Bullets, bolts, bombs and bare hands
Your Basic Rat Patrol Weaponry
(Please be advised that there is some graphic content on this page.)

      The weaponry used on the Rat Patrol was varied - sometimes quite correct, but now and then more fictional, with only a hint of factual component. 
      Suncompass makes no claim to being a weaponry expert.  This explains why, in particular, this webpage about weapons is a work in progress.  So, if you notice that the portion on guns seems especially lacking at the moment, you know why.  With the able assistance of those who are knowledgeable and patient, the details will eventually be filled in.   Please check back for more.

Now . . . onto the bullets, bolts, bombs and bare hands of the Rat Patrol.

Explosive Weapons

German hand grenades

(Fire and Brimstone Raid)
The vintner finished the job with a Model 24 grenade.

The German grenade, aka potato masher, stick grenade, or more officially the Model 24 Stielhandgranate, appeared during the first world war. With various modifications and improvements it was also used through the second one.

Although a weapon quickly recognized as German, the Rat Patrol lads had no qualms about using it when they could get their hands on it (pre-detonation of course).  They knew there were advantages in the German grenade design.  They could be tied into bundles for a greater explosion and their elongated shape didn't encourage the nasty habit of rolling back toward the thrower as could happen with a more spherical grenade.  The stick portion of the grenade could be shoved into the belt for easy transporting. That was done often by the lads of the Rat Patrol. Suncompass believes the Model 24 was the only German grenade shown in the series.

The Model 24 required the thrower to remove the cap on the bottom of the hollow handle and yank on a then exposed cord to start the fuse. (the dog pictured didn't do anything of the sort you will be glad to know. The vintner [above] did.)  The wooden handle was an integral part of the grenade function.

About midway through world war two a new model of German stick grenade came into use (the Model 42) although the older model continued to be used to the end of the war.  The difference between the two was that the new model didn't have to include the wooden handle.  The two models looked similar but a screw device on the top of the cannister of the new model initiated the fuse, thereby eliminating the need for the wooden handle except for throwing purposes.

A couple of websites with good pictures and more about the potato masher (Model 24):

(Darers Go First Raid)
Everyone got into the act (don't worry. That one was a dud.).

Allied hand grenades

The lads now and then used a pineapple instead of a potato masher to bring destruction upon the enemy.  Not a real pineapple, of course, but a hand grenade that because of its oval shape and segmented cover, bore a vague resemblance to a small metal pineapple.

Both the MK2 (American) and the Mills bomb (British) hand grenades had a similar pineapple look about them.  And had the Rat Patrol been part of the LRDG or the SAS or Popski's Private Army, they would probably have been throwing Mills bombs.  But, from the image to the right of one of Troy's ingenious inventions, it is clear the Rat Patrol used the American MK2 hand grenade.

Suncompass guide:  By comparing pictures of the Mills and MK2 at the links below one can see the angular top of the pictured hand grenade matches the MK2. The Mills has no such angular top.

The first modern fragmentation hand grenades appeared from British factories during the first world war and looked more or less like the ones used in the second world war.  Surprisingly, the notches cut into the MK2 and the Mills casings were not intended to increase their fragmentation, but to improve the hand grip.

Suncompass tidbit: Having a good hand grip is critically important because no matter which of the two you were throwing, once you've pulled the pin, in 4 to 5 seconds it would go 'kablooey'.  Having it slip from your grasp and drop at your feet would definitely not be a good thing.

Another interesting tidbit: The Mills hand grenade (and presumably the MK2 as well) can be thrown with accuracy on the order of 30 metres (98 ft) but lethal fragments from the explosion can go further. Therefore, everyone, including the thrower, is wise to take shelter.

History and pictures of hand grenades in general: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hand_grenade
Information and pictures of the MK2 hand grenade: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mk2_grenade
Information and pictures of the Mills bomb grenade: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mills_bomb
Great photos of the Mills here: http://www.inert-ord.net/brit/mills/index.html


(Fire and Brimstone Raid)
Troy made a time bomb from a MK2 hand grenade. Clever Troy.

(Truce at Aburah Raid)
Tully pulls the grenade pin with his teeth
SC: Tully obviously had very strong teeth. The pin is reported to be firmly fixed and not easy to remove.

Molotov Cocktails

Molotov Cocktails popped up now and then in the Rat Patrol arsenal (made from fixings in the jeeps).  Technically, Molotov Cocktails are not explosives so much as incendiaries - ie. they set fire to things that burn and could, depending on the material, spark an explosion. To read more about the Molotov Cocktail go to the Suncompass 'Gear' section here.





(Fatal Chase Raid)
Troy had his Molotov cocktail ready to use.

