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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Hand Grenade


kmad

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OK OK i know they explode so no smart answers please

I have never seen a grenade in the flesh but my understanding of them is, the spring flies down and hits a cap (sort of like a shot gun detonator) and this in turn lights the fuse which goes on to ignite the main charge. my question is once the pin is pulled and the lever is let go is there a small bang when the cap is lit by the spring device, also does the bomb start to smoke as the fuse burns. Question has been on my mind for a while as i was wondering if you wanted to ambush some one with a grenade and let the lever go to reduce the time before main detonation would they hear the initial cap beein ignited.

I hope the above question makes sense

cheers

Ken

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With a modern grenade the fusing mechanism is a one piece unit which screws into the top of the granade. When you remove the pin and release the lever a small striker is allowed to flick across (like a moustrap) and strikes the top of the detonator. My recollection is that there was no noise and no smoke. The detonator thus initiated burns for four seconds and then the grenade explodes.

As far as holding onto a grenade once the lever has sprung; the thought would never cross my mind! Four seconds isn't long especially when you take a second to make sure you throw it where you want it to go! Also if you hold onto it you aren't likely to be far enough away when it goes off!

Not sure about Great War vintage grenades. My grandfather had a role of throwing grenades in the Great War. He told me that the detonators (pink) were inserted into the bottom of the grenade, which unscrews. This apart I suspect that the lever and spring mechanism described above would still apply.

M

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In the case of the Mills bomb and its successor the 36 grenade (which remained in British service well into the 1970s), the answer is that there is a slight pop (barely perceptible) when the igniter is hit by the pin striking down on it when the lever is released. The detonator itself is triggered when the flash from the burning safety fuse reaches it - four seconds later usually and yes, these grenades do smoke. What you see are the products of combustion from the safety fuse. The smoke is a useful indicator of where the grenade has landed - particularly useful on the range if a grenade fails to explode. It is usually easy to pinpoint where it is lying. It is not a good idea to watch them for too long! In fact the main difficulty with these earlier grenades is that their lethal radius was far too large. The fragmentation was pretty crude (i.e. too few, relatively large, pieces, which meant that the bits flew too far. In the case of the base plug, which retains the detonator assembly, this was up to 300 metres.) With a grenade what you want is extremely high lethality in a small radius: hence modern grenades which usually feature wire which breaks into tiny pieces, whose kinetic energy falls to almost nothing after a few metres.

Jack

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If you are talking about the 36 Grenade.

They had if I remember an 8 second fuze in peactime and a 5 second fuze in wartime.

I've only thrown them live in practice.

First we were warned to be careful fuzing them as the heat of our hands could set off the fuze with nasty results :(

Never mind the "John Wayne" teeth antics.You pulled the pin,chucked the grenade as far as you could and crouched down behind any shelter as small as you could in case you were in the killing zone.Never had time to listen to answer your question :lol:

George

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If you were unlucky enough to be hit by the base plug of an exploding Mills 36 you were liable to be very seriously injured or killed.

Fuzing the grenade could be hazardous as well. There was an incident on a commando raid in WW2 when the men were fuzing grenades on board ship. One fuze started to burn and the commando tried to throw it over the side but it bounced back off a peice of superstrcture and killed and wounded several of the party.

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George

I believe that there was a longer delay fuze for use when the 36 was employed as a rifle grenade, but I assure you that four seconds was the normal delay and universal in the latter days of the 36 grenade.

Jack

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George

I believe that there was a longer delay fuze for use when the 36 was employed as a rifle grenade, but I assure you that four seconds was the normal delay and universal in the latter days of the 36 grenade.

Jack

Jack,

If I'd known it was four seconds my head would have been below the parapet even quicker.Still you can never trust NCO's can you :lol:

Don't start me off on Ballastite Cartridges,SLR's and grenades.

Suffice to say I never fancied using them for real,which is probably why I ended up as the Signals Corporal :lol: Having said that I did not fancy bayonet fighting with an SMG :(

George

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The pin and ring are not originalpost-13272-1171623784.jpgpost-13272-1171623832.jpg

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Thanks for all the very informative posts

The detonator itself is triggered when the flash from the burning safety fuse reaches it - four seconds later usually and yes, these grenades do smoke.

