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October 24, 2006

The whatziss, revealed!

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To refresh: This was the question.

It was the "all-ways" fuze used with the Brit No. 69 and No. 81 Grenades. JTG got it correct!

This is actually the fuze from the Castle's "Drill Purpose" No. 69 grenade.

Brit WWII No. 69 Grenade, Drill Purpose

Update: USMC Steve got in *his* answer literally as I was publishing this post - he got it right, too.

by John on Oct 24, 2006

August 28, 2006

Let's try something different...

Rather than me being all snarky and showing off I can stump you by controlling the variables (hardly fair) - I'm just going to slap this up there and let *you* guys show off what you know about what this is and how it works, vice "Can you figure out that this is an elephant when all I show you is a cellular slice from a polyp inside it's trunk?" like I usually do... Hey, I know I'm mean - but you keep coming back, so, we're like co-dependent, right? Don't forget to explain *why* a feature is there, not just that it's there. The whole purpose is to inform the curious.

40mm grenade

Extra credit if you figure out the proper nomenclature and nation of origin. I'm going to leave the comments open - but be honest - put your answer/description down and *then* read everybody else's. Block copying from a manual is okay, if that's how you achieve positive buoyancy for your bateaux, but I'll bring the best original answer (in my humble opinion) up into the post and leave it for the archives... just in case there's any egos out there who need a stimulus.


Okay, you guys need some help. How about the flip side? This is what SezaGeoff saw this morning.

The flip side

Bet it doesn't look like you expected on the inside... but the answer to why it *isn't* the M406 (like Doug thought) is clear to the true grognard. And Doug, aside from color - there are only two (related) things that cause the M406 to differ from this round.

Update: This is the M407 - the training version of the M406 HE round. The difference? Aside from the color of markings? The "ball" portion of the grenade. It's not serrated on the inside for fragmentation purposes, and it wasn't loaded with HE. The M407 was in turn replaced by the M781, which had a plastic projectile filled with a marking powder.

SezaGeoff, first out of the chute (and with the second pic to get him started) was the most thorough of you.

The fuze? It's an "all-ways" fuze - with a set-back and spin safety system that didn't allow the grenade to arm until it was a safe distance away from the firer - not that just shooting someone with the grenade wouldn't distract them... even if it *didn't* explode.

by John on Aug 28, 2006

July 12, 2006

Some tidying up of loose ends.

In case of Moonbats, break glass, and grab the Armorer's Cluebat! (Down, Denizennes, sheesh!) 32 inches Moonbat-thumping reach - with a nice, cannon-like touch to the, ahem, barrel of the piece.

Alrighty then, moving on. Remember this "Whatziss?"

Go below the fold, to the Flash Traffic/Extended Entry, and you can see it in context.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows »

by John on Jul 12, 2006

July 03, 2006

Whatziss, solved!

Eric was very close - and Frank, building on Eric's work, finally bridged the last tiny gap.

The plate was used by German Stormtroops to pull the fuzeloops not of the Steilhandgranaten - stick grenades, but rather the wire loops of the egg grenades.

German Egg Grenade with wire puller plate.

In other words - like this.

Well done guys - it wasn't an easy one, it's not a well known, nor very common, piece of kit. As far as I know - until I posted these pics - the website that Frank found was the only other place you could find a picture of this - in far worse shape than that in the Arsenal of Argghhh!

by John on Jul 03, 2006

June 15, 2006

Whatziss, Answered. Meet the Grenade, .303 rifle, No 22 Mk II.

That's whatziss is, as surmised, a rodded rifle grenade.

Newton Pippin Rifle Grenade

I guess, as a final hint, I should have said, "Think Hobbit." Go ahead, google "Rod Grenade Pippin."

A paucity of formally adopted and procured rifle grenades were a problem for all combatants in the early stages of WWI. The WWI procurement bureacracies hov'red over the battlefields, very much process-bound, much as they still do today, leaving the troops in the field to innovate.

{To save on loading times and bandwidth, I've moved the rest of this post to the Flash Traffic/Extended Entry so we'll only bug the ones who want to read it. You're welcome, Princess Crabby]

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows »

by John on Jun 15, 2006

May 20, 2006

So, what was it?

I guess I've tortured High Desert Wanderer long enough...

And, my goad worked. Someone *did* get it. Not exactly in how it worked, but good enough for government work.

Pogue - I name you a Brainiac of Argghhh!

I would guess that it's an inertia safety for one of the rifle grenades on display in the castle.

Gezackly. More specifically, this one: The Serbian one that resides on the Yugo SKS in the Castle Collection. It is included in the picture of the "selection of rifle grenades" in this post. I can't believe *no one* commented on that, either. I guess I've got you all *really* desensitized, so that if we ever get the Castle to sufficiently to spec for SWWBO to think about letting you in the physical, vice digital demesne, you'll take it in stride all the ordnance laying about.

The bottom of the fuze element (the bit on the left) is the gain, the charge that (empty in the Castle example, of course) that initiates the bursting charge in the grenade body on the right (also empty, natch).

fuze and body of Serbian rifle grenade

Click here for the last picture, which will open in a new window.

On the left is the firing pin. When you remove the cap (the very top of the grenade in the first picture and the safety pin (the ring) the firing pin is free to move against the spring which holds it off the primer. When the grenade lands, point first, you've got enough oomph for the pin to overcome the spring and strike the primer.

