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View Full Version : Hand Grenades: does the shrapnel kill you, or the force?


Parthol
04-27-2005, 01:23 AM
This question came up at work recently. (And I work at a video-game company, so it's wasn't just academic. :))

In the movies, you often see a grenade go off between five and ten feet from someone. The victim goes flying, usually landing dead or unconscious.

Assuming this is a "classic" metal egg grenade, is the victim killed by the concussive force of the explosion, or torn apart by the shrapnel? Or both? Is the answer different for different types of grenade?

Thanks, and please believe I have no desire to collect empirical evidence.

-P

Raguleader
04-27-2005, 01:26 AM
Pretty sure the answer would depend on the grenade, but I think most anti-personel grenades are designed to kill you with the shrapel, which happens to be propelled by the concussive force of the explosion. IANAGD though.

Nunavut Boy
04-27-2005, 01:40 AM
The grenades we used when I was in the army we basically explosive wrapped with wire. If you've ever taken apart a golf ball, then you have the idea. They told us that it is the shrapnel that is deadly. After having threw a few and watching them go off through a little window (that was very thick) I didn't think the concussive force was very impressive.

CynicalGabe
04-27-2005, 02:48 AM
Shrapnel. Unless it goes off next to your head, in which case the point is moot.

Paul in Qatar
04-27-2005, 06:39 AM
The fragmentation, which is not exactly the same as shrapnel, not that it matters.

In any case, the WWII German 'potato masher' grenade was less lethal than the American 'pineapple.' The pineapple had a serrated cast-iron body that broke into fairly large chunks. The German model on the other hand had a cardboard body.

Both models could kill, but I would rather be near the German model when it goes 'boom.'

It is worth mentioning that those in the hand-grenade trade sell 'defensive' (fragmentation) grenades and 'offensive' (blast) grenades. The idea is defending troops are already behind cover, so fragmentation will not hurt them. Attacking troops are running toward their own blasts, and so do not want fragments. Some companies make polyvalent grenades that can have a fragmentation sleeve fitted on them.

While on the subject, it is worthy of note how undeadly grenades are against people who are laying down. Supposedly, a soldier can detonate a grenade at arm's length and not get hurt. (You try it first.)

The fragments of a grenade which explodes on the ground tend to go up, so being close and low is a viable option.

silenus
04-27-2005, 09:34 AM
It should also be noted that the movies aren't real accurate about explosives in general. Grenades don't explode with huge gouts of flame, either. Concussive bang...very little smoke, no flame. Of course, this doesn't rate very high on the visual excitement scale, for either a movie or a video game. :D

Bosda Di'Chi of Tricor
04-27-2005, 09:49 AM
The fragmentation, which is not exactly the same as shrapnel, not that it matters.

In any case, the WWII German 'potato masher' grenade was less lethal than the American 'pineapple.' The pineapple had a serrated cast-iron body that broke into fairly large chunks. The German model on the other hand had a cardboard body.

Both models could kill, but I would rather be near the German model when it goes 'boom.'

It is worth mentioning that those in the hand-grenade trade sell 'defensive' (fragmentation) grenades and 'offensive' (blast) grenades. The idea is defending troops are already behind cover, so fragmentation will not hurt them. Attacking troops are running toward their own blasts, and so do not want fragments. Some companies make polyvalent grenades that can have a fragmentation sleeve fitted on them.

While on the subject, it is worthy of note how undeadly grenades are against people who are laying down. Supposedly, a soldier can detonate a grenade at arm's length and not get hurt. (You try it first.)

The fragments of a grenade which explodes on the ground tend to go up, so being close and low is a viable option.

There is an "adjustable" grenade, made in Brazil. You slide the wire (frag material) sleeve off to make it offensive, although I'd be pretty offended if you threw any kind of grenade at me.

Paul in Qatar
04-27-2005, 11:00 AM
In most cultures, any form of throwing, especially of grenades, is considered a personal affront. Go figure.

dropzone
04-27-2005, 11:19 AM
I read (the book's at home but for what it's worth Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mills_bomb) agrees) that the casing of the Mills Bomb was carved into blocks not to increase the fragmentation but to make it easier to grip with muddy hands.





When I was young my older brothers pushed me into a closet and tossed in a grenade before locking the door. It's obvious now that it was disarmed but I didn't know it at the time. They wonder why I'm still cool to them.

