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Gildwiller1918

WW1 German M17 Eierhandgranate

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In WW1, grenades were in an ever-evolving state as both sides competed for the the right type for the right job. In 1917, the Germans introduced the M17 Eierhandgranate "Egg Grenade", which as its name suggests is small and egg shaped with a smooth exterior with a single fragmentation band, which also allows for a better grip. An earlier version was introduced in 1916 that had a smooth body with no fragmentation band, but troops complained about the grenade being hard to grip and it slipped easily. So the M17 was officially called the M17 N/a - Neuer Art or New model. 

Below is an example of the M17 with the M16 percussion igniter which had a 5 second delay. The average soldier could throw the M17 about 40 meters. This grenade had an explosive filling of gunpowder, aluminum and barium nitrate. Typically on the M17 N/a you will find makers marks on the bottom of the grenade as well.

 

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Here is the M17 with the stamped plate and cap traction inginater, M17 fuse, which had a 5 second delay. 

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As with virtually every other grenade in WW1, they were shipped to the front minus the fuse for safety reasons. Below is an example of the M17 with the transport plug, which came with a leather O-ring. Once the grenades were in the forward area, a detail of men would take the grenades to a seperate trench to assemble them, this was done so that if there was an accidental explosion, only they would be killed or wounded. 

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Here is the smooth body grenade and the later type with the fragmentation band from my collection. The smooth body type used earlier fuses from the Kugel grenades. In this case it has the model 1913 bronze traction igniter.

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Here is a grenade fuse puller used by the Germans, since the loops on the fuses were smaller than a finger, a tool was used to help facilitate the arming process, unlike later models which had a decent size pull ring. 

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Here is another view of the chest plate that the Germans also used for these grenades. The plate had notches along the exterior in which leather straps could be attached to help fix in a somewhat stationary position on the wearer. When a grenade was needed the loop on the fuse was placed on the rod which runs from the bottom left to the top right, then the used would pull down or away to arm the fuse. The second photo is one from my collection. Most of these I have come across are dug version, so far I have not seen any repros yet. 

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I did find a vendor selling a near mint one of these plates, 1200 euros! 

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The egg grenades are not often seen in photos, the stick grenade is much more prevalent, as the photo below shows. Look in center bottom, there is a crate with the egg grenades. Note the stick grenades are the M16 type, with notable differences in the can manufacture. 

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Just read about how some vendors are selling faked smooth bodied egg grenades. What they are doing is taking a regular egg grenade with the fragmentation band, and grinding this off to make the appearance look like the much rarer first issue smooth bodied type. If the smooth bodied type is for sale and the coat of paint looks fresh, ask if you can strip some of the paint around the middle where the seam is. Once stripped the metal should be aged evenly, if the middle are has metal that looks bright or does not match the patina of the rest of the metal, it might have been fooled with. Of course smooth bodied types were also ground along the middle when they were made, but the metal should be aged appropriately. Most smooth body types are dug up ones, so these are usually repainted. Buyer beware. 

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