Big Bertha

Big Bertha
Circa 1940, on the streets of Rochester New York, Bertha does her work.
"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

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Here's How, Boys...


Ah, the Fairbairn/Sykes dagger.
I readily confess that I agree with every other weapon-obsessed geek, that the F/S dagger is a gorgeous piece of design. Very slim and elegant.
For the deeply obsessed it also offers a wide-open field in which to tweak out.
The Flook-book "British and Commonwealth Military Knives" covers the British F/S knives in a little over thirty pages.
You can spend hours there - and that's not including the ones from Australia, India et al. First pattern, second pattern, third pattern, roped grip, beaded grip, ribbed grip, smooth grip... it goes on forever, ZZZZZZZ.
It all seems a bit much for what's just a skinny dagger with an equally skinny grip.

But, I'm being unfair. True, I think it's an overly fragile thing that mostly coasts on it's provenance and its "Franklin Minty" collectability. I just think it's far less than an ideal "fighting knife" but I only feel that way because one of the designers had already come up with the perfect fighting knife, the F/S's stockier, older, brother, the Shanghai Fighting Knife.
I think my main problem stems from the idea of "knife-fighting" in the first place.
Good friend and faithful reader, Mad Jack sent me
"this link"

a few months ago and I've been slowly wading my way through it.
Marc "Animal" MacYoung validates most of my, admittedly conjectural, feelings about the prevalent idea of real-world knife-fighting. That it's some sort of mall-ninja, martial art rather than just an ugly, slashing, blood-spouting mess.
The proper use of the F/S, to my mind, is illustrated at top.
According to the handy chart, taken from Fairbairn's book, "Get Tough", the earnest lad pictured is trying for the carotid artery which, if he hits it, will put his mate out in five seconds and dead in twelve.
What's pictured is not, however, a knife fight - unless the guy in the extreme foreground is using some technique hitherto unheard of.
This is a killing plain and simple. Someone I recall reading once referred to the F/S dagger as "the sentry silencer".
Knife Fighting; it just seems a little tender for the whole dynamic, cut-and-thrust thing, not to mention parrying.
But, they weren't all scrawny little knives.

The top knife of three pictured (photo sent by good customer and rabid collector) is a WW2 British dagger with a wooden grip. There's minor controversy over whether such knives were ever issued but a photo exists of one being worn in North Africa.
It's a substantial knife.
Below that, maybe the most rational of all, an all-steel version.
At the bottom...
Well, that one was made by this company an outfit in NZ who are putting out these plated, highly-polished, stainless-bladed pieces of crap.
I've heard that they aren't shipped with any sort of an edge to make them "safer" in transit - and less terrifying to customs inspectors.
Four-hundred bucks for a letter opener.

"They're pretty Colonel, very pretty but can they fight?"

Pvt. Vernon L. Pinkley
"The Dirty Dozen"


To wrap-up this prattling treatise - and make it about me - which is as it should be,I offer my variations on the theme to the left.
On the left is one of my Australian F/S daggers. It needs some clean-up and for my little sheath-maker to get done camping and get his ass back to work.
Now let me back up a second. Above, where I linked to the poor misguided individuals in NZ, I linked to the page illustrating their version of the "Camp X dagger".
To make a long story only slightly longer, another good customer ordered something similar.
He's long-suffering in the extreme (as must be anyone who deals with me - I'm a flake, obviously) but a man of faith.
he gave me "creative control" on this one. Actually he said "Go nuts" (Well, I said that. he just quoted me.) so nuts I went.
Another exploration of the stacked-handle, theater-knife look.
Spacers are brass, aluminum, ebony and black micarta ("Plastics, young man. Plastics") with one skinny little copper one in the middle.

1 comment:

Assrot said...

Hmmm... Some interesting fighting knives there. For me when it comes down to hand-to-hand combat I prefer a shorter blade. It's easier to manuever.

I'll take one of the old M4 leather handle bayonets anytime. It's a good tough knife with plenty of length to do what needs to be done without being to bulky and awkward to handle.

Some knives are really only useful on the end of a gun as a pig sticker. You're not going to have a sword fight with 24" bayonets from say WWI.

Joe

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