Germany’s WWI Turtle Grenade

German Turtle Grenade WWI

Turtle Grenade


Sure it sounds cute, but the Turtle Grenade was nothing to trifle with.  During WWI grenades were all the rage but there was a problem. When you pulled the pin the fuse would start counting down. You would throw the grenade and hope that it exploded when you wanted it to. Sometimes whoever if you did not time thing right, they would get picked up and thrown back at you.

In an effort to avoid this outcome Germany developed the DiscushandgranatenThe Allies called it the Turtle Grenade. It was made up of two thin steel plates that were crimped together. Running through was a cross of four tubes that contained metal rods. The rods blocked the spring-loaded firing pins. When thrown you would put a spin on it, causing the metal rods to move outward (via centrifugal force). This action released the firing pins which ignited the fuse.

That was the theory at least. The design was good but still had issues. First off for it to be effective you had to throw it in such a way that it would land on one of the studs. Almost like skipping a stone on the water or some kind of steampunk shuriken. If it did not land just right, no explosion. Getting the throw right while you are standing in the trenches under fire was not the easiest thing to do.

The other issue was that it was easy to bump one of the studs and set the thing off. During the small amount of time, it was in use the number of “friendly fire” incidents was high. It did not take long for a new model of the grenade to find its way out. The Turtle would be replaced by the Potato Masher within a year.