Jump to content

Recommended Posts

Here is an image of the training version of the US VB grenade, from one of my resource books. I have never seen one for sale, I have only seen these in museums and in private collections. It was made from cast iron, and had the same height, width, and weight as live version, and could be shot through and reused. 

 

Scan_20201004.jpg

  • Like 4
Link to post
Share on other sites

Image of the VB message grenade, again from my source materials. The body was cast iron, with a light metal cap, shown on the bottom in the image. The cap unscrewed and the message was placed inside. During use, the whole grenade was inside a sheet metal container until use, inside was the grenade and a launching cartridge. The grenade was inserted with the flat metal end inside the launcher, when fired the grenade produced a small cloud of smoke for about half a minute. So in theory, the message would be visible to to sender, but also to the enemy as well. However these were not used much by the US forces, mainly because the grenade tended to burrow upon impact, making the tracing smoke ineffective and it only had a range of about 200 yards. The message container portion also tended to break apart under impact. I have no data on how effective or how much it was used by French forces. Again, very rare, I have only seen one for sale in the last few years and it was very badly corroded. I know of at least one collector here who has an original example. 

 

Scan_20201004 (4).jpg

  • Like 4
Link to post
Share on other sites

Here are my VB grenades, only have 7 and one cut away training aid. All with different maker marks. My goal is to get 11, enough to fill up the US grenade vest. Getting there, slowly, lol. 

IMG_4832.JPG

IMG_4833.JPG

IMG_4834.JPG

IMG_4835.JPG

IMG_4836.JPG

IMG_4837.JPG

IMG_4838.JPG

IMG_4840.JPG

  • Like 3
  • Wow 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 weeks later...

Very nice image of French troops practicing with the VB launcher on Lebel rifles, note the grenades and the leather carrier on the hip of the soldier with the rifle.

Image source, National Archives

111-SC-002123-ac (1).jpg

  • Like 4
Link to post
Share on other sites

Great collection. Well my grenade finally arrived. The body is very poor but at least it came with the very hard to find brass safety cap!

20201014_145958.thumb.jpg.7589320ff6b46c689da867e26473fdd3.jpg

20201014_150028.thumb.jpg.15935a14ea529c23ee51d901d16e1971.jpg

20201014_145916.thumb.jpg.248779c9d79a8ce982211922c12ac247.jpg

  • Like 4
Link to post
Share on other sites

Another image of the VB in use, Belgians with Mauser 1889 rifle in the foreground, the VB is on a Berthier M07/15 rifle. 

111-SC-001513-ac.jpg

  • Like 4
Link to post
Share on other sites

French instructors training US Marines on different grenade types. Note the VB launcher on the rifle and leather carrying case and VB grenade on the table. 

111-SC-002151-ac.jpg

111-SC-002165-ac.jpg

  • Like 4
Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, Gildwiller1918 said:

The grenade body is not that bad, it could be fixed up if so desired. 

It looks too far gone to me.How so? An overview of that restoration process would be good thankyou. Some the VB grenades have noticeable horizontal lines going around the body. Others don't appear to have them. Maybe its just the light. Any thoughts on that? And out of your collection do you have a personal favourite. Also, I've seen the red band before. What's it's significance? Too many questions so omit as you see fit!

  • Like 4
Link to post
Share on other sites

My VB that has a "C" looking letter, it is on the top right, where it shows all 8, this one I did refurbish. Around the rounded top, I used filler material such as bondo, applying a little at a time then sanding to get a smooth appearance. This does take some time by the way. The rounded body itself can be done in a similar fashion, fill the pits and holes with a filler then hand sand, or put in a lathe, to do this you insert a threaded rod through the middle of the grenade, securing the end to make the rod tight, then as the whole assembly spins, you can have the machinist use the cutter to make the groves along the outer body or to make it smooth. Restoration can be accomplished, it just depends on who much time, materials and your sanity you want to invest. 

The red band is eluding me for the moment, I used to have this information, I will post it once I have rediscovered it. As far as favorites goes, I would have to say the French launcher, that was my first really nice launcher that was not a dug item. They do turn up, but it may take awhile. 

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites

The grooves you are referring to may simply be the result of the manufacturing process, as I have seen this and smooth sided versions. I don't believe the manufacturers wasted time milling them after casting, but the lines are the by product of the molds themselves, where the interiors were milled.  I could be wrong, not an expert, but it seems to me they wanted these turned out as fast as possible, so different makers would produce different variants. As long as they met the basic tolerances for firing. 

