After the war, repeated attempts were made to improve the design of hand grenades, however, after all the attempts, the famous F-1 "fennec" is still in service with the army.
Over the past hundred years, hand grenades have become one of the most common types of infantry weapons, they were used in all wars, large and small. The first massive use of hand grenades, most likely, refers to the Russo-Japanese War, and during the First World War, many types of grenades were developed and put into wide production, including those that are still in service today. Among such long-livers can be called the famous F-1 / F-1 grenade, developed in 1915 in France, and then adopted by the Red Army. During World War II, the production of hand grenades in the USSR reached 138 million pieces, and in Germany - 136 million pieces. The consumption of pomegranates could reach tens of thousands of pieces per day.
Hand grenades in the war became a kind of "pocket artillery" for the infantry. With its help, it was possible to storm trenches, firing points, buildings, destroy unarmored and lightly armored vehicles, place them as antipersonnel mines, and fight off the advancing enemy. Subsequent armed conflicts greatly enriched the arsenal of tactical methods for using grenades, so now the use of grenades has become a whole science, significantly expanding the combat capabilities of an infantryman.
After the war, numerous attempts were made to improve the design of hand grenades, however, after all attempts, and even after the appearance of hand and underbarrel grenade launchers, the famous F-1 "fennec" is still in service with the Russian army.
The reasons for the longevity of "fennec"
At this point, it is worth thinking about the reasons for the phenomenal longevity of the F1, which has been fighting for a hundred years in a row. Neither more advanced grenades (for example, RGN and RGO), nor the successful military development of the RG-42, could replace it. The first reason is the simplicity of the design. F-1 consists of three parts: a body made of steel cast iron, a TNT charge and an UZRGM fuse. Casting of a cast iron body does not require semi-finished products (unlike RG-42, for the production of which sheet metal was required), it can be carried out at any enterprise where there is a foundry. For comparison, the RGN and RGO grenades are a technological masterpiece that requires precise stamping of hemispheres (two aluminum for the RGN and four steel for the RGO), the manufacture and assembly of a complex shock-remote fuse. The use of semi-finished products and much more complex production operations did not allow the mass production of these types of grenades, even within the powerful Soviet military-industrial complex. The second reason for the longevity of the F-1 is that with the smallest charge among all types of grenades - 60 grams of TNT, it provides shrapnel damage within a radius of 7 meters, and a high-explosive effect within a radius of 3-5 meters. RGN achieves the same effect with 114 grams of explosive charge. No wonder: less fragile than cast iron, steel and aluminum, in hand grenades show much less efficiency. There are also other reasons for the popularity of the F-1, consisting in the ergonomics of the grenade, convenience for throwing, the ability to use a grenade in hand-to-hand combat as a striking object, and the habit of using this type of grenade.
Thus, we can say that the reason for such a long service life of the F-1 lies in technological and military-economic aspects: a simpler manufacturing technology, no need for semi-finished products, a fragile material that gives good fragments, a lower explosive charge. All this is very important for the military economy.
An interesting observation can be made that the post-war attempts to improve the hand grenade were clearly on the wrong track. The choice of a material with much less brittleness than cast iron significantly worsened the tactical and technical characteristics of grenades. This deterioration was not compensated for by the lighter weight of the grenades (RGN weighs 310 grams versus 600 grams of the F-1), nor by a more advanced fuse. Not to mention a much more complex manufacturing technology.
But this does not mean that the hand grenade cannot be improved. Can. The improved grenade should be even simpler and more technologically advanced than the F-1, as well as have wider tactical capabilities.
