PNG images: Grenade

A grenade is a small bomb typically thrown by hand.

A variety of hand grenades exist, the most common being explosive grenades designed to detonate after impact or after a set amount of time.

Grenadiers were originally soldiers who specialised in throwing grenades.

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Rudimentary incendiary grenades appeared in the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire, not long after the reign of Leo III (717–741). Byzantine soldiers learned that Greek fire, a Byzantine invention of the previous century, could not only be thrown by flamethrowers at the enemy, but also in stone and ceramic jars. Later, glass containers were employed. The use of Greek fire spread to Muslim armies in the Near East, from where it reached China by the 10th century.

The shells (pào) are made of cast iron, as large as a bowl and shaped like a ball. Inside they contain half a pound of 'divine fire' (shén huǒ, gunpowder). They are sent flying towards the enemy camp from an eruptor (mu pào); and when they get there a sound like a thunder-clap is heard, and flashes of light appear. If ten of these shells are fired successfully into the enemy camp, the whole place will be set ablaze...

The first cast iron bombshells and grenades did not appear in Europe until 1467. A hoard of several hundred ceramic hand grenades were discovered during construction in front of a bastion of the Bavarian city of Ingolstadt, Germany dated to the 17th century. Many of the grenades retained their original blackpowder loads and igniters. Most probably the grenades were intentionally dumped in the moat of the bastion before prior to 1723. In 1643, it is possible that "Grenados" were thrown amongst the Welsh at Holt Bridge during the English Civil War. The word "grenade" originated during the events surrounding the Glorious Revolution in 1688, where cricket ball-sized iron spheres packed with gunpowder and fitted with slow-burning wicks were first used against the Jacobites in the battles of Killiecrankie and Glen Shiel. These grenades were not very effective (probably because a direct hit would be necessary for the grenade to have effect) and, as a result, saw little use. Grenades were also used during the Golden Age of Piracy: pirate Captain Thompson used "vast numbers of powder flasks, granado shells, and stinkpots" to defeat two pirate-hunters sent by the Governor of Jamaica in 1721.

Improvised grenades were increasingly used from the mid-19th century, being especially useful in trench warfare. In a letter to his sister, Colonel Hugh Robert Hibbert described an improvised grenade that was employed by British troops during the Crimean War (1854–1856):

 

We have a new invention to annoy our friends in their pits. It consists in filling empty soda water bottles full of powder, old twisted nails and any other sharp or cutting thing we can find at the time, sticking a bit of tow in for a fuse then lighting it and throwing it quickly into our neighbours pit where it bursts, to their great annoyance. You may imagine their rage at seeing a soda water bottle come tumbling into a hole full of men with a little fuse burning away as proud as a real shell exploding and burying itself into soft parts of the flesh.

In the American Civil War, both sides used hand grenades equipped with a plunger that detonated the device on impact. The Union relied on experimental Ketchum Grenades, which had a tail to ensure that the nose would strike the target and start the fuse. The Confederacy used spherical hand grenades that weighed about six pounds, sometimes with a paper fuse. They also used 'Rains' and 'Adams' grenades, which were similar to the Ketchum in appearance and mechanism. Improvised hand grenades were also used to great effect by the Russian defenders of Port Arthur during the Russo-Japanese War.

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