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Post Info TOPIC: Anti-Tank Grenades, British & German.


Legend

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Anti-Tank Grenades, British & German.
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A puzzling extract from Weapons of the Trench War 1914-1918 by Anthony Saunders:

"The anti-tank grenade was an unexpected consequence of the invention of the tank. Although the Germans introduced a big-bore anti-tank rifle . . . . the British went for a more explosive answer to German armour. The anti-tank grenade proved to be more effective and more durable than the anti-tank rifle. . . .

Many of the German tanks were captured British models which were built with hard steel. The German design, the A7V was . . . built with mild steel. The British therefore decided to develop a grenade that was capable of destroying their own tanks, and came up with one that was little more than a large tin containing more than 11 ounces of alumatol, which produced a massive explosion.

The grenade, known as the No. 44 anti-tank grenade, had the same percussion mechanism as the No. 35 which allowed detonation to occur on direct contact with the tank. Although this punched a hole in the side of British steel plate it only produced a large bulge in the mild steel of the German tanks. However, this was enough to kill or injure the occupants from the concussion.

Anti-tank engagements took place at short range, so the 8-inch steel rod had little time to stabilize the flight of the grenade, thus a calico tail was fitted to ensure that the grenade flew straight."

Much of this tallies with Centurion's description but I have never come across any mention of A7V or beute Tanks being tackled in this fashion.

Of course, the most interesting aspect is Mr. Saunders's claim that the A7V was built with mild steel. Clearly, it wasn't. I wonder how he came to that conclusion. If he is referring to some behaviour of the A7V armour that might have made it seem to have been different from that of the British Tanks, on what does he base that if the grenades weren't used in combat?



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Legend

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I think the main difference was the greater thickness of the A7V armour compared to the British rhomboids. The A7Vs had 30mm plate on the front, 20mm on the sides and back and 10mm on top and bottom. The max. thickness of the British armour was 16mm.

Armour plate in WW1 was made by carburising steel to form a hard outer layer backed by the bulk steel. In the case of the British armour the depth of carburisation to get acceptable hardness on fairly thin plates probably resulted in plates which were fairly brittle overall. The greater thickness of the German armour plate probably meant the plate would deform rather than fracture.

I'd guess that someone observing the difference in behaviour between the British and German armour plate may conclude the Germans were using soft (i.e mild) steel. Up close Mephisto (#506) has signs of many bullet strikes but the armour has resisted these well - it wouldn't if it were mild steel.

Regards,

Charlie

 

 

 

 

 



-- Edited by CharlieC on Sunday 17th of July 2011 12:22:10 PM

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Legend

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Well observed, Charles. Come to think of it, photos of damaged Rhomboids do tend to show holes in the hull, as if the plate has shattered, whereas A7Vs (for instance Mephisto after the demolition attempt) seem to have distorted rather than shattered. And, of course, mild steel wouldn't have withstood small arms or mg fire.

Anyone seen any references to the No. 44 being used?

From this excellent site: http://www.ammunitionpages.com/categories.php?cat_id=141

"This grenade was never formally introduced although it was issued in April 1918. It would appear that very few grenades were made and issued, and by April 1931 there were no stocks left so it was declared obsolete."



-- Edited by James H on Sunday 17th of July 2011 04:21:18 PM

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Legend

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James H wrote:

...Anyone seen any references to the No. 44 being used?

From this excellent site: http://www.ammunitionpages.com/categories.php?cat_id=141

"This grenade was never formally introduced although it was issued in April 1918. It would appear that very few grenades were made and issued, and by April 1931 there were no stocks left so it was declared obsolete."


Brennan quoted from Skennerton in http://landships.activeboard.com/t7581287/allied-anti-tank-measures-1918/. "Few" is a relative term - "well over 100,000" made and a reasonable proportion** of them used on "something". Or maybe still laying about undiscovered somewhere?

Not anti-tank presumably (only one and a third ounces of explosive), but another interesting British rifle grenade of uncertain efficacy (can't see that it has been mentioned elsewhere on these pages) was the "No 39 Steuart pattern" detailed in the PDF download from ammunitionpages.com. I mention it because one of the available fillings seems to have also been alumatol, a particularly "shattering" type of explosive for hard targets but that grenade was designed for reliable contact initiation** in muddy conditions.

**I can't help feeling that mass-produced contact-fused rifle grenades are a very chancy proposition at the launching end, whatever the results should they survive that process! I am faintly surprised that the entire stocks did not survive unused.

-- Edited by Rectalgia on Sunday 17th of July 2011 05:58:07 PM

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