This is a nice, solid example of the World War II German Luftwaffe’s Fallschirmjäger or Flyers Utility Knife. These unique pocketknives are better known to collectors as Gravity Knives - a reference to the action by which they are opened and closed. The Fallschirmjäger (or FKm) was adopted by Luftwaffe in 1937 by Dienstvorschrift 123 and 41976/37, Nr. 66.6. The knife went into production in late 1937. These early knives (collector categorized as Type I) were of stainless steel construction, with the makers name and logo on the blade and the word ROSTFREI below the logo. This word literally translates to “rust free”, meaning stainless steel. The base of the marlinspike of these early knives is stamped with a LuftAmp acceptance mark, with a stylized “Weimar” style eagle over a number. In early 1838 the LuftAmp was changed to the more commonly encountered “droop winged” or “stick eagle” mark that would characterize the LuftAmp acceptance stamps for the rest of the war. The knives that conform to this pattern is known to collectors as the Type 1a. While the FKm was a well designed piece of engineering, it did have a fatal flaw. Due to the necessity for tight internal tolerances in the knife for it to work correctly, it was easy for the knife to get out of adjustment and fail to work properly due to accumulated dirt and debris within the mechanism. Since the Type 1 knives were assembled with no way to take them apart, this meant that the pins that hold the bolster of the knife together had to be drilled out and removed to open the knife for cleaning and repair. Then new pins had to be fashioned and installed and then ground flat and polished. This made maintenance of the knives very impractical. As a result, in the summer of 1941 the “take down” version of the knife was adopted, which allowed the knife to be easily disassembled for cleaning and repair. These knives are known as Type II knives, and all subsequent knives produced were of this type. The Type 1 Fallschirmjäger was produced by eight makers: Paul Weyersburg, SMF, F&A Heilbig, Paul Seilheirmer, Alcoso, WKC, Malsch & Ambron and Anton Winger. At this point in time, only Paul Weyersberg and SMF are known to have manufactured the Type II “Take Down” knives. The manufacture of Luftwaffe Gravity Knives appears to have come to an end sometime in late 1944, when all non-essential manufacturing personnel were either conscripted into the army or sent to work in more important ordnance roles.
The Luftwaffe Fallschirmjäger offered here is a Type 1a knife produced by SMF, and was a manufactured sometime between early 1938 and mid-1941. The knife is fully functional and operates exactly as it should “ not a common occurrence with Type 1 gravity knives! The blade is marked with the logo of SMF (Stocker & Co of Solingen), a seated King with a drawn sword over the word: SOLINGEN in an arc. Under the logo is the word ROSTFREI. The logo is very crisp and sharp and is in fantastic condition. The logos on gravity knives are often partially obscured due to the wear caused by sharpening the blade. The stainless steel blade shows some light scattered wear and sharpening marks, but remains bright and in near fine condition. There is an area of minor damage along the edge of the blade at about the same location as the sword in the SMF logo. It appears that the blade may have been used as a screwdriver at some point, and there is now a minor “waver” in the blade in the location. It is minor and does not detract from the display of the knife, but is mentioned for exactness. The base of the marlinspike is marked with the Luftwaffe Nazi “stick eagle” LuftAmp over the number 5. The marlinspike is in fine condition and functions exactly as it should. The original lanyard ring is in place at the rear of the knife body and moves freely. The bottom of the thumb lever which operates the knife's locking system is stamped with the assembly number 358. Gravity knives typically display two sets of assembly numbers, one set on the thumb lever & locking spring and another set on the balance of the significant internal parts. It is very rare that these two sets of numbers match, which seems to indicate that the lever & locking spring were parts that were fit to each other and marked prior to the assembly of the knife, or were possibly the products of sub contractors who worked outside the knife factory and delivered sets of locking springs & levers. The knife has the typical slab beech wood scales (grips or handles), which are retained with stainless steel pins. The scales show the usual bumps and dings from use, but are in otherwise VERY GOOD+ to NEAR FINE condition.
Overall this is an about VERY GOOD+ to NEAR FINE example of a World War II Luftwaffe Gravity knife. This is a nice early production knife that clearly saw service, but still retains a bright blade and a crisp logo. The best part of the knife is that it is fully functional and in fine mechanical condition. These days nice gravity knives are regularly selling in the $700+ to $900+ range, so that makes this a good, solid example at a reasonable price.SOLD
Tags: Luftwaffe, Fallschirmj