Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Standard Toy Soldier Poses: The Grenade Guy

A staple of modern soldiers from World War I to the present is the grenade thrower. Most sets of Army men have one. Usually, he is poised to throw. The arm holding the grenade is cocked back; his free arm points forward toward the target. American and British, throw a grenade that is shaped like an egg or a ball. Russian and German soldiers are generally depicted with a stick grenade that looks like a potato masher. The Japanese can be armed with either.

The original grenades were clay pots filled with gunpowder and odd fragments of stone, bone, metal, etc. They had a fuse that would be lit, and then the bomb was thrown off the castle wall at besiegers. A smaller, throwable version was developed that used a hollow clay or iron ball. It was filled with gunpowder. A fuse protruded from the top. A man would have to light it and throw it very far at the enemy.

Special troops were trained to throw grenades in the late 1600s and early 1700s. Called grenadiers, their task was to hurl grenades at enemy troops. The largest, strongest men were selected for the job. The problem was that grenades were unpredictable and there were accidents. if a grenadier were shot while getting ready to throw, he might drop it. The result would be bad for fellow grenadiers alongside him. Thus the grenadier title came to denote elite troops and the grenade itself was relegated to defensive works.

By the 20th Century, a more reliable fuse was available. Grenades were used for clearing trenches. Two methods of projecting grenades were available. Hand grenades were made to be thrown. Rifle grenades were launched, using a rifle as the launcher. The common type of grenades were fragmentation and concussion. Egg-shaped grenades were made to break into shards as they exploded. Stick grenades relied on concussive force rather than fragmentation.

There was no special grenade thrower in armies of the 20th and 21st Centuries. Grenades were issued to all infantrymen. The egg-shaped ones could be put in pockets or clipped to one’s field gear. Stick grenades could be tucked into a belt or boot. Every man usually had them.

The grenade was taught in basic training by the US Army. Among things taught were how to throw it into a bunker and through a window. Also, how to go from prone position to throwing on one knee. There was more, of course. The way we were taught to throw was like throwing a football. This is different from French and British methods.

One amusing thing about grenade thowers is a figure from a British company. It is supposed to represent an American soldier. However, his pose is more like that of a fellow pitching cricket, the English equivalent of baseball.

Here is a link showing the grenade throwing used by various armies: http://www.thortrains.com/getright/drillgrenade1.html

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