T-13 Beano Grenade

Beano Grenade (about.com)

The T-13 Beano hand grenade was an experimental hand grenade developed during World War II by what was then known as the “Office of Strategic Services” (OSS) which later became the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).  I mention it in this blog because  the Beano was designed to be a spherical grenade the size and weight of a common baseball.  The idea, developers thought, was that any American boy should be able to properly throw the grenade with distance and accuracy.  While I do like the concept of America’s Pastime permeating society so thoroughly as to inspire this kind of thing, it’s also awfully presumptive to design a weapon based on this thinking.

The Beano grenade was designed with a pressure trigger and intended to detonate and explode on contact with hard surfaces.  American soldiers were taught to hold and throw the grenade like a baseball.  The original design called for the grenade to weight approximately the same as a traditional baseball (a little over five ounces), however, the final model weight approximately twelve ounces.

Once the final design was approved, several thousand Beano grenades were shipped to Europe, and they were supposed used (in limited quantities) during the Normandy invasion in June 1944.  However, several of the grenades detonated prematurely and, as a result, killed more American troops than enemy troops.  At the end of World War II, the U.S. military’s supply of T-13 Beano Grenades was ordered destroyed and files pertaining to the weapon were classified.  Some Beano grenades do remain in existence, and they continue to be coveted by military history buffs.

Beano grenade and compass (CIA Museum)

15 thoughts on “T-13 Beano Grenade

  1. It’s distressing the beano didn’t work out as planned. What’s even more disturbing is the fact some military history buffs continue to covet the damn thing. Hello?

    1. Why wouldn’t they? It’s a rare piece of history, and apparently extremely valuable. After writing this post and learning its story, I actually kinda want one myself.

    1. That’s a REALLY good question. Honestly, I haven’t been able to figure that out. Maybe because it’s kinda bean-shaped? A round bean… that blows up. :-/

      1. My first thought was that it was in reference to a “bean-ball,” i.e. when the pitch strikes (“beans”) the batter. If they’re designed to be held and thrown like baseball’s, then you aren’t going to arc them like a classic grenade, but rather throw them straight where you want them: right into the enemy.

  2. some of those empty beano casings were hopefully stuffed into boxes of european basements, ….if discovered and properly marketed, hopefully it will jump start a euro baseball team built on seeking revenge against america. this would be great. we could have a real world series and hopefully put an end to soccer.

    1. I especially dig the part about a real World Series! I’m so indifferent to soccer that it really doesn’t bother me if it continues to exist. Though the idea of baseball drowning out its popularity does have a nice ring to it.

  3. “Well, son, you probably want to know why Earth exploded, and how we ended up here on Skagatron 7. Well, boy, it’s like this. One day a man named Steve Dalkowski ended up with a case of T-13 Beano Grenades…”

  4. Yes, the name must refer to the beanball except this one blows your head off.
    Our US Army grenades in Vietnam were baseball size and shape except much heavier-no ‘pineapple’ texture for better grip, ours were smooth. And we were trained to throw them like baseballs too-none of John Wayne’s (who did not serve) stiff armed overhand lob.
    Contact detonators are never a good idea. I threw two grenades in Basic Training and the violence goes far beyond what movie or TV speakers can portray. Our tanks, 40mm Bofors and Ma Deuce .50 cal MGs gave me a sense of security. That bag of grenades just made me nervous.

    1. I always thought the stiff-armed grenade throw seemed awkward and limited. I’m glad to know that’s not the “real” way it’s done. I’ve never had too much desire to see what a grenade can do in real life, and you’ve confirmed that my instincts are good where that’s concerned. A bag of grenades just sounds nerve-wracking. I cannot even imagine!

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