Current Knife Knotes

October 2020


BuAer Suggests Safeguard to Sheaths

I have possessed this page for many years and looked for a sheath like it but have come up empty. It’s time to post it up here and see if anyone knows of one or possesses one in their collection. It appears to be a type of the Pilots Survival Knife from the mid to late 1950s design, the early MIL-K-8662. It does not appear to be an official change as it was never written into a specification that I am aware of. This knife eventually morphed into the Jet Pilots knife of the Marbles design and the leather sheath did not have a metal backing as originally designed. In fact it took several years before a tip protection plate was installed and much later a full backing added. The throat protector was never added to any specs in the series.  So here it is a footnote in the history of the knife sheath that appears to be an unofficial approval that never made it to the official status. Do you have one like it?




The M4 and M9 Scabbard.

I remember discussing this in depth with Gary Cunningham off and on over the years and we never did find an answer; still haven’t in fact but wanted to throw this out there. Was there ever a scabbard (or Sheath) M4 or an M9? My theory is the M4 was a proposed number for the M1 bayonet when it was shortened from the M1905 to the M1. We know the scabbard chosen was the M3, cut down and redesigned as the M3A1. We also know this was wrong and a disaster, Quartermasters ordered the M3A1 thinking it was an improved M3 and ended up with a scabbard that was too short. It was not and improved version of the M3 it was a different item but for some reason Ordnance choose to use the improper designation anyway. My theory is the shortened M3 was originally termed the M4 in the design phase but overruled in the adoption phase and became a foot note to history, the number being used and the adoption denied. Later when the Ordnance Dept. succumbed to the pressure to correct the M3A1 debacle we had progressed with the M5 used by the British for their spike bayonet and the M6 leather sheath used by the M3 Trench knife so the logical chose with the next in line, the M7. Hence the M4 scabbard was designed and not adopted then dropped. I show below the page from the good old Chapter 7 showing the Ordnance Committee Meeting notes stating the M4 scabbard recommended for standardization, OCM 20360 – 6 May, 1943. (Unfortunately there is no central repository for the notes of these Ordnance Committee Meetings that I am aware of. I have found various ones here and there but never a complete file or log of them. I bet that one singular file would hold the key too many WW II era knife mysteries… if only.) The M4 as designed by Rock Island Arsenal had a fiberglass body covered in leather with a throat / frog assembly much like the M1905M modified scabbard. A picture and drawing is shown in the book. They probably used the M3 scabbard body of the bayonet they were modifying and instead of reusing the throat assembly made a new one. This left them without the M1910 bent wire hook so the older leather modification was applied. We know the throats did not take well to the bending of the tabs so perhaps this was the reason for the new throat, or was it the fact they had a lot of older M1905M scabbards in inventory or maybe just the throat mods already made? We are left to guess at the reasoning they chose but I would think the old adage, when the only tool you have is a hammer everything looks like a nail applies here. RIA was a leather specialist location so covering items in leather was old school and something they were very good at. Acquiring all that leather would have been near impossible in war time conditions and a new method was developed to form fit or taper press the used throat back on the plastic bodies so there was really no need for the leather covering or hanger.  Now with this said it should have received the T designation for a new item being tested and developed so there is that part missing as well. Or if prior to the T directive it should have held the E1 designation just as the M1905E1 did but as this was a new item maybe it skipped all the other designations or perhaps it did and that paperwork is just not surfaced yet. Do I have proof, no but it’s my theory to go with until I am proven right or wrong and which I will be happy in either instance!


As with the M9 that one is still a mystery. The M8 and the M8A1 were developed during WW II and the M10 was designed and adopted (but never produced) in 1970. So the M9 was between 1944 and 1970. The M9 bayonet comes with the scabbard as part of the system so was never given a separate designation; it is part of the M9 Multi-purpose bayonet system. And besides the M9 was designed and later adopted in the 1986 so a decade plus at the least after the M9 designation would have been used, perhaps as much as 40 years plus. So where did the M9 scabbard / sheath fit into this list…?



Feeling Vindicated Finally,

20 years back or so I wrote an article about the MC-1 Hook Blade, Snap Blade knife and used the term Shroud Cutter for the Hook Blade. Typical collectors speak, or so I thought… I received several letters in the mail; yes they were letters back then, correcting me on the use of the term shroud. It was in no uncertain terms a canopy I was referring to. Canopies cover a parachutist (hopefully) but shrouds cover dead bodies… It stuck with me when phrased like that! Well what do we find but the official government publication with the tern shroud and come to find out we (the US) adopted it as such!! The Double Bladed Shroud Line Cutter is the official replacement for the standard Hook Blade Knife. NAVAIR 13-1-6.5 shows the adopted Double Bladed Shroud Line Cutter and how to properly modify it to fit the standard (read that old) protective pocket it is laced into and held on the parachute harness of into the thigh pocket of a flight suit. So we need to add these knives to our collection in the condition as purchased and the modified condition as amended by the Navy. In this case this is not a piece Bubba modified, you now know better. Oh and it doesn’t really make me feel any better that the government used the wrong term same as I did, it is still the wrong term but I did smile thinking about it.