Jack

So Jack am i correct in thinking that the process goes like so

pull pin

throw away grenade

lever flies off releasing spring which in turn forces pin against detonator

detonator explodes (slight pop) and ignites fuse which burns for a few seconds giving off smoke

Now here comes the guess work

fuse ignites another detonator which in turn ignites the explosive charge

or the fuse just ignites the charge

I think the charge on the M 5 was guncotton which i suppose would explode with the smallest flash

thanks again

Ken

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The things I do for this forum !!!! :Dpost-13272-1171624028.jpg post-13272-1171624056.jpg

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think you guys will like this link.go down the page it has a working interactive cartoony thing showing how the mechanism works

http://science.howstuffworks.com/grenade2.htm

also attatched image of my cutaway no36 basicaly the same construction and mechanism as the earlier No5.The gren is a bit tatty but it is made out of relic parts,the detonator is represented by a piece of wooden dowel painted red

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Raking through the recesses of the memory here. 36 grenades arrive in boxes of twelve. Contained within the box are also a tin of of detonators and the tool required for testing and priming. The grenades themselves are heavily coated in wax for preservation. The first job, therefore is to strip the striker assembly and clean the grenades thoroughly. Any wax left sticking to them can interfere with the correct operation of the striker assembly and so prevent detonation. Once this is done, using the tool, the spring is compressed and the striker (which is separate from the spring) is locked into position by the lever and the pin is replaced. The next job is to carry out a striker test. Pin out, release lever and bruise your thumb when the pointed tip of the striker hits it. Assuming this works, the striker mechanism is re-assembled and the grenade is ready to be primed. Unscrew the base plug, slide the detonator into the central recess designed for it and locate the percussion cap (at the other end of the safety fuze) in its recess, ready to be hit by the striker. Screw the base plug back on firmly and it is ready to go.

The sequence then is pin out, releasing lever which allows striker to bang against percussion cap, which sets off safety fuze. The fuze burns, the flash sets off the detonator and that in turn causes the main charge to explode. The grenade then fragments along the lines of weakness, bits fly in all direction then, rather like a sharing a bar of chocolate, we hope that the enemy each get a piece.

Jack

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Very interesting thread guys. Thanks.

Learning a lot this morning.

Am glad to know that my gut reaction of 'Throw the flippin thing very far away!' is still reasonable.

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Everyone who replied

Thanks ever so much for going to all the hastle of digging out pictures, links and giving me such an indepth report of how the whole thing works. I am getting through my items on my "Must Buy" list and this has been one of the things i have always wanted to get. you have me now fired up to go and get one.

again thanks

ken

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The 36 Mills grenade which I had the dubious priviledge of throwing had a four second fuse and a 7 second fuse the only time i saw the latter used was in training with a grenade discharger. when fusing the grenade you were issued with a small tool with two prongs on to tighten up the base plug TIGHT which brought on some misgivings.

Cliff.

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Everyone who replied

Thanks ever so much for going to all the hastle of digging out pictures, links and giving me such an indepth report of how the whole thing works. I am getting through my items on my "Must Buy" list and this has been one of the things i have always wanted to get. you have me now fired up to go and get one.

again thanks

ken

Ken make sure you have a good look around when you buy your grenade .If possible go to an arms fair they are usually cheaper than auction websites and you can physically see what you are getting,prices will depend upon condition but you will roughly have to pay between £35 and £60+ Also try get one that is completely strippable and get the dealer to show you this before buying

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The 36 Mills grenade which I had the dubious priviledge of throwing had a four second fuse and a 7 second fuse the only time i saw the latter used was in training with a grenade discharger. when fusing the grenade you were issued with a small tool with two prongs on to tighten up the base plug TIGHT which brought on some misgivings.

Cliff.

To be more specific to the Great War era No. 36 grenades;

No. 16 safety-fuze was used, a length of 1 15/16 inches giving a time of burning of 7 ¼ seconds, which was necessary for discharging from a rifle.