Bath/Tennis Ball Bombs

(Blow Sky High Raid)
Troy, a Greek, bearing a gift for Dietrich (Dietrich wasn't pleased but Troy wouldn't take it back).

The tennis ball like item Troy is holding was perhaps the most unique weapon used by the Rat Patrol lads.  They used many like it in The Blow Sky High Raid to devastate a German radar camp being guarded by Dietrich (of course).  Lieutenant Winter, an American explosives expert, was the source of that explosive and told the Rat Patrol that he spent 36 hours designing what ended up looking intriguingly like a tennis ball or bath bomb (something that makes bath water soothing and scented). 

Winters' bomb (not meant for the bath) was made of a "blend of plastic, thermite, and a touch of oil for lubrication" and was extraordinarily touchy, liable to explode if jarred.

What made Winters' bomb so terribly touchy?  Thermite is not in itself likely to explode, nor is plastic explosive. Both require a detonation device.  Winters did not mention adding nitroglycerin (or other highly shock sensitive material) to his mixture, but evidently he did.

A blend of plastic, thermite, and a touch of oil?

Suncompass musing:  Hmmm...It may be that Lt. Winters owed a debt for his bomb to another chap.

The SAS* (Special Air Service), a British unit, came into being when the war in the North African desert was not going well for the British.  The unit, made up of hardened and specially trained commandoes, was charged with harrassing the enemy any way they could to do greatest damage. They worked closely with the LRDG (Long Range Desert Group) to operate with considerable success well behind enemy lines.  One of their number (Jock Lewes, co-founder of the SAS) in 1941 came up with a highly useful combination explosive-incendiary bomb incorporating the same materials as Winters' bomb.  It was called the Lewes Bomb.

"Finally, he [Jock Lewes] came up with the goods - a blend of one pound of plastic explosive to a quarter pound of thermite, with 'ingredient X' - common diesel oil. Thanks to the PE, the mixture could be moulded into shape and carried in pound blocks that fitted into a ration-bag, together with a primer, a length of cordtex instantaneous fuse, and a time pencil."
-- http://lost-oasis.org/rommel.html

The Lewes Bomb
The Lewes bomb, although made of the same materials as Winters' bomb, was not exactly like his tennis ball bomb.  The Lewes bomb weighed over a pound (Winters' bomb weighed much less), and the Lewes bomb was detonated by a timed fuse (the time pencil component was a device to time delay the explosive).  Winters' bomb had no fuse and no way to set a timer for it.  The lads had to apply a physical shock to each bomb (ie. throw it, drop it or shoot it).  Winters' bomb was highly shock sensitive but the Lewes Bomb was not.  Once detonated, the Lewes bomb would burn right through an airplane wing (thermite produces armour melting heat) and ignite the fuel.  Needless to say, that was the end of the plane. The SAS destroyed many German planes on the ground with the Lewes bomb. 

Suncompass is betting that the Lewes Bomb wasn't anything like as attractive as Winters' bomb.  It would be really unlikely anyone might mistakenly whack the Lewes Bomb with a tennis racket or put it into the bath.

*The SAS has a fascinating history commencing in the second world war desert campaign. It is a unit well worth looking into for any Rat Patrol fan with an interest in history or in reading about a unit having hair-raising adventures.  The Rat Patrol had much in common with the early free-wheeling SAS.  Perhaps the creator of the Rat Patrol (Tom Gries) kept the SAS in mind when he came up with the  premis for the Rat Patrol

For more about the SAS see these or many other websites devoted to them:
http://lost-oasis.org/rommel.html  (a site with many behind-the-scene details about the SAS, their formation and activities during the war.  And more details about the Lewes Bomb.)


Wet Bombs
In The Chain of Death Raid, the Rat Patrol was charged with destroying a desert oasis that the Germans (including Dietrich, of course) were using.  For that task they chose to use an explosive that would detonate within minutes (90 seconds, Hitch said) of being submerged in the water of the oasis itself.

The explosive seemed primed to explode only once it was wetted.  It may be, therefore, that the pack was stuffed with a water resistant explosive material that was detonated by a piece of one of the alkali metals (lithium, sodium, potassium etc).

The alkali metals are a special group of elements that, in their pure form, are highly unstable, especially when they come into contact with water.  They burn furiously when that happens. For this reason they are commonly stored submerged in oil (or kerosene).  Suncompass has not come across any source that says such metals were ever used to detonate an explosive, but understands that in theory it could be possible.


(Chain of Death Raid)
Troy shoves the explosive package into the water.

