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~ Introduction ~


Some of the most iconic fighting knives in history have had their beginnings in America and as we can say that the Bowie knife is likely the most influential knife design of the 19th Century, so we can say that the Fairbairn-Sykes Knife arguably has that same title in the 20th Century.  The United Kingdom in general has sadly held a very negative view of knives and this was very evident during World War Two with the introduction of the F-S Fighting Knife.  I have read many first hand accounts of commanding officers flat out refusing to issue the F-S ‘Fighting’ knife, seeing it as ‘ungentlemanly’ and in some way linked to thuggery.

The Third Pattern F-SThird_Pattern_-_Variations_Of_The_Fairbairn-Sykes_Fighting_Knife.html
The Ribbed & Beaded F-SRibbed_%26_Beaded_Pattern_-_Variations_Of_The_Fairbairn-Sykes_Fighting_Knife.html
The Wooden Gripped F-SWooden_Gripped_Pattern_-_Variations_Of_The_Fairbairn-Sykes_Fighting_Knife.html

~ Variations Of The Fairbairn-Sykes Fighting Knife ~

The American Patterns

The Cast Hilt F-SCast_Hilt_Pattern_-_Variations_Of_The_Fairbairn-Sykes_Fighting_Knife.html
The Indian F-SIndian_Pattern_-_Variations_Of_The_Fairbairn-Sykes_Fighting_Knife.html
The Australian F-SAustralian_F-S_Pattern_-_Variations_Of_The_Fairbairn-Sykes_Fighting_Knife.html
The A.A.S - A Guest ArticleThe_Australian_Army_Stiletto_by_Michael_Lobb.html

Fortunately this was not the case in the US.  With their long history of self sufficiently and independence, Americans have long embraced the knife in all its forms and rightly so.  During WWII there were lots of ‘drives’ for all manner of much needed goods to support the war effort and in America this included ‘knives for the troops’, something that would have been unheard of in Britain.

A number of very fine F-S inspired fighting knives were produced in the US during WWII by such noted cutlery makers as Camillus and Case.  It would be quite possible to write up a whole page on each  of these individual knives, however I have decided in this case to group them together under US made variations of the F-S.  There has been much written about these knives over the years by collectors and experts alike, whose knowledge is much more extensive than mine.  With this in mind I have decided to just provide here an overview of some of these fine knives.

The Second Pattern F-SSecond_Pattern_-_Variations_Of_The_Fairbairn-Sykes_Fighting_Knife.html

Commonly referred to as the V-42 Stiletto, this interesting twist on the Fighting knife was manufactured by W.R. Case & Sons and is a much sought after and very desirable knife today.  As far as I am aware it is believed that around 3,000 plus knives were manufactured from 1942 onwards.  These knives were originally made for the First Special Service Force (FSSF) which was an unusual ‘Commando’ unit equally made up of US and Canadian troops. 

The knife itself is of unique construction and is only somewhat reminiscent of the British F-S.  Some of the unique features of this knife are the ‘thumb print’ textured ricasso, leather covered crossguard and ‘skull crusher’ pommel.  Two versions of this knife are encountered, although the difference is in the scabbard and not the knife per-se.  Those issued to the American/Canadian First Special Service Force have an extremely long sheath, although it’s quite common to find these cut down.  The other shorter version was issued to the US Navy and these are sometimes found stamped with a serial number and the ships name (USS Omaha), that latter being over-stamped to obliterate the details for security reasons.

A US issue version of the V-42 Stiletto for the USS Omaha.

A V-42 in the configuration for the FSSF complete with its distinct long scabbard. 

The American F-S

The OSS Stiletto has always been amongst my favorite of the US made knives, of course this may be in part due to the fact that it is very close to the original F-S Fighting Knife design.  But also and having owned a number of very fine example the quality and finish make for a very handsome knife indeed.  As the name suggests this was made for the Office of Strategic Services (the American version of the British Special Operations Executive or SOE).  Although no makers mark of any kind is found on the knives (logical for a clandestine weapon) the maker of these knives is believed to have been Landers Frary & Clark.  The design of the knife very closely mimics that of the Second Pattern F-S design and when found without its unique scabbard is often confused with such.

Of course the big give away is the knurling to the grip which in this case continue fully to the crossguard in contrast to the F-S which stops short.  The one element that has always distinguishes OSS Stiletto from other knives is of course the unusual and unique scabbard that accompanies it.  Often referred to a the ‘pancake flapper’ due to its resemblance to such, and is made from only piece of steel running the full length connecting it to the chape.  The leather sheath is fastened to this by means of rivets.  This unique and well made knife is a fascinating addition to any collection but finding an example can often be challenging.

The OSS Stiletto complete with its so called ‘pancake flapper’ scabbard.

A closer image of the course grip knurling and showing how it continues the full length to the crossguard.

A close-up of the ‘Brinell’ hardness mark found on some OSS Stilettos.  This example clearly shows one dot but I have also seen correct knives with not mark, two and even three dots.

The U.S.M.C. Raider Stiletto was manufactured by the well known firm of Camillus Cutlery and has certainly become a well known and much sought after fighting knife.  Despite its outward appearance to the F-S the balance and feel of this knife is very different.  The somewhat thin blade is certainly not an improvement on the early F-S knives and much more reminiscent of the late war mass produced Third Pattern F-S knives these also suffered often from the tips being bent for broken.  The blade did carry two etched panels, the first being the manufactures details on the ricasso area of the blade.  To one side near the center of the blade was an attractive etching of a foliate designed banner appropriately surrounding the initials ‘USMC’.

This banner is similar in design to those offered by Wilkinson as a personal option.  Unlike Wilkinson etchings though the Camillus ones are very light indeed resulting in them being easily worn off.  The grip and guard were cast in one piece onto the tang of the blade with a proprietary ‘zinc aluminum alloy’.  Unfortunately this grip material has not stood up well to the tests of time and many otherwise good knives show cracks or worse to the hilt.  With all these issues finding a fine example of this rare knives can be extremely challenging.  The example shown here is with perfect blade, clear etchings and flawless hilt is a rarity.

The U.S. Marine Raider Stiletto by Camillus.

The Raider’s blade etching is a distinct feature of this knife.  However these are very lightly applied, so often wore off easily.

There are other, although rare versions of the U.S.M.C. Raider Stiletto, both official and un-official.  The Canadian Paratrooper Stiletto is essentially the same knife as the Raider with two exceptions, there are no etching and the finish is an all over black.  This is an exceptionally rare knife but one to look out for.  There have also been a few ‘theatre-made’ version of the Raider show up over the years.  Some of these seem to be well made, all be it with somewhat crude cast hilts.  The example shown even has an etching - ‘US’.

The all black Canadian Paratrooper Stiletto.

A ‘theatre-made’ Raider Stiletto with ‘US’ etching panel.

The J.W. Petrie fighting knife was not an officially issue knife but one of the many customs knives that was offered by reputable makers within the US.  These well made knives rarely turn up so one must assume that they are somewhat scarce.  These would appear to have been a privately purchased item and no officially issued by any unit (to my knowledge).  The contemporary advertisement clearly mentions (not by name!) that the inspiration for the design stems from Fairbairn and the ‘Commando’ knife. The blade is maker marked although the marking itself seems somewhat primitive and in the form of a stamp!  If you have anything further to add to the story of this interesting and seldom seen knife please feel free to get in touch.

The Steel Hilt F-SSteel_HIlt_-_Variations_Of_The_Fairbairn-Sykes_Fighting_Knife.html
The Fat Gripped F-SFat_Gripped_-_Variations_Of_The_Fairbairn-Sykes_Fighting_Knife.html
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