Fighting knives used by British commandos and SOE during WW2

 

 

Fairbairn-Sykes fighting knife

influence in USA.

 

                                                               

Text and pictures by
Olof Janson unless otherwise stated
.

Special honour should be given to:

  • Robert Wilkinson-Lath
    am,
  • Ron Flook,
  • Roy Shadbolt
  • Mike Silvey
  • Paul Macdonald.

Who have given me much assistance.  

22LR with Silencer
Jack knife
OSS Stiletto
OSS patch

 

 

updated 2013-02-13


 

INDEX

Forming of Commandos
The Shanghai fighting knives
1st Pattern F-S Fighting knife
2nd Pattern F-S Fighting knife
2nd Pattern F-S Fighting Private Purchase knife
2nd Pattern F-S Fighting w/o Wilkinson trademark.like B2, Fat Man, Reverse Knurling
3rd Pattern F-S Fighting knife
Beaded & Ringed - Roped & Ringed

Steel hilt and Different hilts

Wood handles.

US Marine Raider Stiletto OSS - Stiletto w.'Pancake Flapper' and

Odd knives

Three Indian F-S Commando Knives

Sheaths
Marks
UK Commando knives; Postwar production

 

 

The O.S.S. Stiletto

O.S.S. Stiletto

 

The blade was made from 1095 tool steel and hardened to a Rockwell C scale of 55-57.
Each knife was tested on a Brinell Hardness tester.

You can see the mark after the test here.

 

On 16th of June 1942 an order was issued for 10 000 Stilettos from Landers, Frary & Clark for the price of $2.03 each. The knives looked very nice but the steel quality was inferior. After following tougher specifications a new knife was adopted in October 1942 for the price of $2.23 each. Wilkinson Sword had made an offer $30 each. With this great difference there was not much to argue about.

The US government got what they paid for. The knives bends and break easily!

The hilt is made in three sections of steel, the flat crossguard, handle and the threaded knob. The unique part of handle is the checkering - all the way to the cross-guard. This is not seen on any other F-S style of knife.

The shape of the blade differs from the typical F-S knife type because it is much narrower to the tip. Such a blade is more vulnerable and easy to break.

The knife is very beautiful and well made but weak. However the best thing with this knife is its scabbard. The scabbard got the nickname Pancake flapper. Landers, Frary & Clark was for a time the largest cutlery producer in USA. They also made a number of kitchen tools. One of the utensils was the kitchen spatula or pancake flapper. The same dies was used to produce the scabbard as the spatula! The knife was kept in place by a simple rubber O-ring.

 

 

The "Pancake flapper" from Landers, Frary & Clark

 

 

Left
Wilkinson Sword Pattern 2

 

 

Right
O.S.S. Stiletto

 

CIA used some of these knives for the failed operation Bay of Pigs on Cuba. It is not possible to see the difference of these knives and the war produced knives. It is believed that CIA still have some in stock. (Picture courtesy of Mike Silvey)

 

Specifications for O.S.S. Stiletto
Length over all 11.20" - 11.25" 284 - 286 mm
Length of blade 6.19" - 6.45" 157 - 164 mm
Wheight 7 - 7.05 ounces 200 - 210 gram
Scabbard LOA 12.38" 314 mm
Scabbard weight 3.5 ounces 100 gram

 

TODAY 2013

Nowadays Paul Macdonald Armouries have made a very close copy of this knife but he has marked all his knives with trademark.

Here is Paul with one of these knives

 

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V-42 Fighting Knife
The knife for the First Special Service Force or "The Black Devils"

Major General Fredrick

 

Original Shoulder patch FSSF.

The design of V-42 for the First Special Service Force involved a group of qualified personnel. The leading person for the design was Colonel Robert T. Fredrick (later Gen. Maj.) Col. Fredrick was influenced by the F-S knife during training in Scotland.

 

Here is an original V-42 without cross-guard. Personally I feel the guard was not broke but was carefully cut by the original owner and filed to creed this guard-less knife, a field modification by someone who wanted a sleeker knife. Similar modifications can be found even on the First Pattern F-S knives.

Normally V-42 has a very wide cross-guard of steel sometimes lined with leather.

Here is such a normal V-42 with the very wide cross-guard of steel without leather lining.

 

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The US Marine Raider Stiletto

 

The US Marines designed a variant of the F-S knife in February 1942 by Cpt. Clifford H. Shuey. (1956 he became Brigadier General.) The knife was called US Marine Raider Stiletto.

It was the first knife designed by a Marine Corps officer and officially issued to a Marine Corps unit.

 

U.S. Marine Corps Raider Stiletto

These  knives were produced by Camillus Cutlery Company of Camillus, New York.

 

 

Marine Raider Stiletto with M6 sheath

 

The Company name was etched on the blade close to the cross-guard.

The hilt of the stiletto was die cast using a new Zinc-aluminium alloy.

The blade was decorated with
U
.S.M.C.

 

 

This alloy could not stand up to the climate in Pacific and the grips of these knives will fall apart if not cared about. Cracks can be stopped with vaseline.

This alloy has a tendency to be self disintegrating over the years.

 

These knives were produced by prisoners who maybe were not very motivated for the task. The quality was quite poor and the zinc-aluminium alloy started very soon to come apart.

These knives were also used by the Canadian Parachute Battalion.

 

 

All together 14 370 Raider Stiletto were made by Camillus. There is a rare version with black parkerizing made for the Canadian Airborne. The official designation for the more common bright version was #5677 L99 while the parkerized black version was called #5677 L19.

Both had 177.8 mm (7 inches) bright blades.

There is a constant leaking of zinc ions from these handles which most likely will destroy all handles of this type of Commando knife. The leakage can be slowed down with a cover of vaseline. There are more and more of these knives found nowadays with replacement handles.

 

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Forming of Commandos
The Shanghai fighting knives
 

There are three basic modells of the F-S fighting knife.

1st Pattern F-S Fighting knife
2nd Pattern F-S Fighting knife
2nd Pattern F-S Fighting Private Purchase knife
2nd Pattern F-S Fighting w/o Wilkinson trademark.
like B2, Fat Man, Reverse Knurling
3rd Pattern F-S Fighting knife
Beaded & Ringed - Roped & Ringed

Steel hilt and Different hilts

Wood handles.

OSS - Stiletto w.'Pancake Flapper' and
US Marine Raider Stiletto

Three Indian F-S Commando Knives

Odd knives

Sheaths
Marks
Sheaths
UK Commando knives; Postwar production

 

The Stalingrad Sword made by Wilkinson Sword.

 

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References:

Robert Wilkinson Latham His own web site
Alan W. Locken Commando 1940 - 1945
Robert A. Burlein Allied Military Fightingknives
Ron Flook British and Commonwealth military knives.
Fredrick J. Stephens Fighting Knives
Frank Trzaska The O.S.S. Stiletto - Knife World February 1998.
Frank Trzaska The Raider Stiletto - Knife World July 1997
Kelly Yeaton The First Commando Knives.
John Nowhill & son Sheffield
Michigan knives  
Dr. William Windrum  The earliest commando knivesAllan W. Locken Commando 1940 - 1945.