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The Whatzis answered

WWI Austrian "Rohrgranate (Alt)" meaning Tube Grenade (vice a steilgranate, stick grenade), old version.

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It's an Austrian stick grenade.  Sanger was probably most correct, overall.  This grenade one is a Rohrhandgranate (Alt) or literally, Tube Hand Grenade (Old), as vice the "Neu" or New. The handle is a cardboard tube, with a taped over end that held the fuze string.  In the case of mine, this tube is almost certainly a replacement - aside from it's condition for a 90-year old cardboard tube, it also doesn't project through the ball as it should.  I knew it was most likely a repro tube (it may be so completely "farb" that it's literally a paper-towel tube or something similar) and it has been artificially aged with india ink or something similar.  That's more obviously apparent on the tape, up close - but since the grenade is at home and I'm at Dad's, I can't show you that.  Interestingly enough, the tube contained the fuze and the explosive charge, the ball contained shrapnel balls held in a matrix, as this drawing from an old reference book shows.  The drawing also shows how the tube should continue out through the top of the ball - necessary for the proper functioning of the grenade - the ball would probably not fragment properly as-is, if it had any energetic material in it - which it doesn't.


5 Comments

It is interesting to understand the different technologies of weapons from different countries and eras. I did happen to notice the end of your description, your statement about the safety of the device, "...if it had any energetic material in it - which it doesn't." It reminds me of a time, when a man would say, "Cover my back, but not too closely!" V/R Grumpy
 
Looks like a predecessor of the WW2 "potato masher" grenade. Apparently the Germans had a preference for this style.

From the images I've seen over the years, the Brits invented the Mills bomb-type grenade, the Americans adopted it, as did the French after they experienced the effect of the bracelet grenade.

The Russians produced a fair number of "modified potato masher" style (if I may be so bold) grenades early on, including the "lantern" whatzis previously shown. They appear to have preferred an external-handle fuse activator, as opposed to the internal-to-the-handle style of the Germans.

My question is: why? Was it something as prosaic as "we got our ideas from our best ally, or most frequent enemy?"

I know I'm demonstrating a cultural bias here, but the Mills-bomb-style seems more ergonomically efficent than the "potato-masher" style. If nothing else, it's more compact. Then, there's the "open the handle, grab the fuse, yank the fuse, throw" sequence for the German grenade, compared to the "pull the pin, throw" sequence of the Mills bomb. Does the "masher" style give greater throw distance, or accuracy?


 
I'd suspect that a handle DOES increase throwing ranges over the Mills-Bomb style.  It's a matter of leverage. (I know that an Atlatl makes spears go further, and slings make stones go further...)  It's just a guess, mind you.  I'm likely wrong on it.
 
Germans/Austrians didn't have a Baseball or Cricket tradition of throwing?
 
These are impressive whatsis.  I look forward to some that I can actually guess with an even remote amount of possibility of being in the same era.