By Michael Heidler
In the course of the Second World War the German Reich supported its allies with weapons, ammunition and equipment of various types. Most of these weapons were put into service unchanged or with only slight modifications. Among these, there were also a total of 70,879 complete sets of Gewehrgranatgeräte (rifle grenade launchers). It can not be established exactly to which countries these launchers had been delivered, but three allies – Finland, Italy and Japan – did not only issue them to their troops, but also made copies of them on their own.
After the invasion of Norway on 9 April 1940 (operation Weserübung) large amounts of weapons used by the Norwegian army fell into German hands, for the most part different versions of the model Krag-Jørgensen in caliber 6.5 x 55 mm. The Germans collected these weapons and reissued them to their occupation forces, such as the rifle model 1891 with the new German des-ignation Gewehr 211(n).
In order to use the German rifle grenade launcher with the foreign weapons, it was often necessary to modify its clamp-mount corresponding to the shape of the muzzle area of the rifles: so also with the Krag-Jørgensen. Unlike the German Karabiner 98k, the bayonet bracket is quite close to the muzzle so that a recess for it had to be milled into the clamp-mount. These modifications were not based on official instructions, but the units did it on their own locally.
Because of the shape of the Krag-Jørgensen models, the German launcher sight could not be used without modifications to the bracket. As a find from Norway shows, some soldiers effectuated an idea published in the newspaper From the front for the front (issue of 30 June 1944) and fixed a self-made mounting to the launcher wrench so that it could be put on the rifle's sight to act as an auxiliary launcher sight.
The propellant cartridges came from German production and were designated Gewehr-Kartuschen (n). In a box of 70 pieces (headstamp RA 1944) for the high-explosive rifle grenade, the specified weight of 288 grams show that the grenade was the version with steel fuse AZ 5071 St.
After the hard Winter War against the mighty Soviet Union from November 1939 till March 1940, Finland expected a reclamation of the assigned territories by participating in the German invasion of Russia on 22 June 1941. Thus the Finnish Commander Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim formed an alliance with the German Reich and on 26 June 1941 Finnish troops began to cross the Soviet border. In the subsequent period they advanced to Wiborg (Viipuri) and Lake Onega. Also involved were German mountain troops (Gebirgsjäger), which should have moved through northern Finland to capture the important ice-free Russian seaport of Murmansk, but the plan failed.
When the fortunes of war turned in the Russian campaign, the Finnish Prime Minister Hackzell announced the severing of diplomatic relations with the German Reich and on 19 September 1944 Finland signed an armistice with the superior Soviet Union.
During these three years of participation of German troops the Finnish army was mainly armed with weapons of Russian origin, until the national arms industry was able to make larger quantities of weapons. Nevertheless the capacity of the Finnish arms industry was far way from being sufficient for a military conflict of this dimension. Supplies from Germany were a welcome support.
This is why Finland was supplied with a total of 600 Karabiner 98k with rifle grenade launchers. On 17 February 1943 the depot of the Waffen-SS in Tornio/Northern Finland received the following delivery from the Hauptzeugamt of the Waffen-SS in Oranienburg:
- 100 Karabiner 98k m. Riemen (100 Karabiner 98k with slings)
- 100 Schießbecher f.G.G.30 (100 rifle grenade launchers for rifle grenade mod. 30)
- 100 Zielgeräte f.G.G.30 (100 rifle launcher sights for rifle grenade mod. 30)
- 100 Gerätetragetaschen f.G.G.30 (100 rifle grenade pouches for rifle grenade mod. 30)
- 100 Schlüssel f.G.G.30 (100 rifle grenade wrenches for rifle grenade mod. 30)
Well over a year later, on 3 August 1944 (just a few weeks before the armistice), another shipment of 500 Karabiner 98k (order number 256 = 500 98k complete) with rifle grenade launchers (order number 257 = 500 Gew.Gr.Ger. complete) was sent to Finland. Further orders were cancelled due to the political changes.
