Monday, 31 October 2016

Italian Explosive Ordnance - Hand and Mortar Grenades

Italian Explosive Ordnance

Hand and Mortar Grenades

 Italian high-explosive anti-personnel hand grenades are almost totally of the "offensive" type.  Although the loading factor is usually low, the grenade bodies are not adapted for maximum fragmentation.  The anti-tank grenades are adaptations of the anti-personnel grenades with an additional charge.  There is no evidence of the use of shaped charges in Italian anti-tank grenades.  Likewise, the chemical grenades that are not frangible are made of adapted anti-personnel grenade bodies and mechanisms with a chemical filler.  The Italians did not make use of the rifle grenade, but did use a small mortar, not unlike a grenade projector, to fire a mortar grenade.

Italian grenades are of the impact type.  They incorporate an "all-ways" acting fuze which arms in flight.  For the reason, grenades in the armed position are very sensitive.


Breda Hand Grenades Mod 35, Mod 40, and Mod 42

Mod 35
Overall length: 3.8 inches
Maximum diameter: 2.1 inches
Type of filling: TNT
Weight of filling: 2.1 ounces
Total weight: 7 ounces
Mod 40
Overall length: 9.5 inches
Maximum diameter: 2.1 inches
Type of filling: TNT
Weight of filling: 2.1 ounces
Total weight: Unknown
Mod 42
Overall length: 12 inches
Maximum diameter: 3.62 inches
Type of filling: TNT
Weight of filling: Unknown
Total weight: 2.75 pounds

Color: Red body, with Black safety cap
Description: Types Mod 40 and Mod 42 incorporate the M35 in their construction.  The Mod 40 is a Mod 35 with a hollow wooden handle attached, and the Mod 42 is a Mod 40 with a light metal globe 3 and 5/8 inches in diameter screwed onto the bottom to give an additional charge for anti-tank use.  The other types are for anti-personnel use.

The Mod 35 grenade is longer and thinner than the S.R.C.M. 35 grenade and has hemispherical ends.  It consists of a thin aluminum case in two parts.  The safety strip is in the form of an elongated U and passes through the grenade on either side of the channel-shaped safety device.  The ends of the strip pass into slots in the top of a loose metal piece which is retained by a pin in the large safety cap (of light aluminum).  The striker pin is attached to the heavy head.

Around the detonator tube is a perforated metal tube attached to the striker head.  The spring maintains the striker away from the detonator until impact.

Operation: On withdrawal of the safety strip, the safety cap is freed.  At one end it is attached to a brass strip which is wound twice around the head of the grenade, and attached at the other end to the safety device.  During flight, the safety cap pulls this out, arming the grenade so that it fires on impact.

Hand Grenade O.T.O. Mod 35

Overall length: 3.4 inches
Maximum diameter: 2.1 inches
Type of filling: TNT
Weight of filling: 2.5 ounces
Total weight: 7.4 ounces

Color: Red body, with Black safety cap
Description: This grenade is composed of a very light casing of metal, made in two parts: a flat lower cylinder, and, screwed to this, a cylinder of smaller diameter which has a truncated cone-shaped top.

The safety pin consists of two long brass strips and one short brass strip.  The two longer strips pass one on either side of the base of the channel-shaped safety device, and the short strip engages and looks in a slot in the body of the grenade.  The striker is riveted to the cap, the top of which is shaped to take the heavy metal ball.  The explosive is contained in a metal box which has a well in it for the detonator.  A spring holds the striker away from the detonator.

Operation: On withdrawal of the pin, the safety cap (of light aluminum) is freed so that it becomes disengaged during flight.  The cap is hinged and by its weight withdraws the channel-shaped safety device.  The grenade is then armed to fire upon impact.  In trial with this grenade, no ill effects were felt by men standing 25 yards from the burst.  There is practically no fragmentation, and the blast is only fair.

