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Bazooka Boy Scout

In this 1960s Army recruiting poster, we see PFC Vernon K. Haught, of the 82nd ABN Divison’s 325th Glider Rgt, around the final act of the Battle of the Bulge in January 1945, as he strolls in the snow-covered countryside near Ordimont, Belgium.

While the M1 2.36-inch Bazooka on his shoulder is likely his go-to should an errant Panzer poke its nose out of the woods, the thin-handled knife on the German army belt around his waist probably got a lot more daily use. The blade seems to be a Norwegian-style speiderkniv, or scout knife, of the kind commonly used by boy scouts in Western Europe at the time, differing from the beefier U.S.-style PAL or Western Cutlery-made fixed blade Boy Scout knives sold back home in the 1940s.

Also, note the M1 bayonet strapped to his leg.

After all, “Be Prepared.”

Glad I saved my $29…

As a kid in 1986– in an age where action heroes were shirtless, spoke with an Austrian accent or a mumble, and carried a big fixed blade– I downright pined for one of these $29.95 specials every time I browsed the gun mags of the day while camped out at the news rack of the local T.G.&Y.

Glad I wasn’t able to cut enough grass to afford both a wildly addictive Testors scale model habit, as well as my nascent knife wanderlust. That tang-less 420SS thing looks like pure junk-o. But hey, it had a compass!

Interesting pigsticker

This Mauser bayonet looks simple enough. For those familiar with such items, it looks like your basic M1935 knife-style bayo produced locally by Askari Fabrika turkije in Ankara for the Turkish military before WWII for their wide assortment of the 8mm Mauser M1893 and M1903 rifles.

Often using a mix of older M1913 bayonets and components with new elements as needed, these typically run about 15 inches long from tip to tip with a 10-inch grooved spear-point blade.

This example is labeled on one side “AS. FA.” for Askari Fabrika with serial number “145227” on the other and has a sheet steel scabbard and walnut panels.

What makes this bayo curious is that, sometime in the 1950s, it was modified by the NATO-allied Turks to fit an M1 Garand, of which the U.S. supplied some 300,000 through the Cold War.

As Uncle Sam did not send any bayos with said M1s, the Turks had to find a solution as best they could and both converted older Mauser bayonets as well as beginning production of a local copy of the U.S. M5 constructed by MKKE.

The more you know…

The Trooper

Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden poses with a British Pattern 1853 Cavalry Trooper’s Sword at the National Army Museum’s “Britain’s Greatest Battles” exhibit in March of 2013.

Source: National Army Museum  via Victorian Sword

Which of course, if you had a Trooper poster from the Maiden on your wall in the 1980s (like me) gives you a sense of nostalgia.

Ramrod to get a well deserved MoH

Born in 1975, Staff Sergeant David Bellavia loved show tunes and theatre before he found himself on his 29th birthday leading the “Ramrods” of Coy A, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment as the Big Red One made its way through Fallujah. You see, he was in charge as his sergeant major, company commander and executive officer had all been cut down by enemy fire.

Charging into a tough what could politely be called a persistent strong point in the form of a multi-story house during the city fighting that took place there, he started off with an M249 and ended fighting room-to-room with guys jumping out of closets and getting super CQB on him at bad breath distances. In the end, he ended up falling back on a Gerber Gator to get out of there.

“I have had better birthdays, for sure,” Bellavia later said.

I read his book, House to House: An Epic Memoir of War, then saw him speak at the Pritzker back in like 2009 and found his experience and the way he told it haunting.

The recipient of the Silver Star, SSG Bellavia, now 43, is set to the Iraq War’s first (living) Medal of Honor recipient.

That old Ka-Bar magic

Union Cutlery Co. of Olean, New York, began using the “Ka-Bar” name on its knives and in its advertising in 1923.

Fast forward to WWII and the company worked with the Marines to modify the old Western States L77 hunting knife to create what the Navy termed the Mark 2 Utility Knife and in the Marines as the Mark 2 Combat Knife– the blade known as the now-classic Ka-Bar.

WWII-era Ka-Bar MK2 with original fiberglass sheath via Ka-Bar. The drawing is actually of the Ka-Bar commando a very similar offering

Made during the war and since then by Camillus, Ontario, PAL, Robeson, Utica et. al while Union still trademarked the name, the knife has become an icon, a totem.

Two WWII Marine Raiders demo knife fighting– note the K.

Marines somewhere in the Pacific. Note the Ka-Bar in the boot

Today, owned by Cutco, Union long ago changed their name to Ka-Bar formally and they still make the knife in Olean, though some complain that the current version just isn’t the same as the 1943 classic. I blame a lot of that stink on Chinese counterfeits.

With that, the company posted this today, which I thought was interesting.

“The vehicle ran over the KA-BAR and it punctured the tire and lodged in the wheel. The handle did not break off until it was inside the tire.”

It looks like one of the more modern blades which are constructed with a 1095 carbon steel blade that is epoxy powder coated.

Of course, there is no telling which vintage this blade is from, but it is still impressive.

A German Dragon, by way of Solingen, Tientsin and Canberra

From the collection of The Australian War Memorial comes this great German-made sword used by the Qi Army in the twilight of Imperial China:

Imperial German Model 1889 sword and scabbard. The grip is brown bakelite held to the tang by two steel rivets and has an oval steel pommel. The blade is a single edge, pipe back with a double edge spear point. The ricasso is stamped with E&F. HORSTER SOLINGEN and there is a leather washer where the blade meets the guard. The steel scabbard is plain with two fixed rings on a band at 50 mm and 150 mm from the throat which is held to the body by two screws. Attached to the lower ring is a chain that is connected to a broken brown leather hanger strap with a brass buckle in the center.

Founded in 1850, Hörster E. & F. Co., Solingen, made military edged weapons through WWII.

The hilt has a half basket steel guard with a Chinese dragon as the cartouche badge.

This sword was brought back from China by a member of the Victorian Naval Contingent in 1900.

Group portrait of Australian Naval Brigade who served in the Boxer Rebellion, 1900-1901

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