Since 1935, Finland was using a copy of the Russian rifle grenade cup launcher in its army, but the new German model showed a better performance. After the delivery of the 100 pieces test shipment, in July 1942, the Finnish High Command began with plans for making a copy for their own service rifles (caliber 7.62x54R). This was followed by an order of 1,000 pieces placed at the State Artillery Factory (VTT) and the State Rifle Factory (VKT) in Jyväskylä, which was delivered in full by 10 March 1943. A further order for another 1,000 pieces was placed in May 1943 and completed in July 1944.
Of written training materials, the Finnish soldiers did not get much in their hands – there were no official translations of the German manuals and leaflets.
The Finnish rifle grenade launcher is identically equal to the early German model without the reinforced launcher-tube. Only the inner shape of the clamp-mount has been modified to fit the Finnish service rifles. The two similar punches "VTT + number" on the tube and the mount are the only markings on the device.
Of the launcher sights, there are two different models known (without any maker’s markings). Both have a bow-shaped bracket, which was put on the rifle from the top and tightened firmly under the barrel by a locking screw. The first model is made of a rotatable metal disc, on which a small bubble level is mounted. Through a cutout in the edge of the rotatable disc the scale on the base-plate can be read. Thus it is very similar to the Russian grenade launcher sight. The second model, however, is made of a long bar with front and rear sight, a distance scale and a locking screw. It is documented in Finnish military data sheets of August 1944 with the official designation 30mm:n kiväärikranaatti 41:n tähtäinlaite. It has been adjusted for the 30mm rifle grenades, so when firing other grenades the shooter had to consider some divergences in aiming. Later in the war the construction was slightly simplified and the bow-shaped bracket’s size reduced.
The rifle grenades all came from German deliveries. No own production was ever carried out in Finland. In the Finnish military data sheets, the sketched grenades show German markings including the secret military letter-codes of the manufacturers.
Special grenades like flare, smoke or propaganda are not mentioned in the data sheets because the focus was clearly on anti-tank warfare. Facing the threat of the modern Russian tanks, even some shipments of the brand new SS-Gewehr-Panzergranate 46 (developed by the armament academy of the SS located in Brno/Czechoslovakia) were sent to Finland.
Consequently there were only four officially introduced rifle grenades.
- - 30 kiv. sirpalekranaatti (Gewehr-Sprenggranate 30) (high-explosive grenade mod. 30)
- - 30 kiv. panssarikranaatti (Gewehr-Panzergranate 30) (anti-tank grenade mod. 30)
- - 45 kiv. panssarikranaatti (große Gewehr-Panzergranate 40) (large anti-tank grenade mod. 40)
- - 46 kiv. panssarikranaatti (SS-Gewehr-Panzergranate 46) (SS anti-tank grenade mod. 46)
The numbers indicate the diameter of the grenade bodies. The diameter of the fungiform German gr.G.Pzgr.40 (large anti-tank rifle grenade 40) was measured in Finland at a different point, that’s the reason for the different parameter “45 mm” in the Finnish documents.
The necessary propellant cartridges in caliber 7.62x54R came from Finnish manufacturing. A crimped cartridge was used with 30mm rifle grenades (peruspanos-7.62 30 kiväärikranaatti-41) and a more powerful cartridge with wooden bullet was used with the heavier anti-tank rifle grenades.
In the postwar period, the Finnish rifle grenade launchers were not used any longer. They were delivered to the depots and gradually sold off.
Another wartime ally of the German Reich that was reliant on relief supply was Italy. No information about the delivery of rifle grenade launchers could be found yet, but it is clear that Italy made copies of the German launcher by themselves.
