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Updated on December 18, 2016
Hand grenade: A. Safety pin; B. Lever held by safety pin; C. Hammer held by lever; D. Spring; E. Striker; F. Firing pin; G. Percussion cap; H. Fuse; I. Detonator; J. Container of high explosive; K. Barrel-shaped casting; L. Filling hole.
Hand grenade: A. Safety pin; B. Lever held by safety pin; C. Hammer held by lever; D. Spring; E. Striker; F. Firing pin; G. Percussion cap; H. Fuse; I. Detonator; J. Container of high explosive; K. Barrel-shaped casting; L. Filling hole.

A grenade is a small explosive missile weighing about half a kilogram. It is provided with a short delay fuse and is small enough so that it can be readily thrown from the hand, thrown with a shovel or launched from a rifle.

Hand grenades were used as early as the 15th Century, when they were circular in shape and had a fuse lit by a quickmatch and the special soldiers trained to use them were later called grenadiers. The weapon was used by the French infantry in the 17th Century; the term "grenadier" was also used by British regiments.

The grenade was also discharged from a rifle as early as 1685, but it was not until the 20th Century, that it was widely used.

During World War I and World War II various types of hand grenades, chemical grenades, and rifle grenades were used by both sides. The surface of some grenades is corrugated so that the steel case breaks up into small fragments when it explodes. Such grenades have a killing radius of about 10 yards (9 meters).

The grenade is of two types: offensive and defensive. The defensive type must be thrown from cover as fragmentation covering an area of 25 to 30 yds. endangers the thrower if in the open. The lighter grenade of the offensive type such as the Mills No. 69 used by British Forces during World War II may be thrown much further. The Mills No. 36 may be fired from a discharger cup attached to a rifle.

Main German contribution to the development of the grenade has been the production of a stick grenade, which is an offensive weapon. Anti-tank grenades were issued to British troops in 1941. Capable of blowing a hole in armor 1 1/2 inches thick, this grenade was rifle-discharged. The United States evolved the grenade known as the M.9A.1, which could deal effectively with very much thicker armor. It was discharged from a projector attached to a rifle.


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