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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

And so the Grenade Went Down the Barrel

This is Steven Petrick posting.

In "Walking Dead" a tank was used to attack the prison. This tank was supposedly destroyed by throwing a grenade down the cannon barrel.

I thought, and said at the time, that this was extremely unlikely. That if it were possible I would have encountered numerous accounts of tanks being taken out in that manner. Further, since the tank concerned was an M-60 with a rifled, as opposed to a smooth bore, cannon, this seemed even less likely.

Turns out that there is a recorded instance of a tank being taken out by a grenade down the barrel. It happened during the "Battle of the Bulge."

Now, I will acknowledge this account, but I am also going to point out that the method in this case more or less overcame my primary resistance to this concept: getting the grenade to go all the way down the barrel despite the friction of such a move tending to work against the grenade traveling far enough to fall out of the breech. It was not, in the actual event as recorded, one man "throwing" a grenade down the barrel. It was one man holding a grenade while another swung the but of his rifle to "bat" the grenade down the barrel.

Even so, the problem with the account is a lot of things are missing.

Getting an American World War II era "pineapple" grenade past the "muzzle brake" on a Tiger, Panther, Mark IV, or even a StG-III or -III/IV is going to present a problem.

Maybe the grenade in question was a captured German stick grenade (potato-masher), which would let he first man lay it in the muzzle with the stick protruding for the second man to hit it?

The account says "tank," but the teller makes note that the average American soldier in that period called anything with tracks and a main gun a "tank." So it might have been a Hetzer that was attacked (no muzzle brake, and certainly a shorter barrel to get the grenade down).

So, I am left with the concept that a "tank" was in fact destroyed by a grenade being sent down its cannon barrel and (apparently) through the open breach into the body of vehicle.

But I do not know exactly how it happened. There is no apparently precise record of what the vehicle actually was, much less what grenade was used.

Still, the men that did the job had a heck of a lot of courage.