In the period between the two wars, Italy did not make much progress in rifle grenade development. The copies of the French Vivien Bessière cup launcher and their own model for the Bomba Bertone used in World War I were replaced by a new system in 1928. Therefore, a rifle grenade launcher was permanently fixed to the right side of the rifle Moschetto TS 91. Its range was about 200 m and the grenade's wounding radius about 15 m. The handling was very complicated because the bolt had to be removed from the rifle's system and be inserted into the launcher. Extensive firing tests also showed the poor per-formance of the new device. It is not surprising that the rifle grenade device was abolished in 1934 and most of the grenade rifles were dismantled back to the standard rifle configuration. No further developments followed. From time to time, Carcanos with plugged cut-outs in the stock can be found – these had been former grenade rifles.
Relatively late in World War II, there was again a launcher for rifle gre-nades introduced in the Italian army. This time it was a copy of the German launcher called Tromboncino Modello 43. Its production began several months after the occupation of northern Italy by German troops in September 1943. Until April 1944, 4,000 pieces had been manufactured. The launcher pictured here was made in the Fabbrica Nazionale d'Armi (FNA) in Brescia and has the serial number E 556. The highest known serial number is E 7912.
Interestingly, the Italian design partly corresponds to the early German model, which at that time was no longer in production. The launcher was made with the unreinforced tube with the fine thread. Also, the bracket is attached to the middle rather than near the top edge of the launcher sight. To attach the launcher to the Italian arms, it was necessary to modify the clamp-mount. The cut-out for the front sight was reduced in size and the clamp-mount was short-ened so that the two clamps protrude backward. Because of these changes, the Italian launcher with an overall length of 24.13 cm is slightly shorter than the German model. The bracket for the launcher sight has also been modified in shape to correspond to the Carcano system.
The rifle grenade launcher could be used with the rifles model 91, 91/41 and Moschetto 91 TS (from 1929 on). All other models were unsuitable be-cause of the shape of their barrels or other differences in construction. The Italians used the same rifle grenade models as the Wehrmacht, but it is unclear whether these were produced in Italy or were delivered from Germany.
After the war, the rifle grenade launcher system was used by the police for firing irritant grenades. At an angle of 45° the range was up to 200 m. In the early 1960s the police introduced a new rifle grenade launcher; Modello 61. The clamp-mount was still the same, but the launching tube had been replaced by a barrel extension for slide-on irritant grenades. The outer diameter of the extension is 22 mm.
At the time of Japan’s attack on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941, the bolt-action rifle Arisaka Meiji 38 in caliber of 6.5 mm (in-troduced in 1905) was the standard weapon of the Japanese infantrymen. But it was already hopelessly out of date and the ammunition no longer met the re-quirements. With the experiences made in the fighting in Manchuria (from September 1931 on) in mind, a lot of experimental work was done with various calibers and types of ammunition. The result of this research, the bolt-action rifle M.99 in caliber 7.7mm, was officially introduced in 1939. But despite its better performance this new weapon could never displace the M.38 and even after 1945 both types were still in official use.
From the beginning of 1942 there was an introduced rifle grenade cup launcher for all three long guns (rifle T.38, carbine T.38 and rifle T.99) called Model 100. Depending on the weapon, high-explosive grenades could be fired at distances between 75 m and 100 m. To avoid the introduction of a special propellant cartridge, the Japanese were looking for a way to launch grenades by use of standard combat cartridges. Thus, the Model 100 was made of a kind of barrel extension with overlying launcher cup. As soon as the bullet passes a gas port in the barrel extension, the gas pressure escapes into the cup and pushes the grenade out. An adjustment screw at the gas port could be used to vary the firing range. Although this system saved another type of ammunition, it was cumbersome in field use. Before affixing the launching cup, the bayonet had to be put on the rifle to give a firm hold to the launcher.
Then there was the shortcoming that the Japanese army still did not have any armor-piercing rifle grenades. The development of hollow-charge ammu-nition was still in its infancy. Early attempts by the Navy with a hollow-charge warhead for torpedoes in the mid 1930s aroused little interest and were ignored by the army.
