Hand Grenades

Fragmentation Hand Grenade, M26A1
Hand Grenade, Fragmentation, M26A1.

Today in WW II: 24 Oct 1944 US 7th Fleet units block southern approaches to Leyte while 3rd Fleet aircraft attack Japanese task forces in the Sibuyan Sea [Center Force] and Sulu Sea [Southern Force].  More 
24 Oct 1944 Battle of Surigao Strait: last battleship vs battleship action in history; Japanese Navy Southern Force ambushed by US Navy 7th Fleet; heavy Japanese losses [Leyte, 24-25 Oct].
24 Oct 1945 United Nations organization officially comes into existence.
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Fragmentation Grenades

Paratrooper in Fragmentation Hand Grenade training at Fort Benning, GA, April 1943
Paratrooper in Fragmentation Hand Grenade training at Fort Benning, GA, April 1943.

A hand grenade is a hand-held, hand-armed, and hand-thrown weapon that gives the soldier the ability to kill enemy personnel and destroy enemy equipment.

Close up of soldier clasping Mk-II hand grenade during infantry training at Ft. Belvoir, VA, WW II
Close up of soldier clasping Mk-II hand grenade during infantry training at Ft. Belvoir, VA, WW II.

Historically, the most important hand grenade has been the fragmentation grenade, which is the soldier’s personal indirect weapon system. They produce casualties through the high-velocity projection of fragments. The hand grenade is thrown by hand; therefore, the range is short and the casualty radius is small. A four to five second delay on the fuze allows safe employment of the grenade. Most hand grenades can be thrown 125 feet or so by average soldiers and have an effective casualty radius of up to 50 feet, lethal to 15 feet.

The 20 oz. Mk-II "pineapple" was the fragmentation grenade used by U.S. troops from the 1920s into the 1960s. It was armed by "pulling the pin" which was accomplished by holding down the handle and yanking on a the metal ring attached to the pin. The grenade would detonate five seconds after the release of the handle which flys off and causes a striker to set off the fuse. Grenades often took more or less than five seconds to detonate, a significant drawback and hazard. The Mk-II and Mk-II A1 had many small variations over their 40+ year service lifetime until replaced by the M26 or M26A1 in the mid-1960s. The Mk-II was used in Vietnam until inventories were exhausted.

The 21 oz. M26 and M26A1 grenade bodies are smooth cast iron (top photo). The ring, pin, lever and fuze are very similar to the Mk-II design. They use the M204A1 or M204A2 fuze to ignite TNT fillers. These grenades have an olive drab body with a single yellow band at the top and yellow markings, which indicate a high-explosive filler. They were in common use in Vietnam after 1965.

The current fragmentation grenade used by U.S. military is the 14 oz. M67 "baseball". Again, the ring, pin, lever and fuze are very similar to the earlier designs, with a safety clip added. Its 2.5 inch diameter spherical body is a two-piece brazed metal shell with an embossed fragmentation pattern on the inner surface, designed to project fragments in a uniform pattern of distribution. It is painted olive drab with markings in yellow. Its fuse has a 4 to 5.5 second delay before detonating 5.4 oz. of HE Comp B explosive.

Although the M67 was used with good results in the Gulf War, the grenade was not produced during the late 1990s. After the attacks on 11 September 2001, production resumed to supply operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere.

Other Hand Grenade Types

Practice Hand Grenade, M69

In addition to fragmentation grenades, US forces use colored and white smoke, riot-control, and special purpose grenades to signal, screen, subdue crowds, start fires, or destroy equipment. Special offensive (concussion) grenades are very effective against an enemy in a confined space. Each grenade type also has a matched practice grenade with identical size, weight and activation for training purposes (e.g. M69, left photo). Field Manual FM 23-30 "Grenades and Pyrotechnics" describes the many types in use by the U.S. military, including these:.

  • M67 Fragmentation
  • M18 Colored Smoke
  • M34 WP Smoke
  • AN-M8 HC Smoke
  • AN-M14 TH3 Incendiary
  • ABC-M25A2 CS Riot Control

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