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Fairbairn-Sykes Fighting Knives.

Jack's Son

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William Ewart Fairbairn and Eric Anthony Sykes collaborated to design a fighting knife for the Shanghai Municipal Police force in 1917.


"Fairbairn joined the British Royal Marines at the age of 15, and was very skilled with fighting with bayonets. He won the annual championships for the military. 1917 he resigned and started to work with Shanghai Municipal Police force, (SMP). This was a police force for the international colony in Shanghai. At that time Shanghai was considered to be the most dangerous place in the world. He was once attacked by a gang of Tong members in the red light district. They left him on the ground more dead than alive. He was lucky and survived.

In 1921 he became inspector and in charge for the training in man to man fighting and fighting with small arms. 1935 he became assistant chief of the police with SMP.

He started a special attack unit in Shanghai for riots called Reserve Unite. This unit was the first SWAT team (Special Weapons And Tactics team) in the world.



Eric ”Bill” Sykes, came from an upper middle class family and his family. He had been an officer at a sniping unit during the Great War. He worked with a security company in Shanghai which selling small arms. This company was run by the British Secrete Service, Here in Shanghai he met Fairbairn. They became very good friends.


It was here in Shanghai 1931 they started to develop a new type of knives. The knives were made at the Shanghai Municipal Police (SMP) Armory. It was under the supervision of a former White Russian Colonel, Nicholas Solntseff, his staff made knives on a custom basis for U.S.M.C. officers and others.


A young US Marines officer - Second Lt. Samuel Sylvester Yeaton (1907 - 1979) was also involved in the composition of Shanghai knife. His correspondence with his family gives good information about these early activities. His brother Prof. Kelly Yeaton has written a book about this called

The First Commando Knives".*


From this beginning, the evolution of a new brand of Fighting Knife was created. Unarguably, this style of knife would be the predecessor of all of the great Fighting Knives of WWII's Elite Fighting Forces. The F-S style knive is still in production, although it has become more of a Collector's item and a status symbol since the Vietnam War.


Fighting Knives that have been spawn from the F-S style are the V-42, and the Marine Raider Stiletto. Both of these Knives, as well as other F-S models have been used by American, British and Canadian and other Commonwealth Forces during WWII and after.


Please add your F-S Knives and History to the thread.


*"The First Commando Knives" http://www.gotavapen.se/gota/artiklar/fs/s...anghaiknife.htm

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"The F-S knife is strongly associated with the British commandos and the US OSS and Marine Raiders (who based their issued knife on the Fairbairn-Sykes), among other special forces / clandestine / raiding units. It features in the insignia of the British Royal Marines, the Dutch Commando Corps, founded in the UK during World War II, the Australian 1st Commando Regiment and 2nd Commando Regiment, and the United States Army Rangers, both founded with the help of the British Commandos.


OSS version

The OSS dagger was a double-edged knife based on the Fairbairn-Sykes fighting knife. It was so admired that the U.S. military created several other fighting knives based on it. Unfortunately, the U.S. Office of Strategic Services's per-knife manufacturing bid was approximately one-fifteenth of the British equivalent. As a result, the U.S. version of the knife, manufactured by Landers, Frary & Clark, of New Britain, Connecticut was improperly tempered and inferior to the British in materials and workmanship, and its reputation suffered accordingly. A total of 20 000 units of the OSS version were produced. The OSS dagger was replaced in service in 1944 by the U.S. M3 Fighting Knife".***



*** http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fairbairn-Sykes_Fighting_Knife


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OSS Version.


Notice the Rubber residue around the handle of the knife. That is what is left of the "O-Ring" that held the knife in the scabbard.


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"The U.S. Marine Raider Stiletto was the first knife in United States Marine Corps history to be designed by a U.S. Marine Corps officer, the then Lieutenant Colonel Clifford H. Shuey, who retired as a Brigadier General and was formerly in charge of the Engineer Division at Headquarters Marine Corps. Shuey largely copied the F-S knife pattern, but changed the material specifications of some components (notably the handle) to reduce the need for high-priority strategic materials. These changes would eventually result in durability problems for the Raider stiletto. The knife was designed in 1942 and officially issued on a selective basis to the Marines, with priority to elite units such as the Raiders.

The U.S. Marine Raider Stiletto was similar to the Fairbairn-Sykes Fighting Knife. Both were designed hilt heavy, to lie in the hand, to prevent dropping the stiletto. Both had a tapered, double-edge blade with stiletto sharp tip and diamond shaped cross section, sharpened on both cutting edges all the way to the oval cross guard. They both had a slender symmetrical grip of "Coca-Cola bottle" shape and both weighed the same 1.5 pounds (0.68 kg).


The primary difference was that the U.S. Marine Raider Stiletto hilt was a one-piece construction, die-cast directly onto the blade tang, which is the extension of the blade shoulder, concealed by the knife grip.


The stiletto hilt was die cast using zinc aluminum alloy, which exhibited the desirable characteristics of sharp casting, low shrinkage, low cost and above all, minimal use of strategic war-priority metals. However, over time it was discovered that the zinc ions in this alloy have a tendency to leach out, leaving the casting extremely brittle. As a result more than half of the few Raider Stilettos still in existence today have very fine hilt cracks or entire portions of the hilt missing with pieces having simply flaked off ".**








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Based on the Fairbairn-Sykes commando knife designed by William E. Fairbairn and Eric A. Sykes, the Fighting Commando Knife, Type V-42 used a narrow-profile, double-edged stiletto blade made of high carbon steel.


The V-42 was primarily designed by officers of the FSSF, including its Commanding Officer, Lt. Colonel Robert T. Frederick, who desired a combat knife that could be used to silently eliminate enemy soldiers as well as perform the role of a close-quarters combat knife. The blade's design has been attributed to Col. Fredericks, who had encountered the Fairbairn-Sykes commando knife while on duty in England. While the V-42 had a double-edged blade like that of the Fairbairn-Sykes knife, it had a narrower stiletto blade profile designed to optimize penetration when used for thrusting, and the V-42 could easily penetrate a G.I. steel helmet and liner with a single thrust. With its relatively thin, narrow blade, the V-42 was designed from the outset for use as a fighting knife, and was consequently prone to breakage when used for utility chores such as opening ration tins or ammunition crates. Unusual for military combat knives of the period, the V-42's twin edges were double hollow-ground for increased cutting performance. The addition of the skull-crushing pommel was attributed to the input of Major Orval J. Baldwin, the FSSF Supply Officer. The thumb groove on the V-42's ricasso was designed to promote a flat grip with the thumb over the crossguard, which positioned the double-edged blade horizontally. In this manner a Forceman could slash an opponent with either a forehand or backhand stroke, while ensuring that his blade would slip between the ribs when used in a thrust or stab".**






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