  • Like 3
  • Thanks 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, Gildwiller1918 said:

My VB that has a "C" looking letter, it is on the top right, where it shows all 8, this one I did refurbish. Around the rounded top, I used filler material such as bondo, applying a little at a time then sanding to get a smooth appearance. This does take some time by the way. The rounded body itself can be done in a similar fashion, fill the pits and holes with a filler then hand sand, or put in a lathe, to do this you insert a threaded rod through the middle of the grenade, securing the end to make the rod tight, then as the whole assembly spins, you can have the machinist use the cutter to make the groves along the outer body or to make it smooth. Restoration can be accomplished, it just depends on who much time, materials and your sanity you want to invest. 

The red band is eluding me for the moment, I used to have this information, I will post it once I have rediscovered it. As far as favorites goes, I would have to say the French launcher, that was my first really nice launcher that was not a dug item. They do turn up, but it may take awhile. 

Nice job on the resto. So what did you use for the finish ? I'm assuming the bondo is a different colour to the body.Excuse my lack of knowledge but is bondo a brand name or a collective? In other words if I purchased it what would I ask for?

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, bondo is the brand name, basically automotive filler or putty, the stronger the better. Once you have it sanded to where you want it, I use model or hobby spray paint, typically with primer already mixed into the paint. Use several light coats to reach the desired look. Once the paint is done I use a coat of polyurethane or some other clear coat sealant to protect the paint.

  • Like 3
  • Thanks 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
On 15/10/2020 at 12:49, Gildwiller1918 said:

My VB that has a "C" looking letter, it is on the top right, where it shows all 8, this one I did refurbish. Around the rounded top, I used filler material such as bondo, applying a little at a time then sanding to get a smooth appearance. This does take some time by the way. The rounded body itself can be done in a similar fashion, fill the pits and holes with a filler then hand sand, or put in a lathe, to do this you insert a threaded rod through the middle of the grenade, securing the end to make the rod tight, then as the whole assembly spins, you can have the machinist use the cutter to make the groves along the outer body or to make it smooth. Restoration can be accomplished, it just depends on who much time, materials and your sanity you want to invest. 

The red band is eluding me for the moment, I used to have this information, I will post it once I have rediscovered it. As far as favorites goes, I would have to say the French launcher, that was my first really nice launcher that was not a dug item. They do turn up, but it may take awhile. 

I just read somewhere the the red band on a VB grenade indicates it was a practice grenade. 

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites

I have read similar accounts, as well as the brass protective caps were not used until after the war. I am trying to verify these accounts, but have not had any luck yet. 

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites

Brass caps not used until after the war eh. Perhaps they were retro fitted to reduce accidents perhaps. Be interesting to find out the facts about that.

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites

I have read that rubber caps were used on the top of the VB grenades to prevent accidents, and that the brass cover came out later (post war). This is very common in the WW1 period, as revisions and changes, especially safety, did not always happen fast. Changes had to be run up the chain of command, then if approved were sent to various war offices, then sent to manufacturers. I can't even imagine how long that took back then. I have a dust cover for the CSRG Chauchat, which helped keep the action clear and prevented jams, and its a pretty decent add-on, it did not get approved until the war was over. The absence of the brass cap in WW1 has been supported in many photo's. I have yet to see a wartime photo with a cap on a VB grenade so far. 

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites

Excellent research. Be interesting to see photos of the rubber cap you refer to.

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites

I have not found any photos yet, but I imagine it is basically a rubber cap that goes over the brass fuse, preventing the striker from making contact, if I had to guess.

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites

Still be interesting to see for sure though. Thinking about it the brass safety cap doesn't prevent the striker from making contact with the brass fuse 🤔

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites

Still waking up here lol, I forgot the striker has a price of steel that is resting on the fuse. Only description I found said the US forces used a small rubber cap, this may have covered the fuse and filling plug, of just the fuse/striker assembly. Until I find more information, we are still in the dark. Honestly, I don't think the rubber cap was used much either. The VB is a fairly safe design, as long as the striker is not forced against the primer on the fuse. I imagine that the VB's arrived at the front like all the rest, with the fuses removed and then before action they were re-inserted. Unfortunately, for a lot of WW1 items, we may never really know the whole story. Although records were kept at the time, many have been lost over the years. This is true of the National Archives, many service men/women had their records destroyed in a fire that swept through the facility. 

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...