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Weapons Grenades

Discussion in 'France' started by Dan Morton, Dec 25, 2015.

  1. Dan Morton A Fixture

    Almost as old as the invention of the black powder, the grenade was standardized in France by Gribeauval in 1777 under the shape of a 9.5 cm diameter pig iron hollow sphere drilled with a smooth hole for the insertion of a wood plug with a wick inside ('fuze').

    In 1847 the size of the sphere was reduced in order to reduce the weapon weight (1kg200 instead of 1kg900). In 1876 a slightly less rudimentary fuze was introduced, with a traction igniter to replace the direct firing of the wick, and finally in 1886 came a new version, a little bit more waterproofed.

    The assembly of this sphere designed centuries ago and modernized for the last time 67 years ago, with a antique fuze whose last improvement had been made about 30 years ago, formed the only official grenade at the disposal of the French soldiers in 1914 : the grenade modèle 1847.

    This grenade, equipped with a 5 seconds delay, was launched by hand, the traction igniter wire being attached to a rope linked to the launcher's wrist. In these conditions, the grenade range was rarely over 20 meters. It was possible to add 50 meters to this range by using a sling.
    Weight 1.2 kg, including 110 g black powder.

    Like the British, the French, in late 1914 and early 1915 resorted to local engineers and soldiers to produce a hand grenade. The French used a small piece of wood roughly in the shape of a hairbrush and they wired TNT, melinite or cheddite explosives and a detonator or fuse to the "hairbrush". See the photo series A, B, and C and the "raquette", "petard" and "hairbrush" photos. Although they also tried catapults and ballistas to deliver hand made grenades at greater distances, nothing like a rifle grenade was developed until industry got involved.

    Photos of four examples of industry made hand grenades - the "pear", the "Citron Foug", the F-1 fragmentation grenade and the "Bozzini" grenade. The F-1 with different types of fuses and igniters was put into mass production.

    The French standardized on the Viven - Bessiere design as a rifle grenade.

    The VB (Viven-Bessière) grenade, appearing in 1916, was the most famous and best French rifle grenade.

    Made of a pig iron cylinder with inner fragmentation grooves, it was axially crossed by a hollow tube of the same inner diameter than the Lebel rifle bullet, laterally by an other tube containing the detonator and parallel to the central one, and was topped by a brass cap with a small lateral percussion lever over the detonator tube as well as filling aperture plug.

    The VB grenade was shot using a grenade-sleeve fixed on the Lebel rifle, using a traditional ammunition rather than a blank cartridge, thus avoiding frequent accidents caused by ammo confusion in the fight stress.

    When shot, the bullet went through the central tube, hit the small lever placed on the external part of the detonator, igniting the starter that communicated the fire to the wick then the detonator. The ejection gases, accumulating in the sleeve when the bullet was still inside the central tube, propelled the body of the grenade up up to 180 m.

    A small brass cap with a central hole for the bullet was sometimes used to cover the external mechanisms and prevent accidental percussion during transportation.

    This grenade was so efficient that it changed the tactics of the French infantry. Each company had 16 VB men, giving a powerful and very manoeuverable firepower for both attack and defense. It was still in use in the French Army in 1940.

    Weight 475 gr., including 60 gr. cheddite

    The text in blue above comes from the web site http://www.passioncompassion1418.com/

    Attached Files:

  2. Dan Morton A Fixture

    More photos...

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