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Original U.S. WWII USAAF Airmen's Folding Survival Machete by Cattaraugus with Rare Blade Guard and Leather Carry Scabbard

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. In 1942, the U.S. Army Air Force adopted a Folding Machete for use in the B-2 and B-4 Bail out kits. This machete was designed to replace the Model 18 Collins machete, which took up a lot of space in the emergency kits. The folding machete is only 11 inches long when folded up.

Case, Camillus, and Cattaraugus were the 3 makers contracted by the USAAF to manufacture these folding machetes. This example is clearly marked on the blade with Cattaraugus / U.S.A. in script lettering, indicating manufacture by Cattaraugus Cutlery Co., located in Little Valley, NY. The company, founded in 1886, manufactured many knives during WWII. Interestingly, W.R. Case and his brothers were involved in the founding, but later branched off to form their own company, W. R. Case & Sons Cutlery Co, in 1905.

This example is in very good used condition, and still retains the blade cover, which was often lost. The blade and handle show light staining, with a bit of peppering, showing light to moderate wear. The grip is in fine condition, and has not been altered in shape. The locking mechanism works correctly, and the machete folds up as designed. The blade still retains the original shape, but does show use and some edge chipping, some of which was sharpened off in the past.

Modification of these machetes was fairly common, as unfortunately their design left much to be desired by those that used them. The shape of the handle is not especially comfortable. The edges are squared off and cut into the hand over time. The liner lock on the blade was not trusted by the users and was subject to failure. To make matters worse, the blade guard was a separate item and was subject to being lost. However, due to the war, these minor issues would have to wait until after the war to be resolved.

The folding machetes were called “Jungle Knives” by the crews who carried them. Despite their flaws, they did work. In some instances, crew members would reshape the plastic grips to make them more comfortable. However, the other problems remained an issue; especially losing the blade guard.

For the most part, the AAF folding Machetes were issued to crews operating in the South Pacific. However, we have seen accounts of them being used in the European theater. We assume this was later in the war when survival kits were becoming more standardized or perhaps when certain Bomber Groups were transferred from the Pacific to Europe.

A great example with an original leather carry case devoid of any damage, comes more than ready for further research and display.

Blade Length: 10"
Blade Style: Forward Curved Single Edged Machete
Overall length: 15 1/2“
Crossguard: 2 5/8”

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