Hand Grenade Glashandgranate (Germany)
In the autumn of 1944, Nazi Germany, now forced to fight on two fronts, formed Volkshturm militias. Their weapons required a variety of weapons, including hand grenades. However, in the existing conditions, the industry could not quickly fulfill a mass of orders and deliver the necessary products to all army structures and militias. In addition, a new problem has emerged in the form of a growing shortage of certain materials. As a result, for the arming of the militias and, in certain circumstances, the army proposed to develop several special models that can be attributed to the conditional class of "Erzatz".
One of the surviving ersatz-grenade Glashandgranate
Volkssturm was asked to use grenades made using non-standard materials. A common feature of several such products was the absence of the usual metal body, with the explosion of crushing into fragments. In addition, it was proposed to further simplify the design of the grenade in comparison with mass-produced serial samples, as well as to use other explosives. Specific design problems were solved using the most unusual materials - concrete, paper, and even glass.
One of the new developments of the German industry was the product called Glashandgranate - "Glass hand grenade". As follows from its designation, in this case it was decided to replace the deficient metal with less expensive glass. At the same time, the grenade was supposed to use a reasonably cheap and easy to manufacture fuse of the production model.
The main element of the grenade was a case made of affordable glass. It was proposed to cast an egg-shaped body, vaguely resembling aggregates of other weapons of this class. In particular, there was a certain similarity with the Eihandgranate 38 product. At the same time technological limitations led to the appearance of noticeable differences. The main part of the body was made curved and had characteristic protrusions forming a grid. According to some reports, grenades of different series could have both a protruding grid, and intersecting grooves of shallow depth. Other samples in general could get a smooth body.
On top of the rounded case there was a relatively large mouth with a thickening along the edge. On the sides of this thickening grooves were provided. It was proposed to install a tin round cover on the neck. The lid was secured in place with a pair of hooks. When putting on the cap, they passed through the grooves of the neck, after which it could be turned and fixed. In the center of the cover there was a threaded hole for the installation of the fuse of the existing model.
Inside the glass case, an explosive charge with a mass of the order of 120 was placed. Depending on availability and supplies, an ersatz grenade Glashandgranate could have a charge from one or another explosive. In particular, cheap and easy to manufacture Nipolit was used. However, the low price of this explosive was compensated for by reduced power, and such grenades were noticeably inferior to other, equipped with TNT or ammonal.
According to known data, ready-made attack elements could be loaded into the body along with the explosive. These were wire cuts, small metal balls, etc. During the explosion, they had to fly apart in different directions, injuring the enemy. The metal parts of the grenade - the lid and the fuse - could also break into pieces and increase the impact on the target.
From a certain point of view, the Glashandgranate grenade looks like a variant of the development of the Eihandgranate 39 product. This impression is reinforced by the fact that it was proposed to use it with serial fuses such as the BZE 39 and BZ40. These devices had a similar design and used the same principle of operation. The differences between the two fuses consisted in different design features and some parameters.
Both fuses had a tubular body, inside which were a grater and a grating material. A spherical cap was fastened on top of the thread, connected to the float with a cord. The Sprengkapsel No.8 detonator capsule was placed into the case from below. Part of the fuses was equipped with a transverse bar, facilitating the removal of the cord and prevent the fuse from falling out of the grenade. Safety measures to prevent the explosion before the throw were absent.
Another product of this type. Remains of yellow paint on the fuse cap indicate a 7,5 delay with
With a sharp removal of the cord with the float, the tertiary composition ignited and it started burning the moderator. Fuses BZE39 and BZ40 were produced in different versions with different delay times - from 1 to 10. For obvious reasons, fuses with a minimum delay time were not used with grenades.
Glashandgranate grenade body without a fuse, but taking into account the metal cover, had a height of less than 80 mm. Standard diameter - 58 mm. After the installation of the fuse, regardless of its type, the height of the grenade increased to 110-112 mm. At the same time, the installed igniter did not affect the transverse dimensions of the weapon. The standard weight of a grenade at 120 g of explosive is 325 g.
