Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Czech Pioneer Shovel, Post-War, Cold War , Czechoslovakia Army

When it comes to shovels, at least for me, it's "feast or famine"........  and lately it's been a feast of shovels!

I have been looking at these Czech pioneer shovels for sale over in Europe from various surplus dealers, but the shipping has put them out of my reach.  Then I happened to notice that they were for sale in the good old USA!  I didn't hesitate.  I bought one right away!

This shovel is a post-war version of the old WW2 pioneer shovels that were used by sappers in the field and mounted on the sides of nearly every Czech armored vehicle and tank.

I am guessing that this shovel is an early post-WW2 manufactured shovel based on the old style construction, but post-war quality.  It is also in unissued condition, which would is unheard of for a WW2 vintage shovel.

These flat bladed, heavy riveted, shovels were the "standard" for Germany and Czechoslovakia for nearly all of the WW2 years.  After the war, Czechoslovakia just continued to manufacture the old WW2 equipment, with some slightly modern improvements.  They used this old style equipment well into the 2000's, until they started adopting the modern "modular systems". 

The blade on this shovel is marked with a "wagon wheel" makers mark and a number.  These numbers are often seen on the post-war Czech items and designate a manufacturing specification.  They are normally not on the WW2 vintage items.

The wood handle on this shovel is also a bit rougher and less finished.  This is typical on the post-war wood handles.  During WW2, the wood handles were nicely finished and smoother on the ends.

This shovel is a real beast!  It is heavy, and built to last a hundred years.  It's no wonder this style endured for so long in the Czech Army.

Let's take a closer look.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Swedish Fältspade KLAS, Short Light Attack Shovel, Snow Blade Attachment, Fältspade Snöblad, M58

I have been missing one essential accessory for my Swedish folding shovel, the classic Swedish Snow Blade.  Well, I tracked one down in Finland and picked it up for a fantastic price.  It is now with its partner, my trusty Swedish Short Light Attack Shovel.

You can read about the shovel on an earlier blog page.  Here's the link: 

These Swedish snow blades are ingenious and unique to the Swedish military shovels.  I am not sure why more countries have not adapted the concept to their combat shovels.  

The blade is stamped from sheet aluminum and is accurately designed to fit the blade contours of the folding shovel.  There are several stamped ridges to provide strength when shoveling.  In addition to the ridges, it is nicely stamped with the Swedish 3 Crowns.

The snow blade is installed by inserting the folding shovel blade into the snow blade, by going "under then over" the locking tabs.  After the folding shovel blade snaps into place, it is secured with the two removable bolts and nuts.  Installing the shovel into the snow blade is a VERY tight fit!  When you think it is not going to work, it suddenly snaps into place.  It is a very secure fit, even without the bolts.

I was lucky that my blade arrived with two original bolts, nuts and washers already installed.  

Spring is already peeking out from between the rain clouds here in the Pacific Northwest, so I will have to wait until next winter to try out the snow shovel.  So while I'm waiting, let's take a closer look at this amazing bit of kit.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Finnish Army Engineer - Sapper Shovel, circa 1930's -1940's, Civil Defence & Army Issued, Winter War and Continuation War, Pioneerilapio, SA, Finland

Well, I've gone and done it again...........I picked up yet another shovel from Finland!

I have a real soft spot for all things Finnish when it comes to field equipment.  They are usually steeped in many layers of history, and have that "old world" feel and patina, and well, they are also just plain cool!  This new shovel fits those points exactly.

I ran across a company in Finland that had a small batch of these old shovels for sale.  They said they were all rough, but usable (that pretty much describes all Finnish gear).  The price and shipping costs were great, so I went ahead and bought one.  The company was right, my shovel was "rough", but had some amazing features.

When I received this shovel, most of the painted area was still covered in old "tar paint" preservative.  From around the edges of the tar, I could see some layers of orange and green paint.  I did a little bit of scrubbing with a 3M pad and some acetone to remove most of the black tar paint, to reveal the layers of orange and green paint underneath.

It appears that this shovel was originally bare metal, then painted with orange paint, then painted over with green paint, then painted over with black tar paint, and ultimately issued back out and used in that condition.  Most of the black tar paint had worn away and only covered the actual painted section you can see on the shovel, so I am guessing that it was pulled form storage and was  used again in a more modern time frame.

From what I understand, the orange paint is usually found on shovels that were issued to the Civil Defense units for use in disasters.  The green paint is reserved for military use.

With the multiple layers of paint on this shovel, any hope of seeing stamped makers markings and dates, has been dashed, unless I want to strip all of the old paint off.  Since I like to keep all of the "history" intact, I'll be choosing to leave those layers intact.

There is one making on the blade that is visible though.  It is the number "2041" on the right wing of the blade.

There is an identification disc nailed in place on the end of the wood handle shaft, inside the D-handle.  This disc is marked "41".  I am guessing that the "41 disc" goes along with the "2041" stamp on the blade.   It must be some kind of identification or inventory number.

The handle shaft on this shovel appears to have been replaced at some point along the way, most likely back in the 1930's or 1940's.  You can see the old, and unused, original rivet holes.  A ring was installed and then tapped up tight after the new handle was installed.  The ring is fastened with a screw.

It is my guess that this shovel was most likely an Imperial Russian shovel that was "rebuilt" in the Finnish Armory to be reissued out to the army for the Winter War and Continuation War.  I will never be able to know for sure unless I remove all of the blade paint though.

The wood handle shaft has some wonderful initials carved into it.  I love these personal touches and will always choose an artifact with "character" over a "mint condition" one any day of the week!

I have another Finnish rebuilt shovel that was converted from an old Imperial Russian shovel.  You can read about that shovel on my older blog posting, as well learn more about the history of these Finish Engineer - Sapper shovels.  Here is the link:

My shovel has the classic Finnish Army blade hole as well, for carrying on  a belt hook.  Now I need to track down an old belt hook!

Now let's take a close look at this beautiful piece of Finnish history.