Friday, July 30, 2010
The V-42 and Fairbairn-Sykes fighting knives
My good friend and fellow veteran, Sgt. Mac over at Bushcraft USA forum Has asked me to post some info on 2 of my favorite fighting knives.
when I first joined the Army back in the 70s the Fairbairn - Sykes dagger was still very popular and a lot cheaper to get than the Gerber copies.
Many of the squaddies in my Recon platoon carried the FS dagger in addition to a USMC Kabar or "hunting" knife of some type and the issue bayonet.
Personally? I had a "demo" pocket knife or a TA29 also.
I guess I was beginning to show signs of my Gear queer addiction,haha.
Anyhoo, Later on in my military career I had the prive
lidge to meet 2 members of the US/Canadian 1st Special service force and these 2 gentlemen told me about the V42 stiletto.
The V42 is based on the FS dagger but was issued only to members of the 1st SSF in ww2.
Of course at the time the V42 was not in production and was difficult to find, so we all stuck with the FS commando dagger.
Personally , I like the FS dagger better due to the thickness of the blade and the weight for throwing. many folks will disagree about throwing this type of knife but that is indeed one of the functions this knife was designed for.
The V42 to me seems to be a bit lighter and i dont really like the leather wrapped handle or leather washer handles these come with. I think the idea of using leather is because these knives were suppose to be employed in colder climates. with leather you didnt have to worry about your hand freezing to the handle as you would with an all metal one.
If you take a close look at the picture in the beginning of this post you will see Bert "Yank" Levy a some what famous mercenary, using a modified FS commando dagger to demonstrate how to take out a sentry. The blade looks a lot shorter that an original issue, it may have been broken at one time and reground.
Ok, so, rather than myself rambling on about these 2 knives I will post some info here from wikipedia for your enjoyment.
Tomahawk - Scouts Out!
In his book Allied Military Fighting Knives: And The Men Who Made Them Famous, author Robert Buerlein stated basically that the nomenclature on this quartermaster form would lead us to believe that the proper name of this knife is the "Fighting Commando Knife, Type V-42" or converting U.S. Army nomenclature into "English", "V-42 Commando Fighting Knife". This is the proper name, but the Force members referred to it as their "Force Knife". Later on,the knife started being referred to by collectors as the "V-42 Stiletto" even though many, if not most, of the FSSF members never heard the term "V-42" and this what it is called today, rightly or wrongly. Possibly the "42" stood for 1942, the year of the design and the "V" for "Victory"
The V-42 was designed in part by the Commanding Officer of the brigade, Lt. Colonel Robert T. Frederick. Every part of the knife was made with the intent of combat. This knife was the trademark weapon of the Devil's Brigade, and its members were trained extensively in the use of this knife. The profile of this knife is pictured on the crests of the Canadian Special Operation Forces Command, Canadian Forces's Joint Task Force 2 and the one of the United States Army Special Forces.
The V-42 was manufactured in the United States by W. R. Case & Sons Cutlery Co.. The original leather sheath was reinforced by the troops to include a metal tip, so that the sharp blade would no longer penetrate through and cut their legs. Since the force was originally trained for fighting in cold weather conditions, the sheath was designed long, so as to hang beneath the bottom of their military parkas. After use in the field against the Germans, some unit members purposely dulled the tip of these knives to minimize its habit of embedding into bone and becoming difficult to withdraw.
The V-42 weighs 7 ounces (0.20 kg), with a 7-inch (18 cm) blade and 5.5-inch (14 cm) handle, for a total length of 12.5 inches (32 cm). Its features include a sharp blade and a sturdy handle with a skull-cracking butt, similar to a Dotty Hammer.
A replica version, based upon the original, is now being made by swordsmith Paul Chen and sold through Hanwei. A custom hand-made version made of CPM S30V steel and stacked leather washers with a titanium pommel is offered by Strider Knives of San Marcos, California. Smith Tactical Systems offers an updated version of the V-42, including a thicker blade and kydex sheath. Previous reproductions include one by W. R. Case & Sons Cutlery Co. manufactured in the 1980s and discontinued in 1993.
