bombs and bare hands
Basic Rat Patrol Weaponry
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.
. . . onto the bullets, bolts, bombs and bare hands of the Rat Patrol.
and Brimstone Raid)
vintner finished the job with a Model 24 grenade.
German grenade, aka potato masher, stick grenade, or more officially
the Model 24 Stielhandgranate,
during the first world war. With various modifications and
improvements it was also used through the second one.
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
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.
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.
couple of websites with good pictures and more about the potato
masher (Model 24):
Go First Raid)
got into the act (don't worry. That one was a dud.).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
and pictures of hand grenades in general: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hand_grenade
and pictures of the MK2 hand grenade: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mk2_grenade
and pictures of the Mills bomb grenade: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mills_bomb
photos of the Mills here: http://www.inert-ord.net/brit/mills/index.html
and Brimstone Raid)
made a time bomb from a MK2 hand grenade. Clever Troy.
at Aburah Raid)
pulls the grenade pin with his teeth
Tully obviously had very strong teeth. The pin is reported to be
firmly fixed and not easy to remove.
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'
had his Molotov cocktail ready to use.
Sky High Raid)
a Greek, bearing a gift for Dietrich (Dietrich wasn't pleased but
Troy wouldn't take it back).
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).
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.
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.
blend of plastic, thermite, and a touch of oil?
musing: Hmmm...It may be that Lt. Winters owed a debt for his
bomb to another chap.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
more about the SAS see these or many other websites devoted to them:
(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.)
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.
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).
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.
of Death Raid)
shoves the explosive package into the water.
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.
thinks the lads had been out in the sun a touch too long if they
were willingly handling any of the alkali metals.
about alkali metals can be found online. Here is one of many
and quarrels (crossbow arrows)
efficiently and silently stopped a fleeing enemy.
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.)
crossbow played a critical role in The Darkest Raid and twice
Hitch was called upon to use it.
set up Troy's escape route from a German stronghold.
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.
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.
more details, history and pictures of crossbows at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crossbow
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.
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.
observation: The bows and arrows used by Dietrich's men were
obviously not Hollywood models or their accuracy would have been flawless.
Fire and Brimstone Raid)
men used bows and arrows in an aerial attack.
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.
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.
and Brimstone Raid)
nearly took out Troy on its way to Hitch.
the left Hitch can be seen demonstrating how the arrow fired by a
non-expert archer reached its mark (his shoulder) square on.
Casey (Hitch) explained how it was done.
from the Larry Casey Interview (Fannish Delight portion) 2002 -
Larry Casey Interview
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
or Die Raid)
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).
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.
or Die Raid)
portion is obviously not finished. There is so much to sort
out. Patience if you please.
guns appearing in the Spanish episodes
of the Rat Patrol.
the Moment of Truce Raid, Hauptmann Dietrich appeared toting
a vicious looking sub-machine gun not usually seen in his hands.
appears Dietrich has a MP34(o) type sub-machine gun (maschinenepistole
34). [or it could be an MP18 or MP28]
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.
and a few details about the MP34 (scroll down):
pictures, and history of the MP28 (and MP18)
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:
The Enfield No. 2 Mk1 revolver (see below left)
The Webley Mark IV (see below right)
The Webley Mark VI
using one of them in the Last Harbor Raid?
answer is not as easy (for Suncompass at any rate) as you may think
it should be.
side arm in Last Harbor Raid
No.2 Mk1 revolver
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.
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.
Mk IV revolver (which looks to Suncompass quite like the Mk VI
although the latter was a more powerful weapon.)
source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Webley_Revolver )
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:
Edge of Hand Blow
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.
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.
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:
On the back of the neck, immediately on either side of the spine.
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
- 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
Warning - this website presents information of a graphic
nature. Suncompass does not endorse the application of any
techniques described there.
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.
Holy War Raid)
Moffitt lost his temper with Troy and was applying it to him?
Nope. That was one of the enemy in disguise as Troy.
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.
observation: See how Moffitt's technique is so good it causes
results even before his hand touches the victim.
Holy Man Raid)
all a blur in action, made efficient use of the silent weapon.
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).
a blur, Moffitt did likewise.