On the right is our inertia safety. In the picture, the primer is aligned over the flash hole. The primer is the silver-looking part. When safe, that whole assembly is on the *other* side of the body, held in place by the spring-loaded peg in the upper left of the assembly. When the grenade is fired that peg, being held in place by a very weak spring, overcomes the spring's resistance and drops, allowing the spring in the primer assembly to move the assembly and get aligned over the hole - this takes enough time that if the firing pin *also* moves during the shock of launch it would actually drop into the hole on the left side of the assembly, and delay the movement of the primer assembly until the firing pin spring overcame the inertia and retracted the firing pin, thus allowing the primer assembly to move into place.

The whole point is to make sure the bang happens upon arrival, not departure...

That's all, folks.

That was nicer than Bill's farkin' gear!

Pogue, gimme a snail mail address and I'll get you a Brainiac of Argghhh! mug. I gotta scoot - I've got Charitable Things to do this morning. Someone else can get the H&I set up!

by John on May 20, 2006

March 05, 2006

The Bright Shiny Object

As Boquisucio determined, was a Soviet Diakonoff grenade, one of two in the holdings of the Arsenal. This is a later version, with a time fuze.

Here's a bookend of late (on the left, a Brit 40mm training grenade commonly used today) and early (on the right, 1920's, 40mm grenade developed by the Soviets and used in WWII. Like the french Vivien-Bessier grenade of WWI, this was fired from a "tromblon" or cup discharger, and was a "bullet-through" vice "bullet-trap", grenade. Thus far when I've seen them, I've been outbid for them, but if anyone knows of any available Mosin-Nagant tromblons and related sight, I'm in the market!

Left, modern 40mm, right, Soviet Diakonoff 40mm, developed in the 20's

For Owen - here's a closeup of the time fuze ring (these grenades are unusual for their era in having a time fuze). Oh, and those projections that threw some of you off? There are three, spaced evenly around the grenade.

by John on Mar 05, 2006
» Bloggin' Outloud links with: The Kansas Guild of Bloggers Roundup #5

December 07, 2005

Little help... and Grenade Pr0n!

I've been too serious of late, despite Bill's best efforts. Must be subliminally trying to ease the bruising my ego is taking at the Weblog Awards...

Anybody know what grenade this is?

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It's been tentatively id'd as a French Guidetti from WWI, but I don't agree. Unfortunately, I can't prove it isn't, either, really, based on the somewhat limited resources out there.

Anybody know their obscure WWI grenades? Better than me? Who read this thing...

by John on Dec 07, 2005

October 27, 2005

Context is everything.

Which is why CAPT H won't play the Whatzis game... Interesting suggestions. Salad shooter. Jacuzzi. Nose trimmer. Bloodspite was closest overall (at the time of this entry, anyway). And Devin was the most interesting of the plausibles...

It's all a matter of scale.

That's the nose of the WWI Austrian Universal Grenade, an attempt to make a grenade All Things For All Purposes. A Swiss Army Knife of a grenade. A one-size-fits-all solution. Y'know - like the F4 Phantom, or F111. Except those turned out to be useful, in the end. The Universal? Well, how many of you have heard of one?

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The thing is about the thickness of a hot dog. (I can hear the Ya-Ya's twittering behind their fans already.) It gets the name Universal from its ability to be either a hand-thrown grenade or a rod-grenade fired from a rifle. An impact fuze or a time fuze. The one in the Castle Armory is the rod version, as you can see from the left hand photograph. This one is also configured for a friction time fuze (that thing dangling off the side), with the percussion fuze as a back-up. The item in the lower photo standing up on end is the cover for the nose, needed so that the propeller-safety of the percussion fuze won't inadvertently arm. We hateses it when that happens!

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The rest of this will be in the Flash Traffic/Extended Entry.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows »

by John on Oct 27, 2005

October 26, 2005

Preview of coming attractions...

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Update: Since the Gurlz of Argghhh! (heh, a calendar, perhaps?) seem to be a little confused, the following information is provided to help the Ya-Ya Blog Sisterhood (YYBS) better comprehend what is in the photo above (because if you read the comments, the YYBS' are having some difficulty)...

Top, from left to right.

British No23 Mk1, bottom of Austrian Lakos, top of Austrian Kugelhandgranate (both from last week), German Diskushandgranate M1915, British No 5 Mk 1.

Next under is an Austrian Universal grenade in rod configuration.
Next under is a long-hafted brass-bodied grenade that while it does have a proper British No19 grenade fuze on it is probably not an official grenade at all but someones attempt at a repro.

Bottom, L to R: German Ubungs, or training grenade that substituted for the M1916 and M1917 stick grenades in Stormtrooper training exercises. Russian Lantern grenade, British No19, with streamers (which are prolly replacements), British No1Mk2 (short handled, missing the streamers), German Kugelhandgranate M1915, and lastly, a German M1917 stick grenade.

One of these grenades (unrelated to repro parts) has something wrong with it. Let's see if there's a grognard out there who can figure it out. Hint - *I* wasn't paying attention at some point - a factoid which will only assist a *real* grognard or dogged pursuer of the question. Oh, and if you think I've mis-identified a grenade, that's possible, but would only count as extra credit...

Oh, and yes, dear - I've taken all the toys and put them back in the case, rather than leave them strewn on your antique butcher block table... really!

by John on Oct 26, 2005

October 19, 2005

The Whatzis? answer.

First some stuff just because I wanna.

