Original U.S. WWII USAAF Case XX Airmen's Folding Survival Machete with Blade Cover

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 maker contracted by the USAAF to manufacture these folding machetes. This example is marked on the blade with CASE XX, indicating manufacture by W. R. Case & Sons Cutlery Co., who has manufactured knives for the U.S. military since WWI. The "double X" is a symbol of Case's commitment to quality which can be traced back to the early days of Case when blades were tempered and tested not just once (X), but twice (XX).

This example is in good used condition, and still retains the blade cover, which was often lost. The blade and handle show staining and light corrosion from 70 years of age and use, but it is otherwise in very good condition. 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 does not appear to have been sharpened much after the factory, if at all. The blade however has been modified, with the last inch of edge having been cut off in a curved pattern. We would assume that the tip was damaged, and removed at arsenal.

Modification of these machetes was actually 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 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.

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