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A grenade is a small bomb typically thrown by hand. Generally, a grenade consists of an explosive charge, a detonating mechanism, and firing pin to trigger the detonating mechanism. Once the soldier throws the grenade, the safety lever releases, the striker throws the safety lever away from the grenade body as it rotates to detonate the primer. The primer explodes and ignites the fuse (sometimes called the delay element). The fuse burns down to the detonator, which explodes the main charge.
There are several types of grenades such as fragmentation grenades and stick grenades. Fragmentation grenades are probably the most common in armies. They are weapons that are designed to disperse lethal fragments on detonation. The body is generally made of a hard synthetic material or steel, which will provide some fragmentation as shards and splinters, though in modern grenades a pre-formed fragmentation matrix is often used. The pre-formed fragmentation may be spherical, cuboid, wire or notched wire. Most AP grenades are designed to detonate either after a time delay or on impact. When the word grenade is used without specification, and context does not suggest otherwise, it is generally assumed to refer to a fragmentation grenade. Stick grenades have a long handle attached to the grenade proper, providing leverage for longer throwing distance, at the cost of additional weight. The term “stick grenade” commonly refers to the German Stielhandgranate stick grenade introduced in 1915 and developed throughout World War I. A friction igniter was used; this method was uncommon in other countries but widely used for German grenades.
Grenades also come in several shapes: the most used ones are the “baseball” and the “pineapple”. The “baseball” grenade consists of a round metallic ball with ignition parts on top whereas the “pineapple” grenade has a more cylindrical shape and small squares on the side, sometimes used for gripping and greater accuracy.
Grenades saw extensive use during World War I and later in World War II. The WW1 and WW2 era “stick grenade” was often used in trench warfare because the handle allowed it to be thrown further, about 40 meters, though its explosive charge was generally smaller. The allies rather tended to use baseball grenades as they had a greater explosive force but were harder to throw (30 meters).
The lack of an effective hand grenade, coupled with their perceived danger to the user and their lack of utility meant that they were regarded as increasingly obsolete pieces of military equipment. In 1902, the British War Office announced that hand grenades were obsolete and had no place in modern warfare. Within two years, following the success of improvised grenades in the trench warfare conditions of the Russo-Japanese War, and reports from General Sir Aylmer Haldane, a British observer of the conflict, a reassessment was quickly made and the Board of Ordnance was instructed to develop a practical hand grenade. Various models using a percussion fuse were built, but this type of fuse suffered from various practical problems, and they were not commissioned in large numbers.
Marten Hale, better known for patenting the Hales rifle grenade, developed a modern hand grenade in 1906, but was unsuccessful in persuading the British Army to adopt the weapon until 1913. Hale’s chief competitor was Nils Waltersen Aasen, who invented his design in 1906 in Norway, receiving a patent for it in England. He began his experiments with developing a grenade while serving as a sergeant in the Oscarsborg Fortress. Aasen formed the Aasenske Granatkompani in Denmark, which before the First World War produced and exported hand grenades in large numbers across Europe. He had success in marketing his weapon to the French, and was appointed as a Knight of the French Legion in 1916 for the invention.
The Royal Laboratory developed the No 1 Grenade in 1908. It contained explosive material with an iron fragmentation band, with an impact fuse, detonating when the top of the grenade hit the ground. A long cane handle (approximately 16 inches) allowed the user to throw the grenade further than the blast of the explosion.
Early in World War I, combatant nations only had small grenades, similar to Hales’ and Aasen’s design. The Italian Besozzi grenade had a five-second fuse with a match-tip that was ignited by striking on a ring on the soldier’s hand. As an interim measure, troops often improvised their own grenades, such as the Jam Tin Grenade.
William Mills, a hand grenade designer from Sunderland, patented, developed and manufactured the “Mills bomb” at the Mills Munition Factory in Birmingham, England in 1915, designating it the No.5. It was described as the first “safe grenade”. They were explosive-filled steel canisters with a triggering pin and a distinctive deeply notched exterior surface. This segmentation was thought to aid fragmentation and increase the grenade’s deadliness, but later resea