Finally, Saddam goes on trial. Funny how some people are almost positing that "fair trial" means essentially, unless there is a real chance of a defense and acquittal, there can't be a trial, because that wouldn't be fair... so he (or anyone in that situation) should go free. Hey, no worries, it worked for OJ, right? You want to see that discussion, run through yesterday afternoon (18 October) at NRO.

Plamegate straggles on. Hey, Whitewater certainly dragged on, too.
I'll wait and see what happens and finally comes out. This pundit gig doesn't pay well enough to spend all that time digging.

Okay, let's clear up that little straggler from yesterday. Shock, surprise, not many of you made serious attempts to figure out what they were, except for those who have been deprived of intimacy of late... The rest of you, what, you got jobs or something?

Anyway - they're both grenades. Both Austrian. The stick grenade one is a Rohrhandgranate (Alt) or literally, Tube Hand Grenade (Old), as vice the "Neu" or New. No, Neffi - not missing the cap to the grenade handle. There wasn't one. The handle is a cardboard tube, taped over. In the case of mine, 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 can be seen in the linked pictures).

The other is a Lakos. Mine is an early version, also larger than most later versions. Another give-away as to early... it has a fuze that must be lit, vice a percussion fuze as used on later grenades. This is just a tube with wooden plugs at each end, made of cast iron so that it would be more likely to break into pieces. One reason they are fairly common on Italian-front battlefields is the fuze often failed, or the explosive just blew out the wooden plugs.

WWI grenades are a fascinating study. You could find *both* of those grenades on the same battlefield, even though they represent very different levels of sophistication and technology.

Lest we think the Austrians were alone in relatively crude grenades... well, that's not true. Both an inadequate starting stockpile and an inability to produce "professionally engineered" grenades in quantity led to many battlefield innovations. Such as these Battye grenades from the Arsenal Collection. They were manufactured by French engineers in the town of Bethune, Northern France, for the British army in 1915. Named after the inventor, a Royal Engineer Major Battye. Segmented roughly cast iron cylinder originally containing Ammonal, sealed with a wooden plug, and having a lit or chemical fuze. Also prone to failure of the plug just blowing out, hence the wires.

Early in the war it was so bad both sides resorted to complete battlefield improvisation, producing a class of grenades sometimes referred to as "hairbrush grenades" for obvious reasons. The official french nomenclature was "Les Grenades Artisanales."

The French had an odd mix of grenades, too. I've covered the Vivien-Bessiere grenade launcher before. But they had grenades like the Citron Foug, which you slammed down on a hard surface to ignite the fuze. Many wartime helmets have dents in them - not from shrapnel, but from a desperate soldier in a muddy field who was trying to get his grenades to work...

Then there were gems like these French 'bracelet' grenades in the Arsenal. WWI vintage. The soldier wrapped a loop of twine or wire that has a hook on it around his wrist - hooks the loops on the grenades, throws. As it leaves his hand, it is supposed to pull out, igniting the friction primer. They were not popular.

Like this:

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The poster is "Journée du Poilu. 25 et 26 décembre 1915" which reads as "Day of the Soldier, 25 and 26 December, 1915. It shows a poilu just about to loft a bracelet grenade. If you go back to the picture of my grenades - you can see an obvious problem with the go-to-war version, the Fusee Modele 1882 (which is just a new fuze stuck in the Modele 1847 grenade... yes, 1847). They took out the wick fuze and stuck in this. Problem is, it's a friction-fit wood plug. Often as not - the grenade went sailing away, leaving the fuze dangling. Hence the second grenade, the Modele 1914, with a brass base, threaded so that it screwed in securely. Which grumped the Generals, because that meant they were more expensive, and you had to thread the old grenade bodies too! Dammit! I *hate* it when that happens. The Ghost of Gorgas. Those who know, know.

I'll continue this subject sometime when the muse next seizes me. Mebbe rod grenades...

by John on Oct 19, 2005

October 18, 2005

Let's mix 'n match a bit.

Jay wonders, if we change Muslim to, say, Episcopal, is it now illegal?

Alan coins a tongue-twister... guesstificationing. I agree with him, too.

Kat meets Captain America, and discovers that warriors are not drones... and gives a remarkable history lesson in so doing. On of your better ones, Kat - and that's saying something!

Barb is still worthless and has 7 on the brain, likes critters, and wants you to read a letter.

AFSis is keeping an eye on the counter-demonstrators at Walter Reed.

CAP H is outraged! So am I. There is far too little of this going on over there in Blighty! CAPT H also uses his keen eye to discover a bit more about that Brit officer who lost her pistol...

An interesting compare and contrast in the Washington Post today. How is what Bennet said in order to discredit a bad argument functionally different from what this family endures?

Okay - homework. A little googlecize for you.

Here are hand held devices. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to identify them (yes, it can be done via the search engines). What I'm interested in are some of the ties between them. Yes, I have a specific set of things in mind, and those who have *really* read my ouevre will prolly get pretty close - but that's playing stump the chump to ask you to read my mind. Hmmm, that didn't *quite* come out the way I meant.

Anyway - I'm interested in the connections, the odd juxtapositions, etc. Simpler than you think, but not necessarily up front. Have some fun.

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Here's another view.

by John on Oct 18, 2005

June 30, 2005

Ah, Brit obits! and other weirdness

Ah, Lieutenant-Commander Dick Raikes - if only I had had *half* the career you did before, like you, I was "invalided out" of the service.

Of such metal was the Empire built.

A few days later Raikes heard the propeller noise of a U-boat surfacing and carried out a snap attack with his stern torpedoes; there was an explosion and black smoke, but Raikes found no wreckage. The patrol ended with an amorous whale bumping Seawolf for an hour. Raikes was awarded the DSO.

