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Allan H.

WWII Airborne Switchblades

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David,

 

In a word, YES, I would consider your bone handled Presto to be one of the types that I have encountered in the hands of WWII airborne veterans as issued knives. While the metal handled Presto knives are marked the same way on the blade, you will note the retaining pin that goes completely through the bolsters on the metal handled knife rather than just being flush. I believe this to be a post- WWII modification to the switchblade as one of the complaints regarding the performance of the switchblades in military service was that the bolsters would sometimes "pop off" when the blade was placed under stress. The change to the pin going through the bolster and being peened was designed to take care of that problem.

 

Allan


Never under-estimate the power of prayer.

 

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Huh, well thank you sir for that information. I just learned something :)

 

As I had mentioned, never really thought either to be anything of note, but kinda neat to learn that one has some history to it.

 

Again, I really appreciate your knowledge on this.

 

David

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My only example.. a 4 line bone handle Schrade with staple/bail. It looks nasty but it works.

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Nothing I do seems to enable me to post pictures on this blog, but I'd love to show you all my well-worn hawkbill Presto knife. If anyone can shed light on how uploading is done, I'd be all ears. I click on the green photo avatar above, and it brings up a URL box to post a link, but when I go to post it nothing happens. When I try to type in a direct link to the photobucket page where my photo is stored, it says that the administrators don't allow links to that website. So I've just given up for now.

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Tennessee Time,

We can all appreciate the problems that you are encountering with uploading the photos. There are a couple of tutorials up in the "Photos and Imaging" section at the top of the USMF home page- http://www.usmilitariaforum.com/forums/index.php?/forum/24-photos-imaging/

 

When I started this thread, I did so to pass along the information that WWII 101st Airborne Historian Mark Bando and I have gleaned as we met with WWII airborne veterans. Mark has been doing this longer than I, but I've been interviewing WWII airborne veterans for over 35 years. Neither mark nor I have ever encountered anything but bone handled Schrade and Presto knives in the hands of veterans. My desire here was to see if anyone else had different experience and one that they could document. While the hawkbill Presto that you are referring to is an interesting and rather scarce variation of switchblade knife, I would argue that it doesn't really fall into the category of WWII airborne switchblades, as there does not seem to be any documented evidence that they were ever fielded, let alone tested during WWII by US Airborne forces or by the Airborne Test Board.

 

I'll add the disclaimer once again- I'm not saying that metal handled and other versions of the switchblade couldn't have been issued, just that it has yet to be confirmed that they were.

 

Allan


Never under-estimate the power of prayer.

 

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TennesseeTime, we can't use a hosting site like "photo bucket" to post pictures on this forum. This was done to be able and keep the photo's that are originally posted on this forum. The tutorials should help you out. I'm not well versed in the ways to post pictures with different smart devices so I'll not try and possibly lead you astray.


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I have been following this thread and I think I found some documentation that is relevant to the discussion. The following are from an infantry board report from December 1940. I had to crop the documents as I don't have the proper editor but the meat of the conversation is posted.

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Hey guys, so i may be gettin a large 325th GIR grouping, and in the grouping there is a presto knife but has no bail. I was told it was private purchase?

Thoughts?

 

Thanks!!!

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After reading the 1940 report, were the M2 handles then changed to stag or did they keep the "imitation buckhorn?"


Nemo me impune lacessit

 

"He is a [sane] man who can have tragedy in his heart and comedy in his head." G. K. Chesterton
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I was answering a post in another section of the forum and wanted to reference this thread. I was astonished to see that it has been well over a year since it was last added to and that I had to go back several pages to even find it.

 

Of the thousands of posts that I have made and hundreds of topics I've started across the forum, this is one of the ones that I have been most proud of starting. Although it evidently doesn't meet the criteria for being pinned, I thought that it might not be a bad idea to bring it back up to the front of the line as there could be others that might benefit from reading the information contained in here.

 

Allan


Never under-estimate the power of prayer.

 

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This is always a great reference. I have one of the metal handle Shrades and one of the stag handles without clevis, and without this thread wouldn't know that much about them.

It should be pinned.


