Staff Writer (Updated: 11/1/2016):
The Stielhandgranate was the quintessential hand grenade of the German Army in both World War 1 and World War 2. The type became an easily recognizable weapon of its time while its unique dimensions ensured a firm hold with impressive range. While generally referred to as a "stick grenade", the type was also given the nickname of "Potato Masher" by the Allies due to its shape rather resembling the kitchen utensil. The Stielhandgranate entered service with the German Army during World War 1 in 1915 and was retired at the end of World War 2 in 1945. An improved, economically-minded form of the stick grenade appeared during the latter half of World War 2 as the Model 43 Stielhandgranate which was intended to replace the original Model 24 series.
Model 24 Stielhandgranate (Stick Grenade / Potato Masher) (1915)
Type: Stick Infantry Hand Grenade
National Origin: Imperial Germany
Manufacturer(s): State Factories - Imperial Germany, Nazi Germany
Manually-Actuated, Timed Fuse Explosive; Thrown
365 mm (14.37 inches)
365 mm (14.37 inches)
1.31 lb (0.60 kg)
1 rounds-per-minute (rpm)
105 feet (32 m; 35 yards)
The battlefields of World War 1 produced a variety of new-fangled weapons which came to include the tank ("landship"), the fighter aircraft, the bomber aircraft, poison gas, the light machine gun, the submachine gun and the flamethrower. The war had bogged down into a stalemate of static warfare which required warplanners to discover new ways to dislodge their respective foe. As such, the war turned into a game of "technology chess" as each side attempted to outdo the other in turn. One other practical weapon utilized during this period became the hand grenade and both sides featured this implement prominently. Hand grenades proved useful offensive and defensive weapons and could be used for psychological effect, suppression effect, to dislodge an entrenched enemy or maim/kill said enemy. Prior to World War 1, the hand grenade was primarily considered a siege-type weapon for attacking enemies behind fortified positions and not so much a direct-contact weapon. Considering the nature of trench warfare of the time - and the thousands of craters left from artillery and bomb strikes - the grenade proved as extremely useful a weapon in such quarters. Of course with the benefits of such a weapon came its limitations - environmental factors that might limit a hand grenades usefulness for example, or poor production quality or exposure to enemy fire when attempting to throw the grenade. As hand grenades were "thrown" weapons, this also limited their inherent ranges.
The original German stick grenade of note became the Model 24. Its basic design essentially comprised a hollowed wooden stick that acted as the handle which itself was attached to the base of a cylindrical metal can, the latter becoming the grenade proper. A pull-cord was exposed at the bottom of the base of the stick handle and, once pulled, the grenade's five second fuse timer was set and the grenade could be throw at a target area. Its design ensured (to an extent) that the fallen grenade would not roll back in the direction of the thrower (of on a relatively smooth, angled surface). However, its rather larger size (for a hand grenade) made it possible for enemies to identify the thrown grenade, recover it before detonation and throw the weapon back in the direction of the enemy. If accomplished in due time, this could of course hold disastrous effects on the original thrower's position. After some operational use, the Model 24 was revised in1916 with a screw-bottom cap at the bottom of the stick handle which needed to be removed to access the pull-cord. This was brought about as snagging of the exposed pull-cord in the original design became a rather lethal problem in-the-field. Beyond this, the hand grenade functioned in the exact same way.
The detonating portion of the grenade was its cylindrical "head" (of iron or steel construction). It was comprised of trinitrotouene filling - otherwise known by its abbreviation "TNT". As the TNT detonated, the metal cylinder shattered into multiple fragments. However, the German stick grenade was not a true "fragmentation" grenade weapon - it relied moreso on the shock value of its blast than endangering targets with shrapnel. Only a 1942 development, essentially a metal sleeve fitted over the head of the grenade, transformed the stick grenade into something akin to a conventional fragmentation grenade. Model 24 stick grenades did not arrive ready for use - its detonator needed to be installed prior to use by unscrewing the wooden handle from its grenade head and inserting the detonator into the open end of the delay fuze. The handle and head were then reattached as normal. ©www.MilitaryFactory.com
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