|My Yard Sale Treasures: M-51, M-43, and M-1910 shovels.|
The first of the three that we'll be taking a closer look at is the Model 1951 folding shovel.
The Model 1951 Entrenching Tool (folding shovel), has quite an interesting history, and is one of the more uncommon of the US shovels.
In 1943, the US military adopted their version of the German Folding Shovel, better know as the Model 1943 Entrenching Tool.
In 1945, just before WW2 ended, the US Military began working on the design for a new version of the folding shovel that incorporated a folding pick along with the shovel blade. The Ames company made several prototypes for the military, but the folding shovel-pick version was never put into full production due to the end of the war.
In 1951, the US Military resumed work on designing a new folding shovel with pick. In 1951 the new shovel was officially adopted as the Model 1951 Entrenching Tool, and in 1952, the first of the new Model 1951's were produced.
The Model 1951 Entrenching Tools were produced until about 1968. They saw service in the Korean War, and in the early years of the Vietnam War. In 1967, they were replaced with the new, all metal, Model 1967, "Tri-Fold" shovels.
Even after the Tri-Fold shovels became the official US shovel, the old Model 1951's continued in service until they were completely replaced, often as late as the 1980's in some units.
The Model 1951 shovel is a very interesting shovel, and of all the US shovels, was produced in the fewest numbers. Today they are some of the more sought after US shovels by US collectors, and some of the hardest to find. In fact, this shovel I picked up, is the only Model 1951 that I have run across in the field, while "treasure hunting"!
The Model 1951 is a heavy shovel. The heaviest and largest of all of the US entrenching tools. The handles are longer and thicker, the blade is larger, and the entire pick-folding assembly adds considerable weight to total unit. In fact, a new style of shovel carrier had to be designed to carry the Model 1951's.
The Model 1951's were too large to fit completely into the old canvas covers. When carried in the old WW2 style covers, the flap could not be fastened. To correct this problem, the Model 1956 Shovel Cover was created. This shovel cover was slightly larger and incorporated a bayonet mounting tab and strap on the outside to carry the M8A1 Bayonet Scabbard (for the old M6 and M7 bayonets). These covers used ALICE Clips on the back to attach to the web belt. Luckily I just happened to have one of these old Model 1956 covers waiting for a shovel to fill it!
The shovel blade on the Model 1951 was reshaped into a more traditional, rounded blade, that incorporated two holes in each upper corner.
I am not certain what these holes were for exactly, however I have heard them referred to as "drain holes". It is just speculation, but possibly they could be used as an alternate carrying method by hanging them through one of the holes on a hook. It is interesting to note that quite a few other countries produced entrenching tool shovels with the holes in the blade as well: Sweden and China to name a couple. In Sweden they carried the shovel on a belt hook, clipped through the blade hole. My research continues for the "official" reason the holes were punched in the US Model 1951 blades.
The wooden handle was made thicker, with flatter sides, making it more oval than round. A hole was drilled through the end as well. None of the earlier US shovels had this feature and as far as I know, no lanyards were ever issued with them. This is another design mystery with these shovels!
My particular shovel is dated 1966, and is stamped Ames, for the manufacturer. Ames was the largest producer of US Military shovels during this time period.
I think I've said enough about these unique shovels, so lets take a closer look. Here is the photo album of the shovel and the canvas carrier.