“Pack the gap in the fuse well with C4, cover with JD Weld and duct tape, varnish and it’s ready in 15 minutes.”
Alternately plastic fuse-well adapters could be easily manufactured. An adapter called the “M10 Destructor” for 81mm mortar rounds and larger shells used to be issued and may still be in use. Modern western mortar bombs use a standard 1.5 in 12 tpi well.
Whatever the method used to attach the fuse to the mortar round, the result is a very useful 3¾ lb grenade. This is similar to the “Tanker’s grenades” used by Ralph in Vietnam. A large wire-wrapped charge of explosive would be thrown from a hatch to clear the immediate area of hostile infantry. Mortar bombs are also available in illumination and WP smoke rounds as well. A large capacity WP grenade has obvious applications, particularly in urban combat. I’m not sure if the illumination round can be triggered this way but if it can it could be used to dazzle enemies and night vision devices or used to backlight a foe. The M720 60mm HE mortar round has a lethal radius of 14 metres.
While the adapted mortar bomb idea will work, a purpose-built grenade would work even better if correctly designed. During World War Two British grenades included the No.73 “Thermos grenade” of around 4½ lbs. Throwing range was around 15 yards. In “Home Guard for Victory” Hugh Slater gives some useful advice for using heavy, powerful grenades such as the No.73 and the No.74 ST “Sticky bomb”: Throwers were to take cover or hit the ground as soon as the grenade was thrown. Under no circumstances should they watch to see if they hit or have an effect. When training, throwers that do not take cover have their throw counted as a miss/ fail. Another manual advises throwers to take cover as soon as the grenade leaves their hand. Grenadiers using magbombs should wear ballistic helmets.
The addition of wire hooks to a grenade increase the chances of it snagging on the exterior of a vehicle.
Carlton Meyer has suggested grenades in the shape of D-cell flashlights. My own idea is similar but to create the grenade in the shape of a bowling pin or juggling club: essentially a large stick grenade. The handle section would be hollow so both the head and handle would be packed with explosive. A handle/ fuse unit that could screw into the fuse well of a 60mm mortar warhead would create a magbomb of desired shape and weight.
As far as I know, the issue of whether a stick grenade can be thrown further than a hand grenade has never been settled. Most comparisons compare the No.36M Mills bomb with the German Stalgranate M24, but since these are of different weights (639gm vs 774gm) this will only tell us about these particular weapons. Some trials find no difference, others favour the Stalgranate.
The M43 Stalgranate had the igniter on the top and a solid handle, and some German soldiers found that the heads without the handle could be thrown further. On the other hand, the most easily recognizable of Viet Cong grenades was made by fitting a handle to the Russian F1 hand-grenade and one presumes this was done to improve the performance.
The type of magnum stick grenade I propose would resemble throwing clubs such as the Australian Nulla-nulla or Fijian Ulaas, which by their nature can be thrown very accurately. Since the proposed handle of a magbomb is hollow and packed with explosive or a timing mechanism, it is not “dead weight”.
Since the grenade probably cannot be thrown as far as lighter grenades and it is likely to be used in MOUT situations where interior walls may not provide sufficient cover, the basic grenade may need to be a low-fragmentation concussion grenade. A fragmentation sleeve could be added in situations where the user has sufficient cover to use a defensive grenade or for booby trap applications.
The arming mechanism would be built into the handle. Since one of the obvious ways to carry such a grenade is with the handle thrust through the belt, this grenade cannot use the standard fuse assemblies used with other grenades since the lever would catch. Operation of the fuse would be the same, however. There would be a pin that is removed and a grip safety that would be kept depressed till thrown. The necessity for a novel fuse would also allow a variable delay timer, as Carlton suggests, giving the grenade additional demolition applications. It is worth noting that the primary role for which the Mk3A2 grenade was originally developed was as a demolition device. To enhance this capability for the magbomb an adhesive pad will be fitted to the head and the explosive filler at the top will have a conical depression at the top to produce a hollow-charge effect when the grenade can be placed on or against a target. Several such grenades tied to a beam could be used as a breaching charge or bangalore torpedo.
It would obviously be a prudent design feature if the handle and fuse section was designed so it could also screw into a 60mm mortar bomb.
German stick grenades sometimes had six additional grenade heads or egg grenades attached to create an extra powerful grenade. The magnum stick grenade I propose could also be used as the spine of a multiple charge. Adding a thermate grenade, WP and container of oil would make a useful close-range anti-armour weapon, for example.
During operations in urban terrain military or police often have to operate in the dark interiors of buildings. Flashlights are very useful but have their limitations. To meet the needs of tactical units several companies offer illumination grenades for indoor use. Most of these use several cylume lightsticks and some mechanism for bending the stick. There is a good case for creating a battery-powered indoor illumination grenade or “lantern grenade”. Advantages for these include.
Most likely configuration for the lantern grenade will resemble a Viet Cong stick grenade. The oval head section will be covered by rubber-like transparent plastic and beneath this will be columns of red, white and infra-red LEDs. The handle will contain simple dial controls to that allow the user to vary light intensity, duration of illumination and the delay before illumination starts. The latter mechanism allows the light to activate after it has been thrown into position. The handle also allows the grenade to be hand-held, making it useful for search operations. A flat top allows the grenade to be stood up on a flat surface, and the device should also be buoyant since it is likely to be used in environments such as sewers.
