17 March 2016

Huo Zhuan (火磚)

Ming Chinese Grenade
Drawing of a Huo Zhuan and its content, from 'Wu Bei Zhi (《武備志》)'.
Huo Zhuan (火磚, lit. 'Fire brick') is a type of brick-shaped hand grenade used by the Ming navy. It is a small box made of thin wooden planks and filled with one catty and four taels of gunpowder charge, twenty paper firecrackers, twenty Fei Yan (飛燕) and thirty iron caltrops. The grenade is waterproofed by wrapping it with four to five layers of oil paper, and can be ignited by means of a burning fuse.

Huo Zhuan measured one chi by four chun by two chun, roughly comparable in size to a large TV remote controller. It is one of the more common Ming Chinese hand grenades. Like all early grenades, there's a risk that enemy combatant would pick up the grenade and throw it back.

Ming Chinese Brick Grenade
Huo Zhuan with three rows of Di Shu: cutaway view (above) and top view (below), from 'Wu Bei Zhi (《武備志》)'.
Huo Zhuan is such a simple weapon that many variants existed. This particular example is made of thick, oil-coated paper instead of thin planks, and replaces its content with three rows of Di Shu (地鼠), fixed in place by bamboo strips.

Ming Chinese Black Powder Hand Grenade
Huo Zhuan with two rows of Di Shu, from 'Wu Bei Zhi (《武備志》)'.
This example contains only two rows of Di Shu and paper firecrackers. It also replaces some of its normal explosive charge with poison smoke and incendiary gunpowder, and features a fuse protector made of bamboo tube.

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