Read the rest, here. You really do want to read this one.

Now is the time at Castle Argghhh! when we dance, In Memoriam.

Moving on...

Frequent commenter Monteith sends us this... we'd like that *a lot*... it would look good in the inner Bailey next to the Trebuchet and Onager... but I think my interest foundered when I read "Purchaser to arrange own cartage..."

Jeff, complimenting my on my 'correct politics' 8^) sends us to Gun Law News, where the inimitable Representative Sheila Jackson-Lee, holds forth thusly:

A database this large is likely to contain many errors," said Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) during a May 12 hearing on the Illegal Immigration Enforcement and Social Security Protection Act (H.R. 98). "Any one of [the errors] could render someone unemployable and possibly much worse until they can get their file straightened out."

As they point out at Gun Law News...

But in 2002, Jackson Lee argued for the "Our Lady of Peace Act," (H.R. 4757), an expansion of the National Instant Check System (NICS) for handgun purchases.

So, the bottom line is that the rights of illegal aliens to whom some of the Constitution does not apply are more important than the rights of a US citizen guaranteed by the US Constitution.

A-yup. If yer a Moonbat, anyway.

Heh. Let's check in with Noah of Defense Tech and David Crane at Defense Review - they've got the goods on some of the stuff that finds it's way into the studies I conduct for a living. [N.B. This has been edited to give credit where credit is due.]

XM-25 Grenade Launcher



H/t, Jim C. (feeling better, dude?)

Remember some of the discussions in the past week of How to Lose the War? One of the counters I suggested was we as individuals and as bloggers need to paint the side of the conflict that the MSM, which both by political bias and institutional inertia (if it bleeds, it leads) won't cover? The positive aspects? Move America Forward is taking that idea and running with it - by taking a bunch of talk radio hosts over to Iraq: The Truth Tour, Live from Baghdad! Hey, face it - those guys will reach more people than most of us bloggers will!

by John on Jun 30, 2005
» Winds of Change.NET links with: Walk On Water: Those Wacky Brit Obituaries

June 07, 2005

A little bit of this, that, and a return to blogroots.

Since the sailors didn't seem interested... here's a link to an article about the Battle of Midway... Pictures from the Battle of Midway

Oops. Spanked.

John- Guess you still haven't found my Midway post from June 3 or CDR Salamander's from June 2 here. We Navy guys don't miss much, and Midway was one of the greatest sea victories of all time, although even the Air Corps got involved by attempting to bomb the Japanese fleet with B-17's...


Did someone say B-17s bombing?

And, Leagle, go *that* far back? Into the Archives? Geez, dude, blogs! We're blogs! If it ain't on the front page, it doesn't exist, except via Google! Or some such weak excuse, anyway.

Staff Officers, Commanders, Project Managers, CEOs, CIOs, IT Admin types, helk, just about anyone anywhere everywhere who haven't already seen this elsewhere and who has ever been in an organization of more than 20 people (and some with less) will appreciate this requirements brief. Some caveats - it's a powerpoint show, and if you believe that any Microsoft Product via the Internet is the Embodiment of Evil - don't download it. If you have sensitive ears, don't bother, as it's only funny with the sound on - but it is *chock full* of NOT WORK SAFE language. Earphones recommended, or low sound. Unless, like me, everyone in your local cube farm sends you stuff like this all the time anyway... including your corporate and government bosses....

With those warnings out of the way - Requirements Brief.

Just cuz' I'm feeling mean - I've got one and you don't! Now to sit back and see who in the readership trumps me and how long it takes... toys you use at work count, if you can use 'em for your own stuff...

Come to think of it - I bet you don't have this, either. A tabletop full of WWI grenades.

What the heck, let's roll with this. How about some old IEDs?

Left, Polish grenade from the Warsaw Uprising. Right, german concrete 'stock' mine. The cylinder in the middle is an original wax paper wrapper and label for the TNT charge that was inserted into the stock mine.

Here's another pic showing the bottom of the stock mine. The hole is where the TNT went, and usually (but not always) a wooden stake. Stock mines were commonly used as booby traps. They were made of concrete, many times with ball bearings embedded to improve fragmentation effects. They could accept a variety of fuzes, this one having a booby-trap pull fuze.

The Polish Home Army hand grenade was made with a pre-war Polish fuze, and whatever materials and explosive filler was at hand. This is a heavy sucker - definately for defensive use (i.e., thrown from cover).

All inert, of course! No placards at the Castle. We keep all that stuff over at the Firebase (but don't tell SGT B).

Snerk! I mean, like, y'know, everybody at DU *knows* that the BushChimp is an idiot, right? His grades at Yale prove it, right? Hee hee hee. Under the Yale system, Bush had a 77 (through his junior year, after which the scale changed). His oh-so-bright opponent? 76. Perhaps that's why Kerry didn't want his records released, as his transcript is a part of his records. I personally don't get that wrapped around grades. Of course not - mine, for my undergrad work, aren't a heckuvalot better. But I *test* well!

Another article on his records is here. For the moment, I guess we're going to have to trust the Globe that there are no new revelations (I was interested in the paperwork regarding his discharge) and take that at face value. If we've got any readers who were Naval officers of the period, I'd be interested in an opinion on the wording of the recommendations that the Globe quotes. In the Army, as I'm sure is true of all the Services, we have code phrases that allow us to 'damn with faint praise" but still sound nice. "One of the most outstanding junior officers I have served with" could mean, "he's fine, promote him with the others," while "One of the most outstanding officers I have served with," means "Promote Yesterday," with 'junior' being the code word to mean, "good kid, needs seasoning." I'd be interested in the take on that aspect of Kerry's reports.