Carlton Meyer has suggested that a lantern grenade with a strobe option would be useful. I’ve little doubt that once issued such devices will find numerous other uses such as directing traffic or aircraft.
An important capability during operations in urban terrain is that of being able to breach locked doors. Preferably this should be done from some distance, since a door might be booby-trapped or enemies might fire through the door or adjoining walls to injure the breacher.
A popular method is the use of a shotgun, but this often requires the shotgunner to be in close proximity to the door and each lock or hinge may require multiple hits. Explosive charges are a more effective way to breach a door but need to be prepared in advance and often need personnel competent in the handling of explosives. On another Scrapboard page I’ve suggested that the adhesive pads available in stationary stores can be added to an offensive grenade to allow it to be attached to a door.
All of these methods, however, have the drawback that the soldier has to approach the door, which may not be tactically feasible.
Another solution is the Israeli-made Simon RLEM which has been adopted by the US Army. This training Powerpoint gives the holdover for use at various ranges:
|Range (metres)|| Holdover above centre of door|
Such a weapon might benefit from sights based on the same principle of those used on the M72 LAW but using the width of a typical door as a reference. Place the door between the angled stadia lines and when it is the same width the gun is aimed at the right angle for that range.
One problem that operational use of the Simon RLEM has revealed is that the weapon is in many situations too powerful for use against interior doors. In at least one incident the weapon has caused injury to a hostage and there is also a risk to users if the building layout necessitates them being too close to targeted door. For these reasons, US doctrine classes the Simon RLEM as a weapon for use against exterior doors only. The RLEM has a 6m arming range and safe distance for a user without cover is given as between 10 and 15m, which also limits the weapon’s practicality for indoor use. The individual grenade is also quite a large bulky item, which limits how many can be carried by a squad.
The M203 under-barrel grenade launcher may seem a potentially useful solution to this problem. The most commonly used round is the M433 HEDP. While a useful general-purpose round, it is not that suited to interior door busting, since it punches a 1½ -2" diameter hole through building materials and creates a 5m cloud of fragments. Like most current M203 rounds it has a M551 fuse with an arming distance of between 14 and 27m, precluding it from use in many interiors.
In the past the M79 and M203 family of rounds included rounds such as the M381 and M441 with M552 fuses which arm in a distance of only 2 to 3 metres. A potentially useful M203 “Doorknocker” round could be created by combining such a fuse with a non-fragmenting concussion warhead. Ideally this would have a “Super Quick” (SQ) action so that it explodes in contact with the door. Such a round might not be as effective as the Simon but may prove adequate for interior doors. It also has the advantage that large quantities can be carried and that it can also be used as an anti-personnel weapon as well as its more specialized role. It is possible that a grenade that exploits a HESH effect may be possible. This may require a base-mounted fuse.
The Romanian company ROMARM produces the 40x47mm HE PG-4 FS, a non-fragmenting blast grenade intended to break down doors and other soft obstacles. Explosive effects are dissipated within a 3m radius and arming distance is given as only 20cm. The projectile is provided with a plastic jacket and weighs 170g, of which 100g is explosive. Lighter than a standard fragmentation round, muzzle velocity is increased to 120m/s. Range is given as 50m. (Jane’s Infantry Weapons,2002-3, p.638)
A recent addition to the inventory of 40mm grenades for the M203 is a thermobaric round. With a change of fuse these may be useful for door-busting applications.
A familiar World War Two and Vietnam-era image is of soldiers with grenades hooked on the braces of their webbing. In his book “The Soldier’s Handbook” Anthony B. Herbert shows a variation of this that involves solidly taping the lever to the webbing suspender. When the pin is pulled the grenade is instantly released into the soldier’s hand. There are several things to consider about this recommendation.
One of the most obvious is that the fuse begins to burn as soon as the pin is pulled so the soldier must be aware that “if it’s pulled, get rid of it!”.
Most modern grenades use the Bouchon (aka Mousetrap) igniter mechanism, which involves the safety lever preventing the striker swinging though an arc to strike the primer (a different mechanism to that used on the Mills Bomb). Since grenades are a disposable item, the quality of metal used for components such as the lever and pin is often low grade. If the lever is used to hang the grenade from for extended periods of time these components can fail and the grenade become armed. Herbert does mention that if a grenade carried as he suggests is accidentally activated it should drop and roll away from the soldier. If the man yells “grenade!” and the squad execute their “grenade encounter drill” then they hopefully should escape injury.
If grenades are carried in this way there is also a danger that pins can get snagged and pulled by vegetation, particularly if the soldier has to crawl. It is also not unknown for snipers to target grenades hung on webbing.
I’m not sure that this is a method that is suitable for certain field conditions or prolonged carry of grenades. Where it may have merit is as a preparation for an assault, since it allows a grenade to be brought quickly into action during close-range actions. This would probably be a useful technique for the carry of stun grenades for a SWAT or HRT house clearing operation.Ref.
By the Author of the Scrapboard :
Attack, Avoid, Survive: Essential Principles of Self Defence
Available in Handy A5 and US Trade Formats.