Gary Cunningham's

Bayonet Point's

Updated Sept, 2004

Bayonet Points #21 - September, 2004

Well, another summer has slipped by. Some small health problems along with a shortage of cash kept me at home most of the summer, but did manage to sneak in a week in the Smoky Mountains with my grandson and one of his friends. Had a great time, stayed in an isolated cabin which was very relaxing and tried to keep up with the boys (age 15 and 14). We went whitewater rafting, took a helicopter tour, went to the Aquarium in Gatlinburg along with a lot of other attractions. The boys tried indoor skydiving (I sat that one out) and they rode a lot of go-karts. I guess we all had a good time, and now they are back in school and I guess it is time to get back to collecting.

 

One of the things I like about Frank giving me the opportunity to write this column is the information and comments that are sent to me by the readers. I really do appreciate all of you sending photos and information, and I will try to show them in this column when I can.

 

Recently Danny Beasley sent photos of a 16-inch blade M1905 bayonet by AFH. On the ricasso opposite the normal markings is a very high quality engraving of a Navy Eagle and Anchors marking. Danny says that under higher magnification it does appear an engraving rather than a stamping. I have never seen this marking on a bayonet before, and so far none of the other collectors that I contacted have either. The two most common guesses are that it is a "fantasy" piece made to bring a high price from an unwary collector, or that it was a more or less one of a kind piece possibly made for some sort of presentation or display. Do any of you have any solid information?

afhnavy.jpg (61623 bytes)

An AFH M1905 Bayonet with an Engraved Navy Mark

 

Tom Belbey was kind enough to send me an unusual M1905E1 bayonet. Not quite unique, but uncommon and interesting enough to show here. The normal marking of U.F.H. / Ordnance Shell and Flame / 1942 has been double struck, with one strike just slightly off vertically. I have seen this on a few occasions, but rarely one so clear and well aligned. To make this one even more unusual, they flipped it over and stamped the right ricasso. Although something like this probably does not add any significant value to the bayonet, it is an interesting curiosity.

 

UFHDBL.jpg (152784 bytes)

UFH M1905E1 Bayonet that has had the markings Double Struck on one Ricasso and Single Struck on the other.

 

Those who have suffered through all of my articles may remember that I had some doubts about the Conetta made M4 bayonet with plastic grips actually being made for the US military as they were made so late. Sometime back, I received a nice letter from M/Sgt John Coon, retired. He states: "When I processed in at the 1st Air Command SQ, 34th Tactical Group in March 1965 at Bien Hoa Air Base in Vietnam, I was issued a new in the wrapper M4 bayonet for the M1 carbine I had been issued at Travis Air Force Base in California prior to shipping over. It was a Conetta manufacture bayonet, issued with a used BMCo M8A1 scabbard. The reason I am so sure of this is because I still have the bayonet and scabbard in my possession. When I processed out to leave Vietnam in December 1965 I turned in the M1 carbine to the gunroom, but I kept the bayonet as a souvenir." So at least in this case, the Conetta made bayonet was actually issued to a US serviceman. I have never seen a wrapper dated that early (but I have not seen very many Conetta bayonets in the wrapper) but would assume that his was among the first made by Conetta.

There are some individuals who from time to time search the National Archives and other record sources for information of interest to the collector, and to whom the rest of us owe a great debt. Awhile ago Nick Ferris, the well known author on the Rock Island Model 1903 Rifles, was kind enough to send me some copies of the content synopsis from some boxes of letters from 1918 that he found while doing research on the Model 1917 rifle. I haven't had time to go to the Archives and copy the actual letters, but hope to do so if and when time allows.

Some of the letters are to and from the National Motor Car and Vehicle Company concerning the Model 1917 bayonet. From these letters, it appears that National Motor Car had been awarded a contract for 255,000 blade and guard assemblies, which were apparently then to be finished and delivered by another contractor, possibly Remington or Winchester. In mid-September 1918 it was decided to issue a contract to National Motor Car for complete bayonets, with an integrally forged pommel. (It seems that they were going to forge the bayonet as Springfield and Rock Island did the Model 1905 with the pommel as part of the forging rather than as a separate piece as Remington and Winchester used).

In mid-October there was a request for detailed specifications, and in late October a questions as to whether National Motor Car should use the sample bayonet furnished them to create drawings and specifications, which was answered in the negative. Remington was to supply blueprints for the bayonet fixtures and tools at the price of $149.60, which was forwarded to National Motor Car in early December. In early January it was directed that the company be included to receive a mimeographed list of changes to the Bayonet, Model of 1917 (Class 20 Div 2B Drawing 32).

It is assumed that the contract was cancelled soon after that date, and is unlikely that National Motor Car and Vehicle ever assembled a bayonet of their own manufacture.

A quick search showed the company history to be:

National Automobile & Electric Company
East 22nd and Yandes Streets
Indianapolis, IN
Reorganized as National Motor Vehicle Company, 1902
National Motor Car & Vehicle Company 1916
Merged with Dixie Flyer & Jackson into Associated Motors Corporation, 1922

Other letters found by Nick indicated that American Fork and Hoe (who was a major contractor for the M1905 and M1 bayonets in WW2) was also contracted to produce the Model 1917 bayonet in WW1. One of the letters dated October 8, 1918 concerned testing "hot rolled" bayonets being made by AFH. Later letters from AFH asked for a loosening of specified dimensions of the blade in various areas including the fuller depth. Later letters state that modified specifications were to be furnished AFH, and increased tolerances were approved for the catch and grip screw.

Again, no bayonets by AFH have been seen and it is presumed that the contracts were cancelled after the Armistice with no finished bayonets completed.

It is general knowledge that Landers, Frary and Clark also had a contract for the Model 1917 bayonet in WW1, and that none were delivered prior to cancellation of the contract. Many years ago (late 1960s), I was working at a summer camp near Great Barrington, Mass and in my spare time was going around to all of the antique shops, etc. One of the shops had quite a bit of militaria all jumbled up, and I spent time there going through odds and ends of boxes and shelves. I would not want to absolutely swear at this late date, but it runs strongly in my mind that one of the 1917 bayonets at that shop was marked L.F.& C. At the time I had little interest in or knowledge of bayonets, and other than getting one for each of my rifles, I paid them little attention. I am probably wrong, but I guess it is not impossible that they did actually finish a few bayonets that were not delivered due to contract cancellation, as happened with the North American Arms Model 1911 pistols. I guess I will never know for sure if I passed up the buy of a lifetime!

 

Due to my vacation and computer upgrade, etc. I am way behind on my emails and other correspondence. Please bear with me. Between work and other commitments, I don't have the time to spend on my hobby that I would like, especially in the summers. Thanks for your patience!

I have been working on a longer article for some time, and it seems that just as I am finishing it up, another piece of information comes along. Hopefully I will be ready to start it next month.

E-mail me at bayonetman@suddenlink.net

To purchase a signed copy of Gary's awesome book, American Military Bayonets of the 20th Century click here American Bayonets Book All of the above reports referred to and the books are available on our Books For Sale  and or Documents page.

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