Given what is thus far reportedly in the records, I'd say Kerry should have rolled with the punch about his grades and released 'em during the campaign. But mebbe I'm missing something, with my tin political ear. It wouldn't have helped him with me - he still fails the 'leaving combat early' test.

Michelle Malkin has more.

For a Lieutenant of the '80s, this is an interesting read. Any Russians at Graf during my time over there would have meant the 79th ITB had turned me and my guys into hamburger...

Changing subjects again, I've had chats with Wilcox (and, indeed, have published his brief on this site with his permission -right click, open in new window). Those of you who are 4th Gen Warfare fans will enjoy this article. The fight continues.

by John on Jun 07, 2005
» Cadillac Tight links with: Russians at Graf!

March 25, 2005

More on the 617th MP Company

By now, most of you have heard of this fight - via the media, Blackfive, Greyhawk - the usual suspects. Due to the flow of my work and blogging, I don't usually jump on the 'breaking stories' because someone's already fed 'em to Matt and the 'Hawk - but yesterday I did get some pictures.

If you have no idea what I'm talking about - I'm talking about the firefight of the Richmond, Kentucky based 617th MP Company - you can read about it here.

The soldiers continued to take fire as they traveled up the main highway. Squad leader Nein wanted to make a right turn onto another road, but just as the Humvees were turning the corner, one was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade.

Spc. Casey Cooper, 20, was up in the gunner's turret when the vehicle was hit.

"The heat and the concussion knocked me," said Cooper. "I could feel it hit me in the chest and the face, and that was about it. I blacked out after that."

But he quickly rejoined the fight. By that time, the U.S. soldiers were out of their vehicles.

I'm gonna put another face with the story, and some gun pics. Perfect match for the Castle!

Let's meet Specialist Cooper, and see what sort of stuff this intrepid little Band of Brothers gathered up in as thier part in trying to further the cause of Iraqi sovereignty, free from tribal tyranny. Or at least something better than they had.

In this photo released by the U.S. Army Wednesday, March 23, 2005, U.S. Army 503rd MP Battalion, 18th MP Brigade gunner SPC Casey Cooper stands next to a his damaged Humvee near Baghdad, Iraq (news - web sites) recently, after it received a direct hit from a rocket-propelled grenade, knocking him unconscious. Cooper was revived and helped his fellow soldiers defeat an attack on a coalition supply convoy March 20, about 18 miles southeast of Baghdad, according to U.S. officials. (AP Photo/U.S. Army, Sgt. 1st Class Marshall P. Ware)

And let's see some of the captured haul - and what they were facing. Once again, training, discipline (instilled by pride and training, maintained by good leadership) and basic soldiering pays off... this is 12 troops fending off more than three times their number, killing 17 of the bad guys, in a fight that took place at a time and place of the bad guy's choosing. That's just professional-quality soldiering - and if there are any Regulars out there still bad-mouthing the Guard and Reserve in general (as vice specifics) - give it a rest, wouldja?

In this photo released by the U.S. Army Wednesday, March 23, 2005, U.S. Army U.S. Army 503rd MP Battalion, 18th MP Brigade Sgt. 1st Class Marshall P. Ware, of Lexington, KY, poses with a cache of insurgent weapons recovered after an insurgent attack on a supply convoy March 20, about 18 miles southeast of Baghdad. Seventeen insurgents were killed in the battle. (AP Photo/U.S. Army, SPC Casey Cooper)

In this image made available 23 March 2005,Sgt. Leigh Ann Hester, team leader, 4th Platoon, 617th Military Police Company, 503rd MP Battalion, 18th MP Brigade, stands in front of a captured weapons cache after her squad repelled an insurgent attack on a Coalition supply convoy March 20 about 18 miles southeast of Baghdad.(AFP/US Army-HO)

UPDATE: I *was* going to publish the AAR, but Matt at Blackfive already has. Just another reason he was the winner of "Best Milblog". I was waiting for permission (not implying anything about Matt - this has to do with my still having an active clearance and some of the rules associated with it. Matt got it from different sources than I did - it came to him clear to use.)

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows »

by John on Mar 25, 2005
» BeldarBlog links with: Raven 42

January 03, 2005

New Equipment updates.

I recently got sent an update brief on some of the new, or newly modified gear, being fielded or scheduled for fielding. I'll be posting it in chunks over the next couple of days.

First installment includes updates on the XM107, the Semi-Auto Sniper Weapon System (SA-SWS), updates to the M249, Mk46 and Mk 48 machine guns, Shotguns, grenades, non-lethals, and the TOW Bunker Buster.

Download file

by John on Jan 03, 2005

November 08, 2004

Good News on the Getting Creative to Save Lives Front.

Something else getting a fast-track push to get developed and into the hands of the troops, outside of normal processes:

RPG air-bags. Yep. RPG air-bags. You know the bad guys will come up with a response, but that will take awhile.

ARMORED WARFARE: RPGs Stopped by Air Bags and Electricity

November 8, 2004: Rocket propelled grenades (RPGs) are the typical weapons of choice when insurgents decide to attack trucks and armored vehicles. RPGs are cheap, simple to operate, and if used properly can inflict significant damage on Stryker and Bradley armored vehicles. Unarmed and armored Hummers are especially vulnerable, since the various armor kits for the Hummer are designed to protect occupants from small arms and machine gun fire, not anti-tank grenades.