Hand Grenade S.R.C.M. Mod 35

Overall length: 3.1 inches
Maximum diameter: 2.5 inches
Type of filling: TNT
Weight of filling: 1.5 ounces
Total weight: 7 ounces

Color: Red with unpainted safety cap
Description: The outer case is in two parts which screw together.  Both parts are stamped to form a seating for the collar, and the upper part is cut to take the safety bars.  Internally the grenade consists of two metal collars and two light metal cylinders.  The striker is riveted to the head of the open cylinder, around the outside of which is wound some coarse wire to form the metal loading.  The lower cylinder is a loose fit inside the upper one, and carries the explosive charge, a pressed block of impure TNT recessed to take the detonator.  The cap contains the helical spring which holds the striker and detonator apart.

The safety strip passes over the ring and is bent up under it, so securing the safety cap (of light aluminum) to which the ring is attached.  Between two safety strips is an elliptical metal strip, with an eccentric hole, whose ends are joined by a spring passing around the side of a cylinder.  This acts as a safety shutter, and on impact one end jerks forward to a position in which the striker is centrally behind the hole in the shutter to fire the detonator.  Two steel collars rest in recesses in the cylinders.  If the grenade falls on its side, these are jerked from their seatings and force the cylinders together.

Operation: When the safety pin is withdrawn, the safety cap is free to disengage during flight and withdraw the second safety strip.  The delay in arming is effected by means of a short chain, attached at one end to the safety cap and at the other to a safety strip.  The bight of the chain is wound once around the stop.  On impact, the safety shutter moves into alignment, the cylinders come together, and the striker impinges upon the detonator.  There is only slight fragmentation from this grenade.

P.C.R. Grenade

Overall length: 5 and 1/2 inches
Maximum diameter: 2 and 1/2 inches

Color: Unpainted aluminum
Description: The grenade body is of three parts, the two end caps threading into the middle section.  Two shallow cones of aluminum, each with a striker and the center of a four-pring stirrup spring at its apex, are contained in a 1 and 1/2 inch diameter cylinder held in the middle section by two collars.  One of the cones is at each end of this cylinder and, in the space formed, is a heavy lead 1 inch in diameter.  The action of the ball in this cavity makes the fuze "all-ways" acting.  The detonators are held in two cylindrical tubes, one attached to the center of each end cap.  The end cap is closed by a metal cover, and the explosive filling is contained there-in. 

The first safety strip consist of a rubber pull tab and a one-piece U-shaped bar of light, soft metal.  Each end of this passes through an opening in the middle section, between a striker and a detonator, to protrude slightly through the opposite side of the body.  The second safety strip is attached to the hinged wing-shaped safety cap which passes around the body over the middle section.  There are two bars, each to pass through the body and cover a striker.  Thus, each striker is held <?> its detonator by a stirrup spring and two safety bars.

Operation: The first safety strip is removed before throwing, and, when the grenade is thrown, the wing-shaped safety cap will open and pull off, activating the second safety strip.  Then each striker is <?> from its detonator by the light spring only and the grenade will fire on impact.
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"L" Type Anti-Tank Hand Grenade

Overall length: 15 inches
Maximum circumference: 14 and 1/4 inches
Type of filling: TNT
Length of handle: 10 and 3/4 inches
Total weight: 4 and 1/2 pounds

Color: Red body, unpainted handle
Description: This grenade consists of a metal casing with a wooden throwing handle.  A tab protrudes from the top of the casing.  Pulling this tab removes a safety strip which, while in, blocks the striker from the detonator.  There is also a small metal strip protruding from the base of the handle.  This strip is held in position by a wire in the side of the handle.  The wire is held in position by a piece of tape secured by a pin.  The firing mechanism is always-acting, much like the O.T.O. Mod 35 Hand Grenade.

Operation: Before throwing this grenade, remove the safety strip attached to the tab.  Then, holding the handle firmly, remove the pin.  Be sure that the wire is held securely.  When the grenade is thrown, the wire is released, this releases the small metal strip, which then moves over into a position so that the hole in it is in alignment with the striker and detonator.  On impact, the striker and detonator are brought together, firing the grenade.

Remarks: This grenade was designed for use against vehicles and tanks.  The grenade should be thrown at a distance of 15 to 20 meters from the target and cover should be taken as protection against fragmentation.  In the armed position, the grenade is very sensitive.

