~ Evolution and Demise of the Rod Grenade ~
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The Rod Grenade concept is a vast and interesting field of study. A curious weapon, born of necessity inspired by simplicity, abandoned due to its impracticality.
Widespread use in combat spanned only about 10 years (circa 1907 -1917). During that time it was widely adopted by many countries and was made in a myriad of functional types, shapes and sizes. A classic weapon of WWI.
While rod grenade types were still used after WWI (By the Spanish Republicans during the Spanish Civil War and as a small pistol variant developed during WWII by the Germans.) the concept had become obsolete.
While this presentation of rod grenades is very small, it will hopefully provide some useful background for those new to the subject and to the aspiring collector. -ej

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Rod Grenades of WWI

Austro-Hungarian Zeitzünder, 1st Model
Austro-Hungarian Zeitzünder, 2nd Model
German Model 1914.
British No.3 Mk.I
British No.23 "Mills Bomb"
British No.24 Mk II
British No.35 Mk I
French Ball, Model Unknown
French Model 1915 (?)
Austrian “Universal” Hand or Rifle Grenade


The idea of using the rifle to discharge a grenade is a very old one. The School of Infantry Museum at Warminster, England, has a flintlock musket on display called the "Tinker's Mortar", dating from 1681. The rifle was placed on the ground, muzzle down. A special channel ran from the flintlock pan to a cup built into the buttstock. A propellant charge was poured into a special powder chamber in the cup. A simple grenade was the projectile, the flash of the propellant ignited the fuze as it was fired. Other designs from the same time period, have a cup permanently attached to the muzzle. A novel idea, but cumbersome and ineffective.

The rifle grenade concept was dormant for many years until 1907, when Martin Hale developed the rod grenade. A simple rod was attached to a specialized grenade, inserted into the barrel of a standard service rifle and launched using a blank cartridge. Though a simple approach, this method placed an extreme amount of stress on the rifle barrel and the rifle itself, resulting in the need to dedicate specific rifles to the grenade launching role, as they quickly became useless as an accurate firearm. This lead to the search for an alternative and resulted in the reappearance of the cup launcher during the latter years of World War I.

Information from:
Illustrated Encyclopedia of Ammunition
Ian V. Hogg
1985


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A Curious Historical Footnote....
The "Rod Grenade" Concept for Artillery, W.W.II

German 3.7cm Stielgranate 41

Last Update: 31 January 2003

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