Sunday, March 20, 2016

Model 1951 US Folding Shovel - Entrenching Tool, Ames 1966, M-51 Intrenching Tool

Here is the first in a series of three postings where I'll be showing the latest three shovels that I've added to the collection.

My Yard Sale Treasures: M-51, M-43, and M-1910 shovels.
Over the weekend we visited our annual "community yard sale", at our local fairgrounds, and really hit pay dirt.  Among other various treasures, I picked up three "new" entrenching tools:  A 1945 T-Handle Shovel, 1945 Folding Shovel, and a 1966 Folding Shovel. 

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.


Exploriment said...

I know I've seen somewhere images of a snow shovel with a loop of rope tied through those holes. Makes lifting a shovel full of snow easier apparently. Might be that? But, a snow shovel is a longer pole and a larger blade. An idea anyway.

Ben Le said...

Hello, I have one of these too and it still has the original paint on it! A really dark green color, and it is a great tool. However, I tested it for lead paint and it appears that it is entirely covered in lead paint, which is not good. Do you think I should keep it as is or should I try to remove the lead paint? Thanks

Sharky said...

Reference the "lead paint". By all means LEAVE THE ORIGINAL PAINT ON!!!!! Nearly all oil-based paint made before the 1970's, and all military paint in particular, contains lead. The lead is only dangerous if you sand it, or try to remove it. in other words, it's safe so long as you don't plan to use it for cooking or decide to chew on it. If you remove the paint, you destroy any collector value it has. If you are really worried and can't live with the lead paint, then, in my opinion, sell or give the shovel to a collector who will display or preserve it, and buy a new made reproduction or new style folding shovel.
I hope this bit of advice helps.....and preserves a vintage, collectable piece of history.

Jason Deitz said...

I recently found a Model 1951 Entrenching Tool at a yard sale and picked it up because of how interesting it looked. After reading your post I may found a gem. It's not as nice looking as yours but it looks used. How does this hurt its value/ collectibility?

The 20th Century Limited said...

I just got one at an antique store for $10!

Unknown said...

I came across the 1952 folding shovel