Technological and mobilization innovations
The first step is the material of the grenade body. It should be a brittle, easily crushed material. The first candidate for the role is the same steel cast iron, a war-tested material for the production of ammunition. However, there are other materials as well. For example, phenolic plastics (a mixture of phenol-formaldehyde resin with fillers), which can be significantly more brittle than cast iron (2-6 kJ / m2, with the same indicator for cast iron 80-100 kJ / m2), and can have a comparable fragility. By choosing a filler, you can get a resin of excellent brittleness, but at the same time with good hardness, which is important for obtaining fragments. The fragments will be comparable in weight to cast iron fragments, and in addition, by experimenting with the fillers and the structure of the plastic, it is possible to achieve the formation of a large number of large fragments. Steel and aluminum are not very suitable for garnets.
Manufacturability of manufacturing depends on the design of the grenade itself. The circuit itself can be taken from F-1: housing, charge and fuse UZRGM. However, casting of the F-1 body has its drawbacks associated with the properties of cast iron, and gives a rather high percentage of rejects. The body of a hand grenade is best stamped. This technology is suitable for both cast iron and its substitutes. The body in this case is a tube 25-30 cm long, with an inner diameter corresponding to the diameter of the F-1 grenade point (about 2 cm), the wall thickness can be 3-4 mm. At one end of the tube there is an internal thread, on this side a fuse is inserted into the grenade, and on the other side there is an external thread on which an additional jacket can be screwed to increase the number of fragments.
However, here it is worth considering better the issue of substitutes for cast iron with brittle non-metals. Cast iron is quite difficult to work with. The tube from it can be cast, squeezed out by pressing or extrusion, but this is a rather complex technology that requires melting the metal or heating the blanks to 900 degrees (therefore, fuel or energy consumption), as well as powerful presses. Forming a tube from phenolic plastics is much easier and more technologically advanced, since it can be stamped, squeezed out by extrusion, formed by winding strips, glued from two stamped halves, or in some other way. The shrapnel jacket can also be made non-metallic, for example, from glass, which is remarkably brittle and produces shards with sharp, cutting edges that are difficult to remove from the body. In principle, almost any plastic is suitable for the production of a grenade body; many of its types are very fragile. Although phenolic plastics have a certain preference, it is possible to conduct field tests on plastics of different types and formulations to find the best one for making garnets.
The tube is filled with TNT, which can be preformed into a rod of appropriate dimensions and wrapped in oiled paper. The end of the tube opposite from the fuse is closed with a stopper. A tube of the above dimensions can hold about 100 grams of TNT. The fuse is standard - UZRGM, with the only difference that the trigger lever is not bent, but straight. Accordingly, the grenade is taken in the hand with the fuse down, the lever is pressed by the hand against the body of the grenade.
What does it give us? Firstly, this gives a significant simplification of the technology for manufacturing the body of the grenade. This is most clearly seen in the case of the use of phenolic plastics, easily amenable to mechanical processing. Refusal to cast iron allows to fully automate the manufacture of hand grenades, which will allow them to be produced in very large quantities. For war, an excess of hand grenades is more a blessing than a disadvantage. Secondly, this structure has a mobilization potential. If you feel like it, the body of the grenade can be made by handicraft methods from any suitable pipe (for example, a 3/4 inch steel water pipe), rolled from any iron sheet that has turned up under your arm, made a pipe from glass, and even using cardboard tubes (then a grenade will act like a TNT stick). The effectiveness of such grenades will differ significantly from the standard ones, but sometimes military needs are forced to resort to such improvisations.
Another advantage of the grenade design is the ability to vary the charge power. The tube can be made shorter or longer, with less or more explosives. You can also reduce the charge in a ready-made grenade by securing it inside with an additional plug. With F-1 and all varieties of spherical grenades, this cannot be done. Empirically, you can choose the optimal size of the grenade and the weight of the charge, so that with a minimum weight, the maximum effect is achieved.
