Blade Marked USMC KA-BAR WWII Theater Knife
- Product Code: EWSK-1078-SOLD
- Availability: Out Of Stock
Probably no US fighting knife is more associated with the war in the Pacific theater than the US Navy Mark II combat knife, better known to the Marines who carried it at the KA-BAR. Additionally, no US fighting knife represents the individuality of the men who carried them, more than the theater made and modified knives of World War II. This wonderful knife combines both of these knives into one unique and wonderful specimen. Marine Lieutenant Colonel Clifford H Shuey designed the “KA-BAR” in 1942 and the knives began to be issued to the Marines in early 1943. While the Navy version of the knife was marked USN or USN Mk 2 on the blade and had the makers name on the opposite side, the Marine Corps knives were marked USMC on one side and with the makers name on the other. Since KA-BAR produced most of the early knives, that moniker stuck with the “leathernecks’ and came to be the name by which the knife was most widely recognized. Early US Navy knives were issued in leather sheaths, which were eventually replaced by composite sheaths. The Marines utilized leather sheaths throughout the entire war. Due to problems in the field with broken blades, the markings were moved from the blade to the cross guard in 1944. As a result, the early blade marked knives are less common and more actively sought after than the later production, guard marked knives.
The theater knives used during World War II represented the best in American craftsmanship, ingenuity and individualism. The knives were sometimes made from scratch and sometimes were manufactured from existing blades; whether they were other combat knives, modified bayonets or simply civilian knives. Some theater knives were mass-produced by cutlery makers and others were manufactured one or two at a time in machine shops on board ship or at island air bases. The knives reflected the distinct personalities of the men who made and used them. This was most obvious in the variety of grip styles that were utilized and designs and the sheaths that the knives were carried in, which were often personalized by the men who carried them. The hilts were often constructed of parts salvaged from downed aircraft, including Plexiglas from canopies, metals like brass and aluminum and Bakelite in many colors (used as electrical insulation in planes & boats).
This wonderful theater made combat knife was constructed from a USMC marked KA-BAR. The blade still retains the crisp markings USMC on the blade at the hilt on one side and KA-BAR / OLEAN, NY on the other side. The blade still retains about 20%-30% of its original blued finish, which shows even fading over the entire blade. The blade is in fine condition, and shows only normal use and no pitting or abusive sharpening. The knife was re-hilted in the field and the very attractive theater made grip is constructed of numerous washers made from clear Plexiglas, aluminum and burgundy colored Bakelite. The cross guard and pommel cap are machined from highly polished aluminum. The tang of the knife appears to have been wrapped or covered in blue insulation material, which plays gives the clear Plexiglas a bluish tint as the light plays upon the hilt. The hilt is in about excellent condition and was clearly constructed by a very talented craftsman. The knife retains its original Marine Corps issue leather scabbard, which is clearly marked: BOYT / 43 on the hanger portion of the scabbard. The scabbard is in very good to near fine condition and retains tight stitching throughout. The scabbard retains the original reinforcing staples and the original two-piece retaining strap with brass snap. Like the hilt, the Marine who carried this knife modified his scabbard to suit him. The scabbard is carved with the words LOLA (likely his girl back home), and TUCSON, was well as with some small hearts between the words “ maybe indicating that Lola loved Tucson. The carving is executed in a workmanlike fashion, and while not horribly artistic, it does a special level of personalization to the artifact that lets you know that this Marine was fighting for more than a world free from the domination of an evil empire, he was fighting for Lola.
Overall this is a really attractive and well made theater knife that has a great scabbard with lots of personality. The level craftsmanship is high and the quality of the work is clear. Blade marked USMC KA-BAR knives are very desirable World War II collectibles in their own right, and personalization of this theater knife in no way degrade the value and desirability of the KA-BAR, it only enhances it. This knife would be a fantastic addition to any theater knife collection, to any World War II edged weapon / fighting knife collection or to any Marine collection. This is simply a great looking knife that I am going to enjoy owning until it is added to somebody’s wonderful collection.SOLD