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Chinese and North Korean Hand Grenades

The hollow handle of the stick grenade has a ring, pull cord, igniter and a 3-4 second time delay. The wooden top is unscrewed, the ring slipped over a finger, and throwing the grenade causes the pull cord to activate the igniter. The explosion fragments the metal body, delivering shrapnel with about a 10 yard killing radius.

The Weapons we fought with

Materials available to the enemy in 1951

FM 23-30 (html): Grenades and Pyrotechnics

Unit Leader for assault
Unit Leader for assault

Unit Leader for assault

The Chinese assault leader carries two grenade pouches, both on the left side, the rear slightly overlapping the front so as to easily be swung into position when the first four grenades have been used. Standard was to carry a pouch on either side in front but, as most CCF bearing arms in the field, this soldier prefers unimpaired movement of his Russia-issue SKS. The pouch shown above is of Korean War issue.

This photo was taken when the attacking position was stabilized and hygiene could be maintained. All the troops appear clean, shaven, with kit in good order. In attacks of maneuver, this could be maintained, but in attacks on outposts or the MLR, the incredibly intensive artillery barrages would have soon dramatically changed the appearance of most of these attackers.

5th RCT infantryman after 30 days in line at Pusan Perimetert

US troops did have issue grenade pouches available, but usually we simply hooked two fragmentation grenades by their spoons in front on our clothing or webbing.

The infantryman above, 9/50, was with 5th RCT and had spent about a month in the line at the Pusan Perimeter. The only thing about him that was clean would have been his M1.

North Korea was well supplied by Russia with arms of all types, but China had arms for only about a third of their infantry, at least in the beginning of the war. On attack, they issued grenades to those without other weapons, and expected them to pick up arms on the battlefield. The North Koreans also used this approach in the Pusan Perimeter fighting, with conscripted South Koreans. It was a safe way to divert our attention from their veteran attack forces, effectively causing us to waste our fire on cannon fodder, plus the desperate conscripts were sometimes quite effective.

Chicom hand grenades

The center picture is of captured Chinese grenades.

The complete photos from which the left and right cutouts are taken are:


Mountain Position

Communist forces in Korea used three basic types of hand grenades.

1. Offensive, or Concussion, grenades (upper right, 'potato masher'). Contain an explosive charge in conical body attached to a stick, designed for demolition effect and to stun the enemy in enclosed places, so the thrower can charge while the enemy is dazed.

In the bunker position shown, they would be useful in a quick counter attack on assaulting forces who became pinned down. During company-size assaults themselves, the Chinese armed entire platoons only with grenades, following them with other platoons armed with submachine guns, to take advantage of the stunned defenders. The grenade platoon members, when their grenades were expended, then armed themselves with weapons from either their fallen submachine gun platoon members, or from fallen defenders.

2. Fragmentation grenades (Stick-type in upper left, in hip pouchs and center; foreground. Pineapple-type serrated metal case in center picture, rear left, similar to our Mark II ). Contain an explosive charge in a metal body, attached to a stick, designed to break into fragments upon the charge exploding. Weighing about one pound, they have a killing radius of 5 to 10 yards, and fragments are dangerous up to 30 yards.

The stick-type grenade is armed by unscrewing and removing the wooden cap on top of the hollow handle. Inside the handle is a ring attached to a pull cord. A finger of the throwing hand is inserted in the ring, the handle grasped, and when the grenade is thrown the ring retains the cord, which ignites a friction primer which activates the delay element of a few seconds.

In offense, stray shrapnel makes fragmentation grenades something of a danger to attacking troops using them, but determined defenders are more able to recover and sustain their defense from the shock effect of the concussion grenades.

Chinese and North Korean stick-type fragmentation grenades were patterned after the Soviet RGD 33 hand grenades.

3. Chemical grenades (center, right) . Designed to produce a toxic or irritating effect, a casualty effect, a screening or signal smoke, an incendiary action, or some combination.

4. Bangalore Torpedo. This is just a 3 foot or so length of pipe, filled with flaked TNT or plastic like C-3, and capped at both ends. The fuze is screwed into one end of the pipe. It is primarily intended to blow paths through obstacles like barbed wire, and so is normally inserted under them, with the blast effect blowing the obstacle material up and to the sides.

Bangalore Torpedo Stick Grenade
Chinese Bangalore Torpedo

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