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Handgrenade

Stielhandgranate 24

Handgrenades are often used against tanks, usually not due to any special AT capability of these weapons but because of their availability. Although a regular handgrenade could not kill a healthy full-grown tank it might damage it esp. immobilize it with a lucky explosion in the track. But there were also special AT handgrenades dedicated to fight armor.

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The most famous german hand grenade is probably the Stielhandgranate 24 ("stick hand grenade"), often referred to as the stick grenade or the potato masher by allied soldiers. The grenade's time fuse was activated by unscrewing the bottom and pulling the Abreisszünder ("rip detonator") safety cord. It weighed 480g, had an overall length of 35.6cm and had a warhead with a length of 7.5 cm and a diameter of 6cm that contained 165g of explosives (different explosives were used over the course of the war). To increase the shrapnel effect (the handgrenades had a very thin metal skin and were intended to rely on blast rather than fragmentation) later the Splitterringe ("shrapnel rings") could be attached to the cylindrical warhead; use of these shrapnel rings was copied from the russians who used this method for their RGD 33 hand grenades. Of both the Stielhandgranate 42 and the Handgranate 43 together a total of 81 Mio. were produced before and during the war.

Stielhandgranate 43

 

The Model 43 Stielhandgranate was introduced by the German Army mid-way through World War II to replace the earlier Model 24 (the archetypal stick grenade). This development was intended to simplify production and to enhance its versatility, evidenced by even more simplification between the early and late versions.

The Model 43 consisted of an explosive-filled sheet-metal can affixed to a solid wooden stick for throwing. Although at first glance this grenade looks very similar to its predecessor, it differs in the main respect that the actual explosive charge and fuse form a self-contained unit in the head.

As such, the explosive charge could be dismounted from the stick handle and used separately as a booby trap. This was in contrast to the Model 24, where the explosive charge was in the head but the fuse was mounted at the top of the hollow stick. A pull-cord ran down the length of the stick and was attached to a porcelain ball at the bottom, which was contained by a detachable screw cap - therefore, the older grenade could only be used when both parts were connected. When the porcelain ball was pulled there was a 5.5- 7 second delay before explosion.

The Model 43 used the same fuse assembly (the BZE 39) as the egg-shaped Model 39 Eierhandgranate, which was screwed into the top of the explosive charge.

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Eihandgranate 39

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First model (1939)

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Second model with ring (1941)
A smaller handgrenade was the Eihandgranate 39 ("egg hand grenade"). It weighed only 230g and contained 112g of explosives; it's small size reduced the lethality of the weapon but greatly improved handling and conveniant stowage. Having a length of 7.6cm and a diameter of 6cm, a total of 84 Mio. Ei-Hdgr. 39 were produced beginning in early 1940. From 1941 on they came with a ring for attachment on pouches or tunicbuttoms.

Later in the war due to shortages Eihandgranaten were manufactured of concrete (with scrap metal pieces in the cast) instead of metal. Because these concrete egg grenades had problems with the concrete becoming brittle, another solution was found: the Volkshandgranate 45 ("people's hand grenade"). It was basically a cardboard can with a diameter of 5cm and a height of 7cm filled with a mixture of 70g concrete, 75g gravel and 350g scrap metal pieces, with a core made of only 36g of explosive (due to shortages). The can was closed with a sheet metal lid with the same Abreisszünder rip-cord used on the Stielhandgranate. The company Preussag in Rudersdorf produced 784,200 beginning in January 1945.

Gewehrgranatgerät / Schiessbecher
Grenadelauncher

Rifle grenades enable the infantryman to attack targets outside the range of hand-thrown hangrenades with similar small explosive devices. To modify the rifle to fire rifle grenades, the soldier had to attach a device to his rifle that accomodated the over-caliber rifle grenades. The Gewehrgranatgerät ("rifle grenade device"), also called Schiessbecher ("firing cup"), of the Wehrmacht could be attached to the Mauser 98K rifle, the Gewehr 43, the StGw 44 assault rifle and the FG 42 paratrooper rifle. 

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The Schiessbecher was basically a short rifled barrel with a caliber of 30mm and a length of 25cm. It weighed 0.75kg and was attached to the bore of the rifle. A rather complicated aiming device was mounted to the left of the original sights and allowed for aiming ranges of up to 300m. the Schiessbecher was produced until May 1944, the total production was 1,450,114.

Mod.30 HE Rifle Grenade

The Mod.30 is 30mm in diameter, the same as the caliber of the schiessbecher. It has a steel fuze and body with a Bakelite driving band base matched to the rifling. It used the AZ5071 PD fuze with an internal set-back safety. The design was successful due its adapability. As increased explosive power became a necessity, to keep up with the rapidly increasing armor threat, oversized warheads were designed which extended beyond the muzzle.

