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July 02, 2004

Viven-Bessiere Rifle grenade and launchers. Part 1

Nota Bene: this is a long one, and I've chopped it up into four parts.

Okay, as I have said before, people who are trying to kill you while you are trying to kill them suck. They’re supposed to just surrender, right? I mean, why can’t we all just get along – especially if you’ll do what I tell you! Anyway, once this whole blackpowder/gun thing got going, especially as the guns got better, people started doing things like hiding. And that sucks. Besides, they rarely come at you alone, and if you’ve got a single-shot rifle and all, well, gee, it would be nice to be able to get more’n one guy at a time, if you could, and ya know the penny-pinching bean counters who don’t ever *have* to do any of this fighting stuff, well, they think fancy guns are an extravagance, but they’re willing to spend some bucks on grenades.

But then that means you have to throw them, right? And back in the day, pretty much only Americans played baseball, a game that teaches you how to throw a long way. So the namby-pamby Europeans, decided to find ways to loft grenades without having to stand up and throw ‘em like a man, yet were cheaper than mortars, artillery and such. First they started out with stick grenades . Then they moved on with rod grenades, that you stuck in the barrel of your rifle, fired a special blank, and off it went. Of course, this required you to carry blanks AND remember to use them. If you didn’t, well, it ruined the rifle, and caused annoyance to yourself and those around you.

Of course, then we discovered that it ruined the rifle anyway, splitting stocks and such, as well as bulging the barrels, which required that stocks be reinforced, and barrels replaced. The Brits carried that the furthest, by wrapping ‘EY” (grenade launcher, so designated from rifles no longer accurate enough for issue use) rifles with copper wire, so when the stock split the grenadier didn’t get a faceful of splinters. The Indian Army, who carried forward the WWI Enfield rifle design into the 1970’s, went so far as to wrap their rifles with sheet metal. Well, the rod grenades are a different post, so to heck with them. Let’s move on to grenade discharger cups, and in particular, the French WWI version.

To save eyestrain on the main blog, I've broken this into four parts.

Part II, the story, con't.

Part III. The Launchers.

Part IV. The Grenades.