Updated Nov, 2006
Bayonet Points #34 - November, 2006
Bayonet Points #3
The Johnson Model 1941 Rifle Bayonet
When I wrote the section on this bayonet in my book, I made
a number of small errors based on my own lack of knowledge and limited written
resources available to me. In this article I would like to add some
information and correct some of my errors.
The use of the rifle and bayonet by the US was very limited. Other than the trials against the M1 rifle and the limited use by the Marine Paratroopers, the US military did not otherwise use the rifle and bayonet. Bruce Canfield recently wrote a short essay on the use of these rifles by the Marines in Canfield’s Corner (http://www.brucecanfield.com/), and of course his book Johnson Rifles and Machine Guns is a must have for serious military weapon collectors.
None were actually made for the US. The Netherlands ordered 70,000 of which about 30,000 were delivered to the Dutch East Indies after the fall of Holland to the Germans. After the Japanese captured the East Indies, those rifles completed but not delivered were held by Johnson and some were purchased by the US Marines as mentioned above. Another 7,000 or so were sold to Chile in 7mm Mauser caliber.
Since the US trials required that the rifle be equipped with a bayonet, Johnson had to develop one that would work on his rifle. The Johnson rifle was recoil operated, with the barrel moving to the rear approximately 5/8 inch to unlock the bolt. Any excess weight would prevent the barrel from recoiling properly and the rifle would not correctly function. Therefore the bayonet had to be small and lightweight.
Right Side view of Johnson Bayonet and Scabbard
Left Side view of Johnson Bayonet and Scabbard
The final bayonet was very simple, about 12 inches overall with a short 8 inch triangular blade fluted very much like the US socket bayonets of the 1800s. There was no handle as such, just a simple flat mounting plate with a simple spring steel clip to hold it to the barrel mounted lug. There are only three parts to the bayonet – the body, the spring steel mounting clip, and the rivet that retains the clip.
Upper view of the Blade
Side view of the Blade
Side view of the Mounting Plate and Muzzle Ring
In my book I stated the normal finish was blue overall. This was in error due to a faulty reference that I used. Most M1941 Johnson bayonets were Parkerized overall, although some few may have been blued.
It is basically worthless as a knife, and reportedly the Marines also felt it was a poor bayonet also, reportedly referring to it as a "tent peg".
Johnson Bayonet mounted on a rifle
It is not certain who made the bayonets. Bruce Canfield has not found any sub-contract records dealing with the bayonet, and it must be presumed that the bayonets were made with the rifles at the Universal Windings plant at Cranston, Rhode Island. The bayonets as manufactured were totally unmarked, although many today will be found with numbers stamped on the top of the barrel ring. These numbers were added later by the Dutch, and any used by the Marines were probably not numbered.
Muzzle Ring showing numbers believed added by the Dutch
Some of the leather scabbards are found with numbers ink stamped on the back of the frog. It is likely that this was also done by the Dutch and probably originally matched the serial number of the bayonet. The few that I have observed do not seem to match, probably because they were separated at one time and not matched back up when the surplus dealers sold them.
Back of Scabbard Frog showing ink stamped numbers
The scabbard is almost as simple as the bayonet. It consists of four pieces of leather (the body, frog, retaining strap, and a very small plug at the tip of the body), two brass rivets (attaching the retaining strap to the frog), two brass washers that the rivets are peened to, and a brass stud and washer that a slot in the retaining strap fits over.
Scabbard Frog with Retaining Strap closed
Scabbard Frog with strap open showing attaching rivets
It may be noted in the photos above that there is a mark of A M D stamped in the leather on the frog just below the retaining strap. I originally thought this might be a maker mark but when I contacted Bruce Canfield concerning this mark he said that he had not seen it. He later emailed me to say that further research indicates that this mark may have been on those scabbards used by Chile.
Close-up of the frog showing the A M D marking
These bayonets and scabbards are not too common, and in recent years a reproduction of both the bayonet and scabbard has been commercially produced. Unfortunately, as is all too common, they are not marked to show that they are reproductions. Walt Liss wrote an Internet article titled Telling A Genuine Johnson Dagger Bayonet From A Reproduction, which every collector should read and study. I did find one comment "The rivet ends on almost all original Johnson bayonets will have some sort of indentation to show where the rivet ends." in which one must note the word "almost" because as can be seen on the one I illustrate (which is definitely an original), the rivet is finished flush as he shows the reproductions to be.
The article can be found at: http://www.johnsonautomatics.com/bayoadvice.html
One of the ads for this bayonet and scabbard can be found at:
E-mail me email@example.com
To purchase a signed copy of Gary's awesome book, American Military Bayonets of the 20th Century click here Books For Sale and or Documents page.
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