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Western Baby Shark? Manufacture Date?


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#1 capt14k

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Posted 10 July 2019 - 09:06 AM

I am finding conflicting information online regarding this knife.

Seller sold it as WWII, but I am not so sure that is true. I have found that it could be 1946-50, 1946-54, 1950-53, and 1956-71. Guard is steel and pommel is aluminum. Only markings are on the one side WESTERN over BOULDER, COLO. over PAT’D MADE IN U.S.A. Can anyone clarify what timeframe this knife would have been made, and if not WWII is there a chance it was Korean War Used?Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image


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#2 zzyzzogeton

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Posted 10 July 2019 - 10:27 AM

This one is post-WW2 but not by much. 

 

Since the stamp has "MADE IN USA", it is post-WW2. 

 

Since it still has a reference to the double tang patent, it is pre-1953ish.  The steel guard narrows it down even further.

 

It would have been part of the first runs of production AFTER WW2 but before brass became available for civilian manufacturing. 

 

No one knows exactly when civilian directed manufacturing began after the war was over, but I'm sure it was ASAP.  I usually label these as 1946 to 1947, but in reality, they could be anytime from September 1946, probably a little later but most likely BEFORE the Christmas sales season up to sometime later in 1946 when brass started being made available.

 

The reason I say up into 1947 is that the first runs would have supplied retailers way into 1946 before a subsequent run, probably with brass guards,was necessary.

 

So there is no way that it is a WW2 era knife. 

 

It could have been used during the Korean War, but only by whoever the civilian was who bought it new in 1946. 

 

It would NOT have been an issue knife.  Any baby sharks issued between the wars or into the KW would have been wartime construction.  So, IMO, GI usage during the KW is so close to unlikely that I would say "No way, Jose."


Edited by zzyzzogeton, 10 July 2019 - 10:27 AM.


#3 capt14k

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Posted 10 July 2019 - 11:23 AM

I had a feeling seller was wrong. Thank you for the info.


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#4 zzyzzogeton

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Posted 10 July 2019 - 12:22 PM

It is "possibly" an honest mistake on the seller's part. 

 

Many folks believe that ANY knife with a steel guard is WW2 issue. And they never look past that particular characteristic. And for the most part they are correct.  It's just the early post-WW2 transiton period knives from a few companies, like Western and Kabar, that are post-WW2 but have steel guards.

 

The biggest "issue" with WW2 misidentified knives is Western Sharks and Baby Sharks that have brass guards.  Since Western made the Sharks and Baby Sharks during WW2, many sellers label ANY bird head pommeled Shark/Baby Shark as "WW2".  The brass guard versions are ALL 1947 or later.  The Shark was discontinued sometime after 1960 and the Baby Sharks were still being made until 1967, disappearing from the 1968 catalog.



#5 capt14k

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Posted 10 July 2019 - 01:22 PM

Definitely an honest mistake on the part of the seller. Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

Edited by capt14k, 10 July 2019 - 01:23 PM.


#6 capt14k

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Posted 10 July 2019 - 01:25 PM

Any tips on the correct Western Bowie Knife for Vietnam? I know I am missing a lot of variations, L76, and still a baby shark but is there any other Western Knives of WWII than pictured below?

Posted Image


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#7 sactroop

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Posted 10 July 2019 - 03:03 PM

The W31 "parachutist" knife jumps out, pun intended.  It will be about as hard to come across as an L76.


Edited by sactroop, 10 July 2019 - 03:04 PM.


#8 zzyzzogeton

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Posted 10 July 2019 - 10:07 PM

In addition to the L76 you mentioned and the W31 Paramarine knife sactroop mentioned, you are also missing a Bx54 Bushman survival bowie and the un-numbered/un-named Western Life Raft Knife

 

 

Well, pooh.  Every time I try to upload a jpg file, it says that the file format is not supported, so no Bx54 or Life Raft knife tonight,  :(



#9 zzyzzogeton

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Posted 10 July 2019 - 10:51 PM

As for as what Western knife would be correct for the VN period, --  the most likely candidates would be --

 

WW2 versions of the Shark, Baby Shark, L71 Seabees, and L77 Commando were possible if the carrier had one from WW2, or was using Pop's WW2 knife.

 

The post WW2 G46-6/L46-6 "Shark" and G46-5/L46-5 "Baby Shark" were both still being sold into the early (S) to mid 1960s (BS). 

 

The post-WW2 reincarnation of the G46-8, under the model number L46-8 and advertised as "The Big 8" came out in the 1959 catalog (and possibly a little earlier) and was sold in some L or W variation all the way up to Camillus' bankruptcy, but ONLY L46-8 and W46-8 models with "BOULDER COLO" as part of the stamps would be VN-era knives.