Some alkali metals are so unstable that they even react to the water vapour in the air.  If the lads of the patrol were playing about with alkali metals as detonators, they were playing about with something unpredictable and very very dangerous.
Suncompass thinks the lads had been out in the sun a touch too long if they were willingly handling any of the alkali metals. 

more about alkali metals can be found online.  Here is one of many websites:  http://www.wpbschoolhouse.btinternet.co.uk/page03/Alkali_Metals.htm


Stringed Weapons

Crossbows and quarrels (crossbow arrows)

(The Darkest Raid)
Hitch efficiently and silently stopped a fleeing enemy.

Now and then the lads needed weaponry that had reach but wasn't propelled by a force that produced a sound.  Fortunately for the patrol, Hitch had expertise in the fine art of firing a crossbow (he said he took first prize at age 12 when at Camp Minihaha.)

Hitch's crossbow played a critical role in The Darkest Raid and twice Hitch was called upon to use it.


(The Darkest Raid)
Hitch set up Troy's escape route from a German stronghold.

Suncompass hasn't the expertise of Hitch and doesn't know which model of crossbow Hitch used so well.  All crossbows are not created equal.  Each model has a different cocking mechanism (ratchet, windlass, lever) but Suncompass didn't see which sort was on Hitch's crossbow. It could have been a Hollywood model crossbow that came complete with typical astounding Hollywood accuracy.

The crossbow has a fascinating history, originating millennia ago in the far east and used later in many areas of the world.  The crossbow had many advantages over other bows - the greatest ones being that its use could be quickly learned (in a week) in comparison to other bows, and that it had the force to pierce armour even at great distance.  This latter advantage had serious social repercussions in that a peasant with a crossbow could anonymously kill a nobleman in armour. That fact was most unpalatable to the upper (armoured) classes during the middle ages.  A couple of Popes tried to ban the use of crossbows against Christians during that period but one can guess how well that ban worked.

Many more details, history and pictures of crossbows at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crossbow

Bows and Arrows
The Germans had their own experts in the world of stringed weaponry. In The Fire and Brimstone Raid, Dietrich commandeered a pair of ceremonial bows from the local vintner.  His plan was to use them for an aerial attack on the Rat Patrol who were hunkered down in a warehouse stuffed to the rafters with German explosive materials. 

With the non-explosive nature of bows and arrows, Dietrich hoped that they could drive the Rat Patrol lads into submission without blowing up the whole store of ammo in the process.  A darned good plan and Hitch found out the painful way how effective arrows can be*.  Unfortunately for Dietrich, however, Troy was a better shot with his submachine gun than Dietrich's men with the bows.

Suncompass observation: The bows and arrows used  by Dietrich's men were obviously not Hollywood models or their accuracy would have been flawless.

(The Fire and Brimstone Raid)
Dietrich's men used bows and arrows in an aerial attack.

Bows and arrows have been used as warring and hunting weapons through the millennia by many peoples around the world - including the peoples of North Africa.  Muslim warriors were adept in the field of archery (the prophet Mohammed was said to be an expert archer) and for some Muslims, becoming an expert archer is a religious obligation. 

It may have been that Dietrich could have improved his chances at success if the vintner with the ceremonial bows had given his men a few pointers on archery. 




(Fire and Brimstone Raid)
Arrow nearly took out Troy on its way to Hitch.

*To the left Hitch can be seen demonstrating how the arrow fired by a non-expert archer reached its mark (his shoulder) square on. 

Larry Casey (Hitch) explained how it was done.

"The special effects crew rigged a harness that I wore under my shirt that had a wooden block attached to it.  They then attached a wire from the wood block to a bow and arrow held off camera.  The arrow was hollow and rode on the wire."  - Larry Casey

 - from the Larry Casey Interview (Fannish Delight portion) 2002 -  Larry Casey Interview 

(Do or Die Raid)

The lads of the Rat Patrol knew how to use bows and arrows too.  Troy and Moffitt were given the job of using bows to silently remove two German soldiers on watch. Their accuracy was, of course, perfect (as one might expect).

unfortunate soldier
Suncompass observation: The arrows were so special that the victims neither bled nor did their uniforms appear to get holes in them.  You can't do better than that.

(Do or Die Raid)


Bulletted Weapons

This portion is obviously not finished. There is so much to sort out.  Patience if you please.

The Spanish acquisitions. 
The guns appearing in the Spanish episodes of the Rat Patrol.



In the Moment of Truce Raid, Hauptmann Dietrich appeared toting a vicious looking sub-machine gun not usually seen in his hands.

