"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

Ya ever seen my house?

Ya ever seen my house?
Neither have I Ted! You douchebag.
"Here lies the bravest soldier I've seen since my mirror got grease on it."

Zapp Brannigan

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Things Fer Diggin' In


I recall a few years back, one of the mile-wide-and-inch-deep documentaries one sees on the quasi-history, cable channels was cataloging the three most important machines of WW2. They were; the C-47 (or Dakota or DC-3, depending on who was using it), the Higgins Boat, and the 6X6, deuce-and-a-half.
In that same spirit, let's take some time to salute the lowly e-tool.
Pictured to the left: an innovation from the early part of the last century that apparently went nowhere - a combination e-tool/picket-pin. If you don't know what a picket-pin is, well, that's why no one carries these anymore.
But, noticing the date in the bottom image, along with the "RIA" signifying the Rock Island Arsenal, one finds this thing dating from 1908. Contrast this with the M1906 pictured next
No picket-pin here so, must am the dual-purpose unit was intended strictly for the cav. What I don't get is how one would use it to dig in while the handle portion of your E-tool was picketing your mount. Maybe he (the horse) carried some special, hoof-mounted, horse E-tool. Doesn't seem like a well thought-out idea to me.
The M1906 was soon superseded by the M1916 which strengthened the handle-blade connection with another hunk of steel which reinforced the joint from the rear. This model saw service with US forces from... 1916 to well into the Second War.
I have one of these, the M1916.
When I was a kid it was one of my favoritest things of all. The T-handle broke early on so my Dad made a new one - out of an old axe handle.
It still exists somewhere in my world although I'm unable to put my hands on it right now due to a complicated set of circumstances involving irresponsible teenagers etc.

Next up: the Brit version, issued through both wars.
I have one of these as well - just the head. It lives in my Rubbermaid tub full of molding sand where it serves admirably to scoop up the stuff. The sand keeps it clean and the oil in the sand keeps it rust-free. A happy arrangement.
This is the unit that, during the first war, could also be fitted with a flanged club-head for nocturnal head-knockings.
Now of course, the American E-tool evolved (actually it was intelligent design - but that's another argument) in the Second War to the the bitchin' cool folding one. If you watch actual combat footage you can seen these used contemporaneously with the M1916.
It turns out that it was a German design. Captured Wehrmacht E-tools captured the hearts of the Yanks so we adopted it and never looked back.
We did the exact same thing (actually, the British did - In North Africa while America was still sitting on its hands) with storage containers for gasoline and other liquids. The Brits had been using what was essentially an overgrown paint-thinner can and it was consistently splitting its seams in the heat and from the bumps etc of everyday use - unlike the German designed ones.
These were coveted by the Brits and the design was eventually adopted. Now we call it "The Jerry Can" out of respect for those clever square-heads.
Now, fast-forward to the modren world (BTW, I do know how to spell "modern". I just like this pronuciation 'cause it's used in "Everything's Up To Date in Kansas City" from "Oklahoma". I like show tunes. Must am, I'm gay).
This is the modern (see) tool, used even by Godless Socialists - our NATO allies. The pictured example was made by Fiskars, the scissors kings (!!!) for the USMC so I suspect it's got some plastic shit incorporated into it. I'm glad I stole mine back when they were still heavy and durable.
I didn't really "steal" it. I lost it - in the trunk of my car - when I got back from the field.
The second-most horrible drill weekend of my National Guard career was May, 1986. The first place winner was also May so- why is that my favorite month?
Anyway, I decided that I loved my little folding shovel so I kept it and told the supply sergeant that I'd lost it. I ended up with $18 being deducted from my next check but that was expected and only fair.
Now it serves as my forge shovel for which it is admirably suited.
Mine was made by Ames, an old (18th century) and respected manufacturer of swords and toolage.
Be American, buy American.
Now, everybody pile into the wayback machine and we'll go back to the Great War for our last bit.
First picture: Some German "spades" from aforesaid conflict. The wooden handled ones are those used by the narrator in "All Quiet On The Western Front" to chop up Poilus and Tommies on raids and during assaults.
But, the cool one is in the middle.

























A one-trick-pony.
I don't think so.




















So, in addition to proving yet again that there is "nothing new under the sun" (Solomon said that - a smart son-of-a-bitch. Well a son of David. I don't know about his Mom) this thing was a purchasable item.
And check out the translations of the copy. All the combatants (Except Russia, Belgium, Austria and Italy. I guess you've got to pick your market) could have bought this puppy. Very egalitarian, no?
It's no longer available, more's the pity but despair not.
If you're blessed with money and really need to spend forty skins on a shovel to dig your shithole, Glock is willing and able to set you up.
Check it out.
And again, you can piss away even more money by buying it somewhere else. It's over fifty bucks at Cabella's.
But really, it's got that nice little saw - in case you need to hang some drywall out in the wilds and need something to cut your holes for electrical boxes.
'Night all.

7 comments:

Kevin said...

http://tinyurl.com/2um52br
German army, current issue I think.

http://tinyurl.com/33djgb2
Austrian army, surplus.

http://tinyurl.com/2uoy2fp
French army, surplus.

http://tinyurl.com/34vajze
Swiss army, surplus, I actually have bought some, to keep and to offer, and theses are real nice.

Dan brock said...

Thanks for those, HFG.
The German one at top is identical to my purloined Natl. Guard unit except that mine is black.
Same silly plastic sheath though.

Andy said...

Can't believe you didn't include the infamous Spetsnaz e-tool Dan!

Kevin said...

Ah, while I'm on a comment-posting tangent... One shot of a current issue french shovel, which happens to be exactly the same as every draftee carried at least a bit since, oh, the 60's, in action (IE digging, nothing as glamourous, I guess, as splitting a furriner's skull with it) :

http://tinyurl.com/3a7k9gz
(from a french soldiers in afghanistan pics thread, scroll down a bit).

Also, and I'm almost shocked no one has posted that vid yet... The Bestest etool (no, make that ETOOL!!!) in the Whole Wide World, the mighty chinese folding shovel :
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VzpRh-ZE9Mo

Say, am I the only one to have a bit of cognitive dissonance, with the chosen audio track?
Where is Laura Ingalls?

Dan brock said...

Kevin, I would call that an E-Fucking-TOOL!!
I want one.
I love the comments; "You can do that with any military shovel"
No, you can't. On the same weekend mine got "lost" one of our moronic lieutenants broke his chopping wood.
Besides none work as a hacksaw.
Andy, a silly oversight, committed mostly because it's almost identical to the WW1 German one.

Andy said...

Yeah, but did the Germans pride themselves in their ability to throw them? Haven't a clue how to attach a picture here I'm afraid...
In legend, etool throwing is as Spetsnaz as striped underwear!(and spring driven knives and vodka)

Andy said...

As to the video, as Chinese as it is, do they sell them at Walmart? Not that I'd break my boycott...

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