Sunday, August 27, 2017

East German Field Shovel - Spade, Unknown Vintage, Square Blade, EFi marked, FDJ, NVA, DDR

Today we'll be taking a look at the latest addition to the shovel collection that has ended up being a bit of a mystery!

I recently purchased this shovel from one of my favorite online surplus companies, who just happens to have a well established track record of not describing their products correctly.  This shovel ended up being one of those very products.

The shovel was listed as a "Russian Shovel", however the stock catalog photo showed a distinctive East German spade from the 1950's to 1960's era.  I decided to take a chance because the price was good.  When the shovel arrived, I immediately noticed that it was not Russian, and not like any East German shovel I have encountered.

The shovel appears to be East German issue, however the construction appears to be of a very late period, 1980's style.  This is quite odd, because as far as I know the East German Army did not use these straight spades after the 1960's.

Compared to the old style East German spades, this shovel is lighter weight and not as sturdily constructed.  The wooden handle was visibly warped, and lighter weight. 

You can see the warp to the left in this photo.

The handle is also attached to the blade shank using a wood screw in a slot.  I have only seen this method of attachment on the late period, 1970's - 1980's pioneer shovels, never on the smaller spades.

The blade is is attached to the shank with a "recessed welded bond".  No rivets or supports on both sides of the blade. 

The blade is also over-painted in the typical "warehouse green" storage paint.  The paint under the green appears to be black.

I blade is stamped with the makers mark "EFi" and has the typical, post-war German Triangle marking, as well as a stock number.

All of these clues lead me to believe that the shovel is in fact an East German shovel that may have been issued to some sort of civil organization, or possibly used for one of the Youth Groups.  Another option would be that it was part of some sort of vehicle tool kit..........  Of course all of these are just guesses!  So, if anyone has any idea about this shovel, please contact me!

Early FDJ youth camp.

Before we get started with the photo album for this odd shovel, let's take a look at a few comparison photos.  You will see the old 1950's style shovel, the late period pioneer shovel, and the "odd shovel" we've been looking at today.   If you'd like to look closer at the old 1950's version and the pioneer shovels, you can click on the links here to jump over to their blog pages: 

Left to right: 1950's, "odd shovel", late pioneer.
"odd shovel" on top, late pioneer on bottom.
"odd shovel" on top, 1950's on bottom.

With all of that said, let's take a closer look.  If I find more information, or get a positive ID, then I'll post another blog entry.  So, all you amateur historians, and fans of the blog, let's get to researching!

Monday, August 14, 2017

Swedish Fältspade KLAS, Short Light Attack Shovel, "Reproduction" M58 by Mil-Tec

I've had my eye open for an original, Swedish Army, M58 folding shovel, for quite some time.  They are tough to find here in the US, if not "impossible" to find.  There are a few originals available in Europe, but not at an attractive price when you factor in shipping, so I finally gave in and picked up a "replica".

I found a company in the UK that is selling these new-made "replicas" for $28.00 and free shipping to the US.  How could I pass that up?  I didn't!  

These shovels were commissioned by Mil-Tec, and were manufactured to the original Swedish Army specifications.  They are exact in every aspect, with the exception of a couple of very minor ones.  The weight, measurements, materials, are exactly the same as the original Fältspade, or as it is better known in Sweden, as the KLAS, or Kort Lätt Attack Spade (short light attack spade). I looked up the original specs, and compared them to this new version.  They all matched, even the overall weight.

I believe these were introduced in 1958, when Sweden modernized their equipment load out, better know as the M58 gear.

These new made shovels have an improved blade hinge bolt that has an Allen head and a nylon insert, locking nut, as opposed to the original's standard bolt and nut.  

Another slight difference is the peened ends of the blade rivets.  The originals had rounded, peened ends, and this new made version has mechanically pressed ends that are not peened (flat ends, not rounded).  A very slight difference, but technically different.

The paint color is the correct Dark Swedish Green, that matches the old Model 1958 equipment, but I suspect that it may be a bit too glossy.  Most of the originals that are encountered today have been repainted with thick, OD Green paint, so I can't really say for sure if the glossy green is 100% correct or not.

Since I plan on using this shovel as a "Daily Digger", these differences are so slight as to not really make any difference at all.  If I really wanted to, I could replace the hinge bolt, round out the rivet ends and give the shovel a brushed coat of thick OD Green and you would never know it was "new made" !  These new copies are that good.

These KLAS shovels are the toughest, and most user friendly of all the folders that I have ever seen (and I have more than a few in the bunker!).  The handle is bent in an ergonomically correct angle that really lends itself to proper digging, without discomfort or injury.  They may be a bit heavier than most military folders, but if you plan on doing much digging, then the added weight is well worth the "penalty".

The blades have a flat lip around the edge and two holes that are punched on each ear.  This is so that the aluminum "snow shovel" attachment can be added to turn this into a proper "avalanche shovel".  I'll definitely need to pick up one of those now as well!

UPDATE:  I now have one of the Snow Blades.  You can read about the blade  here: 

I am very impressed with this "Mil-Tec Reproduction", and I can't wait to get out there and use it for exactly what it was designed for, digging!  
If you get the chance to buy one of the original Swedish Army issued shovels, then grab it, but if you can't locate one, or can't find one that's affordable, then this Mil-Tec version is the perfect substitute.

You can read about the comparison between the original, and this replica on my blog page here"

Now let's take an up close and personal look at this heavy duty shovel.