It is known about the existence of several versions of the glass case, which differed in the shape and size of the external projections. In addition, there is information about the differences in equipment. Finally, ersatz grenades were completed with several variants of fuses. This means that the dimensions and mass of serial products could vary within certain limits and depended on the series. It is also possible that such parameters could differ within the same batch.
According to various sources, the mass production of new Glashandgranate grenades began at the very end of 1944 of the year or at the beginning of 1945. The products were packed in wooden boxes with a soft material transfer, for example, straw. As in the case of other weapons, the fuses were transported separately from the grenades. They should be installed in the nests of the covers immediately before use. To simplify operation, the spherical caps of the fuses had a color indicating the delay time.
Exact information about the supply and combat use of "Glass Hand Grenades" is not available, but some assumptions can be made. Weapons of this kind, made of non-standard materials, were primarily supplied to Volkssturm detachments, which, for obvious reasons, could not qualify for full-fledged army samples. It did not exclude the transfer of such weapons to the Wehrmacht or the SS, who also needed large quantities of infantry weapons, but could not always get something other than the notorious "Erzatz".
Combat use of grenades should not be different complexity. The fighter had to unscrew the ball, pull it out along with the cord, and then throw the grenade at the target. The weight and dimensions of the product made it possible to send it to a distance of 20-25 m, depending on the training of the fighter. The explosion occurred within a few seconds after pulling the cord.
The fighting qualities and impact on the target of a glass case grenades can raise certain questions. The fact is that the glass case of an explosive device can show a variety of results, both by increasing the impact on the target and without having a noticeable effect on it. Nevertheless, there is every reason to believe that the Glashandgranate grenade could pose the most serious danger to the enemy.
It is obvious that the main and most stable damaging factors of such a grenade were the shock wave and the ready fragments, preloaded inside the case. 120-gram charge could cause fatal damage to people within a radius of several meters; the fragments retained a killer action at great distances. The action of the broken glass case could be different, but it is likely that he threatened the enemy's manpower.
Fuses BZE39. On the device on the right, the cap is unscrewed and the cord is partially extended
Large glass fragments could complement small metal striking elements and enhance the destructive effect of the grenade. Such fragments are extremely difficult to detect in a wound, which made the work of military doctors difficult and led to long-term risks. Scattered on many small fragments, the body could form a cloud of glass dust and pose a threat to open areas of the body, organs of vision and respiration.
Fortunately for the soldiers of the anti-Hitler coalition, Glashandgranate grenades appeared quite late - no earlier than the very end of 1944 of the year. They could be produced in large quantities, but the exact volume of production is unknown. The available data volume and the number of surviving samples suggest that the command of military structures and militia preferred to order other options for simplified weapons, such as grenades with a concrete body.
The operation of such weapons was to continue until the end of the fighting in Europe and the surrender of Nazi Germany. After the war, the remaining grenades from non-standard materials were sent for recycling as useless. The new armies of the Federal Republic of Germany and the GDR were built with the use of other weapons that did not differ in ambiguous appearance and dubious characteristics.
Apparently, the responsible persons who carried out the disposal, did an excellent job with their work. At the moment, only a few preserved Glashandgranate grenades in one configuration or another are known. Thanks to these products, it was possible to establish that the hulls could have both external projections and grooves on the surface. They also identified some other features of the original German project.
There is reason to believe that a certain amount of "Glass Hand Grenades" can still remain on the fields of past battles. A glass case covered with a metal lid is able to protect explosives from external influences. Thus, these ersatz grenades can still be dangerous to humans, and appropriate measures should be taken when they are detected. It is unlikely that anyone would want to check on himself the fighting qualities of a glass case filled with explosives and metal fragments.
Faced with the most serious shortage of various materials, Hitlerite Germany was forced to develop special weapon designs, less expensive and demanding for raw materials. An interesting way out of this situation was the Glashandgranate hand grenade. However, it is impossible not to notice that she did not have the highest characteristics and did not differ in fighting qualities. And besides, it appeared too late and could not affect the course of the war. By the time it was created, the outcome of the Second World War was resolved, and all the desperate steps of the German command only delayed the logical final and no longer had much meaning.
On the materials of the sites:
- Ryabov Kirill
- Lexpev.nl, Smolbattle.ru
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