Saturday, February 29, 2020

M-1910, Model 1910 US T-Handle Shovel Cover, WW2, Chinese Copy Aged For Display, M1910

I thought I'd  do a quick posting to show everyone what can be done with a cheap, Chinese copy, of a US M-1910 Shovel Cover.

This posting serves both as an informative post, and as a warning for those of you shopping around out there on eBay.  There are many items that posted on eBay for sale, that are obvious fakes, and then there are items that appear to be 100% authentic, but are actually well made replicas that have been "aged".  
In my workshop, I have been known to "age" and "weather" a reproduction item so that it will display well with an original piece.  A good example of this would be a missing chinstrap on a helmet, or a missing scabbard on a rare bayonet.  You get the idea.  I always fully disclose the repair or display replica, and make a notation on the item's history file.  This is how museum quality repairs are often made.

I often will pick up a "replica" item to fill in as a "place holder" until I can find an original piece to take its place.   The cover we're looking at today is exactly that, a cheap copy, aged to display well, until I can find an affordable original.  In this case, the cost for an original Model 1910 shovel cover, in good condition, far exceeds the price of a shovel.  I try my best to NOT get caught in bidding wars, and instead keep my eyes open for the lone, good deal.  Sometimes that tactic takes time, and when it does, it is time to create a good "place holder" for display.  This is what I like to call a "Museum Replica".

I picked this cover up on eBay, and purchased it directly from a seller in China.  The cover was cheap, and definitely would not pass as an original, to any knowledgeable collector, but would serve just fine as my "place holder".

The fabric was very lightweight, the metal fittings were close, but not exactly correct (and not made out of original type metals).  The printing was superficially applied, and looked more like an iron-on print than an original ink stamp.  On top of all that, it looked new.  Basically, it started out looking like a Chinese made copy!

After about an hour's worth of casual work, and an afternoon of drying time, I had an "authentic replica"!  The finished cover looks good enough on display, to pass as an original, until I find the right cover, at the right price, to replace it.

I won't give away all my "tricks" at aging items, but basically I roughed this up, accelerated the wear, washed it in greasy dirt, gave it a generous rust treatment, and then did some work on the metal fittings.  After an afternoon of drying in the sun, it was done.  It looks good enough, and will display well, exactly what I was after.

So, if you are buying on eBay, please do your homework, and really get to know what the specific details are for the items you are hunting for.  There are plenty of sellers who are peddling "aged replicas" as absolute originals........... take for example, German Fallschirmjäger helmets from WW2.  It is safe to say that there are more "originals" that are for sale, and have been sold, on eBay, than ever survived the war....... if you do the math, then you will realize just how many "originals" must be copies.  Just my educated opinion and observation....... (Just about anything "German" from WW1 and WW2, has been faked, and is often faked, so do your homework!)

UPDATE 6-25-20:  I finally added an original, WW2 dated, M1910 shovel cover to the collection.   You can read about the original cover, and see a side-by-side comparison to this reproduction at my blog posting here:

So here is my new "place holder", my "Museum Replica",  that should fill in nicely until I can find an original Model 1910 T-Handle Shovel Cover!

Thursday, February 27, 2020

British Patern 1939 Entrenching Tool, Shovel Spade, 1940 John Perks with Broad Arrow, RP 32, Pat. 39 Canvas Carrier, Implement, Entrenching, 1939 Pattern, Dutch Reddingsploeg

Today we'll be taking a look at a very seldom seen, British spade, or entrenching tool, that dates to a very small window of time, to the very beginning of Britain's entry into WW2.

This spade, is officially known as the "Implement, Entrenching, 1939 Pattern".  This was the British issue spade at the very beginning of WW2.

Before we dive in too deep, I'd like to give a little bit of background history on the issue British entrenching tools in 1939.  In just a few words, the British had no entrenching tool.  That's right, you read that correctly, "No Shovel, No Spade, No Entrenching Tool"!

In 1923, the British made all entrenching tools obsolete, and there were no standard issue tools issued out to the soldiers serving the Crown.  No one knows for sure why they did away with entrenching tools, but it is a guess that they felt that trench warfare was a thing of the past, and shovels would not be needed.
In 1937, the British web gear was redesigned and the Pattern 1937 web gear came into general issue.  The only piece of web gear that was missing from this new '37 pat. gear, was a shovel carrier.  There was no entrenching tool, so no need for a carrier!
In 1939 Britain found themselves at war.  The British Expeditionary Forces were deployed to France, without an entrenching tool.  The War Ministry did some fast back peddling, and selected an "off the shelf" design to put into service as the new issue entrenching tool.  Their choice was the classic spade, or Linneman Tool variant.  
This new entrenching tool - spade was officially adopted at the end 1939, but was not issued until the beginning of 1940.  
These Pattern 1939 spades were found to be inadequate for digging in anything other than soft soil, and they were very unpopular with the troops.
In July of 1941, the Pattern 1939 spade was made obsolete and was pulled out of field service.  The spade was replaced with the Pattern 1937 "pick".

You can read about the Pattern 1937 Picks on my earlier blog pages here:

When these Pattern 1939 spades were pulled out of general service, they were relegated to training stores, and for use with Cadet Training Units.  In 1947, after the war, these spades were completely removed from all British service.