As part of the mutual exchange of arms technology, in 1942 two German Heereswaffenamt officers were preparing a top secret mission. On direct order of Hitler, Colonel Paul Niemöller (graduated Dipl.Ing chemist) and Major Wal-ter Merkel would bring records and patterns of hollow-charge ammunition to Japan. Both men were part of the department Wa.Prüf.1 (ballistic and ammu-nition department) and were, according to U.S. interrogation records from the period of detention in Japan, already been involved in the development of rifle grenades in Germany.
Not much was yet known about this secret mission, but the author has succeeded by long-time research in getting in contact with surviving descend-ants of both men. Unfortunately Colonel Niemöller’s family had lost all their belongings in the bomb raids on Berlin, so that only the surviving seaman's book provides an interesting insight into the secret operations.
The descendants of Major Merkel living in the U.S. still possess numerous documents, records and photo albums from his time in Japan. But they only shared this information with the American authors Gregory Babich and Thomas Keep for use in their book Imperial Japanese Grenade Rifles and Launchers, Dutch Harlow Publishing Company, Lemont PA, United States 2004 (www.tekidanki.com). The book is very much recommended as a supplement to this chapter.
The Secret Mission
For reasons of secrecy, both officers were traveling at different times on different ships from Bordeaux to Yokohama. Colonel Niemöller embarked as a paymaster on the blockade runner and auxiliary cruiser Tannenfels that left the French harbor on 2 March 1942. Among other things the ship was loaded with machine parts, chemicals and fuel to supply the auxiliary cruisers Thor, Michel and Stier.
Soon after its departure, the vessel was detected by a British reconnais-sance aircraft. Captain Werner Hase ignored the explicit order of the Navy control centre to abort the mission and continued the journey. Fortunately, no attack took place. But in the wide expanse of the Atlantic there was almost a catastrophe: For unknown reasons, the stored chemicals in the cargo hold num-ber 2 caught fire. The crew narrowly managed to extinguish the fire before it could spread to the hundreds of drums filled with ether and chloroform in the adjacent cargo hold. The war diary of the Navy later describes the fateful day as follows: "According to a message received from Tokyo, some days after de-parture from Bordeaux two large fires occurred on the ship and caused a des-perate plight. For a while the captain considered the situation as hopeless. With full commitment of officers and crew the attempts to suppress the fire finally succeeded. The captain refers to sabotage as the cause for the fires… On board was Colonel Niemöller with an important arms-specific delivery, which was to be handed over to the Japanese Army on order of the Führer."
And as if that had not been enough, the ship was caught in a heavy storm in the South Atlantic causing severe damage to the ship’s body and some leaks in the hull. Seriously affected, the Tannenfels reached the harbor of Yokohama on 12 May 1942. Eventually, Colonel Niemöller was back on firm ground – and was promptly arrested by the harbor police. The reason for this is not clear and after a few hours he was allowed to leave.
A week later, on 19 May, the Japanese chief of general staff Colonel General Sugiyama held a welcome-breakfast for Colonel Niemöller. Both Sugiyama, and the Vice-Minister of War, Lieutenant General Kimura, thanked Hitler in a letter for sending an "officer on difficult path with valuable material." In the following time, Colonel Niemöller met Colonel Kobayashi, an expert on explosives of the Army arsenal No. 2 in Tokyo. Niemöller worked with both the Army and Navy. He was supported by a group of 30 German engineers and chemists who were already in the country and had worked for Japanese com-panies before the war.
