"I don't make hell for nobody. I'm only the instrument of a laughing providence. Sometimes I don't like it myself, but I couldn't help it if I was born smart."

1st Sgt. Milton Anthony Warden.
"From here to Eternity"

Paul Valery

"You are in love with intelligence, until it frightens you. For your ideas are terrifying and your hearts are faint. Your acts of pity and cruelty are absurd, committed with no calm, as if they were irresistible. Finally, you fear blood more and more. Blood and time."

The Wisdom of the Ages

"When a young man, I read somewhere the following: God the Almighty said, 'All that is too complex is unnecessary, and it is simple that is needed',"

Mikhail Kalashnikov

Ya ever seen my house?

Ya ever seen my house?
Neither have I Ted! You douchebag.
"Here lies the bravest soldier I've seen since my mirror got grease on it."

Zapp Brannigan

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Death on a stick

You'll recall, if you have any attention span remaining, that we discussed grenades previously.
It was apparent that many - many of the "designs" pressed into service triggered every one's "You could put some body's eye out!" response - as illustrated by the field-expedient, "hairbrush" or "racket" grenades pictured next.
As ball-shrinkingly sketchy as those appear to be (are), they're far safer than what we're going to talk about next


That would be the grenades pictured at the top.
Actually, those pictured are the Number 2 model which, in comparison with the preceding, No 1, Mk I percussion grenade, was a seriously big chunk of Number 2 (Picture from Tommy's Pack Fillers, an outfit that makes replicas for museum dioramas and such. Look them up if you want an authentic period label for your can of bully beef).
The schematic to the left shows the No 1.
It consists primarily of a brass cylinder, filled with explosive with a detonator (installed as late as possible) with a cap covering said detonator, held in place by a safety pin.
So, to arm, one must remove the pin and then the cap, insert the detonator, then replace the cap and pin.
To deploy, remove the pin and give it a toss at the bad guys.
Now, if I may, a brief digression: These were developed, pre-war by the Royal Laboratories based on grenades used by the Japanese during their scuffle with Russia.
The original intent was that these would be utilized solely by engineers who were familiar with explosives, and only to a limited degree in taking out strong-points and the like.
Surprise! In this new war of living in a ditch; everyplace is a strong-point.
This was brought up in our previous bit re grenades and recently when we talked about the "running about with their collective dick in their hand" trying to resurrect the antiquated concept of mortars.
So, in all fairness, these were never intended to be used by Pvt. Idiot on a day-to-day basis, from a hole in the ground.
Back to the design. The business end is encircled by a segmented, cast-iron fragmentation ring and the whole unit is mounted on a... wait for it... sixteen-inch handle, with attached streamers to ensure it landed on its head - unlike its designer's mishap as an infant.
I'm not going to draw you a picture. Throwing a 22" weighted stick - that happens to kill you if it hits something like... the back of the trench maybe; bad idea.
Just to illustrate that not all idiots are Privates, Robert Graves reported an incident where a contingent of the Royal Irish Rifles were to receive some instruction on the technique of "bombing".
Prior to class convening, a sergeant in the class thought he could provide a little "pre-lesson" knowledge.
He picked up a No 1 from some displayed on a table and said: "Now, lads, you've got to be careful here! Remember that if you touch anything while you're swinging this chap, it'll go off."
Concluding his little, vest-pocket speech he banged the grenade on the edge of the table to emphasize his point.
I'm sure the point was driven home to all. It detonated killing the Sgt. (He would have died of stupidity anyway), the man next to him and wounding twelve others.
Now that's an effective teacher!
Given the glaringly obvious faults with this concept, the Brits doubled-down and produced the (appropriately titled "No 2") which had a shorter handle (top photo - that's a shorter handle) and a different, more sensitive detonator.

The primary issue being available detonators more R&D went toward a design that could mate the more available detonators used in mining to the tactical explosive.
This is why the down-and-dirty carried the day for a few years.
The bright sparks would not let a sleeping dog lie. A few "patent" designs that never saw production further explored the just-throw-it-and-it-blows-up vision.
Next, the patent drawing for the design of one H. Siegwart.
In it's fusing system, a ball is held captive by a rod protruding into it. The external sleeve on the bit of business at the top, held in place by a wire wrapping, is pushed down which retracts the rod.
Toss this puppy and the ball, now a free agent in its little chamber impacts the detonator. Boom.
Next, the "Billinghurst safety, patent percussion grenade" with "the all ways fuse".
This one also used a weighted ball, held in place with a safety device prior to arming.
Upon impact, the ball would depress the plunger on which it sits and, again, Boom.
The fuse was called the "all ways fuse" because it would detonate no matter how the grenade landed - or not.
In conclusion, a far more elegant solution to the "all-ways" problem.
This thing is, graphically, a marvel. James Buckingham's percussion ball grenade differs from all thus far.
First of all, the detonating system is off-center so it would be efective no matter how it landed.
To explain; you can see a plunger, with a spring and a pointy end aimed at what must be the detonator (duh).
The plunger is held, in tension, against the spring by a narrow, and seemingly brittle stem (glass?).
The stem is encased in a weight which, upon impact, breaks the stem sending the plunger... and you know how it ends.
I like this thing.

3 comments:

Andy said...

Don't forget the RKG3 used so effectively nowadays, hell on Bradleys and MRAPs

Don't know if the badguy footage is readily available or not...

Kevin said...

Really love those posts, this is where you shine the most. Ever thought about having some kind of compilation published through a PoD, vanity press, company like Lulu?

Anonymous said...

The glass rod idea is great. This RGD3 business is a bunch of lazy journalism. Back in the 80s there was a media furor over powder actuated tools allegedly being used by gangsters.

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