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Username Post: USMC Engineer's Knife?
afig
Member

06-19-04 07:34.24 - Post#419597    

My Grandpa was an engineer in the Marine Corps. during WWII, and he brought most of his gear back with him following his tour. Could this knife be part of that gear, or is it something he picked up following the war? The only markings on the knife are Colonial Prov. R.I. The saw is great for cutting down saplings and the simple locking mechanism works flawlessly.

Thanks in advance.


gunbarrel
Journeyman KnifeNut!

06-19-04 07:50.56 - Post#419605    

You have a "Survival Kit Knife," adopted by the Army Air Forces in 1944. The Navy version of this knife came with a bail and a sheath.
Bigdaddy
Master Member KnifeNut!

Bigdaddy
06-19-04 14:41.55 - Post#419751    

They were also made/stamped G. R. Mich. for Grand Rapids, MI; that's how mine is marked. In mint condition, with out a broken saw blade, I have seen them go at some knife shows for $125 - $150
brianWE
Master Member KnifeNut!

brianWE
06-19-04 15:03.04 - Post#419757    

I believe there was a rare one with a shroud cutting hook instead of a saw blade. I don't know the story, though.
As for the broken sawblade, I understand that wasn't too uncommon at one stage.
brianWE
Opinions? I have many. Some I don't, even, know about until I read my posts.

afig
Member

06-19-04 15:38.56 - Post#419768    

The sawblade is certainly weaker as you probably don't want too thick a blade on a saw of this size. I would not be surprised if the saw blade were changed for something a particular owner might use more often, an example being a rope or leather cutting blade. The way it is constructed with the saw sandwiched between two plates and secured with a peg looks as if it were adaptation friendly. At any rate, it is a solid simple design and seems to work as good as the day it was made.
brianWE
Master Member KnifeNut!

brianWE
06-19-04 15:47.26 - Post#419770    

Quote:

. I would not be surprised if the saw blade were changed for something a particular owner might use more often, an example being a rope or leather cutting blade.



Actually, I would be very surprised if individuals managed to get special factory mods.(if that's what you meant)
These things were massed produced. Not saying that someone with access to a shop might not modify one, occasionally.
brianWE
Opinions? I have many. Some I don't, even, know about until I read my posts.

afig
Member

06-20-04 02:22.14 - Post#419869    

Ya, I didn't mean to suggest that they would be able to get ahold of factory parts. People like my grandfather might use their ingenuity to adapt what they had available to what they needed. This obviously did not occur his this case, but I can see it happening. Neccesity is the mother of invention, and never is this more evident than in war-time.
Frank_Trzaska
Master Member KnifeNut!

Frank_Trzaska
06-20-04 04:20.15 - Post#419905    

For those interested...

Colonial's Giant Jack Knife

Who ever said that a folding knife had to fit in your pocket? During World War II the Navy also asked that question and the Colonial Knife Co. answered it in a big way. In 1943 the Navy undertook a project that would change the way survival knives were carried. It also demanded a new knife to accomplish this task.
At this point in the war many airplanes were fitted with an emergency bailout knife or machete of some kind. This situation presented two problems: 1) if the pilot had to bailout of a failed plane the last thing on his mind was to remember to grab the survival knife. 2) If the knife did survive the ordeal it was often too big for ordinary jobs.
Most pilots and crews carried their own version of a survival knife, usually a sheath knife affixed to their belts. (One of the favorites was a Randall that a certain Captain Reagan in the Army Air Force had a penchant for.) Camillus alone produced over 75,000 of one model just for the Army Air Forces. This also presented problem's in several ways. Upon trying to exit the plane it often became hung up. It was uncomfortable to sit on for long flights. It often had to be paid for from the pilotís own funds and, in the military tradition it wasn't uniform. Enter the Navy Department, Bureau of Aeronautics. The Navy Department foresaw a need for a completely different approach to the idea of a survival knife. In it's long standing tradition the Navy knew what a good knife meant, they had been contracting for knives for over a hundred years for their sailors. The problem at hand was how to carry this new knife. The original knife plans called for a Navy Mk-1 in a leather sheath. After surveying this for some time the decision was at a stand still. Enter the Colonial Knife Company. Colonial in conjunction with the US Navy set out to change the way the knife was carried. Somewhere in this thought process the idea of a folder came about. The problem with most folders of the time was strength. The ideal survival knife had to be strong; to live up to the unforeseen demands forced upon it in time of trouble. It also had to be capable of being used as a self-defense weapon. With these criteria in mind the knife was enlarged to a four & one half-inch blade. A second addition was that of a saw blade. The saw blade had to be capable of cutting Plexiglas, aluminum and wood. This was to be a truly unique knife. The knife was to be standard equipment for all Navy, Army and Marine Corps flight crews.

