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Nils Waltersen Aasen

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Nils Waltersen Aasen (30 March 1878 – December 1925) was a Norwegian arms inventor; he is credited with having created the modern hand grenade and land mine just prior to World War I.[1]
Aasen was born in Stadsbygd, Rissa, Norway, and went on to graduate from Festningsartilleriets Underoffiserskole (School for Non-Commissioned Officers) in 1903. He started his experiments developing a hand grenade while serving as a sergeant at Oscarsborg Fortress. He was encouraged in his work by the commander at Oscarsborg, former defense minister Hans Georg Stang, who was a strong supporter in the reinforcement and modernization of the military, especially with the threat of a possible conflict with Sweden. The Norwegian department of defense showed little interest in Aasen's prototype. He then formed Det Aasenske Granatkompani (Aasen's Grenade Company) in Denmark, which towards World War I produced and exported large numbers of his grenade all over Europe. Apart from new types of explosives, trench mortars, airplane bombs and land mines he also created several inventions for civil use, but it was the development and production of arms that would bring him his greatest honours.
Just prior to World War I Aasen developed a powerful anti-personnel mine, "the automatic soldier," meant as a weapon of deterrence. The invention caused great enthusiasm within the French military but did not see production before the war. During World War I Aasen was given the task of producing hand grenades for the French army. He would have 13 factories with 13,000 employees working throughout the war.
In 1917 his hand grenade was finally adopted by the Norwegian army, who later promoted him to premier-lieutenant for his efforts. Throughout his life he received a number of honorary degrees and awards, as well as medals, for his inventions. Most notably he was made an honorary colonel in the French army, and a Chevalier in the order of the Légion d'honneur in 1915.
Aasen's fortune was greatly reduced as a result of bad financial speculations, and because he had never patented the rights to several of his inventions. He died from tuberculosis in Wisconsin, at the age of 48, while visiting the United States seeking finance. There are now many types of hand grenades, used worldwide.


Below :
Scanned text from "The development of mine warfare door Norman Youngblood" about Aassen's bouncing mine in WW1.


Text from a Dutch museum publication :

(translated) In Norway, N.W. Aasen tried to sell a strange contraption, of which an advertising-folder was found in the library of Artillerie Inrichtingen (Amsterdam).
Pressure was taken from just after the chamber of a standard rifle, and launched an old-fashioned spherical projectile with a gascheck-plate. Aasen claimed a firing distance of 450meter, but the system was nowhere adopted.

(original) In Noorwegen trachtte de ontwerper N.W. Aasen een merkwaardige contraptie op de markt te brengen, waarvan in de bibliotheek van de Artillerie Inrichtingen een verkoopfolder is aangetroffen. Hierbij werd vlak voor de kamer van een standaardgeweer een gasaftapboring aangebracht. Het drijfgas van een normale patroon kon dan worden gebruikt om via een terugslagventiel en een gasregelaar een ouderwetse ronde granaat met drijfspiegel te verschieten uit een bovenop de loop gemonteerde schietbuis[4]. Aasen claimde een dracht van 450 meter, maar het systeem is nergens ingevoerd.


THIS DOWNLOAD [328 KB] to read the PDF-documented Patent about the 1907 "Explosive hand shell".

Several different Aasen-developed grenades were adopted by France during WW1.
THIS LINK to see the French page that I have on this website.