 

The first 6 or 7 versions of the Western Bowie/W49 would have been legitimate VN contenders.  These are the versions that have "BOULDER COLO" as part of their stamps.

 

Western dropped the "BOULDER COLO" and replaced it with a simple "USA" starting in 1973.  Since we were officially out of VN by that time, any L/W46-8 or W49 without BOULDER COLO on it is a NON-VN era W49.

 

 

 

The WW2 Type 1 S/BS had steel or plastic guards and aluminum or plastic bird beak pommels and had model numbers of G46-6 and G46-5.  The Type 2s had flat steel disk pommels, ala USN-MK2s/1219C2s. 

 

The post-WW2 reincarnation of them were G46-6 and G46-5 until the mid 1950s, when the model numbers changed to L46-6 and L46-5.  The post-WW2 versions had brass guards and aluminum bird beak pommels.  Well, except for a paltry few S/BS made after the war was over but before brass became readily available for guards.  These 1946-1947 S/BS had steel guards and aluminum pommels but include "MADE IN USA" as part of the stamp.

 

 

Since many models of Western fixed blades were carried by PXs and sporting goods stores near bases, any FB made by Western during the 1950s/1960s/1970-1972 COULD have been carried in VN, including the L48 bird & trouts. Did anyone carry an L48 or an L57 or an L44 or an L36 or....???  Maybe, maybe not.  Your guess is as good as mine.

 

 

Oh - and a quick trivia question - How do you differentiate a Type 2 S/BS from a L71 Seabees?  The Seabees has a flat grind.  S/BS both have fullers. 


Edited by zzyzzogeton, 10 July 2019 - 10:53 PM.


#10 sactroop

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Posted 10 July 2019 - 11:50 PM

Here's some pictures.

 

Top knife is the Bx54 Bushman underneath is the later W47 for comparison.

 

Western  Bowie's.jpg

 

Reprint of some of Western made WW2 knives

 

WW2 Western knives.jpg



#11 sactroop

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Posted 11 July 2019 - 12:05 AM

The Western safety knife.  This version was for the USAAF used in medium and large bombers.  This one is missing the two "lift the dot fasteners" attached to the leather sheath.

 

Western safety knife.jpg

 

 

I don't believe the Western pattern 46 knife was ever made by Camillus.  I've never found them in any of the catalogs or price sheets available.  Coleman tried once to replace the W46-8 with a new "rambo" type survival knife.  That knife was short lived and customer demands brought the W49-8 back.  It was still offered in the last Longmont Colorado catalog from 1991.

 

OBTW, the previous post should read as W49 not w47.


Edited by sactroop, 11 July 2019 - 12:07 AM.


#12 mikedon

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Posted 11 July 2019 - 02:23 AM

I believe these are Vietnam era 8" Western knives.

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  • 17-Western 8 inch Viet Nam=.jpg


#13 capt14k

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Posted 11 July 2019 - 11:08 AM

What is this liferaft knife? I seen the two W31 Parchutist Knives for sale the broken one that sold for $800 and the mint only that I believe is $3,750. A non broken good but not mint would be more my style. The L76 I think I may have to get lucky last one I saw for sale was over $3k. I didn't realize there was the Bushcraft so that and the baby shark are at the top of my list for right now. Thank you all for the great info. I just ordered the Western book Knifemakers who went West or something like that. I also received the 2 Marbles books. I need to order Mike Silvey's new book. Can never have enough reference books. Nice thing about American collecting vs Finnish is the books are in English. Though the Finnish Bayonets, Puukkopistin, Kirves (Axes), Vesuri, and other edge weapons is still my primary focus.


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#14 sactroop

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Posted 11 July 2019 - 06:01 PM

The Western safety knife is also the life raft knife.  The sheath/holder is the only real difference.  For the life raft you see much the same holder, but instead of the "lift the dot" fasteners for securing the knife to an aircraft fuselage the back of the holder has an adhesive on it covered with a peel away cover.  This way a pilot in a water landing can attach the holder to the side of a rubber raft.  The handle allows the knife to float.  The lanyard to further prevent loss.  

The British were using their own version of such a knife when we joined the War, to prevent accidental damage to inflated rafts.  We started replacing the early standard knives we had been suppling in some survival kits with the British design.  Some were actual British knives and many came from Western.



#15 Charlie Flick

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Posted 12 July 2019 - 02:27 PM



What is this life raft knife? 

 

Here is the Life Raft Knife, along with a Western 4-blade utility knife.

 

Western Life Raft Knife ed.jpg

 

Regards,

Charlie


Edited by Charlie Flick, 12 July 2019 - 02:33 PM.


#16 Charlie Flick

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Posted 12 July 2019 - 02:36 PM

And an old pic I had handy of my WW2 Western Baby Shark.

