Camillus and Kabar, which one helped design the USMC knife?

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Aug 4, 2013
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As the title asks, which one of these two companies had the major hand in helping design the USMC utility/fighting knife used during WW2?
The consensus seems to be that Camillus was indeed the first to make some under military contract, and that others, (including Union Cutlery/KaBar), also made some under military contract. The Union Cutlery firm stamped their 'Kabar' trademark onto the knives, the only ones to do so of the makers, and hence that name strongly and forever got stuck with the knife design, (like the name Q-Tips did for any cotton swab on a stick).
What gets into muddy waters, is which company, Camillus or Union Cutlery (Kabar), can actually be credited with helping the Government in coming up with the design? There are very convincing writings online that have credited one over the other (Camillus and Kabar). But, which one is truly the one that helped in designing it? It would seem that if indeed Camillus was the first one to make them under contract, that it was the one that helped in designing it, with the others coming on line to help meet the military's demand for them.... But, it just gets so muddy in trying to find a definitive answer.
Thanks in advance for any input that can help in answering this question :)
 
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Nov 7, 2005
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Yes, a rather complicated history.
Unfortunately, it happened an awfully long time ago for anyone left alive today to tell the tale.
So, we have to take the word of knife historians as to what transpired
during those dark and hectic days...
http://www.knife-expert.com/usmc42-1.txt
Understand that the us navy mk 2 is esssentially the same knife
But with the fibre scabard.
http://www.collectors-of-camillus.us/History/Camillus-Military-1941-1945s.pdf
Its easy to have a pretty muddled situation with a war going on.
Plus there must have been so many things happening all at once on a tight deadlines.
Some details must have seemed trivial in the big picture...
 
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Feb 17, 2013
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Short version as I understand it.

Kabar and other companies submitted there recommendations to the War Department. None of them were what the government "wanted, but the Kabar version was the closest but it wasn't exactly what they wanted and a little tweaking was done.

Camillus got the first batch out, most likely not because their version was closest to what was specified, but more likely because they were very much bigger than Union with more assets, and so they were able to get into production faster.

Camillus made the first USN MK2s.

Kabar made the first 1219C2s (USMC version).

The Marines made the "Kabar" famous, so the name "Kabar" stuck for all of them. If Camillus had made the first USMC versions, it's possible that the knives could have been called "a Camillus". Maybe. Sounds wimpier than "Kabar" though.:D

Camillus and Kabar made a whole lot of USN MK2s and USMC 1219C2s during 1943 - 1945. PAL and Robeson-Shuredge made "a few" later down the road.

Camillus made the first batch, 50K in February 1943. Changes were made (pommel change 1). Kabar shipped knives around April 1943, incorporating the first change.

ALL 4 manufacturers made blade stamped versions. All 4 made guard stamped versions.
 
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The first knives, whether for the Navy or the Marines came with leather sheaths.

The fiberglass sheaths made by Beckwith Mfg Co. (the BMC on the sheaths) and their subsidiary Victory Plastics (the VP on the sheaths) were delivered to the Navy Supply System November 1943, 9 months after the first Camillus shipment.

The fiberglass sheaths are stamp USN-MK2, but they were out to both Marines and Navy. They were very much in demand by the Marines as they didn't rot and fall apart in the jungle environment of the South Pacific theater like the leather ones did.

Here's a chart that I snitched off the interweb somewhere about the fiberglass MK1 and MK2 sheaths.

People call it a plastic sheath, but it's fiberglass. The metal collar is marked

"USN MK2" on the front and

"NORD-4723 BM CO 2 V*P* on the back.

The NORD 4723 designates that it was produced and issued under that Navy contract number between November 1943 and July 1944:


Code:

>Contract # Contract $ Est. Quant Dates of Delivery Type of Sheaths
>
>NORD 4723 $521,000 600,000 11/43 - 7/44 Mark 1 / Mark 2
>
>NORD 6581 $240,000 275,000 7/44 - 2/45 Mark 2
>
>NORD 6804 $79,000 95,000 6/44 - 4/45 Mark 1
>
>NORD 8114 $592,000 675,000 3/45 - 8/45 Mark 1 / Mark 2
>
>NORD 8676 $125,000 150,000 3/45 12/45 ?????????

The markings of B.M. Co. and the stylized V P logo indicate the Beckwith Mfg Co. a division of Victory Plastics made this scabard.
 
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And it looks like the forum software takes out my nice, neat tabs and spaces when it posts. :thumbsdown:

I guess I need to convert the data to a picture somehow and post that.
 
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