National Motor Car and American Fork and Hoe and Bayonets in World War One

Yes you read that correctly, neither produced any but both were selected to experiment and develop a better way to make the Model of 1917 bayonet during WW I. Below is an excerpt I had to retype (it was so bad it could not be reproduced) of a file going back and forth with developments and contracts let. I just found it amazing that AFH was involved with bayonet development in 1918 and again was selected in 1942 to make bayonets of a completely different design. Fate I would say, and that in the interwar years someone kept up the communications and open dialogue to be there when the need arose. In any case…



ES 474.73/72  BAYONETS

 Sept. 17, 1918  Letter from Production Division, S.A. Section

 Advising National Motor Car and Vehicle Co. been given order for 255,000 blade and guard assembled for US Bayonet M1917 which order now in process of cancellation and superseded by order for complete bayonets.  Attaching blue print showing blade and pommel forge, integral

 18407  BLH


ES 474.73/72  BAYONETS

 September 21, 1918

 2nd Ind. From Production Division S.A. Section Forwarding No. on contract so that formal authorization may be granted the National Motor Car and Vehicle Company for the production of the Model of 1917 Bayonet with tang and pommel integrally forged.  No. is P-14170-2368 SA

18602  RR



ES 474.73/101  BAYONETS

 October 8, 1918

 Letter from Production Division Cleveland re experimental test on hot rolled bayonets of the Model 1917, as practiced by the American Fork and Hoe Company.  Above test to be witnessed by different representative as listed.




ES 474.73/108  BAYONETS

October 17, 1918

Letter from American Fork and Hoe Company relative to changes in tolerance on 1917 bayonet which going to manufacture asking for further tolerance of 5/1000th inch in 1st three specified measurements, also 5/100th in place of 3/100th leeway in the thickness of metal under the blood groove, minimum to be as present.

 2285    BLH


ES 474.73/109  BAYONETS

 October 8, 1918

Letter from the Procurement Division, Small Arms Section informing that a list has been submitted to us outlining modified specifications for the 1917 bayonet blade to be manufactured by the American Fork and Hoe Company.  Attached a copy of a letter from Mr. Robert Cowdery requesting Procurement Division to send him 4 working blueprints fo 1917 bayonet.

19530  RR



ES 474.73/114  BAYONETS

October 18, 1918

Letter from Engineering Division Department advising that Remington Company states that the cost for supplying a set of blueprints for the fixtures and tools for the US Bayonet 1917 which was requested in original letter of September 18 would be $149.60.  Request immediate reply re this matter. 

19618  RR



ES 474.73/111  BAYONETS

 October 19, 1918

Letter from National Motor Car and Vehicle Corporation regarding detailed specifications for Model 1917 bayonet.  Requested specifications for bayonet guard and bayonet pommel.

 19547  RR



ES 474.73/122  BAYONETS

October 28, 1918

 Letter from National Motor Car and Vehicle Corporation requesting instructions as to whether they are to use the bayonet furnished by the Ordnance Department as a model from which they are to take dimensions or are they to use the blue prints as originally supplied.  Requesting authorization to draw up a set of drawings from the sample bayonet and use the same in the production of bayonets.



ES 474.73/123  BAYONETS

October 31, 1918

Letter to National Motor Car and Vehicle Corporation advising that the bayonets furnished by the Ordnance Department are not to be used as model to take dimensions from, but are furnished for observation purposes only.  Dimensions taken from prints from Ordnance Office requesting information as to the parts referred to as not assembling if made to drawing dimensions.




ES 474.73/110  BAYONETS

October 18, 1918

 Letter from American Fork and Hoe Company regarding tolerances on 1917 bayonet.  Stating that the blood groove on sample bayonet does not conform in sectional shape with blue prints.  Asking to be advised in detail.

2295        BLH



ES 474.73/109  BAYONETS

November 1, 1918

1st Ind to Procurement Division, Cleveland with 20-2B-32 for American Fork and Hoe Company revised to show increased tolerance in catch and grip screws for bayonet.




ES 474.73/126 BAYONETS

November 2, 1918

Letter to National Motor Car and Vehicle with revised specifications material for 1917 bayonet, as per request of Metallurgical Section



ES 474.73/136  BAYONETS

 December 3, 1918

 Letter from Engineering Division inclosing bill from Remington Company for $149.60 as cost for supplying set of blueprints for fixtures and tools for the US Bayonet Model 1917.  Prints being forwarded to National Motor Car and Vehicle Corporation.

20938  RR



ES 400.114/309  BAYONETS

January 4, 1919

5th Ind to Ordnance Office Cincinnati returned with information that National Motor Car and Vehicle Company should be included on attached mimeographed list of changes affecting Bayonet Model 1917 for US Rifle Model 1917 Class 20 Div 2B Drawing 32.  Full set drawings will be sent early date.



That was a lot of typing but it colors the picture pretty well in the trials taken on ways to produce more M1917 bayonets and produce them faster. The Armistice was signed and all of this became a moot point as contracts were cancelled and much of the development was dropped as well. We had soldiers returning and gear was piling up, Ordnance would be turning their attention to cleaning and storing weapons and gear to preserve it for the next time it was needed. In a little over 20 years it would be revisited again with AFH but sadly National Motor Car was out of business by that time. It folded in 1924 but left us a great legacy with the Indianapolis Race Track that they were instrumental in building. I love history!


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