One quick fix to protect the Hummer is a unique airbag system developed by a small California company that deploys a "curtain" down outside the side of the vehicle being attacked. Four bags are needed to protect all quadrants and are held in place with simple Velcro straps. A small radar detects the incoming RPG or RPGs and inflates the airbag with a carbon dioxide gas cartridge. The RPG is literally "caught" by the airbag like a pillow and slowed enough so the nose-mounted fuse doesn't detonate the warhead. Instead, the RPG ends up collapsing upon itself, shredding the secondary self-destruct fuse and looking like a stomped-on beer can. Currently, the airbag and cartridge have to be replaced after one use, but the designers are working on a reusable airbag that can simply be rolled up and put back into place.

Cost for the system is expected to run between $5,000 to $7,000 dollars and weighs around 50 pounds. The Army is in the process of awarding a contract with the goal of getting systems to Iraq within 6 months, at a initial product rate of 25 systems per month. Other systems are being refined for use on canvass-topped vehicles and the Stryker. The system has the potential to replace both the current Stryker "RPG" fence standoff metal framework as well as reactive armor systems and has the twin advantages of being lighter and less expensive than reactive armor. It's also safer around infantry than reactive armor. Multiple tests of the airbag system have been run using RPGs, with one test managing slow down an RPG enough to stop it relatively intact – forcing a stop to the tests until range safety could come out and blow it up in place.

Over the longer term, the Army is looking towards electronically "charged" armor protection. The protection scheme would be composed of an outside armored plate, a spaced gap, and an inner charged plate. Shaped charges are essentially hot streams of metal traveling at (very) rapid speed to penetrate armor. A shaped charge from an RPG or other antitank weapon would detonate, penetrate the outer armor plate, and the hot metal stream would make contact with the charged inner plate, forming an electrical circuit that ends up plattering the metal across the inner plate rather than breaking through into the hull of the vehicle.

Charged armor is a better solution than reactive armor, as it is both lighter than reactive and also non-threatening to nearby infantry. At least two anufacturers have successfully demonstrated charged armor solutions, one retrofitting a Bradley AFV with a large capacitor to charge the inner hull plate. One manufacturer has demonstrated that the Bradley charged armor can take multiple RPG hits onto the same section of the hull without penetration and was willing to show a short demonstration film to those of the proper security clearance. In theory, charged armor should work equally well against weapons with larger shaped charge warheads, but the manufacturer would not comment on any tests done in that area. Ideally, charged armor would be an integrated solution as a part of a hybrid-electric vehicle. Power would be available from the vehicle to charge the armor for protection and installing the equipment would not require an expensive rebuild from the ground up. – Doug Mohney

Hat tip: Strategy Page!

Other interesting tidbits from the boys at Strategy Page. Twas a busy day in history today. Some good, some bad.

Good. 1789 Elijah Craig brews the first bourbon whiskey, Bourbon County, Ky. Can't stand the stuff myself, but I know there are those of you who love it...
Bad. 1923 Hitler's "Beer Hall Putsch" in Munich.
Bad. 1939 Failed assassination attempt on Hitler in Burgerbraukeller, Munich
Good. 1942 Hitler proclaims fall of Stalingrad (He was wrong)
Good. 1942 Operation Torch: U.S. and British forces land in northwestern Africa (Really bad day for Germany.) Bad day for France, too. They got beat again - by us, this time. If you think about it, France and Italy are the only countries in WWII to lose to both sides.)
Lastly, for the Instapilot: Good. 1950 1st jet combat, Lt. Russell J. Brown's F-86 scores a North Korean MiG-15

by John on Nov 08, 2004
» Brain Shavings links with: RPG airbags

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.

by John on Jul 02, 2004

June 16, 2004

Gunner was pretty close!

He originally thought the picture below was two grenades in a display. It was a blow-up of two grenades, and a launcher, in a display.

On the left, an uncut US Vivien-Bessiere grenade. On the right, a cut-away French V-B, behind, a US 'tromblon' V-B launcher. You can tell it's US because it twists to lock around the front sight, vice the French launchers, which slip on straight and use a locking ring. In this case (not as obvious) it's for a US M1917 Enfield rifle, and was a Chateau Thierry battlefield recovery.

If you've the time or a fast connection, here's a high-res shot.

by John on Jun 16, 2004

June 15, 2004

Now ain't this just cool?

A Vivien-Bessiere grenade cut-away. More about this (and this type) of grenade sometime in the near future.

by John on Jun 15, 2004

June 02, 2004

Viven-Bessiere Rifle grenade and launchers. Part IV

The Grenades.

There were at least three types of grenade made for the V-B system. First, was the standard HE grenade, which US industry produced over 20 million of for the war. Next was a message grenade that was used by the French, but rejected by the US. Lastly (that I’m aware of) was a pyrotechnic grenade, used as a carrier for flares, star clusters, and smoke.

Like the launchers, the US V-B grenades were essentially the same as their French forbears. The main difference between the two versions of the HE grenade is that the US grenade was made out of malleable iron instead of cast (brittle) iron. Both grenades were serrated internally to assist fragmentation – and because external serration would increase gas loss (and matching range loss) during launching. As John Heinrichs noted in comments to the earlier post on the subject – many grenades were serrated externally to improve the soldiers grip, and that the serration was for that purpose – it being known that external serration was ineffective in assisting controlled fragmentation. The historical record is mixed. There are US records dating to WWII where it came as a surprise that external serration was ineffective – perhaps simply because if anyone had tested prior to that, it was unknown to the then-serving officers on the Board.