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Mod. 30 Mod. 40

Mod.40, HEAT Rifle Grenade

At the top is the Grosse Gewehrpanzergranate, (a.k.a the Mod.40) HEAT rifle grenade developed by the German Wehrmacht. It has a 45-39mm tapered shape charge warhead and is by far the most common of the Anti-Tank types encountered. It could penetrate 70mm of armor (regardless of range, as it was a shaped charge). It has a sheet metal warhead body with a swage mounted nose cap. The base fuze is inside a Bakelite shaft. (Sometimes aluminum.)

Panzerfaust Klein 30, "GRETCHEN"

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Development of an effective, personal, anti-tank weapon was started, at the request of the Heeres Waffen-amt, by the HASAG firm of Leipzig in November 1942. Originally HASAG developed the Faustpatrone 1, (Fist Cartridge 1), nicknamed "Gretchen", followed by the "Faustpatrone 2", also referred to as the "Panzerfaust 30", (Armored Fist 30). In July 1943 the Faustpatrone 1 was field tested and the first five thousand Faustpatrone 1's were issued to personnel in the field in August that year. In May 1944 the Faustpatrone 1 was re-designated, Panzerfaust Klein 30. The Panzerfaust 30, had an initial velocity of thirty meters per second and was capable of penetrating roughly one hundred forty millimeters of armor at an effective range of thirty meters. The unique design of the sight and trigger device also acts as a safety as the panzerfaust can not be activated when the sight is in the folded down position. Of Note: Interestingly the main manufacturer of the firing tubes was the Volkswagen-Werke in Fallersleben. Also Of Note: Both the Faustpatrone 1 and the Faustpatrone 2 were found to have insufficient penetrating power so further developments lead to the Panzerfaust 60 in August 1944. By October 1944, 400,000 Panzerfaust 60's were being produced and issued monthly.

Panzerfaust 60

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Since the small distance of 30m to the target tank necessary for the use of the Panzerfaust 30 m was considered too dangerous, the propellant of the successor model Panzerfaust 60 m was increased to 134g (4.73 oz) in the next development. This increased projectile velocity to 45 m/s (150 fps) which made for a practical range of now 60m (200 ft.). The sight reflected this with crevices for ranges of 30, 60 and 80 meters (100, 200 and 260 ft. resp.). Tube diameter increased to 5cm (1.97in.). Again, these developments were made by Dr. Langweiler for the company HASAG. Other changes included the new arming / firing system with the new lever that also served as the rear sight. This new model, the Panzerfaust 60 m, was to become the most popular and widely - used Panzerfaust type. The weapon had the same length as its forerunner but now weighed 6.1 kg (13.4 lb.). It replaced the Panzerfaust 30 m, production started in September 1944. Early production plans for the Panzerfaust called for 400,000 pieces per month. This figure was not met until October 1944. By then the request had been increased in September to 1.5 million per month, this was almost achieved in December 1944 with close to 1.3 million produced. A large number of different companies produced the Panzerfaust, the major contributor was the HASAG Hugo Schneider AG Lampenfabrik in Leipzig.

Tellermine T.Mi.35

The Tellermine 35 (T.Mi.35) was a German metal cased anti-tank mine used extensively during the Second World War. The mine's case is made of sheet steel, and has a slightly convex pressure plate on the top surface with a central fuse well. Two secondary fuse wells are located on the side and bottom of the mine for anti-handling devices.

For use on beaches and underwater the mine could be deployed inside a specically designed earthenware or concrete pot, which acted as a waterproof jacket for the mine.

A later variant of the mine, the T.Mi.35 (S) was produced with a ribbed case and a fuse cover. The ribbed case stopped sand from blowing off the top of the mine when it was used in a dessert or sandy environment.

Pressure of 400 pounds (180 kg) on the center of the mine or 200 pounds (90 kg) on the edge of the mine deforms the pressure plate compressing a spring, and shearing a retaining pin holding the striker. Once the striker is released it is driven into a percussion cap which ignites the detonator followed by the booster charge and main charge.

Weight: 9,1 kg
Explosive content: 5,5 kg TNT
Trigger weight: 90 to 180 kg

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S-Mine

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The German S-mine (Schrapnellmine in German), also known as the Bouncing Betty, is the best-known version of a class of mines known as bounding mines. These mines launch into the air at about waist height and explode, propelling shrapnel horizontally at lethal speeds. The S-mine was an anti-personnel landmine developed by Nazi Germany in the 1930s and used extensively by German forces during World War II. It was designed to be used in open areas to attack unshielded infantry. Two versions were produced, designated by the year of their first production: the SMi-35 and SMi-44. There are only minor differences between the two models. The S-mine entered production in 1935 and served as a key part of the defensive strategy of the Third Reich. Until production ceased with the defeat of. Germany in 1945, Germany produced over 1.93 million S-mines. These mines were responsible for inflicting heavy casualties and slowing, or even repelling, drives into German-held territory throughout the war. The design was lethal, successful and much imitated, and remains one of the definitive weapons of World War II.

 

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