It appears Dietrich has a MP34(o) type sub-machine gun (maschinenepistole 34). [or it could be an  MP18 or MP28]

The MP34 (o*) was a well thought of piece of German equipment known by many as "The Rolls Royce" of sub-machine guns.  With 32 rounds per magazine, Dietrich must have used up rather more than one magazine during the battle in that episode (despite being titled The Moment of Truce Raid, a fierce battle ensued).  The MP34(o) was somewhat unique in permitting the user to fit the magazine into the socket above, below or, as was Dietrich's preference, on the left side of the barrel.

* There were two MP34 sub-machine guns in German service during the war - one model made by an Austrian company (Steyr-Solothurn S1-100)  was taken into German service as the MP34 (o) and another made by Bergmann, theMP34(b). The Bergman type had the unusual fitting of the magazine on the right side of the barrel and was used principally by the Waffen-SS troops.

Pictures and a few details about the MP34 (scroll down):

Details, pictures, and history of the MP28 (and MP18)

Moffitt's sidearm

Despite some minor online disagreement about the complete list of side arms issued to the British forces during the war, there is general agreement that the following revolvers (those similar to Moffitt's) were on the official list:  
1. The Enfield No. 2 Mk1 revolver (see below left)
2. The Webley Mark IV (see below right)
and possibly:
3. The Webley Mark VI

Is Moffitt using one of them in the Last Harbor Raid?
The answer is not as easy (for Suncompass at any rate) as you may think it should be.

Moffitt's side arm in Last Harbor Raid

Enfield No.2 Mk1 revolver
(image source: www.adamsguns.com)

The two revolvers shown here (left and right) look remarkably similar, which is not surprising as the Enfield design was apparently drawn directly from the Webley.

Neither is identical to the one Moffitt is seen holding above but some matching details encourage Suncompass to guess he had a Webley. Whether it is a Mk IV or VI, or another number, is beyond Suncompasses' limited deductive abilities.

Webley Mk IV revolver (which looks to Suncompass quite like the Mk VI although the latter was a more powerful weapon.)
(image source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Webley_Revolver )

There is much, much more discussion about these revolvers at many websites where experts understand these sorts of things.  Here are but a few that may enlighten you further:


Close Quarter Battle

The Edge of Hand Blow

The chaps of the Rat Patrol did not always rely on hardened steel to bring down the enemy.  When in close combat oft times they'd turn to flesh weaponry in the form of bare handed attack.  The form most often seen in The Rat Patrol was the edge of hand blow to the side of the opponent's neck. They, especially Sergeant Moffitt, used that technique to great effect.  Suncompass concludes that he, at least, had received some special training in close combat fighting.

During the war commandos and secret agents of the Allied forces were trained in what was known as close-combat or silent killing. The principal military instructor of the day in that field was  W.E. Fairbairn*.  Below is an excerpt describing a bit of his commando training course.

"The basic Silent Killing course, as presented circa July 1942, was divided into six progressive sections. Section 1 dealt with blows delivered with the side of the hand.  It was explained that the effect of such blows is determined by the speed with which they are delivered, as distinct from the weight behind them.
       . . .
      Practice was made upon dummies, specially packed to simulate the resistance of a human body. Six targets were singled out for attention:
1. On the back of the neck, immediately on either side of the spine. 
2. From the bridge of the nose to . . .
     . . . 
     Instructors were careful to point out that with such blows, it is possible to kill, paralyze, break bones, or otherwise badly injure one's opponent."

             -  excerpt from 'The Art of Silent Killing - WWII British Commando Style' by William L. Cassidy. The full article may be seen at: http://www.gutterfighting.org/cassidySK1.html

http://www.gutterfighting.org/GT1edgeofhand.html  Warning - this website presents information of a graphic nature.  Suncompass does not endorse the application of any techniques described there.

*Serious Rat Patrol fans will recognize the name Fairbairn.  That was the name of the expert sharpshooter in the Kill at Koorlea Raid.  Coincidence?  No way to know, but W.E. Fairbairn was said to have been a superb shot as well as the 'father' of close quarter battle.


(The Holy War Raid) 
Had Moffitt lost his temper with Troy and was applying it to him?  Nope. That was one of the enemy in disguise as Troy.

Here the hand edge was applied to Dietrich (one of the enemy) in The Last Chance Raid.  Fortunately for Dietrich, the blow did not kill or seriously injure him.  He arose later to curse the Rat Patrol - once again.

Suncompass observation:  See how Moffitt's technique is so good it causes results even before his hand touches the victim.


The Garrotte

(The Holy Man Raid)
Troy, all a blur in action, made efficient use of the silent weapon.

Now and then, when there was a need for quick and silent dispatching of one of the enemy, the chaps of the Rat Patrol used an old and simple weapon to do the task - the garrotte (or garotte or garrote).

(same raid)
Also a blur, Moffitt did likewise.




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