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Agreed, a very handy and helpful reference. Indeed, it has prompted me to drag my M2 style blades out of the drawer and into the daylight for the first time in quite a while. I decided to take a couple of pics while I had them out for a spin.

 

Having relied on the expertise of Frank T., I have always assumed that the metal handled Prestos were USGI. Allan H. makes a good argument against that, based on his extensive, long term study. Without unimpeachable documentation, I guess we don't really know the answer for certain one way or the other. My two metal handled large Prestos are shown below. Each is slightly different from the other in blade markings. One has the bolster pin mentioned by Allan H. above.

 

M2 Switchblades left ed.jpg

 

Ignore the lanyards. They were probably added over the past 70 years. I just did not bother to take them off with a rain storm approaching and my desire to get these cell phone pics taken before I got wet.

 

I'll post the other side separately.

 

Charlie


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Here is the other side. I guess I should identify these a little more carefully since I am not sure my crummy pics are able to reveal the markings.

 

From left to right we have:

 

1. E. Schrade B'port, CT/PRESTO Pat. Pend-g. It has the jigged bone scales and lanyard loop/bail/clevis/staple or whatchamacallit.

 

2. Geo. Schrade Knife Co. Inc. B'P'T, Conn./PRESTO Pat. Jan. 30-40 Made in U.S.A.

 

3. Geo. Schrade Bridgeport, Conn/PRESTO Made in U.S.A.

 

4. Geo. Schrade Bridgeport, Conn/PRESTO Made in U.S.A. (Etched on the left side of the blade in script is Commando Reg. U.S. Pat. Off. It has metal handles)

 

5. U.S. Pats. Dec. 21, 09 Sept. 13, 10/Schrade Cut. Co. Walden, NY without a bail but with jigged bone scales.

 

M2 Switchblades right b ed.jpg

 

The Commando marked blade is probably not a true M2 and might be a PX or other private purchase knife. I still include it here because of the family resemblance.

 

I'd like to find one of the black handled, post-war M2 style blades. I have run across several but shied away from them since my interest at that time was mostly WW2. Now that I have broadened my horizons, I think I'll have to chase one down.

 

Regards,

Charlie


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Charlie,

 

Thanks a million for adding the photos of your blades. You have a very nice collection.

 

Allan


Never under-estimate the power of prayer.

 

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This is it.

 

The plastic handles are commonly called Brain. I do not know if they were on any issue knives, something to research. By the way the brain handles are around for sale once and a while. There is a set on sharperdeals auction site right now. If I am not supposed to talk about a current auction let me know and I will edit my post.

Dennis aka nifman

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Dennis,

 

Thanks for the post. I have never heard of the plastic handles being called "brain," but I don't collect knives other than airborne pieces and don't hang out with the knife collecting crowd. It is nice getting to learn something new!

 

Assuming that you have read through the post, I have yet to find a plastic or metal handled switchblade in the hands of a WWII paratrooper veteran that I could document. Additionally, other collectors who have been doing this for decades have reported the same results. I believe that the black plastic handled switchblades could very well have been issued after WWII as the grips look very similar to the orange plastic grips on the later issued switchblades with shroud cutter blades.

 

Thanks again for your addition to the thread.

 

Allan


Never under-estimate the power of prayer.

 

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My intent is not to dispute the findings of Allan or others who have gathered information from Airborne Veterans regarding the Bone Handle M2/Auto Knives. Perhaps the answers to these three questions could illuminate the place of the Metal Handle Auto Knife and if it could be considered an M2 issued knife or not.

 

1. If there were no WW2 GI issue of these metal handle knives is there any other information as to when they did appear in the hands of people? For example, any ads or other promotional material

2. Who sold them to military personal or the civilian market, PX, Sporting Goods Stores, Geo. Schrade Knife Co., Military Surplus Stores?

3. There are a number of these metal handle examples now in the hands of collectors, were they acquired from vets or dealer/collectors? In other words what is the provenance of the metal handle knife in your collection?

 

Unfortunately, in my case both the bone handle and metal handle I own came from fellow collectors who could provide a direct link to a veteran, Airborne or otherwise. Perhaps there are others out there with more information about the Metal Handle M2/ Auto Knife question.


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