"A Copse. Evening"

"A Copse. Evening"
A. Y. Jackson, 1918
"I don't make hell for nobody. I'm only the instrument of a laughing providence. Sometimes I don't like it myself, but I couldn't help it if I was born smart."

1st Sgt. Milton Anthony Warden.
"From here to Eternity"

Paul Valery

"You are in love with intelligence, until it frightens you. For your ideas are terrifying and your hearts are faint. Your acts of pity and cruelty are absurd, committed with no calm, as if they were irresistible. Finally, you fear blood more and more. Blood and time."

The Wisdom of the Ages

"When a young man, I read somewhere the following: God the Almighty said, 'All that is too complex is unnecessary, and it is simple that is needed',"

Mikhail Kalashnikov
"Here lies the bravest soldier I've seen since my mirror got grease on it."

Zapp Brannigan

Thursday, June 08, 2006

The great "Bowie" knife controversy

A potential customer wrote a few days ago wanting me to duplicate the Bowie knife from the movie "The Alamo". I hadn't seen the flick and hadn't wanted to since the old one with John Wayne had been my all time favorite movie for about a year when I was six. Anyway, I saw it.
As I was cruising around on the web seeing if any manufacturer was making movie knives since Jason Patric spends the only time the knife is onscreen flipping it around like a Ninja, I kept running into "The Case Alamo Bowie". Now Case is an old respected producer of cutlery but their standards, at least regarding nomenclature, are clearly slipping. The above mentioned knife is nothing more than Case's - still being manufactured - V-44 with a cocobolo handle.
The V-44 is the term (incorrect, but I'll get to that later) given to any number of homemade and production, Bowie bladed knives intended to be included as machetes in aircraft survival kits.
During the second war, virtually every country on the allied side made some variation, Australia, India and China. I make a reproduction of New Zealand's contribution that I call "The Son of Gung Ho Knife".









The photo above shows the "original" V-44. The colored picture is of a Collins #18 machete. Made by the Collins axe company, it was adopted by the Army Air Corps as a bailout knife in 1935. The Marines famously used them on Guadalcanal and they turned out to be just so sexy that everyone had to have one. Collins made them, Western made them...and Case made them. And everybody, and his dog, in the third world made them. They are Bowies. They've got the appropriate blade shape and the size. They just don't come close to being the knives used during the period one normally thinks of when one hears the words "Bowie knife" and they most certainly weren't at the Alamo in this form.
To close on a note of even greater confusion: The knife in the BW inset photo is the real V-44. Produced in 1944 (hence the number designation) for the Navy as a - you guessed it - survival kit machete. And the maker of this rather prosiac tool? Case Cutlery.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks Oliver for presenting the truth about the B.S. surrounding the V-44 fantasy so well. Hopefully more people will finally realize they have been fed a fairy tale for decades and stop regurgitating the same old crap.

NT

Bowie Knife Sale said...

great post! i love collecting survival knife. thanks for tips and idea share. we will come back often.

Regrads,

Marife

TaurenChieftain said...

nice blog.. if your looking for a western bowie knife feel free to click the link

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