I suspect it’s all correct. Some people and manufacturers knew, some didn’t, and most didn’t care in any big way.

Anyway, back to the story… The grenades are about 2.5 inches long and 2 inches in diameter (you metric-types can do your own conversion…) and weighed 17 ounces or so, just over a pound. They had a range of about 200 yards when fired at 47 degrees, and a ‘danger zone’ of 75 yards from the point of burst. Since the range exceeded the bursting radius, the grenade was considered both ‘offensive’ and ‘defensive’. The distinction being that an offensive grenade has a smaller bursting radius than its average throwing distance – i.e., it can be used by a soldier in the open, whereas a defensive (generally more powerful) assumes the user is under cover.

The pyrotechnic grenade (cylinder in the middle) was simply a carrier for combustable material, whether phosphorus or some other incendiary compound. They weren’t very effective and didn’t see much use.

Last, but not least, is the ‘message grenade’. Intended for use by cut-off units, it contained a tube into which a message could be inserted, and the grenade then fired. Upon landing, a small smoke charge would go off to make the grenade more visible. Several problems arose. The smoke charge was too small, consequently, it was hard to see. The fuze failed to function in soft ground. Until the somewhat mobile battles of late 1918, pretty much all the ground people were fighting over was soft ground from years of pounding. Lastly, if you were cut off, you couldn’t tell anyone you were going to be sending messages, so they wouldn’t be looking for them when they landed. If they were trying to get to you – same problem, exacerbated by the fact that cut-off and surrounded units are many times closer together as individuals on the battlefield… and getting hit with one of these things, well, sucked.

Here endeth the tale.

by John on Jun 02, 2004

Viven-Bessiere Rifle grenade and launchers. Part III

The Launchers.

There were essentially 5 types of V-B launchers in US service. To minimize the time between adoption, production, and issuance, the V-B launcher and grenades were adopted as-is. The only initial changes needed were the dimensional changes required to adapt to US rifle barrel/front sight profiles. When US production caught up there were 4 US- specific Marks of launcher adopted, though the Mark II was never manufactured.

1. The original was the French launcher. While US producers were tooling up to the new specs, the French produced 50.000 launchers for issuance made to the French specs, with the problems alluded to in the report above.
2. Mark I. Between the time the specs were determined and US producers were tooled up, the French produced another 50.000 launchers to the US spec.
3. Mark II. Not much is known about this one. It was spec’d but never adopted or produced.
4. Mark III. These launchers were stamped on the outside for which rifle they were intended to be used, and the launchers intended for the M1917 had a knurled band on them so that a soldier could assure himself he had the right launcher in darkness. (Trivia- the US issued more M1917 rifles during the war than M1903s). The Mark IIIs were like the original French launchers in that they had a straight slot milled in the stem and they slipped over the barrel and were shimmed in place.
5. The Mark IV had a spiral groove that hooked around the front sight and gave a more positive lock. The version for the M1917 rifle maintained the knurled band. My example is a M1917 version. The knurled band is eroded away by years of being buried on the battlefield, but it fits the M1917 easily, and will not fit the M1903. At least not with the effort I’m willing to put forth!

Part IV. The Grenades.

by John on Jun 02, 2004

Viven-Bessiere Rifle grenade and launchers. Part II

The French led the way with the ‘cup discharger” (as the Brits called them) style of grenade launching. The Brits, Germans, Russians, and the US followed them in close order. When US forces arrived in theater in France in 1917, we discovered that while it looked cool and impressed the ladies that you could stand up and toss a grenade 50 yards, the veritable sheet of lead the Germans were sending about 1 inch over the top of whatever cover you were behind tended to spoil your aim. So the US simply adopted the French version in-situ and over time made some minor changes in light of experience. The Brits, Germans, and Russians all developed their own launchers and grenades. I’ll cover the German discharger in a later post – and I’ll cover the Russian, too, if I ever score a launcher. I can cover the Russian grenades.

The British version (also a post for a later time) used standard grenades, with or without a special baseplate, and launched the grenades using the special blanks (in this case, Austrian) already developed for the rod grenades. The French, German, and Russian models were all bullet-through’ grenades, designed to be launched using standard ball ammunition, with the bullet passing through a tube in the center of the grenade. In the French version adopted by the US, the bullet also initiated the fuze, which is kinda cool. You could also load two grenades into the launcher and launch them together, with a concomitant decrease in range, but more fun in the target area (as long as you weren’t the poor dumb b*st*rd in it)

The upside of this type of launcher is that it used standard ball (‘ball’ being the technical term for regular bullets, being a holdover from when bullets were balls) ammunition and didn’t damage the bore of the rifle in the way rodded grenades did. On the debit side, in addition to putting all that weight on the end of the barrel (affecting accuracy should the soldier have to do some shooting beyond grenades) the god of recoil still demanded payment, sometimes in the coin of broken stocks. This is reportedly the primary reason the second recoil lug was added to the stock of the M1903 rifle in 1917.

The normal firing mode was to place the butt of the rifle on the ground, align the rifle to the target, and adjust for range by raising or lowering the barrel (pivoting on the butt for you snarky purists). The French went so far as to make special racks that you could load multiple rifles into and salvo fire. These racks had vernier adjustments and simple range tables, enabling more accurate (and comparative saturation) fires than individual soldiers firing their rifles, though obviously not terribly practical in the assault.