For a very good history of the Pattern 1939 spade, I would highly recommend that you jump over to You Tube and check out the video produced by Rifleman Moore:

Another excellent source for information on these British spades and the earlier, and later entrenching tools, can be found over at Karkee Web :

Now let's take a look at the Pattern 1939 spade that I have.

This spade is the typical "flat spade" that was in use by nearly every army in Europe from the WW1 era, and into the beginning of WW2.

The spade is dated 1940, with the manufacturer's mark John Perks, as well as the British Broad Arrow acceptance stamp.  I believe that all of these Pattern 1939 spades that were issued out are dated 1940.

There is an additional stamped mark on the wood handle.  It reads RP 32.  

This is a post-war marking that was added by the Dutch.  After WW2, many of these shovels were sold to the Dutch for use in their Civil Defense and Rescue Forces.  The RP mark signifies "Reddingsploeg", or Rescue Service.  The 32 is found on all of the shovels in their service.  I believe that each type of tool was given a "Dutch Stock Number" when they were reissued.  Shovels are found with RP 32, flashlights RP 23, and Rescue Axes RP 4, etc.

The shovel blade has very distinctive "folded ears" as reenforcements on the shoulder.

The socket of the blade is formed with two pieces and reenforced with "wrap-around wings" from the main blade stamping.

Everything is heavily riveted to hold all the parts together.

The original canvas shovel covers are nearly impossible to find these days, and if you are lucky enough to find one, the prices are crazy high.  I managed to locate a very high quality, museum grade cover, so I picked it up to pair with my Pattern 1939 spade.

The cover needed a little "aging" and detailing, to give it that authentic look.  As I like to say, "The devil is in the details".  I did a bit of file work on the brass fittings, and gave them a good patina.  I also added a "MECO" makers stamp, a "1940" date, and a "British Broad Arrow" acceptance stamp to give this replica the look of an original. 

You can read more about the original covers over at Karkee Web:

Keep your eyes open for these British spades.  They are often sold as "German", as most folks don't realize that they are British issued.  The broad arrow is always a dead giveaway! When it comes to the "flat spades", these are definitely some of the rarer ones.

Let's take a closer look at my example.  

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Soviet MPL-50 Shovel Entrenching Tool, with Shovel Cover - Carrier, 1984, OTK-1, Cold War Russian, Malaya Pekhotnaya Lopata , Small Infantry Shovel, Общественный Товарищеский Контроль

We took a look at at two of the old style Russian shovels, so I figured it was about time to dig out one of the more recent versions.  So here it goes.

This shovel is a 1984 dated, Soviet shovel, known as the MPL-50.

MPL is the abbreviation for "Malaya Pekhotnaya Lopata", or "Small Infantry Shovel".  The "50" stands for the standard length of the shovel in centimeters.

These shovels were produced after the end of WW2, and were in regular military use well into the 2000's.  Officially they have been made obsolete by the new "Ratnik" 6E5 shovels that were officially accepted in to the Russian ground forces in 2013.  The funny thing is, these "new" 6E5 shovels are actually just the "same old shovel" as the MPL-50, just made to a higher standard, and with a more pronounced pointed blade.

You can read more about the new Russian "Ratnik" military equipment here:

There first modern MPL-50 style shovels appeared during WW2, and were the official shovel of the Russian forces during the war.  The WW2 shovels are essentially the same as the post war shovels, just made heavier.  However, as we read about in my previous post, the Russians introduced the "Simplified Small Infantry Shovel", back during the WW1 era, and this appears to be the "prototype" shovel that the later MPL-50's were based on.  You can jump back and read about that shovel here:

After WW2, the USSR settled into the Cold War,  with a full-blown communist economy.  This resulted in poorer construction methods, lighter materials, and generally poor construction.  They settled for old style, simple designs, made cheaply.

When I say "cheap", I think you can see what I mean in the photo above.  The handle is rough, and and fastened to the blade with two wood screws.  The socket is formed by rolling the metal and fastening with a single rivet.  The entire blade and socket is formed from a single piece of metal.  Cheap, easy, and fast to construct.

This particular shovel is very representative of the Cold War era shovels used by the USSR, and then Russia, after the USSR break-up.

This shovel is "new old stock" and was never issued.

The blade is stamped with the common "3 Trees" stamping and the date 1984 (the small "r" after the year date is the Russian way of signifying a year).

The blade also has the stamping "OTK-1".  OTK is the abbreviation for Отдел технического контрол , or "Department of Technical Control, aka Mil-Spec".

You can find these shovels being sold all over the place these days.  Russia must have cleared out warehouses full of these shovels now that the Ratnik shovels are now standard issue.  If you are interested in picking up one of these shovels, do it soon.  Prices are already rising for them, and that means the sources are about to dry up! 

The handle is stamped with the Russian manufacturer and specification, acceptance stamp.  This is always a nice addition to a shovel!  I would imagine that these stamps were sanded off, or wore away quickly once they were issued out. 

The cover is the basic, Soviet style, cloth cover that has been used since the 1940's, in one form or another.  The cloth cover has a webbing strap that fastens the shovel into the cover.   These covers are lightweight, but seem to do the job they were designed for.  They do it basically, and inexpensively.............

 There is not much more to say about this iconic piece of Soviet-Russian gear, so let's take a closer look at it.  Oh yes, be sure to go back to my last two blog posts to brush up on a couple of its predecessors.