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Hello I am interested to see if anyone has a nice collection of VB grenades, launchers or other related accessories. I have some items myself, which I will post pictures of soon. Thanks in advance!

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In the US, VB items are quite hard to come by, even though we adopted them from the French. 

Attached is a view of 2 of my launchers with the respective grenades. On top is the US model 1903 and the bottom is the bulkier German counterpart called the Schießbecher für Gewehrgranate 17

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In this picture, is another WW1 German cup launcher, similar to the one on the peg board but it has a three sided sleeve that goes onto the barrel. I am in the process of restoring it. I am having the screw ring made by a metalsmith. 

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Another one my M1903 launchers with the carrying case. When I got the launcher is was rust covered and nasty looking. I had it turned on a lathe, sanded and re-coated, turned out pretty good. These canvas cases came out in 1919-1920, so they would not be correct for a wartime appearance. Interestingly enough these cases were put back into production at the start of WW2. The US Marines used the VB's quite often in the Pacific theater. Note the small gas port at the base of the cup before the tapered part, 2 of these were drilled in a attempt to reduce gas pressure and wear on the rifle. In the US model a few posts up, that one does not have the holes. The pressure incurred from the launchers could damage the rifles, it is speculated that the M1903 had a extra recoil lug added to counter this effect. 

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Here is my latest find, a VB Launcher for the US M1917 Enfield rifle. This is the twist on type, with a metal spring band to hold the sight and muzzle firmly while in operation. Un-Dug examples are very hard to find. Near the muzzle of the launcher you can see a knurled band, this was so that soldiers could feel the difference at night or in dark conditions. This version and the version for the M1903 Springfield are virtually identical, the M1903 does not have the knurled band however. 

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  • 1 month later...

Here is my WW1 British Rifle Grenade set. This is the No. 1 Mark III rifle (SMLE-Short Magazine Lee Enfield), chambered in .303, a very sturdy, well made weapon, with a nice smooth action of the bolt, it held 10 rounds internally, a huge advantage over other rifles which normally held around 5. British, Commonwealth and even US troops used this rifle in WW1 with great effect. 

This rifle is fitted with a rod grenade and launching cradle. The cradle is mounted with the bayonet to the rifle, so the cradle is sandwiched between the rifle and bayonet. The grenade (inert) which is a No. 23, Mk3 rod type, this grenade could also be used without the rod as well. The grenade body is marked "H & TV 1917", the base plug is also marked "No. 23 . 111" "H & TV LD" with and additional "18". The rod was screwed to the base plug then inserted down the barrel of the rifle. Once the grenade was in place, a soldier would insert blank cartridges to use to fire the grenade. When the soldier was ready to fire, he would pull the pin of the grenade, the spoon will not come off as it is held by the cradle. The soldier will load a blank round and fire the weapon, typically at a high angle. Once the grenade leaves the cradle, tension on the spoon is released, causing the fuse to start. 

Rod grenades were a good way to increase the range of hand grenades, however they caused a lot of wear and tear on the rifles. These rifles were usually located in a portion of trench away from other troops in case of an accidental explosion as the explosives and fuses were not 100% reliable and safe. Another consequence of using rod grenades is that troops sometimes forgot to switch the ammo out, so a soldier could mistakenly fire a live round instead of a blank into the grenade with disastrous results. As rod grenades fell out of favor, the cup types that attached to the end of the barrel took precedence, these however also put a lot of stress and wear on these weapons. 

The grenade has a reproduction spoon, rod and pin, all other parts are original. The grenade cradle is modern reproduction as well, as they are extremely rare and expensive, so a nice mock up suits me for display purposes. 

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The stock of the Lee-Enfield has been overhauled and repaired at some stage, sections fitted in to butt end, the brass butt disc is also missing and has been replaced by a wooden disc. Difficult to find an orig. butt disc, they have been recently on offer as copies. Ordonance sales, grenades, etc.  are very restricted in Germany.

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Here is an update on the French VB Launcher, I have aquired the leather pouch the VB was stored in. It has a loop on the reverse to attach to the wearer belt. Last picture is the original compared to a modern reproduction. These launchers were the first type issued to US troops in France, until the US versions could be produced for the M1903 and M1917 rifles. 

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  • 3 months later...

