Monday, November 30, 2015

US Military Jeep Shovel: Number 2, Round Point, D-Handle, WW2 Vintage

Well we've been looking at quite a number of various military shovels and entrenching tools from my collection lately, but I think we are finally at the end........... for now!

Today we'll be taking a look at my WW2 vintage US Military Jeep shovel.  These shovels are correctly referred to as the " Number 2, Round Point, D-Handle" shovel.  These shovels first are mentioned in US Army specifications papers back in 1917, with updates in 1934 and 1940 (for the WW2 years).

These old shovels nearly always appear to be a "civilian shovel" to the untrained eye.  
In fact, I found this shovel at a local yard sale and purchased it for a few dollars, not realizing it was a "Jeep Shovel".  It banged around the garage for quite a few years before I rediscovered it and realized what it was!
They are normally found in their "natural wood and metal" finish and outwardly show no signs that they are a military shovel.  The US Army (and other branches), mounted these shovels on Jeeps and other armored vehicles, but they are most often associated with the iconic Jeep.

The US Army specification set out size shape and basic construction for shovels, but allow for a very wide variety of handle styles, handle attachment and blade shank variations.  From what I understand, the Army specifications were written so that it would be easy to source shovels from nearly any US manufacturer, without having to require them to re-tool for a new style of construction.
For those of you who need to know "every little detail" about the specifications, etc., please check out this web page.  It is by far the very best source of that information about these shovels that I have found anywhere!

Here are the basic differences that are spelled out in the different "War Years" Army specification papers.  
The size and shape of the shovel remains the same for all years, but the required markings change:
  • 1917-1934:  Marked with USED, Name and Trademark of manufacturer (USED means United States Engineering Department)
  • 1935-1939:  Requirement for USED is eliminated.  USA must be stamped, along with Name or Trademark of manufacturer.
  • 1940- on:     The only requirement is that the shovel must be marked with manufacturer's Name or Trademark "Where Necessary".
Along with the information listed above, the number "2" is always found stamped on the metal blade shank.  "2" is the shovel size.

The Number 2 Jeep Shovel, along with other pioneer tools, were not issued with the vehicle when it rolled off of the assembly line and into the field.  Each unit procured their own shovels (axes as well) and outfitted their jeeps and other armored vehicles in the unit as they saw fit.

US Army Half-Track with shovel and pick, WW2 Vintage.
Nearly all of the tools were left in their natural finishes, but some units painted them OD Green before assigning them to a vehicle.  When you look at the old photos, you  see all sorts of shovel variations, and even non-regulation shovels, in the mounting brackets on the Jeeps and other vehicles.  The mounting brackets were designed to hold the military specification #2 shovel perfectly.  Any other shape or style shovel will not fit properly.

My shovel is from the post-1940 era, better known as the WW2 era.  The shovel is not marked with a maker or trademark, but is marked with "2" and it fits the military specifications perfectly.  This exact style of shovel is seen in many of the old photos.  Be sure to check out the link I posted above to see the wide variety of handle styles!
The handle is the "split-wood" type and is reinforced with metal bands and rivets.  It is in amazing condition for it's age and I have done only minimal conservation work on it.  Basically it is in "as found" condition, with a good coat of oil applied to the metal and wood.

Here is the album.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Czechoslovakian Vz.60 Canteens, Model 1960 - 1982, Czech M-60/82

Here is one of the most recent additions to the canteen and mess kit part of my collection.  They are a pair of Czechoslovakian Vz.60 canteens, also known as the Model 1960 canteens.

Both of these canteens are officially the last model of Vz.60 canteen style that was issued from 1982 until some time in the early 1990's.  In 1982, the specifications for the canteens were changed, doing away with an old cork cap and replacing it with a plastic cap-cork.  The only difference between the first model 1960 and the second model 1960/82, is the cap.  Other than that they are the same.