Triskadecamus
04-27-2005, 01:03 PM
American Army fragmentation grenades are half a pound of C-4 wrapped in copper wire which has been notched every quarter inch or so, with a light aluminum case. There are literally thousands of potential fragments. Lying down near to one might make you more likely to survive, by you are going to bleed a lot. Kicking it into a grenade sump in your foxhole will work, but you are going to be hearing impaired for a while, maybe permanently.
Concussion grenades are for destroying equipment, and have insufficient antipersonnel effectiveness to convince most grunts into huffing them around the boonies. I know of one person who used them in Viet Nam, because he was a pitcher, and could loose four of them pretty quickly when he was sure of contact with the enemy. Since everyone knew you don't throw grenades in the jungle (bounce back at you, off trees, they do.) everyone assumed it was an airstrike, and ran like hell. It worked for him.

Tris

David Simmons
04-27-2005, 03:04 PM
American Army fragmentation grenades are half a pound of C-4 wrapped in copper wire which has been notched every quarter inch or so, with a light aluminum case. There are literally thousands of potential fragments. Lying down near to one might make you more likely to survive, by you are going to bleed a lot. Kicking it into a grenade sump in your foxhole will work, but you are going to be hearing impaired for a while, maybe permanently.
Concussion grenades are for destroying equipment, and have insufficient antipersonnel effectiveness to convince most grunts into huffing them around the boonies. I know of one person who used them in Viet Nam, because he was a pitcher, and could loose four of them pretty quickly when he was sure of contact with the enemy. Since everyone knew you don't throw grenades in the jungle (bounce back at you, off trees, they do.) everyone assumed it was an airstrike, and ran like hell. It worked for him.

Tris
I friend of mine who was on Okinawa in WWII said that guys got to throwing an occasional grenade into a nearby lake to kill fish for eating purposes - until an early burst killed a guy and wounded others.

Lemur866
04-27-2005, 04:16 PM
When I was young my older brothers pushed me into a closet and tossed in a grenade before locking the door. It's obvious now that it was disarmed but I didn't know it at the time. They wonder why I'm still cool to them.



You shouldn't throw a grenade at me Johnny. My sister threw a grenade at me once. ONCE.

Earl Snake-Hips Tucker
04-27-2005, 05:04 PM
You shouldn't throw a grenade at me Johnny. My sister threw a grenade at me once. ONCE.

In 1962. For twenty minutes.

BTW, I did get the real reference

trupa
04-27-2005, 06:00 PM
Excellent guide (http://fas.org/man/dod-101/sys/land/grenade.htm) to all hand genades currently in use by the US military.

FWIW, fragmentations grenades: killing radius: 5 meters, effective wounding radius: 15 meters; can be thrown 40 meters by the average soldiers.

The other descriptions on this site may help you adjust effectiveness parameters in your games.

Paul in Qatar
04-28-2005, 01:27 PM
If placing a grenade at arm's length, the drill would be to have your helmet pointed right into the blast. That should reduce the bleeding.

In any case, the current family of US grenades has a fragmentation sleeve made of a spring-like coil of razor-sharp wire notched to produce fragments of some optimal size. One problem with earlier grenades was that some honkin' big chunks went hurling into space and so other parts of the lethal radius got no fragments at all.

Concussion grenades exist but are rarely seen. For destroying equipment, the thermite grenade works very well and is found on most vehicle to destroy radios and whatnot in case of abandonment. Really nasty, it will make most anything burn.

Flash-bang grenades are rarely used except in hostage-rescue-type situations.

White Phosphorus is appreciated by the troops for its general nastiness but feared because of its huge blast radius. It is supposed to be used to mark targets for air strikes and for screening smoke. In truth it is also good for situation in urban fighting where you can toss and get behind really good cover.

Regular 'HC' smoke is more colorful, but has little application for screening.

Little used and little know are the wide variety of fuses available in The System. One of these, the impact fuse increases lethality all to heck but is unpopular because people are convinced the thing is going to hit a branch and blow up two feet from the thrower's hand.

Anyone with spare time can make a dandy booby trap from a hand grenade too. I would not want to be the guy who tries to safe it however. The drill is to just pull the tripwire and let the thing blow up.

You can always get more grenades.

David Simmons
04-28-2005, 07:07 PM
Anyone with spare time can make a dandy booby trap from a hand grenade too. I would not want to be the guy who tries to safe it however. The drill is to just pull the tripwire and let the thing blow up.

You can always get more grenades.
The default mode for ordnace disposal people is to blow the thing in place. Only if that can't be done for one reason or another is it moved and then by a machine if possible. Failing that it is moved by one brave guy or gal (who has trouble getting insurance) while everyone else takes cover.

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