Here is a good photo of the VB launcher in use, here is a French soldier using the M1886 Lebel rifle with the VB launcher (the type in the last post) that slips onto the barrel. Of note is the M2 gas mask around his neck in the canvas pouch. These masks and pouches were also used by American troops in France as well. He is also alone while firing, which was common as accidental explosion were not unheard of. The one big advantage of the VB grenade was that live ammo was used, so no swapping out of blank rounds to live and vice versa was required. With the rod grenades, sometimes the soldier in the heat of battle forgot to swap the live rounds for blanks and would wind up blowing himself up. 

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  • 2 months later...

Thanks for the compliment Latewatch, your display is very impressive! Lots of nice items.

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Another image of the VB in use, French soldiers using wooden firing devices that controlled elevation and could traverse slightly. Note the depth of the trench as well. Such devices were used by both sides during the war, which allowed the user to fire from a safe distance, which was no doubt to improve results but also a healthy respect for the dangers of the VB device and ordnance as well. 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Decent image of US troops using the M1917 Enfield rifle and corresponding rifle grenade launcher. The launder is the spiral type with a spring loaded lock to secure it to the muzzle. Finding images of these devices in use is somewhat difficult. I am still searching for images of the German version in use. 

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  • 1 month later...

I have a French VB grenade & launcher on route. The grenade is fairly badly pitted on one side unfortunately but the other side is very clean. It does however have an intact & complete striker & brass protector cap which is in pretty good condition so those 2 things were what sealed the deal. I don't think it has a bottom screw though. I could pick up another body further down the line perhaps & swap the bits over. The launcher is a ' nasty rusty thing' covered in nasty black paint. Maybe I can have it  'turned on a lathe', now that's a good shout. Actually it's badly pitted I'll have to see. They look pretty chunky as far as the metal thickness goes. How bad was the one you had machined?  Post pics when it lands in a month or so. Another nice find.

 

 

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Good deal, the VB launchers themselves are very hard to find in serviceable condition, most encountered are dug and pitted badly. The grenades themselves are still somewhat plentiful, however the brass cap is almost always missing. I have included some pictures of the one I restored. I used a steel based epoxy to coat the interior and exterior, holding the smaller portion in the lathe, I slowly ground down the epoxy until I got to the steel. The inside was the same way, using a lathe made it easier as it can spin fairly quickly and makes the work go well, but if you are not experienced with such a machine, it can be dangerous. I can provide measurements if you require them while you are restoring yours if you need them. 

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Here is the item straight from the vendor.

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Next few photos show the main body after using the lathe to cut down through the epoxy to the steel.

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Inside the VB, you can see the layer of epoxy inside and where I started to cut it smooth. 

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Great reply thankyou. Yes the grenade detail with the brass cap & striker struck the deal. Amazing what has been done on the lathe with your example. I would have never thought of going down that road if I hadn't read your earlier post.  I would have to farm out the lathe work. Not familiar with the term 'epoxy'. Why did you coat it with it inside & out before machining it? I'll have the measurements if you think it's feasible. There is the knurled detail on the mid section to also take in to account.

Here they are. The good side of the grenade. The other side ain't so pretty.I'll post more photos when it lands. Black paint !!!

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Nice grenade and launcher, the Brass cap for the grenade is more rare than the grenade itself, good deal. I used a material called J-B weld which is a two part epoxy, the one I use is steel based so it dries really hard. The reason I coated the exterior and interior in it was to fill the pitting, so when it was on the lathe and machined it came out smooth, obviously it took several applications to get it perfect, but it will look fantastic when done. Like I said I have the dimensions of the launcher so you can give this to your machinist if you wish. You can also sand it by hand if you so desire, but it takes a lot longer, and the inside is really hard to do by hand. The knurled area can be accomplished by a machinist as well. 

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Nice one i'll have the measurements when you get the chance. Paid a ton for them. I wasn't sure to be honest but I'm glad I did now. The other side of the grenade is pretty rough though. The cap isn't as tidy on the other side either.I'll post more pics when I have it.

Cheers Paul 👍

Edited by Achtung Spitfire!
unfinished
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Mint condition VB launchers can go into the thousands dependent on the variant. Dug ones can still be quite expensive as well, depending on condition. The high explosive grenades are fairly easy to find, I am sure you will find a better specimen. There are other grenades used that are much harder to find such as the message grenade, training grenade and signal grenades (flares).

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Roger that. I'll look those grenades up I'm not familiar with them. The grenade I have will display well though but if I see a better body I'll grab it. One more thing,when I do get the genade laucher filled & machined would the paint need removing first? Soaking in white vinegar would probably do that over time. What du reckon?

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Well you can just have it sandblasted, that will take care of any paint, especially in low lying areas. That is what I did to mine.

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