The US adopted the V-B system in July 1917 for use with the M1903 and M1917 rifles. Until production was established for US rifles, some number of Lebel and Berthier rifles with launchers was issued to US units, and came with some french trainers. Despite the usual grumblings from the Ordnance establishment regarding non-standard ammunition and weapons, the field commanders said “Tough shit, I want something, and all you offer is nothing, so suck it up, bub!” and took the rifles and went out and killed Germans with ‘em.

As is ever the case when you leave the troops alone for a minute, clever (but not necessarily technically competent) troops started adapting the Lebel V-B launchers to the US rifles. A surviving report from the 42nd Division covers the topic:

“Someone at the Ordnance Base re-designed the base of the French tromblon to that it would fit the muzzle of the Springfield rifle, but they failed to take into consideration the great difference in pressure developed by the propelling charge of the American cartridge. It seems that the Rainbow (nickname of the 42nd Div) was the first to receive this new brainchild and they were promptly issued to the infantry squads in the divisions. The next day many of the men were in the hospital and their rifles were beyond repair.”

Part III. The Launchers.

by John on Jun 02, 2004

February 18, 2004

A little change of pace...

Okay - in hopes to inspire Mike the Bartender who is a very busy man these days, I offer a mix of militaria.

On the left, a cup-discharged grenade I believe to be Belgian. If anyone can provide more information, and, even better - pictures of the launcher, well, that would be too cool.

For the Bartender at Madfish Willies - a schnapps glass. Recovered from a collapsed german dugout in the Verdun sector. Whether by the heat of the blast, or the pressure it was under while buried - it's slightly deformed, and that dirt on it is resistant to gentle cleaning methods. Any glass restorers with advice on that would be appreciated - whether in the comments or via email. I'm not interested in restoring the shape or polishing it back to a shine - I just want to clean up the dirt a bit.

by John on Feb 18, 2004

November 11, 2003

When the pin is pulled, Mr. Grenade is not your friend, Part 1.

All right, it's Veteran's Day. Veteran's Day started out as a commemoration of the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918. The cessation of WWI armed hostilities. The war didn't officially end until the Treaty of Versailles in 1919, and the hostilities continued, breaking back into open warfare, into WWII. So, for all us Vets out there, it's WWI weapon day at Castle Arrgghhh! Even as we speak, I'm working on the Rifles of the Major Combatants! I'm going to keep this post at the top today, so if you check back to see the new stuff, just scroll down!

Update: Having had some time to think about it - I'm also going to include some of the little things in the life of the soldier. Today is about the warrior who puts life and limb on the line - and while I am going to showcase a lot of the weapons, I'm going to dig into the other boxes, and show you some of the other stuff of day-to-day life. So, start coming back mid-afternoon (got a business meeting to deal with first!) and see some more little bits and pieces of the life of the soldier.

Okay - what do all the things in this picture have in common?

Give up? They are all grenades, and they were all used during WWI. Many Nations went into WWI with grenades that required lit fuzes (though not the Germans). They came out with grenades we'd recognize today. I thought I would share a bit of my ordnance collection with y'all. Normal disclaimers apply - it's all legal where I live, which wouldn't be true if I lived in California - while they are all inert, they are not full of MT-5 epoxy filling. For the record, since I never intend to use them, if I was moving to California (I can't imagine why, I'd have to leave some guns behind) I wouldn't object to filling them - although persnickety collectors have a cow over that. Which is okay - they are allowed to have a cow. Or a moose. Anyway - let's lookit some engines of destruction!

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows »

by John on Nov 11, 2003
» Backcountry Conservative links with: Veterans Day
» AlphaPatriot links with: Ordinance Lovers
» The Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler links with: Grenade Pr0n

November 08, 2003

This is just a tease...

While I work on the rest of the post...

Suffice it to say it's about grenades and WWI. Modified Gun Porn™ is back!

Update: I'm still working on it! Hadda get that military geek stuff done, first!

Last Update: It's done! Of course, unless you came here directly from a bookmark, you know that already, since it's the first post of Veteran's Day!

by John on Nov 08, 2003

October 02, 2003

Warning! Exteme Danger of Causing Nanny-Stater Heads to Explode.

Or, at least turn 'em into gibbering dolts with outrage. I like that.

This is a shot of my burgeoning grenade collection. I'm going to work up a photo essay on the subject that I'll link to on the sidebar, rather than punish dial-up visitors.

Most, not all, but most, of these grenades are from WWI, a fascinating era in grenades. Where you could find this, a Brit No 15, Mk 1, fuze lit by a match (Not Good, as the Brits found out at Loos), next to this, a No 5 Mk1, in the same trench.

Visible below are some other tools of the trade (which I like every bit as much as the guns) like a trench club, some submachine guns, wire cutters, and a stereo-optic rangefinder. As ever, if you are appalled, all grenades are inert, empty, no explosive and my Standard Disclaimer (SM) applies. If it doesn't display for you (some problem somewhere) it's listed on the sidebar under "Gun Pics" as Periodic Disclaimer.

If you'd like to see more WWI grenades, I recommend this excellent site, .Granaty WWI run by Greg. It is a polish site, but don't let that deter you - english speakers can glean a lot from it!

There is also this site, which specializes in Brit grenades. You'll find several of mine grenades in the pic discussed here.

by John on Oct 02, 2003