The fuze was later increased to 8.2 seconds, plus or minus 1.2 seconds.

Chris Henschke

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Most has been already said on this subject. I can only add

"...Never mind the "John Wayne" teeth antics...."

Anyone trying the Hollywood pull-the-pin-with-your-teeth trick should ensure they have a set of spare dentures handy.

The pins must have been stiff* as some bombers were issued with a small, blunt, 'T' handled hook** (like a miniature bale hook) to allow easier withdrawl of the pin

Tom the Walrus

* Probably the ends of the pins slightly slpayed for safety in transport

** Made from a single piece of steel rod

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Al

Thanks for the advice

John Carlin of JC Militaria (he is the guy who writes the articles for "the armourer") has some for sale which he says are in excelent condition, and i have gotten some stuff off him in the past which was exactly as described so i would trust him 100% no 5's for £85 this sounds like a lot . Postage to S. Ireland would be a bit as well i suppose.

There are not that many militaria fairs in ireland, one on tomorrow though so i might get one there.

I will put a note in the wants part of the forum maybe one might pop up there, or anyone reading this can pm me.

have a good weekend all!

ken

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As the USMC says "Once we pull the pin, Mr Grenade is no longer our friend."

The old "pineapple" is still shown in movies of contemporary warfare although the US phased them out during the Korean War. It is just that they are instantly recognized as a grenade. If I ever saw a friendly approaching me festooned with pineapple grenades, I would shoot the weenie, cause he ain't one of ours.

The modern grenades use, as was earlier attested, tightly coiled and serrated wire which separates into very small fragments and is much more lethal than the old "pineapple."

One can choose to pinch down the safety "pin" of the grenade to make the pin extraction quicker, but if one is jogging down a trail and one notices that the pin has fallen out because it was too loose, that can ruin your day and probably ruin the day of some of your friends around you.

Grenades can also be used as booby traps by simply removing the pin and sliding the grenade, lever pressed down, into a can, then tying a string onto the thing and stretching it across a trail. When the bad guy kicks the string with his boot, the grenade is pulled out of the can, the lever flies off and BANG. (Shredded bad guy)

Please remember that, contrary to Hollywood depictions, grenades do not explode with a flash of fire and smoke as if some flammable object has been set off. Nor do the human targets propel themselves over sandbags or out of foxholes. Instead there is a rather nasty bang, no smoke or fire and just a very hurt human within the lethal radius of the thing.

But at night, it sure beats shooting at something from your fighting hole and giving your position away. The source of a grenade thrown at night is very difficult to trace.

At night, we used to throw the things in 'Nam and kill monkeys by the dozen who were in our wire to scavenge C-rat cans that were tied to our wire with small stones inside to rattle when shaken.

DrB

:)

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Don't forget that there's many a bomber gone west thanks to the old 'trick' of pinching the pin closer together to make it easier to pull. For the dangers of this and clumsy/unlucky fuze handling see the first VC on the Somme: Billy McFadzean (apolgies for spelling)...

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My dad said the American WW II pineapple grenade had an 8 or 10 second delay between the time the pin was pulled, the lever allowed to fly away, and the time of detonation. For that reason the G.I.s were taught to hold the grenade for about three seconds after the lever flew before throwing. When dad threw his grenade in training the G.I.s were sent in pairs to a three-man foxhole where a sergeant supervised the guys throwing their grenades. Dad said he went first, holding the grenade for the required seconds before throwing. Then the other guy, who was trembling in fear, pulled the pin, and without holding the grenade threw it as soon as he could. Dad said that the sergeant had just opened his mouth to chew the guy out for not following instructions, when kaboom, the grenade exploded prematurely. If the guy had followed instructions they'd have all been killed.

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Ken,

By your first question you are I guess referring specifically to Mills grenades and similar, ie automatic igniting grenades - there were literally hundreds of different grenades in use from all the main combattants in the Great War - many automatic but also many were percussion ignited or even match lit.

