L2 marked the British military version of the American M26 fragmentation hand grenade that appeared in the early 1950s. The M26 was developed in the post-World War 2 market to replace the wartime Mk II series which gave solid, if unspectacular, service throughout the conflict. The M26 was of a smooth-bodied design, consisting of upper and lower metal sections joined at a horizontally-running seam. The safety device was attached to its top in the usual way while squared-off bottom allowed for resting the grenade on surfaces. Due to its distinct shape - a vast departure from the wartime "pineapple" types - the M26 garnered the nickname of "lemon grenade". All British production was handled by Royal Ordnance Factories and differed primarily in its fuse assembly design. L2 grenades replaced No. 36M grenades in British military service.
The M26 (and therefore the British L2 series) improved upon its fragmentation principles through use of a pre-notched coil added between the filling and out shell casing layers. The filling was of Composition B and weighed 5.75 ounces. Detonation was through the L25A6 fuse which allowed a delay of up to 4.4 seconds before detonation. Overall weight of the weapon was 454 grams with a diameter of 57mm and a height of 99mm.
The M26 was operated in typical hand grenade fashion, the operator managing a ring that held the safety in check. Once removed, the operator then could throw the grenade in the direction of the enemy, an internal timer ticking down and then the grenade detonating. When detonating, the explosion reduced the outer shell casing to fragments, causing the needed metal fragmentation to be strewn about a blast radius - maiming or killing enemy personnel in the process. In this fashion, the M26 could be used to remove enemy elements from key positions without endangering allied forces directly. Of course the operator would have to make sure his distance from the blast radius was acceptable prior to usage.
The M26 entered service with US military forces during the Korean War (1950-1953) though widespread circulation of the preceding Mk II series ensured its own existence well into the 1960s. By the time of the Vietnam War (1955-1975), the M26 had stabilized in the American inventory, becoming the standard-issue hand grenade of American forces in the conflict. British military elements made extensive use of the M26 throughout its engagements of the Cold War decades. In particular, the type served as the standard-issue mark during the Falklands War (1982), Argentina's ultimately failed invasion of the neighboring Falklands Islands. The M26 also saw use with other US allies including Australia, Brazil, Canada, Israel, Pakistan, Portugal, South Africa and South Vietnam.
The British L2 series was ultimately produced in two distinct operational variants as the "L2A1" and the "L2A2". The only difference between the two marks was the fuse holder of the latter, intended to ease serial production. L3 marked training grenades (clearly colored a gaudy light blue) and appeared as the L3A1, L3A2 and L3A3 marks. The L4 was a drill grenade (dark blue body) recognized under the marks of L4A1 and L4A2.
The L2 has itself since been replaced by the modernized L109 series, this nothing more than a local adoption of the Swiss HG85 of 1985. For the Americans, the M26 was replaced by the M67 series, the current standard-issue fragmentation grenade of US forces (2013).
Manufacturing Royal Ordnance Factories - UK
- Area Effect
84 mm (3.31 in)
0.87 lb (0.40 kg)
Timed Friction Fuse
33 ft (10 m; 11 yd)
L2 - Base Series Designation
L2A1 - Original production models of the 1950s
L2A2 - Revised fuse holder for ease of production
L3 - Training grenades with light blue bodies; inert.
L3A1 - Training Grenade; inert
L3A2 - Training Grenade; inert
L3A3 - Training Grenade; inert
L4 - Drill grenades with dark blue bodies.
L4A1 - Drill Grenade
L4A2 - Drill Grenade
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