The well-known German grenade Stielhandgranate 24 served as a prototype of the above-described hand grenade sample. It is also from the long-lived grenade breed, appeared in Germany in 1916, successfully conquered in the First and Second World Wars, having received the nickname "mallet" or "crush". Then she fought in Vietnam, and was in service with the Swiss army until the early 1990s. Although it was quite complex in design and was not a model of effectiveness (mainly due to ersatz explosives), it nevertheless had a number of tactical advantages. First, a more distant throw, according to some sources, a trained grenadier threw a "mallet" over 80 meters. This is a very significant advantage when storming trenches and buildings. Secondly, the grenade easily turned into an anti-personnel mine, and also, a cast-iron shirt was put on it, turning it into a defensive grenade. Thirdly, several grenades could be tied in a bundle (F-1 in this case folded into a bag). Fourthly, it was very comfortable to wear, the grenade could be plugged into the waist belt, or shoved into the boot, and in addition, the grenades were sometimes equipped with a special clip for wearing on the belt.
All these tactical advantages of the German hand grenade are also in the sample proposed above, and in an even more pronounced form.
First. The garnet is easily modified by screwing additional parts onto the opposite end of the tube. An additional cast iron shirt, crafted in the form of an internally threaded glass, will turn it into a defensive grenade. Instead of a shirt, you can also screw in an additional charge of explosives or a small container with a flammable liquid. These are standard options. You can also modify it with improvised means by attaching nuts, screws, etc. to it with tape. metal trifle.
Second. It turns into an anti-personnel mine even easier than a German one. To do this, it is enough to stick it into the ground so that the fuse sticks up, like a POMZ anti-personnel mine, and hooks a wire to the ring. The well-known "stretching" will turn out to all. Optionally, for the greater chagrin of the occupier, you can tape the metallic trifles to the part of the grenade that remains sticking out above the ground. In general, such a grenade is much better suited for installing "stretch marks" than the F-1. It is easier to tie the tube to something, glue it with the same tape, pinch it with some object.
Third. This kind of hand grenade can be used as a component of a more powerful explosive charge. During World War II, sappers often blew up buildings and structures, pillboxes and other firing points with the help of large explosive charges, which usually consisted of a bag of ammonal or ammonium nitrate. However, the installation of such a charge and a fuse under enemy fire often led to losses; That short time, while the sappers set up the charge, inserted and alerted the fuse, was enough for the enemy to notice them and start firing at them. The combination of an explosive charge with the grenade described above makes it possible to seriously facilitate the task of sappers; it is enough for them to bring the charge to the target, attach a cord or cable to the ring, and pull it from the shelter. This will take less time, and it is less likely to come under enemy fire. Instead of the standard UZRGM, an electric fuse can be used for these purposes, installed in a grenade using an adapter ring. Such charges can be made by sappers improvised, on the spot, but it is possible to develop a standard engineering charge equipped with a carrying handle and a grenade slot.
Fourth. Hand grenades with a tubular body are incomparably easier to tie into bundles than any other hand grenades, especially the F-1. They can be tied together up to ten pieces, which, with the mass of explosives of each grenade in 100 grams, will give a kilogram charge, with which you can go against armored vehicles or which can destroy a firing point. This can be easily done with any available means: twine, wire, tape or electrical tape, bandage, but you can also develop special clamps or fastening rings.
Finally, the fifth. Convenience in packaging and wearing. Tubular grenades will require a more compact crate than the F-1 and any other spherical hand grenades, which will have a positive effect on military logistics. Such grenades are easier to carry with you by plugging them by the belt, putting them in any suitable shape or unload pocket. For example, two or three of these grenades can be put into the unloading slot intended for the gun horn. On unloading, special sockets can be sewn for them. Finally, the grenades can be simply taped to the sleeve or pant leg.
The tactical advantages of a hand grenade with a tubular body are quite obvious in comparison with the legendary "fennec". At the same time, all tactics and habits associated with the F1 are easily switched to a new grenade.
Since, as experience shows, military conflicts have not yet become part of history, this forces us to improve the models of weapons and ammunition. Do not go to extremes, dealing only with the most advanced models, military high-tech. In a big war, types of weapons, simple in design and massive in production, such as hand grenades, are of great importance.