Even though both of my canteens are both the same model, there are differences.  Each one has a slightly different leather harness.  The difference being the rivets and the buckle type.  I believe the harness with the roller buckle is from the earlier Model-1960 era, and the flat, plain buckle is from the later Model-1960/82 period.  This is just a guess based on Czech leather gear and hardware that I have observed through the years.

The rough felt covers are held in place with a series of snaps, in the same manner as the old German canteens.  Each cover is marked on the inside, along the top trim area.  One canteen cover is marked with the date 1982 with some other illegible markings.  The other cover has the Czech crossed swords acceptance stamp and other illegible markings.  Unfortunately the markings are small and faint, and do not show up well in the photos.  Here is a shot of the trim areas with the case your eyes are better than mine!

The covers on my canteens are grey, but they were sometimes issued in "Czech Brown" as well.  It seems that both colors were interchangeable.  The felt is very coarse and seems to have been made with a crazy assortment of recycled fiber.

One of the canteens is stamped with the makers mark of FAX on the neck (double stamped actually).  The other canteen has no makers stamp, but does have an odd cross hatching on both sides in the center of the canteen, front and back.  I have no idea if this was originally applied at the factory or was scratched in later and then the canteen was repainted.

One canteen is painted in a gloss green and one in a flat green.

The plastic caps are slightly flexible and fit quite tightly when pressed into the neck.  The caps have a recessed area in the top that I understand was used to store water purification tablets of some sort.  The caps are secured to the canteen body with a length of "hemp" cord.  It is interesting that Czechoslovakia continued to use a cork style cap long after the rest of the "military world" had moved on to screw caps.

The canteen was meant to be attached to the soldiers belt when carried, but they were more often carried in the pack or bread-bag.   To attach the canteen to the belt, there is a "belt loop" area on the back strapping.  Neither of my canteens show evidence of having ever been carried on a belt.

These canteens are definitely unique.  Only Czechoslovakia used this style and configuration, however the actual body of the canteen is very similar to the WW2 German canteens.  The leather harness system for carrying the canteen is unique only to Czechoslovakia.  These canteens are out there on the surplus market right now, but I have a hunch they will disappear soon, seldom to be seen again.  Grab one or two while you can!

Lets take a closer look at the these canteens:

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Swedish Army Pick - Mattock, WW2 vintage, Made by Gränsfors Bruk, Pickaxe

Today we'll be taking a look at a very seldom seen and seldom found, hand tool from the Swedish Army, and the latest addition to my ever growing collection of vintage military hand tools.  It is a Swedish Army Pick-Mattock.

This pick dates to the WW2 era, and most likely was actually made during the war years.  It is in new and unissued condition.  I received the pick with the head separate from the handle, ready for it to be set and attached.

The wood handle is bare, dry,  and rough finished.  It is very well marked with the Swedish Army 3-Crowns stamping on the lower portion of the handle. The 3-Crown stamp was first used in 1942, so this pick is not older than that.  You can read about the 3-Crown stamp in this blog posting:

The metal pick head is hand forged and shows small defects and irregularities found in the old forged tools.  It is stamped with the 3-Crown stamp and it also has a partial manufacturer's stamp.  This manufacturer's stamp is from the famous Gränsfors Bruk company of Sweden!

Here is a photo of the Gränsfors Bruk stamp on my new made, Mini-Hatchet, to compare with the partial stamp on the pick.

While researching and verifying the Gränsfors Bruk manufacturer's stamping on this pick, I had the opportunity to compare the stamping on a WW2 issued Swedish Army axe, made by Gränsfors Bruk, to my partial stamping.  They matched.  I also discovered that nearly all of the axes that were made for the Swedish Army were marked as made by either Hults Bruks or Gränsfors Bruk.  It seems that these were the two companies that were supplying the Swedish military with field tools.

NOTE: You can check out a more recent blog posting about two of my new-made Gränsfors Bruk hatchets at this link: 

I consider myself extremely lucky to have found one of these old picks in such amazing condition, not to mention one from the Gränsfors Bruk's company!  Now let's take a look at the album for a closer look at some details.