The knife itself is as follows. The blade was constructed of 1095 steel with a finished length of 4 5/8". It was designed to be a miniature machete and a weapon. Hardness was a tested 53-57 Rockwell. The cutting blade was locked into the open position via a liner lock. The saw blade was made of Cold Rolled steel containing 15% Tungsten. This is impressive in itself, as the War Production Board had restricted Tungsten content to 6.75% in virtually all weapons. This Tungsten allowance was due to the knife having a life saving requirement. The War Production Board closely monitored all steel in the U.S. for the duration of the war. Written permission to change the rules were only granted in an extreme situation. The tooth arrangement was patterned after a high-speed hacksaw blade. The handle of the knife was made of "Tennessee Eastman's especially prepared Tenite II". Tenite II was a newly developed plastic used to combat the effects of humidity and decomposition. It was at the time impervious to cracking and repeated washing with degreasers. The grip was checkered for a sure grip in a sweaty palm and attached to the frame of the knife with two screws. The overall finish of the knife was in a Black Oxide. This process was to prevent the rusting effect of a damp environment and to "prevent moon and sun reflections". Overall length when closed was 6". With both blades open it was a monster at 15 5/8". Colonial made two variations of this knife, with or without a bail. The knife with the bail was of US Navy issue. It came in a canvas pouch with a cut out in the top for the bail to protrude through. This made attaching it to the flight gear easy. The knife without a bail was US Army Air Forces issue. It was intended to reside in the C-1 Survival Vest pocket. The blade markings stayed consistent for the entire run. Two lines on the top of the blade near the nail nick "COLONIAL / PROV. RI"

The Giant Jack Knife was adopted by the US Navy and the Army Air Forces as their official "Survival Kit Knife" in 1944. The earliest Purchase Order I could find was dated 9-6-44 for 300 specimens for test purposes. The price was $2.30 each. Quite a high price for a knife during the war. The Army Air Forces conducted a test on these knives on November 17, 1944 at the Holtzer-Cabot Electric Company on Armory St. in Boston Mass. The subject test was a "Salt Spray Corrosion Test". Three knives were placed in the spray booth at 12:15 PM on the 17th. All three were removed from the booth at 9:15 AM on the 18th. The results of the test are as follows. Knife #1 was degreased and left in the open position. Appreciable corrosion covered both blades. Knife #2 was left greased and in the open position. Spotty corrosion on knife blade only. Knife #3 was left greased and closed. This knife showed practically no corrosion at all. The results of the accelerated corrosion test were enough to push the knife over the top. Backed up by durability tests the knife passed the adoption process with ease. On November 9 1944 a bid was submitted to the Navy Department for the manufacture of 50,000 Giant Jack Knives. This bid was acknowledged on November 17, 1944 and entered into record. This was the largest order to date for the Giant Jack Knife. The Army ordered 200 knives on 12/18/44 at a purchase price of $2.00 each. The lower price for the Army reflected the lack of a bail and a sheath in their specifications.

In early April of 1945 Colonial responded to a letter from the Army Air Force about some shortcomings in the new knife. Apparently some deviations from the original plans had been taken in the manufacture of the knife. With that the saw blade also seemed to bend rather easily. Colonial's response to this situation was taken very professionally and tactfully. They examined the knife and found that shortcuts had been taken, as the knife did not follow the Bureau of Aeronautics plans. Also the saw blade was made of a different compound then called for. The results were that Colonial agreed with the Army Air Forces conclusion. The problem was that Colonial did NOT make the knife in question! They pointed out to the Army that the stamped name on the blade was not theirs! The clincher to this classic military SNAFU was the closing line in the Colonial reply, "If we can be of any further assistance to you, please be assured of our desire to cooperate. Yours very truly, A. Paolantonio, Colonial Knife Co."

The Colonial Giant Jack Knife was in military service from 1944 until the early 1960's when the fixed blade Pilot Survival Knife became the major issue tool. It's interesting to note that Colonial supplied the largest military folder and also was amongst the makers of the smallest. In 1960 The US Air Force adopted a folder a little over 3" as part of their SRU-16/P Survival Kit. Colonial was one of the major producers of this tiny knife. Times certainly do change.

Colonial was a major contributor to the United States military during WWII. They had a permanent seat in the United States Pocket Knife Industry Advisory Commission and attended many conferences in Washington DC during the war. Colonial Knife Company continues to produce quality knives today in their hometown of Providence Rhode Island.

I'd like to thank Steve Paolantonio of Colonial Knife Company for his help (digging around in the basement) in the research of this project.
All the best
Frank Trzaska

Visit us at US Military Knives . Com

gunbarrel
Journeyman KnifeNut!

06-20-04 11:12.11 - Post#420062    

I love stories like the one above, where Colonial was called on the carpet about the quality of their product and it turns out that it was somebody else's work. Frank are you at liberty to say who was the maker of the inferior knife--do you know?

Thank you, for posting your article.
Frank_Trzaska
Master Member KnifeNut!

Frank_Trzaska
06-20-04 12:35.57 - Post#420088    

GB,
It was United Tool and Machinery from Grand Rapids, Mich. The other producer of the Giant Jack Knife.

All the best
Frank Trzaska
All the best
Frank Trzaska

Visit us at US Military Knives . Com


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