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"HE Grenades for German Signal Pistol" from Tactical and Technical Trends

The following intelligence report on high-explosive ammunition for German signal pistols is reproduced from Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 27, June 17, 1943.

[DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from the U.S. War Department publication Tactical and Technical Trends. As with all wartime intelligence information, data may be incomplete or inaccurate. No attempt has been made to update or correct the text. Any views or opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the website.]


The Germans have developed two HE grenades which can be fired from the signal pistol. The probable existence of these adaptations converts the signal pistol into an offensive weapon, although, to use an old frontier expression, it must "kick about as hard as it shoots." Nevertheless, from the description of the equipment, it would appear to be a compact and most useful auxiliary weapon for close-range fighting.

These grenades have been developed for engaging close targets which cannot be dealt with satisfactorily by infantry weapons or artillery without endangering friendly troops.

They are designed to be fired from the standard German Leuchtpistole or flare pistol (see Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 23, p. 38). It appears that the grenades can also be used with the rifled version of the flare pistol. The latter is known as the Kampfpistole and is fitted with a sight. Both pistols are about 10 inches in length, with a barrel approximately 6 inches long. They are very light, weighing just over 1 1/2 pounds; the caliber is 27 mm. In addition to the two grenades described below, it is reported that the Kampfpistole fires a small nose-fuzed HE grenade, weighing about 5 ounces, with a maximum range of around 100 yards.

[German Leuchtpistole (Flare Pistol)]

a. 2.6-cm Wurfgranate Patrone 326 Leuchtpistole*

The complete round looks like an 8-gauge, conical-ball elephant load in a brass shotgun shell (see figure 1) with the bullet painted yellow. The projectile has the appearance of a miniature mortar shell.

The weight of the complete round is approximately 4.23 ounces, with the projectile weighing about 3.2 ounces. The bursting charge is approximately .25 ounces (108 grains) of TNT; the propelling charge, .105 ounce (26 grains), presumably of rifle powder.

This "mortar shell" has a range of over 300 yards. Since at extreme ranges the dispersion is considerable, it is best not to fire at ranges above 200 to 250 yards. This ammunition can also be used at shorter ranges, such as direct fire on windows and embrasures in street fighting. Similarly, in wooded country it may be used against snipers in trees. Fire at ranges under 50 yards is reported to endanger the firer himself as well as his own troops, because of fragmentation.

As will be seen from the sectional sketch, the internal structure of this bomb is quite unusual, and instead of the firing pin hitting the cap, the cap hits the fixed firing pin in the nose of the bomb. The detonator and bursting charge are enclosed in a case, free to slide forward except for the restraint of the creep-spring, when the safety rod has been removed. The safety rod pushes sideways two metal balls which prevent the bursting charge container and the detonator from moving forward against the fixed firing pin. When fired, the safety rod falls when the projectile is 10 to 12 yards from the muzzle; the projectile is then armed. On impact, the container drives forward against the fixed pin.

[German Leuchtpistole HE Ammunition]

Anyone attempting to use captured equipment should very carefully observe these precautions:

(1) Never fire a cartridge in which the projectile is loose.

(2) Absolutely never extract the projectile from the cartridge case, since this would cause the safety rod to fall out, and this would arm the projectile. A slight jar might cause it to detonate.

(3) After firing, the pistol is broken and the empty cartridge case removed.

(4) If the bomb sticks in the barrel for any cause (this might happen with a foul pistol), never pull the cartridge case out of the breech. By inserting the pistol ejector in the muzzle, carefully press the whole round from the muzzle towards the breech and out from the breech end of the barrel.

b. Wurfkorper 361 Leuchtpistole**

Based on the standard German egg grenade, this ammunition is rather a more powerful weapon than the "mortar-shell" grenade. It has a range of 75 to 85 yards and is particularly suitable for engaging islands of resistance in towns.

The projectile consists of the normal egg hand-grenade with a stem screwed firmly on in place of the combustion fuze 39 for egg hand-grenades (see figure 2). The plastic stem contains a combustion fuze (combustion time is approximately 4 1/2 seconds), on the upper end of which a detonator is fitted. The fuze is inserted into the detonator and the latter into the grenade. In the lower end, the projectile carries the cartridge (propellant charge with percussion cap), which expels the projectile on firing and sets off the combustion fuze. The projectile is secured in the stem by a cotter pin and ring, which must be withdrawn before the projectile is loaded into the signal pistol. The projectile is then "live."

For firing the projectile, a barrel reinforcing-tube or cartridge-adaptor is inserted into the barrel of the pistol. It is pushed in from the rear when the pistol is broken. When the barrel is returned to position, the pistol is ready for loading. The barrel reinforcing-tube should be cleaned about every 100 rounds.

The stem of the projectile is introduced into the tube until appreciable resistance shows that the base of the tube has been reached. The pistol may now be cocked.

c. Instructions for Firing***

During firing, the arm is slightly bent. After continual firing, the arm becomes tired, with consequent decrease in accuracy.

The target can be aimed at only roughly along the barrel. Elevation is given to the barrel according to the range (maximum range with an elevation of 45°.)

The "egg-grenade" ammunition is usually employed for high-trajectory fire, since this is suited to its fuze time.

The "mortar shell" ammunition is used mostly for flat trajectory fire. The point of aim is the center of the target up to about 100 yards, but beyond this, it is necessary to aim higher. The projectile must strike full on its nose to detonate.

*26-mm mortar shell ammunition "326" for flare pistol.
**Projectile "361" for flare pistol.
***These have reference to the smooth-bore pistol. Presumably instructions for the rifled pistol are essentially the same, though rifling and the provision of a sight would appear to make for greater accuracy.


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