Grenades have been around for hundreds of years. They are small explosive devices, usually thrown by hand, after the safety mechanism is by-passed. Some grenades are launched from rifles or special grenades launchers. Some are now called “rocket propelled grenades” (RPG) but these are really anti-tank rockets.
The most common safety is a ring attached to a pin. As well there is often a spoon (safety lever) which keeps the grenade safe as long as it is held down against the body of the grenade. The safety pin holds the spoon in place during storage or transport.
Once the pin is removed and the grenade is thrown or launched, an internal spring acts on the striker which pushes the spoon away. The striker hits a cap which ignites the delay fuze, usually 4 to 7 seconds approximately. This ignites the detonator which sets of the main charge. The grenade thus explodes.
Some grenades depend upon the blast effect and others are designed to fragment, sending pieces out in all directions to kill or injure the enemy. Some grenades use large fragments and others use small fragments.
If you find a grenade
If you find a grenade, especially on an old battlefield or military training area, do not touch it! THEY CAN STILL EXPLODE. Report it to the police or military authorities who have teams to deal with such things.
Many soldiers kept grenades as souvenirs and many others have been sold as collector items, after the explosives were removed and they became simple paperweights or curiosities. MOST of the time, the explosives have been removed, but not always.
Some types of grenades:
- High explosive – Intended to kill the enemy or to destroy somethings such as radio equipment.
- White Phosphorus – The explode sending out burning phosphorous. Used to provide instant smoke, or to kill enemy in a bunker for example.
- Smoke – Used for signalling helicopters, artillery etc. or to provide temporary cover from view.
- Tear Gas – These emit a stream of tear gas.
- Flash-Bang – used by police and special forces to stun or temporarily blind and deafen terrorists etc.
- Dummy grenades, – Used for practice in priming and throwing grenades. These never had explosive charges.