The Fairbairn - Sykes Commando Dagger:
The Fairbairn-Sykes Fighting Knife is a double-edged knife with a foil grip developed by William Ewart Fairbairn and Eric Anthony Sykes in Shanghai before World War II, but made famous during the War when issued to British Commandos, including the SAS (then its No. 2 Commando). The F-S Fighting knife often is compared to a stiletto, the comparison is misleading, as the stiletto is for stabbing and has a longer, narrower (often triangular) blade. The Wilkinson Sword Company made the knife with minor pommel and grip design variations; currently, the F-S Fighting Knife is of interest mainly to collectors. Because of its sleek lines and its commando association, the OSS, the Marine Raiders, et al., it remains in production to date. Moreover, the knife is so symbolic of British Commandos that a solid gold F-S Fighting Knife is part of the commandos' memorial at Westminster Abbey. The knife features in the insignia of the British Royal Marines, Dutch Commando Corps, founded in the UK during WWII, the Australian 2nd Commando Regiment, the elite United States Army Rangers, and the model for all modern Special Forces, the SAS.
The first batch of fifty F-S Fighting Knives were produced in January 1941 by Wilkinson Sword Ltd after Fairbairn and Sykes had traveled down to their factory from the Special Training Centre at Lochailort in November 1940 to discuss their ideas for a fighting knife.
The F-S Fighting Knife was designed exclusively for surprise attack and fighting, with a slender blade that can easily penetrate a ribcage. The vase handle grants precise grip, and the double-edged blade is integral to its design. Fairbairn's rationale is in his book Get Tough! (1942).
In close-quarters fighting there is no more deadly weapon than the knife. In choosing a knife there are two important factors to bear in mind: balance and keenness. The hilt should fit easily in your hand, and the blade should not be so heavy that it tends to drag the hilt from your fingers in a loose grip. It is essential that the blade have a sharp stabbing point and good cutting edges, because an artery torn through (as against a clean cut) tends to contract and stop the bleeding. If a main artery is cleanly severed, the wounded man will quickly lose consciousness and die.
The Fairbairn-Sykes was produced in several patterns. The Shanghai knife on which it was based was only about 5.5 in (14 cm) long in the blade. First pattern knives have a 6.5 in (17 cm) blade with a flat area, or ricasso, at the top of the blade which was not present on the original design and the presence of which has not been explained by the manufacturers, under the S-shaped crossguard. Second-pattern knives have a slightly longer blade (just less than 7 in/18 cm), 2 in (5.1 cm)-wide oval crossguard, knurled pattern grip, and rounded ball, and may be stamped "ENGLAND" on the handle side of the cross piece. Some may also be stamped with a number (e.g., 21) on the opposite handle side of the cross piece. Above the number may also be stamped a triangular symbol. Third-pattern knives also have a similarly-sized inch blade, but the handle was redesigned to include a ring grip. This ring grip is reputed to have distressed one of the original designers as it unbalanced the weapon and made harder to hold when wet, but it was used by the manufacturers as it was simple to produce. Third-pattern knives may be stamped "WILLIAM RODGERS SHEFFIELD ENGLAND", "BROAD ARROW", or simply "ENGLAND". William Rodgers, as part of the Egginton Group, now also produce an all-black "sterile" version of the knife, which is devoid of any markings showing maker or NATO use. It has also been finely balanced for throwing.
The length of the blade was chosen to give several inches of blade to penetrate the body after passing through the 3 in (7.6 cm) of the thickest clothing that was anticipated to be worn in the war, namely that of Soviet greatcoats. Later production runs of the F-S Fighting Knife have a blade length that is about 7.5 in (19 cm).
In all cases the handle had a distinctive foil-like grip to enable a number of handling options. Many variations on the F-S Fighting Knife exist in regards to size of blade and particularly of handle. The design has influenced the design of knives throughout the many decades since its introduction.