Six weeks after Niemöller’s arrival, Major Merkel reached Yokohama. He had left Bordeaux on 12 December 1942 aboard the blockade runner Re-gensburg. The ship met with the Dresden on the high seas and Merkel changed ships. He arrived in Japan without any incident. The war diary of the Navy says: "Etappen-V Schiff (section support ship) Dresden met on the way from western France to Japan on 31 May 1942 with the Etappen-V Schiff Regens-burg and passed over 200 cubic meters of diesel oil from its own storage to the Regensburg. Dresden was then released for Japan and arrived at Yokohama on 22 June 1942 after a successful blockade run. On board was Major Merkel with a second copy of the records that were already brought to Japan by Colonel Niemöller on the Etappen-V Schiff Tannenfels." The official cargo list of the Dresden does not mention any unusual freight.
There was enough to do in Japan. As written in secret reports about the Japanese industry, the German Reich was years ahead in all respects. On 11 December 1942, Niemöller sent a telegram to the Army General Staff: “At-tempting… to get something in return. I have doubts because there is little new. I think, as well as the military attaché, that we must be the donor and remain in this role. Strong support of the Japanese is necessary, since they are little inventive on their own… The visited companies show little achievement by high labor input. Remarkable is the lack of organizational and inventive talented people.”
Soon after Niemöller’s arrival, the Japanese busily began researching the brought hollow-charge anti-tank grenades (Gewehr-Panzergranate and Große Gewehr-Panzergranate). An extensive test program was initiated in June 1942 and in July the first firing test with grenades from their own production was carried out. The German rifle grenade launcher was examined and modified (project Tate) and just a month later the production of the Japanese own model started. It was officially introduced as "ni shiki tekidanki" (Model 2). The ear-liest known launcher is dated August 1942 and was captured by the Americans on 15 October in the Solomon Islands. Also, the first grenades from own mass production were delivered in August 1942.
The Rifle Grenade Launcher
Comparing the German rifle grenade launcher with its Japanese copy, the first thing to mention is the much shorter launcher tube. It is just long enough to keep the stem of the Japanese rifle grenade. The distance on which the gre-nade is forced to rotate is not shorter than on the German standard launcher tube, but even a little longer: The rifling of the tube reaches to the muzzle, while on the German model the last 5 mm are smooth.
During the entire production the Japanese used the same fine thread, as it was used on the early German model that had been brought to Japan. The clamp-mount is almost equal to the German model, only the clamps have a dif-ferent shape corresponding to the Arisaka rifles. Inside the clamps the same mysterious spiral millings as on the early German launchers are present.
Although many Japanese rifle grenade launchers were captured by U.S. forces, and these devices were also described in the American intelligence re-ports, it is not known how the launcher sight looked like. If it is mentioned at all, it is usually written that the Japanese sight is probably a copy of the German one, but none had been captured so far. Also, in all the Japanese regulations and documents no sight is described. This fact leads to the conclusion that the Japanese did not use a sight for rifle grenade firing, but aimed on the target by means of auxiliary points on the rifle’s standard rear sight – just as the German soldiers did, since the launcher sight proved to be very weak in field use.
The officially issued accessories were a canvas carrying bag for 10 gre-nades with propellant cartridges, a handy wrench and a small canvas pouch for the rifle grenade launcher.
For the rifle grenade launcher Model 2 there were only two anti-tank gre-nades, namely copies of the German Gewehr-Panzergranate and Große Gewehr-Panzergranate. Their official Japanese designation means translated "30mm (or 40mm) Model 2 hollow charge rifle grenade". High-explosive grenades or other models like flare or smoke were not developed.
The design of the rifle grenades corresponds to the German models with some slight variations. It is noteworthy that for the stems only aluminum was used and not Bakelite or other less scarce materials. The base screws have the same cross recess (Phillips) as it was only used on the very early German anti-tank grenades. The grenades were manufactured by two companies: Osaka Army Arsenal and Tokyo Army Arsenal No. 1. The explosives for both manu-facturers came from the Iju-plant of the Tokyo Army Arsenal No. 2.
In order to achieve the best possible precision, all grenades were marked with a stamp consisting of plus and minus signs regarding to over- or under-weight. So the shooter could bear it in mind when aiming on the target. The grenades were packed in simple metal tubes, sealed with cardboard discs.