Something I wrote in an earlier discussion: Before the 'automatic' igniting Mills came into reasonable use in the Summer of 1915 a variety of 'emergency pattern' grenades were in use alongside the early No.1 and No.2 standard percussion patterns. These included the No.6 to No.8 (including the Jam Tin types), the No.15 'Loos' pattern, the 'Hairbrush' pattern and the Pitcher etc. Most of these have been disucssed in previous topics - a search will bring up lots of info.

The early No.1 (the only grenade in use by the Brtish Army in August 1914) and No.2 (Hales) percussion grenades were considered dangerous as they were made live before throwing and therfore an inadvertant strike of the head during launch would detonate the grenade. The 'emergency' patterns noted above had timed fuzes. The design of the Pitcher was a poor one however, and it was liable to 'prematures'.

Later designs such as the Mills only became live when they had left the hand, the design incorporating an automatic lighting and reliable timed fuze made most other designs redundant. They were safe if used properly but they are still dangerous things and many men died as a result of accidents. The earliest design (later modified) of lever and striker top meant that once the pin was pulled, if the pressure on the lever was slightly eased it could sometimes release the striker even though the grenade was still being held. Some men froze and could not 'let go' of the grenade, grenades were 'dropped', etc, etc. Dangerous things...

We can also differentiate between defensive (or fragmentation) grenades (British Mills, German Kugel, French F1 etc) and offensive grenades (German stick, 'Discus', British No.33 etc). 'Defensive' grenades are designed to be thrown from cover - they create lethal pieces of casing over a large radius that encompasses the thrower. Offensive grenades achieve their effect mainly through 'blast' over a small radius or in a confined space.

Offensive types typically have a heavy iron or steel casing giving a similar effect to a high-explosive shell, defensive types typically have a thin tin or steel plate casing giving a more local and less powerful explosion.

Just a bit more background info. The term 'grenade' itself is now generally agreed to be a derivation of the Spanish word for a pomegranate fruit to which early grenades resembled. History describes the use of grenades from the 16th century but simpler non-explosive projectiles were used from earlier times containing flammable materials or even poison.

The first grenades in general use were incredibly similar to the French ball grenade (the main service grenade in the French army at the start of the Great War) basically an iron sphere, filled with black powder and a simple length of fuze.

'Grenadiers' themselves were first introduced into the French army in 1667 with four highly trained men per company. The British introduced a grenade company per regiment in 1684. The grenades then were poorly manufactured and required skill and great courage in use. The grenade throwers would typically lead the attack - Grenadiers were the bravest, strongest soldiers hand picked and well trained and the reputation that goes with their name obviously remains to this day.

It was following the battle of Waterloo that the flaming badge was introduced when the victorious First Regiment of Foot Guards became the Grenadier Guards.

The use of grenades in anything other than siege warfare really died out in the 17th century with the improvenments in musketry. It's renaissance came in the Russo-Japanese war and of course in the entrenched Great War the grenade really became the infantryman's principal weapon above the rifle.

The first grenades in the Great War were only utilised by specially trained men, this changed with time and perhaps as the war progressed more men hurled a grenade in anger than actually fired their SMLE.

I have dug up some previous forum discussions that may be of interest, this lot will also help you in your search for a good example. Buyer beware of course - lots of 'bitsas' out there, a few forgeries and plenty of not completely inert examples too. Be careful or take someone who know what to look for If you need any specific pointers feel free to send a PM...

Mills discussions:

http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/i...c=34234&hl=

http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/i...ic=1335&hl=

http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/i...c=10536&hl=

Mills differences:

http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/i...c=42561&hl=

Mills paint:

http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/i...c=32572&hl=

German sticks - good grenade pics here:

http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/i...&hl=grenade

Rifle grenades:

http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/i...&hl=grenade

French 'racquette' grenades (most pics gone I am afraid):

http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/i...&hl=grenade

More French:

http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/i...c=29377&hl=

Others:

http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/i...&hl=grenade

Grenade books:

http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/i...amp;hl=delhomme

Owning grenades (law):

http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/i...&hl=grenade

Here is anoter cutaway Mills - a No.5 this time:

Hope this helps - it's a fascinating subject!

:)

post-569-1171651968.jpg

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