 

WesternBabyShark.JPG

 

Charlie



#17 dustin

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Posted 12 July 2019 - 05:40 PM

For some quick clarification, the Floating Life Raft Knife is not the same as the Safety Knife though very similar in appearance. Each were made for different intended purposes, the safety type was designed to cut flight clothing for medical treatments. The life raft version was intended for utility. In the image, note the significant curvature of the blade on the safety type to the right. Once you're able to penetrate the clothing the blunted tip wont cut into the patient and the curve of the blade allows an efficient cutting action. The safety type was intended to be secured in the aircraft adjacent to the aeronautic first aid kit, hence the lift-a-dot fasteners. The life raft type was intended to be cemented to the bladder of multi-person life rafts, hence the rubberized fabric backing. It was not issued to individuals. When it was adopted, life raft manufacturers were directed to apply the knife there before delivery, more were sent to inspection and repair facilities and stock for eventual updates to those rafts already in service. Now I don't know what the manufacturing technique was for the post war manufacture of these knives were but they did not include a pull away film like a sticker for WWII, it was applied by rubber cement. This knife wasn't added till 1944.

 

DSC_0668.JPG

 

 



#18 ccyooper

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Posted 13 July 2019 - 03:29 AM

Thank you for the detailed explanation

#19 sactroop

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Posted 13 July 2019 - 08:01 AM

Yea Dustin, ditto on the above.  There was a distinction in the differences between the two that I hadn't pickup on.  I've never had them side by side to compare, but if I'm honest I'm not too sure how long it would have taken me to notice the difference in the curves.  :)

Thanks again for another valuable insight.



#20 zzyzzogeton

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Posted 13 July 2019 - 06:44 PM

For some quick clarification, the Floating Life Raft Knife is not the same as the Safety Knife though very similar in appearance. Each were made for different intended purposes, the safety type was designed to cut flight clothing for medical treatments. The life raft version was intended for utility. In the image, note the significant curvature of the blade on the safety type to the right. Once you're able to penetrate the clothing the blunted tip wont cut into the patient and the curve of the blade allows an efficient cutting action. The safety type was intended to be secured in the aircraft adjacent to the aeronautic first aid kit, hence the lift-a-dot fasteners. The life raft type was intended to be cemented to the bladder of multi-person life rafts, hence the rubberized fabric backing. It was not issued to individuals. When it was adopted, life raft manufacturers were directed to apply the knife there before delivery, more were sent to inspection and repair facilities and stock for eventual updates to those rafts already in service. Now I don't know what the manufacturing technique was for the post war manufacture of these knives were but they did not include a pull away film like a sticker for WWII, it was applied by rubber cement. This knife wasn't added till 1944.

 

attachicon.gifDSC_0668.JPG

 

 

 

Dustin,

 

Thank you for that information.  I never realized that there were 2 different blades even though I have both.  I just naively assumed the sheaths were different and never put the knives side by side.

 

Maybe you could start a separate thread for the Western Life Raft vs Western Safety Knife for posterity and easier locating in the future?



#21 capt14k

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Posted 14 July 2019 - 04:42 PM

What is the value of a Western Life Raft?


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#22 TALLYHO

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Posted 16 July 2019 - 01:38 PM

I see them show up on eBay every so often. As a matter of fact I just checked and there is one listed now for $35 or best offer plus $6 shipping.



#23 TALLYHO

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Posted 16 July 2019 - 02:05 PM

Hey sactroop, 

 

Just caught up to this topic. I only want to make a clarification about the picture you posted of the Western Bx-54 and the W-47. The Western Bx-54 never had a "S" guard and the W-47 is actually a first variant (1964) pre W49 designation Bowie. It`s interesting to note the satin finish on the that blade. The first variant came through in both a high polish and satin finish with the latter being less encountered. 



#24 sactroop

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Posted 16 July 2019 - 05:29 PM

Sorry again about the mis-typing in the W47 in the first post. It should read W49.  I am aware of the guard anomaly with the knife I pictured.  Never been sure if it was something reworked or a tweaking of the original guard.  One of the reasons I included the picture from the Western Book.

As far as W49 vs. BOWIE.  Well they have always had the stock number W49.  While some choose to call out the first three variants as BOWIE's because that's what is stamped on the blade and others call them all W49's, seems to be a matter of choice.  I can't see a sound way to determine either choice as right or wrong.

I got no sure answers for the two finishes on the first variant.  I have a NIB first version with the earliest style sheath.  Nothing in the paperwork that provides an exact date.  It is a brushed finish one.  Also all first variant knives I've measured run an 1/8 inch longer in the hilt than any other variant I've had the chance to measure.



#25 capt14k

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Posted 19 July 2019 - 04:20 PM

I see them show up on eBay every so often. As a matter of fact I just checked and there is one listed now for $35 or best offer plus $6 shipping.

Thank you I grabbed that one for $35

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