American reports give the following data for the 40mm grenade:
Weight total: 353 gr
Weight of explosive-charge (TNT): 108 gr
Weight of ignition-charge: 4.54 gr
Length total: 20.3 cm
Diameter of grenade body: 4.7 cm
Diameter of body top: 3.9 cm
Diameter of body bottom: 0.6 cm
Length of hollow-charge cone: 6.5 cm
Diameter of stem: 3.0 cm
Details of the performances of the grenades can be found in the report Firing tests of Japanese Antitank Weapons dated April 1944. During test firing at an M3 Stuart tank the 40mm grenade smoothly penetrated even the 31.8 mm thick armor of the turret. When shooting on several armor plates, multi-layered welded together, the grenades penetrated 40 to 63.5 mm. The 30mm grenade proved to be totally inadequate and was not tested any further.
Development of a Cluster Bomb
Impressed by the performance of the 40mm hollow-charge grenade, the Japanese used it as a basis for developing a cluster bomb in 1942. There were two different sized spreading containers, a small one for 30 and a large one for 72 cluster bombs. They should make anti-tank fighting from the air more suc-cessful, especially as most armored vehicles are less armored on their top side.
The bomb is composed of the body of a standard 40mm grenade, an elon-gated stem with a 3-fin tail and a sheet metal base plate acting as an air brake. At the height of the tail there is an air wheel attached to the side, which turns out in free fall and unlocks the fuze housed in the stem.
The manufactured bombs differed in some details during the production time. Different lengths of the hollow charge liner are known, from very short to reaching through almost the entire grenade body. Also the air brake metal disk was sometimes replaced by thin struts. On later made bombs the air wheel was put on a 3 mm longer axle for a better position in the air stream. No records about the success of the cluster bombs in combat could be found yet.
On the basis of the rifle grenades, it was also experimented with larger grenades in calibers from 57mm to 200mm. By Niemöller’s activity some blueprints of the German Panzerfaust and a wire-guided hollow-charge missile reached Japan. From the latter, the Japanese developed the large hollow-charge bombs "Sakura I" and "Sakura II" (cherry blossom) before the war ended. They would be used in kamikaze missions to sink enemy ships.
After the war, the two German officers were arrested by the Americans in Tokyo and interrogated. After a short time Colonel Niemöller was allowed to leave for Germany. Major Merkel lived in Paris before he returned to Germany in 1963.
The United States did not have a sophisticated modern rifle grenade sys-tem when the Second World War began. Rather they were not far away from the state of development of the First World War, during which they had intro-duced a copy of the French cup-launcher. Also, the French rifle grenade Viven-Bessiére was manufactured in the United States under the designation VB Rifle Grenade Mark I. Until the end of the war a total of 685,200 grenades were made, mainly by Westinghouse Electric & Manufacturing.
Until early 1942 the situation didn’t change very much, but then several different launching tubes were tested and partially introduced. Some books suggest that the idea with the barrel extension is based on the German launcher Schießbecher mit Klappkorn that was captured in North Africa. But that’s im-possible because at that time the launcher was still in development and not known to the Allies.
Now what was missing was a launcher sight suitable for field use to allow an accurate aiming at greater distances. In the course of the war the consump-tion of rifle grenades – contrary to expectations – rose steadily. The U.S. Army demanded a sight which should be as small and light as possible. After this request, miscellaneous flip-up sights that could be clamped or otherwise fixed to the rifle were tested. Aiming was done by looking through holes in the sight and over the top edge of the rifle grenade.
These flip-up sights did not satisfy and so the Army continued the search for a better alternative. In the battles in North Africa, some German rifle gre-nade launchers with accessories were captured and sent back to the United States for further examination. The Inland Manufacturing Division of the Gen-eral Motors Corporation in Dayton/Ohio got one German launcher sight and the order to simplify its design as far as possible.
