risk.

Rule Number Three: Don't Touch It!

Found on a Hillside Size Comparison.jpg

This appears to be an unfired artillery projectile of some kind. There is a cylinder protruding from the back about an inch long and an inch diameter. I am away from the Internet, as well as power at the moment, and I bitterly regret not having an electronic copy of Gunner's Mate 3&2 on this laptop to help me properly describe the projectile. What I think of as the driving bands show no signs of having been engaged by rifling. The round does not appear to have any distortions consistent with impact at velocity. There is no fusing of any kind in the nose. The projectile is larger than the 76mm rounds I have seen and smaller than the 127mm rounds I have handled. My guess is that it is a 88-90mm anti-tank round.

Rule Number Four: Don't Tell Your Wife About It! Ooops...

I informed the Kurdish authorities about the location of this object. They are used to dealing with Saddam's poisonous gifts. When I told some American soldiers in Dohuk about it this morning, they seemed nonplussed. Artillery rounds without imminent harmful intent seems so mild to people coming from Mosul.

Rule Number Five: Hit the Tip Jar!

This just in:

A Possible Source of Unexplained Munitions.jpg

This cannon was one of two outside Peshmerga headquarters in Dohuk. Allegedly Austrian, they were captured in 1991 from the Iraqi Army during that uprising. Possibly the gun used to shoot the found shell.

Many thanks to John of Argghhh!!! for his assistance in identifying the shell. It is probably this 100mm round. He remains stumped on the exact identification of the gun, though. It appears to be a Chinese 100mm Anti-Tank gun mounted on a 130mm carriage. Please feel free to chime in if you know.



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