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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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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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  • 2 weeks later...

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 area 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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  • 1 month later...

Here is a chest plate I just got, much better condition than my previous one. This one has all the leather loops intact. I will do a rust treatment, then get some new leather to make straps. I will post the completed item, once I have finished. 

 

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Here is an image of the Brutschild in action. Note the soldiers that are fourth and fifth on the right, they are holding the M17 egg grenades. 

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Very interesting

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Here it is after being treated with several baths of rust remover. It still has some minor pitting and defects, but overall turned out very well, the back side I have not touched yet. I have since sealed up the front with a chemical treatment to prevent corrosion. I have leather straps and parts on order to make the harness assembly. I will post when done. 

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Here is the finished product, I used period photos to get the straps as close as I could, but for a display it works good. 

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That's really impressive Gildwiller, do you know what sort of finish would be on it? In the film it seems to have a slightly darker tone.  

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I did not see any traces of paint, they might have used a bluing substance to dull the metal. Information on this item is pretty scarce. 

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Is that not traces of bluing on the back? I agree it would not be painted as striking the grenade would soon destroy it, but bluing could be a possibility, otherwise it could have the effect of a giant heliograph on his chest. I think you have made a really good job of restoring it , but just wonder if it would look even better if it was blued, this would add a bit of age to it and also help stop the rust coming back?     

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You may be correct, it has some type of film. I could try to blue a section and see how it looks. I did add a anti-rust chemical to the bare metal as well. Some of the pictures I have seen of these looks like the metal was dulled in some fashion, but they still look very bright. 

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Ok did some more digging, I found another ones of these brest plates that had some remnants of paint, looks like it was painted a feldgrau or similar color. The one I saw had faded light green looking paint in a few small areas. Painting will be easier than bluing, so I will look into suitable colors. 

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It looks very good now, but if it was painted I think it would look even better. If it was me I would try a feldgrau paint similar to the paint on the buttons. That way it would still keep it's bright appearance.    

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I would not repaint the grenades, just leave them the natural iron patina colour. The striking shield would not have been blued. This would have had a variant of the field grey colour. The buttons were not usually fieldgrey, but either brown or grey, depending on their previous metal colours of gold or silver. The field grey of the shield would have been a slightly different tone to that of the helmet. Best to check original museum examples or enquire there.

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Thanks guys for the input, I am asking several well known collectors who also work with museums about this issue. Once I get the best info, I will move forward. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Ok, after consulting several well known collectors, here is what I came up with. Most of the paint that is on these plates is nearly all gone, but I did see trace amounts that look to be a light green, a shade much lighter than the paint on the helmets. I used a similar paint on the plate below. It is as close as I can get without more information. It displays quite well. Sorry it is not on the mannequin with the overcoat, but the moths are coming back out in force now, had to put it away. 

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