The end result was an indeed very simplified launcher sight, which in ear-ly 1943 was introduced as the model T39 for use with the rifle M1903. To meet the increased demand of launcher sights, production began immediately and on 18 May 1943 a first delivery of 2,000 sights were shipped to North Africa.
All other sights developed thereafter (like the well known model M15) still show the characteristic bar-shaped design of the German pattern.
As with many other nations after World War I, the British were looking for a replacement for the unhandy rod-type rifle grenades and their damaging effect on the rifles. A temporary makeshift was found in 1916 in a tubular bent sheet metal holder that held the Mills hand grenade (attached to a short rod) in front of the muzzle. However, for mounting the holder the bayonet had to be fixed.
A better solution was a cup launcher, which was officially introduced in 1917 as Discharger, Grenade, Rifle, No. 1 Mark 1. Its inner diameter was 2.5 inches and the Mills grenades could be launched without the short rod. A sim-ple sheet metal auxiliary sight, clamped on the rifle’s rear sight, was used for aiming.
Unlike some other former combatants of World War I, Britain was trying to avoid a standstill in the development of rifle grenades and launchers. How-ever, there wasn’t much progress. Following extensive tests, a smaller cup launcher with only 2 inches of inner diameter was introduced 1925, but with-drawn from service again at the beginning of the 1930s. So the British army entered the next world war with the 2.5 inch cup launcher. There were no new grenade developments made for the launcher. The rifle grenades were not par-ticularly popular and were used very little.
Inspired by the American allies, who since 1942 experimented with simple launcher tubes, this idea was also seized in Britain. Mid-1944 the first tests were done with the Enfields No. 1, 4 and 5. Although the No. 4 performed well in the trials, the No. 5 had been prioritized as a weapon urgently needed for the jungle warfare in Asia. To reduce the strong recoil of the short "Jungle Carbine" an additional shoulder pad was fitted to the stock. It was even envisaged to introduce a version with a reinforced receiver especially for rifle grenade shooting as No. 5 Mk II. One hundred of these receivers were made in 1945 at B.S.A. in Shirley for testing purposes.
As the primary ammunition, the very effective Rifle Grenade No. 85 Mk I, Anti-Tank was designated. The model was based on the American M9A1 hollow-charge anti-tank rifle grenade. Their introduction took place in April 1945.
But Britain did not only get its suggestions from the Americans. The launcher sight is a copy of the German one. The complete adjusting mechanism is constructed identically. Only the steel band for fixing the sight to the rifle was replaced by two wires. Also, the overall length of the sight was slightly shortened.
For combat use in the war it all came too late. In 1945, 35,000 rifle gre-nade launchers were produced until the production was ceased (15,000 at Sharp & Wright Ltd. and 20,000 at Baker Perkins Ltd.). The production of the launcher sights at Elkington & Co. Ltd. ended after 25,000 pieces.
The official introduction was in 1946 as Equipments, No. 5 Rifle Grenade Projector, Mk I, consisting of:
- 4 Retaining clips, grenade,
- 1 Instruction book,
- 1 Pad, shoulder, rifle grenade projector Mk I,
- 1 Projector grenade, rifle No. 5, Mk I,
- 1 Sight, grenade projector, No. 4 and No. 5 rifle, Mk I / I.
Interestingly, the British herewith copied a launcher sight, which on the German side had already been classified as unusable at the end of 1943 and abolished in January 1944. In Britain, it remained in service for another seven years until 21 October 1952 when it was replaced by an improved rifle grenade launcher. The new Projector, (No. 4 Rifle), Mk 4 & 5 was simply stuck onto the muzzle. It had an integrated flip-up sight and was made by the Belgian company Mecar.
(With a special thanks to the National Firearms Centre in Leeds (Great Britain), Gregory Babich (U.S.), Thomas Keep (U.S.) and Wolfgang Riepe (Germany).)
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