Breda Mortar Grenade

Overall length: 5 and 1/4 inches
Maximum circumference: 1 and 3/4 inches
Type of filling: TNT

Color: Red body, black tail
Description: The body of this grenade is steel, while the tail is of aluminum alloy.  The two are screwed together.  The steel cap is attached to a steel strip, and a double brass safety strip holds the cap in place.  The safety strip passes through two slots near the head of the grenade, and lies in the recess of the zinc striker holder.  The tail of the H.E. grenade is painted red to distinguish it from practice and instructional grenades, which have yellow and unpainted aluminum tails, respectively.  It is fired from the 45mm Light Mortar, Model 35 "Brixia".

Operation: On withdrawing the safety strip, the cap is freed; and, on firing, the setback causes the safety device to move down into its slot.  This safety device consists of a short brass rod which projects into one of the holes in the disc and holds the disc from rotating.  Four light brass spring strips hold the rod in the "setback" position.  At the same time, the collar also sets back onto the firing-cap holder, being held in position by the detent spring.  The collar and holder then act as one, and can move under the influence of the spring. 

During flight, the disc rotates as air passes through the oblique holes near the edge of the disc.  The striker, being prevented from rotating by the square shape of the portion moving in a square-shaped channels is thus moved forward toward the detonator.  The grenade is then armed.  On impact, the detonator slides forward on the spring and hits the striker.

Incendiary Bottle Grenade

Bottle: 1-liter size
Filling: Inflammable liquid

Color: Transparent
Description: The incendiary grenade is made from an ordinary one-liter glass bottle, fitted with a metal pressure cap, and containing an inflammable liquid.  A fuse match, protected by a canvas cover, is fixed to the side of the bottle by two rings of cord.  To the top of the fuse is attached a fine cord, which, on being pulled, fires the fuse.  To avoid accidental ignition by a chance drawing of the cord, the cord has a small wooden handle and is fixed to the neck of the bottle by a ring of thread.

Operation: Just before use, the wooden handle is freed by a light pull on the ring of thread which is securing it to the neck of the bottle.  The handle is then given a sharp pull, and a small flame will appear at the lower end of the fuse.  The bottle should then be thrown with force against the target.  If the bottle is not thrown immediately, it may burst before reaching the target.  A minimum of two seconds is given between the lighting of the fuse and the bursting of the bottle.  The Italians consider the grenade to be a good weapon for defense against AFV's at close quarters.

Smoke Hand Grenades
S.R.C.M. Model 35 F
O.T.O. Model 35 F
Breda Model 35 F

Markigns: Top part red; lower part black; white letter F (Fumogeno) on black background
Description: These grenades are similar in construction to their H.E. equivalents, but contain a liquid smoke filling mixture of chlorsulfonic acid and sulphur trioxide.  They produce a fairly dense white smoke cloud of two to three yards front, but cannot be used if wind strength is above 7 mph.

Operation: Same as H.E. equivalents.

Smoke Incendiary Hand Grenades
S.R.C.M. Model 35 FI
O.T.O. Model 35 FI
Breda Model 35 FI

Markigns: Top part red; lower part black; white letter FI on black background
Description: Correspond to H.E. equivalents, with explosive filling replaced by a charge of white phosphorus.  The burst creates a dense white smoke covering an area about 11 by 4 yards.

Operation: Same as H.E. equivalents.

Practice and Drill Grenades

1. The grenade containing a small charge is white, with a 1/2 inch red band around the place where the two parts of the body join.

2. The instruction or drill grenade is unpainted or black.

3. The practice grenade with a smoke filler is yellow.

S.R.C.M. Mod 35 Practice Grenade is recognizable by six large holes cut in its body above and below the screw threads.  The lower cylinder containing the H.E. charge is replaced by a brass cylinder having a truncated conical bottom with four holes in it.  This cylinder holds a smoke producing charge in a celluloid container.  The shutter is simplified so that there is no "safe" position <?> impact.

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Next Time: Italian Mines and Traps

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